2023 NBA Mock Draft: Spurs land franchise PG, tanking pays off for Pistons
Like Dereck Lively, Duke freshman Dariq Whitehead got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season as he was coming off a foot injury. As a result, his athleticism took a noticeable hit compared to what it looked like coming out of high school. While Whitehead delivered on his reported shooting talent, having shot 43% from three on a high volume of shots, many questions about his game were left mostly unanswered by the end of Duke’s season.
One of Whitehead’s swing skills coming into his freshman season was his ball handling. Because he doesn’t possess an elite first step, particularly after his injury, he needed to show scouts that he could make his way to the rim using craft instead, but mostly failed. His defense also seemed to suffer, which was already a bit questionable and labeled as a swing skill to begin with.
Whitehead will likely have one of the biggest draft ranges by the time draft night rolls around, and given the massive divergence between his current state and his projections coming out of high school, pre-college tape may matter more with Whitehead than most other prospects in the draft. After all, if there’s any current NBA player that perfectly exemplifies how detrimental a foot injury can be (and how recovering can positively impact their play), it’s Zach Collins.