Duke, Miami could put six 2018 NBA Draft first-round picks on the same floor

Dewan Huell (20), DJ Vasiljevic (1), Bruce Brown (11) and Ebuka Izundu (15) have Florida State’s Christ Koumadje surrounded. (Getty Images)

Before the season, Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker were widely projected as lottery picks. While they haven’t been bad, they haven’t exactly lit up the court.

Is it too early to sell stock in either or both?

A Western Conference scout who has watched Miami for several years said his team has no major concerns about the Hurricanes’ pair of young shooting guards. He still sees Walker as a high-caliber athlete who could slide into an NBA rotation next season and Brown doing his Russell Westbook impression: headed to the rim hateful and in a hurry.

But that scout has a couple of concerns: 42.4 and 41.7. Those are the shooting percentages, respectively, of Brown and Walker from the field. Not abysmal, but not outstanding. More concerning: 26.1 and 29.8. Those are their 3-point rates.

Those numbers, the scout said, “are really bad for perspective first-rounders. … Personally I struggle (feeling great about) any player who can’t shoot.”

Brown — who is averaging 11.3 points per game and leads UM in rebounds (7.1) and assists (3.9) — and Walker (8.6 points in 21.4 minutes) can prove they’re better than that Monday, with Duke (15-2, 3-2) in town for a 7 p.m. game (ESPN).

In the AP poll released at noon Monday, Miami (13-3, 2-2) fell seven spots to No. 25. Duke rose two spots to No. 5.

Every player has something to prove, with plenty of NBA scouts in attendance and ESPN’s Big Monday hype machine in overdrive. Dewan Huell, for one, can show the argument for “Miami’s best NBA prospect” doesn’t stop with Brown and Walker.

Huell, the 6-foot-11 sophomore, is leading UM in scoring (13.6 points) and displaying an ever-growing arsenal of offensive moves. He’s using his long arms and speed to alter shots (1.3 blocks). A confident Huell is one reason Miami ranks second nationally in effective field goal percentage defense (42.1).

The Hurricanes have been tested recently by Clemson and Florida State (and Georgia Tech, where they lost Jan. 3). However, the Blue Devils (16th nationally in eFG%, 57.2) will really show Miami how far its youthful defense has come.

Since 2011, Miami has held Duke under 70 points in all four meetings in Coral Gables (and are 5-3 against Duke under Jim Larranaga). At home the Canes are 3-1, with their only loss coming against the Jabari Parker-led Blue Devils in 2015. UM has been the lower-ranked team in each game.

This Duke team has scored more than 80 points in every game but one (a 78-61 win over Southern). Freshman forward Marvin Bagley (6-11), who may be the most dominant player in college right now, leads the ACC in scoring (22.5) and rebounding (11.7). The Blue Devils’ starting lineup — guards Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval and Gary Trent and forwards Bagley and Wendell Carter — has been shouting its NBA potential.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, formerly of DraftExpress, has Bagley No. 2 overall in his latest mock draft, noting he’s “putting up historic numbers for an 18-year-old.” He slots Duval, the 6-3 freshman point guard, 13th. Carter, the 6-10, 260-pound center, is 16th. Allen, the oft-booed senior shooting guard, is 26th.

Givony isn’t sleeping on Miami players. He has Walker 14th, pointing to the freshman’s July knee surgery as a reason for his slow start and notes he “will need to play better to maintain this lofty projection.” Brown is next, going 15th to New Orleans. He said Brown “isn’t ultra-talented, but he has won over NBA folks with his toughness, aggressiveness, two-way versatility and improving perimeter shooting.”

Sports Illustrated has Brown 13th and Walker 19th. NBADraft.net has Walker 16th and Brown 28th. CBSSports’ Gary Parrish, in his latest mock draft, dropped Walker to 23rd and Brown to 25th.

“Remember, Walker shot 40.0 percent from 3-point range two summers ago in the EYBL,” Parrish wrote. “So his low percentage isn’t too concerning quite yet.” He take on Brown: “A lot of people projected Brown to have a breakout season. And he still might. But the 6-5 sophomore hasn’t had one so far. His points-per-game average is the same. But his field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage are all down. That’s not good — for neither him nor Miami. But it’s still too early to move off of Brown too much.”