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How NBA Draft analysts graded the Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin picks

The consensus seems to be high on Bufkin, while Howard’s selection in the lottery is being questioned.

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2023 NBA Draft Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Another NBA draft has come and gone, and the Michigan Wolverines boasted two top-15 selections on Thursday night. Amongst the league’s draft analysts, however, one Wolverine seems to have been a clearer favorite than the other.

Here’s how five of the league’s top draft analysts graded out the Michigan selections:

SB Nation - Ricky O’Donnell

Jett Howard to Orlando Magic - B+

This one was a little bit of a surprise, but I really like it for Orlando. The Magic needed a shooter. Most assumed Kansas’ Gradey Dick would have been the pick here, but Howard is almost as good with his jumper while still being a superior shot creator off the dribble. The issue with Howard is he isn’t a great athlete and struggles defensively. Well, the Magic got a great defender in Anthony Black with their first pick in this draft. Howard’s size (6’8) and shooting fits right in with Orlando’s promising core.

Kobe Bufkin to Atlanta Hawks - B+

Bufkin is a 6’5 guard who can play on or off the ball. He was an amazing finisher at the rim, a good shooter from three-point range, and he impressed with his on-ball defense. He’s not an elite athlete and he’ll have to add strength to his frame, but he is one of the most well-rounded guards in this draft. Bufkin can fit alongside either Dejounte Murray or Trae Young in the backcourt, and it will be fascinating to see if all three can play together.

ESPN - Kevin Pelton ($)

Orlando Magic (Team) - B-

Howard going ahead of Michigan teammate Bufkin was one of the night’s biggest surprises. Given where Howard was projected (20th in ESPN’s final mock draft), drafting him without moving back seems like a failure to maximize value.

Atlanta Hawks (Team) - B

The Hawks’ deep rotation gave them the luxury of taking the best player available with the first pick outside the lottery. Bufkin, expected to go a few picks higher, fit the bill. How he fits in a backcourt with Dejounte Murray and Trae Young is unclear, but by the time Bufkin is ready to step into a larger role, Atlanta’s guard rotation might look totally different.

CBS Sports - Adam Finkelstein

Howard to Magic - C+

This pick is one of the first real head-scratchers of the night. The son of Michigan coach Juwan Howard is one of the best tough shot-makers in the draft and has solid positional size. But he is a defensive liability, and though he can shoot, there are better shooters on the board to help Orlando with that issue (Jordan Hawkins and Gradey Dick). Many expected him to be drafted toward the end of Round 1, not in the lottery.

Bufkin to Hawks - A-

A late-blooming guard who some people had in the top 10 made huge strides this year. People need to understand how young Bufkin is as an explanation for his low impact as a freshman in 2021-22 — he’s younger than many one-and-done players this year. Bufkin can play on or off the ball and provide an insurance policy for the Hawks deciding what the future is with Trae Young.

Yahoo Sports - Krysten Peek

Howard to Magic - C-

Howard comes from an NBA pedigree with his dad, Juwan, playing almost 20 years in the NBA. Howard is a solid outside shooter, particularly in catch-and-shoot situations. Howard needs to improve his lateral quickness on defense but makes up for it with his length. He joins Orlando’s very crowded backcourt.

Bufkin to Hawks - A

Bufkin has solid size at 6-5 and showed improved reads of the pick-and-roll during his sophomore season at Michigan. He’s always looking to push the ball in transition and has great body control around the rim.

The Athletic - Sam Vecenie ($)

Howard to Magic - 25th best pick

Howard’s evaluation comes down to how much improvement you think you can make in his defensive mechanics and what kind of scheme you plan on running. If you don’t believe he can improve in either respect, he has the potential to be more of a rotation player who spaces the floor at a high level but struggles to find anyone to guard and doesn’t impact the box score outside of scoring. If you do believe in his defense improving, he has a real chance to be an impactful starter.

Bufkin to Hawks - 11th best pick

Bufkin is one of the guys on whom I will be highest compared to consensus this year. I love how well-rounded his game is and how many of his attributes figure to translate. I buy him as a shooter, and I really buy his feel for the game on offense. His passing is improving as he continues to gain experience. He knows how to play direct basketball off quick decisions. There isn’t a ton of fluff there.