The NBA Draft is a cruel process in that only 60 of the players who light up the college basketball world get to hear their name called. Of the three Duke basketball players in this year’s class, only Mason Plumlee is considered to be a sure-fire pick on Thursday night. But what about fellow senior-captains Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry? Where do they fit in on the wide landscape of the NBA?
Our friend Taylor Ostrick’s mock draft has Kelly sneaking in with the 58th pick while Curry is left on the outside looking in, a familiar predicament for the guard who was under recruited coming out of high school. Neither player is particularly athletic, but both players have certain skills that could make them a valuable commodity in the hands of the right coach.
In Kelly’s case, he is a very good outside shooter who has proven to be a game-changing defender from the help side. Plus, at 6-foot-10 he has the ideal body type to fit into a Matt Bonner or Steve Novak type role for a team as a floor-spacing option on offense and an interior defender with size.
This by no means guarantees success in the league, however. Shane Battier learned the value of the corner three in his last two seasons with the Miami Heat and Kelly would be wise to do the same. NBA teams love players who can hunt that shot and make it count. With some work, Kelly could easily be that option for a team with a smart offense and a good point guard.
Curry’s case is a totally different one. Unlike Kelly he doesn’t have NBA size, nor is he a particularly good defender. Curry is what he is: a scorer. He is an elite perimeter shooter who has the ability to make some things happen off the dribble. Ideally a team would want to do with him what the Warriors did with his brother, Stephen, and make him a primary ball handler, but I’m not certain Seth will be able to make that transition as easily as Stephen did.
I see Seth Curry as an Eddie House type player in the NBA. House was an elite scorer coming out of Arizona State and made his money in the league as a scorer off the bench, most notably with the 2008 Boston Celtics championship team. This role frees up Curry to do what he does best, but with better defenders at the NBA level it will take some work on his part to make it a viable option for any team in the league.
Both players have the potential and the pedigree to make it at the NBA level — Mike Krzyzewski has more players in the NBA than any other coach — but both players will need to become role players to hang around in the league. Hopefully they can, because we could all use some White Raven and Curry in our NBA lives.