Grantland’s Jonathan Hock spent 24 hours with Royce White on the day of the NBA Draft back in June. White was one of the most interesting players in the draft as he has a condition doctors describe as “generalized anxiety disorder.”
Basically, it means White is constantly worrying about things, especially flying in an airplane, which is something you have to do a lot when you play in the NBA. White was one of the top talents in the draft but because of this condition slipped later in the first round than he normally would have been projected to be taken.
In the video, White’s agent is on the phone with White on draft night listing off all of the teams that planned to pass on him. The Oklahoma City Thunder with pick No. 28 were one of those teams.
White was one of the many players projected to be selected by the Thunder in mock drafts. By draft day however, most mocks had White being selected before the Thunder would have a chance to pick, most popularly to the Boston Celtics with one of their picks in the early 20’s.
White would get picked even higher by the Houston Rockets at No. 16. Apparently, head coach Kevin McHale was the only man in their draft room who wanted White.
Would the Thunder really have passed on White had he slipped all the way to No. 28? It seems pretty unlikely especially since White would be exactly the kind of player they would have wanted. White is a 3-4 combo forward who can handle the ball and has good size too. He played just one season at Iowa State and averaged 13.4 points, 5.0 assists and 9.3 rebounds per game. His NBA comparison was a more athletic Boris Diaw.
For the Thunder, they ended up drafting another highly talented player that slipped in the draft in Baylor’s Perry Jones. If it came down to a decision between White and Jones, you have to think the Thunder would have gone with White. White is more NBA ready as a player while Jones is more of a project for now. The Thunder are in the business of winning championships right away too.
The decision never had to be made for the Thunder but it is interesting to hear that White would have likely dropped into the Thunder’s hands if McHale couldn’t convince Houston to draft him.
After watching this video it’s pretty clear that everyone will be rooting for White regardless of where he will be playing.