2008 NBA Draft Profiles Summary

Posted by rtmsf on June 25th, 2008

Over the past few weeks, we have rolled out profiles of several of the top prospects in the 2008 NBA Draft. In general, we tried to get the best school-specific bloggers to provide a more in-depth look at the players they’ve spent all year watching. Most schools had bloggers who were up to the challenge, so a big thanks to the blogs listed after each player’s name.  Where we couldn’t find a school blog willing to help us out, we stepped up ourselves.

Here is the list of 2008 NBA Draft Profiles:

Derrick Rose, MemphisRush the Court

Michael Beasley, Kansas St.Bring on the Cats

Anthony Randolph, LSUAnd the Valley Shook

DJ Augustin, TexasBurnt Orange Nation

Mario Chalmers, KansasKansas Jayhawks – It’s Business Time

Russell Westbrook, UCLAGutty Little Bruins

Darrell Arthur, KansasKansas Jayhawks – It’s Business Time

Kevin Love, UCLAGutty Little Bruins

OJ Mayo, USCConquest Chronicles

Brandon Rush, KansasKansas Jayhawks – It’s Business Time

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2008 NBA Draft Profiles: Russell Westbrook

Posted by rtmsf on June 18th, 2008

Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be rolling out our profiles of several of the top expected prospects in the 2008 NBA Draft. Figuring that we’re not the only ones who’ve thought of this, we decided to enlist some help by asking several of the best school-specific bloggers in the land to give us the up-close-and-personal profile of the players they’ve spent all year watching. For example, we probably watched Russell Westbrook play 15 times this year, but we were limited by his games that were on national television and other competing games at the same time. These bloggers know these players – their strengths, their weaknesses, whether they become Black Mamba or channel C-Webb in the clutch, and what kind of team they would best fit with at the next level.

With that said, our next submission is from the most excellent UCLA blog, Gutty Little Bruins. Andy over there has spent the week maligning the Mbah a Moute decision to stay in the draft, but he found some time to hook us up with some Bruins info . Here is their post on the acrobatic Russell Westbrook.

Last week, I did a Draft Profile on Kevin Love for Rush the Court and here is another one on Russell Westbrook.  Just by looking at these youtube videos, I can tell we’re going to miss him next year. Enjoy!

 

Russell Westbrook could not dunk a basketball until he was 17.

 

 

Yes. That Russell Westbrook.

 

Yet, there was a time, if you can imagine, where he wasn’t always called “Russell Westbrook.”

 

Actually, about two years ago, you were more likely to hear him called “Russell Who?” than Russell Westbrook. Or maybe you’d hear him called “That New Guy.” Or “That Dude Who Got an Offer only Because Jordan Farmar Left for the NBA.”

 

Even in hindsight, you can’t really blame the recruiting services for missing out on Russell Westbrook. When Russell Westbrook was a junior, he was a mere 5’11”.  Fast forward only one year later, and he’s 6’3″. And he can jump through the roof. BAM. He went from hoping to walk-on to a major program to bona-fide high-major elite guard prospect in a flash. I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have to show you Jamal Boykin getting Boykined just once more:

 

 

The fact that Westbrook was nearly forgotten as a prospect is best illustrated by the list of programs, besides UCLA, that offered him a scholarship: Arizona State, San Diego, Wake Forest, Creighton, and Kent State.

 

No Duke, No North Carolina, No Memphis. He came out of nowhere.

 

Yet coming into this year, Ben Howland could not shut up about Westbrook. Back then, Howland touted that Westbrook was the most improved player on the team.  Ask Howland now, and he’ll say that Westbrook is the most improved player he’s ever had. Westbrook went from garnering around 10 minutes a game as Darren Collison’s backup to becoming the starter at shooting guard.  Even at the beginning of his first season you could see that his potential was off the charts…

 

So here is what you need to know about Russell Westbrook:

 

Pros

1. Russell Westbrook is extremely athletic. I could describe how athletic he is but…well…just watch this again:

 

 

And because of his athleticism and length, he’s a pretty damn good rebounder for a guard.

 

2. Russell Westbrook takes defense personally. He is your prototypical lockdown defender and was named the Pac-10’s defensive player of the year. That’s quite the feat in a conference that has begun to swear by defense.

 

3. Westbrook is as quick as a wink and can penetrate the lane. And he does it fearlessly.  To see him on the fast break is quite a sight to be hold.  He knows he’s going to the rim. The announcer knows he’s going to the rim. The three guys trying to guard him know he’s going to the rim. But time and again…he just can’t be stopped.

 

4. Like Kevin Love (and really almost all Ben Howland recruits), Westbrook is a team player and works his butt off. Expect the same work ethic to continue in the NBA.

 

Cons:

 

I see only two potentially serious weaknesses with Westbrook’s game.

 

1. Outside shot.  Westbrook sorely needs to develop a mid range game.  He only shot 33% from 3 at the college level and that number will at least stutter in the NBA.

 

2. Experience. Westbrook is slated to play the point in the NBA…but he’s only played a limited amount of minutes at point guard at UCLA.  Those inquiring about his ability to play point at the next level have every right to pose those questions. I guess everyone’s just going to have to wait this one out.

 

It will be a blast watching him develop.  Hopefully he’ll be able to pull off some of those ridiculous dunks at the next level…

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2008 NBA Draft Profile: Darrell Arthur

Posted by rtmsf on June 6th, 2008

Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be rolling out our profiles of several of the top expected prospects in the 2008 NBA Draft. Figuring that we’re not the only ones who’ve thought of this, we decided to enlist some help by asking several of the best school-specific bloggers in the land to give us the up-close-and-personal profile of the players they’ve spent all year watching. For example, we probably watched Darrell Arthur play 15 times this year, but we were limited by his games that were on national television and other competing games at the same time. These bloggers know these players – their strengths, their weaknesses, whether they become Black Mamba or channel C-Webb in the clutch, and what kind of team they would best fit with at the next level.

With that said, our first submission is from the most excellent Kansas blog, Kansas Jayhawks – It’s Business Time. You gotta love a blog that references Flight of the Conchords in its title – love the sense of humor. Here is their post on the high-flying Darrell Arthur.

DA Has Huge Upside. Thanks Jay Bilas…

Darrell Arthur is cheater! To all of the NBA GMs reading this: Do not draft him! When he was in high school, his math grade was changed from a D to a C. This is not a guy you want on your team. End of story.

All kidding aside, Darrell Arthur is a lottery pick. Because if he isn’t and DeAndre Jordan is, my head just might blow up. Granted, this would not be Bowie over Jordan or Darko over Carmelo/Bosh, but it would be a travesty. Fortunately, that won’t happen because DA is built for pre draft workouts. He’s 6’9″, 225 pounds, runs better than any big in the game and can jump out of the gym. Long story short, he already has the perfect NBA body and once (if) he adds 10-15 pounds to the frame, he’ll have that too. You throw in the ability to handle the ball, a few good post moves and an unbelievably smooth jumper and you’ve got yourself a workout specimen.

But will it translate to NBA success? The short answer is “yes.” A longer answer is “yes, but not right away.” And the longest answer is the one you’re going to get.

I would be willing to argue that of the big men in this draft, no one outside of Michael Beasley has a better offensive arsenal than Arthur. Unfortunately, one of the big separating points between him and Beasley is that he can’t really create off the dribble. As you may know, Beasley can. As you may also know, in the 1-on-1 age of the NBA this could be an issue. But then again, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand and David West aren’t making their millions by taking people off the dribble, either. Now, Arthur is not and will never be Tim Duncan. But Elton Brand isn’t out of reach and with a little work in the weight room, he can easily be David West. Chicago and Miami are probably looking to get more out of their picks but I can’t imagine too many other teams being very disappointed if they select a player who in his fourth year is named to the all star team, averages 21/9 and is the second best player on a team that finishes second in a stacked conference.

For any of that to happen, though, Arthur is going to have to make a commitment. As previously mentioned, he is going to have to add some muscle to his body. And with this added strength, he needs to develop an added emphasis on rebounding. For a guy with his size and athletic ability to only average 6 rebounds a game in college is unfathomable. Not only are the rebounds important but with his prowess around the basket, if he can find a way to start grabbing a couple on the offensive end, he would see a noticeable spike in his point production as well. Arthur is good offensively, but he isn’t good enough to outweigh being a rebounding liability at the power forward position. If he wants to crack a starting lineup, he needs to figure out a way to start pulling down 8 per game.

As alluded to earlier, the only real “weakness” in Arthur’s offensive game is his inability to make something happen off the dribble. But at power forward, that’s really more of a bonus rather than a necessity. The issue I have with him on this end of the court is his approach. This could partially be tied into his adding strength and focus on rebounding, but from a macro perspective, he just needs to look for more ways to score. As he plays now, he receives the ball on the block or the elbow and shoots either a jumper or a fadeaway. He’s incredibly good at both of these shots so he is able to score 13 points a game on a very balanced team. I’m not telling him to go out on the perimeter and look to stretch his range, but rather to make harder cuts or more importantly set some high elbow screens on which he can pick and pop. With as well as he runs the floor, if he expands his offensive game by also picking up some easy points on cuts and tip-ins, he could find himself at 20 points pretty regularly.

The one aspect of his game that I haven’t really mentioned is his defense. That’s partly because I’m not really sure how good he is or can be on that end of the court. And I’m having an especially hard time figuring out how well it will translate to the NBA. On the one hand, he has great instincts, long arms, a great vertical and he slides his feet as well or better than any other big man in the draft (possible exception of Mbah a Moute). But in spite of all those attributes, he consistently found himself in some foul trouble and was nothing more than a solid defender. If I had to guess, that’s what I would figure he’ll amount to at the next level as well – he’ll make some plays and he won’t be a true liability, but he’ll get scored on by the bigger forwards.

As you likely assumed before you even read a word of this, I’m high on Arthur’s NBA potential. And certainly there is a level of bias in that assumption. But more than that, I just feel like he’s at his best when he’s playing against the best. Look at his 20/10 against Memphis or during the regular season when he scored 20, 22, & 16 against Arizona, Texas & Texas again. If that’s not enough, look back to last year when in only his 6th game and in only 16 minutes he put up 19/9 in leading Kansas past the defending and eventual National Champion Florida Gators. It’s also worth noting that in that game he went up against two top 10 picks in Horford (9/8 ) and Noah (17/4), a second round pick in Chris Richard (2/5) and that Mareese Speights played 2 minutes, picking up 2 offensive boards and a foul while missing a shot. Darrell Arthur is ready to contribute now and when (if) he puts on some more muscle, he has every capability to be a major impact player.

Out of Chad Ford’s Top 15, with no regard to team need and simply by the requisite of ‘best player,” I’d put Arthur in the second tier…

Tier 1: Bayless, Beasley, Love, Mayo, Rose
Tier 2: Augustin, Arthur, Gordon, Lopez, Westbrook
Tier 3: Galinari, Greene, Jordan, Randolph, Speights

And personally, if it was me, I’d be more inclined to take Alexander, Rush, or even Koufos before most of those last five. But I digress. So like I said earlier, Darrell Arthur has every opportunity to succeed in the NBA. And now you know the long version of why I think that way. Just like in Algebra class, you’ve got to show your work.

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2008 NBA Draft Profile: OJ Mayo

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2008

Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be rolling out our profiles of several of the top expected prospects in the 2008 NBA Draft. Figuring that we’re not the only ones who’ve thought of this, we decided to enlist some help by asking several of the best school-specific bloggers in the land to give us the up-close-and-personal profile of the players they’ve spent all year watching. For example, we probably watched OJ Mayo play 12 times this year, but we were limited by his games that were on national television and other competing games at the same time. These bloggers know these players – their strengths, their weaknesses, whether they become Black Mamba or channel C-Webb in the clutch, and what kind of team they would best fit with at the next level.

With that said, our first submission is from the most excellent USC blog, Conquest Chronicles. They’re clearly a football-centric blog over there at CC, but they do a solid job supporting and analyzing Tim Floyd’s program in addition to Pete Carroll’s.  Here is their post on the always-controversial OJ Mayo.

Player Profile – Ovinton J’Anthony (O.J.) Mayo

Ht: 6-4 / 6-5
Wt: 190-200lbs
Position: PG, SG
Date of Birth: 11/05/1987

OFFENSE –

Positives:

* Consistent in 3-Point Range.
 
* Ability to create and make big plays.
 
* Good ball handler and a great passer.

* Strong Basketball IQ.   

Negatives:

* Mid-Range Game – Solid, but could use improvement.

* Can be turnover prone – more turnovers than assists.

* Sometimes forgets he is on a team, tries to do too much on his own.

* Takes a lot of shots.

DEFENSE -

Positives:

* He has solid lateral movement and a nice wingspan, which helps him stick with quicker guards.

* His size allows him to guard bigger PG’s and SG’s. He will become a lock-down type of defender.

* His extensive AAU experience makes him a seasoned vet against top-notch players.  

* Knows how to play aggressive defense without getting into foul trouble.

Negatives:

* Tends to gamble and play over aggressively at times.

* Not strong off picks.

* Tends to float at times and let his player gain positioning for put-backs.

* Can struggle against physical/aggressive guards.  

ANALYSIS -

Not since LeBron James has a player been as hyped as much as O.J. Mayo has. The amount of press and exposure that Mayo garnered in the years before he ever set foot on a college court is staggering. Playing high school basketball from the time he was in seventh grade, Mayo had been dubbed by the media as the next big thing. As a high school senior, he averaged 29.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

He is an immediate impact player that can play both PG and SG. As a freshman at USC in 2007-08 Mayo averaged 20.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He recorded a 44.2 percent field-goal percentage and shot 40.9 percent from behind the arc. Mayo routinely makes highlight plays as he can seemingly score at will. He possesses poise and great all around skills; he is a fierce competitor. Mayo plays the game with a tremendous amount of confidence, desire and intensity. He has a great knowledge of the game, as it comes naturally to him.

Mayo led the Trojans in scoring, steals (51), three-pointers (88 ) and assists (109), while setting the single-season USC freshman record for points (684) and three-pointers. His total points were the second-most ever in a season for a USC player, and he ranks third in three-pointers in the school’s history. Mayo’s 20.7 ppg average is the second-highest in history for a freshman in the Pac-10, trailing only California’s Shareef Abdur-Rahim who netted an average of 21.1 ppg in 1995-96. He failed to score double-digit figures just once in his 33-game career.

Mayo is capable of guarding either the one or two position at the NBA level, and is particularly effective on the perimeter where he can force the issue. He proved himself on the defensive end of the court in a Dec. 4 overtime loss to Memphis, where he limited Derrick Rose to just nine points and four assists. Sometimes Mayo gets tunnel vision and wants to break down the whole defense by himself. Granted, he can get on a hot streak, but as the point guard, he needs to remember his teammates. He can sometimes get too enamored with the three-point shot.

Most feel that Mayo is a physical specimen with the ideal NBA body that most every team covets. He possesses the athleticism, versatility, and, most importantly, the talent needed to succeed at the next level. Most notable was the fluidity in which he executes his step-back and pull-up moves, particularly the agility and power in which he glides around with his sharp cuts, hops and strides to create space for himself on different parts of the floor, showing very little wasted movement and looking absolutely natural and incredibly confident executing very difficult sequences that will make him extremely difficult to defend at the next level.

Because Mayo has been hyped for such a long time, expectations at the next level could be unrealistic, so expectations should be tempered and his coaches at the next level need to keep Mayo from overextending himself to do too much. Those who watched him closely at USC say he could be one of the elite scorers in the NBA right off the bat and has the potential to become a special player for years to come. 

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2008 NBA Draft Profile: Michael Beasley

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2008

Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be rolling out our profiles of several of the top expected prospects in the 2008 NBA Draft. Figuring that we’re not the only ones who’ve thought of this, we decided to enlist some help by asking several of the best school-specific bloggers in the land to give us the up-close-and-personal profile of the players they’ve spent all year watching. For example, we probably watched Michael Beasley play 10 times this year, but we were limited by his games that were on national television and other competing games at the same time. These bloggers know these players – their strengths, their weaknesses, whether they become Black Mamba or channel C-Webb in the clutch, and what kind of team they would best fit with at the next level.

With that said, our first submission is from the most excellent Kansas State blog, Bring on the Cats. TB over there does a great job keeping up with all things Wildcat (even finding time to throw in timely 90s references to pop culture – mmm… mmm… mmm… mmm…). Here is his post on Michael Beasley.

Although there probably isn’t much you can say about Michael Beasley that hasn’t already been said, I’ll go ahead and try.

For all of you who are fans of either the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat, I don’t think you can go wrong with drafting B-Easy. I know we as K-State fans consider ourselves fortunate to have seen him play this year. He counts size, agility, rebounding, ball-handling, shooting, and defense among his attributes, and last I checked that’s a pretty solid skill set.

On offense, Beasley is a threat from anywhere on the court, either facing or posting up. He shot nearly 40 percent from three-point range on 95 attempts in 33 games. That included a four-for-four effort in the biggest game of the year, a home win over KU. B-Easy has a lethal turnaround jumper that is just about indefensible unless he has an athletic version of Manute Bol in his face. When he wants to bang in the paint, his solid 240-pound frame gets him position and his soft hands ensure favorable bounces on the rim.

While he is a prolific scorer, as his 26.2 points per game as a true freshman in the Big 12 conference suggests, rebounding is undoubtedly Beasley’s ace card. He led the nation in boards this year with 12.4 per game. Part of that is due to his strength and athleticism, but part of it is just a knack for being in the right place. He has a sense of where a shot is going to miss, and he gets to that spot.

Defensively, B-Easy is a bit overlooked. His numbers weren’t stellar, but he did average more than 1.0 blocks and steals per game. I don’t project him as much of a shot-blocker at the next level, but his nose for the ball and humongous hands at the end of long arms make him a threat to tip a lot of passes.

Of course I’m biased, but Beasley doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. Probably his biggest weakness, in my perception, is something that is overall a strength. He hates to lose, and sometimes he demonstrates his distaste for losing through frustration with his teammates’ mistakes. Sometimes he probably just needs to let the coaches take care of the mistakes of others, but to me it demonstrates a desire to win. Also, on occasion he has a tendency to get frustrated when things aren’t going his way (bad calls, shots not falling, etc.) and he might jog back on defense. This was not a common occurrence.

Finally, a quick word about a common misperception somebody has perpetuated about Beasley. I’m speaking, of course, about his alleged attitude issues. To put is simply, I don’t see it. I’m sure it all stemmed from this Washington Post article. First of all, what happened in that article is high school stuff. In his one year at K-State, he was universally considered an incredibly pleasant individual. Secondly, his antics are hardly the stuff of a hardened criminal. Frankly, his high school principal should have gotten the stick out of his arse and stowed the signed bumper for future sale on eBay.

I watched Derrick Rose in person at the NCAA championship game. He is a a very good player and will probably have a good NBA career. But I think Beasley is going to be great, and hope to hear him called as the No. 1 pick. No matter who he goes to, I will be the proud owner of that team’s No. 30 jersey.

Coming Next: the always-controversial OJ Mayo

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