Where Will John Shurna End Up?
By now, you know. John Shurna was not taken among the 60 picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft. The Bucks, whom Shurna buried 36 of 40 3-pointers for in an individual workout earlier this week, passed on Shurna in the second round for Kentucky guard Doron Lamb. No hard feelings there, Lamb is a skilled shooter and has more all-around skills. He rated higher than Shurna in many scouts’ minds as a potential first round pick.
That last hope was a late pick from Minnesota that was used on Purdue forward Robbie Hummel. The second round was a mix of first-round caliber players teams can bring over immediately and European players teams could stash overseas for a few years and retain the rights to.
That left a senior like John Shurna out of the mix on Draft night. But that is not such an awful thing. As a few of you pointed out, it might be better to have Shurna go undrafted than to hear his name called. It is a little-known NBA secret, even if you lose the prestige of getting drafted, the undrafted have the opportunity to pick where they play.
This is not to say the odds are not long. There are few success stories among the undrafted. But Shurna potentially has the chance to pick the opportunity and the team that is best for him.
There is no word yet which teams have offered Shurna a spot on their Summer League rosters. The Northwestern men’s basketball twitter account is already reporting Shurna has a handful of Summer League offers.
For sure, Shurna will be playing for at least one team in Las Vegas and could possibly be doing double duty in Vegas or even playing for one of the teams headed to Orlando for Summer League (many of the summer league games will air on NBATV … don’t worry I will let you know when it is on).
Shurna will have his opportunity to shine for an NBA team. But his ability to secure a training camp invitation (the next step for the undrafted rookie) could be dependent on the team he ends up playing for.
The opportunity for a roster spot has to be there for him to grab one. So where would Shurna fit best in the NBA?
I asked that question late Thursday night and got several responses. The common theme is that Northwestern fans want to see Shurna on a contending team that needs shooting and can hide some of his defensive deficiencies. Sorry, no purple Kings jerseys, I guess.
As I noted above, Shurna already has lots of offers for summer league teams. Here is how he might fit in with some of the teams you suggested:
But first an actual rumor. Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer reports the Grizzlies have extended an offer to Shurna to join their Summer League team.
The Grizzlies would end up being an extremely interesting fit. They already have a ton of size up front, but lack really great shooter. Their best 3-point shooter was Mike Conley at 37.7 percent from beyond the arc and their second best shooter, O.J. Mayo, just became a free agent after the Grizzlies declined to make a qualifying offer to him. Memphis needs shooters. And, hey, that is what Shurna is great at.
Shurna actually fits that roster really nicely if Memphis were willing to develop him as a stretch-4 or small forward. Obviously, Shurna will have to answer questions about his defense, but that will happen anywhere in the league at this point. Having Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph behind him should help his defensive development. It would also give the Grizzlies a different look offensively and allow Randolph and Gasol to split time. If this rumor is true, Shurna would join a winning team and give them a skill they do not already have (Memphis drafted Washington guard Tony Wroten who is not known for his jumper).
Here are some of the teams you suggested:
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are the hometown team, so they get to go first. Next year will be a weird one for Chicago. Derrick Rose is not expected to return from his torn ACL until January. There are rumors Chicago will go after Steve Nash or Jason Kidd to keep the ship steady. The Bulls lack a ton of 3-point shooting too — finishing 18th in 3-point attempts, but fourth in 3-point field goal percentage. The league is moving toward more athletic power forwards who can shoot. The Bulls have Taj Gibson, but he does not have 3-point range like Shurna can. If Shurna can buy into (no doubt there) and execute (some doubt) Tom Thibodeau’s defensive schemes, he could be a good fit nearby.
New York Knicks: The Knicks were a popular pick for Shurna. He drew comparisons in his draft preparation to New York sharpshooter Steve Novak. The comparison is apt as both are dead-eye shooters. Shurna can do a little bit more than Novak, and Novak is a free agent this summer (although the Knicks just won an appeal giving them the ability to go over the salary cap to retain him). The Knicks are moving more toward a defensive focus and the offense is not exactly a free-wheeling offense anymore. It could be an interesting opportunity for Shurna, but probably not the best for him.
Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers are in a bit of a transition right now. Philadelphia is expected to trade Andre Iguodala at some point (finally) and have some decisions to make about Louis Williams and Jrue Holiday for the immediate future. The 76ers were 25th in the league in 3-point attempts (although, they were efficient, shooting 36.2 percent as a team good for eighth in the league). Philadelphia could use some outside shooting and some versatility at the four. Thaddeus Young has long time been a tweener at the position and there are rumors Philadelphia is interested in releasing Elton Brand. Without a dominant scorer, getting shooters to space the floor for whoever drives to the basket is a plus.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Of the contenders, no team could probably use a stretch-4 like the Western Conference champions. The Heat were able to throw the Thunder and defense off balance by sticking Chris Bosh at center and using LeBron James as a power forward. The small lineup was too athletic for the Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka starting tandem. The Thunder are not likely to make a whole lot of changes to their roster, but adding a cheap shooting power forward could be really valuable. That is what John Shurna is. He can play either forward position and interchange with Kevin Durant on defensive responsibilities. Why wouldn’t this work?
There are 25 other teams than the ones listed above who could use Shurna. Shurna has his options. We will see what he ends up doing in Summer League this year.