Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Top 5 Center Prospects

This year's class of centers probably has the least star power and the least potential out of any position. As the saying goes "you can't teach height" which means that a lot of centers will get picked higher than their skills may warrant simply based on the fact that noone wants to pass on the next Amare Stoudamire or (more likely) a Brad Miller-type player later on in the draft. Click on the player's name for more in depth analysis.

1. Brook Lopez, Stanford: Lopez sits atop this list despite not having a huge upside (and a poor performance in the NBA Pre-Draft camp workouts). Not an overly athletic player, Lopez is a very good defender on the block and has an effective array of moves in the post. He does a lot of things well on the court and plays with intensity and a bit of a mean streak. He probably will never be a star in the NBA, but could end up being a center in the Brendon Haywood mold for years to come. His draft status has fluctuated, and he could end up going anywhere from 3-11 without surprising anyone.

2t. JaVale McGee, Nevada and DeAndre Jordon, Texas A&M: A lot of people will say that this ranking is too high, both players are way too risky, or that 7-footers with this potential almost never pan out. And to be honest, I tend to agree with all of that. But, as this list is the top PROSPECTS in this draft, and both of these players have the physical tools to be somewhere between Amare Stoudemire and Andrew Bynum, they need to be put up here. With the exception of Jordan being a lefty and McGee being a righty, both of these guys are pretty much the same player. They are long, athletic, and can run the floor, but are very raw on both ends of the floor (Jordan is a much better defender, although that is more a result of the horrendous defense McGee plays than Jordan's prowess). Unless a team falls in love with them during workouts, both should end up somewhere in the middle of the first round.

4. Robin Lopez, Stanford: Robin is the lesser prospect of team Lopez, although he still projects to be an effective NBA player. What he has going for him is that he is more athletic than Brook (both in quickness and jumping ability), and is a very active player. He blocks shots, gets offensive rebounds, runs the floor, and plays aggressive defense. His problem is that he does not have much polish on his offensive game and can get bullied in the post. He probably drops to the late teens or early twenties, but should end up providing a Joakim Noah or Anderson Varejao type spark to whatever team picks him (which could be a very useful pick given that at that range of the draft, the team he goes too will be a playoff team looking to fill a role).

5. Kosta Koufos, Ohio State: Koufos had a pretty productive freshman season, but has some glaring weaknesses in his game. He has a nice jumpshot with 20-foot range and a solid post game, but in the post he can only go to his right. There were times during the season when defenders would completely over play him to that side, and he would still try to force the ball right. Besides that, he has a pretty good feel for the game offensively, but he tends to be too passive. His shooting touch has drawn him comparisons to Mehmut Okur and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, but he has a way to go before he's as good as either of those two.

Honorable Mention: DeVon Hardin, California; Roy Hibbert, Georgetown; Ante Tomic, Croatia.

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