Blackmon ready for his shot in the NBA

James Blackmon Jr. believes he’ll get his chance.

Whether it’s through Thursday’s NBA Draft or through his own free agency path, the former Indiana sharpshooter is confident he’ll soon find an NBA home.

“My goal is not just to get drafted,” Blackmon told The Herald-Times on Tuesday. “It’s to be on a team and on a roster. If it’s better for me to go undrafted, then I will definitely take that route (rather) than get drafted and not be on a team. Either way it goes, I’m confident.”

After spending the past two months working out for 15 of the league’s 30 teams, Blackmon is ready to see what’s next. Right now, no one’s entirely sure.

In Draft Express’ latest mock draft, Blackmon is not projected as one of the 60 picks in the two-round event. It’s the same case in the updated mocks at ESPN, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports.

Blackmon, considered the No. 83 available prospect in Draft Express’ rankings, isn’t getting hung up on projections. Careers are neither made nor broken on draft night, and Blackmon can view a couple former Hoosier teammates as proof.

Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams each went unselected in the 2016 NBA Draft before playing a combined 76 games in the league this past season. In Ferrell’s case, he started at the NBA’s developmental level — now called the NBA G League — before playing briefly with the Brooklyn Nets and later turning a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks into a remarkable run that saw him close the season as the team’s starting point guard.

It’s an example that Blackmon holds close, as a free-agent deal and a solid showing in the NBA Summer League could further his cause.

“He’s one of those guys that (going undrafted) helped in his favor,” Blackmon said. “It’s all about fit. For Yogi, he found out where he fits and he was ready for that opportunity. Looking back, there’s a lot of guys who have been drafted in the second round and made it, or guys who’ve been undrafted and made it.

“I feel like it can go either way. Even if guys are first-round picks, some of them don’t end up playing in the NBA. I feel like, at the end of the day, if you’re ready, you’re gonna be on an NBA team.”

And Blackmon feels like he’s ready.

That’s why he decided to make the jump from Indiana after leading the Hoosiers with 17.0 points and earning third team All-Big Ten honors as a junior this past season.

“He wants to move on,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “He’s a guy that you could see in the (G League). You could even see him as a two-way player. Somebody might be willing to take a chance on having him under contract. Because, let’s face it, he really can shoot it.

“There’s some things that he has to show teams what he can do, which one of them would be guarding and staying in front of athletic players. But in a league that really, really right now is valuing shooting, that’s going to be his calling card.”

During team workouts this spring, Blackmon said teams wanted to learn just how good of a shooter he was after he made 41 percent of his 3-point attempts during his two-and-a-half-year IU playing career.

Of course, teams also put him to the test on defense, where Blackmon said he sought to show his competitiveness in 3-on-3 and 1-on-1 matchups.

But it’ll be his offense that gives him an inital shot to make the league. Teams wanted to see how versatile the 6-foot-4 guard can be, both in terms of ball handling and creating.

Blackmon feels like he made good impressions for the league he hopes to soon call home.

“In high school, I was more of (a ball handler) so I just went out there and did what I do,” Blackmon said. “The advice I got from my dad and other people who support me was to just go out there and be who you are. That’s what I’ve done these plast couple months. It’s worked out.”