When Brandon McCoy left UNLV after one season, he was taking a chance that his game would translate to the NBA.
It’s quite a risk for the 7-footer, who played a more traditional center role for the Rebels. Today’s NBA diminishes the importance of positions and expects all players to have a well-rounded game.
McCoy will get his first true indication Thursday of whether NBA teams think he can make the transition when the draft takes place at 4 p.m. He is projected to go in the second round or be passed over completely.
“Brandon was probably born 10 years too late,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “In today’s game, he’s more of a low-post, back-to-the-basket guy. That’s not to say that you don’t need that at all in the NBA, but it’s not at a premium. So he’s a second-round pick, in my humble opinion. I think he does some very good things. He’s got a chance to be a good player, but it’s awfully early in his career and he’s got a long way to go.”
McCoy, who was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year after averaging 16.9 points and 10.3 rebounds last season, said he was prepared for anything.
“I did really good at all of my workouts,” McCoy said. “I think I showed what I’m capable of doing at the next level, so I feel like I left every workout with a good feeling.”
An Eastern Conference scout said he was skeptical of McCoy’s ability to translate his game to the NBA.
“It just takes one team to make a kid’s dreams come true, but with the game changing and going away from true centers, I think there are less and less teams looking for a guy like that,” said the scout, who was not authorized to comment on the record.
To get a chance to play in the NBA, McCoy probably will need to prove himself in the second-tier G League.
“What difference does it make when you’re in high school, early on in your high school career, if you play JV or varsity when you’re a sophomore?” Bilas asked. “It’s just a question of getting experience, so if the G League provides him some more experience and some more reps and the ability to be more prepared when it’s time to step onto an NBA roster, then I’m all for it. But you know, with two-way contracts now, there are a lot of opportunities to work your way into the league.”
McCoy said he would be fine playing in the G League.
“It’s just a way to develop and get better,” he said.
Experts talk about Brown
McCoy isn’t the only player with Las Vegas ties who could get drafted. Oregon’s Troy Brown Jr., who went to Centennial High School, is projected to go in the late teens or early 20s of the first round. He also left after one season of college basketball.
“It’s been a long-term dream,” Brown said of the NBA. “It just seemed like it would never come fast enough. Now it’s finally here.”
The unnamed scout said teams are considering Brown’s potential rather than his production at Oregon. He averaged 11.3 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Ducks.
“I don’t think what he did his freshman year justifies what a lot of people saw being drafted in the first round,” the scout said. “He’s got the size and he looks the part, but it’s not like he didn’t get a chance to play at Oregon. He played 31 minutes a game.”
Bilas was much higher on Brown.
“He can really do everything out there,” Bilas said. “He’s a very solid passer. He knows how to play. He’s skilled. He’s not a spectacular NBA athlete. A lot of times when you say guys are super athletic, you’re talking NBA super athletic. You’re not going to be in Troy Brown’s position as a player without being a really good athlete, but then you start comparing him against guys like Russell Westbrook. When you say super athletic, that’s the sort of athleticism you’re talking about, and that’s not what he has.
“But he’s an above-average defender that should be able to guard multi-spots, which is important at that level. I just think his complete game is really attractive, and the fact that he’s still so young and he’s really long armed. He might only stand 6-6, but his wingspan is like 6-9 or 6-10. So with his length and skill set, I don’t see that there’s a downside with him. It’s just a question of how good you think he’s going to be.”
NBA mock drafts
Where the locals are projected to go
Troy Brown Jr.
CBS Sports, No. 17, Bucks
The Ringer, No. 18, Spurs
Sports Illustrated, No. 18, Spurs
USA Today, No. 18, Spurs
nbadraft.net, No. 20, Timberwolves
ESPN, No. 21, Jazz
Net Scouts, No. 21, Jazz
Bleacher Report. No. 24, Trail Blazers
Net Scouts, No. 34, Mavericks
nbadraft.net, No. 43, Nuggets
The Ringer, No. 57, Thunder