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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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Greg Monroe

Posted by nvr1983 on June 15th, 2010

Player Name: Greg Monroe

School: Georgetown

Height/Weight: 6’11″, 247 lbs

NBA Position: Power Forward/Center

Projected Draft Position: Mid-lottery

Overview: After turning down Duke to go to Georgetown, Monroe has mostly lived up to the lofty expectations bestowed upon him as a top 10 recruit coming out of high school. He has proven to be every bit as talented as the high school recruiting experts, but questions remain about whether he has the tenacity or type of game to dominate the way you expect a superstar to. Monroe has shown the capacity to improve his game as demonstrated by his growth as a player between his freshman and sophomore year as the Hoyas often ran sets through Monroe. Although Monroe has the best skill set of any big man in the draft by a wide margin he has a lot to work on if he wants to fulfill his potential as a basketball player.

Monroe Has Shown Flashes of Brilliance

Will Translate to the NBA: Monroe will be a player that his teammates will love playing with. As soon as Monroe signs his first contract he will be one of the top 5 passing big men in the NBA. His game won’t overwhelm opposing teams, but if he is put in the right system he could flourish. In a few years he could very easily be the second or third option on a championship level contender. He isn’t the kind of player that you give the ball to with the clock running down, but he is a player who in the right situation can put you in position to win games (a lot of them). On the other hand, Monroe will frustrate fans because his passive game may be interpreted by many on the periphery as lacking the urgency his team sometimes needs. On defense Monroe will put up decent numbers because of his size and decent mobility even if he lacks the ideal NBA athleticism. He should be a decent defender, but will never make an all-defensive team. The big question will be how his game translates from the Georgetown “Princeton offense” to a more traditional NBA offense depending on where he ends up going.

Needs Work: As we have mentioned (and countless others before us) Monroe could become a little more aggressive on the offense end. While we all know the NBA could use a few more unselfish players Monroe needs to develop that “killer instinct” (a banal term for a not so banal attribute). Monroe could also use a little work in the low post. Even though he is effective with his variety of unorthodox moves inside Monroe would benefit immensely from a summer (or two or more) working with a skilled big man refining his inside game so he can play a little center too.

Comparison Players: The name you will hear thrown around the most when describing Monroe is Lamar Odom. While I can see that particularly with their build and passing ability there are some key differences namely that Monroe lacks the handle or outside shooting range that Odom has and Monroe can actually be an inside force (read: play defense) so the comparison is not a particularly useful one. Another comparison that I actually prefer is Brad Miller, another inside player with a solid passing game but not a dazzling array of other offensive skills. Miller has a nasty streak that Monroe has yet to display and Monroe has a little better handle, but otherwise their skill sets are pretty comparable.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Al-Farouq Aminu

Posted by rtmsf on June 14th, 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: Al-Farouq Aminu

School: Wake Forest

Height/Weight: 6’8, 216

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid-lottery

Overview:  Al-Farouq Aminu is a player that every NBA scout has had on his radar since he came out of the Atlanta area two years ago, but despite two solid years in the ACC at Wake Forest, he has yet to make the leap to bonafide superstar that many anticipated at that time.  In watching AFA play, you get a sense that he’s still often learning how to use his prodigious physical talents to his advantage, which makes sense when you consider that he’s still only 19 years old despite having two years of college ball under his belt.  Aminu’s upside is tremendous with his size, athleticism and nose for the ball combining to leave scouts waiting for everything to come together, but the biggest barrier between him and NBA stardom will be his weak jumpshot.  Still, despite having little in the way of a reliable offensive move to the basket at this stage of his career, he’s projected as a mid-lottery pick in next week’s draft because of the obvious possibility that he may explode in the next 3-5 years.  There is a slight risk that the team selecting Aminu will eventually be left with a freakish athlete and not much else, but the stronger possibility given his obvious work ethic is that AFA will eventually become a second-tier star in the league, a double-double threat every night out from the small forward position.

Aminu is a Freakish Athlete But Needs to Work on Shooting

Will Translate to the NBA:  Aminu’s athleticism and length at the small forward slot are what NBA coaches covet, as he has the capability and potential to become a terror filling lanes on the break, a powerful rebounder from the wing and a devasting perimeter defender.  Still only 19 years old, Aminu’s upside is what has him slotted into the top ten picks of the draft, in large part because if he ever figures out the shooting part of the game, he has the tools to become an eventual All-Star.  His wingspan of 7’3 ensures that he’ll get his hands on boards that most players his size cannot, making Aminu a modern-day Shawn Marion clone (with an equally ugly jumper).  Despite spending a fair amount of time on the perimeter in the Wake Forest offense, AFA was first in the ACC in rebounding (10.7 RPG) and was one of the very best in the nation at corralling second-chance opportunities for his team.  Players with that particular skill are born, and Aminu will be one of the next undersized forwards to consistently outhustle the Lamar Odoms of the world to rebounds and loose balls. 

Needs Work:  Speaking of that jumper, Aminu cannot yet shoot the ball with any kind of consistency outside of ten feet.  While his three-point percentage improved in his sophomore campaign from 18% to 27%, no opposing team had stopping AFA’s three-point attack at the top of their defensive priority list.  There are also concerns about Aminu’s maturity level.  At times last season and particularly as the wheels on the Wake Forest bus were coming off, AFA would seem to float through large portions of games, most notably in a zero-point, five-foul performance against Florida State during the last week of the regular season.  He also fouled out of three other games and picked up four fouls in nine more, limiting his time on the floor and causing his team to suffer as a result.  For him to reach his lofty potential, shooting drills and better concentration will have to be areas of improved focus. 

Comparison Players:  We mentioned Marion above as an example of a similarly sized player who had the athleticism and heart to regularly snare rebounds away from taller, bigger players.  The key distinction is that, ugly as it was, Marion’s jumper became consistently deadly from outside.  Will Aminu be able to work up to that level of shooting skill to keep defenses honest and open up his ability to get to the basket?  Luol Deng is another player with similar size and athletic gifts who Aminu could favorably compare with. 

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Devin Ebanks

Posted by rtmsf on June 14th, 2010

Player Name: Devin Ebanks

School: West Virginia

Height/Weight: 6’8, 208

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late 1st round

Overview: Devin Ebanks’ value to the Final Four-qualifying West Virginia Mountaineers can’t necessarily be valued in points scored. The former Indiana commit was an important cog in the stellar Mountaineer defensive attack that vaulted Bob Huggins’ team to lofty heights during Ebanks’ final campaign. There were games where Ebanks’ mid-range jumper and soft touch around the basket contributed in the scoring column, prime examples being his 15 points in a home win over Georgetown, 19 points in a squeaker over Marquette and even 20+ point displays against the soft defenses of Providence and Seton Hall. There were also a handful of contests in which Ebanks simply could not be relied on to provide scoring punch, including five single-digit outputs in Big East play and even an embarrassing 19-minute donut in a discouraging road loss to Notre Dame. Ebanks’ rebounding capacity (8.1 per game), long wingspan, defensive prowess and gifted passing ability were certainly vital components of a wildly successful season in Morgantown, but if any NBA team is searching for a consistent scoring thump from the enigmatic Ebanks, they may need to search elsewhere late in the first round. Teams working out Ebanks likely fell in love with those secondary (albeit just as important to a winning cause) skills, giving the 6’8 Long Island native enough assurance of a first round selection that his final two campaigns in Morgantown were deemed unnecessary.

Ebanks' Defense and Rebounding Make Him an Intriguing Prospect

Will Translate to the NBA: There’s plenty that Ebanks brings to the table for any NBA squad. He’s truly one of the most gifted rebounders we’ve seen in the Big East in the last five years. His body and strength fail to overpower, but Ebanks has a knack for reading misses and exploding off the floor to snatch the rebound, especially for second chance opportunities. Ebanks averaged around eight rebounds per game in each of his two seasons at West Virginia and that incredible wingspan makes the task undoubtedly easier. Ebanks has a chance to thrive in a more up-tempo system because of his prowess in transition. His athleticism and gazelle-like strides in the open floor often conclude in powerful dunks or accurate pull-up short jumpers. We could see his mid-range game developing into a weapon in the next 4-5 years. His mechanics are sound, the elevation is evident and Ebanks is already a 75% free throw shooter. Since West Virginia’s offense is largely based on cutting rather than penetration, Ebanks was able to show his passing gifts on more than one occasion last season. He can also be a versatile defender that shuts down a scoring small forward or utilizes his wingspan/athleticism to contain bigger power forwards.

Needs Work: Just ask any West Virginia diehard who followed Ebanks during his two seasons in yellow and blue: it’s impossible to tell what you’re getting from Ebanks on any given night from a scoring perspective. Scouts will have a difficult time determining where Ebanks really succeeds on that end of the floor. He has no reliable go-to move, lacks the ball control to penetrate effectively and gives the defense nothing to respect on a shot with any range. Most of his points and shot attempts in college were a result of offensive rebounds or broken garbage plays, and even with that he only averaged just above nine FG attempts per game as a sophomore. Just ask Ron Artest whether a small forward in the NBA needs to have at least a somewhat respectable outside jump shot in his arsenal. Ebanks is a fantastic free throw shooter but rarely is able to draw fouls because of his complete lack of individual offensive capabilities. He absolutely must learn how to take defenders off the dribble and add some strength to finish through contact at the rim. Character is also a mild concern as Ebanks was suspended early in the 2009-10 season by Huggins.

Comparison Players: Although Ronnie Brewer is a bit shorter, we see a lot of his game in Devin Ebanks. Both are likely forever destined to playing a secondary role in the NBA and have certain discernable skills that should keep them in the league. Both players are abominable outside shooters but make up for that negative with outstanding defense on the other end. They’re also athletic and Ebanks even played point-forward on a handful of occasions at West Virginia.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Paul George

Posted by rtmsf on June 13th, 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: Paul George

School: Fresno State

Height/Weight: 6’9, 215

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late lottery

Overview: To the casual fan, Paul George may be the least recognizable potential lottery pick, having spent his two collegiate seasons in relative obscurity on bad teams at Fresno State.  National television appearances were few and far between, but when George’s Bulldogs found their way onto ESPN, he made the best of it.  Last season George did a little bit of everything for the Bulldogs, averaging 16.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.0 APG and 2.2 SPG while hitting 91% of this free throws in 33 minutes per game.  Still, he rarely faced elite defenders in the WAC so there is some lingering concern over the quality of competition he was doing it against, but the general feeling is that his athletic gifts and skill set are such that he will learn to excel against any defense.   The key question that draftniks have about George is whether his potential and upside are worth the risk of taking him with a lottery pick, and it appears as we get closer to draft day that several teams are more than willing to give him a shot.

George's Athleticism is Eye-Popping

Will Translate to the NBA:  George’s ridiculous athleticism, nearly seven-foot wingspan and astonishing leaping ability are attributes that will serve him very well at the small forward position in the NBA.  He can get to the rim and finish over and through defenders when necessary.  He also has exceptional range on his jumper — well beyond the college three-point line — although he can sometimes rely too much on this shot given his athleticism (43% of his field goal attempts were from distance in his two-year career).  There are quite a few swing players vying for a minutes at the next level who can run and jump like George, but not many can also shoot the ball with consistency.  He has had a tendency to take poor shots on occasion, but George will likely cut down on his chucker mentality when he realizes that he will not need to be the primary scoring threat in the NBA.

Needs Work: The areas of George’s game that need the most work are his sometimes sloppy handling of the ball (nearly three turnovers per game) and a lack of defensive intensity (especially considering his physical tools).  These are manageable problems that can be improved upon with repetition and improved focus during game action, but they’re also the type of mistakes that will get him pulled from the game quickly at the next level.  We imagine that some of this derives from being the star offensive player on a bad team and is correctable through management of his minutes and improved basketball IQ.  In other words, coaching.

Comparison Players: Reliable small forwards who can shoot from distance like Trevor Ariza, Danny Granger and Rudy Gay are several of the more popular comparisons we’re hearing.  George is probably a bit more athletic than those players so if he can shore up his handle and improve his shot selection, these are reasonable target players for him.  Should he not improve on his deficiencies, though, then Dorell Wright may be a more apt comparison over the long run.

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