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NBA draft 2015: Sam Dekker scouting report

Sam Dekker rode a fantastic NCAA tournament effort to elevated NBA draft hype. Where will he end up?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to imagine a college player playing under more intense pressure and scrutiny from his fanbase than Sam Dekker experienced in his three seasons with Wisconsin. Dekker, a hometown boy from Sheboygan, committed to play for Bo Ryan after his sophomore season. He finished his well-decorated high school career with his insane buzzer-beater to cap a ridiculous comeback to win the WIAA state championship while ranked (I admit to watching that video six times in a row) as the No. 17 prospect in the 2012 class.

And he delivered. Two Final Fours and multiple NCAA tournament daggers later, Badger Nation will get to celebrate as the kid who came to Wisconsin as a freshman with frail arms and sweaty bangs begins his NBA career.

We know that Dekker will hear his name called at the draft, but what can we expect and where will he go? I sure don’t know the answers, but I’m going to try to make some sense of this.



During his first two seasons at Wisconsin, Dekker was already known as an athletic small forward. He then added 20 pounds and grew two inches during the offseason, and the results his junior year showed just that. Just watch this highlight tape.

The biggest thing Dekker has going for him is his athleticism. He stood out at the NBA draft combine, particularly in the lane agility and shuttle run. Teams love his explosiveness (think of the countless times he caught the ball on the wing and burst past his opponent down the baseline).

Dekker can score in transition, off the dribble and moves well without the ball. He can finish well at the rim, and should be able to be an effective offensive weapon off the bench against a team’s second unit as early as his rookie season.

Basketball IQ

Alright, yes, OK, sure, this is cliché. But, no, I’m not saying this because he’s a white guy that’s going to the NBA (I promise!). Sam Dekker played for the Badgers, who, under Ryan, run a system predicated on offensive efficiency. He spaces the floor well, moves effectively off the ball (just see him come off a screen before hitting the tie-breaking three against Kentucky) and is a strong passer.

As we saw with the Golden State Warriors, wings that can pass the ball are a deadly threat. Dekker's instincts are sharp, which makes him a solid rebounder on both ends of the ball.

Work ethic

Over his three-year career in Madison, Dekker became somewhat of a gym rat. Sure, he came in as a highly heralded talent based off his pure ability alone, but he made tremendous leaps between his freshman and junior seasons. I mean, it’s barely even the same person in these two photos.

sam dekker before after


One of the biggest upsides to Dekker’s game is that none of his weaknesses are glaring. He has areas for improvement, but does a lot of things really well but could use improvement in a handful of areas in his game.





The biggest knock on Dekker has been his jump shooting. He’ll need to develop more consistency, especially shooting off the dribble. A career 34.8 percent three-point shooter in college, he hit almost 40 percent of threes as a freshman. Had he a knock-down stroke from deep, Dekker would easily be a top-10 pick. That said, at 6’9, he can still be a good shooter in the NBA, and if he becomes a great shooter, he could be the steal of the draft.

Post game

This is listed as a "weakness," but again, with Dekker it’s more so of an "area of improvement." He lacks a dominant set of post moves or a go-to move, as does Franky Kaminsky. If he’s going to play the 4 in the NBA, he’ll want to keep working to add this to his game.

Most likely destinations

I’m not over-exaggerating when I say Dekker could go almost anywhere in the range of Nos. 8 to 20. The Detroit Pistons with the No. 8 pick are probably Dekker’s ceiling. Among the other most likely destinations are the Miami Heat (No. 10), Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 14), Atlanta Hawks (No. 15), Boston Celtics (No. 16) and Milwaukee Bucks (No. 17). If Dekker gets past the Thunder at No. 14, it would be difficult to see the next three teams all pass up on him.

Best fits

Another thing teams like in Dekker is his ability to fit into a system, just as he did with the Badgers. Miami is reportedly very interested in him and I’ve been very high on his ability to play right away and succeed for the Hawks. With the Hawks potentially losing DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap, Dekker would be a viable replacement, especially in the system run by coach Mike Budenholzer. The Jazz could also be a sneaky good fit for Dekker with their young core that could contend for a playoff spot in the near future.

Reportedly, Dekker’s camp was only interested in working out with teams drafting in the lottery, which means some of those teams drafting later on didn’t get that important close-up look at him. That said, the Hawks did reportedly work outDekker.

Mock draft roundup

Chad Ford, Detroit Pistons, No. 8

Chris Mannix, Miami Heat, No. 10 Toronto Raptors, No. 20

Gary Parrish, Boston Celtics, No. 16 Boston Celtics, No. 16

Scott Howard-Cooper, Boston Celtics, No. 16