3.29.19 LSU sweet 16

LSU freshman forward Naz Reid and sophomore guard Tremont Waters answer questions after the Tigers' 63-80 loss to Michigan State in the Capital One Arena on Friday, March 29, 2019.

Forward Naz Reid and guard Tremont Waters are set to be LSU's first NBA draft picks since the Philadelphia 76ers selected Ben Simmons No. 1 overall in 2016 come Thursday.

Unlike Simmons, however, there's no guarantee where Reid or Waters land, and both prospects seem like total opposites in the eyes of the NBA evaluators. Reid is one of the more polarizing players in the draft, and the questions surrounding him defensively and his toughness is why he's dropped from a mid-first round pick to a late first, early second round pick.

Reid came to LSU as a projected one-and-done player, and the coaching staff raved about his skill set, a forward that plays like a guard. There were dominant flashes offensively like his 29-point game against Mississippi State where he hit a game-clinching three or his 27-point game in an overtime, road win against Arkansas. On the season Reid averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds and shot 33 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

Yet there were times where he showed how raw he is as a player and the risk involved in taking a player so under developed.

NBA draft analysts like Sam Vecenie with The Athletic and ESPN's Jonathan Givony have Reid landing at 42 overall and 43 overall, respectively.

"Reid is another tough player to gauge in regards to draft stock, largely because of the big man conundrum," Vecenie says. "There isn’t a major difference between him and [Florida State's Mfiondu Kabengele], but one gets taken in the first round, and the other doesn’t even go top-40 here.

"Reid is wildly skilled with the ability to shoot it, attack closeouts, and make passes on the move. His athleticism is below average from an explosiveness standpoint, so you’ll need to play him in a drop pick-and-roll coverage scheme that allows him to use his length around the basket."

Waters isn't far behind Reid in most mock drafts either. Vecenie has Waters slotted at 45, and Givony projects him to go 46. While some may question why Waters declared when his projections have him going in the middle of the second round, he likely made the right decision.

His draft prospects are limited by his height — he measured in at 5-9 during the NBA combine in May. His size limits him defensively, but his aggressive nature and tendency to come up with steals combined with his offensive ability may help him carve out a role off the bench for teams.

Waters is excellent with the ball in his hands and finding passes no else sees. He averaged six assists per game in his career and has improved his range as a shooter. While his career 34 percent from three looks low, Waters was a very good spot up three-point shooter and shot 22-of-25 from three at the NBA combine.

Reid and Waters will assuredly hear their names during Thursday's draft. The only question is when.

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