RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Nerlens Noel

Posted by BHayes on June 27th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Nerlens Noel

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’11”/205 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Top Two

Is Nerlens Noel deserving of the top pick in Thursday's NBA draft?

Is Nerlens Noel deserving of the top pick in Thursday’s NBA draft?

Overview: Nerlens Noel’s freshman season was cut short by a February ACL injury suffered in a game at Florida, but he still had plenty of time to stake his claim to the #1 pick in this draft. Unlike other names mentioned as a possible first pick in this year’s draft last summer (Muhammad, Zeller names that pop to mind), Noel’s individual season did little to take the luster off of his draft stock. Sure, Kentucky endured a historically bad season and Noel won’t be ready for live action until at least December, but when it comes to his future, this season went pretty well for Noel. He showed off the shot-blocking prowess that made him the most sought-after recruit in the country a year ago (4.4 blocks per game), rebounded at an efficient clip (9.5 boards a game), and even found ways to contribute on the offensive end, averaging double figure in the 24 games he played. Throw in an impressively high steals number – 2.1 a game – and you can begin to gather just how disruptive Noel was when healthy. Now, disruptive is great, and NBA teams can expect that defensive activity to continue at the next level for Noel. But with the specter of the top pick potentially looming over his early years in the NBA, there will be plenty of pressure on Nerlens to become more than just a great defender. Only time will tell if he has room for growth on the offensive end, and let’s remember – he did only turn 19 two months ago. For now, Noel has plenty of that one thing that teams crave and analysts blabber about this time of year – upside.

Will Translate to the NBA: Don’t hold your breath: Nerlens Noel is going to have himself a block party or two when he finally makes his NBA debut. With pogo sticks for legs, Noel became one of college basketball’s premier rim protectors a season ago, filling the space that Anthony Davis vacated in Lexington quite nicely. And like Davis, Noel’s length and timing will allow him to continue his shot-blocking ways in the NBA. Noel is a more explosive athlete than Davis, owner of a suddenness that will surprise even NBA-caliber athlete. Shot blocking is Noel’s one bonafide elite skill at this point, and you better believe it will be on full display from day one on.

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Morning Five: 06.27.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2013

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  1. It’s NBA Draft day, and we here in college basketball land will once again watch the proceedings to bid adieu to the one-year wonders and four-year plodders alike. Weak draft or not, the harsh reality is that most of these players will never be heard from again by any of us, but there’s always the hope that the next Kawhi Leonard or Paul George is hidden somewhere among the busts. One of the interesting notes with this year’s draft is that there’s no consensus on which player will be the first chosen — as many as seven individuals, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, Maryland’s Alex Len, Kansas’ Ben McLemore, Michigan’s Trey Burke, Georgetown’s Otto Porter, and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, appear to be in the mix. The smart money probably lies with Noel heading to Cleveland to join Kyrie Irving, but it’s highly likely that a redrafting of this group in five years would look very different. For additional prep for tonight, check out the mock drafts at NBADraft.net, DraftExpress, and Chad Ford’s Insider; as well as our own RTC Draft Profiles series, and the RTC Offseason Podcast: NBA Draft Edition, featuring draft profiler and columnist Bennet Hayes. Plenty of great material there. 
  2. We’ve been waiting on this series to finish up before linking to it, but the Emory Sports Marketing Analytics group has been rolling out some data and related conclusions examining power conference schools’ ability in putting players into the NBA Draft (the entire series of posts is here). The one thing we will laud them for here is controlling for the incredibly important factor that the bigger and better schools recruit the best talent — a bit of a chicken-and-egg argument always ensues. Does Duke, for example, put a bunch of players in the NBA because they recruit great players, or because they develop and therefore produce great draft picks? The truth is both, but ferreting out how much of each input should be allocated is the hardest part. These guys try to explain away that issue with their analysis, but the time frame chosen (2002-11) creates another confounding issue. How important is the school — in other words, the brand and the physical university — versus the head coach when it comes to recruiting and player development? In our opinion, that distinction is significant. Tubby Smith was great at developing players at Kentucky; but John Calipari is great at recruiting them. In this analysis, Kentucky the program gets credit for both, and falls to third in the SEC as a result. Is Vanderbilt (and by proxy, Kevin Stallings) the best program in the SEC at “converting” talent to the NBA Draft? It seems a specious argument based on essentially one group of players, but we’re withhold a longer criticism until we see the next steps they have planned with this data set (which does look promising).
  3. We may have found our next Russell Westbrook in this year’s NBA Draft, and he goes by the name Trey Burke. No, we’re not suggesting that the NPOY has the explosiveness or all-around game that the NBA All-Star for the Oklahoma City Thunder has, but he may be very well on his way to matching Westbrook’s oft-ridiculous but always-talked about style. GQ Magazine chose the Michigan star as their top style pick in this year’s draft, and we have to say from our view that we’ll remain happy seeing the cocksure point guard in his jersey and basketball shorts. If he’s lucky, maybe he’ll get some run on Inside the NBA next season for more than just his play, though.
  4. The Big East got its (rumored) woman, as former WNBA commissioner Val Ackerman was announced as the league’s new boss Wednesday. With the league formally opening up operations on Monday and in desperate need of a manager who can get things done — like, say, building a fall sports schedule — this appears on its face to be a strong move. Ackerman is widely respected within the basketball community, having played at Virginia, helped to found and build the WNBA in the mid-1990s, and acted as the president of USA Basketball for a successful period during the last decade. We’ll have a bit more on this on our Big East microsite later this morning, but it goes without saying that a bright, basketball-centric person with significant organization and business experience is a superb hire.
  5. Finally, the NCAA was busy handing out reprimands on Wednesday, as Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson, Kansas head coach Bill Self, and a Wichita State associate athletic director named Darron Boatright were all censured for incidents during the NCAA Tournament. Henderson’s one-gun salute to La Salle fans after his team’s loss in the Round of 32 warranted his reprimand, while Self’s slamming of the scorer’s table during the Jayhawks’ win over UNC in that same round was cause for his. The Wichita State official’s reprimand was the most peculiar, as Boatright apparently got into a confrontation with a Staples Center security officer prior to the Shockers’ Sweet Sixteen contest against La Salle. It’s a good thing that the NCAA enforcement staff is all over these incidents, that’s for sure.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Ben McLemore

Posted by BHayes on June 26th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Ben McLemore

School: Kansas

Height/Weight: 6’5”/190 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Top 5-10

Ben McLemore pairs jaw-dropping athleticism with a silky-smooth jump shot

Ben McLemore pairs jaw-dropping athleticism with a silky-smooth jump shot

Overview: Ben McLemore’s decision to enter the NBA Draft came as a surprise to no one. After a successful freshman season in which he often found the occasion to flash his massive potential, the time was now for McLemore to make the leap to the pros. Anyone familiar with his game know the knocks – too nice, passive, doesn’t want to dominate. His road to Lawrence, and now the league, has also been well chronicled. McLemore overcame an impoverished childhood and unsteady home life to develop into a prized recruit, and equally impressively, a great young man (by all accounts). Last season, McLemore averaged 15.9 points per game and shot 42% from three-point range for a Kansas team that earned a #1 seed to the NCAA Tournament. Despite the complaints of passivity, McLemore did have a slew of dominant performances as a freshman. They included a 33-point outing and OT-inducing three in a victory over Iowa State, a 30-point effort versus rival Kansas State, and a 36-point explosion in a rout of West Virginia. The challenge for scouts is to determine whether McLemore will ever be able to turn those 40-minute displays into consistent elite play, but if nothing else, Ben McLemore’s freshman season revealed a player with a skill set you don’t often find.

Will Translate to the NBA: McLemore is the best shooter in this draft. Concerns about his willingness to be demonstrative and take over games are well-founded, but if you can get him open looks, he will knock down shots. Everything is picture-perfect mechanically with the stroke, and McLemore is also able to shoot over the top of defenders by getting great lift on his jumper. Athletically, the Kansas product will also prove ready for the league. He’s a smooth but explosive leaper that excels in transition, and his length should assist him in becoming a good, if not great, defender at the next level. All the raw materials are in place for McLemore to be great – what will prevent him from putting them immediately to use will be his youth and immaturity, if anything.

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The RTC Offseason Podcast: NBA Draft Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 26th, 2013

The RTC Podcast crew hopes that you’re all having a good early summer out there in America-land. With a little over 24 hours left until the 2013 NBA Draft goes down in Brooklyn, we decided to come in with our takes on the draft from the perspective of guys who have analyzed many of these players very closely for the last several years. To provide the usual duo with a third voice of reason, we invited RTC columnist Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler), who has been putting in yeoman’s work the last couple of weeks in profiling many of the top stars who will hear their names called by David Stern tomorrow night. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is our host, and the rundown of topics is listed below. We’ll see you again sometime in July!

  • 0:00-5:51 – What Separates NBA players and college players
  • 5:51-10:53 – Your #1 Overall Pick
  • 10:53-15:55 – Late Lottery Love
  • 15:55-20:22 College Star NBA Guys Are Overlooking
  • 20:22-22:50 – Potential Busts
  • 22:50-26:10 – College Coaches Beaming With Pride Thursday Night
  • 26:10- 29:04 – Draft Picks That Will Leave the Biggest Hole on Their College Team
  • 29:04- 31:28 – Players That Can Be Replaced
  • 31:28-38:17 – Can Alex Len and Ben McLemore Come Out of their Shells?
  • 38:17-41:51 – Picks to Look For in 2014
  • 41:51-43:09 – Who Will Go #1/Wrap
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Trey Burke

Posted by BHayes on June 26th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Trey Burke

School: Michigan

Height/Weight: 6’1” / 190 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Top Ten

Will Trey Burke bring his winning ways with him to the the NBA?

Will Trey Burke bring his winning ways with him to the the NBA?

Overview: After flirting with the NBA a year ago, Trey Burke had almost no choice but to take the plunge this go-around. When you lead your team to the National Championship game, collect a smorgasbord of National POY trophies, and produce one of the most indelible March moments of recent memory, your draft stock can’t really get much higher. Burke’s stellar season is well-documented at this point, but it’s worth noting the drastic improvement in efficiency for Burke between years one and two at Michigan. He cut his turnover rate from 18.6% to 13.4%, increased his assist rate, and shot the ball better from the free throw line, two-point range, and beyond the arc. Oh, and he did all this in one of the best conferences college basketball has seen in years. Burke did everything he could on the court to impress scouts, but there are still concerns about his viability as an NBA point guard.  His height (barely six feet) scares a lot of teams, and both lateral mobility and overall athleticism has come into question with Burke. Some of the concerns are not dissimilar from those scouts had with Chris Paul before he entered the league, and Burke’s fiery demeanor and leadership also conjure up memories of a young Paul. But Burke is well behind where Paul was as a prospect, and if he ever hopes to come close to making the kind of impact Paul has made in the league, he will have to provide resounding answers to the questions that currently surround him. A tall (no pun intended) task ahead, but anyone who watched Trey Burke for the past two years knows better than to count him out.

Will Translate to the NBA: There may be some athletic limitations in play with Burke, but the diminutive point guard’s offensive game is quite evolved. He shoots the ball extremely well – both off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations – and gets teammates involved by driving and kicking. He is a great decision-maker who limited turnovers last season despite having the ball in his hands all the time. The length of NBA defenders will test Burke, but there are very few holes in his offensive game. Burke is also a winner, through and through. He wants the ball in clutch situations, demands the most from his teammates, and works tirelessly at his game. There is no player in this draft better suited to step in and lead a team from day one than Burke.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Anthony Bennett

Posted by BHayes on June 25th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of 20 of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take fromNBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Anthony Bennett

School: UNLV

Height/Weight: 6’7”/240 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Top 5-10

Anthony Bennett was an imposing presence on the UNLV front line last season

Anthony Bennett was an imposing presence on the UNLV front line last season

Overview: Anthony Bennett needed just one season at UNLV to prove he was ready for the next level. Dave Rice assembled an amazing collection of talent in Vegas this past season, and despite the team failing to find success commensurate with the sum of those pieces, their freshman star rarely failed to impress. Bennett averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game in a brutal Mountain West Conference last season, and proved equally capable of stepping out and knocking down the three (over one make per game on 38% shooting) as he was throwing down a thunderous dunk down low (there were 42 of those). He is slightly undersized for a post at 6’7”, but a 7’1” wingspan and great athleticism eases any concerns about Bennett finding a home down low in the NBA. A shoulder injury has limited his recent availability, keeping him out of the combine, but the injury itself should not be an issue moving forward. Of more concern is the fact that Bennett has put on some 20 pounds since the end of the season – one of the few red flags (albeit a small one) for a player many consider to be the most talented in the entire draft. The top of the 2013 NBA Draft class has taken its share of pummeling over the last two months, and in most regards, deservedly so. In a draft devoid of elite talent, Bennett is one player with explosive, exciting upside – something college basketball fans bore witness to last season.

Will Translate to the NBA: Bennett often looked like a man among boys in the college ranks last season, where he was at his ferocious best grabbing rebounds and attacking the rim. While he is undersized for an NBA power forward at 6’7”, don’t expect that to stop him from having a similar impact on NBA backboards. His motor is nonstop, and he shows no fear around the rim. And let’s not forget about the massive wingspan, freakish athleticism, and soft hands that make him such an efficient finisher. We can’t be sure if he will be ready to guard in the league from day one, but his raw tools and polished finishing ability should allow him to have an offensive impact from the get-go.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: C.J. McCollum

Posted by BHayes on June 25th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of 20 of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take fromNBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: C.J. McCollum

School: Lehigh

Height/Weight: 6’3”/197 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Lottery

C.J. McCollum looks to be just the second Patriot League player to be drafted in the NBA's first round

C.J. McCollum looks to become just the second Patriot League player to be drafted in the NBA’s first round

Overview: College basketball just wasn’t the same in 2013, as one of America’s favorite players played just 15 minutes of college basketball after the New Year arrived. C.J. McCollum broke his foot on January 5 in a game at VCU, an injury that would wind up closing down one of the most accomplished college hoops careers of recent memory. Loyal college basketball fans have known about the kid making noise in the Patriot League for some time now, but he made his formal introduction to America in March 2012, when his 30-point performance paced #15-seeded Lehigh to an upset victory over the #2-seeded Duke Blue Devils. It was hard not to notice that McCollum was the best player on the floor that night, and in a game against a team full of NBA talent, mind you. His draft stock was off and running at that point, and even the January injury has done little to slow the momentum. McCollum is now fully healthy and teams don’t seem concerned about the foot, leaving the Lehigh graduate poised to become just the second first-round pick ever selected out of the Patriot League. Questions remain about whether McCollum is a point guard or shooting guard at the next level, but one way or another, this silky smooth scorer should be able to find ways to put the ball in the bucket in the NBA.

Will Translate to the NBA: McCollum’s game is NBA-ready in a number of ways, but it’s first worth noting that from a personal standpoint, CJ McCollum the kid is also ready. Every year we see players enter the league who are simply not prepared to be a professional in anything. McCollum’s four years at Lehigh have served him well, and the mature, thoughtful and confident former Mountain Hawk is ready to tackle his next challenge. Oh, and his game is also prepared for the jump. He’s an NBA-ready scorer who can shoot the ball from deep and put the ball on the floor. Unlike many players today, he possesses a nice mid-range game which will only prove more useful at the next level. A high IQ player that uses savvy on both ends, McCollum has a knack for jumping passing lanes and getting out in transition. He is also a tremendous rebounder for a guard (over five rebounds a game in all four seasons, including 7.8 caroms per contest as a sophomore), a fact that has to ease a little of the concern that he is too small to play shooting guard in the NBA. More so than most in this draft, C.J. McCollum is ready for all the rigors the NBA has to offer.

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Morning Five: 06.25.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 25th, 2013

morning5

  1. The news that Kyle Wiltjer is transferring probably should not be that much of a surprise given the high expectations for him coming out of high school and his relatively paltry output, which was due in large part due to be stuck behind more talented players at Kentucky. With next year’s class of NBA Lottery picks coming through Kentucky, Wiltjer decided enough was enough and announced that he is looking at transferring to “play a more significant role”. With the announcement coming as Wiltjer is playing internationally for Canada now some will speculate that someone got in his ear and told him that he could showcase his skills more prominently at another school. Without trying to rile up Big Blue Nation that would probably be true. The speculation we have seen for where Wiltjer is headed seems to suggest Gonzaga as a likely destination, but Wiltjer has not named his top choices although we suspect he will have his choice in where he wants to go.
  2. With more and more coaches utilizing social media John Templon decided to take a look at the tweeting habits of major college basketball coaches. Some of the numbers are not too surprising like the fact that John Calipari has 10 times the number of followers as any other coach (to be fair the average Kentucky fan probably has multiple accounts to yell at the Jeff Goodmans of the world), but the some of the analysis like the most commonly used words is amusing and shows how inane most coaches Twitter accounts are. We would love to see a similar analysis of players although we would assume the most common words/phrases would involve retweeting who said that a retweet would be the best thing that ever happened to them.
  3. We can all get our fill of coach-speak on Twitter, but very few of us will ever be privy to the sales pitch that coaches use in the family rooms of recruits. As Dana O’Neil points out those conversations have changed significantly over the years to the point where coaches have to be careful about how they mention a player getting a college degree because some parties feel that staying in school to get a college degree is not the point of going to college as they are looking for a route to the NBA. This might be true in some cases, but the vast majority will never play in the NBA as the NCAA says they will “go pro in something other than sports”. We would be interested in hearing how parents who had been recruited years ago feel about the way that their sons are being pitched by the same coaches using very different approaches.
  4. One of the interesting aspects of getting to go to games is picking the brains of NBA scouts who often times are seated fairly close to us. Some of the scouts are fairly knowledgeable and seem to have a grasp of the best college players with an understanding of what they do and do not bring to the table. On the other hand we have all seen the scouts that are just there for an easy paycheck and the ability to sit courtside at games for free. Our personal favorite was one who we sat next to at a fairly big game a few years ago on New Year’s Eve and spent the entire game on his phone texting his friends about going to a club in New York City that night and then proceeded to tell us all about his plans. Seth Davis appears to have found a few of the former and put together an interesting breakdown of some of the top prospects in this year’s NBA Draft. The comments are pretty direct as you would expect from someone speaking anonymously, but for the most part they seem to be in line with what we would say.
  5. We have discussed the Ed O’Bannon case much more than we ever wanted to, but we never expected it to affect the NCAA’s credit rating. However that appears to be the case as Moody’s revised the NCAA’s credit outlook to negative in light of its ongoing litigation. It should be noted that the credit rating agencies are a lot less well-respected than they were before the financial crisis. Having said that if the NCAA “only” is taking out $40 million in debt to finance ongoing operations we don’t expect a downgrade would have a material impact on the sustainability of the NCAA as a financial entity.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Alex Len

Posted by BHayes on June 24th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Alex Len

School: Maryland

Height/Weight: 7’1” / 255 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Top Ten

In his signature performance of 2013, Alex Len dominated Mason Plumlee during Maryland's upset of Duke

In his signature performance of 2013, Alex Len dominated Mason Plumlee during Maryland’s upset of Duke

Overview: Alex Len put together a very impressive sophomore season in College Park. His freshman year may have included (relatively) limited individual production, but it offered plenty of glimpses at the massive upside of the Ukrainian-born seven-footer, and we began to see Len cash in on that potential in year two. He played 26 minutes per game as part of Mark Turgeon’s 10-man rotation and averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per contest. Free throw shooting improved (both percentage and attempts), assist-to-turnover ratio elevated, and offensive-rebounding percentage shot through the roof for Len as a sophomore. All wonderful strides, but the development went well beyond the stat sheet for Len, as anyone consistently watching the Terps this season witnessed a more complete, confident player manning the middle. Len was tougher and more aggressive down low (on both ends) and also more skilled offensively — both with his back to the basket and when roaming the high-post area. Len’s improvement was best highlighted in dominant performances against fellow potential lottery picks Nerlens Noel and Mason Plumlee. In the season opener against Kentucky, Len went for 23/12 versus Noel in a narrow loss. Then, in the February win over Duke, he dominated Plumlee (four points, three rebounds, five fouls) in scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Those two performances were as vital to Len’s draft stock as anything, for as far as he came skill-wise in year two at Maryland, he also made it quite clear that he was not ready to back down to anyone – a fearlessness that NBA GMs have to have begun to appreciate.

Will Translate to the NBA: First things first: when it comes to size and athleticism, Len is already working with above-average NBA levels of both. Will he use that raw ability as efficiently as possible? No, but the pure existence of it means he will be prepared to get on the court and not be overwhelmed by the athleticism of NBA opponents. Aside from his frame and athleticism, Len really doesn’t have any other signature attributes that you would term “NBA-ready.” The closest we can come here is probably commenting that his overall offensive game is much further along than that of many of his draft-mates, and unlike most rookie big men, Len may be able to enter the league and flash a little of that offensive skill right off the bat. He has a soft touch down low, an improving mid-range game, and is also a good passer who will move the ball when doubled. None of these traits may be “NBA-ready” on their own, but the overall offensive package is in pretty good shape as Len makes the transition from college to the pros.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Cody Zeller

Posted by BHayes on June 24th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Cody Zeller

School: Indiana

Height/Weight: 7’0”/230 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward/Center

Projected Draft Range: Lottery

After an up and down season, Cody Zeller's stock is on the rise again

After an up and down season, Cody Zeller’s stock is on the rise again

Overview: Cody Zeller’s draft stock took a pretty solid beating in February and March, but a head-turning performance at the combine has him rising up draft boards again. Zeller is the perfect example of a player who so many once considered overrated that he has now become underrated. IU’s big man was a presumptive top-five pick if he had entered the draft a year ago, but opted to return for another year of college. He hoped his sophomore year would see his draft stock improve and his team flourish, but despite posting season averages of 16.5 PPG and 8.1 RPG, the latter came to fruition without the former. Teammate Victor Oladipo would become the real beneficiary of the Indiana revival, as the Hoosiers’ 29-win season launched Oladipo from the second round bubble into the top five. Zeller was not so fortunate. A real candidate to be the top pick in the draft back before the season, Zeller rarely dominated (his supporters would tell you he never needed to for IU to be successful) and often looked overwhelmed when playing deep in the post. In what would prove to be his final collegiate game against Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen, Zeller’s performance was a microcosm of the growing concerns scouts have had about him, as he looked very timid down low in a 3-of-11 shooting outing against the Orange’s long, NBA-esque front line. The days after the IU tournament exit marked the nadir of Zeller’s draft stock, but the combine and interviews have helped his stock rebound immensely. He will not be the top pick in this draft, and likely won’t fall within the top five – a different reality than he expected to find here a year ago, but Cody Zeller enters the draft with good momentum and a real ability to immediately help whichever franchise selects him.

Will Translate to the NBA: Let’s take Zeller’s primary strength a step further than “NBA-ready” – he very well could enter the league and immediately be the fastest end-to-end big man in the league. That top spot can surely be debated, but the point is that most NBA post players will find keeping up with Zeller in the fullcourt to be quite a chore. Zeller’s end-to-end speed is truly elite and we have known this for awhile, but the extent of his athletic ability came to light at the combine. Nobody benefited more from the combine than Miami’s Shane Larkin and Zeller, with the former Indiana star testing out like a guard in Chicago. His vertical leap was 37.5”, and both his ¾ and lane agility times beat out most wings and a number of guards. That explosiveness wasn’t always on display in college, and Zeller will definitely need to continue to learn how to best apply it on the court, but the physical tools are clearly there. Furthermore, Zeller is a high-character guy who has shown a willingness to get better, so consider him NBA-ready from a personal maturity standpoint as well.

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