Ziggin' and Zaggin': Where Will Former Zags Fall in NBA Draft?
With the NBA Draft just three days away, and this being the last Ziggin' and Zaggin' before Thursday's selections, it is a perfect time to look at where Gonzaga's four pro prospects—Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs, and Jeremy Pargo—may hear their names called.
Daye's decision to remain in the NBA draft has been one of the most scrutinized by college and pro experts alike.
Poor numbers at the combine and an inconsistent Gonzaga career has left Daye with far more question marks than many of the first round prospects, while a solid junior season in Spokane would have likely cemented a lottery pick for Daye.
But, Daye's decision has been made, and come Thursday he will hear his name called by a team.
Where he hears his name called is a whole other matter.
The consensus seems to be that if Daye isn't drafted by Detroit at 14, he could be in for a long wait. And, while the Pistons—who are looking to inject some youth and athleticism—would be a great fit for Austin, it's tough to see him falling too far if he gets past Detroit.
In fact, the four teams drafting after Detroit—Chicago, Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Atlanta—would all likely give him a long hard look.
At the end of the day though, look for the Pistons to take Daye with the 15th pick and stash him away for a few years while they try to develop him into the top flight player he never could reach at Gonzaga.
Heytvelt's career has come a long way in a just a few years.
After dominating UNC and Tyler Hansbrough in the 2006 Preseason NIT, Heytvelt seemed poised to become one of the top stars in Zags' history.
However, off the court problems and injuries constantly derailed Heytvelt's progress, and it wasn't until this past season that he seemed to put it all back together.
Heytvelt isn't an elite talent; he doesn't dazzle or amaze, but he is a solid player that is more than capable of giving a team a boost of energy and a few big plays every game.
His stock has been quietly on the rise over the past few weeks. Like Hansbrough, Heytvelt has seen a bump due to teams looking for solid players and not huge upside guys.
That in mind, Heytvelt would be a perfect selection for a team in the late first round. Those picks, the 25-30 range, are not coveted by teams as they have to guarantee a contract to a player that doesn't necessarily merit it.
So, for a player like Heytvelt—who doesn't look like a star, but doesn't look like a mega bust either—that is a perfect range for him to fall into.
Look for the Minnesota Timberwolves—with the 28th pick in the draft, and their third in the first round—to take Heytvelt and use him as a 10-15 minutes a game kind of guy, subbing in for Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.
Downs, like Heytvelt to a lesser extent, had much of his college career defined by off the court decisions. Downs was a top-rated prospect who, after less than a semester at the University of Kansas, decided to transfer back home and attend Gonzaga.
That move was criticized by many, including Downs' father, and made Micah a bigger name in college circles than his play ever indicated.
Downs never grew into the star many had hoped he would be for the Bulldogs, but he found his niche as a solid role player. That label, a role player, is Downs' greatest asset and biggest hindrance as a draft prospect.
Teams that are looking for a second round pick that can contribute will look at Downs, but teams that are looking for a second round gem that can become an all-star won't give him the time of day.
Downs' professional career is likely in the NBDL or Europe, but, if he does get selected, look for it to be at either the 55 or 56 slots. Both of those selections are held by the Portland Trailblazers, a team that has had an up close look at Downs for the past few seasons.
The Blazers have built a solid foundation of young, all-star talent, and are probably looking for the few role players that can push them into Western Conference contention.
A role that Downs could certainly fill.
Pargo entered last season, his senior year, with a chance to lead one of the nation's top teams and make himself into a mid-first round pick in this year's draft.
Things didn't quite work out that way for Pargo, who struggled during a bad stretch of non-conference games for the Zagas, and subsequently lost many of his minutes and responsibilities to Matt Bouldin.
Pargo's draft status also fell significantly during the season. As mentioned, Jeremy had a chance to hear his name called in the first 30 picks if he had a good senior year, but, after a disappointing season, it could be a long Thursday night for the former Zag.
Unless a team has quietly fallen in love with Pargo during the draft process, and there seems to be no indication of that, Jeremy will likely have to follow his brother Jannero's path to the NBA—that of an undrafted free agent.
But, if Jeremy IS drafted on Thursday the smart money on his suitor would be the Utah Jazz at the No. 50 pick. The Jazz have been working Pargo out and, at the very least, seem to be interested, so that is one possible landing spot for Jeremy.
That's it for the draft prognostications, check back Thursday for a review of where the Zags ended up, and what it means for their pro futures.
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