Gonzaga fans have been in this predicament before. The NBA draft, set for June 25th, is drawing nearer and nearer, and there’s an anxious vibe in the air as the question on everyone’s mind becomes increasingly louder: Will Kevin Pangos be one of the 60 names announced in this year’s draft?
It wasn’t long ago that this same question was at the forefront of the Gonzaga basketball conversation. Back in 2012, fans sat restlessly on the edge of their seats as they hoped and prayed that then-commissioner David Stern would announce Rob Sacre’s name over the microphone, following a swarm of boos and hisses (as was tradition with the former commish).
The night was coming to a close. There was only one pick remaining, and Sacre was already convincing himself that playing in Europe could be just as rewarding as being a part of the Association. As Gonzaga fans’ hope slowly began to diminish, the improbable happened.
“With the 60th and final overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select Robert Sacre of Gonzaga University.”
And just like that, weeks of stress-induced anxiety and suspense had paid off in a tremendous way. Rob was headed to the NBA and, to the surprise of many, has held his own with Lakers and still has a year left on his contract.
Mar 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Kevin Pangos (4) dribbles during the game against the Duke Blue Devils in the finals of the south regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
And now here we are again, three years later, and those same apprehensive emotions have come swirling back. Kevin Pangos most definitely has a shot at being drafted, but it is far from a certainty. We all want to hear his name announced on draft day, but what are the odds of it actually happening? Let’s examine:
First off, if Kevin were to be drafted, he would likely be a mid-to-late 2nd round pick. With the immense talent level in this year’s draft, it’s safe to assume that Pangos won’t go much higher. So if you’re nervously biting your nails during the lottery picks, might be a good time to take a breather.
Taking a look at the mock drafts, the first thing that stuck out was Kevin’s competition at the point guard position. Most of the PGs in the draft are predicted to go in the 1st round, which makes sense given the importance of having a strong floor general. But in the 2nd round, for the most part, the only names that stood out were Terry Rozier and Andrew Harrison, both of whom are likely to be drafted in the top of the 2nd round.
If I were to take a guess, I believe Pangos’ best chances lie at draft spot #57, owned by the Denver Nuggets. As fellow West Coast Convo writer, Mitch Krmpotich, pointed out, Denver’s current point guard, Ty Lawson, has had issues with the law, most recently receiving a DUI back in January. More so, Lawson has made it known that he is extremely unhappy with his current situation in Denver, requesting a trade from the Nuggets unless they can make a significant trade or land a top-notch coach.
It’s difficult to imagine the Nuggets making enough of a splash this offseason to please Lawson, so a trade may be imminent. Ty’s absence would leave Jameer Nelson as Denver’s only point guard, so a solid backup player to fill the 1 spot will be absolutely necessary. And a scrappy, hard-working, not-too-expensive player like Kevin Pangos may turn out to be an attractive option for the Nuggets.
His high basketball IQ, lethal shooting ability, leadership on the court, and relentless work ethic are what make Kevin an appealing option for any team. From the time Pangos torched Washington State during the 2011-12 season for nine three pointers, his impact on the offensive end has been quite clear. More so, throughout his four years at Gonzaga, he’s significantly improved his passing abilities to further compliment his shooting.
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He makes everyone around him better when the rock is in his hands. Zag nation has known for years what a difference he makes on the court, and given his unwavering determination to improve, I don’t doubt for a second that his talent and work ethic will translate smoothly into the NBA.
However, before we get too ahead of ourselves here, let’s just keep in mind that there’s also a decent shot that Kevin will not be drafted. There have only been a few mock drafts I’ve seen that had Pangos listed in that second round, with the majority of them excluding him. Now obviously it’s just a mock draft, but there’s still some credibility there that should be taken into account. Sure, it would be disappointing to not hear Kevin’s name announced on June 25th, but that doesn’t mean his NBA hopes are shot. David Stockton wasn’t drafted. Neither was Elias Harris. Whether or not his name is called out, Kevin will have a chance to prove himself.
If he wants to improve his chances, though, Pangos will have to show these teams that his defense is sufficient enough to survive in the Association. Defense has really been Kevin’s only weakness throughout his career – though it’s not horrid, it’s certainly not at the caliber of the NBA. He’ll be working to match his defensive capabilities to that of his incredible offensive game during these NBA workouts and summer camps, and if enough improvements there are made, I’m liking Kevin’s chances.
Lastly, if you haven’t seen Kevin’s draft workout video yet, you should check it out. He’s got some pretty impressive moves (not that that’s news to any of us).
I don’t know about everyone else, but June 25th cannot get here soon enough. All of Zag nation is rooting for you, Kevin, and regardless of the result that night, we know you’ll find success wherever your career takes you. Thanks for four incredible years as a Zag.