RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Andrew NicholsonPosted by EJacoby on May 30th, 2012
The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: Andrew Nicholson
School: St. Bonaventure
Height/Weight: 6’9” / 225 lbs.
NBA Position: Power Forward
Projected Draft Range: Late First Round
Overview: Despite playing four years in the Atlantic 10 and being productive from the minute he stepped on the floor as a freshman, Andrew Nicholson has long been an under-the-radar prospect. That is, until recently, when he led St. Bonaventure to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2000 and nearly led the Bonnies to a stunning upset of #3-seed Florida State in the first round — putting up 20 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, in line with his senior season averages. In that game, the 6’9” beast also extended out and hit 4-5 shots from three-point range, a new skill he’s added to his game that makes him an even more intriguing prospect. Nicholson is a bit undersized for a true power forward/center, but explosiveness around the rim allowed him to average two blocks per game for his college career, and he’s always a threat to throw down dunks near the basket. He was asked to do a lot for his team in college and was always the point of emphasis on opponents’ scouting reports, which perhaps helps explain his struggle with turnovers throughout his career. He was very productive from day one and shot an outstanding 57.4% from the field for his career. Nicholson is a rare senior that’s just now rising up draft boards, as his array of skills provides the potential for great upside outside of the lottery.
Will Translate to the NBA: Nicholson has classic pick-and-pop skills, as he’s adept at both rolling to the rim to finish around the basket and floating to the perimeter to hit from the outside. As the league demands more “stretch fours” at the power forward position, Nicholson’s skill set is coveted. While not a great athlete, he’s plenty able to hold his own around the basket and in fact dominated the A-10 as a low post scorer. In addition, Nicholson’s consistent block rate should translate to the next level and allow him to make an impact on defense even when matched up with bigger, stronger, and even harder-working forwards.
Needs Work: Nicholson is a smart player and works hard for his points, but his endurance isn’t particularly great, leading to questions about his consistency. He could stand to put on some more upper body strength and get in better shape so he can better keep up with the speed of the NBA game. Also aforementioned, Nicholson struggled with a high turnover rate throughout four years (2.4 TO per game for his career), something he must cut down on if he’s going to be asked to make plays in a pick-and-roll game at the next level. If he can put on more muscle, he should then also be able to improve upon his average rebounding numbers (7.2 RPG for his career).
Comparison Players: A name that pops up a lot for Nicholson comparisons is David West, which makes sense for his heady feel for the game as a versatile offensive player. The similar pick-and-pop skills also make sense for that comparison. But Nicholson is built differently – more agile and a better leaper – and lacks the upper body strength of West. There’s a lot of Taj Gibson in Nicholson, a versatile forward who can score both inside and out and also has shot-blocking skills to hold his own defensively despite being undersized for a four. Gibson is a similar height and weight as Nicholson, as well.
Best Case Scenario: If Nicholson reaches his potential, which includes improving his consistency and endurance, then he has the tools to be an impact player on both ends of the floor. An ability to score inside, dunk on defenders, hit deep jumpers, rotate out to shooters, and block shots inside – Nicholson has plenty of strong characteristics that could make him a starting power forward down the road in the NBA. If not a starter, he certainly has the versatility to succeed as a reserve stretch four that plays defense. There’s unusual upside to his game for a graduating senior.
Best NBA Fit: Nicholson is a much different specimen from the other bigs in the mix in the late first round (Fab Melo, Festus Ezeli), so the team that selects him will be looking for a more versatile forward option as opposed to a cemented space-eater in the post. Therefore, expect him to best fit with a team that has established size on both the first and second units so that Nicholson can be an asset without being asked to defend bigger low post players. Oklahoma City could especially use a skilled forward, but he could be gone before then to a team like the Atlanta Hawks.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “His athleticism is deceiving. Appears to be a stiff when you watch him run the floor, but has great length and good leaping ability in the half court. His array of skills (post moves and shooting ability) will really shine in individual workouts.”
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Evan Jacoby. He can be found on Twitter @evanJacoby.