Tomorrow night is the NBA Draft. This is not typically news in Penn State basketball circles, but with recently graduated guard D.J. Newbill eligible for this year's draft, there is elevated interest for Nittany Lion fans.
As Chad noted back in April, Newbill was a participant in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament from April 8-11. He turned some heads, with many at the tournament saying he deserved its Most Valuable Player Award. Sam Amico of Fox Sports called Newbill a potential second-round sleeper. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress had Newbill ranked as a top-4 player in the PIT, and RealGM's Jordan Tyler said that Newbill was "electric throughout the event." Newbill's team at the PIT ended up winning the championship. Many thought this would naturally lead to an invitation to the NBA Combine in mid-May, but Newbill was snubbed.
Fortunately, that has not reduced interest in Newbill, who has now worked out with 13 different NBA teams over the last seven weeks, including two workouts with the Los Angeles Clippers. He became so busy with workouts in June that he actually had to cancel a scheduled workout with the Brooklyn Nets, instead attending a workout with the Denver Nuggets. Newbill has also worked out with his hometown Philadelphia 76ers, a team with five second-round picks as of right now. The complete list of dates and teams is below.
Wednesday, May 6 - Utah Jazz
Tuesday, May 26 - Los Angeles Clippers
Thursday, May 28 - Phoenix Suns
Friday, May 29 - Dallas Mavericks
Wednesday, June 3 - Charlotte Hornets
Friday, June 5 - Philadelphia 76ers
Saturday, June 6 - Detroit Pistons
Wednesday, June 10 - Oklahoma City Thunder
Saturday, June 13 - Los Angeles Lakers
Sunday, June 14 - Indiana Pacers
Monday, June 15 - Denver Nuggets
Thursday, June 18 - Orlando Magic
Sunday, June 21 - Los Angeles Clippers
Monday, June 22 - Atlanta Hawks
According to his Twitter, Newbill is back home in Philadelphia, so the Hawks workout on Monday was likely his last before the draft.
The strengths in Newbill's game that scouts have pointed to are familiar to Penn State fans: he is a natural scorer who is strong going to the rim and has a very good mid-range jump shot, both weapons in the pick-and-roll. While the numbers don't reflect it due to his usage at Penn State, he has good passing instincts and has improved his ball handling a great deal during his college career. It's good enough that NBA scouts are now calling him a combo guard who could at times run the point for an NBA team, an important step for a player who would be undersized as a shooting guard in the NBA.
His weaknesses are primarily based on his size and athleticism. He does not possess great speed or strength and is the size of a point guard with a shooting guard's skill set, though his body control and toughness often make up for his less-than-ideal frame. Because of his lack of lateral quickness, there are legitimate questions about his ability to defend at the next level.
Will Newbill get drafted? It's very hard to say given the nature of the second round, but at this point he's still probably on the outside looking in. DraftExpress has Newbill ranked as the 72nd player on its draft board, and CBS has him 89th. While he certainly has a chance to be the first Penn Stater taken in the NBA Draft since Calvin Booth in 1999, it does look like a bit of a long shot.
Still, whether Newbill is drafted on Thursday or not, he will be a player that teams will be interested in signing for summer league and training camp. As a crafty guard with good scoring instincts, Newbill will have a good chance at following in former teammate Tim Frazier's footsteps in joining an NBA roster this season.