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Hayes, Koenig sign NBA deals..will either of them make it?

Both Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig signed two-way NBA deals. Who makes it long-term if at all?

The 2017 NBA Draft came and went without a single Wisconsin Badger player being drafted. It was a bit surprising considering Nigel Hayes flirted with the league last year and Koenig has been one of the most clutch players in college basketball.

However, neither had to wait long for their NBA dreams to come true. That’s because Hayes signed a two-way deal with the New York Knicks and Koenig was signed to the same type of deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Hayes may actually have the best chance to make an impact at the next level in terms of game. However, in terms of organization and fit…Im’ not so sure that’s a good look for him. Let’s face it, the Knicks are one of, if not the most disorganized and brutal organizations in sports to play for today. Being on the edge of that sinking ship may not be a good thing.

On the other hand, opportunity could knock for a versatile forward like Hayes is. If Hayes can find his consistent outside shot to go along with his inside game on offense, perhaps he’ll have the opportunities needed with an organization looking for any help it can get.

After all, Hayes is third on the Badgers’ all-time leading scorer list with 1,875 points. He also is the only player to rank in the top 10 of career points, assists and rebounds at UW. That’s what it means to be versatile to the NBA.

But, his game is perhaps further from being NBA-ready than Koenig’s.

In fact, Koenig’s outside shooting and his slick ball-handling skills could be perfect at the next level. Badger fans saw some of his best stuff, but UW’s offense is more about the team and less about isolation basketball. The NBA is all about the isolation play and Koenig’s abilities there will be easier to be on display at the next level.

Let us not forget that Koenig left the University of Wisconsin as it’s all-time three-point basket king, knocking down a cool 270 of them in his four-year career. He’s also 6 feet, 4 inches tall which means he can play on or off the ball and take advantage of his pure shooting stroke.

That’s not to say Koenig is going to have an easy road either. After all, the Bucks do have a good contingent of guards to work with. Malcolm Brogdon and Giannis Antetokoumpo have been amazing for the Bucks, but neither are really natural point guards (obviously in the Greek Freak’s case).

So, if you are asking me which player has the best shot? I’m going with Koenig for the combination of his individual skill level and the set up of the team he is going to. Look for his two-way contract to pay off with a little time in the G-League (thanks to Gatorade for that sponsorship hilarity).

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball


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