Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NBA Draft: Top 5 Available At Each Position

Point Guard:
1. Ricky Rubio-Spain
2. Jonny Flynn-Syracuse
3. Stephen Curry-Davidson
4. Ty Lawson-UNC
5. Jrue Holiday-UCLA

2nd rounder to watch: A.J. Price-Connecticut

The PG position is extremely deep in this year's class. While there may not be an immediate star such as a Chris Paul or Deron Williams, there is a ton of potential in this crop. Though not much is known about Rubio as maybe some of the other prospects, you have to put him at No.1. His age, skill set, and Olympic experience all work in his favor. While Flynn's height and outside shot do hold him back, he is still a great player. His quickness, athleticism and heart are unmatched in this class. Curry is really the opposite of Flynn, he's an excellent shooter and player, but he doesn't have the quickness and athleticism of most point guards. If he was a little bigger he'd be the top shooting guard in the class. I like Lawson more than most draft analysts do. I think he is very similar to Flynn in his skill set, though he doesn't have as much upside as his Syracuse counterpart. The other thing I really like about Lawson is, that he's a winner. He carried that UNC team down the stretch and was key for them cutting down the nets in Detroit. Holiday may have the most potential of this entire class, but he also has some of the biggest question marks. He has incredible measurables and is a good defender. On the other hand, he was extremely inconsistent and could have used maybe another year to separate himself from the pack. I think no less than 10 point guards will be taken in the first round. All of them should be able to contribute early on.

Shooting Guard:
1. James Harden-Arizona State
2. Gerald Henderson-Duke
3. Tyreke Evans-Memphis
4. DeMar DeRozen-USC
5. Terrence Williams-Louisville

2nd rounder to watch: Jodie Meeks-Kentucky
The SG class is solid but really only runs about 10 deep in terms of NBA talent. There is plenty of potential there with Evans and DeRozen. In fact, I think both will go ahead of Henderson, and there is a chance Evans could even jump Harden. Evans is a player that worries me. He has a tremendous skill set and great size, but he never showed great instincts or basketball IQ. Too often he would force shots instead of finding his open teammates. DeRozen has some of the same issues, but his bigger problem is his lack of a good jump shot. He really doesn't have a consistent offensive mid-range or outside game. Given those question marks, I think Harden and Henderson are the better options for teams in need of a point guard. Harden is one of my favorite players in this draft. He lacks some explosiveness and athleticism, but is still a fantastic all-around player. He has a killer jump shot and great basketball instincts. Henderson is another good player. Though I don't think he'll be a star at the next level, but I think he has the upside of being a third option on a good team. Henderson doesn't do anything great, but he does everything well, which should help him fit into any team. Williams is a real enigma. He has the talent to be the 1st or 2nd SG taken, but he would just disappear in games last year. He also lacks a great outside shot, and works much better near the basket.

Small Forward:
1. Sam Young-Pittsburgh
2. Earl Clark-Louisville
3. Austin Daye-Gonzaga
4. Omri Cassapi-Israel
5. Danny Green-UNC

2nd rounder to watch: Dar Tucker-DePaul

This is a weak year for small forward's overall, as there are no sure things in this group. While that's the general consensus, I personally feel that's wrong. I think Sam Young is a special player and 5 years from now will be considered one of the Top-10 players from this draft class. Most mock drafts and teams seem to give Young negative marks for being older (24) and a college senior. But he went from being just an athlete, to being one of the best inside-outside scorers in the nation. He may not be as tall as some of the other SF's but he's the best rebounder in the group. His toughness, heart and instinct's will all translate very well at the next level. Clark is a guy, who if he reaches his potential could be just as good as Young. He's got great size but is a very good ball handler for a big man. Daye probably needs to add some bulk to be a force on the glass, but he solid contributor no matter what. Casspi is an intriguing player from Israel. He's got a lot of tools but he didn't get starter's minutes in the Euroleague. Green is solid player, and a good shooter. His defense and basketball IQ should at least make him a valuable guy off the bench. The question is will he ever develop into a solid starter.

Power Forward:
1. Blake Griffin-Oklahoma
2. Jordan Hill-Arizona
3. DeJuan Blair-Pittsburgh
4. James Johnson-Wake Forrest
5. Tyler Hansbrough-UNC

2nd rounder to watch: Jon Brockman-Washington

Blake Griffin is obviously the prize of this entire draft. He has the potential to become an immediate star in the NBA. His size and strength are impressive enough, but his basketball IQ and instincts really set him apart. Beyond Griffin there is a drop off of power forwards, but there is still some talent to be found. Jordan Hill should be able to help on the boards and defensively from day one. His offensive game is still a work in progress. He won't be able to go strong to the basket in the NBA like he did at Arizona. He will need to develop a jump shot to balance his strength to the hoop. Blair is another player I like. I know there are concerns about his height and injuries, but I think he has what it takes for the next level. Yes he is changing positions, but reports have him slimming down and adding quickness. His height shouldn't be a factor, because in the Big East he routinely went up against some of the best big men in the nation. Outside of Griffin, no player dominated the college game as much as Blair. Johnson has a lot of athleticism and upside. He is probably going to need a year or two to develop into a starter, but I still think he has a bright future. Hansbrough is a tough player to peg. He dominated the college ranks for four years. Given the talent around him and the ACC style, he didn't face the constant double teams or quality big men that Blair and Griffin faced. In my opinion, I think Hansbrough is soft and is a boom or bust player. I give him credit for being worthy a lottery pick, because the measureables are there. I just don't see it overall with him. Too often it seemed like Hansbrough's game was based on positioning and basketball IQ. He was great at drawing fouls and reducing his own, due to those sound fundamentals. Hansbrough also used his size to his advantage, but struggled in match-ups with other quality big men. The problem is he won't have a size advantage or the benefit of positioning at the next level. My gut tells me he won't be better than a solid back-up, but Hansbrough deserves some consideration.

1. Hasheem Thabeet-Connecticut
2. B.J. Mullens-Ohio State

2nd rounder to watch: Goran Suton-Michigan State

Its impossible to do a Top-5 Center's list because its a stretch for 5 center's to be drafted. There are only two first rounders and both of them have question marks. Thabeet is a lock to go in the top five picks in the draft, given his height and potential. He is still a developing player overall, but their are some big time holes in his game. He really lacks any offensive game other than dunking the ball. Though a good defender, he lacks the quickness and strength that he'll face consistently at the next level. Thabeet also was dominated by Pittsburgh's Blair in their two regular season match-ups, despite having an 7 inch height advantage. Mullens is another center prospect with a ton of potential. In many ways he is the opposite of Thabeet, his offensive game is more advanced and balanced, but he is still developing as a consistent defender and rebounder. Mullens has a lot of upside, but his work ethic and instincts leave a lot to be desired. He will probably need a good two years until he can be an effective starter. Outside of Thabeet and Mullens, its hard to imagine that any other centers can really make it in the NBA. Suton had a nice NCAA tournament, but he's really not much more than a third center in the NBA.


  1. Steveo, shame on you. You've bought into the whole let's overanalyze Tyler's game because he's been in college all four years. First, he faced double and triple teams his first two to three years in college. Second, how can one say he's soft? He's probably the most physical of all these guys. He doesn't shy from contact at all. Third, he's more athletic than people give him credit. He's tearing up the combines.

    His 34 inch veritcal leap is better than Bosh's.
    His 11.12 lateral quickness test was better than Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, and Ealr Clark.
    His wingspan is wider than Blake Griffin's.

    And Chad Ford now has his athletic ability on par with Michael Beasley's from a year ago. I'm not saying he'll be a great player, but he has enough athletic ability to avoid being a "bust."

  2. His combine numbers are impressive, but just ask an Eagles fan about Mike Mumula. Combine's can't show how a player will truly preform at the next level. Hansbrough just isn't a starter for me at the next level. I think Griffin and Blair are definitive starters. Also Hill and Johnson have a lot of upside, though they are raw. For someone with such a great vertical leap, why does Chad Ford say "plays beneath the rim".

    I really don't know how their is a counter argument for him being too soft for the NBA. There is no way he's tougher than Blair, Griffin and Hill (I'll give you Johnson though). He works hard, but he still got out rebounded, throughout his career. Hansbrough struggled against other talented college big men. Blair and Griffin routinely dominated the NCAA's best big men (including Griffin vs. Hansbrough in the Tourney). I just can't see Hansbrough suddenly start dominating the NBA's big men when he couldn't do that in college.

    Overall I think Hansbrough had the athletic tools and basketball knowledge to be an elite player in college. But I don't think that can translate to the next level, if he continues to 'play beneath the rim'. If he had a bit better of an outside shot I could see a starters role for him. But until thats there I can't see much more than a reserve, which isn't worth the lottery pick.

  3. I'm just more upset that you used the word bust. If he gets drafted outside the top 15, then that means he's not getting drafted to start or be a dominant player. In my opinion, most drafts only offer quality starters in the first 10, maybe 15, picks. If Hansbrough gets drafted 19th and turns into a guy off the bench, then he hasn't been a bust. Soft also isn't the right word to describe a guy. Soft implies that a guy backs down from a fight, or that he can't mentally compete. Tyler can do that. He didn't back from Griffin. It was the fouls that kept him out of the game. Tyler's also got more versatility than Blair. I actually wouldn't be surprised if Tyler wound up playing the 3 in the NBA. His jumpshot is good mechanically, and he's got more lateral quickness than a lot of this year's shooting guards. He may wind up being like Jamison.

    I'm not saying he's an all-star or a starter, but the words bust and soft shouldn't be associated with him.

  4. I think Hansbrough deserves to be in the 20-30 range (*by a contending team, the Thunder, Grizzlies, and TWolves wouldn't be great fits). I just have seen a lot of mock drafts moving Tyler up into the top 15 (Ford has him 11th to the Nets).

    While I wouldn't come close to saying he's mentally soft, physically i question him. Not overall in college but that OK game I saw something else. For all intents and purposes, that was a 5 on 1 game (more like 8 on 1) and yet Hansbrough was still getting pushed around. Sure he tried but he couldn't come close to getting position on a guy even with help. And consequently he starting making some stupid fouls (which is extremely uncharacteristic of him). Yeah it was one game, but I think it epitomized Hansbrough's struggles against bigs.

    Tyler may have more versatility but he doesn't have the upside and that works against him. If he doesn't perform in year one, can you really expect him to get better down the line. I do like your thought as him as a 3, and the Jamison comp. If he does get some range on his jumper, then I can see a future. Thats my biggest thing against him, is thinking of him like a 4. I just don't see many 4's in the league that He can match up with.