How to watch the 2022 NBA Draft
- Date: Thursday, June 23, 2022
- Time: 8:00 pm ET
- TV: ESPN
- Stream: WatchESPN
Today is the day for Ron Harper Jr. For the first time in 12 years, Rutgers has a player projected to be selected in the NBA Draft with a legitimate chance to make the league. After a memorable and historically significant four year career on the banks, Harper Jr. is ready to take the next step in his basketball journey.
Here are Draft Day projections for the Franklin Lakes, New Jersey native as of Thursday morning.
NBADraftNet: No. 45 Charlotte Hornets
Yahoo! Sports: No. 58 Cleveland Cavaliers
Bleacher Report: No. 60 Indiana Pacers
ESPN: No. 54 Washington Wizards
CBS Sports: Undrafted
There are other sites with prospect rankings heading into the NBA Draft and this is how Harper Jr. stacks up.
CBS Sports ranks him No. 43 as a prospect
NBA Scouting Live ranks him as the No. 44 prospect.
The Sporting News ranks Harper Jr. as the 54th best prospect.
As for player comps, intriguing parallels have been made to several successful NBA veterans.
CBS Sports has a good video explaining their comp of Harper Jr. to Grant Williams here. He has developed into a useful bench player for the Eastern Conference champs that showcased him game positively in the NBA Finals this month.
FanDuel compares Harper Jr. to the journeyman PJ Tucker, who has a similar makeup and has been a reliable contributor for years.
Draft Kings compares Harper Jr. to Norman Powell, who was a second round pick but has established himself as a reliable scorer in the league who has averaged more than 16 points per game over the past three seasons.
The Sporting News compares Harper Jr. to another veteran journeyman in Nicolas Batum. The French national has been a consistent role player and elite defensively for over a decade in the league.
Toughness and physicality despite being undersized are traits that link these players together. Being able to shoot around 40% from three-point range, limit mistakes and be able to defend at a high level are also characteristics of these players that Harper Jr. has been compared to. Developing his game in this way likely gives him the best chance to succeed in the NBA. If Harper Jr. can end up having an NBA career similar to any of the above players he is being compared to, he will be extremely successful as a professional baller.
Traits that make Harper Jr. standout are his basketball IQ, experience, big shot ability and versatility in being able to defend multiple positions. His athleticism and fitness have been questioned but Harper Jr. has dropped over 15 pounds in preparation for the NBA Draft and has looked strong physically in workouts.
Rutgers hasn’t had a player selected in the NBA Draft since Hamady N’Diaye was taken 56th overall in the second round in 2010. He was picked by the Washington Wizards who then traded his rights to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Whether Harper Jr. gets drafted tonight or not, his journey to establishing himself as an NBA player is just beginning. There is an argument to be made that Harper Jr. could benefit from not being drafted late so that he has more control in where he ends up. Even getting drafted late in the second round can result in a two-way contract, which means an organization can assign a player to either their NBA team or G League squad. Present day it has become more common for players that go undrafted or spend time in the G League to work their way into full-time contributors who ultimately earn big contracts in the NBA.
His performance at the NBA Draft Combine last month earned praise and he has worked out for several teams since.
Harper Jr. told Adam Zagoria of NJ Advance Media this week how much this moment means to him.
“It would mean a lot because it would show people that you can go to the NBA out of Rutgers and you can go to the NBA after four years at Rutgers,” Harper said. “I feel like it would mean a lot to New Jersey to see a Rutgers guy go back to the NBA and I feel like it would show a lot of these New Jersey kids that Rutgers is a place that can send you to the next level. ”
Whatever path Harper Jr. takes professionally, his opportunity begins now. While it would be a tremendous statement for both how far Rutgers has come as a program and how far Harper Jr. has developed as an under recruited high school prospect if he gets drafted, it’s not the ultimate goal. Where Harper Jr. ends up, not necessarily how he gets there, is most important. Signing with a team that is a great fit and has the potential to properly utilize his skillset in a productive way is the overwhelming key for his career.
It would be tremendous to celebrate Harper Jr. being drafted tonight, but it’s what happens following the NBA Draft that will ultimately define his pro career. All it takes is one team to give him the opportunity. Best of luck to Ron Harper Jr. tonight and beyond!