Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pre-Draft Analysis - Part II: The Freshmen

All the way back in June, I spoke briefly about the 2008 NBA Draft and several potential prospects from various walks of collegiate basketball life (freshmen, non-freshmen, and international players).

While still several months away – remember, the NBA Playoffs take FOREVER – I feel it’s time to return to the issue.

No smarter idea than to target the exact players I spoke about before. Right?

We’ve already discussed the non-freshmen, so let’s give the freshmen their due.

Not like the media hasn’t been hyping them left and right since they were high school sophomores … of course not.

You gotta wonder if it's a pro or con
to be considered the 'next' Tim Thomas???

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Michael Beasley [PF, Kansas State]
Analysis: More than willing to deliver on the pre-season hype, Beasley is a legit Naismith award winner as a freshman and a near mortal lock to go #1 in this June’s draft. Averaging 25 points and 12 rebounds per game, Beasley has already delivered a win against in-state rival Kansas and has the Wildcats ranked and tourney-dangerous.

Will he go?: There is not a doubt in my mind, regardless of what does or doesn’t happen in March Madness or a team’s particular need for a point guard. Beasley is NBA-bound and the 1st overall pick. Signed, sealed and delivered.

Destination: He could go to a surprising once-contender (Miami) or add a ton of talent to teams in desperate need (Minnesota, Seattle, Memphis).

Derrick Rose [PG, Memphis]
Analysis: If Beasley is the consensus #1 overall pick, Rose – my pre-season pick for freshman of the year - has earned the right to be considered 1B (thus, the second pick). The 6’4” point guard has stepped into a starting role from day one at Memphis and has anchored the team to a 22-0 record and the overall #1 ranking.

Will he go?: Despite his numbers being far from eye-popping (14 pts, 4 ast, 32% 3pt), Rose is obviously NBA-bound. With plenty of size, strength and shooting ability, he knows that even in an uber-talented draft class, he’s the point guard of choice right now.

Destination: Tons of teams need point guards for the future. Kevin Durant would benefit tremendously from Rose’s ability to get to the bucket and dish out to the wing for an open shot. Of course, the same can be said for countless other lottery-bound teams.

OJ Mayo [PG, USC]
Analysis: The most egomaniacal collegiate player perhaps since the days of Chris Webber, Mayo has plenty of controversy surrounding him. While USC may be underachieving, Mayo’s talent potential could net him in the top 3. However, his attitude may overcome his on-court ability and allow him to slide deeper into the lottery than even he might expect.

Will he go?: Mayo would’ve loved to come out this past draft, likely netting himself easy top-5 consideration. While holes in his game exist, he’s also shown flashes of pure brilliance at SC. He’s definitely coming out, but his attitude may shave the initial millions.

Destination: Several mocks have struggled to place Mayo in the right situation. Rather than basing his selection purely on talent, team chemistry and even potential media opportunities may matter when considering Mayo. A likely combo-guard, it’d be quite interesting to see what a team later in the lottery (i.e. Chicago, Indiana and Milwaukee) might do if Mayo is still on the board when they select.

Donte Greene [PF, Syracuse]
Analysis: At 6’11”, he reminds me far too much of former Villanova product Tim Thomas. His shot is nearly unblockable on the wing; however, he lacks any real strength or presence in the post. Unable to draw fouls at any sort of consistent rate, Green is still 2-3 years away from truly realizing his role on the court and overall potential.

Will he go?: It appears likely that Greene is leaving Syracuse, despite the need for another year of banging in the Big East (and Syracuse’s likely 2008-09 roster being STACKED). Green is going to see too many projections between picks 5 and 10. It’s difficult for wingmen to pass up such an opportunity.

Destination: Greene isn’t going to make an instant impact on your roster. However, at 6’11”, he can shoot lights out from behind the arc and may still develop a reasonably effective inside game. Teams in need of size and shooting (Clippers, Bucks and Grizzlies) will take a long hard look at Greene and some of the combo guards available.

Eric Gordon [PG/SG, Indiana]
Analysis: Potentially under the radar a bit during the pre-season hype engulfing Beasley/Rose/Mayo, don’t sleep on the incredible athleticism and overall playmaking ability of Gordon. He plays every inch of his 6’4” frame and has zero problem getting into the lane quickly and wreaking havoc on defenders. As good a 1-on-1 player in college basketball this season, several teams wouldn’t mind handling over their playmaking duties to the phenom Gordon.

Will he go?: Despite his desire to be a Hoosier, Gordon is a sure-fire top 5 pick in the upcoming draft. Likely ahead for good of Mayo, this year’s crop of the two top point-guards (Rose/Gordon) may go the way of another duo (Paul/Williams).

Destination: Several teams need point guards and will have plenty of opportunities to swipe one in the upcoming draft. If Beasley is gone for Seattle, it seems impossible they’d pass on one of the two top poing guards. D-Wade and Marion wouldn’t mind having this kid in the backcourt either. In fact, nobody would.

DeAndre Jordan [C, Texas A&M]
Analysis: Loved by countless draft sites throughout the year, it’s rare that someone 7’0”, 250 lbs. and so physically polished wouldn’t be given more national attention. Jordan has the frame to play in the middle in the NBA. While comparisons to Dwight Howard are premature, the Houston native has an incredible combination of size, leaping ability, and can run the floor extremely well. Quite the trio for a potential foundation at the center position for the next ten years.

Will he go?: Not a slam dunk to leave, I find it hard to believe Jordan’s impressive stature and physical capabilities will keep him in college much longer. Despite lacking a deft shooting touch, he offers a lot more in the physical and athleticism department than a still-developing Thabeet or a potentially stone-footed Hibbert.

Destination: If he comes out, several teams will clamor for the opportunity to pass up the flashiness of a 19-year old point guard and instead establish their future in a potentially dominant big man (let’s call it the Bynum-factor). From coast to coast (Knicks to 76ers to Sonics), a true center is something several teams can’t afford to pass up.

There are several other names of note I couldn’t get into today.

However, it’d be a mistake to sleep on names like UCLA’s Kevin Love (Spencer Hawes will hurt him unfortunately), Blake Griffin of Oklahoma, and Jerryd Bayless (Arizona).

Next up: A pick-six collection of international talent.

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