Saturday, May 26, 2007

Under the Radar: NBA Draft Prospects

Don’t get fooled into thinking this NBA Draft is just about Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. There’s a lot more to be offered. In fact, this may end up being one of the better drafts in recent memory (especially since last year’s selection show was so dry and dull).

While most prognosticators and TV analysts would have you believe that its guys like Corey Brewer, Al Thornton, and Thaddeus Young who are the relatively unknown gems of this draft, truth is: they aren’t fishing very deep.

Instead of settling on easy predictions, let’s take the briefest of looks into a pick-six collection of talent, ranging from as high as mid-1st round to that of undrafted-status, that could make a rather sizable impact, perhaps even if we have to wait a few years, for their future NBA teams.

1) Morris Almond [SG, Rice]
-Recently getting plenty of pub, especially from just about every Knicks-beat writer, Almond is a legit scoring-talent, in a draft lacking pure shooters from outside of the paint. While his ball-handling has come into question, he clearly fits well into the 2-spot. Often forced to carry a skilled-deficient roster, Almond could benefit sitting a year or two before stepping in as a shoot-first 2-guard. While comparisons to Michael Redd or even Ray Allen seem a little over-the-top, he’d be the perfect compliment for say a LeBron James-type team searching for a clutch shooter.

2) Ante Tomic [PF/C, Croatia]
-Rising up draft boards recently, the KK Zagreb recruit may not see NBA hardwood for another year or two. Yet, especially for an aging contender, Tomic could one day rival the likes of
Golden State’s Andres Biedrins. While still a little stiff and underdeveloped, his size and strength soon may make him a scary matchup off the bench at the 4 position.

3) Derrick Byars [SG/SF, Vanderbilt]
-Much like Danny Granger a few years before, Byars enters the draft as a touted senior in a sea of underclass prospects. While many see him as only a collegiate standout, he may be the safest bet in the mid-1st round that this draft has to offer. What’s most impressive about Byars is a much-needed duo, especially from a younger talent: he plays tough defense and plays with a unique blend of poise and stoutness. Byars is both intelligent and able to switch from the 2 to 3 spots, due to his size and strength. While he may never be an All-Star, Byars may turn out to be the type of #3 option that most teams crave come post-season time.

4) Herbert Hill [PF, Providence]
-Admittedly, I’ve been as speculative of Hill’s actual NBA-prospects as anyone. Yet, after a stirring senior-day performance against Syracuse this past season, Hill showed, even in a loss, that he could use his height and size (6’10, 245 lbs) to his advantage against steady frontline opponents. Likely to be passed over for international or underachieving talents, Hill may end up being the perfect bench big-man snapped up late in the 2nd round. Modeling a game much like
Detroit’s Jason Maxiell, Hill has the intelligence to know his limitations and get everything out of his abilities on the court.

5) Rudy Fernandez [PG, Spain]
-As big a Sergio Rodriguez fan as anyone (who is the perfect PG for Greg Oden now), Fernandez, often considered the Spanish Ginobli, to me, rates much higher than Italy’s Marco Belinelli at the 2-spot. Teams must be looking for a finesse player, but if they take a chance on Fernandez, will love his ability to force his way into the paint and work extremely well under the hoop. His balance reminds me of how guards Steve Nash and Tony Parker work the interior baseline. While he may get a little out of control at times, he could immediately become the Leandro Barbosa of several already established squads. That is tough to consider passing up.

6) Avis Wyatt [SF, Virginia State]
-A native of
Petersburg, Wyatt served as perhaps the best unknown talent in the state of Virginia. While most people mention named like Singletary, Reynolds, or even Maynor, Wyatt may be the best prospect the state has to offer in recent memory. Even at 6’10, he plays the 3, 4, and 5 positions relatively seamlessly. Before you dismiss him due to his school, remember that a guy named Ben Wallace, often considered vastly undersized and playing against lesser-talent, can out of a very similar school (Virginia Union). Hopefully, he’ll ditch his three-point shot, ala Chris Bosh, and continue to develop a sweet bank-shot, ala Tim Duncan. While weighing in at a paltry 215 lbs, Wyatt could easily fit into the mold of an elongated 3-forward, switching from perimeter to near the basket, for a variety of teams, although preferably those on the West Coast who love to run’n’gun.

Until next time...


Paymon said...

A few notes on these players ... is in love with Almond, whom they have going at 13 to New Orleans. He's a proven scorer and would benefit from that system, but I think Thaddeus Young can do more at the NBA level.

Tomic is a huge question mark. He's rising up draft boards, but available information about him is lacking. I've seen him as high as the mid-teens.

I love Byars like you love him. His 6'7" 225 frame is to die for. The Danny Granger comparison is flawless.

I was also cynical about Hill, but he's been moving up the charts. Could Hill be the guy taken as high as 29 or will he be like Louis Amundson, who went undrafted after being projected to go early in the 2nd round after solid workouts.

Not sure if Rudy Fernandez is under the radar. He pulled out of the draft last year and pretty well known due to his work with the Spanish national team.

Wyatt needs at add weight as you said, but a patient team with the right upbringing can be really happy.

Great work!!

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