Monday, December 31, 2007

Roy Hibbert - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 2.2 bpg, 1.7 t/o's, 61% FG, 65% FT

About Him: Roy Hibbert has turned himself from a 7'2" stiff to a potential lottery pick in his four years at Georgetown. His offensive repertoire has expanded dramatically. He now has an array of moves he can go to in the post. His bread and butter is his hook shot, which he is automatic with going righty, and very consistent going lefty. He can also hit this shot in a variety of ways - off a drop step, as a sky hook going across the lane, off of a spin move. He is pretty good at establishing position on the block, and when he does uses his bulk to hold the seal well. The rest of his offensive game is solid as well. He has range on his shot to the college three point line (where he was 3-3 this year), he is an excellent passer, and doesn't turn the ball over. His rebounding numbers are low, although the pace at which Georgetown plays at and the fact Hibbert only played 26 mpg factor in here, he still is not very aggressive on the boards and does not dominate them as he should. Defensively, he is very good at playing a big man 1-on-1 in the post. He is strong and has long arms, so he doesn't get pushed around much and can block or change the shot. He can take some charges and is decent at rotating over to block shots, but some of that was hidden in Georgetown's defensive style. The biggest question marks are Hibbert's athleticism (or lack there of) and his conditioning. Although he has toned his body up, he still never played more than 26 mpg at Georgetown, and that was even at a snails pace offensively. He also is not explosive in the paint, rarely dunking the basketball, and is still too slow laterally to get out and defend a pick-and-roll or a more mobile big man.

Comparisons: Zydrunas Ilgauskas (stretch), Joel Pryzbilla

Bottom Line: Hibbert is too slow, too unathletic and too passive to turn into the great NBA player that scouts are going to want him to be. He is a very hard worker, however, and is still young for his age (he turned 21 during his senior year), and given that he improved this much in the last four years, he may not be done developing his game. Someone will probably take a chance on him at the end of the lottery, but he probably isn't much better than a late-first rounder. Continue reading...

Josh Shipp - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 12.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.3 spg, 43% FG, 77% FT, 32% 3's

About Him: Josh Shipp is a very good role player for a college system. When he has his feet set, he can knock down open three's, but he struggles when he has to shoot on the move - he has a tendency to lose his balance when he comes off of screens or shoots off the dribble. He still shoots a lot of three's though - more than five a game and 55% of all of his shots - and does not shoot a high percentage - 32%. He has a pretty solid handle on the perimeter and can play a little bit of point. He also has a good dribble drive game, getting to the rack pretty easily. He is a decent finisher, but struggles when he is forced to use his left hand. He has a knack for being able to sneak out in transition, getting a lot of easy buckets off of long outlet passes from Kevin Love. His size (6'5", 220lb) and athleticism are good for a college wing man, but he may be too big and too slow for the NBA. On defense, he is pretty good fundamentally after playing in Ben Howland's system, but he struggles when he is forced to keep someone in front of him 1-on-1 because he is not very quick laterally. He does have good hands and good timing, which allows him to pick off some passes, and he size helps him in that he can guard bigger players.

Comparisons: smaller Rick Fox, Bonzi Wells

Bottom Line: Shipp needs to improve a lot of his game. Right now, he is probably close to going undrafted, but given his size and all around game, if he can develop a more consistent jump shot (especially on the move) and get quicker, he can be a good NBA role player. Continue reading...

Hasheem Thabeet - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 10.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 4.5 bpg, 60% FG, 70% FT

About Him: Hasheem Thabeet, in only his sixth year of organized basketball, made huge strides between his freshman and sophomore seasons. The biggest difference was confidence and emotion. Even at 7'3", as a freshman Thabeet layed the ball in way too much and was nowhere near aggressive enough at the rim. This year was a much different story as he dunked just about everything he caught within three feet of the hoop, and actually looked like he was having fun playing basketball (yelling and screaming after dunks or blocks, playing to the crowd). The problem is that he has terrible hands, but they are getting better. He still has trouble because he doesn't expect some of the passes he gets from guys like AJ Price and Doug Wiggins, but that may just be a result of him being a late-bloomer. He has great tools and potential (7'3", 260lb, long arms, pretty good athleticism and explosiveness), but skills-wise he is still very raw. He back to the basket game is pretty much non-existant, although he did show a nice little baby hook that he used with either hand towards the end of the season. He is not a good passer at all, and at times has trouble just swinging the ball on the perimeter. He shot has improved, and he has the green light to shoot out to about 10 feet, and hit just under 70% of his free throws this year, up 20% from his freshman campaign. Defensively, he is a great shot blocker. Length aside, he has great timing and feel for getting blocks. He reads penetrators well and blocks shots coming from help-side, but also blocks the shot of the guy he is guarding in the post very often. The key is that he almost never bites on a pump fake, staying on his feet until the last possible moment. He also goes for blocks with his left hand, which means he received some coaching early on in that area. He has problems defending the pick-and-roll because he is not quite mobile enough yet, but improved a great deal through out the season (although where he ended up is still not great - he was horrific early on).

Comparisons: Dikembe Mutumbo, Samuel Dalembert

Bottom Line: Thabeet is probably making a good decision, assuming he continues working out as hard as he has been the past two years. If he continues to improve, he will be a top 10 pick in 2009, and depending on how much he improves, he could go as high as top 3. If he left, he probably could have snuck into the late lottery if he had some good workouts, but likely would have been a mid-to-late first rounder. Continue reading...

Joe Alexander - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 16.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.5 bpg, 46% FG, 81% FT, 27% 3's

About Him: Junior Joe Alexander is very raw. He is a solid 6'8", 230, has long arms, is a great athlete, and has a ton of potential, but he is still a bit of a project. Alexander had the most success towards the end of the season and into the post-season when Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins started playing him on the block. There, he could post up smaller players, using his height and athleticism to shoot over them. If a bigger player was switched onto him, he would bring the defender out 15-17 feet from the basket and use his perimeter skills to go by him. He is a much improved shooter, very consistent out to about 17 feet, and he has always been a great finisher. He is probably a three at the NBA level.

Comparisons: Linas Kleiza, Lamar Odom (stretch).

Bottom Line: He relies too much on mismatches to score. He probably will get picked in the end of the first round, especially with his stock being high thanks to a late season surge, but he could probably use another yea to solidify being a 1st round pick. Continue reading...

Danny Green - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 11.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.2 bpg, 47% FG, 87% FT, 37% 3's

About Him: Danny Green is one of those players that does everything well. Offensively, the strongest part of his game is his perimeter shot, which is a huge improvement over last year for him. He shot 37% from deep, taking more than 3.5 per game. He has a bit of an awkward looking release, he kind of pushes it from his chest, but its a consistent and quick release, which is just as important as form. He is not quite as good at shooting off the dribble, but he is still effective. He is not just a one-dimensional player either - he uses a pump fake very well to get defenders in the air, and usually takes a quick pull-up and a floater, which he is pretty good at making. He is not an overly athletic or explosive player, but plays within that offensively. He scored 11.5 ppg in just over 22 mpg, so he is a pretty solid offensive player all around. But that is not what is going to get him into the NBA. He is a great defender. At 6'6", 215lb, he has great size for an NBA wing and a frame (broad shoulders, long arms) that is ideal. He really likes to get up into the man he is guarding, and forces a lot of turnovers that way. He does not have great lateral quickness, but is extremely fundamentally sound. He always seems to be in good position, and takes great angles when he goes for a steal or a block. He is a very tough guy with a nose for contact and is willing to give up his body - whether that means taking a charge, diving for a loose ball, etc.

Comparisons: Bruce Bowen, Trenton Hassell

Bottom Line: Green is not talented or athletically gifted enough to be a star at the next level, but teams are always looking for a glue guy - someone who will lock his man down, won't turn the ball over, and brings unselfishness to the table. He might sneak into the first round if he wows at the draft camp and workouts, but is likely a second round pick this year. Still, look for him to have a nice NBA career, whenever it starts. Continue reading...

Marreese Speights - NBA Draft Preview

Numbers: 14.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 24 mpg, 62% FG, 69% FT

About Him: Marreese Speights is a late developing prospect. He was not highly recruited coming out of high school, and spent last year playing behind top 10 picks Al Horford and Joakim Noah. But in the limited minutes Speights had last season, he really impressed and built on that this year. Speights has some impressive physical tools. He is 6'10", 240lb, but very mobile and light on his feet - he gets off his feet quickly and can get up and down the floor pretty well. His strength allows him to seal defenders under the basket, where he tries to dunk hard when he gets it that close. He also has a very nice touch around the rim. He can use a jump hook with either hand and has a nice little turn around jumper that he uses when he spins off defenders. His jump shot looks to be developing nicely - he shot 69% from the foul line and Billy Donovan allowed him to shoot out to about 15 feet. His long arms and great timing allow him to be a very good rebounder and defender. Fundamentally, however, Speights has a way to go. He still doesn't react to defenders in the post - he has a tendency to make his move regardless of where the defender is, almost as if he decides on the move he is going to make before he gets the ball. That will develop with playing time however (as I said, Speights was a late-bloomer). He also needs to develop his handle, which will allow him to use his superior quickness and athleticism against bigger, slower defenders. The biggest knock on Speights right now is that he doesn't always give 100% effort. He sometimes seems to just cruise up and down the court, not hustling for rebounds, playing lazy defense, and not establishing position in the post. If he had the motor of Joakim Noah, he would probably be a top 10 pick.

Comparisons: Al Jefferson (stretch), Brandon Bass

Bottom Line: If Speights continues to develop his offensive game, he could be a reliable low-post presence in the NBA, but he will need to greatly improve on defense in order to become a starter or someone that plays a lot of minutes. Most people have in projected at the end of the lottery to the low 20's. Continue reading...

Courtney Lee - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 20.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.8 spg, 2.3 t/o's, 48% FG, 82% FT, 40% 3's

About Him: Courtney Lee played at Pike High School in Indianapolis with the likes of Chris Thomas (Notre Dame), Justin Cage (Missouri, now NFL), and Robert Vaden (Indiana, UAB), but poor grades scared off the big time schools, and Lee wound up at Western Kentucky where he shined for four years. The strongest part of Lee's game is his jumpshot. He is an excellent shooter from deep, making them at a 40% clip this season with range out to the NBA line, but is even better at hitting his jumper off the dribble. He is a good ball handler for his size as well, which allowed him to run the point for the Hilltoppers his sophomore year. He doesn't have the flashy cross over moves, but does not turn the ball over much and has a really tight handle, especially when attacking the basket. He likes driving left even though he is right handed, but can go either direction well. He is not incredibly explosive, but is pretty good at finishing at the rim and absorbing contact, mainly because his frame is NBA ready (6'6", 210lb). He also has developed a floater that he can hit consistently to about 12 feet, and gets it off very quickly. Defensively, WKU played a lot of zone this year, but Lee has all the tools necessary to be a good defender at the next level. He has good lateral quickness and he is strong, but the general consensus is that he will be a good defender because he has good court sense defensively. He also has a knack for getting into the passing lanes (averaging at least 1.5 steals per game).

Comparisons: Keith Bogans, Kevin Martin (stretch)

Bottom Line: One of the things that makes Lee so attractive to scouts is his unselfishness. He is the kind of player that will slide right into a role an accept his spot as a third or fourth option. If he stays aggressive (which has been a problem for him in the past) he can be more. Probably a late first round pick. Continue reading...

Ryan Anderson - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 21.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.4 apg, 49% FG, 87% FT, 41% 3's, 1.9 3pg

About Him: Just a sophomore, Ryan Anderson emerged as one of the premier offensive players in the country. On the perimeter, he is deadly - he shot 41% from three this year. He has a high release and NBA range, but he tends to fall in love with his jumper - he shot almost five three's per game. He is deceptively quick on the perimeter, and has enough ball handling ability that he can go by bigger defenders. On the block it is a different story. He has a pretty strong base which allows him to establish position, but he doesn't seem comfortable playing with his back to the basket, which can result in poor decision making. His biggest question mark is his defense. He is big/strong enough and smart enough to hold his own on the block against an NBA power forward, but he does not have very quick feet and will struggle to defend quicker players, especially on the perimeter.

Comparisons: Austin Croshere, Mehmut Okur (stretch)

Bottom Line: He really only has one NBA-ready skill - his jump shot - and as most teams are not looking for three-point shooting out of their fours, he is not a lock for a 1st round pick. Probably smart for him to come back for another year. Continue reading...

Darrell Arthur - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 12.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 54.3% FG, 70.2% FT

About Him: Darrell Arthur did not put up overly impressive numbers during his sophomore year. The knock on Arthur his entire career has been his inconsistency - some nights he just doesn't show up. Look at his numbers from Jan. 26th through the end of the season - how many times does he follow up an 18 and 9 game with a 6 and 5 game? I know all the arguments - he was foul prone (not a good thing), he played on a very balanced and unselfish team with a loaded front-court (not as bad), but his inconsistency is still something GM's will worry about. He has all the tools - he is 6'9", very athletic, and is stronger than his 215lb frame would make you believe. Arthur is a very good finisher at the rim, and also has a pretty solid post game. His go-to move is a fade-away jumper (he hit about four of these in the NCAA Final). He will probably go some where between at the end of the lottery and the early 20's.

Comparisons: Stromile Swift (if he doesn't care), Antonio McDyess in his prime (if he does).

Bottom Line: With Arthur, it will always be about 'want' - how badly does he want to be good? And he can be very good - he has the tools to be a perennial all-star. If he had Hansbrough's heart, he would be a top-5 lock, but he doesn't so he could drop as far as the 20's. Ironically, I think that falling out of the lottery could be the motivation that turns Arthur from a guy with upside to an all-star. Continue reading...

Jerryd Bayless - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 19.7 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.7 rpg, 46% FG, 41% 3's, 83% FT

About Him: As a freshman, Jerryd Bayless didn't have the hype coming in that some of the other freshman did, but few had a more impressive season. Offensively, he's got it all there. He can get to the rack on just about anyone (he shot more than 7 FT's per game last year), but has some trouble finishing at the rim (he's 6'3" but only 199lb). As a result, Bayless tends to pull-up when he creates some space, which is a high percentage shot for him from 15-17 feet especially since he is a phenomenal athlete and can elevate over defenders. He is also a great three-point shooter with NBA range. Bayless has the ability to take a game over (he had 39 of Arizona's 54 in a game this year), but also has some point guard skills in him. With Arizona's lack of depth and injury issues this year, Bayless had to carry a lot of the scoring responsibility, but he is a talented playmaker that can set-up teammates. Since he is only 6'3", NBA scouts are going to want to see that playmaking ability out of him as he will have to play some point guard. Defensively, Bayless is very good when matching up with someone, but can get a bit lost off-the-ball and when defending screens and the pick-and-roll.

Comparisons: Ben Gordon, Monta Ellis.

Bottom Line: Bayless proved himself during the season. He can score in a variety of ways and has NBA range and athleticism. Look for him to go in the top 10. Continue reading...

Michael Beasley - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 26.2 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 1.3 spg, 53% FG, 38% 3's, 77% FT.

About Him: After what Kevin Durant did last year, did you think you would ever see a freshman come in a be MORE dominating, let alone the next year? Beasley has once in a generation-type talent. Where do I start? He is can score any way you can think of. He has three-point range. He can finish equally well with either hand. He can score on the block (although his post game is still developing. He got a lot of his baskets using his advantage with strength, athleticism and long arms, something that won't be as much of an advantage in the league.) He can put the ball on the floor and go by bigger defenders. He gets a ton of easy buckets off of offensive rebounds - he is a monster on the glass. He is also an underrated defender, averaging more than a steal and a block per game. He definitely has all the skills and tools that you look for in an NBA forward (he can probably play the three or the four, but right now he is much better defender in the post). The question with Beasley is his motivation. With how smooth his game is and his lack of emotion, it sometimes looks like he is coasting.

Comparisons: Carmelo Anthony, Rasheed Wallace, Derrick Coleman.

Bottom Line: Beasley has all the tools to be a sure fire all-star for years to come, if he wants it. I think he does. Beasley probably will be the top pick in the draft. Continue reading...

Chase Budinger - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 17.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 45% FG, 72% FT, 38% 3's

About Him: Chase Budinger showed some flashes during his freshman season, but the biggest knock on him was that he was too passive at times - not using his considerable talent to take over games. It was much of the same thing during his sophomore campaign. Granted, much of that was because of the emergence of Jerryd Bayless, Budinger didn't have to take games over. Budinger projects to be an off-guard in the NBA, and he has great size (6'7") and athleticism for the position. He also has a deadly jump shot, and range beyond the NBA three-point line. His biggest problem right now is his defense. He has no lateral quickness which means he gets beaten off the dribble, he is not a physical defender, and has trouble playing off the ball defense and getting around screens. Most projections have him as a mid first-rounder, but he has a tough decision in front of him. Lute Olsen is returning next year after taking a season off, and with Bayless gone, Budinger will have to take over the team and could propel himself into the lottery.

Comparisons: Mike Dunleavy Jr., Ray Allen (stretch)

Bottom Line: Budinger is going to be a solid NBA role player when he finally gets to the league. His passive demeanor and defensive struggles mean that he probably won't be a star but he could have a nice, long career. If he leaves (which he probably will) he will be a first round pick, maybe even sneaking into the end of the lottery. Continue reading...

Derrick Caracter - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 8.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 16.9 mpg, 55% FG, 63% FT

About Him: Derrick Caracter has a long way to go before he is an NBA player. He is a load on the block at 6'9", 265lb, and does have very soft hands, however he is too small to defend NBA post players. He is also very careless with the ball, averaging 1.8 turnovers in just under 17 minutes per game. The biggest problem with Caracter is his (ignore the pun) character. He had numerous run-ins with Louisville coach Rick Pitino, almost getting himself kicked off the team this year. NBA teams will put up with that if you are an all-star or top 10 pick, not if you're a guy who will be lucky to get drafted. It's a long fall for a guy who was so highly touted as a high school freshman.

Comparisons: Jackie Butler (skills-wise), Zack Randolph (personality-wise)

Bottom Line: Caracter has already signed with an agent, so his college career is officially over. It's too bad, because he is probably going to end up in Europe or the D-League (if he's lucky). Continue reading...

CJ Giles - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 6.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 42% FG, 67% FT, 10 games

About Him: CJ Giles has all the makings of a lottery pick. He's 6'10", athletic, and long (7'4" wingspan). His 220lb body is stronger than he looks, and his bulking up in college has not affected his athleticism. Offensively, he has a decent post game and a jump shot out to about 16-17 feet. Defensively, he has great timing, and combined with his length and athleticism, he has all the makings of a great defensive NBA center. The problem with Giles is that he has been trouble everywhere he has been. He got kicked off of the Kansas team in 2006, then transferred to Oregon State where he was kicked off their team after just ten games. Is he mature enough to be an NBA player?

Comparisons: Tyrus Thomas, Stromile Swift

Bottom Line: Giles has the potential to be a good NBA player for a long time, but he has been kicked out of two colleges and is 22 years old. He's probably not worth a first round pick, but should go in the second round. Continue reading...

Chris Douglas-Roberts - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 18.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 54% FG, 71% FT, 41% 3's

About Him: Chris Douglas-Roberts finished a great junior year where he helped carry Memphis to the NCAA title game. In fact, CDR may be the most efficient player in the draft. According to Draft Express when compared to all legitimate guard prospects, CDR is the leader in FG%, top 5 in FT%, 3PT%, PER, points per possession, true shooting percentage, effective shooting percentage, and eighth in turnovers per possession. He has greatly improved his mid range game from last season. Last year, he got almost all of his points by putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim. This year, he added a very good mid range game and three-point range. His strength is still his slashing ability. He has an uncanny knack for being able to get to the rim. He isn't great at squaring up a defender and going by him, but when he catches the ball on the move he is very tough to guard. He can use both hands on the dribble and finishing at the rim. He isn't an overly great athlete, isn't a great rebounder, and isn't a great playmaker, but he can put the ball in the basket. He also has great size for a shooting guard and is a more-than-capable defender after playing in Calipari's system at Memphis.

Comparisons: Tayshaun Prince, Manu Ginobili (stretch)

Bottom Line: CDR has a diverse and potent offensive game, but he is not an NBA level player doing anything besides putting the ball in the basket. He's probably a mid to late first round pick, but he has the potential to be a solid NBA player for years. Continue reading...

Eric Gordon - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 20.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.3 spg, 43% FG, 83% FT, 34% 3's.

About Him: Eric Gordon has all the makings of a star at the NBA level. He already has an NBA body and is an excellent athlete. He is incredibly explosive getting to the basket and can finish at the rim because he is strong enough to absorb the contact. He is a dead eye three point shooter with range way beyond the NBA three, although after hurting his wrist in January, his seemed to lose his stroke. That also coincided with the firing of Kevin Sampson, when Gordon seemed to lose all his desire to play. This performance down the stretch didn't help his draft stock, but it also didn't hurt him too badly. The biggest question mark with Gordon is whether or not he can be a combo guard - can he play the point. He is only 6'3", so he does not have the ideal size for a NBA two-guard, but he makes up for that a bit with his strength and toughness.

Comparisons: Paul Pierce (but shorter), Ray Allen/Ben Gordon

Bottom Line: Down the stretch, Gordon couldn't hit a shot and has he struggled, so did the Hoosiers, who went from a top 10 team to an eight seed losing in the first round. He still is probably a lock to be a top 10 pick, however, given how good he looked at the start of the year. Continue reading...

Donte Greene - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 17.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.6 bpg, 42% FG, 71% FT, 35% 3's

About Him: Donte Greene is one of those guys that is still searching for a position. He is big enough to play in the paint, but he loves standing outside and shooting three's (7.5 3's attempted per game, more than half his shots on the season). Early on in the season, he was hitting them. But after Eric Devendorf tore his acl, which forced Syracuse to play their starters just about the entire game, every game, Greene seemed to lose his legs a bit. His shot got flat and he started forcing off balance shots. His stroke is about as pure as any you will find. At 6'10", and with his high and quick release, he is able to get the shot off any time he wants, which has been his biggest problem at times. Greene doesn't remember his last shot, meaning that regardless of how well/poorly he is shooting, is he gets a look he is firing. This is great when your shooting well, not so great when you aren't. Since Syracuse plays a zone, it is tough to tell how good he is defensively, but he is athletic and mobile enough to play the wing in the NBA, and his length would allow him to play a bit off of NBA small forwards and still get a hand up, meaning that he can get away with a lack of lateral quickness.

Comparisons: Al Harrington, Rashard Lewis (stretch)

Bottom Line: Greene is one of those guys that NBA scouts love - he is tall, mobile, althetic, and can shoot. He's dripping with potential, but still has a ways to go. He is a first-rounder, and could even sneak into the lottery. Continue reading...

Keith Brumbaugh - NBA Draft Prospoects

Numbers: 36.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 6.1 apg, 4.8 spg

About Him: Keith Brumbaugh has traveled a long road during his college basketball career. In 2005, he was a top 15 recruit nationally, declared for the draft, but then removed his name and decided to attend Oklahoma State. But he was charged with shop-lifting, had issues with his ACT score, and as a result never played a game for Ok. State. He then went to powerhouse Chipola Junior College, where he was kicked out of school after getting arrested for marijuana possession. Overall, he was arrested six times over the course of 26 months, and twice had to serve jail sentences. But he can play - just look at his numbers (granted, it was against weak JuCo competition). He is 6'9", 205lb, and has great scoring ability. He is a good passer and ball-handler for his size, and has NBA range. He is not as strong as he could be, and will struggle in the paint against NBA defenders, but makes up for that being left-handed. He still settles for long three's too much, mainly because he still is developing his mid-range game, but has the ability to get to the rim. Defensively, he still needs work when defending 1-on-1, but he is adept at getting into the passing lanes and has a knack for getting steals. His arms aren't as long as you would think for someone his size, and his athleticism isn't off the charts.

Comparisons: Demarr Johnson, Hedo Turkoglu (stretch)

Bottom Line: He has the talent to be a first-rounder, but his off-the-court issues will probably drop him to the second round. Continue reading...

Richard Hendrix - NBA Draft Prospects

Number: 17.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 1.3 spg, 60% FG, 54% FT

About Him: Richard Hendrix dropped 20 pounds over the summer to streamline his now 6'8", 250lb body, but he did not lose any of his strength. Hendrix is a load on the block. His strength is his, well, strength. He is very good at getting position on the block, and has crafty moves when he gets the ball. His go-to move is a little righty jump-hook, but he has gotten better at finishing with his left. He's improved his range, and can now consistently hit jumpers to about 17 feet, and has even it a couple three pointer's this year. Hendrix is also very good defensively down-low. He is too strong to be backed down and uses his low center-of-gravity to knock people out of position. His is shorter than one would like, but he is long, deceptively athletic, and has great timing when it comes to blocking shots. His lateral quickness needs improvement if he is going to be able to cover quicker power forwards. His greatest asset for an NBA team right now is his rebounding ability. He is as good as anyone in the country at blocking out, and has a knack for getting rebounds in traffic against bigger opponents, mainly because he takes up so much space.

Comparisons: Paul Millsap, Charles Oakley

Bottom Line: Hendrix is never going to be a player that will be able to take over a game, but he plays hard and is very good at what he does. He could be a good, productive role player for the right team. He could go anywhere from the mid-to-late first round to early second round. Continue reading...

Davon Jefferson - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 12.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.0 bpg, 2.4 t/o's, 58% FG, 70% FT

About Him: Davon Jefferson first said that he was coming back to USC, then apparently changed his mind because he has signed with an agent. Jefferson is a very risky pick. He has incredible physical tools. He is 6'8" (but slender and weak) with out-of-the-gym athleticism, very long arms, explosive quickness, and a great ability to get out and run the floor. The problem is that his game is limited to what he can do physically. He is a poor ball-handler with almost no ability to dribble with his left hand, he does not have much of a jump shot to speak of (from mid-range or three), and does not have a feel for the game or understanding of the game at all. He averages less than an assist per game, turns the ball over three times as often, and routinely gets beaten and is out of position defensively. But what he does do well, he does very well. He has a terrific first step which allows him to get by defenders (either from the wing or the post - he played the four for USC this year, but probably projects as a three in the NBA) and uses his athleticism to allow him to finish at the rim. When he gets the ball, he normally is going straight to the rim, and draws a lot of fouls, but also picks up a lot of charges because he doesn't change direction or avoid contact. He does play very hard however, crashing the glass (especially offensively) and running in transition, the two aspects of his game where he picks up most of his points. His biggest question mark is work ethic - he failed to qualify academically in both the 2005-2006 season (with UNLV) and in 2006-2007 (with USC) and played a PG year, which means that although he was a freshman this year, he is almost 22 years old.

Comparisons: Tyrus Thomas, Wilson Chandler

Bottom Line: Jefferson will be a high risk pick if he goes in the first round, because even though his potential gives him a high ceiling, he looks like he has had so little coaching and needs so much development that he may not reach that point by the end of his rookie contract. There are a lot of 6'8" athletes that are much more polished right now. Probably a second rounder, but he could sneak into the end of the first if a team really likes him or he has a great Pre-Draft camp. Continue reading...

JJ Hickson - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 14.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 59% FG, 68% FT

About Him: JJ Hickson had a phenomenal start to the season, but tailed off during ACC play (averaging just 12.5 ppg). The biggest reason for this was that Hickson, although supremely talented, has yet to really develop a polished game. His freshman season, he survived mostly on natural ability, which he has loads of, but he doesn't have a feel for the game. He has quick feet, good foot work, and is a strong finisher at the room, but he doesn't have too many moves. His go to move is a drop step (he can go both ways, but is much better going over his left shoulder, shooting righty), and his turn-around jumper improved a lot during the season. Right now he is most effective on the move, either in transition or when cutting to the basket (although this was probably exaggerated by the NC State half court offense), because he is mobile, athletic, has great hands and long arms, and love to dunk everything. He can't shoot outside of about 10-12 feet, and cannot pass out of the post (.39 ast/to ration, 1.0 apg) which means that once he gets the ball anywhere on the court, he is going to the rim. Defensively, he is only 6'9", which will hurt him in the post, but has quick feet and is pretty good laterally, which mean she should be good at defending the pick and roll.

Comparisons: Gary Trent, Brandon Bass

Bottom Line: Hickson has a long way to go before he is ready to play in the NBA, but he has a ton of potential, which scouts love. He could be a late first round pick, but he is probably better off going back to school for a year and developing his game. Continue reading...

Lester Hudson - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 25.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.8 spg, 46% FG, 39% 3's, 83% FT, 3.8 3pg

About Him: Lester Hudson is a very intriguing player. He had one of the most impressive statistical season every. Sure, he played in the Ohio Valley Conference, but look at these games - against Memphis he had 35 points and 10 boards (in his first ever D1 game after sitting out a year, not even practicing with the team); Mississippi State he had 27 points, 11 boards, 4 assists, and 3 steals; against UNLV he had 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 steals; and against Vanderbilt he had 36 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists. He's a strong, 6'3" guard with long arms that can score in a variety of ways, but his best skill is his jump shot. He can stroke it, and stroke it from deep, which is part of the reason that he took almost 10 3's a game this year. He's not an overwhelming athlete, he doesn't have an amazing first step and can't jump out of the gym, but he is crafty in the ways he can get his shot off. He's also phenomenal in the passing lanes, racking up almost 3 steals a game, and a great rebounder, thanks to his long arms. Unlike many prolific scorers, Hudson allows the game to come to him and doesn't force many shots, which is impressive considering how important his scoring was to his team. He is also a decent playmaker and is unselfish. But the problem is that Hudson is almost 24, has played one year of D1 basketball, and couldn't graduate high school or the JuCo he attended. He did take a year off, not even practicing the UT-Martin team, to get himself eligible, but it's hard to tell if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Comparisons: Rodney Stuckey, Randy Foye

Bottom Line: Hudson is only a junior, but given how old he is, the numbers he put up this year, and the competition he would be playing against, it doesn't make sense for him to return for his senior year. He looks pretty risky as a first round pick, but taking a chance on him in the second round could pay off very nicely. Continue reading...

DeAndre Jordan - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 7.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 62% FG, 44% FT

About Him: DeAndre Jordan has a very underwhelming freshman season, especially for someone with his physical tools. His potential has NBA scouts salivating. He is a legit 7-footer that has the wingspan of a 747, great hands, an explosive leaping ability, can run the floor as well as anyone his size, and is deceptively quick for his size. But skill-wise he is still very raw. He is weak in the post and unable to hold position or finish through contact, which means he usually settles for fade away jumpers. He doesn't have much in the way of post moves, and his court awareness is almost non-existant (according to Draft Express, his 0.2 assist to turnover ratio is the second worst in the country). He has no jump shot to speak of and shoots 44% from the foul line. Defensively, he is disappointing considering his natural ability. He did block a good number of shots considering the number of minutes he played, but that was more a result of his length and athleticism than his timing. He is foul prone, and he would get bullied on the block by smaller players, meaning he probably has poor balance and leg and core strength. The one thing he does excel at is rebounding, and he is a very good offensive rebounder because of his long arms and athleticism, and has made numerous youtube-worthy putback dunks this year. His biggest question mark will be his work ethic - is he going to work hard enough to make himself an NBA all-star?

Comparisons: Andrew Bynum (stretch, Kwame Brown, Brandan Wright

Bottom Line: Jordan definitely needs another year in school, but if he comes back and has another so-so season he could severely hurt his draft stock. He has a long way to go to before he is NBA ready, but his tools will make him lottery pick, and possibly a top 10 pick. Continue reading...

Kosta Koufos - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 14.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 51% FG, 68% FT, 35% 3's

About Him: Kosta Koufos is another one of those guys that could get drafted very high based solely on potential. He had a pretty good year, productivity-wise, but his weaknesses were glaring. Koufos has a very nice touch, extending out to about 20 feet. He has a pretty decent back-to-the-basket game, but he relies very heavily on a righty jump-hook and his turnaround jumper and his left hand is absolutely non-existent. He gets blocked by smaller opponents way too often because teams know this jump hook is coming. He has a pretty good knowledge of the game, especially with positioning, and with his height he gets a lot of pretty good looks close to the rim. But he is pretty weak at holding his place on the block and has a tendency to get knocked out of position. He has a tendency to rush his moves in the post, especially against stronger opponents, and at times appears flustered. His jump shot has very nice form, and his 35% 3 PT shooting could greatly improve as his confidence does. It is tough to judge his defensive ability because the Buckeyes played a ton of 2-3 zone this year with Koufos guarding the rim. He has pretty good timing blocking shots and in the brief minutes when he is matched up 1-on-1 looked pretty good. He is an effective rebounder, especially on the offensive end where he has a real knack for getting himself in good rebounding position.

Comparisons: Mehmut Okur, Zydrunaus Ilgauskas, Wang Zhi-Zhi

Bottom Line: Koufos is an interesting case. He is a Greek citizen, and will play on the Greek national team, and there are rumors swirling that he could end up playing pro ball in Greece instead of Ohio State next season if he doesn't like his draft stock. Ohio State also has big time center BJ Mullins coming in next year, which could cut into Koufos's minutes and production next year. This would be interesting, because his skill set would allow him to excel in European basketball, but how often do you see a guy have a huge NCAA tournament and shoot up the NBA draft boards. He could probably go to somewhere in the middle of the first round this year, but could really use more seasoning. Continue reading...

Jamont Gordon - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 17.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 42% FG, 69% FT, 32% 3's

About Him: Jamont Gordon is one of the most unique players in this year's draft simply because he can play four positions. He is a very good 1-on-1 player, but he controls the ball way too much to the point of seeming selfish. He's not an overly explosive athlete, but at 6'4", 225lb, he is built like a rock. When he gets in the lane he has superb body control. He is very good at bouncing off defenders, hanging in the air and finishing. He doesn't have a quick first step, but he is a great ball-handler and has an array of hesitation moves that he uses to get by quicker defenders. He is all left, however, especially when going to the basket and can be predictable at times. He is a pretty good passer and can find people when they're open, but his jump shot leaves much to be desired. He decision making abilities are sub-par in that he takes a lot of bad shots (5.5 3's per game while shooting only 32%) and turns the ball over a ton - 4.1 per game. He also does not have much of a mid-range game. Defensively, he is as good as it gets. He guarded the opponent's best player 1-4 for Mississippi State this year, and did a great job. He is not that quick laterally, but he makes up for it with being in proper position and utilizing his size, strength, and wingspan. He can play either guard spot in the NBA, and despite everything he can put points on the board.

Comparisons: Rodney Stuckey, poor man's Jalen Rose

Bottom Line: He can score and he can defend, two things any NBA team is always looking to add. But he is not talented enough to be able to dominate the ball in the NBA the way he did in college. If he can accept the role of being instant offense/defense off the bench, he can hang around the NBA for a while, but he is probably a second round pick this year. Look for him to come back for his senior season. Continue reading...

Brook Lopez - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 19.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 47% FG, 79% FT

About Him: Lopez probably could have been a lottery pick if he came out after his freshman year, and managed to increase his stock this year despite missing the first semester because of academic ineligibility. In the offseason he added about 25 pounds of muscle, which he really needed to fill out his 7 foot frame. He still gets pushed around some on the block, but that will improve as his strength and assertiveness does. He is very good at getting position down low and is a great finisher with either hand around the rim. He has a nice array of post moves (spins, jump hooks, drop-steps either way) and can really seal off his man when he wants to. The problem is he has a tendency to post up about 7-10 feet from the basket, where he isn't as effective. He does have a little turn-around from that range, but he needs to develop the ability to back defenders down. He is pretty effective facing his man up as well. His long arms allow him to use the soft touch he has on his jumper, but when he puts the ball on the floor he doesn't get by people and can't his shots on the move. He is very effective in the pick-and-roll because he is mobile, has greats hands, and as I said is a good finisher around the rim. He is also very good defensively. He uses his length well, to the tune of more than two blocks per game, and also does a good job defending the pick-and-roll because he is quick laterally for his size and is a good positional defender. Despite the academic problems, he has a good work ethic, plays with intensity, and has a bit of a mean streak.

Comparisons: Brendan Haywood, poor man's Tim Duncan

Bottom Line: He is probably the best center in the draft right now, and will be a quality center in the league. He doesn't have the upside of a lot of the other big guys in the draft and will most likely never be a star, but will be able to contribute with quality minutes immediately. He probably will get picked in the top of the lottery, most likely in the 3-7 range. Continue reading...

Robin Lopez - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 10.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 53% FG, 65% FT

About Him: Robin Lopez is a very different player than his brother. Robin is not nearly as polished on the offensive end. He has a decent hook shot, and he excels at feeling where a defender is and making quick moves when he catches the ball on the block, but he has no face up game to speak of and his jump shot leaves much to be desired. He is great defensively, however. He is very mobile for a big man and can get out an guard quicker players on the perimeter. In the post, he has great shot blocking skills. He has great timing and can read what an offensive player wants to do. He plays with much more intensity than his brother (if you watched him in the NCAA tournament, specifically the game against Marquette, you saw him mix it up with everyone) and is a fiery competitor. He has a great motor and makes a ton of plays simply because he out works people. He is a very good offensive rebounder, and gets a lot of easy buckets off of missed shots. He does have lapses however. He has a tendency to commit turnovers offensively and gets caught out of position in the post. He also has trouble defending the pick and roll effectively.

Comparisons: Joakim Noah, Anderson Varejao

Bottom Line: Lopez could definitely use another year in school, especially if his brother leaves because he will get more minutes and more touches as a center, but since he looks like he is headed for the first round he has already signed with an agent. He will never be a star in the league, but could be a solid defender/rebounder off the bench for any team. Continue reading...

AJ Abrams - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 16.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.5 rpg, 1.6 spg, 42% FG, 81% FT, 38% 3's

About Him: AJ Abrams played sidekick to very well this season, making a living off of DJ Augustin's penetration and kick outs. Abrams was one of the best shooters in college basketball this season, making more than 3 treys a game. He can hit them from deep, and when he gets hot he can rattle of four or five in a row. He's able to shoot with a hand in his face, which is very important for him given his stature (5'11"). He also is able to shoot off the bounce either way, but is much more effective using a pump fake when the defender is closing out than when he has to square a defender up. Abrams biggest issue is that he is going to have to play point guard in the NBA, and in the last two seasons he didn't get a chance to show off his point guard skills because he was playing alongside Augustin. However, his freshman year he averaged 3.0 apg in just 21 minutes, compared to 1.5 apg in 36 minutes the last two seasons. Defensively, he is pretty solid, but will have trouble guarding big, physical guards in the NBA.

Comparisons: Eddie House, Juan Carlos Navarro, Jason Terry (stretch)

Bottom Line: Abrams is making a good decision. He is not signing with an agent, and he is utilizing the early entry rule the NBA put in place in the way it was intended. Most likely, he should come back because, barring some phenomenal workouts, he will be a second round pick at best, and may not get drafted. But if he comes back and can impress with his PG ability, who knows what will happen. Continue reading...

DJ Augustin - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 19.2 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.2 spg, 44% FG, 38% 3's, 78% FT

About Him: Augustin is the best point guard prospect in the draft that isn't named after a flower, and he may be the best pure point guard. He can do everything offensively. His best asset as a point guard is his vision. He is excellent in the open floor at finding his teammates, keeping his head up as he pushes the ball. In the half court, he can penetrate on anyone. He is very quick, he has a slick and crafty handle, and excels at hitting the open man at the right time. He has a tendency to hold on to the ball and over dribble (he would dribble out the entire shot clock way too often), but that was more a result of a stagnant Texas offense and the fact his teammates defer to him. The biggest change between Augustin his freshman and sophomore was his scoring. Freshman year he had to defer to Kevin Durant, but this year was his coming out party offensively. He can score in a variety of ways. He is a great shooter with NBA range, either off the dribble or catch and shoot. He can't finish above the rim like a Derrick Rose, but he can finish in the lane because he is slippery in the lane and has a knack for getting the ball off the glass with either hand. He can hit floaters out to about 12 feet, and has a deadly little fadeaway off the dribble. He will drive to the right and create his separation by fading away and shooting a high arching shot. Defensively, he is above average, but is not as strong as he needs to be yet. He is pretty quick laterally, but could still use some work on this aspect of him game.

Comparisons: Somewhere in between Steve Nash and Jameer Nelson

Bottom Line: Augustin is going to be a very good point guard in the NBA. He is very similar to Nash in that they have comparable skill sets, smaller statures, and are true point guards. But Nash has won two MVP's, and it is tough to project a player to be that talented when he doesn't even look like he will go in the top 5. He will probably end up being a better than average point guard with a long NBA career. Continue reading...

Antonio Anderson - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 8.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 41% FG, 57% FT, 33% 3's

About Him: Antonio Anderson is a big, athletic guard that can play both guard positions. He does a lot of things pretty well, but doesn't do anything great. He is a pretty good shooter, but is more of a catch-and-shoot kind of guy than an off-the-dribble shooter. He has college three-point range, but he only shot them at 33% this year and cannot hit an NBA three consistently. He is fairly explosive and has shown flashes of being ale to get to the rim, and is athletic enough to finish when he gets there, but cannot hit free throws. He is a good defender. He is big, strong and athletic, and John Calipari's players must know defensive fundamentals in order to get minutes. To make it in the NBA, he will need to develop his offensive game a lot.

Comparisons: Royal Ivey, Deshawn Stevenson

Bottom Line: Anderson is making the right move here, especially since some mock drafts have him actually getting drafted as high as in the middle of the second round. If he has some good workouts, with his size, athleticism, defense, and ability to play both guard positions, he could get drafted. If not, he will be a senior next year and will be entering the draft then. Continue reading...

Robert Dozier - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 9.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 1.1 spg, 44% FG, 68% FT, 30% 3's

About Him: Robert Dozier is one of the most athletic players in the draft. He is 6'10" and as mobile as a two-guard. He can run the floor like a deer and can finish in transition with the best of them, thanks to his length and athleticism. Right now his offensive game consists of knocking down open jump shots out to the college three point line and using his athleticism to slash to the basket. He is also a very good defender, at times. He is long (7'3" wingspan) and very mobile laterally, so he will be able to defend on the perimeter, but he is not yet strong enough to be able to defend in the post. He rebounds the ball well, and blocks shots well, but suffers from lapses in judgement and concentration. He misses box outs, is out of position on defense, bites on pump fakes, and does not close out on shooters well. He also has character issues that will scare teams off - he missed time this year after his second arrest for allegedly hitting his girlfriend.

Comparisons: Travis Outlaw, Tyrus Thomas

Bottom Line: With the NBA becoming a faster paced game, teams are looking for athletic combo forwards that can get out and run and can defend multiple positions. Dozier has the tools to be in that mold, but he needs to build strength, work on expanding his offensive game, and develop more focus offensively. He will probably need another year in college in order to do that. Continue reading...

Kevin Love - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 17.5 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.4 bpg, 56% FG, 77% FT, 35% 3's

About Him: Of all the outstanding freshman this season, Kevin Love is probably the biggest question mark when it comes to being an NBA prospect. The things he does well, he does very well. He's an excellent low-post scorer. He gets a lot of his buckets because he is phenomenal at establishing position because he is so strong. He has a pretty good array of post moves. His best move is a righty jump hook which he hits pretty consistently, but he can also go left with it. His turn around jumper is improving, but in order for him to be able to make it against the bigger, more athletic pro defenders, he has to fade away very far and put a ton of arc on the shot. Love is also very good at using fakes in the post, and when he gets defenders in the air, he is big enough and strong enough to go through them and finish. Love has also shown an ability to perimeter jumpers when he is left open, with range beyond the college three. His passing ability, specifically on his outlet passes, has been well documented. He has great court vision and makes very good decisions with the ball. His rebounding ability will probably be his best skill in the pros because of his size and strength. He is superb at establishing position, especially on the offensive glass, and takes up a ton of space. Where Love will struggle is defensively. He struggles defending the pick-and-roll, he is not very mobile defending on the perimeter, and is much better at guarding posts that try to out-physical him as opposed to guys that can shoot over him. He is a very mediocre athlete, but he looked to be getting more explosive as he got in shape over the course of the season. He is a very good positional defender, especially on help side, although his lack of athleticism means he is more likely to take a charge than block a shot. He also has health concerns. He has had back problems this season and has continuing knee problems, and could still stand to lose 20 pounds.

Comparisons: Shorter Brad Miller, poor man's David West

Bottom Line: Most analysts are torn over Love. Some think he could be a career back up, some think he will be a role player, some think he could even be an all star. He will be able to score and rebound in the league, but his defense, injury issues, weight issues, and athleticism are legitimate concerns. He will probably drop to the end of the lottery. Continue reading...

Derrick Rose - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 14.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.7 apg, 1.2 spg, 2.7 t/o's, 48% FG, 71% FT, 34% 3's

About Him: Derrick Rose came into this season about as hyped as a freshman could be, and early on he didn't live up to those expectations. His assist numbers were low while his turnovers high and he was trying to rely too much on his athleticism - flying towards the basket and taking bad, off balance shots. The problem probably more a result of Rose's freakish athleticism that his potential as a basketball player - he didn't need any advanced moves playing at the high school or AAU level because he could get by strictly on athleticism. Those habits carried over to the start of his freshman year, but he got much better as the year progressed, and after his performance in the NCAA tournament he may have played his way into the first pick over Michael Beasley. Rose has outstanding size and athleticism for a point guard, overpowering smaller defenders. He is very strong in the air and can absorb contact, but also is slippery enough that he can slide through the defense. The biggest improvement he made during the season was his mid-range game. He probably will never be more than an average perimeter shooter (he was not much of a threat as a stand still shooter and defenders consistently went underneath ball screens against him), but the development in his pull-up mid-range jumper and floaters in the lane have made a huge difference. He already has incredible confidence in the shot (he was taking it without hesitation throughout the NCAA tourney and Final Four), and if he can keep improving it, it will be an unstoppable shot because he can elevate higher than most defenders. His court vision is not superb, but its better than 4.7 apg. Part of the reason his assist numbers were so low during the season was the style of offense that Memphis ran (a dribble drive motion) and the lack of perimeter shooters on the Tigers. If more pick-and-rolls were run, his numbers would have increased, as they would have if the kickouts on his penetration didn't result in his teammates attacking the basket. Defensively, he is very focused. He plays hard, and has the strength and quickness to be very good in the league. He is great at closing out of defenders because he has such a quick first step. He had a tendency to lose focus this year, but that could have been as much of a result of the scores of the games as his effort.

Comparisons: Dwayne Wade, Deron Williams

Bottom Line: Rose has all the makings of a star. The only question is how good can he be. He will be a much better distributor playing in an NBA offense, and has already shown that he is willing and able to make the right pass when it is there. He is intense and determined and plays hard. He won't fall past the second pick. Continue reading...

OJ Mayo - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 20.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 3.5 t/o's, 44% FG, 80% FT, 41% 3's

About Him: OJ Mayo has been all over the place as a prospect. He was talked about as the next Lebron when he was in high school, and was probably thought of as the first pick heading into this season. But after an inconsistent start to his freshman campaign, he was being projected as a late lottery pick. Right now, he is somewhere in the middle. Mayo is definitely going to be able to score in the NBA, but the question with him is whether or not he will be an all-star type scorer, or just a good role player. Mayo's best skill offensively is probably his jump shot. He easily has NBA range, and is very good at shooting off the dribble and off the catch. He is phenomenal at coming off of screens and elevating, and has a very quick release. He is not as good attacking the basket. He has a good handle, but is not as quick or explosive as you would expect. He is big and strong, but struggles at finishing through contact and doesn't score well in the lane, partly because he average first step doesn't allow him to get by people. He is a much better passer than his 3.3 apg indicates, and could probably play some point guard at the NBA level. He also is a fairly good ball handler, but is turn over prone because he makes too many lazy passes and tries to make the fancy play as opposed to the simple one. The biggest problem with Mayo early in the season was that he tried to take games over and do too much, but when he started to play within the offense and within himself down the stretch, he looked much better, as did USC. Defensively, Mayo is very good, but does not give his full effort all the time. If he continues to play within himself, he could be a very good NBA player.

Comparisons: Gilbert Arenas, shorter Joe Johnson, Ricky Davis

Bottom Line: With the way he finished the season, Mayo probably won't fall out of the top 8, but he never fully live up to the hype he had in high school. Continue reading...

Anthony Randolph - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 15.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 1.1 spg, 3.0 t/o's, 46% FG, 10% 3's, 69% FT

About Him: Despite putting up very good numbers this season and being projected as a top 10 pick in the draft, Anthony Randolph has managed to stay well under the radar. Randolph is still very raw as a player, but given what he can do now, as an 18 year old, he has scouts salivating. He is 6'11" with a huge wingspan, left-handed, explosive off the floor, excellent at running the floor, and he has a quick first step. He has the ability to grab a rebound and take the ball coast-to-coast and finish, impressively dribbling in and around traffic. He is also skilled at creating his own shot facing a defender up in the halfcourt. As a lefty, he is very good going to his right. With his back to the basket he has a decent array of post moves, but they are mostly finesse moves as Randolph is still much to slender to bully a bigger defender in the post. The form on his jump shot is not very good, but he can knock them down consistently out to about 15 feet. Essentially, his offense game lacks any feel or advanced skills, but he has survived because of his immense physical talents. He has a ways to go defensively as well. He is very good at reading the offensive players and coming off his man to block a shot or get a steal, but when it comes to defending 1-on-1, he struggles. He does not have very good foot work when defending on the perimeter and gets beat up on the block because he is just not physically strong enough. He is definitely a project, but has a very high ceiling.

Comparisons: Lamar Odom, Chris Bosh, Jonathon Bender

Bottom Line: Right now NBA teams love tall, lanky combo forwards that have perimeter skills. Randolph fits that to a T, but he has a long way to go before he becomes any more than a player with potential. Continue reading...

Russell Westbrook - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 12.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.6 spg, 2.5 t/o's, 47% FG, 71% FT, 34% 3's

About Him: No one in the country improved more between last season and this season than Russell Westbrook. He couldn't dunk until his senior year in high school and is now a Youtube all-star, and given he was considered a mid-major recruit until a late high school growth spurt and is now a potential lottery pick, that improvement may not be done. Westbrook is as good as you can get athletically. He is incredibly explosive, has a lighting-quick first step, and is much stronger than his slender frame indicates. Combine this with long arms and great anticipation, and he is a nightmare to opposing players in the passing lanes. Westbrook is also a phenomenal on the ball defender with the ability to lock down just about anyone - OJ Mayo averaged 12 ppg in three games and Jerryd Bayless averaged 14 ppg in two games against Westbrook, both are 20 ppg scorers. Offensively, it's a different story. Westbrook scored the majority of his points on fast breaks because of his ability to get into lanes and Kevin Love's ability to throw outlet passes. He struggles a bit in offensive sets. His first step allows to get get to the rim going either direction, but he needs to have an open lane to the basket. He struggles when he needs to change direction with the ball, either using a jump stop or with the dribble, resulting in him throwing up some wild shots in the lane. His handle is pretty weak, but he can run an offense because of his unselfishness. He is a fair shooter when he is open and spotting up, but on the move and off the dribble he struggles more, mainly because he doesn't use his jumping ability on his shot, allowing defenders to get a hand in his face. Westbrook is a very unselfish player. He knew is role on the UCLA team, and fit into the system beautifully. That's what NBA guys love about him.

Comparisons: Leandro Barbosa, taller Kyle Lowry

Bottom Line: Westbrook will probably never be a star or a guy that can carry a team for more than a few minutes in the NBA given is tweener status. But he has the potential to be a great role player - a guy that can come in, play some lock down defense, give you a spark off the bench and maybe get a couple buckets as well, depending on how his offense game develops. That's the risk that an NBA GM will take with Westbrook - how good will he be offensively. Continue reading...

Brandon Rush - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 13.3ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.8 t/o's, 44% FG, 78% FT, 42% 3's

About Him: After taking only 5 1/2 months to rehab the ACL he tore last year, Brandon Rush looked to be almost fully healthy this season. His quickness and athleticism were there this year, but what suffered was his defense. He struggled to move laterally, but was still did a decent job keeping people in front, and he is long enough to block a shot and recover if he does get beat. He also seemed hesitant to fight through screens and mix it up in the paint, but that could just be a result of him trying to protect his knee. Offensively, Rush has developed into almost exclusively a jump shooter. He shot 42% from deep while taking over five three's per game. His release is high and quick, and he does not need much space to get it off. He has also developed an effective, but inconsistent pull-up jumper. He struggles shooting off the bounce, but with his quick first step and ability to elevate higher than defenders that shot could turn into a very good weapon. Rush has a very good first step and his long strides allow him to get to the rim, but he is not a a good finisher. He can't change directions when he drives, and despite his athleticism, he does not have the creativity in the air to finish at the rim. Usually he will settle for finding an open teammate, which he does fairly well. His production during his three years at Kansas stayed relatively constant, and he never developed the killer instinct that Kansas always hoped he would.

Comparisons: Eddie Jones, Francisco Garcia

Bottom Line: The biggest knock on Rush when he was younger was that he needs to be more aggressive if he wants to be a star. But it has become clear he is not going to be a star in the NBA, so his passive and unselfish nature will work great for when while he is filling a role for an NBA team. Look for him to go in the late first-round. Continue reading...

Terrence Williams - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 11.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.9 t/o's, 41% FG, 57% FT, 34% 3's

About Him: Terrence Williams had a relatively disappointing junior season. He put up similar numbers (less scoring, more assists) to his sophomore year, and really didn't improve his all-around game that much. He is a phenomenal athlete, standing 6'6" and a chiseled 215lb and has tremendous quickness, both with his first step and laterally, and the ability to jump out of the gym (didn't believe me?). He is an outstanding playmaker as well, averaging 4.5 assists. His quickness allows him to get to the rim on just about any player in the country, however he has a tendency to settle for his jumpshot, which while greatly improved is still below average. This is evidenced by the fact that he shot four 3's a game while only taking three free throws a game. Defensively, he is very good. His lateral quickness allows him to stay in front his man, while he also excels at jumping the passing lanes, however he picks his spots well and doesn't gamble for steals too often. Playing is Rick Pitino's defensive system has obviously helped him learn all aspects of defense.

Comparisons: Andre Iguodala, Caron Butler (smaller, more athletic)

Bottom Line: Williams made the correct decision. While he has improved his shot selection, he still has a tendency to hoist jumpers as opposed to getting to the rim. If he can improve this to the point where he consistently attacks the rim, he could work his way up to the end of the lottery in the 2009 draft. Continue reading...

JaVale McGee - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 14.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.8 bpg, 53% FG, 53% FT, 33% 3's

About Him: JaVale McGee has an unbelievable upside. He is a full 7 feet and has a wing span of 7'6". He is an explosive athlete that can run the floor. Although he is fairly slender right now, he has the broad shoulders and the frame where he could bulk up. He has great hands and a soft touch in the paint, with a decent array of hook shots and turnarounds which he finishes with great extension. Defensively, he has great timing and uses his athleticism and length very well blocking shots, especially when coming over from help side. The problem is that he has a very long way to go until he fulfills his potential. He is very weak when it comes to establishing position in the post, and as a result is settles for bad, off-balance shots way too often. He cannot pass out of the post at all, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is a horrendous .25:1. He is lazy defensively, gambles for steals, doesn't finish plays, doesn't hustle, cannot move his feet and gets pushed around on the block. According to Synergy's "PlayType QuickTable's stats", McGee was scored on 66% of the time when the man he was defending got the ball in the post (and that was playing in the WAC, not a conference with overwhelming post players).

Comparisons: Patrick O'Bryant, Andrew Bynum

Bottom Line: McGee is an NBA player, the question is how good will he be. If he works hard at improving his strength and his ball skills, he could become an all-star center. He could also be out of the league after his rookie contract. Continue reading...

Wayne Ellington - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 16.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.7 t/o's, 47% FG, 83% FT, 40% 3's

About Him: Wayne Ellington has emerged as one of the best shooters in all of college basketball - he shot 47% from the field on the year, which is incredible for a guy that takes over five three's per game. He has a very quick release and needs only a split second to get his shot off when he is spotting up. His range extends beyond the NBA three. Elligton also is very good in the mid-range. He has added a pull-up jumper and a step-back jumper, which he can hit with consistency to beyond the college three point line. He also has a knack for being able to create space by making contact with a defender and then hitting a fade-away. Coming off screens he is deadly. He changes speeds well when coming off screens, but he is always moving. He is able to stay low to the floor so it is difficult to tell if he wants to shoot or curl off of a screen. He can hit every jump shot an NBA two needs to make, but that is about all he can do at the NBA level now. His ball-handling needs significant improvement and he has a tough time finishing at the rim. But he does have a quick first step and he makes good decisions with the ball (1.7 t/o's), so there is potential if he keeps working on his game. Defensively, he is not good. He loses focus, is out of position too often, and doesn't fight through screens (on the ball or off the ball). He will need to greatly improve this aspect of his game.

Comparisons: Ray Allen (stretch), Roger Mason

Bottom Line: Ellington needs another year in college to help develop his game, but if he leaves this year and has some really good workouts, he could sneak into the end of the first round. If he stays, next year he could be a top 10 pick if the rest of his game develops. Continue reading...

Tyler Smith - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 13.6 ppg, 6.7 rpb, 3.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 2.2 t/o's, 54% FG, 71% FT, 38% 3's

About Him: Tyler Smith is one of the most versatile players in the country. He can play both the wing and the post offensively and defensively at the college level, although given his height (6'7") and mobility he probably projects as a wing in the NBA. The biggest knock on Smith's game right now is his lack of a jump shot. Although his shooting was greatly improved from his freshman season at Iowa (up to 54% from the field and 38% from deep), his mechanics still look fairly awkward, and he only took wide open jumpers (he took one 3 per game). Smith is a very good rebounder, using his athleticism to attack the glass on the offensive end. He is also effective in transition because he can run the floor and finish. But the most impressive aspect of his game offensively is his passing ability. He has great court vision and awareness and can make any pass. He can pick up assists passing out of the post as well as he can throw no-look passes leading a fast break. Defensively, he is very active and can defend in the post or on the wing. He's not quite as effective in the post because of his size, but he is good at using his quickness to get around and front his man. On the perimeter, he could still use some work on his lateral quickness, but he is pretty good at positional and help side defense (he picks up a good amount of charges) and he uses his long arms to get in the passing lanes.

Comparisons: Josh Howard (stretch), John Salmons

Bottom Line: Smith could have snuck into the back of the first round if he had decided to come out, but most likely was a second round pick. But if he can improve his jump shot enough over the course of his junior season he can sneak into the lottery in the 2009 draft. Continue reading...

Mario Chalmers - NBA Draft Prospects

Numbers: 12.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.5 spg, 1.9 t/o's, 52% FG, 75%, 47% 3's

About Him: Mario Chalmers has developed into a very good point guard. He is one of the best shooters in the country - 52% from the field, 47% from behind the arc while taking over four a game. Part of the reason he shoots a such a high percentage is he doesn't take many bad shots. If he does take a bad shot, it is normally a result of him over-penetrating. He is not a great finisher because he is not very explosive and does not have great athleticism, so when he gets in the lane he tends to force shots. He does not have a great mid-range either, and his handle could use a lot of improvement. Defensively he has phenomenal length and timing, which makes him a great defender. He gets in the passing lanes and uses his length to play much bigger than 6'1". He manages to contest just about every shot and pass the guy he is guarding makes. The biggest issue is that Chalmers is not a pure point guard. He is very good at running an offense because is very unselfish (which is good for a player that projects as a back-up), but he is not a great play maker and just doesn't have great point guard instincts. He averages 4.3 apg, but that is more a result of the complex offenses that Kansas runs.

Comparisons: Daniel Gibson, Derek Fisher, Chris Duhon (with a jump shot, minus driving ability)

Bottom Line: Chalmers is probably going to be a career back-up, or at least career role player. But his unselfishness will allow him to slide into that role perfectly. He may not be a great playmaker down the road, but he will always be able to shoot and defend. He's probably a second round pick right now, but in a year he could be a mid first rounder. Continue reading...