Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sneak Peak: 2008 NBA Draft

Even though all the recent draft talk has centered around the 2007 edition, there’s no reason we can’t take the tiniest look at who may end up being the elites of the 2008 draft class.

Even if it’s just a peak.

With that being said, let’s take a look at a specific selection of lottery-destined talent that could have their name called a year from now.

A pick-six collection of non-incoming collegiate freshman…

Chase Buddinger [F, Arizona]
-A guy touted by many as one of the top five incoming freshman, he seemed to fall head-first into the underachieving quagmire currently engulfing the University of Arizona. With that being said, many believe he has top 5 talent and perhaps a sophomore season away from the also-underachieving Marcus Williams will allow him the time to expand his game and bring Arizona back into national championship contention.

Roy Hibbert [C, Georgetown]
-Pulling out of the ’07 draft class relatively early, Hibbert may find things a little tougher without running mate Jeff Green in ’08. With that being said, his size [7-2, 280 lbs.] will not be forgotten in ’08. Unless an injury occurs, Hibbert should still see the lottery, perhaps as the #1 center prospect, next season.

Hasheem Thabeet [C, Connecticut]
-Let me say this: I’m extremely skeptical from the get-go. While many claim to see the next Dikembe Mutombo, I remain more than a little hesitant. Yet, like Hibbert, his size [7-3, 260 lbs] can only aid him in trying to remain in lottery contention in ‘08. Many feel the Huskies have a lot of growing up to do this year. Front and center would of their reclamation project will be Mr. Thabeet.

Tyler Hansbrough [PF, North Carolina]
-My roommate likens him to the next Mark Madsen. While I see a mid-2nd round talent here, he could easily take home ACC Player of the Year honors in 2007-08 and improve his draft stock. While sites like NBADraft.net liken him to Udonis Haslem, Hansbrough will find a more deft touch shooting the ball. While I don’t see him play one-eighth as much as Pay does, I do wonder if his paint game will ever translate into anything effective in the NBA environment. His strength, footwork, and ball fakes don’t seem like they’ll cut it in the NBA.

Chris Lofton [SG, Tennessee]
-Wisely sticking around for a junior season, headlining a promising Vols squad, Lofton should remain a 2nd-round talent next year in the draft, much the same as he was touted as this year. His doubters all say the same things: a lack of size and overall speed to play the 2-guard in the NBA. Yet, he has a chance to jump up a lot of boards by putting on some weight, improving his ballhandling [6’2 is tough for a 2-guard in today’s NBA], and continuing to hit clutch shots. Growing 3 inches would really improve his stock though.

Ty Lawson [PG, North Carolina]
-He and Darren Collison [UCLA] appear to be the two elite PGs heading into ’08 draft territory. In fact, both had to at least briefly consider entering this year’s foray. While high school names like Rose and Mayo, for now, may seem more appealing to ’08 prognosticators; due to what we’ll call a Tony Parker-esque ability to get into the paint, Lawson and Darren may surge ahead of the incoming freshman in next year’s lottery. Runs at a national title could immensely help the position of any of the 4 aforementioned PGs.

A pick-six collection of incoming collegiate freshman…

Derrick Rose [PG, Memphis]
-NBADraft.net’s #1 selection for ’08, Rose is also listed in the top three of almost every major Top 150 ranking for incoming freshman. A lottery pick if high schoolers could still declare themselves eligible, Rose should flourish in Calipari’s up-tempo system in
Memphis. Alongside potential ’08 draftees Joey Dorsey and backcourt mate Chris Douglas-Roberts, expect Rose to remain a top 5 selection all season long.

Michael Beasley [PF, Kansas State]
-Sitting pretty as the #1 recruit on Rivals.com, Beasley enters
Kansas State, sans chief-recruiter Bob Huggins, alongside the (now-injured) Bill Walker. While the team’s performance may not open too many eyes outside of the Big XII, it’s unlikely that Beasley will be forgotten when Dickie V starts spouting off at the mouth about “diaper dandies”. Beasley’s size allows him to easily fit into next year’s #1 pick; especially if the PGs and Cs who hover around him aren’t as good a fit for the top team. Either way, this guy will be a downright beast this season.

OJ Mayo [PG, USC]
-The biggest rep in years to enter college basketball, Mayo will be the talk of all of
Cali before the year is over…for better or worse. While his attitude always comes into question, his game is downright electrifying. He might look to score first as a PG, but he can make an amazing pass often look trivial. He easily has the biggest upside of any incoming collegiate freshman. While he seems the most likely of the 1-and-dones to be the draft next season, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles SoCal and Tim Floyd.

Donte Greene [PF, Syracuse]
-While a guy named Carmelo used the one-and-done at Cuse to amazing heights (remember, Cuse was in the NIT before the title in ’03 after Melo’s arrival on campus), similar heights weren’t reached by one of last year’s top recruits, Paul Harris. Nevertheless, Greene’s body [6’9, 220] has many thinking he’s a more physical Rashard Lewis. While Boeheim will undoubtedly toughen him up, it remains to be seen if Greene can break away from falling in love with shooting from the wing and potentially develop into a Chris Bosh-type over the next few years.

Eric Gordon [PG/SG, Indiana]
-Personally, I don’t seem to remember too many Hoosiers leaving early. Yet, the word on Gordon, who I admittedly am a little skeptical of, is that he may be the best pure incoming freshman that plays the point guard position. Especially when asked to shoot the rock. While next year’s draft is assuredly, at least as of now, PG-heavy…it seems hard to believe Gordon, especially with his explosive first step and crazy athleticism, will be left out of any lottery projections.

DeAndre Jordan [C, Texas A&M]
-With the Law gone in A&M (not to mention a well-received head coach), Jordan’s prospects for dominating in the Big XII still don’t seem overhyped, even for a freshman. He is a mammoth at 7’0 and has a pretty solid YouTube video out there impressing many people. With a lot of project-type centers likely coming out next year (ala Thabeet and Hibbert potentially),
Jordan may be a more solid post-man to target with an early selection in ‘08. Then again, he could be another Cedric Simmons or Mohammed Sene.

A pick-six of international talent, supposedly on their way to the US in ‘08…

Nicholas Batum
-Let’s get one thing straight: this man is my European-crush. Seriously, he seems to be everything Rudy Gay appears to be…and much more. Batum has an immense wingspan, never minds having the ball in his hands late, and even possesses credible 3-point range. Still developing overseas (in
France for Le Mans), Batum should this years Yi…but even more hyped. A European-Durant may become a popular moniker next draft season. There’s no reason this kid can’t end up being the next international player to be selected #1.

Kosta Koufos
-Okay, I cheated. He’s a freshman at Ohio State. Yet, he’s got a 7’4 wingspan and a heritage that certainly doesn’t line up with the pilgrims. Taking over the center spotlight, and position, from departed Greg Oden at Ohio State, Koufos should be one of the more interesting guys to watch in the college game this season. While he must become a lot more aggressive on defense, he may easily pass Brook Lopez as the project-center who’s upside is too good to pass up in ‘08.

Artem Zabelin
-While most of the Russian talk is about, shocker, a PG (named Alexey Shved, aka the Russian Penny), this 7-footer is the one that sparks my interests. While still a baby at 19, he may or may not be the high-riser in the late-first round that flames up the draft charts late next draft season. Of course, he could just as easily not see an NBA court, if ever, until 2010 (or later).

Danillo Gallinari
-Seen on early ’08 draft boards, ranging from the mid-to-late first round, this Italian can play multiple positions and has displayed, at least as of late, deft outside shooting. While he’s apparently been plucked as having some “growth issues” by team doctors, he also is seen as a guy who will continue to grow into his body and may soon become a near 7-footer who can dribble, drive, and shoot. Sounds like a dangerous trio to me.

Omri Casspi
-Another one of those “will he come out in ’08 guys”, Casspi used the Nike Hoops Summit in Memphis this season as an international coming out party. Having watched the game myself, Caapi looked downright dominant when attacking the hoop and proved to be a rather stealthy finisher around the basket. While he may be a little oversized at 6’9 to bring his perimeter/slashing type stile to the NBA, it’s obvious this kid has no fear of the US-game or its talent.

Boban Marjanovic
-What can I say? I love the name. He’s Serbian and 7’3 and at 18 year of age, he’s still developing physically and as a ballplayer. His buzz has been growing on DraftExpress and perhaps he could be one of those late second rounders that ends up getting quality minutes within 2 or 3 years in the NBA. Either way, if he can ditch his robotic ways, Marjanovic may become the bruising, physical European big-man many have been craving for in the NBA.

Two random wild cards, for fun if nothing else, to prophesize about…

Darrell Arthur [PF, Kansas]
-Often a forgotten man last season, Arthur may be the biggest benefactor of Julian Wright leaving early for the pros. Ironically, it may also be Brandon Rush staying that aids Arthur even more. He has an NBA-ready body with an NBA-game that’s in development. He may quickly become one of the superstars of college basketball this upcoming season that becomes a household name during his sophomore campaign.

Eric Maynor [PG, Virginia Commonwealth]
-It’s a ridiculous hometown pick, but I’m afforded a little fun after hard work. While it’s easy to doubt that a mid-major underclassman, especially a PG, might be crazy to leave after his junior campaign, Maynor may become the exception to that rule. While only a few sites, headlining would be DraftExpress, have placed him into consideration for such a move, Maynor’s clutch play down the stretch of ’07 is not likely to be forgotten. Add that to the fact that his coach, Anthony Grant, may be gone next season…and Maynor may try to sneak into the draft and develop on the bench for a year or two until he got a shot. Speaking of shots, Maynor better develop a consistent one over the summer before even considering playing in the NBA.

So there are 20 guys you may or may not see in next year’s lottery. If the first three picks of this year’s draft end up being Oden, Durant, and Brandon Wright; then the majority of ’07 prognosticators, back in 06, were dead on.

That would be especially good for the likes of Rose, Beasley, and Batum (easily the most popular top three thus far).

While there’s no specific order to be found yet, it’s clear, at least to this expert, these are a selection from the overall collection of names, of which you will be seeing in the earliest of the early selections of the 2008 NBA mock drafts

Until next time…

2 comments:

Famonic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Famonic said...

Do you think "Freshmen Phenoms" have caused many to neglect older yet wiser Basketball player ?