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NBA Draft: Best Fits for Trojans

Factoring in mock draft predictions, these are the best landing spots for the four former USC hoopers with legitimate NBA hopes

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After missing the NCAA Tournament, USC Basketball’s next headline is the upcoming NBA Draft on June 21. Where will some of our favorite Trojans suit up next year? We give our insight and analysis.

De’Anthony Melton

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Even though Melton hasn’t played a college game since the 2017 NCAA Tournament, he also appears to be the most NBA ready. Based on his performance in a much-needed five-on-five scrimmage at the NBA Draft Combine, it didn’t look like he missed a beat. Melton scored 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting with five rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.

SB Nation does not have him going in the first round of its latest mock draft, and neither does Bleacher Report, though most other sports media outlets are projecting Melton as a late first rounder. He’s an excellent defender who needs to improve his 3-point shooting.

Best Fit: Brooklyn Nets, No. 29 Overall

The Nets surrendered the third most points per game this season, and Melton would have the chance to become an immediate factor to help remedy that defense. He’d see plenty of playing time in Brooklyn, whereas five of the six teams ahead of the Nets all made the playoffs this year, so minutes would be scarce.

He would’ve been a great fit for a Cleveland Cavaliers team desperate for young perimeter defenders, but the Cavs traded the No. 25 pick to the Lakers in the deal that acquired Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.

Chimezie Metu

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There were whispers of Metu being a potential lottery pick early in the season, but he’s slipped the last few months to a probable early second round choice. Metu along with Melton were the only Trojans invited to the combine. The former is an athletic freak of nature, though he’s a bit of a hybrid. He’s not a consistent enough outside shooter to be a true stretch four, and he doesn’t have the body type of an NBA center.

His best fit would be with a team who likes to play small. He can get up and down the floor and handle the ball a bit, and can also serve as a needed rebounder and rim protector.

Best Fit: Houston Rockets, No. 46 Overall

No one likes to run more than Mike D’Antoni, though Metu may or may not be available at 46. Depending on how the draft is going, Houston could look to do a sign-and-trade with one of its many expiring contracts, including Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute or Gerald Green, to try and move up a few spots.

When Ryan Anderson was pressed into duty after Chris Paul’s injury in the Western Conference Finals, it was clear he couldn’t keep up defensively. Metu would be a very capable option behind Clint Capela.

Elijah Stewart

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Stewart is another hybrid who can do a lot on both ends of the floor, including guard multiple positions and block shots. Basketball lnsiders ranks Stewart No. 92 in the class of 2018. You can’t teach NBA-level athleticism, and Stewart has it. He’s a great finisher at the rim, and a memorable highlight or two never hurts.

Stewart is a good shooter as well, but his shot isn’t what will land him on an NBA roster—it’s his intangibles. For that reason, his best fit would be a team that already shoots the ball well from the outside and can address other needs.

Best Fit: Detroit Pistons, Undrafted Free Agent

The Pistons were fourth in the league in 3-point shooting percentage this season. Furthermore, last year’s 12th overall selection, Luke Kennard—at least as of right now—is considered one of the biggest busts of this rookie class, depending on Markelle Fultz’s health moving forward.

The Pistons could look to add a young guard once again, and they only have one draft pick, so they’ll look to bring in undrafted free agents either way.

Jordan McLaughlin

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McLaughlin reportedly had a very impressive pro day, and has had private workouts with several teams, the Lakers among them. He’s not appearing in mock drafts, but the workouts can only be a good sign.

At 6 feet 1 inch, he’s never going to be a bigtime scorer, but he can make a three when needed, and has the IQ and skillset necessary to be a quarterback on offense. In 2017, he was third in the country in assists and a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award for the nation’s best collegiate point guard.

Best Fit: Washington Wizards, Undrafted Free Agent

Anywhere he goes, it’s likely McLaughlin would have to be at best a two-way player between the NBA and G-League. The Wizards’ starting backcourt is set with John Wall and Bradley Beal, but Ramon Sessions is a free agent and Jodie Meeks has just one year left on his contract. Washington could use some new, young guards for the long-term future.