Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pre-NBA Draft Analysis – Part I: The Non-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?

Despite only 5 years of exposure to the game,
Thabeet has Big East opponents terrified inside the paint.

Credit: Yahoo! Sports


Chase Budinger [F, Arizona]
Analysis: After a somewhat up-and-down freshman campaign, Budinger has rallied his Arizona Wildcats –along with freshman phenom Jerryd Bayless— back into Pac-10 contention. In a draft packed with point guards, a smooth-shooting forward appears a potential luxury.

Will He Go
?: Ironically, several “experts” seem to believe Chase might return for his junior season. It seems a 50/50 proposition as of now.

Destination
: Might he be a suitable early replacement for Adam Morrison (Charlotte) or Chicago (trading Luol Deng perhaps)?

Roy Hibbert [C, Georgetown]
Analysis: A likely lottery pick last season, Hibbert has one major advantage: he’s 7’2”. Despite showing a few holes this season (fatigue and range), Hibbert isn’t likely to lose interest as one of the first centers, if not the first, to go off the board.

Will He Go?:
As a senior, Roy is definitively NBA-bound.


Destination:
Which market suits him best: Los Angeles (as a Clipper) or Philadelphia (tiring of Dalembert’s limitations on offense and his insane contract – thank you, Billy King)?

Hasheem Thabeet [C, Connecticut]
Analysis: A disappointment much of last season, Thabeet has a lot to do with the resurgence of the Connecticut basketball program (that was a tough “off-year”). Interestingly enough, Thabeet might be the win/loss guy on draft night who surges early or staggers to the bottom stages of the first round.

Will He Go?:
Rated between #1 and the 6-8 range of centers (look out for the international crop of shooting centers), Thabeet will have plenty of agents clamoring for him to come out as soon as he can.

Destination
: Rated below Hibbert and Lopez (at least) in my opinion, several teams need depth at center (including Philadelphia, Houston, Utah, and sadly…Seattle).

Tyler Hansbrough [PF, North Carolina]
Analysis
: If he came out last year, he wouldn’t have likely cracked the top 20 . However, the potential Naismith-award winning Tarheel might have worked his way into the lottery this season. With several people wondering if he’s simply a white-Sean May (only a banger in the ACC), Hansbrough will need to prove he can rumble in the paint and earn those free throws among the NBA bodies.

Will He Go?:
A junior, I find it hard to believe Hansbrough will stay another year. UNC may potentially be gutted with talent leaving this season if Tyler bolts.

Destination
: He’s likely going mid-to-late first round, which might be the best thing for him. Several contenders have taken the route, ala Detroit, of drafting established collegiate big men and inserting them immediately into their bench rotation. Expect the same of Western teams like Utah, San Antonio and Golden State during this draft.


Chris Lofton [SG, Tennessee]
Analysis: It’s hard to believe Lofton is anything more than a second-round reach. Now the round of international talent and late bloomers, Lofton isn’t likely to receive a ton of draft attention. Despite solid talent, Lofton is 6’2 and plays the 2-guard. His defense isn’t overly impressive and there’s no real evidence supporting a shift to point guard. It’s what makes him different from an Acie Law IV and much more of a Sean Singletary situation.

Will He Go?
: He’s a senior, but he may well need a strong Vegas League showing to make a team. It’s a shame with his talent, but his physical limitations will continue to be an issue.

Destination
: Find a spot on a contender who needs a shooter. Orlando might need a less-hyped and underpriced Redick.

Tywon Lawson [PG, North Carolina]
Analysis: The ankle issues will subside eventually; however, Lawson is a talented player at the draft’s deepest position. Names like Rose, Gordon, Mayo (combo), Collison, Augustin and Bayless (another combo guard) might be too much to overcome at only 5’11 for Lawson to crack the lottery.

Will He Go?
: Only a sophomore, Lawson might have quite a bit of interest in what teammates Ellington and Hansbrough decide.

Destination
: Just about everyone who wants a point guard will have a shot at a talented guy. However, he’s going to potentially slip into the late teens or even the 20s. Portland adds PGs by the truckload most drafts and Washington may have an Agent 0 issue looming. A nice fit for Lawson.

Next up: A pick-six collection of incoming collegiate freshmen.

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