NBA Draft: Gottlieb looks at overvalued, undervalued players
Doug Gottlieb recommends NBA power-brokers take a long look at Cody Zeller and C.J. McCollum, but not to reach for Nerlens Noel or Jamaal Franklin.
As you peruse the web in the days before the NBA Draft there are plenty of places to find a mock draft. This piece isn't designed to mock the mocks. Instead this is my evaluation of the evaluations some have made over previous weeks. Value is purely subjective, but my undervalued guys are likely to be drafted 5-10 spots below where I would select them, and my overvalued 5-10 spots higher, in some cases more.
Cody Zeller , PF, Indiana Hoosiers -- It is comical that so many pundits and fans crush Cody Zeller. Zeller is a legitimate 7-foot center who improved steadily in his two years at Indiana. He averaged 17 points a game playing out of position as a center when his natural position is power forward. Zeller needs to extend his range to 20 feet like his brother Tyler did during his time at UNC. People so easily forget that if Tyler is a model for Cody, we can expect Cody -- who is a better post scorer than Tyler at this stage -- to flourish as a rim-running active 4/5 who should be a valuable rotation player and will develop into a starter in two years. Cody has good feet, excellent hands and though he is not dominant at any one part of his game, his lack of scoring ego should help him fit in to a team immediately. In other words his supposed lack of dominance is actually a strength -- he doesn't need to be a go-to guy in the NBA. Zeller should average between 8-14 points his entire career, has zero issues off the floor and guys like to play with him.
C.J. McCollum , PG, Lehigh Mountain Hawks -- Several scouts have told me they think McCollum, who is very bright with an efficient game, is one of the top 3 basketball players in this draft, and frankly I agree. Is foot speed an issue? Maybe. Is he a combo guard who has to learn to create for others as well as run a team? Yes. But McCollum can really shoot and score, can be an effective scoring point a la George Hill and at worst is a 12 point per game combo guard off the bench. Guys that make shots are valuable, guys that win games are valuable, and McCollum does both. While the Hill comparison may not wow you, think about McCollum's scoring numbers as a ball handling two-guard for a huge portion of his career at Lehigh, then remember that Steph Curry, Jeremy Lin, Hill and Russell Westbrook charted the same path in college.
Tony Snell , SG, New Mexico Lobos -- Snell has learned the art of off the ball movement under Steve Alford, and though he may not have been as good as his former coach was in that realm in college, Snell has some tangibles that will translate perfectly to the NBA. Snell can guard a one, two, or three. He doesn't have a scorer's ego, which will help early on since he'll be used as a low-volume offensive weapon and Snell can also handle, pass and be a good teammate. He is a late bloomer with a ton of potential.
Steven Adams , C, Pittsburgh Panthers -- Adams is a just a perfect specimen. He can run, jump, catch and can even shoot a little, and though he struggled to break through in his only year at Pitt, some of that was due to the Panthers' guards not sharing the ball, and the depth up front that Pitt had. Adams needs to develop, but the positive signs are there.
Nate Wolters , PG, South Dakota State Jackrabbits -- Wolters is a tremendously creative ball-screen point guard. While there have been questions about his jumper in the past, those questions are no more pertinent than they are for, say Michael Carter Williams, and Wolters has improved mightily since shooting poorly from three-point range as a junior. Wolters knows how to contain defensively, and gets to where he wants to be on offense. Combine that with great feel on the drive-and-kick, and the only question is can he adjust to the length and speed of NBA defenses. I say yes. Guy is a stud, he shoots 81 percent from the line and can run a team tomorrow.
Nerlens Noel , C, Kentucky Wildcats -- Noel is a phenomenal athlete who can block shots and score a bit in the post, but what is his legitimate potential in the NBA? Is he Theo Ratliff? That would be a very good career. Noel is still benefiting from the high school/prep school hype, and he isn't the talent of DeMarcus Cousins nor Anthony Davis, nor does he have their frame for his position.
He is young, he plays hard and John Calipari has been known to recruit talent and help mold it to an NBA style, but his injury could undercut his athleticism, to what extent no one truly knows. I would love Noel in the middle of the first round, but he will be a reach in the top five.
Jamaal Franklin , SG, San Diego State -- Thank you Kawhi Leonard. Whether consciously or subconsciously, the San Diego State Aztecs alum has opened doors for Franklin in the eyes of NBA decision-makers, even though they are dissimilar players in every sense of the word. Leonard was a center growing up who is still learning to become a wing. Franklin played an undersized four his sophomore year and used his lack of size to his advantage, but struggled to be a college three this year. Leonard has always been a great rebounder with huge hands, Franklin is a good rebounder, but his numbers there were more a product of SDSU not having any big men of note at all. Franklin is actually older than Leonard, but smaller with much smaller hands and is nowhere near the on-ball defender that Leonard is. Keep in mind that Franklin could not get on the court when Leonard was at SDSU, and though he has improved, there is still a massive gulf between their their games.
Franklin was the only player in college basketball to lead his team in four statistical categories, which speaks both to his jack of all trades game and a high volume of touches. Franklin is a very average athlete, below average shooter and he never goes left. He does possess a strong basketball IQ and a competitive nature, but he doesn't move well without the ball, nor can he defend the three as he is wiry but thin, and at 22 in July it isn't like he will add another 20 pounds. Franklin is a four-man in a two's body, I see him as a rotation player at best in the NBA.
Victor Oladipo , SG, Indiana -- Oladipo is a terrific athlete with no offensive position and not a ton of "feel" at that end of the court. Could he be Tony Allen? Sure. Should you take a rotation player and defensive stalwart who became a starter in the top five? No. While his game is more advanced than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's was at this time last year, the idea that a player's work ethic will change the dynamic of an organization (as many scouts thought last year of MKG) is a tough sell if that player is not a transcendent pro. MKG isn't, neither is Oladipo. He doesn't stink, he will survive in the league for a long time, but he is not an NBA offensive two-guard as of now. I think his value is in the 15-20 range.
Michael Carter-Williams , PG, Syracuse Orange -- A problematic combination of being a poor shooter but not knowing it, Carter-Williams leaves a lot to be desired as a starting point guard. His decision- making is shoddy at times, he can act immature toward coaching, and has never played man-to-man defense. That last one might strike some as no big deal, but when you are guarding Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo, it helps to have some experience guarding ball screens or being isolated up top. MCW has vision, but is not Jason Kidd as a passer or an athlete (coming out of Cal, Kidd was a runner). MCW is a nice player with massive potential, but there's a catch-22. Feed him to the wolves early and he will struggle, but how do you sit a top-10 pick at the point?
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope , SG, Georgia Bulldogs -- KCP is a great kid. He has a nice disposition and never pitched a fit while playing for an average Georgia team. He guards fairly well, shoots it well off the catch and off the dribble and is a good solid athlete going to the bucket. A former McDonald's All-American, Caldwell-Pope numerically lived up to the hype for the Bulldogs. But what is great about him? Can he take over a game if you clear a side? No. Does he have deep range off catch-and-shoot jumpers? Not really. Does he have a post game? Not to speak of. His body is more college than pro, his game lacks a consistent set of moves that can create space, and his movement off screens is very robotic as he allows himself to be guarded far too easily. While Reggie Bullock has no conscience and Allen Crabbe cares too much, both have more ready made bodies and scoring skills than KCP in my opinion.
Doug Gottlieb is a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports. A former player at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, Gottlieb is 10th in NCAA history in assists. Watch Doug on Lead Off, weeknights at midnight ET on CBS Sports Network, and listen to him on CBS Sports Radio weekdays from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Follow Doug on Twitter @GottliebShow.
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