Budinger still expected to be first-round pick

2008-05-31T00:00:00Z Budinger still expected to be first-round pickBy Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 31, 2008 12:00 am  • 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Arizona Wildcats' Chase Budinger spent the week in NBA draft no-man's land, too good to play in the predraft camp games and not rated good enough for the physicals-only list.

Ultimately, it probably will not matter. According to several NBA officials and draft analysts on hand for the NBA's predraft camp this week, Budinger is still a solid mid-first-round prospect.

And, once he begins working out privately for teams next week, doing some of the same drills he would have here, the athletically gifted Budinger could raise his stock even higher than the top-20 threshold that is expected to determine whether he leaves the UA for good.

Budinger's father, Duncan, said Chase will work out for three East Coast teams next week and three Western teams the following week, finishing just before the June 16 deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft. A second wave of workouts, he said, is being tentatively scheduled for the event that Chase decides to stay in the draft.

"We were hoping he'd get invited for the physicals," Duncan Budinger said by telephone this week. "But that didn't happen, so we're moving on."

Duncan Budinger declined to specify which teams Chase has scheduled workouts with, but David Griffin, the Suns' VP of player personnel, said Phoenix will bring him in during the second week. The Suns hold the No.15 selection.

Already, the Suns have seen plenty of Budinger, and they say they still like what they see.

"When you see somebody a lot, you're supposed to see a lot of warts," Griffin said. "But the more you see him, the more you want to believe he can do things because he has gifts that you don't teach."

Suns GM Steve Kerr said he was not sure where Budinger might be picked but noted that "at his position, he may be the most skilled guy there."

Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace and Nets president Rod Thorn said they were not sure where Budinger would be selected in the first round, but Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard said Budinger would be selected in the middle of the round.

"He's a specialized player right now," Pritchard said. "He can really shoot the ball, and the (NBA's defensive rules) allow the more skilled players to be successful. We need those guys."

The draft analysts agree. ESPN.com's Chad Ford has Budinger No. 21, Draft Express' Jonathan Givony has Budinger 19, and Chris Monter of Monter Draft News said Budinger should be a mid-first-rounder.

Budinger has slipped slightly on some of the mock draft boards in the past month, but Givony said he still envisions Budinger going somewhere between 15 and 23.

"How is this guy not a first-round pick?" Givony said. "He's sliding down because people are worried about him a little bit, and other guys are moving up."

Givony said not having signed with an agent, and therefore irrevocably leaving Arizona, is also hurting Budinger.

"People want to see that a guy is in the draft," Givony said. "(Chris) Douglas-Roberts is in, (Brandon) Rush is in, (Nicholas) Batum is in, and these are guys he's competing with. If you're not going to take this seriously, then they don't know if they should take you seriously."

There are other questions, such as strength, defense and competitiveness, according to NBA officials and draft analysts. But Ryan Blake, the NBA's assistant director of scouting, said Budinger already demonstrated the kind of competitiveness that should help erase doubts about his future.

"Defense can be improved by effort," Blake said. "I think he plays with effort and enthusiasm."

ESPN's Ford said Budinger will have a chance to answer many of the questions during his upcoming workouts.

"Workouts are going to be key for him," Ford said. "He's one of those guys who's going to be in competitive workouts, and people have some questions about his competitiveness and drive. If he comes in and plays really well in workouts … he can shoot up because then you love his size, his athleticism and his shooting ability. If he doesn't do well in those things then it will reinforce some of the negatives: his lack of a midrange game, maybe his competitiveness."

Because of the wide range Budinger can still fall into, his father will not say how likely Chase is to return to Arizona.

"I'm not gonna put a percentage on it," Duncan Budinger said. "Right now the focus is where it needs to be. Chase needs to do what he needs to do (in workouts). But I personally believe his game translates very well to the NBA."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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