RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Luke Babbitt

Posted by rtmsf on June 21st, 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: Luke Babbitt

School: Nevada

Height/Weight: 6’9, 218

NBA Position: Small/Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Overview:  Much like fellow WAC star Paul George, most basketball fans would have a lot of trouble picking Luke Babbitt out of a lineup.  When pressed, they might guess he was Kyle Singler or maybe even Gordon Hayward.  But Babbitt will probably be selected higher than either of those collegiate stars as a result of his rare mixture of NBA-range shooting ability and post play.  The 6’8 wing player who was named the WAC Player of the Year in 2010 averaged 21.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 2.1 APG while shooting over 50% from the floor last season, and in part because Nevada was only an NIT team, nobody outside of Reno and its environs has ever seen the kid play.  Luckily for Babbitt, the scouts go everywhere to find talent, and depending on which pundit you believe, the Wolfpack sophomore could be looking at a draft spot from somewhere in the lottery to as far down as the mid-20s.  The reason for the large disparity in his projection has to do with the fact that he’s considered a tweener with tremendous offensive skills who may really struggle to guard people at the next level.  The big question is whether he’ll be able to overcome that deficiency to justify giving him minutes on the offensive end of the floor, and the general feeling among many is that he will figure out a way to do so.   

Who is This Floppy-Haired Man?

Will Translate to the NBA:  You can teach shooting to a certain extent, but those who have the magic touch usually have had it from a very early age.  Babbitt is one of those players.  You cannot leave this guy open out to 25 feet.  The smooth lefty drained 75 treys in two seasons at Nevada at an excellent rate of 42% and utilized his mid-range game to draw numerous fouls for automatic points at the line (where he shot 89%).  He has a number of crafty jab step and fadeaway moves both in the post and on faceups that he uses to create separation from his defender and get clean looks — more often than not, the shot results in the other team catching the ball out of the net.  Babbitt is the kind of player who will be able to provide instant offense off the bench or as a third scoring option on the wing.  His offensive repertoire is NBA-ready.

Needs Work:  This will sound stereotypical, but there are legitimate questions about Babbitt’s ability to defend at the next level.  At the small forward position, he doesn’t currently have the lateral quickness to stay in front of the explosive first steps of the players he’ll be asked to defend.  At the power forward position, he doesn’t have the strength at 218 pounds to withstand nightly punishment in the post.  If he hopes to find significant minutes in an NBA rotation, he will have to shore up one of these areas.  The more likely option is that he adds muscle and gets used to blocking out bigger players down low.  If he can do that successfully, he can become a solid player in this league.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Eric Bledsoe

Posted by jstevrtc on June 21st, 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: Eric Bledsoe

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’1/190

NBA Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: Even with high school phenoms like John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Daniel Orton headed to Lexington back in the fall of 2009, Eric Bledsoe was immediately liked by Kentucky fans.  He was going to give their beloved team something they hadn’t had in a while — a designated shooter.  Though Bledsoe was primarily a point guard in high school with reliable handle, he was also known as more than just a serviceable shooter from distance, a combination Wildcat fans craved at the time, especially considering the poor marksmanship and turnover-prone nature of Wildcat backcourts that preceded the Wall/Bledsoe duo.  As if that wasn’t enough, even though Wall didn’t commit until later, Bledsoe won over many card-carrying Big Blue Nation members by expressing his desire to return Kentucky to hoops prominence, proclaiming on his signing day that he and his fellow recruits were coming to Lexington to “get shit right.”  Playing out of position for almost every minute of his only college season, he gave the Wildcats what they expected — a good shooter who also provided a second point guard option, as well as a better-than-expected penetrator and creator.  He shot 38% from beyond the arc, but his streaky nature meant defenses had to stay close to him, which enabled him to utilize his blistering first step to rocket past defenders.

If he can motivate himself to improve on the defensive end, his value will increase during his early years in the league.

Will Translate to the NBA: Bledsoe’s a rock.  He has tremendous upper body strength and he’s great at using it to blaze a path to the hoop, absorb contact, and still score.  He’s quick in every direction, including straight up off the floor, and doesn’t lose much of that pace even when he has the ball.  He’s shown that he can play both point guard and shooting guard at the elite college level, so the team that drafts him will feel like they’re getting a skill set that spans the job descriptions of two different positions.  He definitely possesses a shooter’s mentality, and shows no fear in firing away even if he misses his first few attempts.

Needs Work: Bledsoe is streaky from long range, and on off-nights he would occasionally sulk, resulting in less production, more turnovers, and extended bench minutes.  Though he started the season as a capable defender, this is an aspect of his game that actually got worse as the year progressed.  His quickness should translate quite easily to the defensive side, so the fact that he went backwards in this area points to the fact that it’s a matter of motivation, and that won’t do in the NBA.  Despite his upper body strength, he’s still just 6’1, and that underscores the need for him to get his head right as far as defense is concerned and become a good close-up defender.  Finally, even though he’s got great springs, he doesn’t get a lot of elevation off the ground on his jumper, and he could use that at his height.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: DeMarcus Cousins

Posted by jstevrtc on June 20th, 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: DeMarcus Cousins

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’11/290

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Early to Mid Lottery

Overview: DeMarcus Cousins showed up at Kentucky as part of the Calipari Revolution of 2009 as the man who was supposed to do for the Wildcat frontcourt what John Wall was projected to do for the back.  High expectations, indeed, but the man they call “Boogie” actually lived up to them.  At various points in the year Cousins was statistically the most efficient player in the country, and was a tenth of a rebound away from averaging a double-double (15.1 PPG and 9.9 RPG) for his only season in Wildcat blue.  In the early part of Kentucky’s SEC campaign, Cousins put up 11 double-doubles in one 13-game sample, including a string of seven in a row, totalling an impressive 20 on the year.  He may have developed a reputation as a “hothead” or “wildcard” — two terms long in vogue to describe him — but Cousins seemed to enjoy such descriptions and used that characterization to his advantage, especially when using his imposing frame to gobble up rebounds or punish rims with put-backs.  Throughout the season, he showed he possessed the skill to finish on the inside with authority as well as the ability to drill a jumper out to about 15 feet.  He may have only been in Lexington for one year, but his hard work, production, openness with the fans, and personality have endeared him to Wildcat supporters to the point where he’ll be an icon in Lexington for decades to come.  His tip-in at the buzzer against Mississippi State that put the SEC Tournament Final into overtime (which Kentucky eventually won) may represent the pinnacle of one terrific year in the Bluegrass — one that earned him SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

Beats by Boogie: The stratosphere's the limit, given the right fit.

Will Translate to the NBA: Cousins’ knack for vacuuming the ball off the glass is his greatest NBA-ready skill right now.  It’ll especially serve him well on the offensive end, as he’s superb at snagging garbage buckets off missed shots by his teammates.  Even though he only averaged an assist per game at UK, he’s a better passer than many people will remember, especially on the interior.  And let’s face it, he wasn’t exactly asked to distribute the ball a lot (Kentucky had another guy doing that).  The intensity and emotion that he brings to the court need no adjustment, and the right setting in terms of teammates and coaching staff could help him better focus that drive into improving the areas in which he needs to gain some ground.  He won’t jump out of the gym, but he’s happy going body-to-body with the other team’s biggest player on defense and has surprisingly good timing in terms of shot-blocking, and led his Wildcat squad in that category (1.8 BPG).  Finally, though Cousins is known primarily for his finishing ability close to the rim, he often showed a turn-around jumper and a fade-away of impressive accuracy, both of which he’ll need.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Ed Davis

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2010

Player Name: Ed Davis

School: North Carolina

Height/Weight: 6’9, 227

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late lottery

Overview: At one point, Ed Davis was seen as a top-five, even top-three, draft pick. While Davis is still a likely lottery pick, his stock has fallen since that time. After winning a national championship with the Tar Heels as a freshman (and adding 11 points and eight rebounds in just 14 minutes in the national championship game), last season had to be major disappointment for Davis. Aside from his team’s season-long struggles, Davis’ season was also ended early, following a broken left wrist, even more of a problem given that Davis is a lefty. Davis was dominant for stretches (he had a 12-game streak from late November to early January where he averaged 17.2 ppg, 11.1 rpg and 3 bpg), but was inconsistent at times, often due to his raw offensive game. Perhaps some of Davis’s struggles can be attributed to less-than-stellar guard play on the Carolina squad, but he does still have plenty of work to do on his game before he can live up to his potential as a definite prospect.

Ed Davis is a Bit of an Enigma

Will Translate to the NBA: Davis’ listed height is a little on the small side for an NBA power forward, but his 7’0 wingspan and bouncy athleticism more than makes up for the lack of an inch or two. Davis uses his great length to clean the glass on both ends of the floor very effectively, and his work on the offensive glass is one of the strong points of his offensive game, as he is an excellent finisher inside. Davis is also a terrific on help defense, coming over from the weak side to block a ton of shots. He possesses good quick footwork for a man his size, capable of defending face-up and perimeter power forwards through his combination of lateral quickness, length and hard work.

Needs Work: Davis has a boatload of potential, but he’ll need to put in a lot of work to reach his ceiling. While Davis has added some strength and weight since we last saw him, he will need to continue to get stronger in order to defend post players at the next level. His lack of strength is also a problem on the offensive end, often allowing him to be rooted out from good post position. But, lack of strength is just the tip of the iceberg for Davis’ offensive weaknesses; he has virtually no offensive game outside of eight feet. His face-up game is non-existent, as he is a poor ballhandler and has a poor jump shot (he shot just four jumpers in 641 minutes in his sophomore season). Even when Davis can get good post position, he has awkward and mechanical footwork and, outside of a good left-handed jump-hook, limited post moves.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Elliot Williams

Posted by rtmsf on June 19th, 2010

Player Name: Elliot Williams

School: Memphis

Height/Weight: 6’4, 180

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late first round/Early second round

Overview: Elliot Williams’ college career began under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, where he played a very limited role early in his freshman year, before finally getting a starting nod towards the end of the season in a non-conference game against St. John’s. Williams brought an athleticism and defensive intensity that had been sorely missing from the Blue Devil lineup, and he proceeded to start ten of the remaining eleven games for Duke that season. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Williams’ mom developed cancer and following his freshman season, he announced that he would be transferring to Memphis to be closer to his family. After receiving an NCAA waiver, Williams played immediately for Memphis and averaged 18 points while playing 33 minutes a night for the Tigers. The lefty proved himself a capable go-to scorer for Memphis, as well as an excellent defensive presence, despite the Tigers missing the NCAA tournament.

Williams Parlayed an Excellent Year at Memphis into the Draft

Will Translate to the NBA: Williams has good size and long arms which, coupled with his athleticism and tireless motor, make him a disruptive defender. He is capable of both harassing opposing ballhandlers and chasing shooters through screens. With the ball, he has a quick, explosive first step and can get into the lane with ease, where he can score in a variety of ways ranging from a little floater to a spectacular finish above the rim. Williams’ handles are good enough for him to play both guard spots, although he is a more natural two, as most of his penetration offensively is intended to create opportunities for himself – the drive-and-dish does not come naturally to him.

Needs Work: First and foremost, Williams needs to develop his off hand. While he is excellent with his left hand, he is clearly uncomfortable going right, nullifying some of his explosiveness due to his offensive predictability. Secondly, while Williams’ shooting numbers increased dramatically in his sophomore season (he shot just 50% from the line and 25% from three as a frosh, bumped up to 76% and 37% respectively last season), he needs to develop a more consistent jumper. And finally, adding the ability to run a halfcourt offense would greatly improve his worth. While he is capable of driving past defenders, adding the ability to find teammates when help comes would give his already dangerous slashing style another facet.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Solomon Alabi

Posted by rtmsf on June 19th, 2010

Player Name: Solomon Alabi

School: Florida State

Height/Weight: 7’1, 251

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Mid-to-late first round

Overview: Solomon Alabi is was born in Nigeria, and grew up playing soccer. However, when it became apparent that he wasn’t going to stop growing, he was told he could earn a scholarship to play basketball in the United States so he took up basketball when he was 15. He came to the U.S. in 2005, attended the Monteverde Academy in the Orlando area (the same school that former UCLA star Luc Richard Mbah a Moute attended) and eventually wound up at Florida State. His freshman season was cut short when he needed to have surgery on a stress fracture in his right tibia, but in the last two seasons in Tallahassee, he has been a model of hard work and improvement. In nearly every area, Alabi’s numbers have improved over his career at Florida State, where he averaged a career best 11.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 2.3 BPG last season. He also improved his free throw shooting (which was an early weakness) to the point where he shot nearly 80% from the line last season.

Alabi is Very Raw But Has Great Potential

Will Translate to the NBA: It’s true that you can’t teach height, and of that, Alabi has plenty. Add to a legit 7’1 frame a monstrous 7’5 wingspan and decent leaping ability and Alabi is an intimidating presence in the lane. And, aside from improving his offense numbers on a yearly basis at Florida State, he also put on weight and strength every year. Given his height, he is a good shot blocker, able to block shots while defending one-on-one in the post or coming over on help defense. Offensively, Alabi is a work in progress, but with his improving free throw percentage as evidence, he is capable of knocking down a mid-range jumper on occasion when in rhythm. Aside from all that stuff, Alabi is also generally described as a gregarious personality, a great teammate and a hard worker.

Needs Work: A lot. If Alabi is drafted in the first round, it will be mostly on potential. While he constantly improves (he has only been playing the game for seven years), he still looks a bit wooden out there, lacking fluidity in his post moves. Though his turnaround jumper has improved, it still needs work and a jump-hook and some post moves would be necessary for him to become even a mediocre offensive talent in the League. Even more alarming is that despite his massive frame and decent athleticism, he is a dramatically poor rebounder for his size, something that will need to change before he’ll have a chance at serious NBA minutes. Defensively, Alabi can be exposed by perimeter-oriented big men who can pull him away from the hoop and then exploit his lack of lateral quickness by driving on him.

Comparison Players: Guys like DeSagana Diop, Hasheem Thabeet and Samuel Dalembert are reasonable comparisons, players with a lot of height who can patrol the middle and block shots, grab some rebounds and aren’t much of an offensive threat otherwise — that’s the expectation for Alabi. And, given Thabeet was a #2 pick last season, getting Alabi in the back end of the first round shows either that Alabi is a great value or that Thabeet was an extreme reach.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Quincy Pondexter

Posted by rtmsf on June 18th, 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: Quincy Pondexter

School: Washington

Height/Weight: 6’7, 215

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late first round/Early second round

Overview: Washington’s Quincy Pondexter had a superb senior year apart from much of the national conversation due to the weakness of the Pac-10 and the fact that UW was written off very early — the Huskies in fact needed to win the Pac-10 Tournament just to make the NCAAs.  To their (and mostly Pondexter’s) credit, Washington was playing some of its best ball of the season during late February and March, ultimately winning nine of ten games to push through to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Final Four squad West Virginia.  Pondexter was outstanding all season, though, as he waited for his teammates to jump aboard the express with him.  The undersized power forward went for 19.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 1.7 SPG while shooting a very high percentage and consistently getting to the line and converting opportunities.  Late in the season he was a lock as a go-to man in the clutch, most notably against a tough Marquette squad in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when he broke down his defender and got to the rim to give his team the lead with 1.7 seconds left.  Pondexter’s ability to create shots in the mid-post area and finish with authority makes him an interesting prospect as a small forward backup at the next level.  He will have to continue to improve the range on his jump shot, but the mechanics and intelligence are already there, so this shouldn’t be a big problem moving forward.  Whoever picks up QP will likely be pleased with how he turns out in the next several years.

We See QP as a Career Sub, But That's Not a Bad Thing

Will Translate to the NBA:  Pondexter’s work ethic and arc of improvement along with his athletic tools should translate very well to the small forward position in the NBA.  He put in four seasons of steadily improving work at Washington, adding more facets to his game each year and there’s no reason to expect that he has reached his peak as he only recently turned 22 years old.  In terms of athleticism and the ability to finish in traffic, Pondexter will do very well at the next level.  He was always a very efficient scorer, but it really came together for him last season when he shot a remarkable 53% from the field and 83% from the line.  As an NBA coach, you won’t need to worry about QP jacking up crazy shots outside the offense or his available skill set.

Needs Work: The 6’7 forward will have to become accustomed to playing more of a perimeter role in the NBA, which means his jump shot must become more reliable.  In college he was asked to use his athletic gifts to attack the rim, and although he was a solid three-point shooter at 35%, he knew that wasn’t his preferred shot and limited his attempts from deep (51 all season).  Mastery of the 18-22 footer in the NBA is absolutely essential to his playing time, because he will never be a primary option in the offense but will need to be ready for the kickouts and ball reversals that will come his way.

Comparison Players: The best comparison we could come up with would be Travis Outlaw in the sense that Pondexter’s probably looking at carving out a niche as a career backup who can come into the game and provide minutes at the small forward position.  Though not in bunches, he has the ability to score and with his length and smarts, he could potentially also become an excellent defender at the next level.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Jordan Crawford

Posted by rtmsf on June 17th, 2010

Player Name: Jordan Crawford

School: Xavier

Height/Weight: 6’4, 198

NBA Position: SG

Projected Draft Range: Late first round/Early second round

Overview: Following a hectic summer headlined by an infamous dunk over LeBron James, Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford entered Xavier with the goal of becoming that go-to scoring option that would vault the Musketeers back to the Sweet 16 in Chris Mack’s first season at the helm. Crawford accomplished both goals with gusto. Crawford finished behind only UMass’ guard Ricky Harris for the A-10 scoring lead in the regular season, posting fourteen 20+ point performances during that span. As March rolled around, so did Crawford’s peak. The 6’4 sparkplug put up 62 points in Xavier’s three Atlantic 10 Tournament contests and carried that scoring prowess into the NCAA Tournament where Crawford tied BYU’s Jimmer Fredette for the tournament’s scoring lead at 29.0 PPG. No college hoops fan will soon forget his three-pointer from the cancer ribbon on the court in Salt Lake City to send the Kansas State Sweet 16 game into double OT (he scored 32 in that one). This late season shooting display resulted in Crawford peaking at the right time and earning the attention of numerous NBA scouts and evaluators. A player most assumed would stick around for another A-10 and Sweet 16 run was soon headed to the pros after just one season in Bloomington and one in Cincinnati. Crawford certainly left a lasting legacy for Musketeer fans, though, as one of the most exciting, inconsistent, heart-pounding and frustrating players to ever grace the floor of the Cintas Center.

Crawford Has the Ability to Blow Up Without Warning

Will Translate to the NBA: Crawford is one of the more polished and explosive scorers in the Draft. He knows he can score at any spot on the floor and shows it sometimes far too often. Crawford can spot up from mid-range or far behind the NBA three-point line and knock down the shot with proficiency. He was one of the more effective scorers in all of college basketball last year because of three reasons: 1) that unlimited shooting range, 2) craftiness and effort without the ball, and 3) persistence to penetrate and get to the rim. In isolation situations, Crawford is phenomenal at creating his own shot, even if it’s not the smartest one. He’s also tremendous off the ball reading screens, catching and elevating with his release high above the defender. Remember those old NBA video games where the player would literally catch fire when he’d make four or five shots in a row? That’s Jordan Crawford. The problem is that a series of misfires doesn’t deter the kid. He will shoot you in and out of basketball games.

Needs Work: Crawford’s shot selection and decision making must improve. He was in the perfect situation at Xavier because he was their only consistent scoring threat, so Mack could deal with Crawford taking twenty shots and dominating the ball on any given night. In the NBA, Crawford has to learn to utilize more discretion on his shots and maintain a level of effectiveness even as a role player. Crawford has the basketball IQ to bowl his way to the rim for free throws or layups when his shot isn’t falling, but we can’t recall very many times last season he decided to kick the ball out for open threes for teammates when the defense collapsed. Crawford is also a mediocre defender that tends to gamble and lose more than stick on his man, a sign of laziness on that end. More than anything, it seems to us his on-court ego needs to deflate just a tad, because Crawford can be a deadly complimentary player if he sets his mind to it.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: John Wall

Posted by rtmsf on June 16th, 2010

Player Name: John Wall

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’4, 196

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: 1st overall pick

Overview: John Wall has been listed as the first overall pick for the 2010 Draft at mock drafts since he started his senior year of high school. His year at Kentucky merely served to further cement that lofty ranking. Gifted at slashing to the basket, taking contact, and still getting a shot away, he also possesses a court vision and an ability to distribute the basketball that just isn’t seen that often in the college game anymore, let alone in a freshman. Pundits have been very careful when predicting what type of professional player he will be, and that’s understandable, since we’ve heard such hyperbole so often in the past. But here, indeed, is a rare talent to say the least. Let’s be honest, how many players (especially freshmen) are legitimately good enough to borrow a dance from a music video and make it their own? For the record, we hope he does the dance one final time on draft night, then retires it forever, or at least finds another one. But boogie or no boogie, John Wall’s going to be a hit in Washington. He’ll immediately put fans in the Verizon Center seats, and then he’ll make those fans jump out of them.

Wall Will Be the #1 Overall Pick Next Week

Will Translate to the NBA: John Wall has gears most college players don’t possess. He can blow by defenders with either hand and still make a perfect pass or get off a good shot, all at that breakneck pace. He’s going to take more and harder contact in the league, but he’s fantastic at absorbing it and getting the and-one opportunity. In a body that’s still actually maturing, he’s still a ridiculous pure athlete, and even though that athleticism will be diluted a little in the pro ranks, he’s light years ahead of the curve in that respect for this stage in his career.

Needs Work: Even with such speed, for the most part, Wall made good decisions with the ball at Kentucky. He occasionally tried to make what John Calipari called “the high school play,” meaning a pass or a move that would work in high school but would result in a turnover when he tried it against the superior college athletes. It would only be worse in the NBA, especially because he tended to do this more in half-court sets. He showed some improvement in this respect as the season progressed, but he needs to totally eradicate that from his game. He’ll need to develop his jumper, too, but the combination of the fact that he’s coachable plus his awareness that he still has room to improve means that he’ll eventually be fine in that regard.

Comparison Players: One comparison we haven’t heard much is to another Kentucky point guard who left early, Rajon Rondo. Both are slashing players who prefer to score by attacking the rim, but are just as comfortable setting up teammates. Both are incredibly quick and use their long limbs to pick pockets and be disruptive on defense. Both players constantly sacrifice their bodies and still find ways to score. He’s also similar to another Calipari product in Derrick Rose, an athletic, slashing scorer whose jumper left a little to be desired upon entering the league.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Lance Stephenson

Posted by nvr1983 on June 16th, 2010

Player Name: Lance Stephenson

School: Cincinnati

Height/Weight: 6’6″, 227 lbs

NBA Position: SG/SF

Projected Draft Position: Late first/early second round

Overview: Coming into his freshman year Stephenson was one of the most talked about recruits in recent memory. Unfortunately it was for all the wrong reasons as Stephenson was considered egotistical and there were even questions about his eligibility. As it turned out Stephenson was not the much-ballyhooed recruit that spent the season on the sidelines because of eligibility issues. Although he avoided the long arm of the NCAA, Stephenson had his own struggles on an inconsistent Bearcat team that mirrored their mercurial freshman star’s personality. Stephenson had the potential to develop into a top 10 pick. Normally we would be critical of such a decision (as college basketball fans), but Stephenson has stated that his primary reason for leaving school early was to support his 2 year-old daughter.

Will "Born Ready" Be Ready for the NBA?

Will Translate to the NBA: Even though Stephenson is a borderline first round pick his game is NBA ready (his nickname is “Born Ready” after all) and if he works on keeping his ego in check, which reports out of workout sessions suggest, he should be a solid NBA player. With his power, quickness, and a solid mid-range jumper Stephenson should have a spot on a NBA roster for the next decade along as he continues to be the new-and-improved Lance Stephenson instead of the malcontent who nearly turned the basketball recruiting world upside down in the spring and summer of 2009.

Needs Work: For all of his athletic gifts Stephenson lack the explosiveness (both with his first step and his vertical) that scouts expect in high draft picks. While there isn’t much Stephenson can do about that other than try to shed a few pounds and go to Tim Glover during the off-season a few times. As for the more realistic targets for Stephenson, he could work on his long-range shooting (21.9% from 3 last year), defensive intensive intensity, going with the flow of the game instead of making up his mind before the play develops, and going with the simple play instead of the “And 1” play. So Stephenson has a lot to work on over the next few years. . .

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