This article looks at some risers and fallers in the upcoming NBA Draft (the draft is on June 22nd, incidentally) and probably not surprisingly, Duke products Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead are headed in opposite directions.
Whitehead’s perceived rise is because of his mobility and - to NBA types anyway - his surprising three point shooting.
He didn’t do it a lot at Duke because that wasn’t his role, but what NBA scouts should keep in mind is that he accepted his role without complaint because it made his team better. As excited as everyone is about his innate talent, his attitude is superb. He’d fit right in on a well-run franchise like San Antonio. They won’t need him though since they will draft 7-4 French unicorn Victor Wembanya at #1, but he’d be a great fit.
And while people may be skittish about Whitehead due to his foot, here are the things you should keep in mind about him.
First, while he sat out with his injury for some time, he still improved a key aspect of his game: his three point shooting.
Second, people are reporting this as a second injury. It’s not. The first surgery didn’t entirely fix the problem so he went back in to take care of it. It really doesn’t seem like a big deal.
Remember how he would drive and sometimes miss the dunk? The power was there. So was the desire. But he couldn’t push off.
However, what anyone should keep in mind about Whitehead is, like Lively, his attitude. The guy fought his way back into the rotation, overcame a second injury and returned to action.
He’s a fighter in other words and smart enough to use the rehab time to significantly improve a key aspect of his game.
You can never be 100 percent certain of anything. Bill Walton had a brilliant future before foot injuries destroyed it. Same for Sam Bowie.
But we’d bet on Whitehead because he’s shown some real toughness. He’d ben asset to any franchise.