Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: Chase Budinger, Arizona

Stats:18.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 48% FG, 39.9% 3PT, 80.1% FT, 2.4 t/o's

Listed Size: 6'7", 218 lb, 12/31/87 (21 years old)

(photo credit: daylife.com)

About Him: Despite having three excellent seasons in Tucson (under three different coaches, I might add), Chase Budinger still never quite lived up to the hype he had coming out of high school (he was a top 10 recruit in a class that has already produced 16 first rounders). But he also never really had too. As a freshman, he had to fit into a system that already had Mustafa Shakur, Marcus Williams, and Ivan Radenovic; as a sophomore, Jerryd Bayless was Arizona's star and go-to player; and this past season, Jordan Hill emerged as a lottery pick while Nic Wise turned into arguably the best PG during Pac-10 play.

This actually was a good thing for Budinger. The knock on him his entire career has been that he lacks the mentality of a go-to scorer. While this did make things tough at times for Arizona (especially when Wise or Hill were in foul trouble), this is a good thing for Budinger as an NBA prospect. Budinger does not project as a superstar at the next level, but rather as a rotation/role player. There's no arguing that he is a talented offensive player, and his team-first (as opposed to me-first) mindset should help him fit in nicely.

Offensively, Budinger is a very well-rounded player. Most people know Budinger for his three-point stroke or for his exceptional leaping ability, but there is much more to this kid on the offensive end. Case-in-point: with as smooth of a stroke as Budinger has (with the range Budinger has), only about a third of his field goal attempts were from beyond the arc. There isn't much he can't do on the offensive end.

His problem, however, is that his catch-and-shoot stroke is the only part of his arsenal that can be considered above-average for an NBA wing prospect (and even that is close - he shot under 40% from three). His handle, especially changing directions, needs work; he elevates well on his pull-ups, but is inconsistent knocking down those shots; his first step isn't overwhelming; he can get to the rim, but can have issues finishing through contact (he lacks some upper body strength).

Perhaps his most NBA ready attribute is his basketball IQ. For starters, he is an excellent passer, averaging 3.4 apg with an a:to ratio of about 1.4:1. He also moves without the ball really well. He knows how to use a screener to get open, and you always need to be wary of the back door lobs, as he can finish well above the rim.

Budinger's athleticism is quite impressive, especially in an open court situation (he runs the floor very well). But despite his athleticism and excellent size, he does not project well as a defender. He is not terribly quick (especially laterally), played almost exclusively zone in college, and is not exactly a weight room warrior. This could be a factor in where Budinger ends up going in the draft - no one wants a defensive liability, especially at a position where big time scorers are a dime a dozen.

Comparisons: Best Case: Jason Richardson, Rudy Fernandez; Worst Case: Brent Barry.

Bottom Line: Budinger will likely never be a star in the NBA. While he does have the tools, he doesn't necessarily have the make-up of a big time scorer. But with his smarts, his all-around offensive game, and his athleticism, he should be an effective role player for a while. Where he goes in the draft will be all about the right fit - someone who needs some offense off the bench, but doesn't need the headache of a primadonna. I've seen him projected everywhere from 10-24.


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