INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11: John Shurna #24 of the Northwestern Wildcats dunks against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
The NBA Draft is Thursday, and John Shurna has spent most of the past month flying from city to city, doing workouts. Thus far, he's worked out for 13 NBA teams, including the Wizards, Knicks, Jazz, Bucks, Bulls, Timberwolves, and a bunch of others. Workout out for teams isn't anything special: most teams bring in dozens of guys, some they're seriously looking at, some as bodies to fill up workouts, and as is, Shurna still is off of most draft boards, including the only one worth paying attention to over at DraftExpress. However, I still believe that Shurna should - and could - get drafted, and if not, it would be stupid if he didn't get put on someone's summer league squad. Part of it is personal - it would be awesome if someone I spent four years going to school with made the NBA - and part of it is because I genuinely believe Shurna can make it in the pros. So here's a few reasons why your team should select the stringbean from Glen Ellyn.
1. He can shoot: There was a pretty shocking stat from Shurna's Bucks workout the other day: the guy hit 36 of 40 three pointers. Sure, those were open looks, he should hit every one, right? Well, hypothetically. But, I mean, no. Shooting a basketball is by nature impossible to do over and over again in the same way. Shurna hit 90 percent of his open looks. Only two NBA players - Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick - were able to do that from the free throw line this year. Sure, small sample size, but Shurna, funky shot and all, is an automatic shooter from deep. He's a little streaky, which explains why he can sometimes reel off 36 of 40, but his shooting talent is undeniable. Every team should have someone who can consistently nail open looks from downtown, and I can promise you that not all of them do.
2. He's not as bad as defense as people make him out to be: John Shurna was third in the B1G in blocks per game last year. Sure, some of this had to do with his insane minutes per game and the rest was due to his role mainly as a help defender in the 1-3-1. But considering the major criticism of Shurna is his poor defense, I'm not sure that's completely warranted. While he's obviously from the classic "too-slow-to-guard-threes-too-weak-to-guard-fours" book, I think his length means he won't get completely destroyed by threes and it's not like he's a total pushover against fours. His shooting caliber and the limited amount of time a pure shooter would see on court I think renders his defensive shortcomings a little bit less of a concern. It's not like he'd be defending starters anyway.
3. He can shoot: We come to take shooting as a dime-a-dozen skill as Northwestern fans. Everybody on the team gets open looks, we expect everybody to hit them, that's how the Princeton Offense works. But even amongst Northwestern's prolific shooters, not many have been as good as Shurna. Shurna, despite shooting far and away the most threes and being the main focus of opposing defenses, shot 44 percent from three. Alex Marcotullio, NU's three-point specialist, shot 41.3 percent. Craig Moore's career high was 40.6 percent. Juice Thompson shot 43.3 percent as a freshman, but that was on 3.5 threes per game - his shots went up every year and his percentage went down. Shurna stroked a career high 44 percent on nearly seven shots a game. A lot of guys shot as well, percentage-wise, but none took as many shots and none scored 20 points a game, and probably not many had opposition throwing their entire defenses at them. My point is, Shurna's skill isn't dime-a-dozen.
4. He's giggly: Who doesn't want giggliness on their team?
5. He can shoot: "He's a really, really, really good shooter" - an NBA Scout in Seth Davis' annual scouts-talking-about-NBA-players piece.
6. His shot won't be as easy to block as it seems: Four years of watching Shurna, I don't recall seeing his jumper get blocked once. His release is astonishingly quick, and although his motion is more or less horizontal, the ball flicks off his finger at an unusually high angle, making it hard to block.
7. He can shoot: Of the top ten shooters in terms of three-point percentage last year in the NBA who went to college, seven never shot 44 percent from three at the collegiate level. Only Steve Novak, Ray Allen, and Matt Bonner did that out of the top ten.
8. He can score in other ways too: We haven't mentioned it much, but Shurna has a pretty quick first step, does a good job getting to the rim, and can hit pretty well from mid-range. He scored 20 points per game in the Big Ten, and his three-point shooting accounted for under half of that. He won't be asked to do much of this at the NBA level, but he can do it.
9. He can shoot: Trust me on this. There's players who are good at shooting the ball, and there's players who are rare talents at shooting the ball. One is common, and I think Shurna's the other. I hope an NBA team takes a flyer on him, because I really think it could pay off.