A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why Le’Bryan Nash could go top 3 or even #1 in the 2013 NBA draft

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Right now the #1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft is as up for grabs as its been for years. There is no consensus #1 pick like PF Anthony Davis, PG Kyrie Irving, PG John Wall have been in recent years. PF Nerlens Noel, SG/SF Shabazz Muhammad and PF/C Cody Zeller top the lists. Chad Ford of ESPN.com Noel 1st, Muhammad 2nd, Zeller 3rd. Draftexpress.com has Muhammad 1st, Noel 2nd and Zeller 3rd.

Nerlens’ Noel problem is that he is a very raw player offensively. I wrote about his weaknesses here. Cody Zeller is unlikely to go 1st because he isn’t a physically dominating force and has a small wingspan, which tends to hurt center prospects’ draft stock. Shabazz Muhammad is likely the frontrunner now that he’s been reinstated at UCLA. He’s a big, athletic SG/SF who plays hard and who has a nose for scoring the ball. That should translate to somewhere between an impact starter and all-star wing in the NBA.

But to me the big sleeper is SF Le’Bryan Nash. While currently projected just 25th on Chad Ford’s list and 17th on Draftexpress, his situation is unique in that he clearly had all the tools of a star, but just never put them together. He’s arguably the most physically gifted wing in the class with explosiveness, size and length. But what impresses me more is the talent he’s showing in skill and feel for the game. This is a video from last year (none of his impressive games from this year have been uploaded yet):

 

 

Watching this video it’s hard to believe he wasn’t a star last year. To go beside his physical tools, he clearly looks super smooth, craftily getting by his man off the dribble to finish at the rim and with a very nice looking post/turnaround jumper game. His jumpshot form also looks impressive.

And yet none of this showed up on the statsheet. Last year Nash averaged 13.3 pts per game, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.6 TOVs on a paltry 39.4% FG, 23.5% 3P, and .48 TS%. He gained the reputation of a knucklehead, a black hole and a losing player. Nash got called merely an athletic who had no idea how to play basketball. Yet that’s hard to believe watching what appears to be an excellent feel for the game and skill base in videos like the above, when he played well.

This brings us to this year where Nash has been one of the best players in the NCAA in his first 4 games. His statline is 19.0 pts, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.0 TOVs, on 45% FG and over .63 TS%, a stunning leap compared to last year. One reason his efficiency is so high is he’s been wrecking havoc getting to the FT line, averaging 11 FTA a game, up from 4.9 a game last year. He’s also converted on 86.4% of his FTs compared to a respectable 73.0% last year. Nash could simply be one of the many players that needed a year or more for his talent to come out.

Furthermore, his team is great. Oklahoma State is 4-0 and in their last game blew out #6 ranked North Carolina State. Helping the Cowboys is that they recruited another blue chip prospect in freshman PG/SG Marcus Smart, who’s getting buzz as a lottery pick next year himself. When an NCAA team has two lottery pick talents, that’s usually enough to win a ton of games. If he does this while putting up the elite stats he’s doing so far, this will cement Nash a star.

Le’Bryan Nash could be the #1 pick in the 2013 draft. He’s the type of prospect teams are looking to take top 3 in the draft. He has huge upside due to his physical tools and promising skill game. He screams dynamic player and talent and star upside. In a way, the appeal of taking Nash is similar to taking Shabazz Muhammad. Getting a core wing player and 20 point a game scorer is difficult. Teams will take potential stars over players they feel top out at solid players, every time. Shabazz being younger helps in comparison to Nash, but Nash could be better statistically this year if Shabazz is raw and could have a better team.

Keep your eye on Le’Bryan Nash and the Cowboys.

 

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Written by jr.

November 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm

One Response

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  1. I seriously thought this was a made up name

    Michael

    November 21, 2012 at 10:15 pm


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