With the NBA draft quickly approaching, it is time to take one last look at the prospects and make final evaluations. This report is a comprehensive study including which prospects are the best, have the most risk, have the most potential, and more.
I will start with the prospects that are the most NBA ready. These are players that have the potential to make a large impact right away; they can start or play meaningful minutes off the bench. The player that I think will make the biggest impact right away is, obviously John Wall, I'll make this quick. He is everything a team could want in a point guard. His skills are similar to that of, who won the rookie of the year award his rookie season. He is fast, sees the court well, and has elite athleticism. I can't see any reason that Wall won't win the of the Year if he stays healthy.
The next player that I see making a big impact right away is Demarcus Cousins. He has the body and strength or and NBA player which means there probably won't be as much adjustment time. While Cousins didn't put up exactly eye-popping numbers, he didn't play as many minutes as some of his teammates or other top players in the nation. He had the most rebounds per minute in NCAA division I basketball. There is some downside to Cousins, and his attitude could be a problem, but for now I see him as a high impact player right away.
The first two players on this list are projected to be top 10 players. Although the players toward the beginning of the draft are considered more important, I also want to look at a couple players who project towards the middle of the draft as well. The first of two players I think will make an immediate impact is, A guard from South Florida. He was a big time scorer for South Florida last year, even though his team wasn't playing at the level he was. In the NBA he should get more open looks since the focus of the defense won't be on him. He will see more open lanes in the NBA and he could be a great role player from the beginning. The other player on the first round bubble that I think has a chance to be effective right away is Xavier's Jordan Crawford. I first fell in love with Crawford in Xavier's double overtime loss to Kansas State in the NCAA tournament. Crawford showed that he could do it all, and score in a variety of different ways. He showed leadership, and was definitely Xavier's go to guy. There have been rumors that Crawford may not be a good first round choice because of his off the court issues, and his potential selfishness on the court. Despite these concerns there is one thing I know about Crawford, he can put the ball in the basket. If he can overcome these issues and become more mature than he has been, Crawford will have a chance to be a special player. If Crawford can get playing time, he could score a lot of points, and see a lot of success in what will hopefully be a long NBA career.
In every draft there are raw players that are potential superstars, but also could be huge busts. Sometimes more established teams, or teams with multiple picks will take a risk on a player with a lot of upside. This draft has a lot of players like this, I have already mentioned two of them Jordan Crawford and Demarcus Cousins.
Again I will look at a few players at the top of the draft that are high-risk players, and a couple towards the middle or end of the first round. A player that I find to be a high-risk player towards the top of the draft is Syracuse's Wes Johnson. Not many people would say that Johnson is high risk, but I believe there are some red flags. It looks like Johnson may not have a definite position in the NBA; Johnson has been selling himself as a wing, but when I saw him play at Syracuse it looked like he felt more comfortable in the paint. He was a great rebounder in college but at only 6-7 206 pounds (according to ESPN.com) he isn't going to be big enough to play the four at the NBA level, and probably won't rebound as well as he did in college either. Many people have compared Johnson tobut Kirilenko has 2 inches on Johnson in both height and wingspan. He also outweighs Johnson by 19 pounds. Johnson may be a better shooter than Kirilenko, I believe Kirilenko is much more valuable on defense, and has quicker hands than Johnson. Johnson played well in only one season. When he played at Syracuse there is no doubt he was good, but he didn't really attract major national attention until he played for the Orange. Also, scouts are worried about Johnson's age. He is already 22, and scouts are concerned about his long term potential. If Johnson isn't going to get much better, he will struggle in the NBA. The stakes are high when it comes to Johnson. Since he will likely be a top 5 pick, expectations are high and if he ends up being a sixth man or fifth starter it would be a little bit disappointing. I'm not suggesting Johnson is a bust waiting to happen, I am just saying that Johnson has the potential to be a bust, and isn't a sure thing as of right now.
Another potential bust towards the top of the draft is Nevada's Luke Babbitt. NBA scouts seem to be very high on Luke Babbitt but I don't know what to think. He has tested well in drills, but so didin 2002. He impressed scouts with his range and ability to run the floor, and score. The Nuggets took him with the fifth pick and he ended up being a huge bust. Just because a player performs well in workouts doesn't mean his game will translate well to the NBA. There is no doubt Babbitt could score at Nevada, but he had a good point guard in Armon Johnson and his competition was not nearly as good as anyone who played in a major conference or even the A-10 for that matter. He isn't really known for his defense, and most importantly scouts don't know what position Babbitt will play in the pros. He likely won't be strong enough to rebound the 4 position, much less defend the post. It is unlikely that Babbitt will have the quickness to play the 3, so who will he defend in the pros? Well, we don't really know. Babbitt is a talent but there are a lot of questions surrounding his ability to succeed in the NBA. It seems to me that Babbitt is too big of a risk to spend a top ten, or even a lottery pick on. Only time will tell if Babbitt can have a successful career.
The next player that I believe is a potential bust is maybe the most risky of them all, Daniel Orton. Orton averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds per game in only one season at Kentucky. He sat out almost his entire senior season in high school because of injury, and this exposes 2 different issues. First his lack of playing time will be hard to overcome when he is adjusting to the NBA, and second scouts are worried about potential durability issues. Orton has a history of injuries and this could be a big problem going forward. Orton has good skills and some good potential, but I believe the risk is just too big. Unlike the first two players, I would say that I am very confident that Orton will see limited playing time, and not adjust well to the pace of the NBA. If the last time he saw meaningful minutes consistently was his junior year of high school, I can see that being a big issue. His attitude on the court is also questionable. He has in the past, taken himself out of the game after a turnover or a bad shot. He also has problems with fouling, he has to stop going for so many fakes and move his feet. In the end there are to many questions surrounding Orton, and I just don't think we have enough information about him to know whether or not he can be a good NBA player.
The last player I would like to examine is an obvious one. There are many scouts who are skeptical of him, and although he possesses good talent and measures out well, it is an understatement to say there are a lot of unanswered questions about his game. This player is Marshall's Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside is one of the biggest question marks of this year’s draft. He is very, very close to 7 feet tall and has an absolutely ridiculous wingspan of 7 feet 7 inches. His block totals in college were impressive in college averaging 5.4 per game. Almost everything else about his game is in question. On offense he takes too many bad shots, and is an extremely selfish player. His offensive game is very raw, and needs a lot of work. On the defensive end, he floats around more than he should and needs to become a much better team defender. Whiteside did not test well at the combine in jumping ability or speed, he also needs to add more weight and be stronger. He is not really big enough at this point to play the 5 in the NBA and will need to work on that. His assist to turnover ratio is atrocious, and his 59% shooting from the free throw line needs to improve. Whiteside only played one year, and it was in conference USA, where we didn't get to see him play against elite competition. Whiteside seems a little bit like a poor man's, but Thabeet is currently playing in the developmental league. Whiteside is very raw, and is probably not going to contribute right away. He could develop in time, but I see him as a high risk, high reward player for now.
There are many players in this years draft that can be considered high risk, high reward. I have talked about some high-risk players, but now I would like to shift gears a little bit and talk about some of the players I see as "high reward." Last year there was a very controversial player towards the top of the draft. Some said he was too small, some said he didn't have a definite position, some simply weren't sold on his talent. This player was Stephen Curry who was drafted by the Warriors. Curry quickly silenced everyone who had questioned his ability to play in the pros. In every draft there are players who surprise people, and who aren't necessarily at the top of the draft but are still effective. I believe the following players can and will fit that role.
The first player I see as a potential high reward player is Georgetown's. Monroe has great potential for many reasons, but lets start with size. Monroe will probably end up at the 4 in the NBA, and he is very big for a 4. At 6-11 247 pounds (according to ESPN.com) he will have no problem dealing with power forwards in the NBA. He lacks elite athleticism, but he makes up for it in size and strength. He has a solid wingspan of 7 feet to inches and has a lot of good post moves. He can defend the post well and plays a good pick and roll game as well. He can hit shots from all over the court, and has a very high basketball IQ. One of Monroe's best qualities is that he is an excellent passer. He was good at setting up his teammates at Georgetown, and I think that skill will be utilized more effectively in the NBA than it was in college. Monroe played against very good competition in the big east and held his own with players like Hasheem Thabeet, Dejuan Blair, , , Devin Ebanks, Wesley Johnson, and Herb Pope. There is no doubt Monroe has faced elite competition in his two years in the Big East, and has proved that he is ready for the NBA. Another thing I like about Monroe is that he improved his numbers substantially from his freshman year to his sophomore year. He is a good big man, who I believe will have a very solid career. If Chad Ford's projection proves to be correct and Greg Monroe is drafted by the Utah Jazz that may be the perfect scenario for Monroe. Playing alongside in the post and getting passes from , one of the best young point guards in the NBA. Also getting to be coached by a , one of the best coaches a young player could have, it all seems to be to good to be true. Maybe it is. Monroe is going to be put right into a perfect position to succeed. Please prove me right, Mr. Monroe.
The next lottery player I see having a very successful career is Butler's Gordon Hayward. I believe that Hayward can be successful mostly because he is versatile. He can do it all. He can shoot, he can handle the ball, he can rebound, he can do almost anything you ask of him. He can play off guard, small forward, if he puts on some weight and refines his post skills, he could play the 4, but he could also play some point forward if the situation allows. Hayward is tough and has a great motor. While he did play in the Horizon league, he proved to be a great talent when competing in the NCAA tournament. He is a very valuable pick because he can fit into almost any system. Hayward has ideal measurements, and still has a lot of room to grow as a player. He plays good defense, and hustles hard. He has so much talent it just needs to be used effectively.
Playing on one of the best, most experienced teams in the nation can be a big problem for a young players draft stock. Through all this Kansas' Xavier Henry has proved to be an elite player that deserves to be taken in the lottery, if not the top ten. Henry has shown, in the workouts that he is as talented as almost any player in the draft. He has quickly been moving up Chad Ford's top 100 board and is showing scouts that he has a lot to offer. Henry has things he needs to work on, such as creating his own shot, and becoming more athletic, and simply getting more experience, but there is a lot to like about Henry. He has very deep 3 point range, there is no doubt he will be able to shoot the NBA three. Also, Henry has a perfect NBA body and he can really finish. Xavier Henry has a chance to be a great player, he may be a little bit of a risk but I think he is a good choice for any team in the mid to late lottery.
Players drafted in the second round of the NBA draft are often written off as players who are bound to fail. In reality most of them do. There are however, exceptions. NBA stars have been drafted in the second round as well as some really great rotation players. In 2000 Milwaukee took Michael Redd in the second round. In 2001 Golden State drafted Gilbert Arenas in the second round, that same year the Pistons took sharpshooting center Mehmet Okur in the second round. In 2002 Carlos Boozer was taken early in the second round. The next year both Kyle Korver and Mo Williams were taken in the second round, In 2005 it was Monta Ellis and in 2006 it was Paul Millsap, the next year Glen Davis was taken in the second round. If you can take a player in the second round that fits well into your rotation they can be successful. Only a handful of second round picks from each draft will have a chance to play meaningful minutes in their career, but the ones that are successful can really help a team significantly. Look at the Utah Jazz, their front court is made up of second round picks, Milllsap and Boozer. There are 3 players from this year's draft pool that I think have a chance to be good NBA players.
First, Kansas' Sherron Collins. Collins is a true floor general, he sees the floor well and loves to push the tempo. He has good speed and is very explosive. He needs to work on limiting turnovers but he should be able to improve on that in the NBA. He tries to be too flashy and is considered too short for the NBA. Collins has good range and could make a good NBA guard. I don't think it's likely that Collins can become a primary scoring option in the NBA, but I think eventually he could be a good role player off the bench. I think he could play a Nate Robinson like role, but as more of a pass first guard.
Next, I believe that Michigan's Manny Harris could develop into a starting off guard in time. He is not a good shooter, he was streaky in college and definitely has a lot of work to do on his shot, but other than that he looks really good. If (and it's a big if) he can work hard and become a consistant shooter I think he can Succeed in the NBA. He rebounds well, averaging 6 a game last year as a shooting guard, he is a great finisher, he is extremely athletic, and has been improving his defense every year at Michigan. Harris has a great skill set and could be a great player. Like any second round pick he is not a sure thing by any means, but he has the potential, and he has the opportunity.
The last second round pick I think could have success in the NBA is Clemson's Trevor Booker. Booker is a little bit undersized, but guys like Jason Maxiell, and Dejuan Blair have both succeeded in the NBA despite their small size. Booker is a very physical player who can defend the post well, he is a good rebounder and is improving on offense. Booker has a great motor, and that will work to his advantage. In the NBA I can see him playing a role similar to that of Maxiell with maybe a little bit better of an offensive game. Booker tested very well at the combine for his position. Booker is by no means a superstar but could develop into a solid rotation player.
Many scouts have declared this draft one of the worst ever outside of John Wall. Although this draft may not be great, there are multiple players that can make an impact both immediately, and in the future. This draft has a very thin pool of european players which is odd. Only one european player, Kevin Seraphin of France is projected in the first round. Either way, European players are, a lot of times hard to scout. On June 24, some teams will win big, (The Washington Wizards) and some will dig themselves into an even deeper hole (as usual the Minnesota Timberwolves). Time will tell if this draft can produce the kind of superstars that past drafts have, we'll just have to wait and see.