Coming attractions: Today is the deadline for underclassmen to commit to the June 26 draft or return to school, the latest moment of clarity that will provide teams the final list of who's in and who's out. (Ryan Anderson, from Cal and Oak Ridge High is using the entire clock, as he planned. ) The updated mock draft, covering the first round, will be posted after.
Afternoon update: Anderson announced he will stay in the draft.
It may not be good for his confidence and it certainly wouldn't be an encouraging sign of how general managers rate his chance of making the NBA, but DeMarcus Nelson might be better off going undrafted than being picked in the late-40s or the 50s, what at the moment appears to be his best-case scenario.
Being selected is a nice ego bump. It might be worth a slight edge because the team would have a greater investment in the pick working out, though even slight might be overselling the value. Selections late in the second round are mostly loose change, so no front office will give the coach a hard stare for wanting to keep a little-known free agent over choice 50something. If there's a difference in the guaranteed money to come to camp, it's likewise minimal.
Not being drafted gives Nelson everything else. The chance to pick his spot as a free agent, the opportunity to pick the team with the biggest opening in the backcourt, the chance to sift through the options that will come and plot his own course rather than be locked into the club that selects him. That flexibility is a big everything else.
And there will be options. The Sheldon High graduate, and via Duke as the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, will get free-agent offers if he goes undrafted and almost certainly will be in summer league with someone and in a training camp. Scouts love his athleticism and toughness, and spending four years as an important part of a spotlight college program is a plus as an intangible.
But that drawbacks that existed all along -- small for a shooting guard, inconsistent shot, few signs that he can slide over and play some point -- continue to shout Nelson to the back of the second round. The news was even worse after the physicals and testing at the pre-draft camp in May: he measured 6-1 in feet and 6-2.25 in shoes.
Not a big calling out there for shooting guards at 6-1, or 6-2.25, or 6-3.5 if someone drops him into Herman Munster high tops. At that size, you'd better have Monta Ellis/Allen Iverson speed and ball skills and be able to score in huge bunches. That's not Nelson.
He did test well in other areas. At 198 pounds (more than Kevin Martin, Leandro Barbosa and Larry Hughes, among others who made it) and with a low body fat, he has the strength and conditioning to play physical. He has very long arms (a wingspan of 6-10 and a standing reach of 8-2.5) that partially compensates for the lack of height and along with the athleticism allows him to get to rebounds and clog passing lanes. The package becomes the definition of what people mean when they say someone "plays bigger than 6-2."
By comparison, among others in the draft class:
*Darrell Arthur, a power forward who could go in the lottery, has a wingspan of 6-10.75.
*Jerryd Bayless, a point guard who will go in the lottery and has comparable basic measurements (6-3 in shoes, 204 pounds) to Nelson, has a wingspan of 6-3.5 and a standing reach of 8-1.
Nelson also had a vertical of 38.5 inches, tied for eighth best among the 70 prospects who tested in that category.
It's all fun with numbers in this setting, but real business the next week and a half in 30 front offices where executives, scouts and coaches care deeply about how disruptive a guard can be on defense by getting a finger on the ball to deflect a pass. And on June 26, it goes from numbers to the first day of Nelson's future.