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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Wiggins

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

Of Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and the weird relationship between athleticism and camera angles

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If you follow draft prospects, you know Andrew Wiggins. Despite not being eligible until the 2014 draft, he’s a bigger prospect than anyone in the 2013 draft. This is because not only is he ranked #1 in 2014, but has some extra sauce with that. He’s getting “best prospect since Lebron???” next superduperstar treatment by the media. Chad Ford of ESPN.com has repeatedly mentioned “Tracy McGrady with a motor” as his prediction for him. The basis for this hype is his physical tools. Wiggins actually has a raw skill game, with an inconsistent outside shot and shaky ball-handling. The book on him is that his physical tools are so great that it gives him unlimited upside if his skill game catches up.

Now, assessment of the athleticism of high school players is hit and miss. One reason Marvin Williams went 2nd overall over Chris Paul and Deron Williams in 2005, is that he had a Wiggins-like profile in high school as an all-time great wing athlete. Of course, we know now he’s an average athlete in the NBA. Likewise O.J. Mayo and Harrison Barnes were thought to have much more impressive athletic profiles beside their skill games and Demar Derozan was thought to be a freakish athletic specimen, only to turn out average. The best recent example may be Shabazz Muhammad, who has been an extremely underwhelming athlete during his NCAA career. Shabazz is relevant because it tipped me over an edge in regards to judging high school athletes by the footage available of them at the time. Here is a video I made before the NCAA started trying to evaluate Shabazz and admittedly, almost everything I said in it turned out inaccurate

Here are some other videos of Shabazz in high school

 

Watching videos like this would give no reason to doubt Shabazz’s athleticism or to call him anything less than good to great in the area. He’s blowing by defenders and playing above the rim. However this is how Shabazz has looked at UCLA:

 

The difference is quite striking. Perhaps it’s the competition he’s playing with, but my guess is it’s simply the camera angle that makes Shabazz look like he’s covering much less ground. The frame of reference is different. We are used to judging athletes so much based on the NCAA and NBA courts, that if the angle changes, they may be moving at a speed that looks elite based on what our eyes are used to into the NBA – but without the common denominator of the same court size and angles, it may be an optical illusion. What I now realize is that the best indicator for Shabazz’s athleticism was the Nike Hoop Summit, a game played on NBA style cameras between the top prospects.

 

In this game he looks identical to his UCLA version. Skilled and crafty, but with weak blow-by ability and mostly an under the rim player. After this, I’m not going to trust any more clips of high school players unless they have the frame of reference of NCAA/NBA style cameras. No more clips of players with the camera near the floor, no more highlight videos.

What does this have to do with Andrew Wiggins’ athleticism? Everything. Here are some clips where Wiggins looks like an unstoppable combination of speed and size attacking the basket and exploding above the rim

 

If one only saw these they would have little reason to doubt the massive Lebron, McGrady-like hype around Wiggins’ athleticism. But for the reasons I listed, the NBA style cameras during the Nike Hoop Summit may be the more reliable indicator

 

Wiggins’ athleticism looks shockingly underwhelming in that clip. His first step certainly does not wow, which in combination with shaky ball-handling, makes him look hardly unstoppable slashing to the basket. He has to pull up on many drives instead of taking it all the way to the basket. Even when it comes to vertical explosiveness around the rim, his supposed strength, he underwhelms. At 3:23 he awkwardly lays in a basket instead of having the power to finish the dunk. From 4:55 to 5:17 he misses multiple finishes inside in traffic. At 6:07, he misses a dunk at the rim due to a lack of power going up strong. If one saw this clip without the other, alternate angle ones or highlight videos, they likely in no way would compare Wiggins to Lebron and McGrady athletically. Wiggins looks like a great, smooth athlete, but not a freakishly explosive one. I have watched the above video many times and simply cannot see the type of athlete that should be garnering Lebron comparisons.

Now since seeing the above clip, I have tried to watch Wiggins whenever his games are shown on ESPN, which they have been regularly this season. While not as perfect a match for the NBA style cameras that the Nike Hoop Summit is, they’re filmed in a way that’s fairly reliable. Once again his explosiveness did not stand out to me, as a wing relying on his size, power, skill and feel, but not freakish speed or blow-by ability.

Does Wiggins have a chance to be an excellent wing player in the NBA? Yes. His feel for the game is elite if not transcendent. He has the shooting form to develop strongly in that area and is a natural in the post. He’s at worst, a very good athlete for a wing player. But I’m convinced his athleticism is badly overrated, possibly as much as Marvin Williams’ was.

Written by jr.

January 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Draft Prospect Friday: Jabari Parker vs Andrew Wiggins – Who is the better high school prospect?

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The two most hyped pre-NBA prospects are not in the 2013 draft. SF Jabari Parker looks to be a top pick in 2014 and SG/SF Andrew Wiggins in 2015, unless he can reclassify to the year before and go to college a year early. Right now Wiggins is ranked ahead by consensus rankings. But who is the more talented prospect?

SF Jabari Parker

Physical impact: Jabari has terrific size and strength for a SF, allowing him to finish at the rim and shoot his jumper over opponents. He does not have the most explosive first step in the world. Score: 6

Skill: Jabari is one of the most skilled players in high school. He can shoot from all over the court and has a strong passing game. For a small forward, his skill talent can be devastating. Score: 10

Feel for the Game: Jabari’s strength, his feel for the game and smoothness to his offensive is simply tremendous. Score: 10

Total score: 26 (Superstar talent score)

Overall analysis: Jabari’s combination of size, shooting/passing skill and elite feel for the game is possibly devastating. He looks like a player made to score over 25 points a game in the NBA in the way Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant’s combination of size, skill and feel are/were devastating scorers. High end: Paul Pierce, Middle ground: Danillo Gallinari, Low end: Harrison Barnes

SG/SF Andrew Wiggins Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

October 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm