The NBA Draft kicks off tonight, and sadly, Mizzou fans won’t have much emotional stake tied to the proceedings (though you should pay attention anyway because the NBA is pure insanity this offseason.) That may not be the case next year, but for now the draft will be True Sonless unless someone takes Russell Woods out of the blue.
So to celebrate better days between the NBA and Mizzou, we’re taking a look back at all the Mizzou greats who went on to get drafted or make noise in the league. Specifically, we’re doing a draft.
Here are the rules: We’ll do this fantasy-style in a snake draft. There are no restrictions on filling out each position. Each GM has picked the team he sees fit to put out on the floor.
We also made Michael Porter Jr. available to draft. He hasn’t played a second of college basketball so he shouldn’t technically be eligible. But... come on. Without the one-and-done rule, we all know where he’d be.
Matt Harris: You’re on the clock.
1. Matt Harris: Steve Stipanovich
I won’t waste much time: Gimme Stipo. Back in ’79, he was Stewart’s most ballyhooed recruit, a 6-11 product out of DeSmet who was in the mix with Ralph Sampson and Sam Bowie as the nation’s best prep center. Stipo brought back buzz to a slumping program, helping boost attendance by 2,800 at Hearnes Center during a freshman season where he was the Big Eight Conference’s Newcomer of the Year. Yeah, Stipo is a traditional five, but he’s mobile and at ease stroking a 20-foot jumper. He also gives you immediate rim protection. By his senior season, Stipo was the Big Eight’s POY, throwing up 18.8 points and 8.8 rebounds a night and helping Mizzou become the first team to win four consecutive Big Eight titles. And if you believe the lore, the Houston Rockets nearly took him at No. 1 overall instead of Sampson. While the game has trended away from traditional big men, Stipo has enough athleticism and polish to be more than a lumbering dude chained to the low post.
2. Josh Matejka: Anthony Peeler
For me, the first pick is all about getting a player who can do it all and do it all well. Peeler fits the bill perfectly. For a shooting guard, he’ll grab you some rebounds and dish out some dimes. And, of course, he’ll be able to put the ball in the cup when you need him to. He may not have had the biggest and brightest NBA career, but he stayed in the league for more than a decade and even led the league in 3-point percentage at one point. One of Mizzou’s all-time greats should be a good place to start my team.
3. Jack Peglow: Larry Drew
I'm playing it safe with my first pick. He might not be as flashy of a pick as some of the other first-rounders, but Drew played ten seasons in the NBA and averaged 11 and 5 for his career. He'll give me consistency while also giving me the floor general that will make my team click. I mean, the dude coaches LeBron James now, after all. He's got an immaculately clear idea of what he's doing. With Drew running the offense, I'm quite confident in my team's scoring ability.
4. Sam Snelling: Michael Porter, Jr.
Can you believe these guys picking anyone first other than MPJ? Sure maybe you'd rather go with somebody who has played a second of college basketball first before you take them in an NBA Mizzou draft, but here we are. Missouri has never had a player of the talent of Michael Porter Jr and to me his availability is a no brainer with my first pick. MPJ has the size and athleticism to play both the small forward and big forward position in a smaller lineup. He has the range to shoot from deep and the passing ability to keep the other players involved in the offense.
5. Sam: Keyon Dooling
Dooling is considered to be one of the most athletic guards to ever play at Missouri and he had a long successful career with 7 different teams over 13 seasons. I thought with my second pick it would be smart to get a good defender, athletic attacker and a guy who can handle the ball (just in case I struck out on a PG later). Dooling's ability to score from one wing would compliment MPJ quite a bit.
6. Jack: DeMarre Carroll
The Junkyard Dog, baby. After a relatively slow start to his NBA career, Carroll has really come into his own as a player over the past few seasons. So much so that he was able to secure himself a pretty hefty contract from the Toronto Raptors, which he used (at least partially) to invest in several cars of the exact same color. How could I not pick someone with that kind of business sense? Real talk: Carroll gives me solid defense and some decent scoring, he'll fit in well.
7. Josh: Jordan Clarkson
If I’m gonna have Peeler as the veteran leading my team, I need a playmaker who has some explosiveness. Enter Clarkson. He’s not a perfect player, and he’s not always the ideal point guard. But if you’re going to stop him on his way to the rim... good luck. I also like his physicality. He can get you some boards, making my so-far-undersized team multi-dimensional. I like the thought of Clarkson exploding to the rim and kicking it out to Peeler or, you know, Clarkson thunder dunking on someone.
8. Matt: Linas Kleiza
With Dooling plucked, I’m going with a combo forward. The Lithuanian is fundamentally sound and boasts a diverse offensive repertoire. He can put the ball on the deck, drive and finish through contact. His face-up game features a silky jumper. And he relishes contact, meaning I can feed Kleiza in the mid-post and let him use deft footwork and a soft touch around the rim. Oh, did I mention he’s a deft passer out of the post and a savvy rebounder? No, he’s not an elite athlete, especially in terms of lateral quickness. And he can fall in love with outside shooting, but his unique skillset was enough to earn him seven NBA seasons with Denver and Toronto
9. Matt: Jon Sundvold
Listen, someone has to impose order, and I’m glad Sundvold is here at 10th overall. Have you read about Stipo off the floor? And we all know Kleiza could be, well, confrontational. Also, those guys need a guard who can tee them up. Make no mistake, Sundvold is a lead guard, one who topped 100 assists in two seasons and averaged nearly four a game for his career. The Kansas City product could also knock in jumpers from well beyond 3-point distance. In nine NBA seasons, Sundvold was a 39.3 percent shooter behind the arc. Phil Pressey may be a preternatural passer, but Sundvold can run your team – his 4,289 minutes still stands as a program record -- and make a defense pay for collapsing on the paint.
10. Josh: Doug Smith
When we got to the 10th pick, I was actually kind of shocked Smith was still on the board. This is a guy who was dominant for the last year and a half of his Mizzou career as a double-double machine. Not only does he fill some needs on my team - size and rebounding - but he also triples down on the fact that everyone on my team can score in different ways. Defensively we might not be the strongest, but you’re gonna have to keep up if you want to play with us.
11. Jack: Kareem Rush
A standout on Mizzou's early 2000s teams - including the 2002 Elite Eight squad - Rush provides a nice scoring option at the two position, which is good. More importantly, his velvety pipes give my team a marked advantage in any talent competitions.
12. Sam: John Brown
One of the most prolific scorers in Missouri history gets my third pick, and 12th overall. Brown played four years at Mizzou and averaged more than 20 ppg in three of those seasons. I like his ability to score from the wing with Dooling and a potential star in MPJ giving me three dynamic bucket getters.
13. Sam: Phil Pressey
The leading assist man in Mizzou history with three athletic playmaking scorers around him? Yes please! Pressey was somebody I'd hoped would fall down the draft board a little bit and he did. Pressey and his passing is an important addition to my team and the perfect compliment. I imagine a lot of lob dunks in the future of my pretend team!
14. Jack: Derrick Chievous
A legitimate threat to score the ball any time he touches it, Chievous was an easy pick for me here. He gives my team a needed offensive boost, easing any worries I might've had about our ability to put the ball in the hoop.
15. Josh: Jabari Brown
I mentioned when I picked smith that I need some defense. But why do that when I can get even more offense? Jabari Brown is a confusing player because when he’s cold, he won’t make much of an impact. But when he’s on, he can carry a whole team. And really, all he would need to do would be spot up. Brown also brings the added bonus of chemistry with Clarkson. So much for added defense, right?
16. Matt: Al Eberhard
Again, the wings I wanted – Jabari Brown or Derek Chievous – didn’t slip far enough down the draft board. So, I’ll trust that Eberhard, undersized at 6-foot-5, can bring his grit and smarts to the table. Plucked out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Eberhard is just one of four players to average a double-double at Mizzou before the Detroit Pistons drafted him 15th overall in 1974. Hell, maybe he can convince one of his three nephews – Luke Zeller, Tyler Zeller or Cody Zeller – to be a ringer for me. I’ll admit that I’ve never seen Eberhard’s game, but I’ll trust that some of his college production translates.
17. Matt: Melvin Booker
Booker won’t man the point. Instead, the unheralded and overachieving kid from Moss Point, Miss., will be a combo guard. He gives me a second ball-handler, supplies some more outside shooting and – as 150 steals show – a sneaky good defender. And in his career, Booker didn’t shrink when big moments called for someone to step forward, knocking in a slew of clutch shots as Mizzou marched to 14-0 in the Big Eight during his senior season.
18. Josh: Alex Oriakhi
I’m definitely showing my young age with this last pick. Now I’ve got 3 players from the past 5 years. But hey, chemistry! With Oriakhi, I’m bringing some of that much-needed defense down low. With all the scoring capability on my team, he won’t need to do much. Just defend the rim and pick up any loose buckets that fall to him. He’s a clean up man on my team, and he’s a lot of fun to watch too. He may have never played in the league, but I still feel good about this pick.
19. Jack: Marcus Denmon
My team is going to be small, but it's also going to be real fun. This is partly because small ball is fun and I Gotta Go Fast, and mostly because Mizzou doesn't have a ton of big men that went on to the NBA. So it goes. Denmon gives me another shooter, which should give Larry Drew plenty of firepower to spread defenses thin. Also, the dude hit one of the biggest shots I've ever seen in person.
Come on. How could I resist?
20. Sam: Gary Leonard
The least sexy pick was a necessary one. Leonard was a big stoic defender of the rim and a guy who could rebound the basketball to get the break going. Leonard is the perfect addition. Sure who wouldn't love a Doug Smith or a Stipo with this roster but when you're picking at the end of the first round you take a reliable big like Leonard and call it a day.
So there are your teams, sports fans.
The RMN Mizzou NBA Draft
|Jon Sundvold||Jordan Clarkson||Larry Drew||Phil Pressey|
|Melvin Booker||Anthony Peeler||Marcus Denmon||Keyon Dooling|
|Al Eberhard||Jabari Brown||Kareem Rush||John Brown|
|Linas Kleiza||Doug Smith||Derrick Chievous||Michael Porter, Jr.|
|Steve Stipanovich||Alex Oriakhi||DeMarre Carrol||Gary Leonard|
Now it’s time for you to decide. Which GM had the best draft?
Who drafted the best Mizzou NBA team?
This poll is closed