Michigan basketball had a pair of first-round selections on Thursday night during the 2023 NBA draft.
Many experts believed Kobe Bufkin would be the first Wolverine off the board, but it was in fact, Jett Howard. The Orlando Magic took Howard with the No. 11 pick in the draft.
Not too far after Howard, sophomore Kobe Bufkin heard his name called with the No. 15 pick to the Atlanta Hawks. Bufkin has a little tougher path to playing time than Howard does though — or at least starting. Bufkin has Trae Young and Dejounte Murray ahead of him at both guard spots for now.
With Jett Howard & Kobe Bufkin going 11th and 15th, Michigan has multiple top-15 picks in a draft for the first time since 1994 (Juwan Howard & Jalen Rose).
We are going to show you what different NBA draft experts thought of the selections and the grades that were given to the Magic and Hawks for selecting the Michigan duo.
Adam Finkelstein with CBS Sports came out with his draft grades. He is extremely high on the Bufkin selection, but not so much with the Howard pick.
11. Orlando Magic (via Bulls): SG Jett Howard, Michigan
This pick is one of the first real head-scratchers of the night. The son of Michigan coach Juwan Howard is one of the best tough shot-makers in the draft and has solid positional size. But he is a defensive liability, and though he can shoot, there are better shooters on the board to help Orlando with that issue (Jordan Hawkins and Gradey Dick). Many expected him to be drafted toward the end of Round 1, not in the lottery. Grade: C+
While this may be a little higher than Howard was projected to go, we think the Magic will be happy with Howard’s production.
15. Atlanta Hawks: SG Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
A late-blooming guard who some people had in the top 10 made huge strides this year. People need to understand how young Bufkin is as an explanation for his low impact as a freshman in 2021-22 — he’s younger than many one-and-done players this year. Bufkin can play on or off the ball and provide an insurance policy for the Hawks deciding what the future is with Trae Young. Grade: A-
Bufkin had a tremendous sophomore campaign and he showed why he is a top-15 draft pick.
Krysten Peek with Yahoo! Sports had a draft grade and analysis for every selection.
11. Orlando (from Chicago): G Jett Howard, Michigan
Howard comes from an NBA pedigree with his dad, Juwan, playing almost 20 years in the NBA. Howard is a solid outside shooter, particularly in catch-and-shoot situations. Howard needs to improve his lateral quickness on defense but makes up for it with his length. He joins Orlando’s very crowded backcourt.
Peek is correct when saying it’s a crowded backcourt, but Howard can play the 2 or 3 in the NBA. He should see quality minutes.
15. Atlanta: G Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
Bufkin has solid size at 6-5 and showed improved reads of the pick-and-roll during his sophomore season at Michigan. He’s always looking to push the ball in transition and has great body control around the rim.
The Hawks are getting a transcending player in Bufkin that can play defense and shoot at a high level.
ORLANDO MAGIC B
The Magic drafted a shooter! And he ticks all the other boxes on the Magic’s bingo card, too! Howard was always a lottery-caliber talent, despite predraft buzz that seemed to move him lower and lower down boards. However, the Magic are choosing to see him through rose-colored glasses: a 6-foot-8 wing with a twitchy handle more befitting of a 6-foot guard and prolific 3-point shooting on pull-ups and off the catch. He also has enough passing vision for us to wonder whether there’s room for playmaking development should his shooting gravity translate to the league. There are legitimate concerns about his defense and overall athletic profile, but the upside of Howard’s offense is considerable. With their second pick in the lottery, the Magic made a worthy gamble.
Finally, a draft expert that can see what the Magic is getting by selecting Howard. He should become an elite shooter.
ATLANTA HAWKS B
Bufkin reportedly made it known that he wanted to be in a situation where he could start; that won’t be the case in Atlanta, where he will be playing behind both Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, unless there are future moves on the horizon. Ultimately, the pick improves on a strength. Bufkin doesn’t have many holes in his game. In two seasons at Michigan, he’s shown the ability to thrive offensively on or off the ball; he can make plays defensively with his length and excellent hands; and he has outstanding touch, evidenced by his incredible ability to finish at the rim despite a lack of bulk. Bufkin was a lottery talent whom the Hawks landed on the outside of it, just as they did last season with AJ Griffin.
As I mentioned earlier, Bufkin will have a tough time starting if the Hawks keep their backcourt intact. But Bufkin has the ability of sliding to the 3 if necessary.
New York Post
Orlando Magic — Grade: D
No. 6: Anthony Black, G, Florida
No. 11: Jett Howard, G, Michigan
First, Orlando chose another guard who can’t shoot in Arkansas’ Anthony Black at No. 6, then they reached for Michigan’s Jett Howard at No. 11, who wasn’t expected to go until the mid-20’s.
Howard, the son of former NBA player and Michigan coach Juwan Howard, does shoot the ball at a high level – and Orlando had a major need there – hitting 36.8 percent on 7.3 attempts.
But he doesn’t impact the game in any other way. Curious decisions, to say the least.
Braziller isn’t high on the Magic’s draft picks. While he thinks Howard can shoot at a high level — he can — he doesn’t think he can do much else for Orlando.
Atlanta Hawks — Grade: B+
No. 15: Kobe Bufkin, G, Michigan
The Hawks backcourt was already strong, and now they add a third guard in Michigan’s Kobe Bufkin, a well-rounded combo guard with wing size at 6-foot-5 who shoots the ball at a high level and has a knack for scoring against bigger defenders around the basket.
A wise choice on a player who made a major leap in his second year as a Wolverine.
Bufkin figures to see significant minutes behind Young and Murray this season.
Source: Yahoo Sports