Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Centers to watch in the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Every year we examine the prospects in the NCAA Tournament that NBA teams should be paying the most attention to. Specifically, we zone in on production per minute, and ability to defend. We start with the Center position...

Joel Embiid - Kansas 7'0" 240 - Freshman. ...Embiid missed the final game of the regular season against West Virginia due to a stress fracture in his back and he is questionable to play during the month of March. …Embiid is an NBA athlete in a narrow-shouldered, seven foot frame; that alone making him rare. He also happens to be the most efficient (per-minute) BIG in the 2014 NBA Draft. Embiid reacts quickly and has the ability to erase penetration from guards that get into the paint. Embiid is an exceptional rebounder. He leads our database in rebounds per minute, and ranked third among Centers in the NCAA Tournament in blocked shots per minute. ...How he can improve: be a better free throw shooter (68% FT), improve with decision making (he has more turnovers than assists). 

Cauley-Stein defends the rim
Willie Cauley Stein - Kentucky 7'0" 244 - Sophomore.  ...Cauley Stein is a rim protecting BIG. He averages three blocked shots per game but scores only seven points per outing. He knows his limitations reasonably well and he seldom takes a bad shot. He shoots 62% FG. ...Cauley Stein is a horrid free throw shooter (42% FT). He has more turnovers than assists. 

Adreian Payne - Michigan St. 6'10" 245 - Senior. Payne is the big-man to trust in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. He is experienced, having played four seasons for Tom Izzo, and as a member of USA Basketball's World University Games team. He averages 15.8 points, and 7.8 rebounds per game this season. He has added range to his face up game and now hits 42% of his three point shots (34 of 81 this season). He hits his free throws at 74%. ...The only thing Payne does not do is make great decisions with the ball (more than two turnovers for every one assist). 

Aside: A caller phoned the "Mad Dog" Chris Russo Show on Selection Sunday complaining that Wisconsin was seeded too high. He said, "Wisconsin has slow white guys and they never win anything in the Tournament". While that statement may come close to the truth historically, it has nothing to do with this year's version of the Badgers. 

Frank Kaminsky - Wisconsin 7'0" 234 - Junior. Frank Kaminsky is an efficient Center with shooting touch and a feel for basketball. He can make three point shots, owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and he shoots 76% from the foul line. In our opinion, Kaminsky is a possible second round pick in the NBA Draft either this year or next. 

Sim Bhullar - New Mexico State 7'5" 355 - Sophomore. Sim Bhullar is HUGE. MAMMOTH. GIGANTIC. The 7'5" 355 lb. Center is also a shot-blocking, space-eating, BIG that can score a bit. He ranks second in blocked shots per-minute among Centers in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. …Bhullar is a poor free throw shooter at 49%. He turns it over more than he assists it. 

Amir Williams - Ohio State 6'11" 220 - Junior ...Williams is an NBA athlete, and a premier defender. He has the best "defensive rating" (86.9) among Centers in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, Williams is terrible with the ball in his hands, posting more than five turnovers for every one assist. He also is a poor free throw shooter at 58%. If he cracks the NBA - it will be because of his defensive ability. 

Jon Horford - Michigan 6'10" 250 - Junior. ...Horford only plays 14 minutes per-game but he has shown enough in that time to warrant a look. He has some touch, as evidenced by his 71% free throw shooting. He shoots 56% FG (career). 

Brimah says "Don't bring it."
Amida Brimah - Connecticut 7'0" 217 - Freshman. Brimah is an elite shot blocker. That is the one area in his game that is NBA ready. His per-minute shot blocking numbers are, as a freshman, higher than the career per-minute shot blocking numbers for Hasheem Thabeet (and Anthony Davis). ...The rest of Brimah's game is a work in progress. He averages four points per game in 16 mins. each outing. He shoots 57% from the free throw line, and has way more turnovers than assists. 

Daniel Ochefu - Villanova 6'11" 245 - Sophomore. Echefu is a solid defender that has an NBA body. His game is not very efficient at all. His defensive ability keeps him on the NBA map. We rate him the fifth best defensive Center in the NCAA Tournament (behind a top four of: Amir Williams, Payne, Cauley-Stein, and Embiid). 

Alex Kirk - New Mexico 7'0" 250 - Junior. ...Kirk averages 13.6 points, and 8.7 rebounds per game. He moves his feet well for a BIG, and he rebounds the ball at a solid rate. …He has had issues with his back in the past. What's most troubling is that as a seven footer - he has never shot over 50% FG in a season. 

Przemek Karnowski - Gonzaga 7'1" 305 - Soph. ...Karnowski improved this season - nearly doubling his scoring and rebounding output from the year prior. Karnowski is mostly BIG. He stinks as a free throw shooter and he turns it over three times for every one assist. 

Daniel Coursey - Mercer 6'10" 220 - Senior. ...Coursey has an outside, outside, outside, shot at cracking an NBA roster. He averages ten points, and 6.5 rebounds per game. 

Kaleb Tarczewski - Arizona 7'0" 240 Sophomore. Tarczewski is a BIG that plays like a BIG. He welcomes contact and will "wang and bang" (Jerry Reynolds voice) with anyone. He has decent touch for a big-man, shooting 70% FT. 

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