NBA Draft Watch: Love/Hate
As we turn the calendar to June it means two things. The NBA Finals are here, and so is the NBA Draft. June 27th is the exact date we will all tune into ESPN and watch David Stern get booed for the last time. Now is that why we watch? Of course not! Maybe it’s to see who goes number one? Maybe it’s to see who the Knicks pass on so they can take a player like Jordan Hill? Maybe it’s to see when the first random European guy gets taken so you can text your friend who roots for that team and just laugh as he sits in misery? Regardless of your reason, the draft watch has officially started and it’s time to separate the good and the bad. This draft coming up is considered fairly weak, but it does have some guys worth taking.
Anthony Bennett UNLV PF 6’8”
Bennett arrived at UNLV with a ton of hype, and did not disappoint one bit. With his immense size there was little surprise that he quickly became an issue for teams defending him in the low post, but what surprised everyone was his long-range stroke. During his lone collegiate season, Bennett posted 16.1 PPG, 8.1 REB, 1.2 BLK, 53.1 FG%, and a 37.5 3P%. Even his free throw percentage was pretty good at 70.1%, as he led the Rebels to a 25-9 regular season record, and a 5th seed in the NCAA tournament. His athleticism is off the charts and his motor is non-stop which has impressed many NBA scouts. His length does make up for his height and power forwards of his mold are more common in today’s NBA. His lack of a traditional post game is an issue as well as his lack of defense, but I feel those are issues that can be corrected in the near future. Overall, it appears that Bennett is being targeted in the top four picks of the draft, despite his recent rotator cuff surgery in early May. His potential is through the roof because of his athleticism and ability to stretch the defense with his outside game. I think the Wizards would be very foolish to pass on Bennett at the 3rd pick in the draft, unless Otto Porter is still on the board.
Otto Porter Georgetown SF 6’9”
In his second season at Georgetown Porter really came on strong and posted a stat line of 16.2 PPG, 7.5 REB, 1.8 STL, 48 FG%, 77.7 FT%, and 42.2 3P%. When referring to Georgetown prospects, one must look at them differently than you do for other collegiate prospects. In their system, the Hoyas tend to not have good players blossom to their potential because of their system, but this year Porter emerged surprisingly. His moment of national relevance came when he and the Hoyas visited the Dome to face Syracuse in what now stands as the highest attended regular season game, on campus, in college basketball history. On the huge stage, Porter shot 12-19 and totaled 33 points in Georgetown’s upset win. From then on, scouts and analysts started to really take notice of what Porter can develop into. He’s a big small forward that has a very nice outside game. Porter also has the ability to drive to the basket with ease, which is a key thing that scouts look at. I like to compare him to Rudy Gay because of his size and ability to hit a jump shot consistently. A report came out recently that said Nerlens Noel is at the top of the Cavaliers’ draft board, but I really think they will trade the pick to another team. Porter is good enough to go number one in the draft and I don’t see him slipping past the number three spot.
C.J. McCollum PG Lehigh 6’3”
C.J. is not a big named player, but it would surprise me if he doesn’t go in the top ten of the draft. The 6’3” point guard from Lehigh is a dominant scorer who rebounds well for his size. McCollum will fit well in the NBA because of the new era’s tall point guards such as Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook. McCollum’s stock could have been even higher if not for him suffering a broken left foot early in the 2012-2013 season against VCU. In his junior season at Lehigh, he averaged 21.9 PPG, 6.5 REB, 3.5 AST, 44.3 FG%, 34.1 3P%, and 81.1 FT%. What is weird is when looking at his numbers, is his low number of assists, but I will chalk that up to his teammates being sub-par (REMEMBER HE PLAYED FOR LEHIGH). He should be a high commodity come late June because of the need for a point guard this day and age.
Tony Snell SG/SF New Mexico 6’7”
When you look at Snell’s overall numbers they don’t jump out at you and say potential star, (12/5 PPG, 2.9 AST, 2.6 REB, 42.2 FG%, 39 3P%, 84.3 FT%) but this junior playmaker will only bring good things to the team that calls his name. His jump shot is smooth and he can easily stretch the defense with the three-ball. Snell is a very smart player, and has little trouble reading defenses to help him get open. His athleticism allows him to make plays every now and then that will make number one on SportsCenter’s top plays. He possesses a pass-first mentality despite the low assist totals, but that can be explained for point guard Kendall Williams racking those numbers up. On the other side of the court, Snell is a fantastic on-ball defender. Opponents scored 18.8% of the time against him when isolated. He has very good lateral quickness and tremendous length for a perimeter defender. If I had to compare him to a current NBA player he is almost identical to San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard.
Nerlens Noel PF/C Kentucky 6’11”
Yeah, that’s right! I hate Nerlens Noel. Sure, he’s an awesome shot blocker, but that’s all I see in him. For me, if I’m drafting number one overall, there is no way I’m taking a guy because he does one thing really well. When you look at Noel’s numbers they don’t appear that bad actually. His 4.4 blocks per game jump off the screen as just amazing, and his field goal percentage of 59% is very good. If you watch his games though, and the scouts do, you will see a very good shot blocker who has a worst-case-scenario offensive game. He will miss point blank shots from four feet away, and will never attempt a jump shot unless the shot clock is about to expire. He kills his team at the foul line as he shoots an atrocious 52.9%. These days in the NBA coaches will play hack-a-Shaq if you really are that bad at the line. As good as a defender he may be, he will be just as bad on the offensive side of the court. Majority of his 10.9 PPG came off of alley-oops and unguarded layups. To top it all off, Noel suffered a torn ACL injury towards the end of the season. He will not be ready for the start of the season, and of course there is no way in telling how he will bounce back. Part of what makes Noel a good player is the high intensity and motor that he always plays with. There should be no risk like this when deciding to draft a player as high as many think Noel should go. In my opinion the Cavaliers, the team who will be selecting first this year, will trade their pick along with power forward Anderson Varejao for a big name power forward like Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge. Cleveland is smart and will not waste a pick because some experts think Noel could be great. Sure, Noel could be the next Dikembe Mutumbo, but I think he could also be the next Joel Anthony. The only difference between Nerlens and Anthony is that Joel was undrafted and Noel will probably go in the top-5. AVOID THIS GUY.
Michael Carter-Williams PG Syracuse 6’6”
It kills me to put MCW on this list, but I have no choice. As a current Syracuse student I got to witness Carter-Williams’ season first-hand, and in fact shared the same major as him. In his first and only season as the starting point guard for the Orange, MCW carried some heavy expectations that he failed to live up to. To give him some credit, the guy is a special player because he is a 6’6” point guard, but that’s where the bus runs out of gas for Michael. Over the course of the season he shot dreadfully from all areas of the court (39.3 FG%, 29.2 3P%, 69.4 FT %). For the first half of the season Carter-Williams lead the country in both assists and steals, but the competition was pathetic. Some of his opponents during that stretch were Monmouth, Colgate, and Central Conn St. who, if you ask me, are not even mediocre teams. In his non-conference games the sophomore point guard racked up eight double-digit assist games while against the Big East he only amassed three such games. He was a perfect fit for Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone defense because of his rare length at the point guard position, but in the NBA teams play man-to-man defense. As you look at the tape you will find his inconsistency and that he is prone to turning the ball over. He makes poor decisions at the worst times and lacks leadership qualities that a point guard would preferably have if he wants to be taken early in the draft. His potential is great because of his size and athleticism, but for me there are too many question marks. Some experts have MCW going in the top ten where as others have him for sure going in the lottery. I think he is a post-lottery pick that should have stayed at least one more year at college.