Riding high off the #1 pick in the NFL draft, the MAC looks to make more noise in the NBA draft. The Cavs have not yet made their intentions known, but all signs point to Zeke Marshall not being the first pick of the draft. Now that we established that, the question remains will he be drafted at all?
The only two round mock draft I'm aware of does not project Zeke getting selected. The draft pundits over at Draft Xpress have Zeke ranked as the 81st pick and ESPN's Chad Ford has him ranked at #83 (Insider $). For those of you who are not math experts, that is outside the top 60. However, it's quite difficult to predict second round selections and it's really a matter of preference once you get deeper into the second round. Zeke has already had workouts with the Bulls, Lakers, Trailblazers, Timberwolves, Kings, Rockets, Pistons, Mavericks, and Bobcats and a workout with the Sixers upcoming this Friday (via http://hoopshype.com/past_workouts.htm). One of these teams may come away impressed and take a second round flyer on Zeke.
The appeal of Zeke Marshall is the same appeal he had as a high school recruit. He is 7'0" with a massive 7'5" wingspan. Zeke was a force in the paint on the defensive side throughout his college career at Akron and his shot blocking ability should translate well to the NBA. While the shot blocking ability was prominent immediately in Zeke's freshman year, the rest of his game was sorely lacking. Zeke was a highly ranked recruit coming out of high school due to his height, but was largely unskilled and too lanky to be a dominant big man. There are countless recruits who make it to the NCAA as a result of their height or supreme athleticism and never improve. Zeke improved on every facet of his game year after year and developed a much more polished offensive game culminating in a senior season where he shot 65%. He also earned two MAC defensive player of the year awards in his junior and senior season. He increased his strength each year and is closer to having an NBA-ready body.
|2012 - Zeke Marshall||33||28.2||4.6||7.1||65.1||0.1||0.1||66.7||3.6||5.7||64.2||2.5||4.5||7.0||0.8||1.4||0.6||3.7||2.7||13.0|
The knock on Zeke Marshall is that his offensive game, while improved, is still not sophisticated enough for the NBA. He is still somewhat of a project and will need to get stronger. The NBA does not look at 22 year old senior prospects the same way they look at 19 year old freshman prospects. They tend to have a bias against the unknown, younger player over the improved older player. Also, many in the NBA will see the MAC as weak competition and it is an unknown if he can compete against NBA type talent. He will not have the same size advantage he enjoyed in the MAC and will need to improve his offensive arsenal to be a threat on that side of the ball.
While this post revolves around Zeke's draft chances, next week's draft is not an endgame for Zeke. There will be opportunities to be an undrafted free agent, play in the NBDL, or even play overseas. You can make the argument that it is almost better to go undrafted rather than be a late second round draft pick. Zeke would have more freedom in choosing which teams give him the best shot at a roster spot if he were to not be selected in the draft and would be able to impress scouts during the summer league.