It is the final piece of the 2018-19 Indiana basketball season puzzle. If he stays, the season looks quite promising. If he goes, there might be more questions than answers. Several announcements have been coming out over the last few days regarding various decisions vis-a-vis the NBA Draft. IU’s Second Team All Big Ten forward Juwan Morgan has until May 30th to decide whether he will forego his senior season and pursue professional basketball.
Multiple reports have indicated that Morgan has had workouts with NBA teams. These workouts can take on a lot of different looks on a team-by-team basis, from 3-on-3 game action to psychological assessments, medical examinations and everything else in between. Some teams are known to cast a very wide net with their workouts with the hope of finding a hidden gem for a future draft.
The bottom line here — don’t read too much into the NBA workouts. Irrespective of what they might mean for Morgan’s 2018 professional prospects, they are undeniably good for his development, as he has been able to receive first hand feedback on what he needs to improve on going forward.
Morgan received some disappointment in the last week, as he wasn’t invited to the NBA Draft Combine. That is going on right now, and runs through May 20. While unfortunate for IU’s 6-foot-8 forward, there have been players who were not invited to the combine that were still drafted. But will he?
Unfortunately that doesn’t seem likely either — at least if you put stock into the various “experts” who pull together mock drafts. We’ve been monitoring several of them and have yet to see Morgan’s name appear.
The feedback we’ve been hearing is that while Morgan is very good at a lot of things, he isn’t necessarily elite at anything. That’s what today’s NBA has become. There are elite scorers and 3-point shooters, elite athletes, elite defenders, guys with elite length, and so on.
That’s why someone like OG Anunoby was able to get drafted last year, even after suffering a devastating knee injury. He has athleticism, length and defensive capabilities that are off the charts.
Morgan on the other hand had a stellar junior season at Indiana by aggressively going after rebounds and scoring with his back to the basket. The problem is that those rebounds won’t be there against NBA caliber talent, and his size likely won’t allow him to score in the same manner at the next level. At least that’s what the NBA folks say.
So what is it going to take to get Morgan drafted in 2019? Most seem to think it is a more consistent perimeter shot. In today’s NBA, virtually everyone on the floor can step out and knock down 3-pointers. At 6-foot-8, it is almost a requirement.
The good news for Morgan is that the formula will be there to demonstrate that ability at Indiana next season. With a significantly longer roster, Morgan probably won’t be asked to do as much from the block. With defenses likely equally focused on Romeo Langford, opportunities should open up off the freshman’s dribble drives and pick and pops.
If all of this has you feeling confident about Morgan’s return, be cautious. While we would put the odds at greater than 50 percent, there has been chatter around him exploring opportunities to play internationally. There is also always the NBA G-League to further develop your game. We saw James Blackmon, Jr. go that route with the knowledge that he wouldn’t be drafted.
For now, we wait. But within the next 12 days we will know whether Morgan is returning. And we will calibrate our expectations for the season accordingly.
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