Draft Projection: No. 7: Sacramento Kings
Positives: Insider Only
Negatives: Insider Only
Summary: June 26 Update: McCollum is the best scorer in the draft. He can kill you with his jumper or cross you over and take it to the rim. He's a heady player with a high basketball IQ and a fearlessness with the ball. If he was a few inches taller or a more natural point guard, he might be atop this board. But as it stands, we rate him as the best point guard prospect in the draft.
Quick fact: McCollum led the nation with 1.83 points per play and a 91.3 effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoots.
June 25 Update: The Kings continue to be all over the place. Every day a new prospect; this reflects a young front office, an inexperienced head coach and owner and very little time to prep for the draft. Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad, Steven Adams are all possibilities here. Ditto for Michael Carter-Williams.
However, after his second workout there, McCollum's name is beginning to surface as a potential selection. The Kings also are exploring trades. Two sources told ESPN.com that they're using Jimmer Fredette as trade bait to pick up another first-round pick in the mid- to late first round so they can grab either Tim Hardaway Jr. or Tony Snell. The Jazz in particular like McCollum and have been looking to move up, so that's one plausible scenario.
June 24 Update: Along with Oladipo being ranked No. 1, McCollum may be the biggest surprise of our survey for the Secret NBA Draft Big Board McCollum is ranked as the third-best point guard in my Top 100, but here he comes up ahead of Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams by a nose. Like Oladipo, he ranked highly because he's considered a solid, reliable pick. While Carter-Williams and Burke garnered higher votes, they also had lower ones too. McCollum's narrow voting range of 6 to 9 was identical to Bennett's and similar to Oladipo's. He may not have as much upside as others, but he's seen as a safer pick. McCollum's draft night range is 5 to 14.
June 18 Update: The Blazers also are in need of a shooter and would have strong interest in Caldwell-Pope if he doesn't go at No. 9. McCollum is another good option. He's a bit undersized to play the 2 (Damian Lillard has the point guard spot on lockdown), but his shooting and driving ability should complement Lillard nicely. The Blazers also are looking at bigs, and Pittsburgh's Steven Adams looks like a potential fit here.
June 10 Update: McCollum is the sleeper here. A number of teams really like him, but he's yet to emerge atop their boards. He's completed workouts with the Magic, Suns, Kings and Blazers. He also has the Jazz, 76ers, Pacers and Timberwolves coming up. In particular, the Suns and Blazers look like two terrific options. Both teams are looking for scoring guards who can shoot and get to the basket. Right now, McCollum could be drafted in the Nos. 5-10 range.
May 28 Update: Teams can take a deep breath: McCollum's foot is OK. His performance in the athletic testing portion of the combine paired with a strong workout in New York on Friday should put any concerns to rest. He obviously will continue to get more explosive as time goes on, but what's there is already good. The same can be said about his shooting, as he looks effortless moving out to the NBA 3-point line. The Suns, Wolves, Blazers and Thunder look like his best bets in the lottery.
May 27 Update: While Michael Carter-Williams may have the best floor vision of any guard in the draft, McCollum could be the best scoring guard. McCollum averaged 19.1 PPG as a freshman, 21.8 PPG as a sophomore, 21.9 PPG as a junior and was averaging 23.9 PPG as a senior before breaking his foot in late January.
McCollum made a name for himself as a junior by ranking third in the country in PER and by torching Duke in the 2012 NCAA tournament (30 points, six rebounds and six assists).
McCollum is equally comfortable shooting the midrange jump shot and getting to the basket. Thirty-two percent of his shots were at the rim this year and he shot 54 percent. Another 34 percent of his shots were 2-point jumpers and he shot 49 percent. The other 34 percent were 3-pointers, and he shot a sizzling 52 percent from beyond the arc.
In the workout I saw, McCollum showed that he won't have any issues with the deeper NBA 3-point line. He shot roughly 70 percent from the NBA 3 in drills I saw. He has an effortless stroke. While his 3-point percentages were often inconsistent during his career, it likely has more to do with the quality of shots he got at Lehigh than his stroke.
McCollum is also an excellent rebounder for a guard, picks up steals, and is a willing passer. While he isn't the same sort of athlete that Carter-Williams is, he measured a good 38.5 max vertical jump and was a little above average on the speed drills.
However, his foot might still be holding him back a little bit. While it's now 100 percent healthy and he's free to do full workouts, he's been cleared for only a few weeks and is still getting back into elite shape. While the foot looked great (he was cutting well and exploding off the floor for 360-degree dunks), I expect both his quickness and his explosion to improve over the next few months.
The biggest question teams are asking is whether McCollum is a point guard. He wasn't asked to play the position at Lehigh and never averaged more than 3.5 assists in a season. Of course, people asked the same question of Damian Lillard. Lillard never averaged more than four assists during his career at Weber State but averaged 6.5 assists his rookie year with Portland.
That will be tough to show in a workout setting. So teams are trying other methods. McCollum told me that one team he interviewed with at the draft combine pulled out a deck of cards and asked him to select five cards. After he selected them, the team rep gave him 10 seconds to look at and memorize the cards ? number, color and suite. Forty minutes later, when the interview was over, they asked him to recite all the cards. McCollum told me he remembered all of them. The team responded, "Maybe you are smart enough to play point guard in the NBA."
If he can convince teams that he's a real point guard or that his ability to score transcends position, I see him going somewhere between No. 5 and 10 in this year's draft.
May 15 Update: Scouts will be watching McCollum as closely as anyone at the combine. He hasn't played since early January and everyone wants to see how he's recovered from his foot injury. Historically, players this high on the Big Board don't participate in drills, McCollum should be available for the athletic testing. While he's only been recently cleared to go full speed, it should alleviate concerns about his health. The medical testing also will be key for McCollum. NBA team doctors will get their first looks at how his foot has healed.
May 8 Update (Projected No. 9, Timberwolves): McCollum is getting looks as high as No. 4 to the Suns, but if he falls to No. 9, it will be a coup for the Wolves. The team ranked dead last in the NBA in 3-point percentage, while McCollum shot a scintillating 51 percent from 3 this season. He could be a terrific backcourt mate for Ricky Rubio -- the Stephen Curry they should have had four years ago.
May 2 Update: McCollum continues to generate excitement as news spreads that he's now 100 percent and is going to be able to participate in NBA workouts. With scouts generally down on much of the draft class, McCollum remains a wild card. If he dominates in workouts, I think he could end up going very high. The Suns, Timberwolves, Pistons, Thunder and Jazz all could use his skills.
Apr 2 Update: There isn't much more to say about McCollum since last week. He's still rehabbing and looking like he'll be ready to play in NBA workouts and the draft combine in May. With the struggles of several players on this board, he's looking more and more like a lock for the lottery.
Mar 26 Update: McCollum clearly hasn't played a minute since our last update. So how did he rise seven spots on our board? Look at the competition below him. With almost all of those players struggling, scouts are warming back up to McCollum, who was dominating his league before an injury to his left foot. Some GMs believe McCollum can make the transition to point guard much the same way Damian Lillard did. If he can, he could be five or six spots too low on our Big Board. If he's an undersized 2? This may be just a little bit high.
Mar 13 Update: McCollum finally is off crutches, and there was hope that he might be ready to play for Lehigh in the Patriot League tournament. Unfortunately, he wasn't ready to go in time for the semifinal game against Lafayette and Lehigh lost 82-69, effectively ending McCollum's college career. The good news for McCollum is that it sounds as if he'll be healthy enough to compete in the NBA draft combine and workouts in May.
Feb 27 Update: The bad news for McCollum: He has to sit on the sidelines and watch while other elite guards are out there making their case for the lottery. The good news: More and more scouts, after watching the other guards in this draft, are coming back and claiming McCollum should be a lottery pick.
Jan 30 Update: McCollum may have been the best scorer in college basketball before a foot injury knocked him out last week. There's a good chance that he has played his last college game. How will it affect his stock? Most of the scouts I spoke with aren't worried. They've seen him play enough, and as long as he's going to be willing and able to do NBA team workouts, his draft stock shouldn't take a major hit
Nov 23 Update: McCollum made a name for himself last season by torching Duke in the NCAA tournament with 30 points, six rebounds and six assists. This season he's been fantastic in his first six games, averaging more than 25 points per game and shooting a lights-out 50 percent from behind the arc -- including big games against both Baylor and Pittsburgh.
McCollum's improved shooting has helped his stock, and so has his increased visibility and a lack of go-to scorers in the draft. While he remains undersized for his position, I'm hearing more and more scouts talking about him as a potential late-lottery to mid-first-round pick.
Oct 23 Update: McCollum had a terrific junior campaign, netting the third-highest PER in college basketball, leading his team to the NCAA tournament and then absolutely torching Duke once he got there.
He's a scorer who knows how to get to the basket and finish. If he were a couple of inches taller or a better shooter from beyond the arc, there's a good chance he'd hear his name called in the lottery.
He's probably not going to grow this season, so McCollum's quickest way to the next level is to show teams he can run the point and shoot when open. If he does that, he'll have a genuine shot at the first round.
Apr 9 Update: McCollum, one of the most dynamic scorers in college basketball, ranks third in player efficiency rating (PER) and put on a show against Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament. If he was a few inches taller, scouts would feel more comfortable taking him in the first round, but even at 6-3, he's got a good chance of landing in Round 1 in 2013.
Mar 19 Update: There are a lot of other players who deserve a mention, and I try to give them their due below. But I can't end without noting that McCollum created a major fan club for himself over the weekend. Yes, his 5-for-22 point performance against Xavier wasn't stellar. But he's been consistently one of the best guards in America all season and against Duke (30 points, six boards, six assists) he was the best player on the floor.
NBA scouts sometimes shy away from 2-guards under 6-foot-5, but McCollum seems to have the right combination of attributes to be a terrific guard off the bench at the next level. He's only a junior, so he might stay in school, but if he does declare he's got a real shot at the first round.
Mar 12 Update: The Good: McCollum is an electric scoring guard who knows how to put the ball in the basket. Quick first step and bursts of acceleration help him get to the rim at will. He's willing to mix it up in the paint for rebounds and rack up a number of steals.
The Bad: He's small for a 2-guard. He lacks elite athleticism. He's solid, but not spectacular as a shooter.
The Upside: McCollum's 32.87 PER ranks him as the third-best player in the NCAA. Obviously, scouts are skeptical, thanks to the Patriot League's less-than-challenging schedule. McCollum will have his chance to shine versus Duke in the first round. If he can put on a show there, win or lose, he's got a lot of teams ready to jump on his bandwagon.
Feb 28 Update: McCollum isn't a stranger to college basketball fans and NBA scouts. They've been watching him closely since his breakout freshman season at Lehigh. But, over the course of the past six weeks, with word coming that McCollum might declare for the draft, teams are taking a closer look and liking what they see.
McCollum is a 6-foot-3 scoring machine who can light it up from anywhere on the floor. He's quick with the basketball, an elite rebounder for a guard and racks up steals. The biggest question for McCollum was whether he could work his magic against the elite teams in college basketball.
In the past seasons, he has struggled. This year was an improvement. Against St. John's, Iowa State and Michigan State, McCollum got his points but didn't shoot well from the field against relentless pressure.
Still, if he does declare for the draft, he has a shot at making the second round, even the late first round, according to a handful of NBA scouts.