This is relatively new ground for Northwestern fans. John Shurna is quite realistically on the NBA Draft bubble, and, in my opinion, can do enough to impress scouts to have his name called late on Draft night. June 28 is a very long way from now and Shurna, along with the other draft hopefuls, have a lot of work to do.
John Shurna was scheduled to play for the Portsmouth Sports Club team that featured former Michigan State guard Devoe Joseph and Florida guard Erving Walker at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament that begins Wednesday. But his name has since been pulled and he is no longer listed on the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament’s Web site. Northwestern media services said Shurna declined the invitation to Portsmouth for this week and the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament confirmed that Shurna withdrew from this week’s games.
No reason was given although my conversation with Northwestern media services suggested that it was a strategic decision on his part as many players decline to go to Virginia for these glorified pick-up games in front of scouts.
Whether Shurna plays or not this week, his shooting ability will be something that entices scouts and keeps his name in the running for a spot in the NBA. At the very least, he should latch onto a European team much like Michael Thompson did with Fraport Skyliners in Germany.
As John gets ready to enter the NBA draft process (for the second time), I wanted to get a look at where Shurna stands as the draft process begins. I reached out to Ed Isaacson of NBA Draft Blog to give us a preview of Shurna as he enters the Draft process. Be sure to be on the lookout on NBA Draft Blog for a more detailed scouting report on Shurna in the very near future.
PRR: We know John Shurna is a great shooter — see 3-point contest — and that this is almost a universal skill that translates at the next level. But what else does John do that could make him an NBA player?
Ed Isaacson: John’s best asset, other than his shooting, is his Basketball IQ — he understands how to space the court, how to exploit the other team’s weaknesses, and how to create mismatches. Teams will take risks with players who are this coachable.
PRR: Shurna tested the waters last year and discovered from the process he needed to improve his rebounding and overall strength. Is this something he accomplished this year or is this still something that could keep him off the draft board in June?
Ed Isaacson: While John seems to have gotten stronger this year, he still doesn’t have the strength he needs to be a factor at the NBA level. I think Shurna did improve his rebounding greatly this year, even if the numbers don’t show it. He did a better job of using his body and going after the ball aggressively on the defensive boards. While both of these will be taken into account come draft time, there are plenty of other factors to consider, so these alone wouldn’t prevent him from being drafted.
PRR: Shurna’s shot. First, how would you describe it? Second, how will NBA scouts describe it? Is something as potentially small and effective for Shurna like his shot something that could keep him out of the NBA?
Ed Isaacson: As odd as Shurna’s shot looks, his form is actually very good, except his release point. Having the ball at eye level, it is almost like he is shot-putting it. Scouts will be of two minds when assessing his shot — half won’t care as long as he keeps hitting them, the other half will be fixed on whether he can get that shot off at the NBA level. At the end of the day, if he can go into workouts and show that he can consistently hit from the perimeter with a man on him, how he shoots it will become a non-factor.
PRR: What skills does Shurna have that will translate better to international basketball as opposed to the NBA?
Ed Isaacson: I don’t think its any particular skill that translates better in a particular way to either version of the game. I do think John would thrive in Europe with the spacing most teams play with and with the overall slower pace. Defensively, I think he would do a much better job at the international level where his lack of foot speed won’t hurt him as much.
PRR: What does John need to show at the Portsmouth Invitation Tournament (assuming he gets invited) and in pre-draft workouts to assure himself a selection in the Draft in June?
Ed Isaacson: At this point, Portsmouth isn’t going to change anything for him. They amount to nothing but pick-up games now, and draft position being affected is a myth. Pre-draft workouts will give him the opportunity to show two things — that he can guard on the perimeter and he can create his own shot. If he can do those two things, it will help him a lot come June.
PRR: What is John Shurna’s ceiling? Do you see him being able to find the right fit in the NBA or will he have to further develop some skills before he can latch on in the NBA?
Ed Isaacson: Shurna’s ceiling to me is as a role player, a shooter who can stretch defenses and is comfortable anywhere on the court. If he was to get a shot at the NBA, he is skilled enough to get opportunities to play, but he really needs to improve his perimeter defense before he would get consistent minutes.
PRR: Many thanks to Ed. Be sure to check back with NBA Draft Blog throughout the draft process as John Shurna tries to make his way into the NBA.