Purdue NBA Draft 2018 – From late November to early February, the Boilermakers rode a 19-game winning streak to an amazing 23-2 record. Due to this nation-leading streak, Purdue seemed more likely of a first final 4 appearance since 1980(38 years) than the combination of a sweet 16 exit and only one late-second round draftee(Vincent Edwards, 52nd) they ended up with. However, despite the figurative collapse of a season with realistic national championship aspirations, there are positives to take from where three Boilers ended up.
Houston Rockets via trade with Utah Jazz (52)
A casual NBA fan would assume that since the Houston Rockets had the best record in the NBA last year, Vincent will not see the floor. In actuality, there is a role he can play and the fact that Houston traded for him – specifically – surely must mean they have envisioned a role he can take for the NBA’s best (65-17) from a season ago.
How Edwards fits in Houston
An astounding tweet mentions that the rockets shot roughly 42 3-pointers per game last season- the most in the league by over six attempts. That’s spectacular news for a stretch four who is a valuable asset from the three point line and as a closer.
For Vince’s career, he averaged 39.2 percent (40+ over the last three seasons) on his 3-point shots and 82 percent from the free throw line. Given that he was a four-year player at Purdue and started 127 games for them, these career stats should not be taken lightly. Houston need not worry about his shooting skills being a detriment to the team.
P.S. nationally recognized shooting guard Grayson Allen achieved a 38 percent 3-point percentage for his career to go along with a 83 percent free throw percentage.
As for his role on the Rockets, the only true small forwards on the roster are Trevor Ariza (33 years old), P.J. Tucker (33 years old) and Joe Johnson (37 years old). Both Ariza and Johnson are unrestricted free agents unlikely to re-sign with the Rockets due to impending deals for priority FA’s Clint Capela and Chris Paul that will absorb much of Houston’s salary cap.
This means that the 2018-19 Houston Rockets roster will likely feature a 6-PPG veteran at the 3 (Tucker) and a 9-PPG veteran at the four in Ryan Anderson. This means there will be a golden opportunity for a young, cheap forward (Edwards) who’s worst scoring total in the past three seasons of Big Ten basketball featured over 11 PPG and 40 percent 3-point shooting.
I’m not saying Edwards will be starting by the end of the season, but there is definitely room for him and his basketball talents in H-Town.
P. P. S. the Rockets likely won’t be able to re-sign Anderson as well (currently in $20 million Per year contract), likely meaning Luc Mbah a Moute will be cheaply re-signed along with his 7-PPG and 33-percent 3-point percentage.
Also, rising junior Purdue guard Carsen Edwards (no relation) is from H-town, and will likely work his butt-off to be the next player Houston trades up for in the NBA Draft… that would be cool with me if Houston replaced Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza with Edwards and Edwards.
Undrafted Free Agent, Cleveland Cavaliers
Dakota was at no point in his four-year Purdue career a player that Purdue fans considered a lock to make it in the NBA.
However, during workouts in the draft-process, Dakota, A.K.A. the Midwestern Cowboy (MWC) began to gain steam as a potential late-second round draftee after impressing several NBA teams. He especially impressed the Toronto Raptors, which had a tryout record lassoed down by the cowboy himself according to an SI article exactly one week before the draft – “Mathias drained 13–of–16 long balls en route to setting the all-time Raptors workout record with 53 points.”
Now that’s very impressive, but I will now elaborate on a few more reasons to convince readers to follow Mathias’s career.
Mathias’ future in the NBA
He is the ultimate 3-and-D player, but let’s start with his shooting prowess. The MWC followed up his junior season that included 12.2 PPG per 40 minutes and 45.3 percent from three with a 15.4 PPG per 40 and 46.6 percent from three his senior season.
Sounds like a similar player at a similar position to Grayson Allen, right? Well, yeah, we compared Edwards to Allen and compared to those two, Mathias has a higher career 3-point percentage and field goal efficiency.
In addition to all of this, Bleacher Report ranked him as the No. 9 undrafted player after placing “in the 97th percentile in points per possession on jump shots off the dribble” and even-though offense is probably his less-elite side of the ball, “he also ranked in the 87th percentile as a pick-and-roll scorer and the 93rd percentile as a ball-screen passer.”(BR)
P.S. First-round pick, Grayson Allen, ranked 3rd (last) in both of the important stats (eFG percentage and 3-point percentage) compared to these two recent Purdue graduates.
Alright, that sounds terrific and all but what is it about his defense that makes him worthy of playing in the NBA?
Well first of all, with the addition of scoring more in both his junior and senior season, Mathias also earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive team both years – and rumored by many to have been the runner-up to the award both times.
There are many examples of Mathias shutting down an opponent’s main scoring threat, but these two sentences from purduesports.com’s description of the Arizona vs Purdue game from early in the 2017-18 season are telling;
“Dakota Mathias scored 24 points with five rebounds and six assists … Mathias also held high-scoring guard Allonzo Trier, who had been averaging 29.4 points per game (5 games) to eight points (season-low = 7) on 3-of-10 shooting (2nd worst in season) with four turnovers (had 5+ only 3 times).”
That’s just ridiculous given how productive he was on offense too, and I could go on, but I won’t for the sake of an already too-long article.
To go even deeper into why Dakota should have a role in the NBA you have to look at what he’s done up until this point. Per-usual four-year college players had the least representation in the Draft with 12 players, but 13 of the first 18 picks in the 2018 Draft were freshman (One & Dones) and only one senior was drafted in the first round (Grayson Allen).
Where am I going with this? NBA teams draft on potential and athleticism. If you’re a star player on Kansas, but haven’t improved over your four-year career, it doesn’t matter if you scored between 14-to-16 points per game, you won’t – unless you’re an athletic freak – be drafted in the first round.
To finally reach my point, Mathias has increased his points per game, assists per game , rebounds per game, and 3-point percentage every year of his Purdue career after being “only” a 3-star recruit out of high-school.
That is worthy of an opportunity to see if he can improve once more, or several times preferably. No NBA scout could assume that he would be an athletic freak. It took until his workouts that they figured out that maybe he is – Mathias posted a 34.5-inch one-step vertical in Lakers workout. (via SI)
Undrafted Free Agent, Utah Jazz
Now I’ll try to keep this short, but it always felt like there was a place in the NBA for Isaac Haas. He was the lovable giant of the team, if you will, and it’s remarkable that Mathias surpassed him in terms of NBA-readiness (relative to where they started), but I guess it makes sense given the transition of the league.
Regardless of the fact that Haas doesn’t have anywhere near a 3-point shot, which is just about a requirement in the NBA even for a center, and a luxury in college basketball, there are still a few reasons for why he should be on an NBA team.
This man is a straight-up behemoth. Haas went to the combine but wasn’t able to perform because he was still recovering from a Purdue career-ending injury suffered in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Luckily, his measurables stand out on their own as he measured a full two inches and 30 pounds heavier than any other player in appearance – 7-foot-3 and 303 pounds.
Somehow he’s not even the tallest player on his team. His first three years at Purdue he was a back-up to two NBA big men – A.J. Hammons (2016 1st-team All-Big Ten and DPOY) and Caleb Swanigan (2017 1st-team AA and Lute Olson award (NPOY)). The fact that he persevered through all this competition and has the measurables should be good enough.
Not only was Haas built like a star, he produced like one. Pretty much every year of his Purdue career he ranked first in the nation in fouls drawn per minute.
Not impressed? His freshman year he averaged 20.8 PPG and 11.2 rebounds per 40 minutes. Now you’re probably either impressed or questioning how inflated those numbers are due to being a back-up but don’t worry, the stats only got better.
From his sophomore year to his senior year, whilst playing between 14-23 minutes per game, Haas ranged between 25-27 PPG per 40 and stagnated at around 10 rebounds per game.
P.S. in the 2016-17 season, Purdue had a top-three rebound margin team, but Caleb Swanigan stole a lot of rebounds from Haas en-route to breaking the Big Ten double-double record.
Lastly, Isaac Haas is a great dude with a great story. He is an older brother to a sister who’s been experiencing severe epilepsy since the age of three months old. Haas’ family is a normal, middle-class family – at best – in Alabama. The family decided that an emotional-support dog would really help Erin, Haas’ sister, so they decided to reach out to the faithful Purdue family.
The family asked for $20,000 for the process and Purdue fans gave money out of their pockets to help the family. Haas has always said that he plays for his sister and his family, and it’s very disheartening to see that he wasn’t able to get a guaranteed contract to help them.
A whole lot of fate wasn’t on his side starting with his first major injury at the beginning of Purdue’s 2017-18 postseason. All I’ll say is that when nbascoutinglive.com said “his character could cause him to go undrafted” I hope they did their research to understand that he is actually in fact a nice guy who improves others characters, and not this nonsense that nobody close to the guy would ever agree with, guaranteed.
Haas broke down crying during his senior-day speech when thanking the Purdue fans for helping his family and sister. This is accompanied by the many times he’s been thanked by fans for taking pictures with their families and writing letters to the fans, including yours truly.