I have been meaning to write this thread for a long, long time but (for good reasons) have been having a hard time getting myself enthused for tonight's NBA Draft. It's not that I don't love the NBA because I do. It is just that, in terms of momentum, Gonzaga's relationship with the NBA doesn't exactly have the best momentum at this point. A season ago, I thought we had two draft locks, one 60/40 guy, and another 50/50 guy. It turns out we had one lottery pick (Daye) and three undrafted and unsigned players (Heytvelt, Pargo, Downs). This is where I have to mention the name John Stockton...see, we do groom NBA talent...I swear. While I do believe Heytvelt and Pargo will eventually have an NBA career, you can understand why I am a bit reserved when I put Gonzaga and the NBA in the same sentence. We do have Austin Daye, however. He showed glimpses of being a very effective perimeter threat for the Pistons and should get regular minutes next season. We also do have a two-time NBA champ but..well....let's move to Matt.
As Gonzaga fans, we all know what Matt Bouldin is and what he isn't. He's one of the smartest players I've watched and he's one of the best passers I've seen in a Gonzaga uniform. He isn't a great defender and has had major struggles playing against eltie defenders and defending elite offensive players. These type of players have thrived in the NBA from time to time because of one major factor: a consistent jumper from deep. Matt is definitely a solid shooter but I think the majority of his point come from penetration/mid-range jumpers and post up plays. With his speed and the type of player in the NBA, those points won't be as readily available. He'll need to become a shooter that can come in and bury the open jumper for an NBA club. If he's shown the ability to do that in his workouts, he might have a fighting chance of hearing his name but the odds are against him.
The reason I say the odds are against him is because of a few factors that are becoming prevelant in the NBA Draft. First of all, it is potential based. You don't draft the best players where Matt will be drafted, you draft on potential for development. For this reason, you tend to see a lot of European guys go in the second round and you also see a lot of underclassmen fall late and eat up spots for the developed players like Matt. The other reason why Matt will struggle to be drafted is because of what he does best. Looking at the late second round projections, you see a lot of guys that have a defined role that translates well to the next level. I can say fairly confidently that you won't see the same Matt Bouldin we saw at Gonzaga if he winds up in the NBA. He'll have to mold his game and a lot of teams are not willing to wait that long on a player that doesn't have as much "upside" down the road.
I realize this piece has been verging on debbie-downer but last year's draft really should have clued you in to what this night is all about. The good thing for Matt is that he has been working hard and participating in a lot of workouts and the feedback that we have heard has largely been positive. If a team is looking for a heady guard that can make plays, Matt might hear his name this evening. He'll definitely have a summer league spot I believe and there are so many options overseas that he will have a great career regardless of what happens this evening. We wish Matt nothing but the best tonight.
Feel free to use this thread to send Matt some good vibes and comment during the draft tonight.