Home Ryan Dunn ‘all in’ on NBA Draft: Analyzing the move for Dunn, and for Virginia

Ryan Dunn ‘all in’ on NBA Draft: Analyzing the move for Dunn, and for Virginia

Chris Graham
uva basketball beekman dunn
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Virginia sophomore Ryan Dunn, all 8.1 points per game of him, is entering the 2024 NBA Draft, and he made clear in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday that he’s “all in.”

“I had an amazing two years at UVA,” Dunn told ESPN. “I’m focused on the next step in my life now. I got really good feedback from the NBA and am ready for the next level.”

Whether Dunn is “ready for the next level” has been a matter of conjecture among UVA fans for months. The 6’8” forward has been projected as high as late lottery in the 2024 draft class, but that’s in spite of his stunning lack of an offensive game.

The aforementioned 8.1 points per game is just part of the story. Dunn made 11 jumpers this past season – 11! – shooting 22.4 percent (11-of-49), per numbers from Synergy Sports.

His offensive game is, as I started writing mid-season, derivative – entirely based on teammates setting him up on cuts, offensive rebounds and getting buckets in transition.

As the competition shifted from the early-season guarantee games to ACC play, those opportunities largely dried up.

In his final 10 games, as Virginia limped home to a 4-6 finish after a 19-5 start, Dunn averaged 5.9 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting from the floor.

He also had well-documented issues at the free-throw line. After back-to-back games in early November in which he was 5-of-6 and 8-of-9 at the line, Dunn was 24-of-54 (44.4 percent) at the charity stripe the rest of the way.

Dunn’s value in the eyes of NBA talent evaluators is on what he can do on the defensive end.

I made the argument that he should have been the ACC Defensive Player of the Year before the award went to teammate Reece Beekman.

The reason for my advocacy: Dunn held opponents to 4.1 points per game on 28.1 percent shooting, both bonkers numbers, in 2023-2024.

His 7’2” wingspan and elite quickness makes him a swiss-army knife who can defend all five positions, which will be valuable in the NBA defending pick-and-rolls.

Without an offensive game, Dunn would seem to project, right now, as a developmental project, likely to spend his rookie season shuttling back-and-forth between the NBA and the G League.

Honestly, if Dunn would have decided to return for his junior season at Virginia, he would have been a developmental project for Tony Bennett and Jason Williford, the assistant who would have been responsible for trying to coax an offensive game out of Dunn.

To that end, Dunn told ESPN that he’s headed to California to prepare for NBA combine workouts, where he will work on his shooting.

“Confidence-wise, it wasn’t always there for me just letting it go from beyond the arc,” Dunn said. “I’m going to have a whole different mindset with that. A lot of my role was being a rebounder and making plays at the rim. I did that the best I could to try and help my team win.”

The move by Dunn opens up another scholarship for the fall, and it would seem to create an opening, in particular, for Syracuse transfer Maliq Brown, a 6’8” sophomore from just up the road in Culpeper.

Virginia is among the schools that have reached out to Brown, whose game is strikingly similar to that of Dunn – largely derivative offense, solid rebounder, though he’s not close to Dunn as a defender.

If Bennett wants to get Brown, he might want to hurry – Brown is reportedly visiting Duke, which suddenly has a lot of roster spots to fill, with four guys in the portal and two in the NBA Draft, this week.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].