1. Jordan Nwora
Although originally split between declaring for the NBA Draft or returning to Louisville for his junior year, Jordan Nwora has decided to test the draft process. Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated originally pegged the Cardinal to be taken by the Dallas Mavericks, and I can’t imagine why not.
In his freshman year, Nwora averaged 5.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Those averages jumped to 17.0 points and 7.6 rebounds a night with his efficiency and shooting percentages dipping slightly. Still, Nwora was voted as the ACC’s Most Improved Player.
Nwora is skilled in transition and in getting to the rim. He has good form on his jump shot, but his shooting percentages have room for improvement. His build will also improve once he’s with NBA trainers and nutritionists.
Again, the small forward position is pretty full for the Mavs, but Nwora could still carve out playing time for a few reasons. For one, Nwora is more willing to shoot, as he shot 37.4 percent from 3-point range on 6.1 attempts per game. He could therefore act as a stretch-4.
Furthermore, Nwora’s 7.6 rebounds per game would be second on the Mavs’ roster last season, behind Luka Doncic’s 7.8 per game. This does not include Kristaps Porzingis, who has yet to play any minutes in a Dallas uniform.
The biggest concern regarding Nwora was his struggles in big games. In the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, Nwora scored only seven points on eight shots as his team fell to North Carolina, 83-70. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Louisville lost to Minnesota 86-76, with Nwora scoring only 10 points on as many shots, with 11 rebounds.
Nwora was the best player on Louisville, so both North Carolina and Minnesota must have game-planned for him. Despite this, it would’ve been nice to see him go out swinging and been more aggressive in these big games.
His huge improvements in his game and overall play style makes him a great fit alongside playmakers like Doncic and Jalen Brunson. His hesitance to declare for the draft reminds me of star Donovan Mitchell, who was not sure he would be a first round pick in 2017. Nwora is a prospect worth taking and developing in the second round, and adding to the Mavs’ young core.