Posted on: December 3, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 3:57 pm
By Matt Moore
Well, that was fun.
There are worlds of storylines coming out of college basketball's titanic clash between Kentucky and North Carolina, a 73-72 Wildcats win on the back of an Anthony Davis block. And what could have been more fitting than a block by the projected No. 1 prospect in a game which featured a legitimate eleven first-round prospects between the 2012 and 2013 draft, and potentially more? It gave NBA fans a great look at talent.
It also gave NBA personnel a great look, and they were in attendance. More than half the teams in the NBA had representatives watching this game.
So how did they do? Quick, to the grade book!
(Note: These observations are based on how their performance showed for their draft stock, not necessarily how good or bad a game they had. Example: Harrison Barnes scored 1 bucket that wasn't a three-pointer. He also showed what you wanted to see from a prospect of his ilk.)
Anthony Davis: B-
And really, Davis is only getting the B- based on that final play which showcased the biggest reason he should be the undisputed No.1 overall pick in June. Davis managed to disrupt an entry pass, then recover weakside and block the game-winning shot. As my colleague, CBSSports.com college basketball expert Jeff Gooodman asked after the game, "Who else in the country can block that shot? Nobody."
But that play was an outlier for Davis on a day where scouts also got to see the concerns about him. On the very first play, the Tar Heels posted Tyler Zeller on Davis, and that started a day where Davis' lack of body strength due to his frame was finally shown on national television. Zeller bodied Davis all day, and while Zeller only scored 14 points, he would have had more had the Wildcats not consistantly brought doubles to help Davis. Davis is young, and has yet to grow into the eight inches he sprung into last year. He needs time in the weight room. A positive development was his rebounding: Davis did a much better job securing position and keeping space.
Additionally, Davis' ball-handling, which was considered a strength thanks to his play at guard prior to the growth spurt, was off Saturday. Twice Davis attempted drives on John Henson and the play was dismantled because of Davis' handle. He attempted a three at one point, who knows why, and did not attempt to play back-to-the-basket.
On the positive side, however, Davis did force enough help on the pick and roll to open up lanes and perimter shots for teammates, and his range help defense continues to be downright terrifying. His and-one finish on a lob from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist showed his finishing ability. It wasn't Davis' best day against elite competition, but the fact remains: he is the No. 1 because no one else can do what he can do.
Harison Barnes: B+
Barnes had a prototypical Harrison Barnes game. He consistantly showed the polish that makes him a top-5 pick. The raw uneveness we saw last year is gone, replaced by a shooter (4-5 from deep) who will make you pay by finding ways to get open and making smart plays. Defensivly, Barnes was in position when he needed to be. His foul trouble disrupted excellent work he had done on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, which allowed for Kidd-Gilchrist's second half explosion.
Barnes still struggles with finishing shot that he creates, most notably a late miss inside of two minutes on a pull-up jumper. It was hero ball, which he'll likely be playing at the next level from time to time. But whereas last year he struggled with finding a quality shot on his own, on Saturday he created those looks, he just didn't knock all of them down. Barnes is not going to be a multi-faceted player, and isn't a playmaker, but the polish and range is more than enough to be considered an elite prospect. We're still waiting to see if he evolves into a complete threat versus being a complete player.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: A+
To start the second half, MKG scored seven points and assisted on a lob to Davis for an and-one. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, 4 offensive, with a block and a steal. So yeah, he had a pretty good day. Kidd-Gilchrist is setting himself up as the abject steal of the top ten. The secret lies in his weakness, which is the only reason he will not be the No. 1 or No. 2 pick.
Kidd-Gilchrist's shot mechanics are all kinds of funky. He has trouble spotting up and there's a hitch at his elbow. He needs extensive work to better his jumper so that defenders can't give him room. He also has trouble with defenders who have good ball denial, as Barnes, John Henson, and P.J. Hairston all gave him trouble.
But when he gets loose... Wow. He had several insid moves in traffic to drop jaws and his finish on offensive rebounds was a difference maker.
Defensively is where he has the most potential. Against North Carolina he did an excellent job when matched up on Barnes. Against UNC he only got caught under screens twice and out of position twice that I saw, not bad for a freshman. He was aggressive in shot defense as well. MKG is the biggest winner of the day.
Terrence Jones: A
Best and worst, as always, with Terrence Jones. Jones had a sequence in which he made consecutive blocks to shut down a UNC possession only to watch the loose ball wind up in Harrison (swish) Barnes' hands. He attacked down low.
But then there's the perimeter shooting. I've made the Josh Smith mental comparison to Jones before, and this game re-enforced it. He hit a three... and wound up shooting five. Jones too often considers himself a perimeter threat instead of focusing on his ability to muscle and score inside. Defensively, he's got everything you want in a prospect, and he's a physical beast after another year. But that obsession with the perimeter continues, and someone will have to work it out of him eventually for him to be successful.
But Jones was still a huge plus for the Cats, and his work on the defensive side continues to impress. His first half was excellent.
John Henson: B+
Henson was given a series of tough matchups and excelled. His worst moment came on a pump-fake up-and-under from the left block resulting in an air-ball layup. But other than that he showed a surprisingly well-rounded offense.
Henson's length is a huge advantage, but the fact that his mid-range shot has come such a long way is a boon for his draft stock. He was limited in attacking at the basket thanks to Davis' length, but made up for it at the other end with three blocks. Henson is a likely top ten pick, based on his combination of size and savvy. His degree of polish helps as well.
Henson's weak point defensively Saturday was on weakside rotations. It's not a skill that's vital in most drafts since college players don't know how to play NBA defense. But in this draft it's crucial, and Henson got caught drifting several times Saturday.
Tyler Zeller: B
If the Tar Heels weren't en fuego from outside, Zeller may have wound up with more than fourteen points. As it was, he impressed with his ability to body the lengthy Davis back into the Kentucky coal mines. If he had a more explosive finish he could have really dominated the contest. But Zeller was also more efficient and kept up his expected level of activity. Zeller projects in the back half of the first round. But Zeller showed some of the skills Saturday that make him a likely long-term pro. He passes well out of the double and has enough touch to score when left open. He's never going to be a franchise player but he's likely to be a guy who can help your team win. Defensively, there's still a lot to be desired.
Kendall Marshall: A
Marshall doesn't have the athleticism. We knew that coming in. But what he does have is the ability to be efficient, to create, and to play within himself. Three turnovers were mostly on account of Kentucky's length, and his 2-4 shooting from deep was part of the Tar Heels' perimeter assault. Eight assists will also stick out in a game dominated by inside-out play.
Marquis Teague: C+
Teague blew the final possession, only to be saved by Davis, and it was coach John Calipari's decision to move Doron Lamb to point that helped steady the ship. On the plus side, his turnovers were down to only one after a rash of hem early this season, and he still has exceptional handle and speed. Teague continues to be the kind of player that right now is not a lottery pick, but you can easily see how he will be by season's end.
Doron Lamb: B+
There are questions as to whether Lamb is a first-rounder. He's not a great playmaker as his 2-4 assist-turnover ratio suggests. But he is an exceptional shooter, as he showed today, especially coming off the curl on the catch-and-shoot. He makes big shots consistently, and has enough speed and ability in the half court, you have to think someone will bite on yet another of Calipari's point guards.
P.J. Hairston: B+
Battling an injury, Hairston played just 14 minutes. But in that stretch he shot 3-4 from the arc and played lock-up defense on MKG. Hairston looks like a quality lottery pick, regardless of whether he jumps this season or next.
James McAdoo: B
McAdoo showed everything Saturday. He's tough. He's agile. He finishes. He's got an NBA-ready frame. He got very little time Saturday with all the other big names, but in 2013, he's going to be a machine. McAdoo has excellent court awareness. He shows all the raw signs you attribute to such players, but even in limited minutes, he looks like a big name to look for.
RELATED: Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com with a UNC-UK game wrap.
Posted on: November 22, 2011 11:46 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 2:27 pm
The Draftbook is a collection of notes on prospects from our evaluation of players. Contributors come from all across CBSSports.com and are noted at the end of all notes. Notes on each player may be from multiple contributors.
[University of Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis has emerged as the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft owing to his unique combination of size, length, instincts, skill level and finesse. His ability to block shots as a one-on-one post defense and help defender are his calling card. He can close down passing and driving lanes, step out to defend the high post and switch onto perimeter players if necessary without getting immediately exposed.
Davis has regularly drawn comparison to Marcus Camby thanks to his shot-blocking and rebounding abilities. He will need to improve his strength – both upper and lower body – to become a Camby-esque rebounder at the next level, but he keeps plays alive and taps balls out relying on his wingspan alone.
Tall and long enough to eventually play center in the NBA, Davis nonetheless freely moves around the perimeter, is comfortable turning to face the basket and has enough feel to develop a mid-range game. There’s a very real possibility that he turns into one of the best high screen-and-roll threats in the NBA. Davis has the size and footwork to set a worthwhile screen, the grace to roll quickly to the basket or fade to a spot, the hands to receive the pass and the length and leaping ability to finish well above the rim. He also could become an excellent high-post player with the skill to face the hoop and either use a dribble to collapse the defense or feed a more traditional low-post scorer with an entry pass.
Davis isn’t ready to be a franchise-changing player straight out of the gate but his learning curve won’t be that steep. He’s far more polish than project and should be in the All-Star discussion within four seasons assuming he continues to fill out.] - Ben Golliver
Sullinger is crafty at sealing his man to establish position for an entry pass or, if possible, an over-the-top lob. He doesn’t require possession after possession of isolation opportunities, moving off the ball to create scoring chances and relentlessly crashing the offensive boards to keep plays alive or to scrounge out garbage points.
His weight loss is most noticeable on the defensive end. During Monday’s game against North Florida, Sullinger denied an entry pass in the post, stepped out to hedge on a high screen-and-roll, recovered and called out a defensive rotation to ensure the ball couldn’t be rotated, and then returned back to his original man as the clock wound down, boxing him cleanly for the defensive rebound. His quickness and ease in getting from the paint to the arc to the paint in rarely seen in someone his size.
Sullinger – who is listed at 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 -- will be questioned about his height every day from now until he has the chance to prove he can score against NBA defenders. Until then, he will continue to be arguably the biggest force in college hoops.]- Ben Golliver
[Duke freshman Austin Rivers is another in a long line of polarizing score-first guards who need the ball to be at their best but lag behind as natural play-makers. In addition to good size – 6-foot-4, 195 pounds – Rivers has excellent burst off the dribble, comfort going both left and right, a trusty crossover going either direction and NBA range on his jumper. Put that together and he can break down a defense from the top or the wing in fairly rapid fashion. His bread-and-butter right now is getting all the way to the rim to finish, something he will be doing with less frequency at the next level. Still, he’s not afraid to pull up or toss up a floater, and he moves with sufficient control that most of his attempts are fairly high percentage looks.
He gets into trouble when he starts to force things. He’s prone to forcing up shots in traffic, making inconsistent reads of the team defense facing him and missing open teammates on the block or on the perimeter. It’s clear he has the green light with the ball in his hands, but he can become an efficiency drag right now. If his shot isn’t falling or the ball isn’t in his hands, he drifts; a vast majority of his offense and opportunities are created off the dribble.
Defensively, he’s best suited to guarding NBA two guards and combo guards given his height and length even if he’s a bit shorter than a conventional NBA two. His generally mentality is head, as you would expect from a coach’s son, but he can range from intensely competitive when things are going well to a half-touch out of control when they aren’t.] - Ben Golliver
A lefty, Jones rarely goes right whether he’s facing up off the dribble or backing down a smaller defender in the post. He’s quick, powerful and smooth when creating his own face-up offense, drawing comparisons to Lamar Odom, but his lack of range and preference for settling for easier shots rather than working for quality looks limits his utility to some degree.
Jones isn’t afraid to scrap under the basket and he will be an effective rebounder on both ends at the NBA level. His motor on defense is very good and he is a high-pressure defender both in the post and on the perimeter, racking up blocks and deflections. Right now, he’s equally prone to producing absurd displays of athleticism and making knucklehead decisions.] - Ben Golliver
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:52 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 6:22 pm
By Matt Moore
The 2012 NBA Draft could very well be the most exciting draft since 2003. For starters, it likely could be the first NBA event since the 2011 Draft. It could be a random lottery. It could be weighted. There are a number of interesting variables, and that's before we get to the player pool.
With so many players backing out of the draft last season due to the NBA lockout, this class looks to be one of the most dominant classes in recent history. It would be one thing if it was just those returning players, though, but the freshmen also make up a significant upgrade over the past few years. NBA executives are licking their chops at a chance to get a hold of some of this talent, you know, when they have a sport for them to play in.
So to get you ready for the 2012 NBA Draft, consider this your Fall Primer as college basketball gets underway.
If the 2011-2012 NBA season is lost, there are only a handful of ways the draft can go. Each has dramatic ramifications and will impact the careers of hundreds of players when factoring free agents and current players on rosters. Here are the options.
1. No draft: If the two sides can't reach a settlement by late June when the draft is to be held, it's conceivable there would simply be no draft. This is a nightmare scenario as not only are we deprived of the dulcet tones of New York fans randomly jeering and heckling the commissioner, but guys that are ready to make the jump have to risk another year of injury in college. There would be an upside, obviously, with next year being an even bigger class as the studs of this class get another year to season. But it would also set franchises back to not have that draft class at all, especially if they're rebuilding.
2. Take last year's lottery numbers and re-draw: This is obviously the favorite of the lottery teams, particularly those teams in most need of talent, teams like Cleveland, Minnesota (this protects their pick from Boston), and Toronto. Thing is, given that there's no way to tell what the impact of the last draft would have been on the season, the fight from other teams is going to be seen as legitimate. Who knows what Kyrie Irving could have done for the Cavs? What if Derrick Williams is a bonafide star? This helps the teams that need it the most (unless they've traded their pick), and since it would still be a lottery, would still leave things open for chance (can you imagine if Houston, barely missing the playoffs in 2011, managed to snag Davis, Barnes, or Sullinger?).
The biggest reason this won't happen is that playoff and late-lottery GMs know the value of this draft. And they want a shot at it. Because rejecting this option opens the way for...
3. Equal-30-team lottery: Imagine you're the Lakers. The sun is setting on the run you had with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Bryant is still very much a viable star, but the overall makeup of the team is shifting, and needs to be built around Andrew Bynum, in all his flagrant-fouling glory. It looks like a hard road ahead. Until you land the No. 1 overall draft pick, allowing you trade Pau Gasol and still have Bryant, Bynum, and now either Anthony Davis, Jared Sullinger, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or Andre Drummond, should you go for the twin-towers approach.
And the rest of the league shivered in their sleeping bags.
This idea is going to be pushed by the elite teams, who are going to argue it's the only fair way to go about it, because of the number of unknowns losing a season presents. Boston could find the answer to what comes after the Big 3. The Bulls could land the second star Derrick Rose needs. Good teams could become great. Great teams could become elite. The ramifications are staggering.
One team that doesn't improve in this situation? Miami. Cleveland has the option to swap picks in 2012 with the Heat, which would be pretty much the funniest thing ever if it's the Heat's pick in exchange for LeBron James that gives Cleveland the superstar of the future.
This scenario results in mass chaos beyond all reason. Which is why the most-logical scenario is...
4. A three-to-five-year-weighted lottery: In this scenario modeled after what the NHL chose when it locked out for an entire season, teams are weighted based off their win-loss records over the past three-to-five years, depending on what the league opts for. The benefits are obvious. This rewards teams that have struggled over more than just last season and actually rewards the teams that have been historically bad.
One team that would be royally damaged by this process is Cleveland. The Cavs would suffer based on the playoff success back when they had LeBron James and last season's epic disaster wouldn't be enough to offset it. On the other hand, teams like the Timberwolves, Kings, and potentially even Grizzlies would benefit a great deal from such an arrangement. Though it would be unfortunate, most likely, for Cavs fans, it does make the most sense, to the point you wonder why each draft isn't treated like this. It's a compromise based on both the elite and basement teams' desire to nab the talent in this class, and if we lose a season, it's the most likely scenario.
The Kentucky Kid/Freakshow
Harrison Barnes may be the most complete player in the country. Jared Sullinger may be the most polished player in the country. Terrence Jones is a miniature beast. But the top of the draft? It's still kids, it's still freshmen, it's still Calipari, it's still Kentucky.
Anthony Davis has already endeared himself to rebuilding teams' fans all across the non-existent league. With a 7-4 wingspan he grew into after years of playing guard, Davis is able to move seamlessly from one end of the floor. He's active on defense and that wingspan allows him to block nearly anything. His offensive repertoire still raw as he learns to grow into his body, but off the pick and roll, he's been tremendous. Davis is the kind of raw, athletic talent that scouts and GMs drool over, and he's got the ability to back it up.
Davis is considered the No.1 draft pick right now in the eyes of NBA personnel, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com
It's one thing to have the wingspan and athleticism that Davis has, but he's shown an early willingness to commit on the defensive end that few prospects do. The words "JaVale McGee" have been used, and not in the usual negative way, either. He's been a swat machine, with a 17.11 block percentage, which is ridiculous.
He's the consensus No. 1 right now. He'll need to work on his offensive repertoire to cement his position, but as it stands, Davis looks like a superb No. 1 overall.
The Sullinger-Barnes Circus
Harrison Barnes was a potential No. 1 pick before last season started. But a slump to start the year put a damper on his prospect status. He recovered extremely well throughout the remainder of the year, and would have been a top-3 pick had he not decided to return to North Carolina.
Jared Sullinger, on the other hand, continues to rack up points as the "experienced" player of the draft, and one of the most dedicated to improving his game. Sullinger keeps losing weight, understanding that at the pro-level, his humongous hindquarters won't help him in establishing post position as easily and that he'll need to be a svelt combo-forward to get minutes. It's the kind of self-awareness scouts rarely see and often covet.
The draft is always a youngest-man game, with teams wanting to oversee as much of the players' development as they can. But Barnes and Sullinger will be vying in the top five for which has the most impact as the more "polished" or "complete" product. Sullinger represents the more "polished" aspect with comparisons being drawn of Zach Randolph and Brandon Bass, while Barnes is the more highly touted prospect, and is considered the most "complete" player in the draft. If Davis is the wunderkind who you can't wait to see what he becomes, Barnes is the most "OK, I know where that guy fits right away" player at the top of the board.
When North Carolina faces Kentucky in Lexington on December 3rd, there will be ten legitimate prospects on the floor. Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, and Marquis Teague for Kentucky, Barnes, John Henson, James McAdoo, Tyler Zeller, and Kendall Marshall for UNC. That game basically is the draft combine.
But Baylor with Perry Jones and Quincy Miller will face Thomas Robinson and KU, as well as Myck Kabongo and Texas and LeBryan Nash and Oklahoma State. There are a number of matchups this year pitting top talent against top talent, the perks of having so many quality returning players.
More unanswered questions than usual
With a draft as exciting as this one, the questions that abound have more impact than the usual amount of unknown quantities in any pool of prospects.
Is Andre Drummond too raw to be a lottery pick this year?
Is LeBryan Nash a headcase?
How much of Thomas Robinson's aggression and explosiveness will translate when he's been listed as small as 6-8? (NOTE: A Nike camp measurement from this past summer listed him at 6-10 with a healthy wingspan of 7-1.)
What position is Terrence Jones going to play in the NBA and more importantly, did Josh Smith clone his brain and insert it into him?
Is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist actually the best prospect on Kentucky?
Will Austin Rivers be ready to make the leap when he has such a steep hill to climb in terms of point guard skill?
We'll be tracking these questions and many more throughout the college basketball season as part of our draft coverage. There's no NBA at the moment. But the next generation of players is ready to put on quite a show.