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How Much Will Dariq Whitehead’s Foot Set Him Back For The NBA Draft?

Teams should think carefully before passing on him.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Duke Vs Tennessee
Mar 18, 2023; Orlando, FL, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Dariq Whitehead (0) is defended by Tennessee Volunteers forward Olivier Nkamhoua (13) during the first half in the second round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at Legacy Arena
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

People are generally pretty clear about where Dereck Lively is now even if they have mixed opinions of what he could become: he’s an agile shotblocker who is quick enough to switch on most opponents.

Offense right now is an unknown/potential bonus.

But what about his Duke running mate Dariq Whitehead? That’s still more of a mystery.

Whitehead obviously had injury issues and we didn’t really get to see him at his best (recently he revealed that he is going to have a second foot surgery, which may explain why he appeared slower than people expected).

This article suggests he could be a good value pick and that’s hard to argue with. Look at him: he’s physically mature, he’ll be much more athletic once his foot is sorted out and, in a bit of a twist, turns out he can shoot.

And that’s the most revealing thing, because coming in to college, no one was talking about his three point game.

He really refined that while recovering from his foot injury, and to us, that tells you what you need to know about the guy. You might take something away from him, but he’ll find some other way to hurt you.

That he upgraded his three point shooting so considerably while recovering from an injury really is the news. To us, you’d want to take a flyer on that guy even if it was uncertain. And a second surgery certainly suggests that there is some uncertainty.

But if the surgeons do good work and he heals properly, then it’s going to be forgotten pretty quickly, and what you have left is a powerful, keen shooting 6-6 guard who can also drive to the basket. What’s not to like there?

Victor Wembanyama is the prize in this draft. There's no question about that. But there’s a chance that Whitehead could emerge as a really big deal after the draft. The foot problems might scare some people off, but some team is likely to be pretty happy about that.