Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sweet 16 presents NBA Draft prospects worth watching.

The Bulls acquired D Rose through the draft. 
Fifteen of the 16 NBA teams that have winning records (as of March 22, 2012) drafted or made draft-day trades to acquire either their best player or a major piece of their team. 

The quick checklist? Let’s do it. 

In the Eastern Conference: Chicago drafted Derrick Rose. Miami robbed the NBA with Dwyane Wade’s selection, fifth overall, three picks after Darko Milicic. Orlando used the number one pick in 2004 on Dwight Howard. 

Calling anyone a “star” on Philadelphia is tough. But their lone All-Star, Andre Iguodala, was picked by the Sixers ninth in 2004. Likewise, Indiana’s solo All-Star - Roy Hibbert was chosen 17th in 2008 by the Toronto Raptors. The Pacers traded on draft day to get the big-man from Georgetown

Josh Smith lasted until pick 17 in `04
In 2004 – the Atlanta Hawks snookered the league by nabbing Josh Smith with the 17th selection. Lastly, in the East, you have the Boston Celtics who traded for Rajon Rondo – the 21st pick in the 2006 draft.  All the winning teams in the East drafted or made draft-day trades to acquire either their best player or a major piece of their team.

In the Western Conference there is one winning team, the Houston Rockets, who did not build through the draft. Their core of Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Courtney Lee, Sam Dalembert, and Marcus Camby were all brought to Houston via the trade or free-agent signing. The Rockets do have three players who made their rookie debut with Houston but they are role players (Budinger, Patterson, and Parsons). The rest of the Western Conference teams with winning records built through the draft. 

Don't forget. KD was a Sonic.
In Oklahoma City they have famously built a core out of the Thunder picks, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden - who teamed with franchise selection (from the Seattle Sonics days) Kevin Durant. 

The Spurs made a living off of their own trio of draftees, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Oh – by the way, Manu was the 57th pick in the 1999 draft. The Lakers arranged a deal to have the Charlotte Hornets choose Kobe Bryant 13th for them in the 1996 draft. 

In Memphis, the Grizzlies smartly moved Shane Battier to Houston in exchange for the draft rights to Rudy Gay, who - along with 2007 pick Mike Conley, are a large part of the winning equation in Mud City

The Clippers of course drafted Blake Griffin. Dallas made their move for Dirk Nowitzki on draft day 1998. The Denver Nuggets acquired Ty Lawson with a draft day trade in 2009 after he slipped to the 18th pick by MinnesotaFinally in the West, Utah smartly stole Paul Millsap from the 2006 draft with the 47th selection. 

Is Davis a, Tim Duncan-like, franchise changer?
So what’s the point of all this? The point is that the 2012 NBA Draft is three months away and there are players alive in the NCAA tournament that have a CHANCE to impact NBA teams in the years to come. We will go as far as to say that there is one, sure-fire star; a bona fide franchise changer. And he is the focal point of our annual look at the sixteen prospects we feel may succeed in the NBA future. Not all of these guys will be good enough to play a major role on an NBA roster but some most-certainly will.

The Sweet 16:

Anthony Davis – Kentucky 6’10” 208 PF, SF, C.  Freshman. …He will be the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft (assuming he declares). Anthony Davis is a long and agile defensive force. He blocks shots at a ridiculously high rate. …I am of the opinion that he is a potential (barring injury), franchise changing player. The shots he does not block, he alters. It is no coincidence that Kentucky has held their opponents to 37% FG shooting this season, en route to a number one ranking and a record of 34-2. Stop and think about the chance your team has to win if you can hold your opponent to 37% FG each game. (If you really stopped and thought about it - you envisioned champagne corks popping.) ...What is even more fun about Davis is that he is not just a shot-blocking stiff. He has skill. He was a high-school guard that stood 6'0" as a freshman. A growth spurt occurred but Davis maintained his ability to handle the ball, and shoot it from the perimeter. ...He is at 70 %FT for this season. He has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. ...Davis' efficiency rating of .819 compares favorably (higher) than the NCAA career efficiency ratings of both Kevin Durant and Kevin Love. ...Davis has already been named Sporting News Player of the Year for 2011-12. ...He was MVP of the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic with 29 points (the second highest point total ever behind only LeBron James).

Young Zella! 
Cody Zeller – Indiana 6’11” 230 C. Freshman. Zeller is the rare big-man with refined skills, even as a freshman. He uses either hand well around the basket. He shoots 62% FG. He can hurt you on the pick and roll or the pick and pop. He rebounds. He doesn’t mind contact. And he makes his free throws (75%). Zeller, younger brother of North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, averages 15.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. Cody shared Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors with Trey Burke of Michigan.

Robinson is a savage dunker!
Thomas Robinson – Kansas 6’9” 230 PF. Junior.  Robinson is a strong, athletic power player that was named All-America First Team, by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He was also chosen as Big 12 Player of the Year (Big 12 & AP). …Robinson is a rebounding machine, and that skill will translate to the NBA. This season he scores 17.7 points per game while grabbing 11.8 rebounds each contest. He does have areas that need major work, including decision making (he has more turnovers than assists), and free throw shooting (only 60% career).

Jared Sullinger – Ohio St. 6’8” 265 PF. Sophomore. Sullinger is a scoring power forward with a large backside. He uses his lower body strength to gain position low but he also is nimble enough and a good-enough shooter to knock down face-up opportunities as well. ...He is a solid free throw shooter for a big man at 72% (career) but he has more turnovers than assists. He gets in trouble when he tries to do more than he should with a dribble. ...Despite having post-up ability, Sullinger can also nail the three-ball. This season he is knocking down 44% from beyond the arc. ...He was co-MVP of the 2010 McDonald's All-American game (with Harrison Barnes).

Green: two triple-doubles in NCAA's
Draymond Green – Michigan St. 6’7” 230 SF, PF. Senior. One of the most intriguing prospects in the NCAA is Draymond Green. Green is a “point-forward” who stands 6’7” but has a wide, thick frame that allows him to “play bigger”. He makes up for any lack of height with his savvy and skill. He was the Big Ten Player of the Year for 2011-12 – posting averages of 16.3 points per game, and 10.5 rebounds per outing. …Green is an excellent passer (3.9 assists per game) that sees the floor and can deliver a pass in the sweet spot. He has quick hands and he will pester opponents into turnovers. He owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (1.51-to-1). His shooting stroke has improved. This season he is at 71% FT, and 40% 3-pt. ...Led Saginaw High School to Michigan Class A State Championship two straight years as a junior and senior respectively. Green is a kid I really enjoy watching play. I rate him much higher than most NBA Draft prognosticators.

Jae Crowder – Marquette. 6’6” 225 SF. Senior. The son of former Utah Jazz guard Corey Crowder, Jae Crowder has carved a niche in the Big East as one of the most versatile players in the league. This season Jae was Big East Player of the Year - posting 17.6 ppg, with 8.4 rpg, and a very nice 2.5 steals per game. How Jae's game may translate to the NBA is open for debate. Crowder most likely will fall into the 'small-forward' pool - where I think he will be just fine. ...He is smart with the ball and he is a very alert defender. He rarely turns it over (1.75-to-1 assist to turnover ratio), and he can shoot the three-ball (36%)  - which are two sought after qualities in a small forward. Crowder is especially good at hitting the top-of-the-key three pointer.

MKG is amazing in transition. 
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Kentucky. 6’7” 232 SG. Freshman.  Kidd-Gilchrist is a special player in transition. He plays at hyper-speed and yet somehow has the body control to finish plays that simply could not be made by an ordinary athlete. He was ranked third for the high-school class of 2011 by ESPNU. This season he was named second-team All-America by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. ...He works on defense and is unselfish on offense. A hustler. ...Averages 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game on 48% FG, 74% FT.

Tyler Zeller – North Carolina. 7’0” 220 C. Senior. Zeller is the 2011-12 ACC Player of the Year. He can run and finish well for a seven footer. He hustles. …Owns a quick release on his shot and he has a soft touch. You can count on him at the free throw line where he hits 75% (career). He uses both hands well in the low post. He is more effective with hook shots going over the top of the defense than he is trying to go at someone. ...He competes. He takes charges. ...He hits the offensive glass and will score on tip-ins.

Withey is a shot blocker!
Jeff Withey – Kansas. 7’0” 235 C. Junior. … Withey is a shot-blocking threat that also has a bit of a complementary offensive game. He has post-play skill and can also hit a face-up shot. He shoots 73% from the line. …Withey must improve as a passer and decision maker with the ball. He turns it over almost twice for every one assist.

DeShaun Thomas – Ohio St. 6’7” 221 SF. Sophomore. Thomas is a scoring, left-handed, forward that gets buckets in every way imaginable. He averages 15.9 points per game (on 53% FG) to go with 5.3 rebounds per contest. …73% FT. ...Thomas must continue to develop his playmaking for others. He has more turnovers than assists for his career to date. ...He was a 2010 McDonald's All-American that was named Mr. Basketball in Indiana.

Victor Oladipo – Indiana. 6’5” 214 SG. Junior. Oladipo is a speedy, sturdy guard with NBA athleticism. He averages 10.9 points per game while also helping out on the boards at 5.5 rebounds per contest. He can shake his man with a crafty dribble. …He needs to improve as a perimeter shooter (just 21% from 3-pt. range this season), and he needs to be more consistent. He has too many games where his shooting percentage is low. ...He is a career 69% free throw shooter. But the athleticism, and nose for the ball are too promising to be overlooked.

The real-deal, Bradley Beal. 
Bradley Beal – Florida. 6’3” 207 SG. Freshman. Beal is a TWO Guard that helps as a rebounder. He is averaging 14.6 points per game, and 6.5 rebounds per contest. He came in touted as a big-time three-point shooter but this season he knocked down only 32% of his attempts. …His 77% free throw shooting is probably a better indication of his touch. ...He is said to be a great teammate. ...Former McDonald's All-American. He was MVP at the under-17 FIBA world championships in Germany.

John Henson – North Carolina. 6’10” 210 C, PF. Junior. Henson is a super long shot blocker and offensive rebounding force that is improving as a face-up shooter. He was the 2011-12 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. ...Henson blocks and alters a huge number of the opponent’s shots, making him very valuable. Henson averaged 13.8 ppg, and 10.1 rpg this season. ...He is rail thin - raising concerns about long-term prospects from a health standpoint. ...He is a poor free throw shooter at 48% (career).

Jackson makes the Bears go. 
Pierre Jackson – Baylor. 5’10” 180 PG. Junior. Jackson may be the Bears most important player. It is hard to imagine where they would be without him. ...Jackson came from the juco ranks (Southern Idaho). ...He is averaging 13.5 points per game, to go with a healthy 5.8 assists per contest. Imagine Hubie Brown speaking, "What you like about him, is that he is shooting 41 percent from downtown. Ok, and THEN..., he goes to the line and hits 81 percent."

Quincy Miller – Baylor. 6’9” 200 SF. Freshman. …Miller was the co-Freshman of the Year in the Big 12. He is a 6'9" small-forward with the ability to hit shots. His percentages are good (81% FT, 35% 3-pt). ...He played for USA Basketball at the FIBA Americas U-18 Championships. He led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring. He made a game-winning three point shot in the Gold Medal game vs. Brazil.

Perry Jones III – Baylor. 6’11” 220 SF. Sophomore. Jones is a player with a ceiling that is unlimited. He has basketball instincts, and skills that are rarely found in a 6'11" frame. He is still learning how to play and I have seen improvement from his freshman to sophomore season but he has holes in his game that must be improved before he can impact an NBA game. He is too thin to be considered a BIG and his ball skills suggest he should be a player who plays on the perimeter facing the hoop. The problem is that he does not yet shoot the three-ball at an acceptable rate (26% - career), and he turns it over more than he assists teammates. He averaged 13.4 ppg, and 7.4 rpg this season. ...He was a McDonald's All-American.  

Special nod to a guy who doesn’t even play - Michael Carter-Williams – Syracuse. 6’5” 176 PG. Freshman. …This dude doesn’t even play. That’s how deep the Syracuse guard line is. Carter-Williams is buried on a Orange team that has experienced Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche, and Dion Waiters - but the freshman, when it’s all said and done - may be the best NBA player among the bunch. Carter-Williams has logged only 269 minutes this season but his play stands out each time he appears. ...A 2011 McDonald's All-American, Carter-Williams was rated 20th overall and fourth among shooting guards on the 2011 ESPNU 100. ...While some may see him as a SG, I think is best position will be at the POINT - where he can better use his height as an advantage. He owns an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 3-to-1.

No comments:

Post a Comment