I remember posting something similar to this around the same time last year, and getting a very positive response. Essentially what I'll be doing is sizing up the prospects, and letting you know which players are being under and overvalued in this particular draft class. Of course I'll provide my reasoning.
Group 1: OVERrated
C-Hasheem Thabeet, 7'3" 265, out of UConn
You all have to trust me on this one, because I graduated from UConn in 2008 and covered the men's basketball team for the university publication. I've studied Thabeet closely, and even this season (when I was no longer on the Storrs campus) I was able to watch a bunch of UConn's games on national television.
Sure he's coming off the best season of his short collegiate career, but I'm generally ignoring the numbers for a post like this. I'm looking at the skills. Thabeet certainly has great size and length, but that doesn't necessarily translate into rebounding success. Why not? Because Thabeet has stone hands; he can't catch a pass, let alone a rebound.
His rebounding statistics improved this year because of a better understanding of positioning, but his boards fell primarily in the "soft" category. What I mean by that is, he picks up loose balls that trickle away from the rim or grabs a gimme rebound when the defense drops back to protect against the fastbreak.
Defensively, Thabeet should still be a shotblocking force at the next level, but that'll be his only notable skill. He has a soft touch from the foul line for someone of his height and hand size, but he hasn't shown the ability to utilize that in a mid-range game. Not even close, really.
Basically, Hasheem is soft, and he doesn't have the mind for the game. I can see him being an elite shotblocker right away, but not developing into much else in the future. Is that worthy of a No. 2 overall selection?
I don't think so.
PF-Jordan Hill, 6'10" 235, out of Arizona
I like Hill's aggressiveness and intensity, but he doesn't appear to have the touch to develop a well-rounded offensive game. He should be an active rebounder and hustle player in the NBA, but I think the team that drafts him would be lucky if he eventually developed to the level of, say, Nene Hilario.
Is that really what you want out of a No. 4 overall pick? It's taken quite awhile for Nene to get to the level he's at now, and he's still not an elite player or even an all star. If Hill falls into that category, with guys like Anderson Varejao and Nick Collison, that wouldn't be the correct bang for the buck for a potential top five selection.
SG/SF-James Harden, 6'5" 220, out of Arizona State
James is a strange player. Most NBA scouts are listing him as a shooting guard prospect, but he doesn't really shoot the ball well. He's more of a slasher who is feeling his way around on the court, looking for opportunities to showcase his athleticism and pick up some easy buckets.
I don't project him as an eventual No. 1 or 2 scoring option, which is what you'd want out of a shooting guard in the top five. Harden's basketball IQ is poor, and I think he's years away from developing from a negative into a positive for an NBA franchise. His phenomenal athletic ability would make him useful in a Ronnie Brewer-type NBA role, but the question is, could they get Harden on board with something like that?
And even if his potential team could, well, that's not what you want out of a front-end lottery pick.
Others: (List only) DeMar DeRozan-SG, USC; Eric Maynor-PG, VCU, and Jeff Teague-PG, Wake Forest.
Group 2: UNDERrated
PF-Tyler Hansbrough, 6'8" 245, out of North Carolina
Virtually every draft projection site has "Psycho T" in the late first round, or early second. It's the old, "Excellent collegiate player who we don't like because he can't jump out of the gym, and isn't a 7-foot big man" scenario.
That scenario sucks. Tyler Hansbrough can play. Sure he's slightly undersized at the NBA power forward position, but he has the bulk and the tenacity to make up for it. Besides, I can think of some pretty good undersized power forwards: Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman, and how about David Lee in today's game?
Hansbrough actually has better offensive skills than both Rodman and Lee, as he can knock down mid-range jumpers with confidence. Most importantly, Hansbrough is a winning ballplayer, someone who will make the correct play for his team, whether it's finishing a play or sacrificing his body on the defensive end. To put it into context, "losing ballplayers" are selfish guys like Al Harrington, Larry Hughes, Tim Thomas, Gilbert Arenas, and Tracy McGrady. Not a coincidence that none of them have been part of an NBA champion.
As for Hansbrough, I'd love for my Nets to take a chance on him at No. 11 overall. He'd fit perfectly next to Brook Lopez on our frontline, and New Jersey can use some unselfishness with Devin Harris and Vince Carter taking the vast majority of the shots.
SF-Sam Young, 6'6" 220, out of Pitt
Here's another guy that's being overlooked in the late-first, early-second category. The funny thing about Young is, he reminds me a lot of Jeff Green. Minus the passing skills (which haven't been too much of a factor for Green in the NBA), Young has a similar body type and is comfortable shooting from similar spots on the floor. He's a good corner/elbow perimeter shooter like Green, but doesn't project as a deadly long range bomber from the top of the key.
It's funny that Young reminds me of Green, because everyone was obsessing over Green at the time of his draft. Young, despite looking like he's 45 years old, is just as good an athlete (if not better) than Green. He's a sneaky offensive rebounder and he comes from a collegiate system where defense is paramount. He could be a contributor right away; I really like his maturity.
SF-Danny Green, 6'6" 210, out of North Carolina
Danny's a deep sleeper, because NBADraft.net is projecting him as a mid-to-late second rounder. It seems that he's barely on the radars of most NBA organizations. I think the knock on Green is his unorthodox shooting stroke, but he's actually relatively effective from the perimeter.
What I like most about Green is his NBA athleticism. He can be an excellent fastbreak player because of his explosiveness and finishing ability, and I could see him fitting with Golden State, Toronto, or even Denver. He's another player with a questionable basketball IQ, but I think a seasoned NBA coach could straighten him out. To me he's in the same physical category as Gerald Henderson and Terrence Williams, and both are projected first rounders.
PG-Tyrese Rice, 6'0" 190, out of Boston College
Some are suggesting that this guy will go undrafted, and that would be a travesty. He's definitely undersized for the NBA game, but I see a lot of Damon Stoudamire in Tyrese. Damon was a lottery pick who had a very respectable NBA career, and yet here's Rice, supposedly at the bottom of the prospect barrel.
I hope Tyrese takes it upon himself to burn the many franchises that pass on him, because he's shown that he can carry an offense when necessary, but also sit back and control the tempo when his teammates are performing well. He has tremendous range on his jump shot, and as a left-handed guard with quickness, he's always at a driving advantage. I see Delonte West in Tyrese, too. Tyrese is just a little less physical.
Others: (List only) Alex Ruoff-PG, West Virginia; A.J. Price-PG, UConn; Taj Gibson-PF, USC; DeJuan Blair-PF, Pitt.
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