With the NBA draft fast approaching and the draft lottery settled, the draft experts at TSHQ decided to take a crack at the NBA Draft.
Today we have Cole Zwicker, Lakers fan and leader of the Mike Brown fan club joining me, Seth, as we journey through our top 20 prospects, and give them the labels that a lot of draft nics are afraid of.
We want fans to be excited about the prospects they may be drafting in the next month, or terrified of what that player may actually become.
Reality is that most of these players will most likely fall in between their best case and worst case scenarios, but it is always fun to look at a player and project the future.
So enjoy and let us know what you think.
Best Case: Chris Paul
Irving is a true point guard with no real weaknesses in his game. He’s solid across the board as a penetrator, distributor and a scorer. His biggest strength is his quick burst to get by his defender into the lane and either find open teammates or finish, an attribute that is quintessential in today’s point guard driven game. Both his three point shot (46%) and on ball defense are also solid, making him the total package. He isn’t a superb athlete in the Rose/Westbrook mold but what he lacks in supreme athleticism he makes up for with his smarts.
Its high praise comparing Irving to the best point guard in basketball, but the foundation is there. Paul developed an unparalleled court vision and passing ability during his early years in the league which made him elite. Irving will have to do the same to reach that level.
Worst Case: Mike Conley
No point guard screams good at mostly everything but not elite in any specific category like Conley. Irving’s floor if doesn’t develop that keen court sense and high basketball IQ having not played a lot in college is around the 12th-15th best lead guard in the league, ala Mike. He’ll be solid in every facet of the game for sure, but he could be great.
Best Case: Al Horford
Kanter is the anti-stereotypical European player: he’s tough, strong, he rebounds, and most importantly, he actually seeks out contact. Don’t get me wrong, Kanter isn’t just a bruiser. He also possesses legitimate skill in the post due to his footwork and ability to position himself down low. Additionally he has an established jumper that extends out to the three point line to keep defenses honest and can run the floor well for his size (6-10 260).
Similar to Horford he’s not a tremendous athlete and he isn’t a shot blocker. If Kanter is drafted by a team like the T-Wolves who try to slot him in at center he may be a bit undersized to excel. He projects much better as a power forward.
Worst Case: Very Rich Man’s Zaza Pachulia
I know, slap in the face right? The thing with Kanter is due to the fact he missed his entire freshman year at Kentucky (suspension by the NCAA) there isn’t a lot to draw from in terms of projecting his impact. Basically the only tape we have of him was at the Nike Hoops Summit a year ago in which he broke Dirks scoring record putting up 33 & 14. If his skill set doesn’t translate at the very least he’ll be a physical inside banger who competes for rebounds, like our good friend Zaza.
Derrick Williams- Cole
Best Case: More Athletic David West
D-will is your prototypical stretch 4. He’s an excellent scorer facing the basket, possessing the athleticism to get by bigger players and the efficient jumper to knock down either mid range shots or threes. While he believes he can play the 3 in the NBA he isn’t slight of foot enough to defend small forwards. He’ll be much more valuable to teams as a 4.
Williams is obviously a better athlete than West with superior finishing skills but like West the role that will likely capitalize on his talents the most is as a deadly pick & roll or pick & pop guy. If Williams somehow ends up on a team like Cleveland with a Kyrie Irving he could be a devastating scorer as a stretch 4 due to the matchup problems he’d cause with his versatility.
Worst Case: Michael Beasley
You can pretty much insert any unsuccessful 3-4 tweener here. Beasley has found a niche as a scorer in Minnesota but he clearly can’t defend threes, so his team suffers as a result. Williams will likely follow a similar path if he is put in the wrong situation.
Brandon Knight- Cole
Best Case: Jason Terry
Knight is a combo guard, but a great one at that. He is explosive, can handle the rock, has deadly range on his jumper and can play stifling D. The problem is he doesn’t possess true point guard instincts and at 6-3 is undersized to play off the ball as a starter.
Brandon definitely seems to have that Terry streaky shooter DNA, not to mention he’s proven to be an excellent clutch scorer. His skills would best be utilized similarly to Terry’s as a scoring 6th man off the bench who can also play some backup point as well. He would be an excellent fit in the triangle if the Lakers still ran it though.
Worst Case: Louis Williams
A streak shooting tweener is probably Knight’s floor. He’ll find a niche in the league with his three point shot and electric scoring ability, similar to Lou Williams.
Best Case: Less Athletic Gerald Wallace
Meet Crash 2.0. Leonard’s motor is second to none. He never stops working, whether that is running the floor, crashing the glass or attacking the rim. Leonard also has the ability to handle the ball and make plays off the dribble for teammates with his passing ability, an impressive attribute for what kind of player he is.
Leonard isn’t the athlete Wallace is but he brings that same ability to impact the outcome of a game purely through hustle and high activity just like Gerald. Similar to Wallace Leonard doesn’t have a credible outside jumper and NBA defenses will surely sag off him. A team like the Wizards who are in desperate need of someone to do the “dirty work” could really use his talents.
Worst Case: More Skilled Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
As mentioned above Leonard really needs to work on his jump shot in order to be legitimate small forward in the league. Apparently he’s been working on it since the end of the season in effort to improve his draft stock. At the very least Leonard will be a high energy 15 mpg guy off the bench who crashes the glass and plays defense.
Kemba Walker- Cole
Best Case: Brandon Jennings
Walker is obviously a big time scorer at the lead guard spot. He’s lightening quick with the ball and is virtually unguardable in isolation situations. While undersized at 6-1 he is athletic enough to blow by defenders and create the necessary space to get his shot off.
Does the description score first point guard, undersized for the position, volume shooter and lightening quick with ball ring a familiarity bell? Jennings regressed in his second season but as a rookie he took the league by storm with his scoring ability. Kemba can have a similar effect.
Worst Case: Aaron Brooks
No one wants to play with a selfish, inefficient shooter and waterbug like Aaron Brooks. Kemba can’t help his height but he can develop at least the necessary distributing skills to keep his teammates content, though to his credit he has much higher character than Brooks. Being exiled to a 10-15 instant offense backup point ala Brooks is the worst it can get for Walker.
Best Case: Bigger Ron Artest in his prime
Singleton has one elite talent: defense. He is the best lockdown defender in the draft and can guard 3 positions. His versatility on that side of the ball with his combination of size (6’9), strength and athleticism is unmatched in this class. Singleton isn’t a fluent offensive player with the ball by any means but his spot up shooting, specifically from three (36% this past year) has shown promise.
I doubt Singleton will ever develop into a shot creator or playmaker on offense. His contributions will come off the ball on catch and shoot opportunities or when he has a sizeable mismatch down low due to his strength. Combine that with lockdown defensive potential and you have a bigger version of young Ron Artest, a tenacious defender and enough of a threat shooting the ball to keep defenses honest.
Worst Case Scenario: Bigger Thabo Sefolosha
So much of Singleton’s success in the league will hinge on his development shooting the basketball. If he can shoot in the low 40′s from the field and 38-40% from three he can be an excellent starting three. If not he’ll still carve out a place in the league with his defensive prowess, but like Sefolosha, he’ll never be more than a situational defensive stopper who is a liability on offense.
Best Case: Stronger Mike Bibby in his prime
No, I’m not going to say Steve Nash here no matter how much I want to. “Teach me how to Jimmer” is unquestionably the best marksman in the draft and will most likely be one of the best shooters in the NBA. He has unlimited range and a quick trigger. The question is can he get his shot off in the league with his lack of athleticism.
Jimmer actually tested really well in lane agility drills at the draft combine, so maybe we haven’t seen what he is truly capable of defensively with his coach hiding him so much in zones at BYU to conserve his energy for offense. My gut says he’s quicker than we think and will be a passable defender at lead guard. In that case he may end up starting and his shooting skill coupled with a lack of athleticism is reminiscent of young Mike Bibby. Jimmer is a lot stronger than Mike and has that uncanny ability to use his strength to get in the lane and finish with an array of quirky shots, but in terms of the other skills the two players are actually quite similar.
Worst Case: Eddie House
At worst Jimmer will be the backup point that is given the green light to go out and just fire shots for 10-20 minutes a game off the bench as a source of instant offense. NBA teams are always looking for shooters and Jimmer’s shot making ability will stick somewhere in the league.
Best Case: Paul Millsap
Faried is an absolute beast on the boards, leading the country in rebounding the past 3 seasons. He has a relentless motor and his activity level especially at the rim is phenomenal. Faried is both undersized (6’8) and underweight, so he’ll need to add some strength in order to body up and bang with the bruisers in the NBA.
Millsap is the poster boy of success for undersized power forwards in the league, and while Faried doesn’t have Paul’s midrange game yet (most of his points come off put backs, dunks or layups) their rebounding similarities coming out of college can’t be denied. If Faried can get stronger and develop some kind of midrange game he can be a starter in the league in a few years.
Worst Case: Better Rebounding Lou Amundson
At bare minimum Faried will bring elite rebounding and hustle to the table, which has the makings of a nice limited minute backup 4 to inject a team with energy off the bench, similar to Lou Amundson on the Suns (but with superior rebounding ability).
Klay Thompson- Cole
Best Case: Mike Miller
Behind Fredette Thompson is the most deadeye shooter in the draft from deep. He moves well off the ball to set himself up for shots and has limitless range. At 6’7 Thompson possesses the prototypical height for a shooting guard. Unfortunately he isn’t a good athlete and will struggle with more athletic perimeter players.
Thompson isn’t just a mindless catch and shoot player though. He has a high basketball IQ, has an excellent feel for the game and is a terrific passer. Miller plays a different position than Thompson will, but their skill sets and roles could be similar if Thompson is able to grasp the NBA game and find his spots.
Worst Case: Marco Belinelli
Thompson’s floor is a floor spacer off the bench at the two spot. His shot is just too valuable not to stick. Like Belinelli he may have trouble adjusting to the league at first but ultimately he will at least carve out a spot on some team’s bench.
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