Duke and North Carolina may be the biggest college basketball rivalry, but several of the players are also battling for position on NBA Draft boards. Jayson Tatum, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles are all projected to be first round picks in June’s draft.
Tatum is considered the best prospect by far. In my latest mock draft Tatum heads to the Timberwolves with the 8th pick. Heavy’s Tim Keeney is more bullish on Tatum and has him going to the Magic with the fourth pick.
He has improved his draft stock in recent weeks with his play on the floor after missing the beginning of the season with an injury. Tatum is averaging 16.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 2.3 apg this season. He is shooting 43.9 percent from the foor and 35.2 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Jackson finds himself going later in mock drafts. DraftExpress and NBADraft.net both have him being selected 25th. Jackson has polished his game and is a big reason he is projected to be a first round pick.
Last season, Jackson shot just over 29 percent from behind the 3-point line. This season, he has improved that number to 39.3 percent. Jackson is averaging 18.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 2.6 apg this season. He is a junior which has him behind other prospects that he may be better than on the court, but who teams likely have ranked higher based on their potential.
Giles stock is much more fluid. He was once projected to be the top pick in this year’s draft, but his inconsistent play has him sliding down draft boards. DraftExpress has him ranked 19th while NBADraft.net has him sliding inside the lottery to the Bucks at 13. Giles is averaging just 4.5 points and 4.1 rebounds this season. He has struggled to get consistent playing time at Duke.
NBADraft.net also has Luke Kennard going 23rd to the Magic while Kennard is not listed as a top 25 player by DraftExpress. NBADraft.net does not have Grayson Allen being selected in the first or second round.
Both North Carolina and Duke are projected to be top seeds in the NCAA Tournament. All the players will have an opportunity to improve their draft stock in an important March Madness.