Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 Nba Draft Preview - Player preview

It is that time of the year again. It is time for baseball on tv, softball every Monday/Thursday, traveling and outdoor festivals here in Minnesota. Also, it is time for the Nba draft and my annual draft preview in which I give my unsolicited advice to the Minnesota Timberwolves. If you have missed previous year's editions feel free to check out 2008's preview where I suggested the Twolves take Kevin Love instead of OJ Mayo. Or there is 2009's preview where I was high on Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry. This year is great because not onl do I get to offer my advice to the Timberwolves, but thanks the Isiah Thomas I can give advice on what Utah should do with the 9th pick in the draft.

First things first is to provide with you the article I like to use as a good starting point on my analysis - John Hollinger's Draft rater: Most pro potential?

Unfortunately for this year's draft I don't have as strong of opinion as in 2008 when I really wanted the Twolves to take Kevin Love. I have certain opinions that I will share, but first I would like to run through some of the key prospects.

Evan Turner - this player makes the most sense for the Twolves. He plays two positions (shooting guard and point guard) that the Twolves need help in. My main concern with watching him play is that he needs the ball in his hands to be effective. That might not work with a team like the Jazz who already have a player like Deron Williams who controls the flow of the game. However, it works perfectly for the Twolves who have nobody on the perimeter that can really take over the game. My second concern with Turner is that he might be one of those Shareef Abdur-Rahim players who puts up great numbers on a losing team. In other words I don't know if he is one of those players that will take a team from good to great. My final concern is that my OSU friend Brian calls him Evan Turnover. This probably has something to do with the fact that he averaged 4.4 turnovers a game last year and had the 3rd most turnovers in all of college basketball. Despite that if the Twolves would have gotten the 2nd pick in the draft this would have been a short draft preview for them since I would tell them to select Turner and hope for the best.

Wesley Johnson - Johnson is not like Turner in the fact that I think he can succeed as an NBA player without having the ball in his hands all game long. He would instantly become the best long distance shooting option for a Twolves team that finished 23rd in 3 point field goal % and 26th in number of 3 pointers made. In other words he address a huge problem for the Twolves. And in addition to that he plays a position (small forward) that could use an upgrade. It is hard to imagine Johnson becoming a superstar, but it is also hard to imagine him not being a productive player in the Nba for 10-15 years. Now is that something you want with the 4th pick in the draft?

DeMarcus Cousins - An *offensive rebounding machine, which with the amount of shots the Twolves miss (25th in the league) probably would help them out. Also, it would be amazing watching Kevin Love and Cousins hit the glass for the Twolves. The two main problems with Cousins though is that he seems to be a head case (Zach Randolph?) and the Twolves one position of strength is power forward with Love and Jefferson. Now if you could play Cousins at center then we might be talking.

*Is offensive rebounding the next new "it" stat? Anybody who watched the NCAA tournament or game 7 of the Nba Finals had to have seen the importance of getting offensive rebounds. There is no way Duke (7th in offensive rebounding % in college basketball) or the Lakers (7th in offensive rebounding %) would have won their respective titles without the additional shots gained thanks to offensive rebounds. The way those two teams won the title has to help Cousins since he looks like a player born to get offensive rebounds. I watched a few Kentucky games and it looked like he would just establish position under the basket and then move people out of the way until he was able to get the rebound.

Ekpe Udoh - This player puts to test Hollinger's draft ratings sytem more than any other player in the draft this year. You see Hollinger has him rated as the 50th best prospect behind players like Tiny Gallon, Aubrey Coleman and Jeremy Lin. I don't know why he is rated so low, but my guess is that it has something to do with his age (23) or the fact that he doesn't score (14 points per game) much. However, it is hard to look at his numbers and not notice the 3.7 blocks per game that was good for 11th in the nation in block %. I generally tend to like players who have one incredible skill. I call it the Paul Millsap rule or if you wanted the Kyle Korver rule. Normally I would look for 2nd round picks (think Jarvis Varnado) who are NBA ready in one specific area (Varnado = blocks). For Millsap it was rebounding and for Korver it was shooting. Not surprisingly both are very good in the NBA at those two areas. That is why I like Udoh. he seems like he is already NBA ready at blocking shots. I don't think he will be an All Star, but I can't imagine someone who blocks shots so well won't be a productive NBA regular.

Ed Davis - This is somebody that Hollinger and I can agree on since I think he is overrated and not just because he is from UNC. I do think that I can judge him better than other since I have seen him play plenty of times over the past two years. The good is that he is an efficient scorer who really seems to have a good soft touch close to the basket. The bad is that he is rail thin and always has seemed to be more potential than production. Also, since he isn't very strong he can't be expected to play the power forward position and since he isn't a good outside shooter he can't be expected to play the small forward position. At best I can see him being a rotation player who is a good change of pace forward. I will be upset if either the Jazz (at 9) or the Twolves (at 16) take Davis.

Derrick Favors - He is a tough player to judge since I don't really like him, but he is rated very highly by many people including Hollinger. However, I never once watched a Georgia Tech game and thought that much of Favors. From watching a few games it was clear he was a great athlete, but besides that I didn't see much from him. He didn't have any post moves, couldn't shoot the ball from outside 5 feet of the rim and never really seemed to show any interest or aptitude in passing the ball. I looked up some stats on him and they seemed to reinforce my subjective opinion. He shot only 63% from the line and had a very high turnover rate of 2.5 turnovers a game.

Cole Aldrich - I don't think anyone will ever confuse Aldrich with Hakeem Olajuwon on the offensive end, but that doesn't mean he can't be an effective NBA center. I think that his defensive presence as a shot blocker would help any team looking to match up with the Pau Gasols and Andrew Bynums of the NBA. He was 5th in the NCAA last year in block percentage and only one of the players ahead of him (Jarvis Varnado) played in a power conference. Overall I think he will be a solid player who you can just plug in the center position and not worry about getting production.

Xavier Henry - Much like Ed Davis this another player who I think is more potential than production. I never watched a Kansas game and thought that Henry was one of the best players on the court. He always seemed like nothing more than a spot up shooter with good height. He doesn't seem to have any star potential and that might be best evidenced by his "best case scenario" being James Posey on He is worth a mid to late first round pick, but I can't imagine ever getting the production worthy of a lottery pick.

Luke Babbitt - The first thing that sticks on for me is his lack of speed. He ran 3/4 court sprint in a slower time than post players like Derrick Favors, Greg Monroe and Cole Aldrich. Either the clock was wrong or Babbitt is incredibly slow for the small forward position in the NBA. From all accounts he seems to be a crafty scorer and a good shooter. I don't know if he is going to be a good player since his numbers are tough to analyze. If I was just judging his offensive ability it looks like he would be a good late lottery pick, but I would like to actually see him play to understand whether or not he can play defense. He seems like one of those players that I could be talked into either liking or not liking.

Al-Farouq Aminu - As another ACC product I feel like I know the player probably more than I actually do. With Aminu I have never been impressed and never understood why he was always considered a potential lottery pick. He didn't seem to be especially athletic or a good shooter (69% from the line, 27% from 3) or much of a passer (1.3 assists to 3.2 turnovers a game). He didn't really dominate and I never really cared much for his body language. As a Duke fan there was never a point where I celebrated that Aminu was going pro since I thought that would hurt Wake that much. With Favors I could see him learning some post moves and becoming a very good NBA player since he is such a great athlete. Even with Ed Davis I could see him adding some weight and becoming an effective low post scorer. Those two players have to make some adjustments to be effective in the NBA, but with Aminu it seems like he almost has to become another player. In order to be effective I would have to see him improving his feel for the game, passing, shooting and demeanor.

Now that the player profiles on some key players are over and we can look back on that it in a few years and make fun of my analysis. My next posts will be on the draft strategy for both teams.

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