RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Nerlens Noel

Posted by BHayes on June 27th, 2013

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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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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Otto Porter

Posted by BHayes on June 27th, 2013

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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: Otto Porter

School: Georgetown

Height/Weight: 6’9” / 200 lbs.

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Top Five

John Thompson's loss will be one lucky NBA franchise's gain

John Thompson’s loss will be one lucky NBA franchise’s gain

Overview: Most of the hardware awarded to the top college basketball player in the country goes to the “player of the year”, unlike in the NBA, where the top individual prize goes to the “most valuable player”. If such an award existed at the college level for this past season, it would be hard to think of a better candidate for it than Otto Porter. The Missouri native did a little bit of everything for a relatively undermanned Georgetown team leading the Hoyas to a Big East regular season title and a #2 seed in the Tournament. He averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game on the season, but tended to outperform even those lofty numbers in the biggest games. There was no better example of Porter’s knack for the moment than his effort at the Carrier Dome where his 33 points vaulted the Hoyas past Syracuse in a game where points were at a true premium (a 57-46 final). His heroics would continue just four days later, when a late Porter running layup allowed Georgetown to sneak out of Gampel Pavilion with a one-point overtime victory. Of course, the Georgetown season will now largely be remembered for the emphatic upset to Florida Gulf Coast in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but Porter’s breakthrough campaign should not be lost in the Lob City fanfare. Rest assured it was not lost on scouts, as Porter is a coveted asset here at the 2013 NBA Draft. Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Victor Oladipo

Posted by BHayes on June 27th, 2013

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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: Victor Oladipo

School: Indiana

Height/Weight: 6’4”/215 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Top Five

Are you the GM of an NBA team looking for a jolt of energy and athleticism? Do I have the guy for you...

Are you the GM of an NBA team looking for a jolt of energy and athleticism? Do I have the guy for you…

Overview: No player saw their stock rise more in 2012-13 than Victor Oladipo. This time last year, Oladipo was a fringe second-round prospect at best. Now it appears he will be a top-five pick at worst, and he is still in play to be the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft just days from draft day. What a journey it has been. Along the way there were clutch moments (on both ends of the floor), copious Indiana W’s, and even some, gasp, MJ comparisons thrown Oladipo’s way. While that sort of talk may include a bit of hyperbole (just a little!), there can be no denying Oladipo’s impact on the Hoosiers last season. The stat sheet won’t blow you away – 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 steals a game, but Oladipo did shoot 60% from the field (44% from three point range) in the toughest conference in America. Let’s also remember that this is a 6’4” guard grabbing those six rebounds a game; if not for Jamaal Franklin, a case could be made that Oladipo was the best rebounding guard in the country last season. But Oladipo’s case to be one of the first players off the board has to do with a lot more than his numbers. His tireless work ethic, which helped spike this surge in both production and draft stock, is relevant here. Or how about the energy and leadership that was on constant display a season ago? You better believe NBA teams are salivating at the thought of inserting that kind of player into both their rotation and locker room. The intangibles are there for Oladipo, and his athleticism and work ethic seem to have built in a significantly high floor for him at the next level. The question becomes how high do those things make his ceiling?

Will Translate to the NBA: Oladipo will be a defensive stopper from the moment he steps on the floor in the NBA. His defensive metrics don’t align perfectly with his reputation as a stopper, but few scouts have any concern that he won’t be ready to guard NBA wings right away. His athleticism and competitiveness combine to make him a scorer’s nightmare. In college he proved capable of guarding anyone from point guards to power forwards; the scope of his duties will narrow in the NBA, but one NBA coach will have the luxury of Oladipo to throw on opposing perimeter scorers. Beyond his defense, Oladipo’s athleticism translates well into a transition, up-and-down game – another area where his relentlessness and passion will aid him in being effective in the league from the get-go.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Ben McLemore

Posted by BHayes on June 26th, 2013

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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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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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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Michael Carter-Williams

Posted by BHayes on June 20th, 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: Michael Carter-Williams

School: Syracuse

Height/Weight: 6’6”/ 185 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Lottery to Mid-First Round

Good things seemed to happen for Syracuse last season when the ball was in Michael Carter-Williams' hands

Good things seemed to happen for Syracuse last season when the ball was in Michael Carter-Williams’ hands

Overview: He only spent one year earning real minutes under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, but Michael Carter-Williams (also known as MCW) showcased his unique skill set during the 2012-13 season. His final stat line does well to express his diverse impact on a Syracuse squad that concluded its campaign in Atlanta and the Final Four: 11.9 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.9 RPG, 2.8 SPG. The former McDonald’s All-American led the Big East in both steals and assists, and in the process became the key cog on a team loaded with talent. There were bumps in the road – inconsistent shooting, a drop in production during Big East play, that Syracuse mid-season swoon – but Carter-Williams’ frequent dynamic performances still left NBA scouts salivating. Even during a freshman season where he witnessed only 269 total minutes of court time, MCW showed enough to pique the interest of scouts. The sophomore’s emergence was far more confirmation than pleasant surprise, and it now leaves him on the doorstep of the NBA. Much progress still needs to be made when it comes to skill development, but you have to believe whichever NBA team winds up selecting Carter-Williams will have big hopes for the player who may just have the highest ceiling in the entire draft.

Will Translate to the NBA: The reality is that Carter-Williams is a pretty raw prospect at this point. He will need further schooling and seasoning on both ends of the court to get up to speed in the NBA, but he does enter the league with some NBA-ready tools.  First, and most obviously, his measurables are fantastic. He is extraordinarily long and athletic for the PG position, and it will be those traits that help to overcome some of his current skill deficiencies while he adjusts to the league. And while development is needed in a lot of areas, MCW already flashes many attributes of successful NBA point guards. His Syracuse teammates of a year ago can attest to the fact that his floor vision is very good (you are welcome James Southerland!) and despite his unusual size, ball-handling and passing are both plus attributes for Carter-Williams. Early minutes will depend on where he lands of course, but don’t expect Carter-Williams to be overwhelmed with the athleticism of the league, and he could even prove capable of providing a spark to a second unit from day one.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Jamaal Franklin

Posted by BHayes on June 10th, 2013

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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: Jamaal Franklin

School: San Diego State

Height/Weight: 6’5”/190 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid to Late First Round

Jamaal Franklin is not one to lack in confidence, but will his manic, aggressive game translate to the NBA?

Jamaal Franklin is not one to lack in confidence, but will his manic, aggressive game translate to the NBA?

Overview: After highly productive sophomore and junior seasons, Jamaal Franklin decided the time was now to depart San Diego State for the NBA Draft. The explosive wing helped key the continued success of Steve Fisher’s program, as the Aztecs earned top eight seeds in the NCAA Tournament in each of Franklin’s three seasons there. There is little that is prototypical about Franklin’s game. He is a scoring wing who struggles to shoot the ball from deep (just 28% from three-point range last season) but rebounds the ball as productively as any big (his 26.4% defensive rebound rate was 10th nationally a year ago). Franklin’s unconventional game will undoubtedly undergo some tweaking at the next level, as whispers of an improved jump shot and the nature of the bigger, more athletic front lines in the league should have him spending more time on the perimeter. Adjustments will be needed to reach his potential, but if Franklin continues to display the hyper-competitiveness and endless motor that fueled his prodigious collegiate efforts, whichever team ends up using a selection on the 2012 MW POY should end up a happy buyer indeed.

Will Translate to the NBA: Pairing Franklin’s natural competitiveness with his athletic ability makes him an NBA-ready defender from the get-go. He also graded out very well in measurements at the combine (despite not participating in any activities due to an ankle injury), and although just 6’5”, his seven-foot wingspan should allow him to see time at both the two and the three in the NBA. And while you can rest assured that Franklin will not be rebounding at the clip we witnessed at San Diego State, that length, combined with his superb bounciness, will make him an above-average rebounder from the wing early in his NBA career.

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