Evaluating D.J. Newbill’s NBA Draft Stock
Since Penn State did not get a bid to go to the big dance or the NIT and declined its CBI bid, we have officially reached the end of D.J. Newbill’s collegiate playing career. Newbill is third on Penn State’s all-time scoring list, broke 2,000 career points, was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team twice, was the only player not playing in the final to be named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team, and led the conference in scoring this year with 20.7 ppg.
Despite his illustrious Penn State career, D.J. Newbill has been by far the most underrated player in all of college basketball. After leading the Big Ten in scoring, he is still not projected to get drafted. No matter how many times people rave about him when they cover the games, Newbill can never seem to garner any subtstantial national attention. That alone is crazy, as he scored more than the best two players in the Big Ten in Frank Kaminsky and D’Angelo Russell. Newbill deserves to be an NBA player — and to get drafted — because of the work he’s done for a lagging Penn State team during his career in a powerhouse conference like the Big Ten.
How He Sizes Up
When talking literal size here, Newbill is listed at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. This could fit the build of the average NBA shooting guard, even though some have questioned his size. Newbill has an NBA-ready body with the brute strength to be able to drive the lane in addition to the stamina to play 36+ minutes in a game. The difference that many people pit against Newbill is his wingspan, listed at only 6-foot-5. His length could be a disadvantage to him when guarding players in the Association.
Newbill really put it all on the line this season, as he scored 20.7 points per game, shot 48.5 percent from inside and 37 percent from beyond the arc, averaged 37.1 minutes per game, and averaged 14.2 field goals per 40 minutes this season. Newbill knows how to score and how to get to the basket with crafty scoring instincts, which makes up for his lack of quickness and other physical tools.
Newbill has a very keen eye when reading defenses and knew what to do with the ball before running off ball screens. He knows how to get to the rim and is dangerous when running in the lane as he can easily pull up for a jumper — he was 40.9 percent on jump-shots off the dribble –and is a decent finisher when he gets to the rim. He is a good shot creator and dominated the ball a lot at Penn State, but may need to show that he can be more of a supporter since he woukd likely not be hande the ball in the NBA as much as he did in college.
When comparing him to other guards in this class, you can tell that Newbill is the most effective scorer, but not the best all-around guard. Newbill’s assist numbers were not staggering by any means, but were decent for a player that shouldered the team’s scoring load for most of the time. He averaged 2.9 assists per game during his career at Penn State — which is below average for a guard — and was solid on the boards, averaging 4.86 rebounds per game.
Teams That Could Draft Him
Most — if not all — NBA mock drafts for this upcoming year do not have Newbill being drafted. This truly shows how underrated Newbill is nationally; the eighth-best scorer in the nation not getting picked indicates that somehow, there are 60 players better than him. If he were to get drafted, here are some teams that could take a flyer on the Penn State guard.
The Sixers seem like an obvious choice to pick Newbill, or at least give him a shot in free agency. They are not in a rush to win a championship as a re-building program, so they can take a chance on a player like Newbill, just like they did with Tim Frazier earlier this season. This move would also make sense because the Sixers do not have a consistent shooting guard in their roster — their current starting SG is Jakarr Sampson — and Newbill could be a really nice pickup for them. Plus, Newbill is from Philadelphia so it would be a homecoming for the Penn State star. If the Sixers were to draft Newbill, it would most likely be with their later picks, such as the 55th pick or even the last pick in the draft.
Even though the Grizzles are the second-best team in the Western conference, they still lack depth from the shooting guard position. Their starting SG is Courtney Lee, a decent player who could use the spark of competition to improve his game. He’s averaging 10.2 ppg and usually doesn’t take bad shots, as he shoots at 45 percent from the field in his career. His back-up is Vince Carter, who will most likely be retiring this year. It wouldn’t hurt the Grizzles to draft Newbill, especially since they may be in need of a player with crafty abilities to play alongside someone like point guard Mike Conley. The Grizzles could potentially draft Newbill at 58th overall.
This is a team that knows it won’t make the playoffs and is “resting” its players in order to get a better draft pick. The Nuggets just don’t have a complete line-up. They have a very good point guard in Ty Lawson, two good small forwards in Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, a solid rebounding power forward in Kenneth Faried, but lack a legitimate shooting guard or center. Denver only has two picks in this year’s draft. If Denver were to be a top-10 team and pick up a big man like Willie Caulie-Stein from Kentucky, the Nuggets could use that late-second round pick on Newbill. Denver’s current shooting guard is Randy Foye, not a guard with potential to be the team’s long-term starter. The Nuggets received the Clippers’ second-round pick in this year’s draft, so they might draft Newbill at somewhere around the 57th pick.
Many of the teams that could draft Newbill are those in need of some sort of guard support. Boston is in desperate need of a sixth man of some sort. The team’s current point guards — Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas — are players that share the starting role. They both play around the same amount of time and neither can be considered a sixth man. The only shooting guard on the roster — Avery Bradley — is the starter without a doubt, but does not get much support because of the lack of depth at the position. This is where Newbill could come in handy. Newbill’s game is scoring and he could gel well in a system that is run by a former college coach, Brad Stevens, who ran Butler for six years. Newbill could also click with Thomas, who is known for his flashy passes and quickness during offensive possessions, very similar to Newbill’s former teammate Tim Frazier.
These are just some of the teams that could be possible landing spots for the Penn State star guard. If he were to have a stellar combine performance, a good individual work-out, and do well with team interviews, we could end up seeing the Penn Stater on some more mock drafts and hopefully hear his name called on draft day. It would make sense to draft someone like Newbill, especially in the late second round, because he’s a player that has years of playing experience against current professionals and brings a high ceiling to the next level.
In drafting Newbill, you know what you are going to get, a clutch player who is crafty with the ball and can be leaned on if needed. D.J. Newbill deserves a chance in the NBA and should be one of the 60 players drafted on June 25.
Photo: Rich Barnes/USA Today