Welcome to the NBA offseason, everyone!
Since the season didn’t end the way that I wanted it to (I hate the Warriors with every fiber of my being), I’m hoping for some spicy drama in the offseason. And so far, a little over a week in, it has delivered. This is better than this year’s playoffs.
The Boston Celtics traded the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft to the Philadelphia 76ers. Paul George told the Pacers he’ll leave in 2018 free agency and wants to go to the Lakers, which has already made the Cleveland Cavaliers call up the Pacers about a potential trade. The Cavaliers also tried to make a trade for Jimmy Butler, and fired GM David Griffin on the same day. Brook Lopez got traded to the Lakers in exchange for D’Angelo Russel, Timofey Mozgov and a future pick. Dwight Howard got traded to the Hornets during a Twitter Q&A. The NBA is INSANE.
All of this, and we don’t even know who got voted as the damn MVP. Does anyone even care anymore?
Regardless, the drama will continue tonight when Adam Silver takes the stage in the NBA Draft, and for the fourth year in a row, we have a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes waiting to hear his name called. First it was Devyn Marble, then Aaron White, followed by Jarrod Uthoff. Of the three of them, Uthoff is the only one currently on an NBA roster.
Now, Peter Jok is waiting to see if his NBA dream will come true. Both Chad Ford ($) and DraftExpress have Jok listed as a Top 100 prospect, with Ford listing him at 69 (nice) and DraftExpress at 87, but neither have him listed in their most current Mock Drafts (Ford here [$] and DraftExpress here). He’s worked out for multiple teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, and Orlando Magic, but after his shaky NBA Combine performance, it’s not looking likely that Pete will hear his name called Thursday, whether we agree with it or not.
The way I see it, Jok’s basketball career has four potential paths: being picked in the NBA draft and making the roster, being signed and stowed away in the G League or overseas, testing the waters of free agency and the G League, or going directly overseas. So, let’s play the prediction game and imagine where these paths could take him!
Path 1: Peter Jok gets drafted to the NBA
Although it’s not predicted, there’s always the off chance that Peter Jok could hear his name called on Thursday night. It’s not being predicted anywhere that I can find, but drafts are weird, and teams make decisions that no one sees coming all the time. Let’s take a look at the teams who are tentatively making the last five picks:
55. Utah Jazz
56. Boston Celtics
57. Brooklyn Nets
58. New York Knicks
59. San Antonio Spurs
Besides the Celtics, who already have enough depth, I don’t see how Jok couldn’t make an impact on one of those teams as garbage time role player shooter, at least initially. I was shocked a few years ago to see Devyn Marble slip to the bottom of the second round. I still think he can be a good shooter for someone, but that’s beside the point here. When he got selected by the Orlando Magic with the 56th pick before the Spurs could (potentially) take him at 58, I was devastated. Would he have played an abundance of minutes? No. But I had some fun imagining Devyn as the next Danny Green, learning defense and ball movement from Greg Popovich the GOAT. Instead, he got picked by the Magic, made the team, hardly played, and now is playing overseas (Anyone know if the Magic still own his rights?). The Spurs chose Jordan McRae from Tennessee, who then went on to become an NBA champ with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Who knew?
Regardless of what happened with Marble, I could see the same sort of situation pan out for Peter Jok. We all know he can shoot the ball, and hopefully his combine performance was jitters more than anything else. But in today’s 3-point obsessed NBA, Pete could really prove to be a valuable asset in a few years. Who cares if he spends extended stints between the G League (that’s still so weird to type) and the league? All he’s gotta do is make the cut for one team and everything could change.
Path 2: Sign and Stow
Weirdly enough as I write this, I realized that I’m basically matching all of these options for Jok based on what we’ve seen from other Hawkeye NBA hopefuls. In that case, this path would be exactly what we saw with Aaron White in the 2015 draft.
White was selected by the Wizards with the 49th overall pick, and participated in Summer League, but didn’t play well, and instead has played overseas in the seasons since, while the Wizards still owned his rights.
The same thing could happen for Peter Jok.
Based on his Combine performance alone, Jok isn’t ready to face NBA-caliber talent, so maybe getting drafted by one of those bottom-5 teams and spending a season overseas developing his defense and confidence against other professional players would do him well before a stint at the bottom of an NBA roster or time in the G-League. I’d have to do some more research to see how frequently NBA teams actually bring these stowed players back into the fold, but I also gave up trying to predict what GMs and Scouts decide to do a long time ago.
I think it would be a shame for Peter Jok’s basketball career to end, and I for one would definitely keep tabs on him overseas.
Path 3: Test the NBA free agency waters
This is the option I think is smartest, and most likely, for Jok: testing the waters of free agency.
Like Jarrod Uthoff and Gabe Olaseni before him, it’s unlikely that Jok will hear his name called in the draft, but the opportunities don’t end there. NBA teams are always trying to fill up their Summer League squads with college players looking to make the jump to the next level. I’d almost guarantee Jok will find a roster spot there.
Beyond that, I think it will be smart for Jok to test the waters of free agency and bet on himself to make it somewhere in the NBA or G League ranks. Jarrod Uthoff went this route last year, and it earned him a roster spot on the Dallas Mavericks at the end of the year after spending most of the season across the then-D League, bulking up, improving his game, and adjusting to the faster pace of NBA-level talent.
As the developmental NBA league continues to grow into a de-facto farm system for most teams, and with new rules for promoting and demoting players coming right around the path, I would be shocked if there wasn’t a spot for Jok somewhere for a team that has a developmental league affiliate, which would allow them to bring him up to play as they choose. Hell, if I were the Iowa Wolves (ne Iowa Energy) I would give him a spot just for the ticket sales it would bring alone.
Sure, Jok could make more money right away playing overseas, but Iowa players looking to jump into the league need to look no further than Uthoff as the barometer.
If Jok can improve his defense, adjust to the pace of the game, and has a solid outing in the Summer League, the NBA sky seems to be the limit for Peter Jok. I didn’t hear it a ton last season from anyone else, but I thought every aspect of Jok’s shot took a leap forward from his junior to senior year. Sure, Fran McCaffery gave him the ultimate green light to shoot the ball, but there’s no question that his mechanics improved during his four years in Iowa City. Who’s to say the same couldn’t happen for him in the G League?
The last option for Jok would be to do what most Iowa players do after not hearing their name called on Draft night: make money playing ball overseas.
As long as Jok wants to continue playing basketball next season, there will be a spot for him somewhere. We’ve seen Iowa players of old play in all sorts of overseas leagues, including EuroLeague, the highest tier overseas basketball league. Jok could play a season (or two) overseas, bulk up and improve his game, while keeping his name out there for NBA teams. It pays better than the G League, but Jok would miss the chance to be signed or brought up to play in the NBA at a moment’s notice. If it comes between money or a shot at the NBA, the decision will be Jok’s alone.
There’s also the option of course that Peter decides to end his basketball career. Maybe he would join his brother’s philanthropic efforts, which would certainly be amicable. But from everything I’ve seen, we haven’t seen the last of Peter Jok on the basketball court, and I think I speak for most Hawkeye fans when I say that’s a very good thing.
What path do you think Peter Jok will take for the next step of his basketball career?