Jay Bilas is a college basketball analyst for ESPN who will be providing his expertise Thursday night during the NBA draft.
During a conference call Tuesday, Bilas was asked if he remembered a player who had been as unproductive in college as Skal Labissiere of Kentucky yet was projected as a lottery pick. Bilas gave a detailed answer.
“As far as Skal is concerned, I can’t think of an analog to him in a past draft where a guy came in and he was expected to be top two or three picks and the bottom fell out under him after his freshman year, and then he came out anyway. ,” Bilas said. “I think he’s the most difficult prospect to figure out in this whole draft for me because he’s got some really solid selling points.
“He’s got an excellent shooting touch. His timing is good. He can block shots. But he didn’t do it in games, and he got pushed around by guys that got pushed around by other people. That was a little bit surprising to me, frankly.
“He’s a gamble. He didn’t show the ability to handle physicality, and, frankly, yet you questioned his toughness after the season. He showed flashes, but he’s got some potential. I think that he’s going one on none in all these workouts, and you can see the talent, but he’s going to have to play in a crowd, and he hasn’t shown really that he can do that yet. That’s where the gamble comes in. But in the middle of the first round, I think he’s worth taking a risk on.
“ As far as college is concerned, it’s kind of a balance, the way I see it, anyway, in my view, it’s a balance between what a player does in college. Those are part of the data points that you consider, but the other parts are what’s the physical makeup of the player because if you look over the course of history with this draft, if you have to fall within a certain range physically of what you can do, and this is the most athletic professional league in the world, in my judgment, there are very few players that don’t fit the athletic profile, both size for position, length, athleticism that wind up overcoming that.
“Usually it’s the other way around. Usually it’s the unskilled, superior athlete that winds up overcoming a lack of skill rather than a lesser athlete overcoming a lack of athleticism with superior skill. ”