Isaiah Briscoe should remain at Kentucky. He needs to improve as a shooter to make an NBA team.
Skal Labissiere is a “crapshoot kind of player.” The NBA team brave enough to draft him will know it could be rolling snake eyes.
If Marcus Lee keeps his name in the NBA Draft, as UK Coach John Calipari suggested he would, Lee will start his professional career in the Development League. Or in Europe.
Jamal Murray will be picked as soon as the third pick in the June 23 NBA Draft.
Tyler Ulis will have an NBA career. How long and how productive of a career is difficult to say.
That’s how two of ESPN’s NBA Draft analysts, Fran Fraschilla and Jay Bilas, see Kentucky’s corner of the NBA Draft. The Draft process intensifies this week with the NBA Combine, which began Wednesday and ends Sunday.
Fraschilla, who promoted ESPN2’s coverage of this week’s NBA Combine with a teleconference Wednesday, advised Briscoe to remain at UK. Briscoe has been working out for teams, but was not invited to the Combine.
“I personally think he’s not ready to play in the NBA . . . ,” Fraschilla said. “He’s limited in his ability to make outside shots.”
An inability to shoot can be a deal breaker for a guard “in a league that puts a premium on spacing the floor,” Fraschilla said.
Briscoe made only five of 37 three-point shots (13.5 percent) for Kentucky as a freshman last season.
Fraschilla called Labissiere a “projection pick,” meaning the NBA won’t know for “four or five years” how good the UK freshman who got top billing going into last season can be.
“That’s when he’s going to be able to make a mark on an NBA team,” Fraschilla said before adding, “if then.”
Teams like Labissiere’s length and ability to play away from the basket. But his lack of bulk and missing two years of development at the high school level concern.
Bilas downplayed the attention given Labissiere’s reticence to meet force with force around the basket.
“The issue is he wasn’t productive,” Bilas said. “You can’t have a 7-footer average two or three rebounds a game. That’s not going to work.”
Labissiere averaged 3.1 rebounds last season. That was only a tenth of a rebound more than Tyler Ulis, who all UK fans know is 5-foot-9.
After failing to establish himself as a low-post scorer, Labissiere did some face-the-basket scoring. Fraschilla saw this as a product of opposing defenses concentrating on Ulis and Murray.
Bilas said he could easily understand why Lee was invited to the NBA Combine.
“Because he’s athletic, he can run and he can block shots and rebound,” Bilas said.
I happen to like (Marcus) Lee as a — I hate to say — project. If a team drafts him in the second round or signs him (as a free agent), I can see him part of an NBA veterans’ camp. Then the D League, starting his career there if he doesn’t want to go to Europe. But he’s a big man who runs the floor.
Fran Fraschilla, ESPN analyst
Lee was tied for the team lead with 59 blocks and an average of 6.0 rebounds.
“There are not that many 7-footers running around who are mobile and athletic and all that,” Bilas said. “It doesn’t surprise me he’s going (to the NBA Combine).”
Fraschilla saw Lee as “an energy guy” who could be a second-round pick.
“He’s got a chance,” Fraschilla said. “He really does.”
When asked what was the likelihood of Lee having to apprentice in the NBA’s Development League, Fraschilla said, “High. High.
“I happen to like Lee as a — I hate to say — project. If a team drafts him in the second round or signs him (as a free agent), I can see him part of an NBA veterans’ camp. Then the D League, starting his career there if he doesn’t want to go to Europe. But he’s a big man who runs the floor.
“He’s got a chance. He’s not skilled. But he’s active and he’s got a good motor. He’s a 50/50 guy. It’s a 50/50 proposition he’ll be on an NBA roster.”
Of course, Ulis and, especially, Murray are much more the sure NBA players among UK products this year.
Bilas, who has been calling Ulis an NBA player since the beginning of this past season, said Ulis will be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round.
“He’s going to find his way in the league,” Bilas said. “I think he’ll do just fine. The question is how good is he going to be.”
Fraschilla saw Ulis as a backup point guard for an NBA team. The ESPN analyst included Kris Dunn of Providence among the possible third picks (behind Duke’s Brandon Ingram and LSU’s Ben Simmons).
Murray is widely projected as the surest lottery pick among the Kentucky contingent in this year’s draft.
Fraschilla included Murray with Dunn and Buddy Hield of Oklahoma as possible picks after Ingram and Simmons go 1-2. Or 2-1.
NBA Draft Combine
When: Through Sunday
UK players in attendance: Skal Labissiere, Marcus Lee, Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis.
Thursday’s TV: 3-7 p.m. (ESPN2)