Draft night could play out fortuitously for Jose Alvarado, Moses Wright

Their time as teammates coming to an apparent end, Georgia Tech’s Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado went through pre-draft workouts in Los Angeles this week, Monday with the Clippers and Tuesday with the Lakers.

Then they were to head home to be with their families for the NBA draft, Alvarado to New York and Wright to Raleigh, N.C.

“Tuesday, I’m going to hug him and say, ‘Next time I see you, man, you’re going to be on an (NBA) team,’” Alvarado told the AJC on Sunday.

It would seem, too, that Wright, the reigning ACC player of the year, could well tell his trusty point guard the same thing. As the draft approaches, what might have seemed unlikely two months ago looks like it will come to pass Thursday night – whether they get drafted, both Alvarado and Wright are in solid position in their pursuits of spots in the NBA, according to their agent.

Ronald Shade, who represents both players with the Octagon sports agency, expressed to the AJC his expectation that both will emerge from the draft with guaranteed contracts.

“We’re focusing on a two-way roster spot at the very least for Moses, by way of draft or going undrafted,” he said.

Shade spoke similarly about Alvarado, saying, “I think at the very worst, Jose gets a two-way (contract).”

In a two-way contract, the player signs a deal to play for both the NBA team and its G League affiliate. Each team is permitted to have two such players. The contract was worth $450,000 in the 2020-21 season.

Such a deal can be a first step to a full-time spot in the league, perhaps the most notable example being Heat guard Duncan Robinson, who was fifth in 3-pointers per game this season after entering the NBA with a two-way deal before the 2018-19 season.

While not convinced that a two-way deal is a certainty for either, longtime scout and NBA consultant Ryan Blake does believe in the draft potential of the two.

“I can see them both getting drafted in the second round,” he said.

Alvarado is rated the No. 49 draft prospect by Sports Illustrated and Wright is No. 68. They’re in an area where they could be selected in the 60-player draft, but it’s not a certainty. Wright’s size could make him more of a viable draft candidate.

Shade said of Alvarado: “I wouldn’t be shocked if I hear his name called.”

Shade said he has tried to emphasize to both players to maintain perspective on the draft. With the second round, teams often opt to draft international players to secure their rights for the future, rather than a player who they believe can play that season. If either isn’t drafted, the interest in signing Alvarado or Wright as an undrafted free agent will be high.

“Anything can happen,” Shade said. “Draft night is one night. It’s the first night of your professional career, it’s not your entire professional career. I try to make sure these guys don’t let this night define them.”

And where a two-way deal is a possibility, there’s obviously the chance that they could get drafted and sign a deal with at least some of the contract guaranteed. According to the Spotrac website, the minimum rookie salary for the 2021-22 season is $925,000.

At the very least, it would appear that the worst that either could do would be to receive an invitation to a team’s training camp with what is known as an Exhibit 10 contract, and a spot on a G League team. With endorsement money, that scenario would generate compensation in the low six figures and the chance to start their professional careers.

For Alvarado, should he end up with a two-way deal or better, it would be a remarkable development given his relatively low draft profile when he announced in April that he was entering the draft while still preserving the possibility of returning to Tech. But the interest in the ACC defensive player of the year is clear. Alvarado said he had 17 pre-draft workouts.

His work at the G League camp in Chicago in June caught the attention of Blake, who said he was surprised that Alvarado didn’t earn an invitation to the NBA draft combine based on his play at the camp.

“Because he was such a gnat,” Blake said. “I could use another word, but we’ll just say gnat. He was all over them. He just played well. He just competed so hard. I think that opened up a lot of eyes.”

While his defensive skill, energy and effort were more known traits, what has especially boosted Alvarado’s stock has been his 3-point shooting, Shade said. Alvarado developed proficiency at the NBA 3-pointer while training in Phoenix, requiring himself to make 500 3-pointers in workouts.

Alvarado shot 39% from 3-point range as a senior, but the NBA 3-point line is a little more than a 1-1/2 feet behind the college 3. NBA teams were not expecting him to be as accurate as he has in workouts, Shade said.

“It’s all about putting the work in and being confident in your work,” Alvarado said.

Wright had nearly as many workouts as Alvarado and showed well at the combine. His rebounding ability and effort made an impression.

“He played well,” Blake said. “He played within himself, he let the game come to him. He was playing to win and not to showcase, which also is a good thing. Scouts notice that. He hustled, showed his skills, he practiced hard – all those things that you want.”

If selected, they would be the first Tech players drafted since Josh Okogie was taken with the No. 20 pick of the 2018 draft. That they’re positioned to reach the NBA is another milestone in a career full of them for both players. Wright was lightly recruited as a high schooler and did not play regularly as a freshman, often drawing the ire of Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastner for his inconsistency of effort.

Alvarado did not receive scholarship offers from any other ACC schools besides Tech. Yet Wright developed into Tech’s first ACC player of the year since 1990 and Alvarado became a two-time All-ACC selection as the two led Tech to its first ACC championship since 1993 and first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010.

They have worked out for several teams together.

“Just to have a person that I played all through college with and going through this experience with and have by my side is amazing,” Alvarado said.