Morning Five: 06.24.10

Posted by rtmsf on June 24th, 2010

  1. It’s NBA Draft day, which means we get one last chance to talk about players such as Tiny Gallon, Jerome Randle, Manny Harris and Derrick Caracter before they fade off into basketball oblivion.  Be sure to check out our mock draft and each of our draft profiles for the projected first round collegians to get ready for tonight.
  2. The NCAA’s Basketball Focus Group: an interesting idea.  Just give it some teeth, gumshoes.
  3. Just to ensure that Texas the remaining Big 12 doesn’t get too big for its britches, Oklahoma president David Boren confirmed yesterday that the Sooners had an invitation on the table to join Texas A&M as members of an expanded SEC.  Boren said that the school wanted to stay with its group and keep its traditional rivals Oklahoma State and Texas nearby (keep your enemies closer, perhaps?), though, so they turned down the offer.
  4. This is a pretty strong article from New York magazine that just came to our attention recently about the last great basketball scout, Tom Konchalski.  For some reason, in the real-time twitter/blogger/facebook era, the fact that his scouting only comes via US Mail on paper is cool, in a retro sorta way.
  5. YABB’s the State of Coaching post is out, and very well done as always.  Seriously, spend fifteen minutes with this thing and understand what he’s doing there.  It’s very good stuff.
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Official RTC 2010 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

There’s something gratifying and enjoyable about seeing the college players that we discuss, watch and evaluate move on from the collegiate game and find a home at the next level. There are no cliffhangers when it comes to the NBA Draft. Barring late summer dealings or undrafted snubs, Thursday will be the day we’ll find out where each of our favorite elite college players are going to play pro ball next winter, almost like watching your kids go off to school for the first time. It’s a grand conclusion to a celebrated (albeit, in plenty of cases, very short) college career and a transition to the riches of the NBA.

We’re all prognosticators and experts on Draft night. Opinions are thrown around as David Stern announces each choice. Emotions are prevalent when your favorite NBA squad picks, those moments and heartbeats before the selection that could change the course of a franchise forever. Or it could be Renaldo Balkman. Either way, Draft night for us hoops nerds is one of intrigue and interest.

Here’s my best shot at forecasting how the first round will play out. As someone that has watched these players intensely at the college level, someone that pays attention to the strengths/weaknesses of each NBA club and has been soaking in all of the Draft info since the Final Four ended in April, I’m honored to bring you the official Rush the Court 2010 NBA Mock Draft (RTC draft profile linked to each name):

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

The Consensus #1 Pick (WaPo/J. Newton)

This was a lock the moment the Wizards won the Lottery in mid-May, a stroke of unexpected luck for a city on the sports rise and the perfect face of the franchise-type player to lead this team out of the cellar. Wall could pair with a focused Gilbert Arenas in a potent backcourt and the Wiz may even shell out some money to bring in an intriguing free agent wing. He may be a top-five point guard in the NBA in only three years time if the jump shot improves. He’s that skilled and talented.

2) Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State

I’m hearing the Sixers front office is enamored with Turner while newly minted coach Doug Collins would prefer big man Derrick Favors. In the end, I see Turner as the surer prospect emerging as the pick, and even the Sixers website prepared for that very possibility last Friday. Philly won’t trade the pick unless some team agrees to take on Elton Brand’s contract, an unlikely scenario. Turner could be the next Brandon Roy, a prospect just too mouth-watering to pass up on.

3) New Jersey Nets – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

Nets fans were positively crushed on Lottery night when they lost a chance to nab Wall. An underwhelming workout for Derrick Favors, one in which he was thoroughly outplayed by DeMarcus Cousins, gave the Nets brass pause after it was assumed for months Favors would be the selection at #3. The Nets have needs at both forward spots, so it would make sense for them to peg Johnson here and go after one of the big free agent power forwards with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook- Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech

This is a tricky situation for the Wolves. With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love already in the fold, the last thing Minnesota needs is another power forward. They covet both Turner and Johnson, so it’s extremely likely they try to persuade either Philly or New Jersey to let them move up a few spots in exchange for their pick at #16. It’s rumored the Minnesota brass isn’t too high on Favors, but Cousins has publicly expressed displeasure with playing in the Twin Cities.

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

Cousins has sent hinted messages that he wouldn’t be too thrilled if Sacramento (or Minnesota or Golden State) calls his name and he’d much prefer to end up in Detroit. The Pistons could very well move up a few spots to grab Cousins, but the workout Cousins just finished in SacTo apparently convinced ownership that his game outweighed any character concerns. I would take Cousins over Monroe (and maybe even Favors) in a heartbeat, and it’s my feeling that the Kings agree even with the recent Sam Dalembert acquisition.

6) Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Terrico White

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: Terrico White

School: Mississippi

Height/Weight: 6’5, 203

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: Combo guard Terrico White stepped onto the Ole Miss campus with a top 100 ranking as a high school senior, the Tennessee AAA Mr. Basketball crown, and the hope of Rebel supporters that he’d inject a little hoops excitement into Oxford.  He didn’t disappoint during his freshman year, taking over at point guard after teammate Chris Warren was injured — a move that definitely suited his game — and won SEC Freshman of the Year honors.  Many fans were disappointed in his sophomore campaign, citing decreased numbers across the board, but that has to be attributed to going back to playing shooting guard, and to the presence of a returned Warren and a couple of improved teammates in Murphy Holloway and Eniel Polynice.  He will play mostly SG in the NBA, but his turns at PG really showed off his entire game better.

Will Translate to the NBA: He’s got great pace bringing the ball up the floor on the break, and the one of the best parts of his game is that he’s able to pull up and drain a jumper or juke his defender and drive to the basket with no fear.  He gets down so low when he breaks down a defender, we mean it as a compliment when we say that he may be 6’5, but at times plays shorter than that.  He knows how to use a screen to his advantage and loves coming off the curl to go straight up or use his quick first step to dart by his defender.  Also, he has great one-on-one skill, which only increases his NBA marketability.

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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. 

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Patrick Patterson

Posted by jstevrtc 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: Patrick Patterson

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’9/235

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery

Overview: John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins may have been flashier and grabbed more headlines, but if you ask people around Lexington who their favorite Wildcat was from this past season, Patrick Patterson’s name will come up more than you’d expect.  While his numbers were impressive enough (14.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.9 BPG), that’s not what Kentucky supporters use as the reason for their reverence — and reverence is the right word, there.  They’re quick to point out that those numbers were actually down from the previous season (17.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.1 BPG), and the reason they were down was because he was fine with scoring less and yielding the spotlight to his aforementioned young teammates, as that’s what the team dynamic required.  They love talking about how he finished his bachelor’s degree in three years, while at the same time going far above the call of duty when it came to community service and public appearances during his time in the Bluegrass.  In short, people in Lexington love this guy, and why shouldn’t they?  He played three seasons that can be credited to three different head coaches; he was recruited by Tubby Smith, played two years for Billy Gillespie and a final one under John Calipari.  Basketball wasn’t fun at UK for those first two years for the players or the fans, and especially not for Patterson, who didn’t even get to play in an NCAA Tournament.  You couldn’t blame Patrick if he had sulked in his dorm room for a while and then caught the first bus out of town.  Instead, he flourished — in the classroom, on the court, and in the community, knowing if he kept working hard that sweeter days would eventually come.  Those sweeter days arrived last season.  And the next one is Thursday night in New York.

Patterson finishes confidently at the rim, but it was the jump shot he debuted last year that wowed scouts...and fans.

Will Translate to the NBA: Patterson’s physique got more impressive each year at Kentucky, the biggest and quickest transformation coming last summer when he moved out to California and worked with a personal trainer.  His body is therefore NBA-ready, and it also speaks to his work ethic.  He’s also shown that he’s willing to eschew personal glory in favor of the betterment of the team, and there might not be a better “character guy” in the draft.  He added a jump shot over the summer before last season, then hit it consistently during the year, a move that greatly increased his appeal to NBA scouts, and it goes nicely with the fair range of post moves he already possesses.  Whether it’s him who scores or not, good things tend to happen when he gets the ball in the post; he’s a nice interior passer and easily finds the open man on the perimeter.  He was an underrated defender down low at Kentucky and seems to love going body-to-body with opponents who are trying to overpower him.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Dominique Jones

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: Dominique Jones

School: South Florida

Height/Weight: 6’4, 205

NBA Position: Combo Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round/Early Second Round

Overview: Despite playing in the far outreaches of the Big East, Dominique Jones had a junior season, and really a strong three-year career, to make the rest of the basketball-strong league stop and take notice. As a junior, he won the Big East scoring title with 21.4 PPG, he grabbed a spot on the All-Big East team and an honorable mention on the AP All-American team, and dropped 46 in a January game against Providence, falling two points shy of tying the Big East record for points in a game, all while willing his undermanned Bull squad to NCAA tournament consideration and an eventual NIT berth. Jones was always the primary focus of his opponent’s defense, but still managed to carry his team at times, knocking down 45% of his field goal attempts and getting to the line a whopping 282 times (9.2 free throw attempts per 40 minutes), converting those chances at a nearly 75% rate. While Jones is more of a scorer than a shooter, he isn’t necessarily a volume shooter, getting his points in a very efficient manner.

Jones is a Spectacular Scorer at Times

Will Translate to the NBA: Jones is perhaps a couple inches shorter than ideal for an NBA shooting guard, but has enough ballhandling skills to be able to take some minutes at the point in the NBA. Not a stereotypical point, Jones could be more of a facilitator than a creator, although with the ball in his hands he is capable of creating for himself. With a powerful first step, Jones is able to get penetration with ease, relishes physical play and is able to maintain body control and still finish around the rim through contact. His shotmaking skills are excellent, with midrange jumpers, a beautiful floater and plenty of acrobatic tricks. Defensively, Jones is a competitor that never backs down from a challenge and makes up for his average athleticism with tenacity and smarts.

Needs Work: Jones’ perimeter game is just average. He knocked down just 31% of his threes as a junior and was just an average shooter even on open perimeter jumpers. His jumper will need to improve from him to stick in the NBA, and he even had some trouble in college getting separation for his jumper when closely guarded, a problem that will only increase at the next level against bigger and more athletic competition. Jones does have good mechanics, however (a slightly slow release notwithstanding), and should be able to clean up his jumper in due time.

Comparison Players: The best comparison we’ve seen is Rodney Stuckey, and Jones may have a little more upside than Stuckey. Both players are capable of playing either guard spot, and both are equally capable of playing with the ball in their hands or off of the ball, running through screens and traffic. Stuckey is bouncier than Jones will ever be (Jones sports just a 33-inch vertical), but Jones makes up for his relatively earthbound game with strength and savvy. Another former Piston comes to mind as a good upside for Jones: Vinnie Johnson. Jones has a couple inches on Johnson, but Jones has a similar physical style and the ability to play both guard positions, and when he heats up, Jones can score points in bunches, much like the Microwave did.

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Morning Five: 06.23.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 22nd, 2010

  1. Villanova’s Taylor King has now quit on his second program, deciding in the past few days to transfer out of Villanova.  Well, not really.  According to the release, King has decided to “voluntarily withdraw from the men’s basketball team,” but he plans on sticking around the school to complete his degree requirements.  Is this for real?  Despite what Gary Parrish writes about King’s oversized expectations, he was solid for at least half the season on the Main Line last year (7/5 in 19 MPG) and we find it hard to believe that he’s given up on basketball completely.  The guy could probably be a star in the WCC or a similar league.
  2. Luke Winn examines how the new coach at Wake Forest, Jeff Bzdelik is adjusting to his new job.  Bzdelik claims that he will adapt to his personnel and keep the Deacs as an uptempo team that pushes the ball, but every coach says that in the summertime.  The story about how the Wake coaching staff kept their top twenty recruiting class intact is pretty cool, though.
  3. Fred Barakat, a longtime ACC  official and executive as well as former Fairfield coach, died on Monday at the age of 71.  He is widely regarded as one of the key players in the extraordinary growth of ACC basketball as a brand in the 80s and 90s.  RIP, Fred.
  4. Class of 2011 super-recruit James McAdoo was considering bailing on his senior year of high school to matriculate in Chapel Hill a year earlier than expected, but ZagsBlog reported yesterday that he would instead remain in Hampton Roads next year.  You only get to be a kid once, so we fully support this decision.
  5. This interview of Jay Bilas, Gary Williams, Jay Wright and Jim Boeheim at the CvC Golf Invitational shows that coaches are definitely concerned about realignment.  Bilas, as usual, has the best take: the NCAA needs to get in front of this realignment business or risk getting left completely behind in a few years when the super-conferences decide that the entity is no longer necessary.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: James Anderson

Posted by nvr1983 on June 22nd, 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: James Anderson

School: Oklahoma State

Height/Weight6’6″, 210 lbs

NBA PositionShooting guard

Projected Draft RangeMid-to-late first round

Overview: The casual college basketball fan may not be as familiar with Anderson as they are with many of the bigger names higher up the Draft board, but that does not mean he is any less prolific a scorer as the Cowboys junior guard averaged 22.3 PPG last season on his way to Big 12 POY Honors and a 1st team All-American selection (by The Sporting News). The questions for Anderson come for the other areas of his game beyond his ability to score from the outside and that will most likely keep him out of the lottery. Although he lacks the requisite athleticism to get one of those goofy draft labels Anderson has shown that he has the ability to get to the basket at times during the past season in Stillwater.

We know that Anderson can do this, but what else can he do?

Will Translate to the NBA: A solid shooting guard with great range. Anderson’s game is a pretty well-known entity to most scouts with a relatively narrow floor and ceiling. Anderson already has all the tools he needs to become that sort of player right away in the right setting, but will need to work on some of his weaknesses (see below) if he wants to fulfill the promise he showed at times in Stillwater.

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Coach Animosity of 1-and-Done Rule Forgets How It Was…

Posted by rtmsf on June 22nd, 2010

We ran across an interesting article from Fanhouse’s Brett McMurphy over the weekend that delved into the continuing discomfort that many college coaches have over the 1-and-done rule in light of an NBA Draft on Thursday night that will see anywhere from eight to ten freshmen selected among the lucky few.  We understand their complaint.  They want continuity in their programs.  They want to be able to plan ahead without having to wonder each and every offseason who is staying and who is leaving.  Most importantly, they want to be able to hang onto a stud for two or three seasons if it turns out he’s first round material.

The ideal, as proposed by Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Villanova’s Jay Wright, Notre Dame’s Mike Brey and DePaul’s Oliver Purnell in the article, is that the NBA would adopt the existing MLB model.  If a player is good enough to go preps-to-pros, let him go; if he’s not, then he will not be eligible for the draft again until three (or at worst, two) years later.  Brey in particular echoed the popular cry amongst the coaching fraternity:

Let them go out after high school [to the NBA] if they’re special and see if we can get at least two years out of them [in college].  I think the baseball rule is the best rule given that we are academic institutions. I don’t know if we can get it to [three years in college], but could we at least get it to two years?  And I think two years on a college campus is going to help ’em. He’s going to get an education. But the really special ones, let ’em go after high school. Cut them lose. There’s a handful of them. Let’s at least get two years [before they leave for the NBA]. I’d love to get three years, but I don’t think we can. But let’s at least get two years.

This is the same kind of self-serving thinking (program continuity, fear of re-recruiting players, etc.) by coaches that inspired the NCAA to drastically reduce the amount of time that underclassmen had to “test the waters” this past May.  The result was that 28% more early entries (50) jumped headfirst into the draft pool this year even though there was no corresponding increase in the number of draft spots (60) available.  The problem is that if the NBA adopts a model similar to major league baseball (and there is no sign that Stern and company are even considering it), we’re only trading one set of problems for another.

The Completely Forgettable Jackie Butler

 The coaches are forgetting how it was before the 1-and-done rule was instituted.  From 2003-05 (the last three drafts prior to the rule going into effect), 23 high school seniors entered the NBA Draft directly out of the prep ranks.  Some you may have heard of — Lebron James and Dwight Howard, for example — while others are vague memories in the mind’s distant recesses — like James Lang and Jackie Butler.  Even though they never made it on campus, most of these players were recruited to play college basketball somewhere.  Resources were spent, trips were made, text messages were sent, and letters were delivered.  And yet, even though the majority signed to play for coaches like Izzo, Wright, Brey and Purnell, by spring of their senior years they began to see dollar signs in their eyes and bailed on the notion of playing college basketball.  Consider, by way of a few prominent examples:

  • 2003: Travis Outlaw (Mississippi State); Ndubi Ebi (Arizona) 
  • 2004: Shaun Livingston (Duke); Josh Smith (Indiana); JR Smith (UNC)
  • 2005: Martell Webster (Washington); Gerald Green (Oklahoma State); Louis Williams (Georgia)

Is that what the coaches want to go back to — spending 1-2 years recruiting star players and ultimately getting nothing but a thank-you call out of it as the players move on to NBA riches?  By 2005, an average of eight prep-to-pro players were coming out each season.  That was with no restriction on draft eligibility once you got to college — a fence-sitting player could still leave after one year of college if he chose to do so (see: Carmelo Anthony).  What happens if the coaches get what they want and players are forced into choosing zero years or three years of college under the MLB model?  Our best guess is that roughly the top twenty draft prospects would go into the draft each season and the coaches who recruited, caressed, and whispered sweet-nothings at them would be screaming bloody murder that something else needs to be done to protect their interests.  And that doesn’t even address what would happen to the quality of play of college basketball when the very best players are barely even first-round worthy.     

Of course, none of this debate from the NCAA side matters a whit, because the NBA is going to do only what it thinks will help sell its product in the best possible way.  And from our reading of the tea leaves with David Stern over the past five years, we think that if anything, he wants 1-and-done to become 2-and-done, which will have the corollary effect of giving the coaches more continuity anyway. 

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Damion James

Posted by rtmsf on June 22nd, 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: Damion James 

School: Texas 

Height/Weight: 6’8, 227 

NBA Position: Small Forward 

Projected Draft Range: Mid-to-late first round  

Overview: Damion James is one of only a small handful of seniors with a good chance of hearing their names called by David Stern in the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft. Over the course of his career in Austin, he played with several NBA-caliber players, including former first-round picks Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin, yet still managed to post impressive numbers. James’ scoring average increased every year, from just 7.6 a game as a freshman to 18 a night last season, and James always produced on the glass, posting 10.3 rebounds per game in both his sophomore and senior seasons, and an average of 9.3 RPG over the course of his career. As a result of being undersized for his natural power forward position, James has worked hard on his perimeter jumper, improving from a poor shooter (he hit just one of his 11 three-point attempts as a freshman) to a 37.5% three-point shooter over the final three years of his career, a facet of his game that will need to continue to improve.    

James is a Tough Kid Who Will Make His Way in the League

Will Translate to the NBA: James’ athleticism, rebounding ability and motor are his biggest strengths, and those will be the traits on which James’ NBA career rests. James has strong hands, is quick off the floor on multiple jumps, and is a tireless worker, all ingredients in his outstanding rebounding numbers. As a bonus, James is a more than capable outlet passer and relishes getting up and down the floor. While he is undersized for a full-time NBA power forward, he is versatile enough to spend some minutes at both forward spots, and can very effectively guard face-up or perimeter-oriented NBA fours.

Needs Work: Since James can’t do a whole lot to make himself taller, he’ll need to polish his skills at the small forward, his best fit in the NBA. While he has improved the range on his jumper, he’ll need to extend that out a couple more feet to the NBA three-point line while increasing his accuracy on his existing range. Although he has worked on offensive moves to free himself up, he’ll need to further develop his ball-handling skills in order to create space against superior defenders at the next level. There are plenty of things that are just going to be off-limits to James due to his lack of height, so he’ll need to solidify every other area in his game in order to make up for his shortcomings.

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