RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Larry Sanders

Posted by rtmsf on June 23rd, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Larry Sanders

School: VCU

Height/Weight: 6’10, 222

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: Larry Sanders has come a long way from the awkward kid who as a sophomore in high school scored a basket for the other team as he was just learning how to play the game.  But this embarrassing moment in Sanders’ career reveals a salient point: as good as he has become by the age of 21, he has still only played organized basketball for a total of six years.  There is significant room for improvement, especially on the offensive end, but his mysterious upside is tantalizing NBA scouts and GMs scattered throughout the second half of the first round.  He mostly relies on his God-given gifts at this point, but he has shown an ability to pick up fundamentals quickly and has a knack for getting his long arms on the ball on the boards.  The team that ultimately chooses Sanders must be aware that he is not likely to come into a situation and put up big numbers in the first couple of seasons.  But with proper coaching and drills, he is the type of player who could pay off big dividends a few years down the line.  The question that teams have to ask themselves is if they can afford to wait on a prospect such as this in the ever-changing and pressure-packed waters of the NBA.

Sanders Needs Time, But He Could Very Well Pay Off

Will Translate to the NBA:  Hops and length.  Sanders has an NBA body with NBA athleticism, particularly a 7’6 wingspan that allows him to block shots, drop in putbacks and keep balls alive that other post players simply can’t get to.  As you probably expect given his physical gifts, his help-side defense is much further along than his offense, but there are reasons to believe that he can learn how to play effectively in the post (witness going from 4.9 PPG in his freshman season to 14.4 PPG last year).  The greatest likelihood is that Sanders will ultimately earn his paychecks in the League as an elite defender and rebounder.  He averaged 2.8 blocks per game in his career and became one of the best per-minute rebounders in the nation by his junior season on both ends of the floor.  With additional honing of his mechanics and timing, there’s no reason to believe that can’t continue at the next level from the power forward slot.     

Needs Work: Sanders is not yet a refined post player on either the offensive or defensive end, but his work ethic is strong and he has improved considerably every year since he picked up the game.  He’ll need to develop some actual post moves to flourish in the NBA because he’ll no longer be facing up against inferior athletes the likes of which he was regularly seeing in the CAA.  He will also need to get stronger so that he can hold his ground against the powerful NBA fours so that his unbelievable length and athleticism doesn’t get neutralized.  These are areas that he can work on during his rookie contract with the thinking that by the time he is three or four years into the League, he can become a solid contributor. 

Comparison Players:  Andrew Bynum is the player who first comes to mind in terms of his rawness and NBA-ready body type.  They’re roughly the same age, too, although Sanders hasn’t had nearly the level of elite coaching that Bynum has had at this point.  A young Marcus Camby is another solid comparison although Camby’s offensive repertoire was far more developed at the same age.  The key point here is that with hard work, scouts believe that Sanders could become as good as either of those players, which is high praise for a mid-major prospect who was on nobody’s draft radar coming out of high school. 

Best Case Scenario: The best case scenario for Sanders is that his steady progression continues, he adds weight and strength, and he is able to develop a reliable offensive game to approach the career arcs of the above-mentioned players.  We never foresee Sanders as an elite All-Star caliber player in the post, but he’s definitely capable of becoming a consistent threat on a good team.  Because of his athleticism, his defense can be as good as he wants it to be.  But that will totally depend on the level of effort he utilizes to get stronger and learn the fundamentals to post defense. 

2013 Projection:  We believe that it will take at least three years of on-the-job training for Sanders to make an impact in the NBA.  He’s very raw but his potential for improvement is obvious.  Much of this will be answered by how hard he’s willing to work, but we believe that his motor will enable him to be playing regular minutes as a top sub on a good team at the power forward position.  He could be on the verge of breaking through as one of the better young fours in the NBA, especially on defense and the boards, but he would not yet be considered elite.

Best NBA Fit:  Sanders needs to land on a team that will allow him several years to fill out, develop strength, and hone his mechanics.  There are many teams like this in the lower half of the first round, but San Antonio at #20 and Orlando at #29 both come to mind as teams that have elite post players that could teach this raw specimen a thing or two.  The bottom line for Sanders, though, is that he simply needs time, so whoever is willing to be patient with him will be the best fit.

rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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