|Photo Credit: WXYZ|
- Adi Joseph (USA Today) - #20 by Chicago
- Matt Moore (CBS) - #34 by Houston
- Gary Parrish (CBS) - #36 by Sacramento
- NBADraft.net - #18 by Atlanta
- Draft Express (DE) - #20 by Chicago
The crazy thing here is that Hardaway is all over the board. Some guys think he's going to go really high and others see him dropping somewhere in the 2nd round. To start, it seems pretty clear that Hardaway will indeed be drafted. To project otherwise would just be crazy at this point. He also looks to fill a role occupied by many NBA prospects. He's clearly good enough to go in the 1st round, but it will take a team dedicated to Hardaway and his future to actually gain that selection. He's just as likely to be snagged in the 20s as he is to drop somewhere early or deep into the 2nd round.
For NBA agents, this makes it very difficult. There's a desire to grab guys like Hardaway when they come around the first time, but if they do indeed drop, it's a lot easier to trade up for the #35 pick than the #20 pick. By that time, every top prospect is off the board and all the guys that are considered "guarantees" to go early already know where they're going. Needless to say, it can easily turn into a "high risk, high reward" pick. Compare a Hardaway #20 selection to a guy like Michael Carter-Williams or Shabazz Muhammad. Nothing against either of these guys, but one of the players projected in the teens will undoubtedly fall deeper in the draft order and these are just two of the guys I'm highlighting. A team may want a guy like Hardaway, but there won't nearly be as much skepticism if they select a Carter-Williams or a Muhammad instead. Again, this is just a hypothetical, but it shows why it's so difficult to project a guy like Hardaway because of the concern about missing out on a guy with the hype and projections.
Frankly, there's no predicting who will draft Hardaway, but if I had to make an educated guess, I would say Hardaway ends up going in the 1st round (Chicago?). I think the strong NCAA Tournament run, the Big Ten name brand, and a great NBA Combine performance will be enough to merit at least one believer. And remember, that's all it takes, just one believer. If he does slip out of the 1st round, it isn't too big of a deal as Hardaway will certainly get a contract, but it will be a bit disappointing considering all the positive momentum he has going his way right now. Either way, stay tuned as it will surely be an exciting night.