Three Kentucky players are expected to go in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night. A fourth came to Lexington with hopes of joining them, but with less than 24 hours until the draft, the possibility of Reid Travis being drafted is minimal.
ESPN’s Jay Bilas agrees with what most experts are saying.
“I think he’ll be undrafted,” Bilas said. “Reid was a great college player, another fantastic kid. Not a kid, he’s a man. A fantastic young man. But I think the game, the NBA game, has gone away from him being a draft pick. Sort of back to the basket big guy that’s undersized that does not play above the rim, is not a versatile defender. There are a lot of things that he does well. Can he play in the NBA? Absolutely he could play in the NBA. I do not see him being drafted. Just the way the game has gone.”
Most mock drafts from popular media outlets do not have Travis listed as a possible pick in either the first or second round. It is becoming painfully clear that Travis will likely not hear his name called after 60 picks. But as Bilas mentions, that does not mean he won’t make his way into the league. He is just the wrong type of player for what the modern game is asking for.
“You put him 15 years ago or something, he probably would be drafted,” Bilas continued. “Maybe 10 years, whatever it is. Now it’s a little bit more problematic for undersized low-post guys that play within 15 feet. It’s more of a spread game now. Your ability to switch out and defend on the perimeter, guard, screen-roll situations, be able to shoot a three and all that. It’s just not what he does. The things he does well he does very well, but I’d be surprised if he were drafted.”
What hurts Travis’ stock more than anything is his inability to step out beyond the arc. Aside from entering the league at age 23 (which kills his stock), he shot only 7-26 from deep during his one season at Kentucky. Bilas notes how Travis is an excellent low post player, which he is, but outside of 10-feet, the big man struggles to make the simple play. If he can develop that outside game then the league will absolutely have a spot for him, but right now the reality is that he’s not an NBA-caliber player just yet.
Now let’s hope he can get there.