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Evaluating the Andrew Wiggins and Paul George comparison

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Although as I predicted going into the year Andrew Wiggins has not been as exemplary a prospect as expected, he is still in the mix for the 1st or 2nd pick.

One of the players Wiggins is compared to is Paul George, who has become one of the superstars in the NBA.

Is a Paul George and Andrew Wiggins comparison justified?

First, what both George and Wiggins share is excellent lateral mobility. This has helped George become one of the best wing defenders in the league, while Wiggins is expected to become a great defender in the NBA.

Like George, Wiggins is not as explosive attacking off the dribble as his side to side athleticism. Part of this is flawed ball-handling skills for both players, in George’s case an adequate first step more than elite. Wiggins may have a better first step, but I do not see Dwyane Wade in that area either.

So this combination of lateral athleticism, forward athleticism and ballhandling, draws George comparisons. However, there are other strengths I see in George I don’t see as strongly in Wiggins:

To start, George is a taller, longer player than Wiggins is and his strength level has filled out nicely. Wiggins remains skinny, albeit he has time to build his strength, or even grow taller like George did after his draft.

More importantly, George has become a terrific shooter for a small forward. He hits 37.1% of his 3s on 6.3 attempts a game this season, with an 87.0% FT. He has also excelled as a midrange jumpshooter this year.

How does college Wiggins compare to college George as a shooter? As a freshman George hit 44.7% from 3 on 4.1 attempts a game, but only 69.7% from the FT line. As a sophomore his 3P% dropped to 35.3%, but the other indicators greatly improved. His 3 point attempts per game jumped to 5.8 and his FT% 90.9%. George was known as a slick shooting prospect coming out of Fresno St.

Wiggins this season is 34.5% from 3 on 3.6 attempts a game and 76.5% from the FT line. These numbers are perfectly respectable, especially compared to freshman George. But one has to be careful assuming that just because X became a great shooter after his freshman season, it doesn’t mean Y will. What Wiggins 3P%, 3 point attempts volume and FT% all tell me is he has the chance to be a great shooter, but he also has the chance to not be much of a 3 point shooter at all.

But perhaps the biggest difference is Paul George is one of the most fluid players in the NBA, with a truly exceptional feel for the game. Everything George does is controlled, smooth and at an extra gear of craftiness offensively than his opponent. These instincts are also as big a reason as his physical tools for his defensive excellence. Feel for the Game is where I feel misrated Wiggins most coming into the season. I do not see the special fluidity or control a player like George shows.

Personally, the philosophy that has driven most of my draft analysis, is the theory that 2/3s of talent level isn’t physical tools. Paul George is a player who still looks impressive in the non physical 2/3s, due to his shooting skill and feel for the game. Without any physical advantages he may still be Mike Miller-like. When I look at Andrew Wiggins I am not as impressed in the non physical tools 2/3s of the game.

And in addition, in the 1/3 of physical tools, I wouldn’t call him a transcendent force either. I do not see him as his position’s equivalent to college Andre Drummond, John Wall, or Blake Griffin, for example. For a player who’s vertical leaping skills have been so lauded, he’s been surprisingly tame exploding around the rim. Nor has his speed off the dribble blown away the NCAA. At some point one has to ask whether his reputation as a few times a generation athletic force, is built on past reputation or present evidence. Furthermore what many of the most physically gifted prospects lately such as the before-mentioned Drummond or Wall had, is uniquely bulky body strength for their position for their explosiveness, which Wiggins is a less special physical force without. Note that I rate strength as no less important than height/wingspan, whereas the media is typically far more skeptical of prospects who lack the latter. Wiggins is a good physical talent, but good will not be enough if his skill level and feel for the game remain as underwhelming as it looks.

Written by jr.

March 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Rating Giannis Antetokounmpo’s talent level (+Thoughts on the Anthony Bennett Hindenburg disaster)

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In a rookie class where most players have fallen between mediocre and poor production, Giannis Antetokounmpo is providing some of the most optimism. Many are now saying they’d take Giannis 1st in the draft, or believe he has the most potential.

How does my talent grading system rate “The Greek Freak”?

In my Physical impact (Athleticism, ballhandling, size) talent category Giannis rates well. Admittedly I rated him too low in this category before the draft, mostly due to lack of quality footage of him outside of a televised Greek all-star game. Giannis has been more athletically explosive and fast than I graded at the time, which in addition to gifted ballhandling skills gives him slashing upside offensively. He is also extremely long for a small forward having even grown a few inches since the draft. It is possible his growth caused the extra athletic explosiveness he is showing now, perhaps he is able to take longer strides or the muscles in his legs were altered. While I’m split on how to rate hand size as importance, Giannis’ are so abnormally big it becomes hard to ignore. These large hands should help him rebound and steal the ball.

Giannis also rates strongly in my Feel for the Game talent category. He’s a very fluid, natural player and has shown signs of playing in control offensively already, in addition to defensive anticipation.

Where Giannis rates weakest is in my Skill Impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent category. He is hitting a mediocre 31.4% from the 3 point line and making 0.6 3s per 36 minutes, in addition to an average 72.9% from the FT line. He was not known as a shooter or perimeter scorer coming into the league. He has the height to be a post player but not the strength yet. Giannis is young enough to improve his finesse game, however right now it does not appear to be any sort of strength for him.

Here are my grades for Giannis based on these ratings:

11: Transcendent, 10: Incredible 9: Elite, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Decent, 5: Average, 4: Lacking, 3: Weak, 2: Very poor, 1: Awful

What the overall grades mean:

25+: Perennial all-star talent, 23-24: Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent, 19-22: Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18: Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent, 14-16: Rotation player talent, 12-13: Deep bench to rotation player talent, 11 or lower: Deep bench player talent

Giannis grades:

Physical impact (Athleticism, Ballhandling, Size) talent grade: 8

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

With the adjustment I used at the time of the 2013 draft (giving a slightly higher weighting to feel for the game, then physical impact, then skill impact in that order, due to descending level of how static/easy to predict I feel each talent category is), Giannis’ score would have ranked 5th in my talent rankings tied with Victor Oladipo and behind Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Kenny Kadji, Dennis Schroeder. But close enough to the non-Bennett prospects to make it a near wash for 2nd. Like Oladipo, Giannis has sky high potential in the areas of attacking the basket and defense, but his upside may have a ceiling if he does not become more skilled on the perimeter. (On that note, for the same lack of footage reasons as Giannis I have a different rating of Schroeder than I did before the draft. Schroeder’s shooting has been worse than I thought, but his feel for the game better – the difference ends up a wash. I now see him as having the same strengths and weaknesses as Giannis and Oladipo, with elite physical tools and feel for the game for his position but a huge question mark as a perimeter skill player)

Other players I would compare Giannis to include Kawhi Leonard, Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala. All of whom like Giannis have impressive size and athleticism and great feel for the game, but are not truly natural perimeter scorers and finesse players. Some have compared Giannis to Paul George and Kevin Durant because of his physical tools, but George and Durant showed standout shooting talent in college and early in their careers. For Giannis to have similar upside he’d need to change the face of his shooting/skill game entirely. Whether a player can develop this much is up to interpretation, but personally I consider it quite unlikely.

I consider it defendable to take Giannis before all the other 2013 prospects if given teh choice, depending on the confidence one has in developing his skills and with the understandable apprehension about Anthony Bennett’s play so far. How do I feel about Bennett’s epic disaster of a rookie season? From a talent grading perspective I haven’t seen any reasons to make a major change. He is not hitting his perimeter shots, but taking them with such frequency, that one has to believe he makes them enough in practice (where he reportedly plays great) for the Cavs to believe they’ll start going in. Other than that he has the same combination of athleticism, strength, ballhandling and fluidity, that when added to perimeter skills, are the tools of a star. I consider the two ways for a player to be a star talent is to be above average in all 3 of my physical impact (Athleticism, ballhandling, size), skill impact (Shoot, post, pass), and feel for the game categories, or to have incredible/transcendent ability in at least one to make up for average or worse talent in another. For example Lamarcus Aldridge and James Harden are two stars who are above average in all three of my categories, while Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook have a combination of transcendent talents (Love’s feel for the game/skill impact, Westbrook’s physical impact) and no more than average ones (Love’s physical impact, Westbrook’s feel for the game). In this class I see Bennett as easily the best example of an “above average in all three” prospect, while my next highest prospects have holes. Schroeder, Oladipo, Giannis have everything but shooting, Olynyk and Kadji have average at best physical talents. Nobody is transcendent in a category based on what I can see, the closest are Nerlens Noel physically and Otto Porter’s feel for the game but Noel’s weak skill level/feel for the game and Porter’s weak athleticism is enough that I don’t see them as likely stars.

The concern with Bennett isn’t talent, it’s reaching his talent. It’s conceivable, even if a stretch, that Bennett ends up with a “broken confidence” complex that does to his career what Greg Oden’s knees did to his. Now there’s been so little prospects where confidence has been a long term problem after they settle into the league, that it’s hard to treat it as a major concern. But most prospects weren’t taken with the pressure of a #1 pick either. There’s also Bennett’s physical conditioning which wasn’t great even at UNLV and his shoulder surgery threw it way off, but with no bad words about his work ethic, I suspect that will get better by next season.. Overall, I’d say the odds are in favor of Bennett eventually hitting or nearing his talent level whatever it is, eventually. Whether it happens on the Cavaliers or not. I understand why some would choose otherwise, but because of the difference between a star and a great starter, I still wouldn’t blink taking Bennett before the other 2013 prospects available.

Written by jr.

January 4, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Figuring out who goes #1 in the 2013 NBA Draft

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Fittingly in a year without a dominant #1, the #1 pick in the NBA Draft is as open for grabs as it’s been since 2006, the Andrea Bargnani year.

I’d narrow down the candidates to these 9: PG Marcus Smart, SG Ben McLemore, SG Victor Oladipo, SF Otto Porter, SG/SF Shabazz Muhammad, PF Nerlens Noel, PF Anthony Bennett, PF/C Cody Zeller, C Alex Len. That makes all the prospects in the conversation for a top 5 pick, making it near impossible one of them isn’t the top pick.

Here’s my ranking from least likely to most likely of this group:

The longshots

9. PF/C Cody Zeller – Likely to carry around a “limited upside!” label around, as ever prospect with non-dominant physical tools does. The combine won’t be a good day for him, with his short arms. He needs a huge tournament run and the right team to be picking 1st. Washington is a fit because they won’t be drafting guard, limiting their options at 1st – Cody also would add to their professionalism and win-now focus lately. New Orleans grabbing him to pair with Anthony Davis is also conceivable.

8. SG/SF Shabazz Muhammad – Not great explosiveness at the 3 and short for the position, will likely doom him. Unlikely to get a big boost from the tournament or workouts/the combine. Best chance is if a team who specifically searching for a scorer gets 1st overall – such as Detroit, Minnesota or Phoenix

7. SF Otto Porter – Like Shabazz, without dominant athleticism is likely to be labeled a lower upside player by the pundits. The biggest thing going for him is team need, as with Washington, New Orleans, Detroit, and Phoenix’s need for a franchise SF, he’d fit like a glove. Washington is the team to watch, as SF overwhelmingly is the spot they need to improve.

Fringe contenders

6. C Alex Len – Not playing in the tournament will hurt, but he makes the list on merits of being the highest ranked true C prospect. Cs have gotten so much love historically in the draft, that a team falling in love with filling that position, can’t be ruled out. Washington again is a possibility once guards are ruled out, while he’d also compliment New Orleans’ needs.

5. PF Anthony Bennett – Bennett may need a big tournament run by UNLV to get in the mix. I have a hunch he’s the type of player a team could be in love with – which is all it takes to go 1st. Charlotte is an excellent fit because of their offensive and frontcourt needs. He’s a big candidate for Washington with the liklihood they take a SF, PF or C, slimming down their choices. Sacramento may be interested in a blue chip PF after trading Thomas Robinson. If Toronto jumps to 1st, he’d also be a favorite with the financial incentive of having a Canadian star prospect.

4. PF Nerlens Noel – Hard for me to get behind Noel landing at 1st with his ACL injury. I figure the impatience and not seeing him in the workout stage, will cost him more than long term risk of his injury. Noel’s lack of offense may have costed him the 1st pick if not for his ACL anyways. Cleveland is the team to watch for Noel, as hoopsanalyst.com – the draft metrics site, who’s numbers ranked Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson 2nd in their draft years – has Noel as overwhelmingly the guy in this draft. Charlotte and Orlando are other teams with the patience to pick Noel. Noel playing beside Demarcus Cousins in Sacramento would be a great fit for him if they had the patience to take him. Toronto is so likely to draft a PF with the top pick, that he becomes a favorite.

The favorites

3. SG Ben McLemore – With McLemore the question is, will teams believe in him as a slasher enough to see him as having star upside? Or will his jumpshot orientated game, give him the label of good, but probably not great. But the biggest reason McLemore is 3rd, is I don’t see the workout stage going as well for him as the top 2 players. McLemore would be the favorite for teams that need a scorer, like Detroit, Minnesota, Phoenix. The best fit of all is likely Charlotte, who need a scorer/shooter beside Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker. Sacramento has enough perimeter shot takers, but could have interest.

2. SG Victor Oladipo – I see teams believing Oladipo has star potential, because with his  elite slashing and elite two way instincts, he just needs a consistent shooting game to round it out. Needing shooting is a great spot for a prospect to be, as it’s usually assumed a player can develop strongly in that area. Especially considering Oladipo is over 44% from the 3pt line this year, even if nobody entirely believes in the validity of that number, it proves the base is there for a great shooting game in the pros. And with a great perimeter shooting game, Oladipo’s upside would be nearly unlimited. Oladipo is also likely to do great in the workout stage, which favors players with “110%” motors who try to kill the prospects they’re matched up with. He also could get huge publicity from the tournament. I look for Cleveland, Charlotte, Orlando, Phoenix, Detroit, Sacramento to have heavy interest in Oladipo’s upside and fit on a winning team. The biggest thing holding me from putting him 1st, is he’ll be a 21 year old Junior by the draft, compared to the top ranked player’s 19 year old freshman status. Freshman and sophmores get a huge edge in the draft process compared to juniors and seniors, all other things equal, most of the time.

1. PG Marcus Smart – Like Oladipo he’s likely to get labeled a star upside player, because with his explosiveness, size and IQ, he’s just lacking the outside shot to complete his game. That he’s young will play well for him, in regards to whether that shooting should be expected to added. Smart also will likely compete extremely hard in the workouts, helping him gain buzz as a player with the motor, work ethic and leadership to guarantee NBA success. A big tournament would help him, but he’s been productive enough this year to maintain his buzz without it. Smart will likely be seen as having one of the highest upsides and highest floors in the draft, with his age primarily giving him the edge over Oladipo. Orlando is the best fit for him, albeit New Orleans, Phoenix, Sacramento are also fits.

For fun, here’s my gun to my head predict for whom each of the lottery teams take, if given the top pick:

Charlotte Bobcats – SG Victor Oladipo
Orlando Magic – PG Marcus Smart
New Orleans Pelicans – PG Marcus Smart
Cleveland Cavaliers – PF Nerlens Noel
Detroit Pistons – PG Marcus Smart
Phoenix Suns – PG Marcus Smart
Sacramento Kings – PG Marcus Smart
Washington Wizards – PF Anthony Bennett
Minnesota Timberwolves – SG Ben McLemore
Toronto Raptors – PF Anthony Bennett
Philadelphia 76ers – SG Victor Oladipo
Portland Trailblazers – SG Victor Oladipo
Dallas Mavericks – PG Marcus Smart
Utah Jazz – PG Marcus Smart

Written by jr.

March 19, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Why Mario Hezonja is my #1 ranked prospect in the 2014 draft

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The 2014 draft class should be a doozy. The amount of prospects who are celebrities in high school is historic: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison are among the players with national publicity.

Right now Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker top most boards, with the Wiggins’ hype as particularly enormous. They are great prospects but I have my reservations about both. As I posted here, I feel Wiggins’ athletically is overrated as he is not a dynamic blow-by player off the dribble. He also has a raw shooting and ball-handling game. Wiggins has an amazing feel for the game but I’m concerned whether he’ll have the first step and ballhandling to be an elite slasher, or whether he’ll shoot well enough from long distance. As for Jabari in a way he is the anti-Wiggins. He has an outstanding skill game, highlighted by his shooting and post ability for a high school player and is a crafty dribbler and creator. He has a tremendous feel and IQ. The concern with him is athleticism and whether he’s an explosive enough player to consistently slash and create offense getting to the rim, or whether he’ll be a player forced to settle for perimeter jumpers. Both to me should end up blue chip players for a franchise, but I have concerns about whether they have complete enough talent bases to take it to the next level and be an All-NBA, transcendent franchise player.

Mario Hezonja to me is the most complete small forward prospect of the 3. Hezonja is a terrific slasher due to his ball-handling and first step, with the size to finish at the rim. He’s also an outstanding perimeter shooter and shot creator. Like Wiggins and Parker he has a tremendous feel for the game and IQ and craftiness creating his offense. Hezonja thus is somewhat of a middle ground between Wiggins and Parker. Wiggins is a high end athlete who needs to improve his ball-skills, while Parker is a high end skill player who may not be explosive or athletic enough in the NBA. Hezonja is both explosive and a high end skill player. To me he looks like the complete package for a perimeter offensive prospect, with the ability to attack the basket off the dribble, to hit the outside shot at an elite rate and having the natural feel and IQ to make it all work. The more I see of him, the more complete and dynamic his game and talent looks. To quote Monta Ellis, Mario Hezonja have it all.

A few years ago on a message board, I heard a poster make an astute comment about European and International prospects. He said that because of the failed European picks in the top 10 years like Darko Milicic, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Yi Jianlian, Andrea Bargnani, etc., as well as the “International Man of Mystery” feel to these prospects instead of the familiar NCAA production – that there is a stigma and fear about ranking European prospects too high. And that because of this, eventually those failed European draft picks, will come back to bite teams when they underrate and are too fearful of the next international star whenever he comes. Eventually simply because of odds and time there will be a superstar talent who’s ranked in the top 10 of a draft – and in all likelihood, being international and the fear that comes with that will be what prevents him from going #1. Mario Hezonja may or may not be that guy, but looks like he has the best chance of any International player in years to make that prediction come to fruition. Even if Parker and Wiggins’ weaknesses are apparent after next college season, it seems obvious no team would have the balls to take Mario Hezonja 1st over them. We’ll see if that’s a mistake or not.

Written by jr.

February 11, 2013 at 4:22 pm

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.

 

Written by jr.

November 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Draft Prospect Friday: An early Cody Zeller breakdown

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Cody Zeller looks like he could be the frontrunner for the #1 pick. Why? Because there’s strong whispers right now that SG Shabazz Muhammad will be ruled ineligible to play at UCLA this season. He’s still talented enough to be picked top 3 without proving himself in a college season, but I’m guessing #1 would be off the table. I’ve already expressed why I believe Nerlens Noel won’t cut it as #1 pick material. So that leaves Cody Zeller likely filling the vacuum. Zeller will likely be one of the most productive in college as he was a freshman and will only improve, the Hoosiers have a chance to be the best team in the country, he’s a C which is always a sought after position to fill and he has A+ intangibles. This all sets him up well for a top 3 pick, if not #1.

Here’s an early 33pt breakdown on Zeller’s talent level:

Physical impact: Cody is an excellent athlete, at a clear level above his brother Tyler. His footspeed and first step is very strong for a big, giving him blow-by potential against NBA Cs trying to guard him. He has enough vertical explosiveness to play above the rim. Zeller’s two major concerns physically are his strength and length. While he is young enough to add strength to his body, right now he is undeveloped for a center and may be pushed around early. A bigger problem is likely his short wingspan for a near 7 footer. This will greatly hurt his defensive potential; I wouldn’t expect him to block shots regularly in the NBA. Because of strength and length concerns, Zeller is a question mark in regards to finishing around the basket through contact. My score for Zeller physically is a 5 for a C as I believe his speed and athleticism will be difficult to guard offensively, to make up for some of his weaknesses.

Skill: Zeller has outstanding finishing ability around the basket, making him one of the NCAA’s most efficient players last year. His shooting game is still developing, but he shows sign of a good turnaround jumpshot and can hit his FTs. It’s probably a good bet he develops his shooting game to a respectable level to match his finishing. Zeller’s skill game should be above average for a center. My score for him in the category is a 7 with the potential to go higher.

Feel for the Game: This is his strength. Cody shows fantastic feel offensively, seeing angles around the rim to finish, as well as strong defensive instincts. He is always in control and seems aware of the basket and players around him. My score for Cody in feel for game is a 10.

To recap:

Physical impact: 5

Skill: 7

Feel for the Game: 10

Total score: 22 (All-star talent score)

This is a great score for Zeller. At a position as talent starved as C, it would make him a true star to build around for a team. A combination of elite feel for the game and good skill for a position should always make an impact, especially with respectable physical tools. Impressively, it’s not out of the question to me that I could undervaluing him with these skills. As a recently turned 20 year old, he could develop his skill game to a truly elite level for a C and it’s possible he bulks up to improve his physical ability. Both those things are made more likely by Cody’s supreme work ethic. Since my threshold for superstar talent is about 24-25, that is within reach for Cody. On the low end, it’s possible his physical tools translate a bigger weakness than I had scored them and his feel for the game and skill is slightly less impressive. It’s thus possible he ends up a player in 17-19 range in score, which is still respectable for a C.

Resembles: Brook Lopez, Luis Scola, Pau Gasol

By Julien Rodger

Twitter: @ASFW_jrodger (Send me a question, if I get enough I’ll do a mailbag or answer them in an article)

Written by jr.

October 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm

NBA Draft Scouting Video: Anthony Davis

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Second in my series of draft scouting videos. Includes analysis of likely #1 pick Anthony Davis’ shotblocking, defensive movement, post defense, driving to the basket, shooting, post scoring, post misses, passing, screen setting, rebounding.

Written by jr.

May 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm

2012 NBA Draft Scouting Analysis: Anthony Davis – A shotblocking savant, but does he have the offensive talent to be a star?

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Anthony Davis pick

Fear the Unibrow

Anthony Davis is the early frontrunner for the #1 pick in the June 2012 draft, according to the usually accurate mock draft sources on ESPN.com and Draftexpress.com. He’s in the middle of a spectacular shotblocking season (4.55 a game), is rebounding well (10.3 a game) and is scoring at a highly efficient rate (63% FG). This is enough to currently lead college players in PER, an impressive feat for a freshman. He also has a model character and attitude off the court and a tight focus and motor on it. The combination of youth, elite production this early, character points and the rarity of a big man who impacts the game defensively is enough for him to make him the likely pick.

My breakdown of Anthony Davis follows below. My philosophy is based on “NBA skills” – What is guaranteed from the player, what they might be able to develop, and what they won’t have. Physical tools like athleticism and length, and individual ball skills, only go as far as helping the player achieve these NBA skills – rather than act as their own, separate entities as often they are treated in the draft process. If this tools can’t lend themselves to a clear NBA skill, they are useless. What good is Al-Farouq Aminu’s athleticism and length when it doesn’t lend itself to any specific NBA skills? What good is Adam Morrison’s shooting skill if he doesn’t have the physical and mental make-up talent to use it effectively?

First, I will look at Anthony Davis’ guaranteed NBA skills: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

January 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Why future #1 pick Andre Drummond reminds me of a bigger John Wall

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The draft board and stage pre draft.

Image via Wikipe

You may have been disappointed by the 2011 draft simply because it didn’t have any knockout prospects. I’m a bit higher on PG Kyrie Irving’s potential to be a top 10 or 15 player and maybe get close to where Mark Price was in impact and statistics, but certainly from a talent perspective, you didn’t have an “Oh my god” physical talent like John Wall, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Greg Oden were in their drafts.

2012 is different. Andre Drummond is the definition of an “Oh my god” physical talent and quite possibly the most purely talented player since Dwight Howard went 1st overal in 2005, if you consider Oden’s health issues as something to diminish his ‘physical gifts’. Like Howard he’s a freakish combination of massive size and outstanding explosiveness – and he’s showing solid touch and ability to pass at the high school level.

But there’s a catch. In the last year or so, he’s starting to get some criticism for coasting on his talent level in games – plus, his stylistic preference has been to be a face-up, finishing and finesse PF. The stylistic comparison for Andre Drummond has moved from Dwight Howard to Amare Stoudemire. Now I’m not going to say we should be remotely disappointing in Drummond having Amare’s career considering how outstanding he’s been offensively, and frankly I don’t have personal hand knowledge of Drummond’s makeup to say he won’t go back to playing center and mimicing Howard. I would suppose that if he is indeed a future PF, he has the potential to be like Amare offensively with greater rebounding and defensive ability – which would possibly make him a top 5 player. But I’ll tell you what his situation reminds me of: John Wall

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