College basketball analyst Jay Bilas will be part of ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Draft at 6 p.m. Thursday from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Rece Davis will host coverage with Bilas and NBA analysts Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons. Tom Penn will provide front-office expertise, and Fran Fraschilla will cover international prospects.
Bilas discussed the draft in a conference call Tuesday:
Q: The Thunder, with two late first-round picks, is in need of a shooting guard. Would someone be available there who could help them or should they try to trade up for a better player?
A: You can always try to trade up. I think everybody would like to do that. The question is what are you giving up? Down near the end of the first round one of the guys that I don’t see a lot in the mock drafts that I have is Joe Harris, of Virginia. I think he would be a tremendous pick for a team like the Thunder or the Spurs. ... He can come in and shoot it. He has size. He can run all day, come off screens. You can’t bump him off his pass. He’s a bigger, stronger, more athletic J.J. Redick in a way. He’s played in a system where he didn’t have to be the guy. He broke his nose about a week ago. He hasn’t been able to work out for some of the teams at the end of the first round that would be likely to pick him.
Glenn Robinson III, of Michigan, I would put in that category. He’s really good shooter, but he hasn’t made shots on a consistent basis. ... I think he’s a really talented athletic kid that is probably better than he has played thus far. Maybe came out a little too early. The other guy who can really score — I wouldn’t necessarily put him in a category of deep shooter — is the kid from UCLA, Jordan Adams. I can see him going at end of the first round.
Which shooters do you think will be a value pick if they get into the middle of the first round?
I do think there are really good shooters in this draft. I think the best shooter is Nik Stauskas from Michigan, and then I would put Doug McDermott (Creighton) right there. You could put up there with those two guys, but I don’t think he’s going to get drafted, is Travis Bader of Oakland (Mich.), senior, who broke J.J. Redick’s 3s record. He’s really, really talented as a shooter. As a specialist could he make a team? Absolutely, he could. I’m a big believer in Joe Harris, who has a really good opportunity not only to make a team, but to really be successful in the league. C.J. Wilcox of Washington, a senior, can really shoot it. Really good range.
Overall, how do you rate the quality of the draft?
I think it’s outstanding. I think it’s one of the deepest drafts and the most talented that we’ve had in maybe even a decade. It is full of players that can not only come in and contribute but guys that can be starters and potential stars. You can go deep into the second round and get good players. That’s not always the case. We’re one year removed from what I thought was a really bad draft.
Who’s your No. 1 pick?
I still think Joel Embiid (Kansas center), the big guy, is the best prospect in this draft. I understand the reticence because of his recent injury. I would have to have a medical team tell me, “Don’t take this guy. He’s a bad medical risk” for me to say no to him. I think (Duke forward) Jabari Parker is the safest pick because he’s NBA ready on the offensive end right now. He’s not nearly as good a defender as (Kansas guard) Andrew Wiggins is. Wiggins is a superior athlete, long, excels in transition, pretty decent shooter and can get in the lane anytime he wants. He has a second jump that is unequaled in this draft. The only question with Wiggins, is he the type of guy that is going to have a killer instinct and be a superstar?