James Stotts, Dru Lewis, Chris Bunn, Taylor Ostrick and I will be breaking down where we think each of Duke’s NBA Draft prospects will go in the draft. The second player is Ryan Kelly.
Lakers: 2nd round 48th pick
The Lakers have been looking for a stretch power forward for a couple of years now. They tried Antawn Jamison last season with minimal success. They also explored mid-season trades for Hornets forward Ryan Anderson. Ryan Kelly is not a proven NBA stretch power forward, but he is a cheap, obtainable option for a cap restricted team. The Lakers could gamble on a free agent or signing Kelly after the draft, but I think they take him here in the mid second round. Assuming Dwight Howard stays, Kelly will be a great back up to Pau Gasol. Howard played extremely well in his last year on the Magic when he started with Ryan Anderson. Kelly will provide a similar skill to Anderson, and Howard’s rim protecting ability will help and liabilities that Kelly has on defense. I think Kelly fits in perfect on the Lakers as a replacement for Antawn Jamison and will be able to be a role player for them in his rookie year. Kelly likely won’t develop into a star but he will be a valuable option to any team needing a big to stretch the court. Even if Kelly is not drafted, he will have a role in the NBA in this role.
Suns: 2nd round 57th pick
I don’t really want to see it happen, but I believe Kelly will go to the Suns, who have the 57th pick in the draft. Kelly had some incredible games for Duke last season. Remember Kelly’s first game coming off his injury? He’s definitely not athletic but he’s a big man that can shoot. Any team could use a guy like him, and the Phoenix Suns definitely fill that void. The Suns need help in about every area of the game. The Suns will also have former NBA guard Jeff Hornacek as their first-year head coach. He was a good shooter back in his days for the Utah Jazz, so he understands the importance of having solid shooters. I think that if Kelly were to go undrafted, then he would end up signing with a good NBA team, like the Heat, Spurs, Pacers, etc. I think Kelly will definitely have a spot in the NBA. Kelly isn’t a superstar power, but he may eventually be able to play solid minutes coming off the bench.
Pacers: 2nd round 53rd pick
Before injuring his foot against Clemson during a conference game in January, Ryan Kelly was considered Duke’s best overall player and best leader amongst the senior class. Even though he erupted for 36 points against Miami in his first action back from his injury, Kelly only managed to average 8.4 pts a contest for the remainder of the season. This may scare a lot of teams off, however I still believe Kelly will be drafted in the late second round and that team of choice will be the Indiana Pacers at #53. Indiana has fantastic guards in George, Hill, and Stephenson and also an All-Star Center in Hibbert, but the Pacers are looking for someone to compliment David West. Although Ryan Kelly isn’t a traditional forward at 6’11, he is a new age-European forward who would fit well in the NBA. As a compliment forward to David West, he would be available to play off the ball for open jumpers at the elbow as well as transition threes to stretch the defense. I would be very surprised if Indiana didn’t dump Danny Granger’s contract this summer due to his recent injury-plagued seasons to make room for a modern-era NBA forward like Ryan Kelly.
Undrafted, signed by the Heat
Kelly isnt likely draftable since most second round picks tend to be high-upside guys. He would however be a useful floor spacer for a team like Miami or Indianapolis, who desperately need depth. Look for a playoff contender to get Kelly possibly as a UFA and use him as a corner specialist off the bench.
Taylor Ostrick from taylormadethoughts.com
Spurs: 2nd round 58th pick
Kelly is another player that is hindered by some physical limitations. He has below average athleticism and quickness and isn’t the strongest player for a power forward. Despite this Kelly has the same golden ticket ability as Curry, his shooting ability. With the emergence of more and more European style stretch fours in the NBA, Kelly could find a role in the NBA in this mold, and the perfect team to do that with is the Spurs. Kelly has good size and is an above average shooter from three-point range. He is also a very smart player and a good positional defender which makes up for many of his physical deficiencies. The Spurs ball movement and unselfishness is part of an environment Kelly that could enable Kelly to make an impact with his ability to stretch the floor and knock down shots.