Normally, it's a prospect's decision to declare early for the NBA draft that raises questions. In Kris Dunn's case, the decision in question is the one that has him reportedly returning back to Providence, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. In doing so, he's taking a legitimate risk.
While it's tough to knock a kid for staying in school, Dunn's background and situation are somewhat different from most.
In 2012-13, he was having a pretty rough freshman year before an injury to his shoulder forced him into season-ending surgery. Dunn's outlook then took a devastating turn for the worse when he reinjured the same shoulder four games into his sophomore year. Another surgery would ultimately require him to miss all but four games 2013-14.
After two years at Providence, Dunn had nothing to show for himself but a pair of major operations. It just didn't seem like the NBA was in the cards for him.
And then this 2014-15 season happened. Dunn bounced back to play in 33 of 34 games and take home co-Big East Player of the Year honors, finally finding the NBA radar.
And Dunn didn't just graze it. He'd started to generate lottery buzz. By the end of the year, Dunn had become one of the hottest prospects in the nation.
Only instead of trying to capitalize in the draft and strike while the iron is hot, Dunn will head back to Providence, where uncertainty looms.
If anything happens to that shoulder next year, forget about it. He'll be showered in red flags right up until draft night.
Dunn will also be 22 years old by June 2016. Since the 2006 draft, only seven players 22 or older have been taken in the top 10. Just three of them went top five.
|Top-10, 22 Years Old by Draft Night Since 2006|
|Jimmer Fredette||No. 10||2011|
|Wesley Johnson||No. 4||2010|
|Epke Udoh||No. 6||2010|
|Hasheem Thabeet||No. 2||2009|
|Joakim Noah||No. 9||2007|
|Sheldon Williams||No. 5||2006|
|Randy Foye||No. 7||2006|
Recently, it's become rare for a general manager to reach on a 22 year old. Maybe it's due to the fact that most of them fail to meet the value of their draft position. There aren't many players on the list above who've lived up to their expectations.
The fact is, the potential reward that would result from Dunn having an even bigger 2015-16 isn't worth the risk of him flatlining. And quite frankly, the chances of him improving significantly seem slim.
He could stand to improve his jumper, but he still made a respectable 27 of 77 (35.1 percent) threes. Regressing as a shooter would be a really bad look, given that he'd be four years removed from high school and still struggling to put together a reliable jump shot. At least now, that 35.1 percent from three looks promising.
And though he'll definitely need to cut down on turnovers, it's tough to imagine him doing so with his monster 28 percent usage rate likely to increase, considering leading scorer LaDontae Henton and starting center Carson Desrosiers are graduating, and Tyler Harris, the team's third-leading scorer, is transferring.
With those departures, Providence could also have trouble winning games next season.
Part of the appeal to Dunn this year was that he led the Friars to a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. I'm not sure I'd bet on Providence having another 22-win season. And if that's the case and the team struggles, you can bet there will be skeptics questioning Dunn's junior stats as empty production.
If the goal is to create the best chance of going early in the draft, then you have to know when to sell high. And at this point, Dunn's stock has nearly peaked.
He's potentially leaving some good money on the table and returning with more to lose than gain. Hopefully Dunn remains healthy and the decision pays off in a year. But he's certainly taking a gamble.