Monday, June 25, 2007

Producing At The Next Level

This week, you'll be flooded by positional rankings at each position in the draft based on where players are expected to be drafted. In light of the impending flood, I decided to switch it up and provide positional rankings based on production at the next level.

Point Guard
1) Mike Conley Jr. - As if it ever was in doubt. Conley Jr. has the competitive edge to conquer his greatest shortcoming, his jumpshot.
2) Acie Law IV - There will be claims that he lacks the upside of Crittenton, but he can start for the Hawks, Clippers or whomever drafts him now. Law can shoot, involve his teammates and knows how to react in the clutch.
3) Javaris Crittenton - Crittenton has the goods if he can put in the work to make himself a more disciplined player. He will grow into a lesser Chauncey Billups if all goes as planned.
4) Taurean Green - Overexposure is Green's scourge, though he has played his best basketball when the game is on the line and NBA scouts have to be conscience of this trend.
5) Aaron Brooks - Brooks is a scoring point in the mold of Mo Williams and has much room for improvement as a point guard.

If He Gets the Opportunity to Excel: Ramon Sessions. While Sessions is not a nightly triple-double threat, he score the ball, distribute and rebound just as well as anyone in this draft class.


Shooting Guard
1) Nick Young - One of the best pure shooters in the draft, Young can also slash and drive with the best of them. His defense can also translate into easy buckets.
2) Rudy Fernandez - Rudy has already shown the world what he can bring to the table. While his Ginobili comparisons might be an embellishment of sorts, Fernandez is plenty talented and will fit the bill in the new NBA.
3) Marco Belinelli - Success or not, Belinelli will captivate audiences with his style of play.
4) Derrick Byars - While critics contend that Byars lacks foot speed, the SEC Player of the Year made up for it with desire and technical skill.
5) Morris Almond - The dark horse for rookie of the year plaudits, Almond will get to know what it feels like to be surrounded with actual basketball players. Once he overcomes that shock, he'll be wildly successful.

Potential for Superiority: Daequan Cook and Rodney Stuckey. There's a glut of talented shooting guards, so both of these guys can average 15 points per game and not crack this list.


Small Forward
1) Kevin Durant - Durant will be the best second-pick overall since a guy named 'Zo.
2) Jeff Green - Green's ability to contribute in multiple ways will make him a great success in the NBA.
3) Thaddeus Young - An upside machine, Young still has to develop. If he is still at the project stage by year three, then we can consider this one to be a flop.
4) Julian Wright - Don't feed into his inability to add weight. Wright's dribbling, passing and mid-range shooting make him a potential Luol Deng clone.
5) Corey Brewer - Limited at the offensive end, Brewer will make the league's all-defensive team at least twice.

Close But No Cigar: Jared Dudley. When you do the measurements, Dudley doesn't seem to measure up until the game actually starts. Ultimately, that matters most.


Power Forward
1) Al Horford - Horford - not Noah - was the leader of the two-time national championship teams and he has the body, the desire and the moves to succeed.
2) Brandan Wright - A 7'4" wingspan and a dominating game inside eight feet make Wright a shoe-in for this list in spite of his featherish frame.
3) Yi Jianlian - Yi will get every opportunity to succeed because he's marketable. Oh yeah, he's got game.
4) Al Thornton - If Al is in the right situation, he can be the best PF from this draft class. That's a gigantic IF.
5) Josh McRoberts - A defensive specialist who can gain confidence on offense with the right coach. Based on where he's being projected to go, McRoberts can develop into the force that made him the nation's top recruit.

Explicably Missing: Joakim Noah. At some point, Joakim will no longer have microphone privileges so he can learn how to not be such a baby when he gets whistled for traveling. If a top 10 pick's best compliment is that he's an energy guy, then the sky is not the limit.


Center
1) Greg Oden - He can become one of the game's best ever to play at the position if he can avoid injuries. He will not be amazing at first, but he will be a force.
2) Spencer Hawes - Spencer for Hire will be a serviceable NBA center for years to come, but if he does not continuously work on his game, he could be destined for a land called Stiffsville.
3) Aaron Gray - To be honest, I don't expect Gray to be a great center, but he'll be decent and play in the league for many years. Gray was a project when he enrolled at Pitt and he leaves as a center with a solid face-up game and a good shooting touch.

Best Name in the Draft: Kyrylo Fesenko. Sorry, Detroit. You didn't get to hide this guy until pick 57. The scouts love him and his stock has elevated to the middle of the second round.

1 comment:

Chris Clement said...

Solid work as always Pay. I enjoy the aspect this article is attempting to tackle as well.

Here's my brief thoughts:
PG Rankings
1) Conley - It just makes sense. His speed, especially after viewing Tony Parker take home a Finals MVP, is a ridiculous asset. The jumper will come. He's a born winner and LEADER.
2) I love Law IV, but wonder if he has an NBA body. But he wants the ball in his hands at all times. I respect that over anything else.
3) Crittenton could be a superstar or a nobody. But the upside is amazing.
4) Green bothers me. Plain and simple.
5) Brooks is better than most think. But he isn't a 1st-round selection, in my opinion.

SG Rankings
1) I like Young a lot, but I question his desire.
2) Fernandez is my boy and my #1 SG.
3) Belinelli might be lights out in a few years. He might be able to be a viable #3 option for a contender in 2-3 years.
4) I want Byars to be this year's Danny Granger, only going to a better team. He can start in the NBA.
5) Almond may be nothing more than a specialist. I still rate him higher than JJ.

SF
1) Durant. Duh.
2) Green. That Final Four performance, or lack thereof, truly bothered me. I like him as a role player, not a star.
3) Young as an upside machine...perfect analysis Pay.
4) Wright as a Deng-clone? I like it it's why I have him at #2 in these rankings.
5) While he may be more of a SG, Brewer would be #3 here for me. He reminds me of Josh Howard a ton.

PF
1) Horford has the body to be an Elton Brand type player. And the talent.
2) Wright worries me, as he only has a jump hook. But he also slides into the paint well and has that 7'4 wingspan. He isn't a #1 though. Not even close.
3) Yi may end up even better than Bargnani, but he still seems right in this spot...for now.
4) Thornton may be the guy who slips big time in this draft. But I also like his drive and his talent so much.
5) McRoberts, who lost to VCU, is a great fit in Jersey or Golden State.

Noah is a bum.

C
1) Oden. What an easy #1 selection. Even with Durant in the draft.
2) Hawes worries me. He's not Shawn Bradley, but he's not even Eddie Curry.
3) I hate Aaron Gray. I'm glad he's leaving Pitt. Overrated.

Best name in the draft: Bobby Brown

Great work as always Pay.