Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lillard in lottery?

Lillard had trouble scoring on Jorge Gutierrez. 
Damian Lillard is a sweet-shooting guard that had scouts cramming Big Sky gyms to catch a glimpse of his talents. What they saw was a skilled, athletic scorer with a measured vertical leap of 39.5 inches! He shot a very impressive 86.7% FT for his career (600 attempts). Last season he raised his three point shooting accuracy to 40.9%. …Lillard is also strong in the upper-body.

The big-question is how much stock can you put into his numbers playing against Big Sky competition? The Big Sky was the 27th (of 33) rated conference in NCAA D-1 hoops (according to Jeff Sagarin's ratings). Lillard competed against just two power-six conference teams last season. When Weber St. faced Cal, Lillard laid an egg. He was 4-17 FG with 14 points in 36 minutes. Likewise - against an always tough Utah St. squad - he was 4-16 FG. To be fair - Lillard had a monster 36 point game against Saint Mary's. But the Gaels guards are far from scary defensively. (See Lillard's game log)

The NBA is a league FULL of good point guards right now. Since you always consider the landscape - I don't see Lillard being a guy who automatically fits into the top-shelf of NBA PG's. By efficiency - guys like Mike Conley, George Hill and Jeff Teague are struggling to crack the top-25 among PG's. Is it realistic to think Lillard can become that good? I'm not sure. Lillard is being discussed as a late-lottery selection. I see that projection as slightly overrated right now. Don't get me wrong - I like Lillard's game. But I do not see him as a lottery pick.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kings Monday workout. Quick thoughts on players

The Sacramento Kings will host six players Monday for workouts at their practice facility. Here are my quick thoughts on each player...

Henson is LONG!
John Henson - North Carolina - PF/C ...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 owns a standing reach of  9'3.5"! He blocks and alters a huge number of the opponents shots, making him very valuable. Henson averaged 13.8 ppg, and 10.1 rpg this season. ...He is rail thin (at just 216 lbs.), raising concerns about long-term prospects from a health standpoint. Then again - Tayshaun Prince, one of the thinnest players in the NBA has rarely missed any time. ...Henson is a poor free throw shooter at 48% (career). ...I like him but I think there will be better choices at pick number five. 

Drew Gordon - New Mexico - PF ...Gordon really improved during his two seasons at New Mexico after a failed two years at UCLA. …His scoring, rebounding, and free throw percentages went up every year of his college career. He finished with career shooting percentages of 53% FG, 69% FT. ...He is a terrific rebounder (very high in rebounds per minute). ...He competes. ...I see him as that kind of kid you might want to draft in the second round due to his skill, strong body, desire, and because he continues to improve. 

Ricardo Ratliffe - Missouri - PF - Ratliffe is a hard-nosed player that shot an incredible 63% FG during his two year stay at Missouri. …He isn't flashy and he isn't the best at "showing and recovering". His straight-line speed is much better than his side-to-side. ...He certainly benefited from playing with virtually all guards at Missouri, just as he  benefited from being the one BIG guy on the interior. …He turns it over more than he assists it. His career free-throw percentage is 67%. ...Ratliffe is a year-older than most in his class - already 23 years old. ...He probably is either a late-second round guy or a player that will not be drafted. He certainly is not better than Euro pros Kyle Hines, or Richard Hendrix (who have yet to make an NBA roster). 

Yancy Gates - Cincinnati - C ...Gates is a huge kid that can be a load on the low post. He is very hard to move. He also uses both hands well around the basket. He is a natural righty but can go left with skill. Only a 59% free throw shooter. …More turnovers than assists. …He never dominated the way I thought he was capable of. After watching him for four years at Cincy - I would pass on him despite his obvious offensive skills. He is the guy that famously sucker-punched Xavier's Kenny Frease. ...There is also concerns about his weight. He was 287 lbs. at Portsmouth in April. 

Charlie Westbrook - South Dakota - SG ...Westbrook is a scoring guard that posted solid shooting numbers (46% FG, 76% FT, 38% 3-pt.) for his position in the Summit League. …He is looking to score. ...Right-handed. He had more turnovers than assists in his two seasons at South Dakota and while he may improve as a spot-ball handler - in my opinion he will never be a point guard offensively. He can guard point guards, and he gives a good effort on defense. …He helps a little bit as a rebounder from the guard position. ...Overall - his efficiency is solid but you have to consider the Summit League he played in - which was rated as just the 18th best conference in NCAA division one basketball in 2011-12. 

Oscar Bellfield - UNLV - PG ...Bellfield impresses me as a true point guard. He thinks pass first. That said, he is simply not efficient at all. He doesn't help as a rebounder, and he he doesn't score enough to warrant minutes. ...Good handles. …Right handed but uses his left as well. …Good hesitation dribble. …Will hit a big shot in crunch time. From Los Angeles. Gets to the hoop. ...He should not be drafted.