Rabb, Bird Learn NBA Draft Fates Thursday

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By David Bush, Staff Writer
Posted Jun 21, 2017
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2017 BearInsider.com


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Ivan Rabb against Utah earlier this season. (photo by Michael Pimentel/GoldenBearSports
Cal products Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird have been anticipating Thursday's NBA draft for months. Finally the pair should have a good idea how their professional careers will begin.
Rabb might have a bit of wait to learn his fate, but Bird's will likely be much longer.

The 6-10 Rabb, who chose to give up his final two years of collegiate eligibility and enter the draft after his sophomore year, is expected to be chosen late in the first round. Mock drafts, those sometimes very off-the-mark exercises, have him going as high as the 25th pick (Orlando Magic), with the consensus hovering between 26 (Trail Blazers), 27 (Lakers), 29 (Spurs) and 30 (Jazz).

The Magic have needs all over the roster, but they probably will have filled the power/forward center slot with their earlier first round choice (sixth overall) and will be looking elsewhere at 25.

The Trail Blazers are next up and at first glance seem to be set at the position with Jusuf Nurki, but when he was hurt in the playoffs, the Warriors exposed how vulnerable the Blazers are when he is not on the floor. Rabb could be some much-needed insurance.

The Lakers, who own both the 27th and 28th picks seemed a reasonable fit. They had Rabb in for a workout on May 30 and apparently liked what they saw. But since then they have acquired the veteran Brook Lopez, solving some of their front-court issues. There also is talk of the team packaging one or both of those late first-round choices in a trade. If they move down, they likely will lose any shot at Rabb.

The Spurs at 29 and Jazz at 30 are more likely destinations, and that would be good for Rabb, who would not be required to help save a failing franchise. Both these teams were in the playoffs and have solid bases. Rabb could move in gradually and learn on the job with little pressure to produce big numbers.

He probably be better off in San Antonio, where he could benefit from Gregg Popovich's coaching and Pau Gasol's mentoring, if the veteran decides to re-up with San Antonio after declining his option. Neither David Lee and Dewayne Dedmond, who also declined their options figure to be back so there is a need.

Utah is a possibility. The Jazz do not have a super star at power forward or center, but do have capable performers. Nonetheless they have been bringing in big men for pre-draft workouts, so they are not opposed to adding some depth. Utah has four picks in the two rounds, so it is going to be considering multiple options.

Rabb, who grew up in Oakland and attended Bishop O'Dowd High, considered leaving Berkeley after his freshman year, joining forward Jaylen Brown, who was taken with the No. 3 pick by the Celtics and had a pretty good rookie year. Rabb has said he has no regrets about coming back to college, although the Bears were a disappointing 21-13, missed the NCAA Tournament and were upset by Cal State Bakersfield in the first round of the NIT, a game Rabb missed with an injury.

He averaged 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds, numbers that don't look super until you take into account he was double-teamed almost constantly, especially in conference games.

That is unlikely to happen in the NBA, and Rabb can take advantage of his quickness against bigger centers, and his size over smaller forwards.

He did find himself in foul trouble a little too often, but that might not happen as much in the NBA, where the officials do not take such a dim view of body contact.

Bird could be taken late in the first round, but most likely will be undrafted and sign with a summer league team, hoping to impress someone enough to invite him to training camp. There is a little bit of interest, as several teams, including the Lakers, Indianapolis and Philadelphia, invited him in for a workout.

The Sixers, who traded up for the No. 1 pick so they could take Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, have three other picks and need a whole lot of help. If they saw enough in Bird when they worked him out they could make room for him.

He led the Bears in scoring at 14.3 points per game, and was a better than average defender, generally drawing the opponents' toughest wing player. He has a fine shooting touch, but was inconsistent. One night he went 10-for-16 from the floor, and in the next game he was 5-for-15.

The Pac-12, which had only three ranked teams -- Arizona, Oregon and UCLA -- in the final polls, figures to have a fair number of players drafted Thursday. Fultz is certain to go No. 1, and UCLA's Lonzo Ball will almost surely be the next choice as the Lakers grab him.

Other conference players who should go high are Lauri Markkanen of Arizona, T.J. Leaf and Ike Anibogu of UCLA, Jordan Bell and Dillon Brooks of Oregon and Derrick White of Colorado. Also Tyler Dorsey of Oregon, Kyle Kuzma of Utah and Kobi Simmons of Arizona, could be chosen in the second round.
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