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Posted on: June 16, 2009 6:22 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2009 1:18 pm
 

NBA Draft Prospect: PG Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings: 6-1, 170, PG, (Lottomatica Roma)

Draft Rank: #8

PG Rank: #3

Strengths:

Tremendous quickness and shiftiness to his game. Has a great crossover, which he uses to create space from the defender. Has an array of ways that he can finish in the lane, including a one-handed floater that is very effective. Has a great vertical for a guy his size. Has the hops to take a hit off the defender and still finish. Throws the alley-oop ball as well as anyone in the draft.  His passes are extremely quick. He does an amazing job of splitting the defense on picks and really getting into the heart of the defense. Goes and gets the ball on offense and doesn't struggle to separate from his defender to do so. It is very hard to keep the ball out of his hands. Uses his quickness and ball handling to get to where he wants to go on the floor. Gets very good elevation on his jump shot. Has a quick release on his jumper. Can create for himself by using an array of ball handling moves. He is a handful once he gets a step on his man, which he often does with ease and then attacks the rim with his left. He is extremely fluid and bouncy when he gets a full head of steam and is heading toward the hoop. Does a good job of keeping the ball on his hip and exploding to the backboard as he attacks the hoop. Has quick hands and a sneaky jab that he uses to get steals. Can really get up and down the court quickly and hurt teams in transition by attacking the rim or creating for his teammates. Has very good body control.

Weaknesses:

Very thin. Will try to make the impossible pass and because of that will often force the ball when the play isn't there. Still needs to work on his shooting consistency. Needs to focus more on the defensive end. Needs to do a better job of hedging on screens and closing out on the perimeter as he often plays to far off of his man. Often rushes on pick and rolls and doesn't allow for the roller to get open. When he isn't splitting the defense on picks, he often is not rubbing off of the screener, which leads to him settling for jump shots on the perimeter. Once he gets into the lane he struggles when the defense collapses and he often turns the ball over when looking for his teammates. Often fades back on three-point shots rather than stepping into them, which will become a problem as he tries to extend his range to the NBA three. Sometimes shows laziness with his passes. Definitely favors his left when attacking the rim. Often forces his own shot in transition rather than creating for bigger and better-finishing teammates.

Mental:

The fact he went overseas has a lot to do with him as a prospect. But he has a confidence and certainty about him that you love from a point guard. He believes in his own abilities and I think that will rub off on his teammates. As a point guard I think he can be effective because of his confidence in his game and the idea that he won't back down from other players. Now can that confidence backfire and turn into arrogance? Possibly, but I would rather have a player with built-in-leadership capabilities then someone who is passive. With that said Jennings needs to still prove he is most interested in winning rather than putting on a show. NBA coaches will not be supportive of his highlight attempts when there is an easier play to be made. I also noticed that he often complained about not getting "and-one" calls when he went up,  so hopefully he will focus more on getting back on defense rather than arguing with the refs. Jennings did however show tremendous maturity overseas as he tried to change his game to fit his team needs, so I think that his flashiness will be toned down as he gets older. Overall, I actually like his mental makeup and think he has some of the leadership abilities that all of the great point guards possess.

Comparison: Steve Francis. 6-3, 195, PG

Would be a good fit for: Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks

Conclusion:

Jennings is probably the biggest wild card in the draft. We never saw him play in college and his minutes were inconsistent overseas. However, he does possess a swagger and a star quality that the NBA loves. The guy appears to have all of the moves and game to be a successful guard at the NBA level, but it's still hard to get a reading on it when his minutes were so limited. I was also shocked to see him often playing off the ball in Rome and letting his teammates bring up the ball. In many of his games he would be off the ball and then pop up to get the ball in the half court set, as off guards Kobe Bryant and LeBron James do. I think that this role stunted his development as he is the type of player who loves to get up and down and push the ball after both made and missed baskets. Any team that drafts him will surely give him the keys to the car immediately and wouldn't and shouldn't hesitate to let him bring up the ball in the backcourt, as that is where he excels.

I really look forward to seeing how he does when he is surrounded by athletes. The guy is so creative and so athletically gifted that he would often be by himself in Europe when he tried to make plays. When watching film you could tell that he often made passes to guys thinking that they could get to the spot and instead they were to slow or not athletic to get there. Give Jennings a couple of high-flying wings and he will instantly make them better -- and his game will be better as a result. The wings in the NBA are just so much more athletic then they are in Europe and Jennings will thrive as a result of that.

I think he is a better passer than Francis was, but I see him as a similar type of player. If Jennings can really focus on passing and getting his teammates going rather than scoring then I really think he will be a special player in the NBA. I also believe Sacramento should roll the dice and snag him up at No. 4 in the draft. Jennings would instantly give that city a player who they can be excited about and Sacramento has the time to let him develop. Furthermore, if you had an athletic wing then all of the sudden the Kings would have an intriguing and young starting lineup of Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Kevin Martin, Jennings and whichever athletic three they go after (maybe a Trevor Ariza type?). Finally, like Ricky Rubio, the upside on Jennings is extremely high. If a team is patient with him and lets him grown into a starting point guard then I believe they will be happy with the results.
Posted on: June 16, 2009 3:04 am
Edited on: June 16, 2009 8:51 pm
 

NBA Draft Prospect: PG Ricky Rubio, Spain

Ricky Rubio:  6-4, 180 PG (DKV Joventut)

Draft Rank: #3

PG Rank:   #1

Strengths:

The first thing that stands out about him is his tremendously creative passing ability. He uses misdirection and a variety of moves to get the ball exactly where he wants to. He is very good in transition. Has great size to play the point and uses that size to read a defense and make passes. His size also allows him to be very effective on pick and rolls -- as the big man slips to the hoop he is able to hit him in stride for a dunk or layup. He has very quick hands, which allow him to steal the ball and get his team in transition situations where he excels. Has great anticipation to steal the ball. Loves to pressure the opposing team's point guard after made baskets. Has tremendous feet and long strides that he uses to get to the rim, often times using only two steps. 

Is a good floor general who makes sure to get his teammates in a position where they can succeed. Even when he doesn't have the ball in his hands he is constantly directing his teammates, letting them know where they should be. He does a good job of going into the defense and drawing fouls. Has a very good first step and does a great job of getting his defender on his hip. Has great handles with both hands and doesn't lose speed when running and dribbling. While he does turn the ball over a lot, he also has great vision that allows him to make some passes that the average point guard wouldn't even see. Has good pull-up ability that he uses when in transition. In isolation situations he can really break down a defense because of his length and quickness, which is very important when you are a play maker. Does a great job of changing gears and attacking the paint when his best option is to attack. When he does have time to shoot he squares up nicely and can knock down the open shot. 

Weaknesses:

Doesn't have good lift on his shot. He often struggles and forces shots up when he gets to the rim. Needs to get more elevation around the rim or else he will get his shot blocked often. Is not a consistent spot-up shooter. Needs to be able to swing his right foot forward when shooting from the perimeter and he won't always have the time to do that in the NBA. Often misses shots short because he forces the issue when trying to score. Turns the ball over and forces the issue way too much. When he gets into the paint he often tries to put added arc on his shot, which causes the ball to hit the backboard or the side of the rim and reduces his accuracy. Sometimes pounds the ball and wastes time rather than passing the ball around to his teammates. Doesn't use his size to exploit smaller players in the post.
 
Mental:

Rubio's years of professional experience make him much more mentally "ready" than some of his peers. For an 18 year old he sure has no problem telling his teammates where they should be on the court. He showed this not only with his European team, but also with his strong play on a very good Spanish National team. When watching film you can see him constantly talking, encouraging and pointing to teammates to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. This is extremely important for a point guard and the fact that he already does that stuff at such a young age is very encouraging to his mental makeup. After watching film I was concerned about his steadiness when running a team. There were times where he clearly got rattled when he tried to force the issue and turned the ball over. He will have to learn quickly that sometimes you can't force the issue and you have to take what the defense is giving you. How he reacts to those lessons will be key in his future success.

Comparison: Jason Kidd, 6-4, 210, PG

Would be a good fit for:  Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings or Washington Wizards

Conclusion:

Rubio is definitely a work in progress. He has to significantly improve on his shooting consistency and will need to bulk up so that he can finish once he gets into the lane, but he does have a ton of potential. His size, quickness and passing ability make him a unique prospect who could grow into an All-Star point guard. The key word for Rubio is "grow." Make no mistake, there are more ready NBA point guards in this year's draft. He has definite flaws in his game and from the tape I watched he was often very erratic. That inconsistent play won't fly in the NBA. He has to really learn to cherish every possession and focus when he gets open looks.

If you haven't seen Rubio play you really need to understand that he has tremendous speed with the ball in his hands. The best point guards always are as fast with the ball as they are without it and Rubio's no different in that regard. I struggled to find a comparison for Rubio because it is rare to see a player with his length possess the quickness and passing ability that he has. The guy who he reminds me a little of is Jason Kidd. Now before everyone goes crazy on me, I would like to note that I don't think he will be as good as Kidd, but simply that his game reminds me of Kidd's.

Like Kidd, Rubio uses his size and speed to his advantage and knows how to attack creases to find the open man. One of the big differences was Kidd's ability to lock down other team's point guards in his prime. I really think Rubio may struggle with opposing team's point guards but offensively, he does have the potential to control a game in a similar fashion to the way that Kidd did in his prime. All things considered, I really think Rubio is an intriguing prospect. Like most great playmakers it would be ideal for him to be put in a system that allows him to play free and not be overly concerned with protecting the basketball. He is a classic case of a raw-but-talented point guard who will most likely get thrown into the fire right away.

As I noted earlier, the potential is there for him to be a very effective point guard, but don't expect him to come in and be a ball-control point guard. He may struggle early in his career, but give him some time to improve and he should end up being the best point guard in this year's draft. If a team is expecting him to come in right away and turn their franchise around it is sorely mistaken. But over time he could and should be the type of point guard you want to build a team around.

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 12, 2009 12:30 pm
 

Mock Draft 2.0

1.    Clippers—PF Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

Analysis: Not much has changed here. Despite the fact that Griffin's measurements didn't blow anyone away in Chicago, he still remains the best player in this year's draft. Look for the Clips to try to move one of their overpriced and injury prone big men before the draft and build around a nice, young and athletic core of Griffin, Thornton and Gordon.

2.    Memphis—PG Ricky Rubio, Spain

Analysis: This will get very interesting in the next 2 weeks. Reports out of Spain are that a major buyout could require some issues for whoever drafts Rubio. Combine that with some reports saying that he has no interest in playing in Memphis and this could be a recipe for disaster. The Griz could and should look to move back in the draft and get a guy that fits their team needs -- more like a Jordan Hill. Look for teams like the Wizards, Kings and even possibly the Knicks to try to move up so that they can get their hands on Rubio or Hasheen Thabeet. The Kings would make the most sense as Rubio would be a perfect fit and Memphis would most likely be able to get Hill for less money at four.The only problem is what could the Kings offer?

3.   Oklahoma City—C Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut

Analysis: With Durant, Green and Westbrook all coming along nicely it is pretty evident that they need a center and a shooting guard. Well, the two best players in the draft here would both fit nicely in Oklahoma City. James Harden would give them a heady shooting guard who would be able to fit in with the three players mentioned above. With that said, I think they have to go Thabeet here.

He would instantly make up for the defensive deficiencies of Green and Durant and would give them a stopper in the paint to go along with Westbrook's D on the perimeter. You can always get a shooting guard in the future, but centers just don't come along very often. The pick here has to be Thabeet.

4.    Sacramento—PG Brandon Jennings

Once again, this is the toughest selection to figure out. The best fit would be Rubio, but I really don't think he will be on the board at four. The Kings can't take Harden, who is the best player available because of Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia. Like Martin, Harden doesn't possess the size or skill-set to move over to the 3.

The Kings have to swing for the fences here and really need a point guard to try to right the ship. The two guys who I think fit that category would be Jrue Holiday and Jennings. While there are certainly more proven, NBA-ready players in this year's draft (Ty Lawson and Jonny Flynn) few guys hold the potential that Jennings and Holiday have. Look for the Kings to try to move up to nab Rubio, but if they can't I think they still go with Jennings and hope he pans out.

5.    Washington—SG James Harden, Arizona State

There have been talks about the Wiz moving up in the draft or possibly out of it entirely. They are stuck with a lot of bad contracts and don't have much roster flexibility.

With all of that in mind I think they take the best player available in Harden. They can move Gilbert Arenas back to the 1 and have Harden feed off of Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler.

6.    Minnesota—SG Tyreke Evans, Memphis

I really like the way Evans fits next to Randy Foye. I also think Evans has a game that will allow him to contribute and get minutes as soon as next year. The fact that he can play both guard positions is extremely appealing as it gives the 'Wolves much more flexibility.

If Harden slips here then I think he would be a good fit but I believe the 'Wolves need to take a player who is either a true point guard or someone who can play the point next to Foye. Evans is the latter.

7.    Golden State—PG Jrue Holiday, UCLA

I know people may want to see Lawson, Flynn or Stephen Curry here but the Warriors need a bigger player who can play next to Monte Ellis. I also think that it will be tough for them to pass up on Jordan Hill here as he would be a nice player to have next to Andris Biedrins in the front court. The problem, of course, is that they still have very young and raw players in Brendan Wright and Anthony Randolph.

The fact of the matter is the Warriors are very tough to figure out as it's hard to know what direction they are going. If they truly believe Ellis is their point guard of the future then they need to give Jordan Hill a long look. I am going to go with Holiday here with the idea that they could play him and Ellis at the guard positions with Stephen Jackson at the 3. Ellis and Holiday are both bigger guards who could switch off defending the opposing 2. Let's be honest though, in Nellie Ball it's all about putting the ball in the rack. This would clearly be a boom or bust type of pick.

8.    New York—PG Stephen Curry, Davidson

I really believe that Mike D'Antoni will get one of his point guards of the future in this draft. The question is which one does he like the most? I still say it's Curry, but Flynn, Lawson and Jeff Teague could all go here as well. No matter who they go with, I do think it will be a point guard.

9.    Toronto—SG Demar DeRozan, USC

The Raps have needed athleticism at the 2 spot since Vince Carter left. There's no questioning DeRozan's athleticism and that's why I think he fits nicely here. They would also have to give Hill a serious look as well, especially if they believe Chris Bosh will be a goner after this season.

10.    Milwaukee—PF Jordan Hill, Arizona

I have Hill slipping all the way to Milwaukee at 10. Hill does a lot of the things that Andrew Bogut doesn't and I think he would help give the Bucks a very strong frontcourt. The bucks could also look to find a point guard here as it appears Ramon Sessions might leave via free agency. But I think power forward is an important need for them and Hill would fit nicely with what they are trying to do.

11.    New Jersey—PF DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh

The Nets would be ecstatic to see Blair here. The team clearly has building blocks in Devin Harris and Brook Lopez, but they need some girth to go with the length and abilities that those two players respectively provide. Blair would give them some power to go with a solid young front court trio of Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Yi Jianlian.

12.    Charlotte—SG Gerald Henderson, Duke

I still say this is the obvious pick for Charlotte. Henderson would be penciled into the starting lineup immediately and would form a nice backcourt duo with D.J. Augustine in the future. He has the ability to be a solid shooting guard and would give them a very solid piece.

13.    Indiana—PG Jonny Flynn, Syracuse

This move only happens if Jarrett Jack walks. Flynn and T.J. Ford would make the quickest 1-2 punch of point guards in the league. With a guys like Troy Murphy, Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy all being good three-point shooters, the Pacers need a guy who can penetrate and kick. Flynn would provide them with serious insurance for if/when T.J. Ford gets hurt and would also become their point guard of the future.

14.    Phoenix—SF James Johnson, Wake Forest

They could go for a point guard here to groom behind Steve Nash, but I think they'll go for Johnson if he is still available.  With Matt Barnes and Grant Hill getting older they need some athleticism at the 3. Johnson has the potential to really thrive in Phoenix's system.

15.    Detroit—PF Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech

Lawal is a young power forward who knows his role in the paint. With Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess likely moving on, there is a major need for a power player to help them out. He still has room to develop due to his youth so time is on his side as the Pistons look like they are going to be going into rebuilding mode.

16.    Chicago-- SF Earl Clark, Louisville

Clark would give them much needed depth at both forward positions. It was clear the Bulls needed some more depth at the 3 and the 4 when Luol Deng got hurt and Clark would provide them with some bench flexibility. He has tremendous upside and could potentially develop into a starter.

17.    Philadelphia—PG Ty Lawson, UNC

With Andre Miller looking like he has moved on from the City of Brotherly Love, the big need for the Sixers is at point guard.  They also were at their best this year when they were getting up and down the floor. No player in this year's draft can push the ball like Lawson can.

18.    Minnesota—SF Terrence Williams, Louisville

Williams gives them another ball handler and toughness at the 3 that Rodney Carney and Corey Brewer just don't bring. By adding him and Evans they will have drastically improved their wing play with two good ball handlers.

19.    Atlanta—PG Eric Maynor, VCU

With the uncertainty of Mike Bibby's free agency and the struggles that Acie Law has had the move looks to be at point guard here. Even if they bring Bibby back they still would have a need to have a backup point guard of the future for him. Maynor would give them a guy who can backup right now and be a starter down the road.

20. Utah—C B.J. Mullens, Ohio State

When Mehmet Okur went down the Jazz really had trouble. They clearly needed a backup center who could come in and give them some rebounding and play in the paint. I am not a big fan of Mullens and I am sure Jazz fans are having flashbacks of Curtis Borchardt, but Mullens might be the guy for the Jazz here.

21.     New Orleans Hornets—PG Jeff Teague, Wake Forest

It was clear that Chris Paul needed a backup this year. Without Jannero Pargo they really ran into a wall relying on Paul's handling for entire games. Teague would be a point guard who could come in and score when Paul heads to the pine. Teague also has decent size that should allow the Hornets to steal some minutes with both of them on the floor.

22.    Dallas—SG Marcus Thornton, LSU

The Mavs need to find a shooting guard. Thornton has great toughness and would fit nicely with the established core the Mavs have. I think he would be thrilled to be on a good team and the guy has proven to be a winner. Look for him to do a lot of the little things to help this team right away.

23.    Sacramento—SF Sam Young, Pittsburgh

The Kings have a lot of skinny wing players who really rely on shooting. Young would give them a stronger wing who will help on defense, rebounding and give them some much needed athleticism.

24.    Portland—SG Nick Calathes, Florida

Portland has starters and potential starters at just about every position. They really don't need any more young guys on their roster. Drafting Calathes would allow them to store him overseas and bring him into the mix when he and they are ready to use him. They also could trade this pick for a veteran who would actually be able to crack the rotation.

25.    Oklahoma City—PG Darren Collison, UCLA

Collison would give them a solid backup to go with Russell Westbrook. He also has shown that he can be successful while playing with Westbrook as he did in college. Where Westbrook and Collison are about as different as point guards come and because of that I think Collison would provide value to a young, up and coming squad.

26.    Chicago—PF Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

Can you imagine a paint with Jaokim Noah and Tyler Hansbrough? Talk about energy and offensive rebounding. Hansbrough would complete a solid frontcourt rotation filled with guys who don't mind doing the dirty work (other than Tyrus Thomas). 

27.    Memphis—PF Jeff Pendegraph, Arizona State

Few players measured up as solid as Pendegraph did in Chicago. The guy has legit size to play the four and the five at the next level and had a very productive college year. The Grizzlies would be stretching to take him here, but they really need a solid power forward to play with their perimeter players. Pendegraph isn't flashy and his upside is limited but he should be a solid power forward who will do what needs to be done in the paint. 

28.    Minnesota—PG Patrick Mills, St. Mary's

After taking two wing players earlier in the draft the 'Wolves pickup the last true first-round point guard. Mills would give them an up-tempo guard who could push the second unit and potentially one day take over the reigns as the starter.

29.    LA Lakers— SF Austin Daye, Gonzaga
 
With a solid and deep rotation the Lakers are in a position where they can draft for potential. Few players in this year's draft have the potential of Daye. But he will need time to get stronger and more confident in his own game if he wants to compete at the next level. With the uncertainty of Lamar Odom's future this would also make sense as Daye is a very versatile forward.

30. Cleveland—PF Demarre Carroll, Missouri

He would bring the Cavaliers everything they had wished from Ben Wallace. Carroll would give them the strength and athleticism that they so desperately needed in the playoffs. He is far from a complete player, but he can get up and down as well as any big in the draft and he has a limitless motor. They also could look for a shooter here, depending on how they feel about last year's pick, J.J. Hickson.
Posted on: June 4, 2009 1:08 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2009 8:30 pm
 

NBA Draft Prospect: PF Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

Tyler Hansbrough: 6-9, 234, PF, SR. (University of North Carolina)

Draft Rank: #24

PF Rank: #4

Strengths:

Has a great feel for the game. Really plays well when he faces up to the hoop and can either shoot the mid-range jumper or pump fake and take the ball to the hoop. Loves to be around the rim. Uses the rim to shield off opponents and score. Has very soft hands and a great touch on his shot. Plays with amazing energy and loves to be around the basketball. Understands positioning on rebounding and attacks the ball on the boards. High b-ball IQ. Has a great knack for getting to the foul line and knows how to use his body to take a blow and still get a shot off. Dives for balls on the floor and is constantly moving on the offensive end. Has good defensive position inside the paint and knows how to use his feet to draw offensive fouls. He has good speed getting up and down the court. Sets very solid screens. Is at his best when he is running down the floor ahead of his defenders and sealing the paint -- which he does often. Has good size to play the four in the NBA. Very good free-throw shooter for a big man.

Weaknesses:

His offensive game is very robotic. Struggles when playing against bigger and more athletic players. Not a good help defender or shot blocker. Doesn't have range on his shot to extend a defense. Plays below the basket. Is not a great passer. Lacks the foot speed or the quickness to defend outside of the post. Struggles defensively on pick and rolls. 

Mental:

Tyler is mentally extremely strong. He hits big shots and has leadership qualities. He doesn't take plays off and has an incredible motor. His high b-ball IQ will allow him to be in the NBA and be effective for many years. He is very tough and doesn't shy away from contact. He usually has his head up and isn't fazed by adversity. When he gets challenged physically he rises to the occasion and steps his play up. Mentally he is one of this draft class' most prepared for challenges of the next level.

Extra Info:

-- 2008 Naismith College Player of the Year

Comparison:

Kris Humphries: 6-9, 238, PF

Would be a good fit for: Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, or Chicago Bulls

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, the college and the NBA games are significantly different. The NBA game today relies on quickness, versatility and athleticism. Hansbrough struggles in those departments. It's hard to ignore his consistent production, but people have to remember the history of the NBA Draft and that great college players don't always make great pros. Do you remember J.J. Redick, Adam Morrison, Trajan Langdon, Mike Sweetney, Sean May, Gerry McNamara, Shelden Williams, Marcus Fizer, Christian Laettner and Joe Smith (Laettner and Smith both have/had decent careers), Juan Dixon, Bobby Hurley, Khalid El-Amin, Mateen Cleaves, and Lonny Baxter? They were all dominant in college, but didn't come close to having the same impact in the pros. Unfortunately, it happens. 

I do think he will be better than Kris Humphries in the NBA. But his game is pretty similar to what Humprhies' game is, and was, in his one year at Minnesota. The main difference is that Hansbrough has proven to be a winner and that he will do whatever it takes to help his team. Obviously, Hansbrough's four years of production at UNC compared to Humphries' one is a major difference, but if Humphries had stayed for four years what do you think his production would have been? I know that some will say, well if he had stayed then maybe he would've been more ready for the NBA like Hansbrough is now. But plenty of one-and-done or high school players have had success in the NBA. The top players in this season's NBA Finals never played any college ball.

Here are the freshman year numbers, and draft combine stats, for Hansbrough and Humphries, respectively.

Name MPG PPG RBP Assists Height w/o shoes Height w/ shoes Weight Wingspan Vertical Bench Press 3/4 Sprint Lane Agility
Kris Humphries (Minnesota freshman) 34.1 21.7 10.1 0.7 6' 8.25 6' 9.5" 238 7' 0.5" 36" 22 3.2 11.33
Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina freshman) 30.4 18.9 7.8 1.3 6' 8.25 6' 9.5" 234 6' 11.5" 34" 18 3.27 11.12


Do I think Hansbrough has a role at the next level? Yes. I just don't see him as a starter. I think he will be a guy who can come in and give a team some points and offensive boards. I see him as a hustle guy, which teams really do need and value. He does so many good things on the floor  he should be an asset for any team that he goes to. But I just don't see him being dominant in the low post or being a consistent starter at the next level. I know people don't want to hear it, but you do have to look at a guy's upside and try to figure out what he can become. I don't blame Hansbrough for being in college for four years or take anything away from his potential as a result of his time in college. I have seniors Sam Young and Terrance Williams ahead of him because I think their talents translate better. Look for Hansbrough to be a contributor off the bench for whatever team he goes to.



Posted on: June 2, 2009 6:04 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2009 3:08 pm
 

NBA Draft Prospect: PG Patrick Mills, St. Mary's

Patrick Mills: 6-0, 180, PG, So. (St. Mary's)

Draft Rank: #23

PG Rank: #10

Strengths:

Lightning-quick point guard. Is at his best when he gets inside the three-point line and pulls up for a jumper or a floater. Has experience playing on the international stage against NBA players and has had success at that level. If you don't keep him in front of you he will blow right by you. Tremendous first step and blow-by speed. Uses tremendous quickness on defense to stay with his man before opposing team gets into the halfcourt set. Is a very good off-the-ball defender and uses his quickness to get deflections and steals. Breaks down a defense with a tremendous first step. Uses misdirection on passes as he fakes one way and heads the other way. While he needs to improve his outside shooting, he does have good shooting mechanics. Good free-throw shooter. Is great at pushing the ball and tremendous in transition. Very good speed with the ball in his hands. Good ball-handling skills. Understands angles and creases in a defense so that he can attack the weakest parts of a defense.

Weaknesses:

Undersized point guard. Often looks for his shot before his teammates. Can be a liability on man-to-man halfcourt defense as he doesn't have the size to stick with bigger guards. He also sometimes gambles on defense and allows his opponent to get into the paint. Needs to improve his range and consistency when shooting from the outside. His field-goal percentage is way too low for a point guard as he needs to improve his shot selection. Needs to improve his assist-to-turnover ratio. Injury problems. Settles for outside, contested shots too often. Often avoids contact when he gets into the lane, which leads to him not getting to the foul line as often as he should.

Mental:

Mills does have great leadership capabilities. He was a force on a solid St. Mary's team that clearly missed his leadership when he was injured. He is a tempo-setting guard whose speed and energy can spread to the rest of his teammates. I am concerned about how injuries will affect his play. He is at his best when he is going full speed and attacking. If he accumulates injuries he will be significantly less likely to do what he does best, and in essence wouldn't have much value in the next level. He needs to show that he has a fearless mentality and that he is not afraid of contact.

Comparison: Speedy Claxton, 5-11, 166, PG

Would be a good fit for: Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs (no first-round pick), Sacramento Kings

Conclusion:

Like the rest of the point guards in this draft, Mills is an intriguing prospect. He showed flashes of brilliance in both college and international play, but he also had his problems. The biggest thing Mills has going for him is his speed in transition. When he is jumping pass lanes or starting the fast break he is very effective. It will be important for him that he goes to a team that values transition buckets and gives him the green light to attack earlier rather than later in the shot clock.

When dissecting the numbers there are serious flaws in what Mills has done in his two years at St. Mary's. As mentioned previously, his assist-to-turnover ratio and his shooting percentage are way too low for a point guard and hardly parlay into a point guard at the next level. However, I watched a lot of his games this year and he really did what his team often needed him to do by setting the tempo at both ends. He will really have to improve his passing and shooting ability if he wants to contribute in the NBA, but I like some of the skills that he brings to the next level. His speed and defensive hound-dog mentality should allow him to be a solid, spark plug backup.

Posted on: May 29, 2009 6:27 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2009 5:06 pm
 

NBA Draft Prospect: PF Gani Lawal, GT

Gani Lawal: 6-8, 229, PF, So. (Georgia Tech)

Draft Rank: #22

PF Rank: #4

Strengths:

Meat-and-potatoes big man. Understands his role as a post player and lives in the paint. Always is around the hoop on both ends of the floor. Gets up and down the floor with ease. Never stops hustling and has a great motor for a big man. Does a great job of sealing the defender so that he can be in a position to score. Has a great build for a power forward and is in great condition. Uses his size and strength to crash the boards.

Has good athleticism. Attacks the boards with two hands and dunks with two hands. Is constantly trying to gain position on offense. Has great lift when attacking the rim. Has a decent spin move and baby hook. Double-double machine. Good elevation and athleticism for a big. Really improved his game after his freshman year. Good length.

Weaknesses:

Doesn't have great quickness. Needs to work on his shooting. Needs to work on his ball handling. Hasn't dominated or led his team to a good season. While he has a couple of moves, he is still very uncomfortable scoring with his back to the basket. Sometimes moves his body faster than his feet, causing for him to be clumsy. A poor free-throw shooter. Doesn't have face-up scoring ability. Really struggles when playing against taller guys in the post.

Mental:

Lawal has good body language and is encouraging to his teammates. I do worry about his will to win as his team was just dreadful this year and the record didn't match the talent. But in the long run I don't see him as a leader or a superstar, but instead a guy who will come in and work hard every time he is on the floor. His energy and motor are what make him a first-round pick and I see no reason as to why that effort will change when he's coming off the bench.

Extra info:

Comparison: Leon Powe, 6-8, 240, PF

Would be a good fit for: Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, or Atlanta Hawks

Conclusion:

Behind Griffin, Blair, and Hill, Lawal is the next best natural power forward. Natural is the key word there as I think guys like James Johnson and Earl Clark will spend significant minutes at the 4. But unlike those players, I see Lawal as strictly a power forward. He has the size and the strength to play that position and he doesn't try to come out and play on the perimeter like a lot of 4s do. Lawal knows that his strengths are in the paint and he plays to his strengths.

In today's NBA so many bigs come out and play on the perimeter, but there is still a premium on guys who will go into the paint to get easy baskets. Teams are always looking for tough frontcourt players who can get them offensive rebounds and easy buckets inside and Lawal will play that role at the next level.

Name
MPG    
PPG RBP Assists
Leon Powe (California fresh.) 29.8 15.1 9.5 0.7
Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech soph.) 29.6 15.1 9.5 0.6

Does he have the inside-outside skill-set that today's power forwards require? Probably not. But, Lawal will go in and mix it up down low, which is something that a lot of teams need. I really see him as a solid energy-backup big along the lines of Leon Powe. It's actually pretty crazy how similar Lawal's sophomore number are to Powe's freshman numbers. Look for him to have a similar impact on a team as Powe (when healthy) has. Look for a team in the teens to come up and grab him due to the lack of big men in this year's draft.





Posted on: May 29, 2009 2:06 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2009 3:36 pm
 

NBA Draft Prospect: PG Darren Collison, UCLA

Darren Collison: 6-1, 165, PG, Jr. (University of California, Los Angeles)

Draft Rank: #21

PG Rank: #9

Strengths:

Great floor general. As good as any point guard in the nation defensively. Loves to pressure the other team's point guard. Gets a lot of steals and uses his long arms to harass defenders. Shoots the ball above his head, which allows him to make up for his lack of height. Extremely efficient point guard who doesn't force passes or take bad shots. Very steady and consistent. Likes to drive left and pull up at the left elbow for a jumper, which he makes with ease. Tough to defend because he is deceptively quick. Runs the pick and roll very well by rubbing off his picker's hip, leaving the defense scrambling. Puts passes right where they need to be for a shooter to be able to score. Doesn't pick up his dribble and knows how to be shifty to get separation from his opponent. Understands how to control the pace of the game. Uses the hesitation move to get the defender on his hip. Very good free-throw shooter. Great basketball IQ.

Weaknesses:

Not very strong. Has college range, but I don't think he will be able to consistently knock down the NBA three. Swings his right foot into his shot which makes him take longer to get his shot off. Struggles against bigger and more physical guards. Needs to get stronger or craftier so that he can finish when taking the ball to the hoop. Doesn't have great upside.

Mental:

A great leader on the floor. When things become erratic he understands how to push or slow the pace down to what's best for his team. Likes to be the "quarterback" and point people to the right direction on the floor. From an intangible and mental standpoint Collison is right where you want him to be. He is selfless enough that he won't mind backing someone up, but is confident enough that he can start. Is willing to sacrifice his statistics for the betterment of the team. Has a great understanding of the game and a terrific basketball IQ.  
Extra info:

Would be a good fit for: Utah Jazz, New Orleans Hornets or Sacramento Kings

Comparison: Anthony Carter, 6-1, 195, PG

Conclusion:

He is probably the least flashy top-tier point guard in the draft. He won't wow you with unbelievable quickness, passing ability or creativity, but he knows how to play the game. He will have a long career due to his smarts, his defensive abilities and his understanding of how precious the basketball is. As a result, I think Collison will make a very effective backup point guard.

He is extremely efficient with the ball and knows how to lead a team, which is exactly what teams look for in a backup point guard. He may be able to start in the prime of his career, but I see him as a backup in the beginning and a backup toward the end of his career. I envision him in a Brevin Knight/Anthony Carter role for most of his career.

Posted on: May 29, 2009 1:39 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2009 3:54 pm
 

NBA Draft Prospect: SF DeMar DeRozan, USC

Demar DeRozan: 6-7, 220, SG/SF, Fr. (University of Southern California)

Draft Rank: #20

SF Rank: #5

Strengths:

Has a great body for a 2 guard. Has the quickness and strength to finish around the rim and take the contact from big guys. Plays very well without the basketball in his hand and moves well without the ball. Really runs well off of picks to create space for his jump shot. Likes to step back and shoot a fade jump shot that is virtually unstoppable when it's going in. Understands how to be successful inside the three-point line with his mid-range game. Has soft hands, which allow him to go left and right. Is aggressive on the boards and helps defensively on the glass as well. Has good explosiveness and leaping ability. Has a variety of moves and ways that he can attack the rim. Is great at slashing into the paint. Has very quick feet. Very good in transition. Knows how to use his steps wisely and to shift his feet when he is attacking on the break. Has a good understanding for spacing on the floor. Has the size and quickness to be a good defender. Should be able to play the 2 or the 3.

Weaknesses:

Doesn't have great playmaking skills. Doesn't excel when he has to put the ball on the floor and create for himself or his teammates. Needs to become a better passer when he is getting double-teamed. Needs to cut down on his turnovers and get more assists. Not a good three-point shooter. Not a good free-throw shooter. Must improve his overall perimeter skills so teams won't sag off of him. Needs to improve his ball handling skills. Didn't consistently produce when his team was counting on him to do so. 
    
Mental:

DeRozan improved as the year went on this year as he adjusted to the college game. I give him credit for adjusting and becoming a much more dominant player as the year went on. DeRozan is a tremendous athlete, but he will have to rely heavily on a strong work ethic and mental toughness at the next level. There were times this year DeRozan really disappeared and there were games in which he really didn't stand out. The lack of focus and consistency in college is a concern. When he gets to the next level it will be the first time in his career that he won't be "the man" on his team. He will need to help his team anyway it needs and adjust his game according to that team's needs. Mentally, I worry he won't be able to make that adjustment.

Comparison: Dahntay Jones, 6-6, 210, SG/SF

Would be a good fit for: Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Bobcats or Indiana Pacers

Conclusion:

Originally I had DeRozan listed as a shooting guard, but after watching more film on him I believe that he will end up being a small forward. He will be a little undersized at that position, but it fits his skill set more than what teams rely on from a shooting guard. At the end of the day, a lot of teams have interchangeable shooting guards and small forwards, so that may not really matter anyway.

DeRozan does have a lot of upside, but he has serious flaws in his game that he will need to sure up before he gets to the NBA. He does possess the size and athleticism to be an effective player and even a star player, but I think he is far away from being a starter at the next level.

The best place for DeRozan to end up would be with a rebuilding team that will give him an opportunity to grow, but also to contribute and play right away. I worry about him getting stuck behind other players on the bench and becoming erratic when he enters the game.  I believe he will definitely go in the lottery due to team needs and his star potential, but those teams really need to realize that he still has serious work to do. 





 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com