Ziggin' and Zaggin': Best NBA Destinations For Austin Daye

Shay CroninCorrespondent IJune 12, 2009

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 19:  Austin Daye #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs goes up for a shot against Chris McKnight #30 of the Akron Zips in the second half during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rose Garden on March 19, 2009 in Portland, Oregon. The Bulldogs defeated the Zips 77-64.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Today's news that Gonzaga sophomore Austin Daye is likely to stay in the NBA Draft is the worst kept secret for Zags fans across the country.

For the past month or so, as Daye's stock has risen and seemingly cemented him as a first-round pick, it has become less and less likely the athletic Daye would be returning to Spokane for his junior year.

Instead of addressing what Daye's loss means to the Zags in 2009-'10—there will be plenty of time for that in the upcoming months—let's take a look at which NBA teams would be the best landing spots for the soon-to-be pro.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves probably wouldn't reach for him with the No. 6 pick in the draft (especially now that Kevin McHale isn't pulling the trigger), but Daye could make a great addition to Minny with one of their other first round picks. 

Minnesota has a good, young inside duo with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, but the team still lacks an athletic wing man who can stretch out the court and create space inside. Daye is a project, and it will likely take a few years before the team that drafts him reaps the reward, but the Wolves are a few years away from being relevant again, so maybe it is a perfect match.

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New York Knicks

By all accounts the Knicks will be targeting Davidson guard Stephen Curry at the No. 8 spot. Still, Daye could be just as good a pickup for the high-intensity, quick Mike D'Antoni offense. 

Daye played in a quick, full court offense under Mark Few, and an easy transition into the Knicks' offense might take a few years off of Daye's learning curve. It still would be surprising if the Knicks grabbed Daye so high, or passed over Stephen Curry to take him.

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons struck gold with Tayshaun Prince, a player who, like Daye, most scouts said would have difficulty transitioning to the NBA because of his slender frame. Who's to say they couldn't hit again with a Zag? 

The big difference of course is that while Prince is a defensive specialist, Daye is a defensive liability. But with a pick smack-dab in the middle of the draft (15) and a team that could use a young, athletic player to provide a spark, the Pistons could do a lot worse than Daye.

Phoenix Suns

Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal are getting old, and Amare could use a decent running mate over the next few years (assuming he stays in Phoenix). Like the Knicks, Daye should have a quicker transition to the up-tempo Suns offense than he would a traditional pro offense.

Nash would definitely welcome anyone capable of running up and down the court. Plus, the Suns would keep Daye on the west coast and closer to home.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are one of the most exciting young teams in the Eastern Conference and have a promising future if they can hang onto their young stars and keep moving forward.

That said, former second overall pick Marvin Williams is a restricted free agent this summer, and even though he has failed to live up to the lofty expectations put on him by his draft position, he remains one of the most intriguing young players in the league. 

Any number of teams could take a chance on Williams and offer him a contract the Hawks might not want to match. So if Daye is available for Atlanta at the 19th pick, they would likely take a good hard look at him just in case Marvin splits.

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