Home » NBA Draft 2024: The Australian prospects to watch as Furphy becomes ‘big riser’, Proctor falls

NBA Draft 2024: The Australian prospects to watch as Furphy becomes ‘big riser’, Proctor falls

Johnny Furphy has emerged as a potential lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft, with one expert projecting the Australian guard/wing to go as high as 13th overall.

It comes after a stunning run of form for the Kansas freshman since being rewarded with a starting spot in the Jayhawks’ 78-66 win over Oklahoma on January 14.

Furphy has averaged 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 54 per cent from the field and 41.1 per cent from deep during that period.

The outside shooting, highlighted by a four-game stretch that saw Furphy go 12-for-22, along with improvement on the defensive end has seen the Australian rocket up draft boards.

In fact, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie had Furphy going to the Portland Trail Blazers with the No. 13 pick in his latest mock draft, describing the 19-year-old as his “big riser on the board”.

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Johnny Furphy handles the ball. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“Furphy has a lot of what NBA teams look for across the landscape when trying to identify interesting projects in whom to invest,” Vecenie wrote.

“At 6-9 with legitimate athleticism in the open court, Furphy is a potential one-and-done who was not even really on the radar this time last year. Over the last 18 months, the Australian has exploded.

“At the Center of Excellence in Australia, he was always seen as an interesting upside swing due to his athleticism and shooting ability, but he didn’t always know how to impact the game when he was out there.

“Now, Furphy has earned serious minutes and consistently hits the score sheet with his rebounding, and he forces teams to run in transition with Kansas because of how much pressure he puts on the rim. It’s hard to find guys who are this big, this athletic and can play on the wing. My bet is teams invest the developmental resources in Furphy in a big way.”

Furphy did not feature on Vecenie’s 2024 NBA draft big board which he published in early December last year, speaking to just how much the Australian’s stocks have risen recently.

It is not hard to understand why that is the case either given Furphy had been averaging 14.5 minutes with Kansas at that point.

Since being given a starting role, Furphy — who was initially viewed as more of a second-round draft prospect — has played over 30 minutes in 10 straight games and been highly productive.

Furphy first came up on the radar of Kansas and a number of other college programs in the wake of a breakout showing at the NBA Academy games in Atlanta, averaging 14.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.

ESPN’s latest mock draft has Furphy going 29th overall to the Timberwolves and the Australian could only climb higher up the board given the lack of top-end talent in this year’s class.

“Furphy is neither a prolific ball handler nor a dynamic shooter, being almost exclusively a catch-and-shoot, spot-up option,” wrote ESPN’s draft expert Jonathan Givony.

“He finds other ways to contribute by running the floor in transition, crashing the glass, cutting to the rim and rarely turning the ball over.

“His defense appears to be making strides… he appears firmly entrenched as a starter and will have a huge platform on one of the best teams in college basketball for the rest of the season.

“Continuing to make shots consistently and showing his improved defense is real will be key to his draft standing. He has room to improve his frame and become a more dynamic offensive player to solidify himself as a sure-fire first-rounder, something that might end up being more realistic for the 2025 NBA draft than this upcoming June depending on how the rest of the season plays out.”

Furphy, who reclassified and committed to Kansas in August last year, could still decide not to declare for the draft and spend another season at the Jayhawks.

Fellow Australian Tyrese Proctor is facing a similar dilemma with his draft stock falling amid an inconsistent and injury-interrupted sophomore season with the Duke Blue Devils.

Proctor was viewed as Australia’s best chance of being a lottery pick at the start of the season but did not feature at all in both mock drafts on The Athletic and ESPN this week.

The five-star guard impressed in his freshman season as one of four Blue Devils to play in all 36 games while finishing as their third leading scorer (9.4 points per game) along with a team-high 119 assists.

It has been a different story in the 2023-24 season for Proctor, who spent nearly a month on the sidelines with an ankle injury and didn’t immediately see a starting role when he returned.

Proctor then suffered a concussion earlier this month, which saw the Australian miss another game before making his comeback from the bench against Miami on Thursday.

Proctor immediately flashed his high-level court vision in his return, finishing with a handy 12 points, five assists and three rebounds in the win.

Bleacher Report’s leading NBA draft expert Jonathan Wasserman had Proctor heading to Miami with the 45th pick in his most recent mock, writing that the Australian’s inconsistency for a second-year player has “weighed on scouts’ confidence”.

Tyrese Proctor in action for Duke. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Proctor had a strong five-game stretch in January which included a career-high 24-point haul against Louisville, where the Australian made four of 10 3-point attempts in a 83-69 win.

Overall, Proctor has averaged 10.0 points and 3.5 assists while shooting 43.7 per cent from the field and 35.5 per cent from downtown.

The 19-year-old has proven a productive pick-and-roll passer and shooter from mid-range, although the lack of rim pressure remains a weakness which if rectified will only further open up Proctor’s game and add to his upside.

Sydney Kings Next Star Alex Toohey is the other Australian name to monitor, with the Canberra-born wing another candidate to declare for this year’s draft.

Alex Toohey of the Kings. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Toohey, who had initially committed to NCAA team Gonzaga, has averaged 7.9 points and 3.9 rebounds with the Kings in the NBL this season.

Like Proctor and Furphy, Toohey also has the option of waiting for the 2025 draft and spending another season with the Kings to polish his game but could also benefit from how wide-open this year’s class is.