Monday, December 14, 2009

HolyBackboard 2010 Draft Look Ahead: December Edition

Unfortunately, this season has not gone they way we all had expected it to, but that's life. Every month, we will rate our Top 5 prospects, based on skill, need, and realistic availability. Realistic ability is a very subjective measure, but when you have Kevin Pritchard as your GM, and all of our young talent, is anyone really impossible to obtain?
  1. PG-John Wall: Kentucky

  2. Although the only chance Portland has at landing Wall would be through another fluke win at the NBA Draft Lottery, every draft list starts and ends with Mr. Wall. As cliche as it sounds, Coach Calipari has called him the best prospect at this stage in his career he has ever coached, including Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, which is incredible praise considering Rose is the reigning R.O.Y. and Evans is on his way.
    Wall is currently averaging 18 points and 7 assists and is the key reason why UK is ranked in the top 5 and still unbeaten. His performance at Madison Square Garden against fellow stud point guard Kemba Walker and UCONN was nothing short of spectacular. With his length and athleticism, he reminds me of Rajon Rondo with a much higher ceiling. As to be expected, he is still very raw in terms of his court vision and jump shot, but so was Rose his first season at Memphis.
  3. PF-Patrick Patterson:Kentucky

  4. As much as Trail Blazer fans wish right now that Utah did not match the offer sheet for big man Paul Millsap, we may not have to go out and spend a ton of money to get a similar, maybe better player in Patrick Patterson. As of now, he is rated #8 and #11 on Draft Express and respectively and his stock could soar even higher if he continues to play at his torrid pace of 16.8 ppg and 9.6 rpg against tough competition.
    Since the days of Brian Grant, Blazer fans have yearned for a big, bruising forward to dominate the glass on the inside. Even better, Patterson is compared to Blazer great Buck Williams and the comparison was no more apparent than his performance against Indiana this past Saturday where he was a man-child on the boards by grabbing a team-high 8 offensive rebounds. Aldridge is still our power forward for now and the future, but with Outlaw's versatility, he could swing over to the small forward at times and let Patterson go to work. Right now, he is my favorite prospect in the draft.
  5. C-Cole Aldrich:Kansas

  6. With Greg Oden's health still in question and Joel Przybilla's ability to opt out of his contract this offseason, it would be foolish to not look at other centers, in case something happens. Aldrich is another player the Blazers would have to trade up to obtain, but the talent is too much to pass up on, which is why he is #3 on our board. Although he is compared by some to Brook Lopez, personally, I like to think of him as a more offensively gifted Joel Przybilla. His 7'4" wingspan allow him to be a dominant weak side shot-blocker and disrupt his opponent during man to man play.
    When you are evaluating big men, the most important thing to look for is agility and footwork. Although he has great open court speed, his lateral footwork could use some work, but I'm sure Bobby Medina could get him in shape. Even though 12 points and 10 rebounds a night don't scream top 5 pick, those stats are a little skewed as he plays on the top team in the nation at Kansas where they have weapons all over the place. What does stand out are his 3.6 blocks per game, good enough for 6th in the entire nation. There has only been one game this entire season where he hasn't tallied 3 or more blocks in.
  7. PF-Derrick Favors:Georgia Tech

  8. Favors is probably the 2nd best prospect in the entire class, and the only reason he is #4 and not #2 is based on the fact that I don't see Portland going after him whatsoever. Favors has NBA Superstar potential, but we already have a budding star in Aldridge and I don't see Favors wanting to be LA's backup. But if some reason Portland landed in the top 3 of the lottery, you take him if he is B.P.A and use him as a trading chip to get what you need.
    When it comes to Power Forwards, the big question is really, "How tall is he?" He is listed at 6'9", but even with his feakish athleticism, if he measures in an inch or and inch and a half shorter than listed, it could drop him down a few slots. From the tape I have seen on him, the NBADraft comparison to Amare Stoudamire is pretty spot on outside of his lack of a face up game. His 13.4 ppg and 8.3 rpg look nice on paper, but then you dissect the competition the Yellow Jackets have played at its cupcake city. Everyone will be able to get a much better read on him once the difficult ACC conference play heats up.
  9. SG-Willie Warren

  10. Although Portland has similar dynamic scorers in Rudy Fernandez and Jerryd Bayless, Warren could be one of the best prospects available right where Portland is drafting if they are on the cusp of the playoff race. As of now, NBADraft has him going late lottery at #14, while Draft Express has him skyrocketing up the boards all the way to #5. Warren reminds me of a much more explosive Ben Gordon who can heat up as quickly as Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson. We all know Brandon likes to handle the ball a lot, so surrounding him with pure scorers would be an intelligent move to do. Down the road, a future 3 guard rotation of Roy, Bayless, and Warren would be lethal. Defensively, a 6'4" combo guard leaves a lot to be desired, but once Batum and Oden return in 2010, the front court defense should be on lock.
    For being a shoot-first guard, his 5.1 dimes a night are fairly impressive to along with his team-leading 19.6 ppg. If he is going to make it in the league, he must improve on his 44.2% field goal shooting and horrendous 26.8% from downtown. He very well may be a volume scorer in the NBA, but if he gets drafted by the Trail Blazers, his shots will be limited so he'll need to work on consistency. One concern I would have about pulling the trigger in regards to drafting him, is his Bonzi Wells type mentality. When Bonzi was in his first couple of seasons with the Blazers he was explosive to the hoop and never settled for the jumper. Once he found a jumper, he fell in love with it and I see a little bit of that in Warren. This team already occupies too many perimeter players and we need another Bayless/Roy who is fearless in attacking the rim.
Players To Watch
  1. PF-Gani Lawal:Georgia Tech
  2. PF-Jarvis Varnado:Mississippi State
  3. C-DeMarcus Cousins:Kentcuky

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