The Curious Case of Kay Felder

Published on 27-Jun-2016 by Swami Brown
Basketball - NBA / NBA Daily Opinion

Kahlil Felder (G) for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Draft day June 23, 2016

Yet another NBA Draft has come and gone.

One of the night's biggest winners may have been a team that didn't even have a draft pick.

One prospect in particular sat around friends, family, and his college coach in his hometown of Detroit, just waiting for his name to be called.

Point guard Kahlil Felder was hoping the right team would welcome him in.

Dude ended up being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 54th pick.

Before the night was over, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. As such, the freshly-minted NBA Champions may have picked up the steal of the draft in the former Golden Grizzly.

Felder chose to forego his senior year to enter this year's select-a-thon.

Dude choose the right time to do it, too, after setting career numbers at that Oakland. In his junior season, he helped lead Greg Kampe's Golden Grizzlies to their best record since the 2010-11 season. Statistically, he was fourth in the nation in scoring (24.4 ppg) and led the country in assists at 9.3 per game.

There was a stretch this past season where Felder scored 30+ points in three straight games, including a career- and season-high 37 against top-ranked Michigan State in a double OT loss at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Not to mention, the Grizzlies' offense scored the most points in the NCAA per game at 89.4.

So, why was Felder guy taken close to the end of the second round?

Could be the fact he stands 5-9, tied for shortest in this year's draft class with Kentucky guard Tyler Ullis.

However, there's really no question about whether or not this kid can play.

Dude's as athletic as it gets, even at his size. He maxed out at a 44in vertical leap at the combine, half an inch above Demetrius Jackson, who stands 6-1 and was drafted nine picks ahead of Felder

He's already drawn comparisons to Nate Robinson, who also stands 5-9 and had a max vertical leap of 43.5. However, Felder's athleticism and game seem already accelerated compared to Robinson at this point in their careers.

Robinson was a great ball handler and had no trouble scoring at will. Felder works off the ball tremendously, has exceptional court vision, has a knack for finding the ball defensively -- two steals per game his sophomore and junior years -- and doesn't turn the ball over at a discerning clip (3:1 turnover to assist ratio last season).

To me, Felder draws more of a comparison to Derrick Rose or even a more raw Russell Westbrook. 

The kid can flat-out play. 

His opportunity will come with the Cavs as he looks to help keep the championship in Cleveland, whether LeBron James stays or goes. The team will be looking for solid backup point guard play after being ready to move forward from Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavedova.

With his ability to play off the ball extremely well and his ability to dole out assists, Felder could carve his niche in the Cleveland lineup sooner rather than later.

Who knows? Before we know it, we may even end up seeing take a cure from Robinson and dunk over someone like LeBron. 

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