DNHQ Draft Tourney. Dariq Whitehead (8) vs Noah Clowney (9)
scorer and defender falling due to injury vs super mobile defender
Our Draft Tournament
Yes, we are still having our FOURTH annual DNHQ Draft Tournament, where Dub Nation gets to vote on whom the Warriors should draft via head to head showdowns.
The draft will happen on Jun 22 2023, 5pm.
If the Warriors end up trading the pick, I’ll end the draft tournament early.
Dariq Whitehead | 6-6 wing | 18 years old | Duke
SHADES OF Lonnie Walker
Skilled on-ball scorer and a hard-nosed defender who’s off to a slow start in his collegiate career.
Feel for the Game
Good athlete with ambidextrous at-rim finishing ability. He does a solid job of scoring while absorbing contact.
Tough shotmaker off the dribble in high school who is just beginning to see his success translate to Duke. He’s most comfortable pulling up from midrange, and he features a good right-to-left stepback jumper.
He hasn’t shot the ball well at Duke, but he made 34.6 percent of his 272 attempted 3s in high school competitions tracked by Cerebro Sports. But he looks far more comfortable shooting off the dribble or off of screens than he does from a standstill.
He makes quick decisions with the ball in his hands. He can seamlessly pass off the dribble, especially when it comes to finding a rolling big.
Active mover without the ball. He has the athleticism to catch lobs in the half court or on the break.
A 6-foot-9 wingspan gives him the length to offer value as a helper in the paint and in the passing lanes. He plays hard, intense defense and has the IQ and awareness to match. On the ball, he plays physically against guards and wings, giving him scheme versatility.
Suffered a fractured foot in August 2022 that sidelined him to start his college season, likely setting back his developmental timeline.
Struggles when shooting from a standstill. He has stiff mechanics. It looks like he’s launching a medicine ball, whereas the ball comes out smooth off the bounce or off of movement, like screens.
Lacks advanced ballhandling moves. He’s barely basic at this stage with crossovers and stepbacks. He needs to incorporate more change of pace to get to the rim, or simply allow himself to slow down and read the floor to activate more of his playmaking.
The Scout: A bet on Whitehead is a bet on the shooting upside he showcased this past season — making 42 percent from 3 — as well as the upside he’d showcased at the high school level. His tape at Duke was not that of a first-round pick. He couldn’t pressure the rim and struggled within a team construct defensively. But context is important. Whitehead suffered a fifth metatarsal foot injury in the summer, which extended into the preseason and kept him out of the team’s first three games in addition to missing valuable practice time. He had a follow-up surgery in May to repair the foot that apparently did not heal properly the first time. This had an enormous impact on Whitehead’s season, as he looked to be nowhere near the athlete at Duke that he was in high school when he was undeniably one of the best players in his class. This is a very difficult situation to judge, and because of the medical factor, his range is quite wide.
14. Dariq Whitehead, 18, 6-6 Fr. SF, Duke
We’re getting into gamble territory, and the best gamble left on the board is with Whitehead. He missed the first half of the season with foot surgery and required another operation after the season, so this is another case where the medical report from the combine will be important. Nonetheless, there’s a hidden upside here too: It underscores that he wasn’t quite right physically all season.
Despite his physical condition, Whitehead showed some pro chops in his freshman season, particularly as a shooter. He shoots line drives but has a nice, compact release that should be easily repeatable; I’m not buying him as a 42.9 percent shooter from 3, which is what he shot at Duke, but he’ll be a threat.
Defensively, Whitehead was more uneven. He has a strong frame and was a real presence challenging shots, even if he rarely blocks them. That said, he could be a little slow sliding his feet — was the foot a problem here? — and his rebound rate (6.8 percent) was pretty sad for a player of this size.
Finally, he still needs to improve his processing inside the arc. Again, he may have been limited by injury, but Whitehead also shot 41 percent on 2s with a poor turnover rate. Most of his forays beyond catch-and-shoots quickly did not end well.
The other factor here is an August 2004 birthdate that makes Whitehead the second-youngest college prospect in this draft. Between that and his exalted pedigree entering the season — some had him as the No. 1 player in this class — Whitehead becomes a worthwhile gamble.
Noah Clowney | 6-10 forward | 18 years old | Alabama
Plays with an edge and possesses the type of defensive versatility valued in the NBA
Super mobile defender with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and great energy. He constantly hustles, showing a willingness to step in front of drives to contest shots. He makes second and third efforts, and does it with great awareness and anticipation. Despite his youth, he also shows good discipline by not biting on fakes.
Projects as a versatile piece of a defense that asks its bigs to switch, hedge, and drop depending on the opponent. He had a play against Houston in which he hedged a ball screen, recovered to his original man, then rotated to a corner 3 shooter and elevated to block his shot. A combination of athleticism, effort, and intelligence was required to make the play.
Hard-nosed rebounder who boxes out and fights for boards.
Versatile ball-screen threat since he could become a shooter, and he’s already skilled on the roll. He has soft hands to catch tough passes, and in the paint he has great patience going up for layups. If he can’t fly for a dunk off the catch, he will use multiple pump fakes if necessary to generate space. And if he catches the ball on the short roll, he handles it well enough to attack off the bounce and spray passes around the court.
Looks the part as a 3-point shooter with comfortable mechanics on standstill tries from the corner or pick-and-pops from above the break. He’s making 31.4 percent from 3 on the season, including a long 38.5 percent stretch after starting 2 for 16.
One of the youngest players in the class. He doesn’t turn 19 until July, yet already brings a mature, selfless attitude.
Adding strength is a priority in order to handle post defense against stronger interior players.
Despite his success behind the arc so far in his freshman season, he’s still an unproven shooter who shoots only 54.9 percent from the free throw line and has shot below 30 percent from 3 going back to high school.
The Scout: NBA personnel on the team side love guys who are big, young, defensively-conscious and have potential to shoot. Clowney ticks just about every single one of those boxes. He played this entire season at 18 years old, he’s 6-10 with about a 7-3 wingspan, and he covers ground on the defensive end at a really high level. He rebounds. And he took over four 3-point attempts per game this past season. Now, Clowney did not make a ton of those 3s (28 percent) but the shot is clean and workable. I’m not quite as high on him as the rest of the NBA, as I worry a little bit about him guarding in space with how high his hips are and how he is able to cut off guards. But he has great help instincts, and as his body fills out, I wonder if he can keep improving his mobility overall. He’s a first-round talent. He’ll just take some time.
16. Noah Clowney (Dean on Draft)
Clowney is 6’10, athletic, and super young as he does not turn 19 until shortly after the draft on Bastille Day.
In spite of his youth, Clowney is averaging 10 pts and 8.3 rebounds in 25.3 minutes starting for one of the best teams in the country in Alabama.
He is also a somewhat capable shooter, at least for his height and age making 27% 3P on 3.4 3PA per game and 61.3% FT.
But he is still incredibly raw, and has disappointingly low steal and block rates for his physical profile. He is prone to being jumpy on defense as well, as he occasionally will have lapses where he yields a clear path to the rim for the opposing ball handler. To some extent this can be forgiven for youth, but it is somewhat of an odd flaw that makes it difficult to get too high on his upside.
That said, Clowney is nevertheless a reasonable upside swing compared to everybody else on the board.
March 14, 2023 (Givony, ESPN)
Clowney propelled himself into one-and-done conversations by playing an integral role for arguably the best team in college basketball, despite being one of the youngest freshmen in the class. He fits a clear NBA mold as a mobile, long-armed, high-energy big man with legit floor-spacing ability and outstanding defensive versatility. He plays a mature style that bodes well for his long-term outlook as his thin frame continues to evolve over time. Clowney's productivity and perimeter shooting have been inconsistent, but he has played some of his best games against high-level competition, which bodes well for Alabama as it moves into the most important games of its season.-- Jonathan Givony
Another birth-certificate bet, Clowney was asked to play as a stretch four on one of the best teams in the country despite the fact that he’s not really ready to be a stretch four. At least yet. This is a classic case of a young, thin player still needing to grow into his body and refine some of his movement, but Clowney is long and fairly skilled.
There is a stretch five here several years down the road, but the question is what Clowney can be between now and then. It’s possible he becomes another Jalen Smith, where he doesn’t give you enough offense at the four but isn’t filled out enough physically to play the five.
It’s worth the risk at this point in the draft. Despite his youth and size, Alabama trusted Clowney to guard the perimeter a ton. He has high hips and his first slide isn’t always great, but he could make up ground late and has his size to fall back on. He also had a knack for taking charges, something that makes up for his middling shot-blocking rate (3.4 percent). Clowney also rebounded at a very high level (15.5 percent) despite ample competition for boards on a big Alabama front line and did not have a notably high foul rate.
Offensively, Clowney’s 3-point percentage (28.3 percent) didn’t line up with the eye test. His stroke is pretty fluid, and it seems only a matter of time before he finds the net more frequently. His 64.9 percent mark from the line is equally sobering. Nonetheless, given his youth and smooth release, I think he’s going to be a league-average shooter before long.
Again, at this point in the draft, it’s an upside risk on a player who might bomb. Clowney is extremely unlikely to play meaningful minutes as a rookie, but in a few years, he could be a starter
Vote in this poll and/or by posting a comment (worth ten votes) with a single hashtag #EIGHT or #NINE
Dub Nation HQ is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.