The survey pretty much reiterated what we were exposed to all summer and during Summer League from our young guns: Marquese Chriss is really athletic, Dragan Bender is malleable and huge, which could lead to a long career, and Tyler Ulis was a freaking steal. Sure, it’s nice to know in our heart of hearts that the other rookies around the league feel the same way as us rampaging fans do, but at the end of the day, it is all just offseason fluff.
With that said, even a cynic like myself couldn’t help but be surprised at the amount of respect that Ulis garnered from his fellow rookies. Of the eight questions asked, Ulis’ name came up on six of them, including a nice cameo in the footnotes of the “most athletic” question. Traditionally, you would not associate someone with Ulis’ stature as “most athletic,” but when you really sit down and think about it, the description fits.
Do you realize how much athleticism a smaller player must have in order to survive the rigors of the NBA game? I can imagine they are an easier target for big men to barrel into via screens, and the amount of energy that goes into covering even half the ground of lengthier guards has to be a taxing venture. Ulis belongs, and I commend the rookies for realizing that fact.
Unsurprisingly, Ulis tallied as the second biggest steal of the draft because, well, duh. The only reason the Kentucky product found himself sitting at the 34 spot (21 picks after the Kings staked claim to Georgios “don’t call me Papa John” Papagiannis), was his lacking physical size, which is silly because it becomes very apparent how talented Ulis is after watching him for only a brief time.
Based upon the giddiness of Ryan McDonough (he couldn’t contain his smile) and the rest of the front office during their post-draft press conference, odds are they were doing back flips in the draft room when Ulis fell.
A category where Ulis failed to get any shine was when the rookies were asked about who is the best shooter. I believe this might be Ulis’ most overlooked area of his game. He is far from a chucker, and observers naturally peg him as more of a facilitator than a shooter. But Ulis is efficient with his shot selection, and will morph into a knockdown sniper as time goes on.
If Summer League was any indication, Ulis’ scoring chops are being sorely underestimated.
I am always leery of when too much praise can become a bad omen, but I can’t help but share in the excitement of having three highly regarded rookies within the same draft class. This is like an NBA 2k dream come to life.