Mavs Host R.J. Hunter For Pre-Draft Workout
The Dallas Mavericks do not have a history of hitting on late first-round picks, but depending on how their Summer Shopping plays out, they might need to hit on this one, at No. 21. And he might need to be a shooting guard.
That's not only awfully demanding but it's also awfully specific ... which I'll explain below ... meanwhile, it all make it reasonable that they take a very serious look at R.J. Hunter.
Georgia State was driven to an NCAA tournament berth last year by the work of Hunter on the wing. They won the Sun Belt Conference title on the strength of his shooting -- though surprisingly, he ended up shooting just 29.8 percent from the arc. Scouts, though, view him as a pure shooter, which shows up for him at the free-throw line (where he was almost at 90 percent. He's also long, at 6-6, with a 6-10 wingspan ... and while his defense needs to be examined, it's hard to get away from him being by far the best player on a tourney entrant.
He increases his drives to the rim by seven percent last year as a junior, worked in the weight room to get up to 185, and of course made the buzzer-beater than knocked his own dad right off his chair.
Hunter wasn't heavily recruited out of high school in Indiana. His game is more about fluidity than athleticism, but scouts tell me the thing he does well does branch off into production. He comes off screens well, his footwork is good, his shot is quick, his BBIQ is high. And his range is deep.
Now, once we work our way beyond the derisive jokes about Dallas' inability or even unwillingness to bother with picking at No. 21, let's come to an understanding: There are indeed some scenarios that might require the Mavs giving up this pick. An example: The Mavs get from $30 mil of room to $38 mil of room so they can add Jordan and Aldridge. How to get rid of enough to total an extra $8 million? Dump . Harris and Felton and Powell and Koponen and yes, pick No. 21.
But there are other scenarios that would ask the Mavs to use this pick on the right guy at the right position ... and demand that he truly contribute. Example: In a pure cap-space set-up in which the Mavs successfully sign both Jordan and Aldridge to join Dirk and Parsons, the rest of the roster would be thin. They use one of their few other tools, the Room MLE, to keep Barea. And then? They would be aided greatly by lucking into a SG at pick 21. ... and he might be asked to fit right in, right away.
(Our Double Pipedream story explains all the ramifications of luring both Jordan and Aldridge, here.)
DB.com has reported on the other first-round guys who've come through town, including:
*Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - 6-7, 220, small forward, Arizona. At DraftExpress he's the 13th-ranked prospect.
*Tyus Jones - 6-2, 185 point guard from Duke. He's 14th-ranked.
*Jerian Grant -- 6-5, 198, point guard, Notre Dame. He's the 15th-ranked prospect.
*Montrezl Harrell - 6-8, 254, power forward from Louisville. He's the 22nd-ranked prospect.
*Justin Anderson - 6-6, 230, a shooting guard/small forward from Virginia.
*Delon Wright -- 6-6, 180, point guard, Utah. The No. 28 prospect.
And now there is Hunter, projected to go around the No. 26 spot, who told me on Thursday that he's in town for a Friday session.
The Mavs have to assume a "lack of commitment'' from Monta Ellis now (in the form of declining his option) is coming. So there might be a shuffle of some sort at 2-guard. There are also assorted veteran options, some expensive and some cheap. Oh, and there's a good argument to be made that Dallas needs a 3-and-D guy at the position. But the idea of R.J. Hunter at No. 21 should be taken seriously because, well, every guy in every draft should be. But also because a Mavs team that nets its big fish will be spending in the front court ... and will need to score some affordable help like this in the backcourt, too.
Can he be Klay Thompson? Or Kyle Korver? Or JJ Redick? If the answer to any of those questions is "yes''? Well, that's why you take what's happening in the basement today very seriously.
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