With the new rules put in place about entering the NBA Draft, there's no surprise that a large number of players will at least to the one-two step with a few NBA squads just to see where they stand. Arguments can be made about whether or not Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds fall into that category.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported that both Bluiett and Reynolds will declare for the NBA Draft, although without an agent. The fact that neither player, Bluiett a sophomore and Reynolds a redshirt junior, signed an agent points to the likelihood that they are just testing the waters and not locked into this plan, but declaring at all has to give some rise to the possibility that both could be trying to make an NBA roster in the near future.
For Bluiett, the reasoning is sound. He easily made his way onto the Big East All-First Team, which featured projected lottery pick Kris Dunn and one-and-done candidate Henry Ellenson, after an incredible sophomore campaign. One of the areas Bluiett really jumped forward in was scoring. He boosted his point production by a little more than four points per game and became a lethal shooter from just about anywhere on the floor. He netted nearly 40 percent of his 3-point shots, averaging 2.3 triples per game and had an effective field goal percentage of 52.1 percent, which ranked fourth in the Big East. The ability to create your own shot has become a crutch line for many NBA Draft pundits to lean on, but that ability remains a valuable asset for the NBA and Bluiett has shown drastic improvement in that area. Outside of Isaiah Whitehead and Dunn, there probably wasn't a better guy in the league at getting the looks he wanted than Bluiett.
Bluiett also fits in well with the shrinking NBA which relies more on space and pace rather than 7-foot post ups. At 6-foot-6, Bluiett has played the two, three and four for Xavier, and although he'd be undersized for the four in the NBA, his versatility can't be ignored. He rebounds well (6.6 PG) and can pass (2.2 APG), so he could step in right away as a role player.
However, as a sophomore, Bluiett is still polishing his game and there isn't a whole lot of buzz about his chances of being selected. Most mock drafts don't have him listed and he may be best served using former Musketeer Semaj Christon as an example. Christon tried to jump to the league after earning All-Big East First-Team honors in his sophomore season as well. He was selected late in the second round by the Miami Heat, but never got past the D-League and is now playing in Italy. Bluiett could be a lottery pick in two years if he continues the trajectory he has put himself on. Cashing in too early could hurt his basketball career, but just getting a feel for the NBA Draft process won't. I expect that's all this is and by the end of May Bluiett will be right back in the running for preseason Big East Player of the Year.
Like Bluiett, Reynolds did not hire an agent which could mean many things, but it likely indicates he is just seeing where he stands and does not actually plan on entering the draft unless something drastic occurs during the combine. Reynolds could fit on just about any roster. Few NBA teams would say no to another defensive dynamo who can grab rebounds in the frontcourt. Reynolds isn't exactly a polished offensive player and his offensive efficiency took a step back this past season (20.6 PER from 25.3, 52.7 TS% from 63.0 and 52.7 eFG% from 61.8), but he doesn't try to do anything outside of his skill set. Dunks, put backs and the occasional hook shot are his bread a butter. No team would be drafting him in the hopes of finding the next DeMarcus Cousins, but, after he posted a defensive rating of 93.5 in 2016 (a career-best) and solid numbers on the glass (6.5 PG, 17.8 total rebound percentage), the hope is that there's a DeAndre Jordan or Chris Andersen lurking in that 6-foot-10 frame.
That potential has yet to be seen or fully realized by NBA scouts it would seem, as Reynolds does not appear on most NBA mock drafts, but, just like his brother in arms Bluiett, Reynolds is doing no harm to his future by at least taking a few meetings. We will find out how serious both players are once the NBA combine is over and the early-entry date (May 25) comes.