Thanks for your time to talk about Brandon, Mike… in general what are your thoughts on the year that Brandon had at Duke?
Mike Schmitz (@MikeSchmitz): I thought it was impressive. He kinda started off slow a little bit and he had some good games against lower-tiered competition. And it took him a little while to kinda get up to speed against a higher level of competition as he learned how to deal with high level college programs and a higher level of athleticism and the speed of the college game. I think from his first day to the end of the season, he really, really progressed and I think it was the right decision for him to go pro because obviously he’s going to be a Top 2 pick. His ascension in general from 2 years ago has been really remarkable. You have to credit him and you know it wasn’t easy with Amile Jefferson going out and having to shift to the 4, so I think we were able to see that he maybe had some more toughness than some thought he had.
When he was going through the all-star circuit his senior year, what do your remember about what you guys at Draft Express saw of him in those practice and game settings?
I was at Jordan Brand and I was at the Nike Hoop Summit and that was after McDonalds I believe when the hype had kinda grown. You could see the talent for sure and you could see this kid who was rail thin, super long who can play with the ball and has a nice little pull up game and the scoring instincts were there, you just wondered if he was a little sleepy because his whole demeanor is more relaxed, he’s a laid back guy, so you wondered then how tough is this kid and is he going to be a killer in college? So that was the question you asked yourself as you watched him grow and I think he really answered that at Duke. You could always see the combination of tools and his skill set and I remember one GM and another high level executive even at Hoop Summit were saying that this kid has a chance to be a Top-5 pick and not a lot of people were saying that at that point, but if you really projected out you might have seen that.
Did those front office guys sound surprised when they made that comment to you?
No, I don’t think anyone had him on the radar in that way. It’s interesting because he grew several inches in just over a year to two years and I think people weren’t all that familiar with him before Hoop Summit and before McDonalds. I think once they saw him live they could see, but it was still surprising for sure.
It was interesting with him going into college, there were still questions on what kind of impact will he have, what kind of position will he play and that’s the same conversation now with the Draft. So, when you think about him in the pros, does he project long-term to be a mismatch at the 4, or does he belong more at the 3?
I think he can be a mismatch at the 4 long-term and I think he can play 1 through 3 really in spurts to start off because he even played point guard sometimes at Duke when they ran that 4/5 pick and roll and had a lot of success with it. I think he’s going to start out at the 3, but I think he can guard multiple positions and his biggest value down the road as he matures physically is going to be a mismatch guy. I don’t think he’s going to start at the 4 in bench lineups or at end of games because if you can play up, you want to play the highest position that you can just because it’s the biggest mismatch for the team who has to guard you. I think once he matures physically that’s going to be a big problem for teams and he can be a 1 through 3 or 4 guy who is a tough cover for teams.
When you think about the top 3 teams in the draft, do each of those teams present a potentially different picture in your estimation as to how he might be utilized and developed depending on which team he goes to?
Yeah, I think Philly they don’t have a playmaker at this point, so I think they could potentially play him more with the ball. Then with the Lakers they have guys like DeAngelo (Russell) and Jordan Clarkson who are a little more ball-dominant guys and I think you can say the same thing about Boston, they have a lot of guards, they have Isaiah Thomas who handles the ball quite a bit.
So with the Lakers and the Celtics, do you think they want him to be more of a scorer on the wing?
Definitely and I think with Philly, it would take some time, but I think he would have a little more freedom to play with the ball a little more just based on their personnel. I think Philly really needs him but I think they are going to draft Ben Simmons, but they need Brandon’s shooting. For me, I have felt for the better part of this college basketball season that he was the better prospect and I still believe that.
Just curious, what makes him the better prospect in your estimation?
I’m not sold that there is a stud, a stud like 10-time all-star in this draft, but I just think I like his upside more than I like Ben Simmons’s upside and I think he’s a better fit there. With Ben Simmons I think you need to surround him with shooters and he needs the ball to be effective. I also think there’s some real questions as well with Simmons as to how much will guys enjoy playing with him, and how hard is he going to play defensively and those are some real concerns. Now with the game being so much about length and shooting, I think Ben has a really unique skill set but I think Brandon with his length, his feel for the game which I think is very underrated and his shooting along with how young he is and how you can project him out, I think he’s the better long-term prospect.
What were your thoughts on Brandon working out with Philly and with the Lakers ?
Yeah no I think it says something about Brandon for sure. I can’t remember the last time a #1 player didn’t work out for teams, I think they feel secure about where they are going to go. So in terms of being on the floor and having the workout didn’t matter as much, I think it was more about meeting the kid, spending some time with him, getting an updated medical, do an interview and all that. I think it’s maybe a bit overblown but it doesn’t surprise me.
You brought up the medical re-check which can often become a big deal close to the draft, but I haven’t heard anything really negative with Brandon along those lines…
Yeah, I haven’t either. I think with him I’d be very, very surprised if he didn’t go in the Top 2. I don’t think there’s anything holding him back from that and there’s no external issues with him, he’s by all accounts a really good kid and he takes things seriously.