There are still some questions about former Maryland guard Kevin Huerter going into Thursday night’s NBA draft. It’s not a matter of whether the 6-foot-7 Huerter is going to be picked, as is the case with former teammate Justin Jackson, or even in which of the two rounds he will be selected.
It’s simply how high Huerter will go in the first round, to which team and, looking down the road, what the best landing spot is for him. The mock drafts have Huerter being taken anywhere from the middle of the first round, as high as to the Milwaukee Bucks at No.17 to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 25.
Here are some of the scenarios:
Atlanta Hawks (Nos. 19, 30)
The type of competitive personality Huerter flashed during his two years at Maryland suggests he would rather go to a contender than a rebuilding team, albeit one with a recent history of success.
With the Hawks having three overall first-round selections, including two in the range of when Huerter could be available, the chances of him going to Atlanta are at least mathematically higher than anywhere else.
The Hawks were ranked near the bottom of the league in offensive efficiency last season and Huerter consistently proved over his college career that he didn’t need a lot of shots or even touches to be effective.
Knowing he will likely not be available at the back end of the first round, it would not be surprising to see Atlanta take Huerter at No. 19 if he doesn’t go to Milwaukee at No, 17 or the San Antonio Spurs at No. 18.
Los Angeles Lakers (No. 25)
It might be a coincidence that after what was reported to be a strong workout with the Lakers in late May, Huerter canceled his trip to work out for the Utah Jazz a few days later.
Right after that happened, Huerter announced his intentions to keep his name in the draft and forego his final two years in College Park. There has been strong speculation since that Huerter received a promise from one or both of those teams.
With the Lakers trying to position themselves to be in the hunt for LeBron James, Paul George and possibly even Kawhi Leonard, some of the team’s current young role players such as Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma could become expendable, thus opening some minutes for Huerter.
Huerter's ability as a knockdown shooter as well as a willing passer — too willing at times as a Terp — could make him just the type of player who will fit with the game’s biggest superstars. A few NBA scouts and general managers see Huerter’s game as very similar to that of the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson.
San Antonio Spurs (No. 18)
Given the overall skill set Huerter demonstrated at the NBA draft combine in Chicago, and considering the needs of this proud but aging franchise, it’s not a stretch to envision Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pushing for Huerter.
That Popovich is close with Larry Brown, Mark Turgeon’s former coach at Kansas, and general manager R.C. Buford was on the staff with the Jayhawks when Turgeon played there under Brown makes the connection even stronger.
On top of that, the Spurs will need someone with Huerter’s offensive versatility and long-range shooting after next season if longtime star Manu Ginobili finally retires and if Danny Green leaves as an unrestricted free agent.
Utah Jazz (No. 21)
The initial reports that Huerter had received a promise to be a first-round choice centered around the Jazz, and that came after Huerter had decided to cancel his trip to Salt Lake City two days before the deadline to decide whether to return to school.
If the Bucks, Spurs and Hawks all pass on Huerter, which appears unlikely, the Jazz will be there to snatch him. Knowing that, it would not be far-fetched to see the Jazz move up a little in order to get him.
Huerter’s game seems to fit with the guard-heavy approach coach Quin Snyder has taken with his team’s offense, and if that continues with rookie of the year candidate Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio, Huerter could be a good insurance policy if Dante Exum leaves after next season.
Boston Celtics (No. 27)
Huerter’s name has occasionally been connected to Boston on mock draft boards, and as much as he would seem like the kind of player general manager Danny Ainge would covet and Brad Stevens would love to coach, the Celtics appear to be too loaded with shooters to have a real need for Huerter.
Still, if the long-range future of Gordon Hayward is still a question mark after last year’s big free agent broke his left leg in the opening minutes of the season, Huerter could become a player Ainge trades up to draft. The Celtics recently announced Hayward should be ready for training camp.
There’s one more thing to consider: a franchise with a history of great bench players — not to mention redheads such as Dave Cowens, Bill Walton and Brian Scalabrine — could make Huerter look like the perfect Celtic in those iconic green-and-white uniforms.