Tuesday, March 2, 2010

HolyBackboard 2010 Draft Look Ahead: Version 3.0

The third installment of the NBA Draft Look Ahead has Portland improving their record once more. When the first 2010 Draft Look Ahead was created, Portland was six games over .500 at 18-12, then near the mid-way part of the season the Blazers were eight games above .500 with their 24-16 record, and now Portland has just finished a 4-1 road trip to boost their record to 36-27, nine games above .500. A lot has changed since the last Look Ahead. Portland has fully recovered from all non-season ending injuries and even made a trade at the deadline, sending Travis Outlaw, Steve Blake, and cash considerations to the Clippers for center Marcus Camby. With a four-game lead over New Orleans, Houston, and Memphis for the 8th and final playoff spot, the odds of making the playoffs and missing out on the NBA Draft Lottery are increasing with each passing day. If the draft was held today, the Trail Blazers would be picking 19th. Again, these are my top 5 prospects for the Trail Blazers, not necessarily the best five players in college.
  1. SG-Evan Turner: Ohio State

  2. The return of Evan Turner, from a back injury in December, has catapulted the Buckeyes into the top 10 and leaders the Big Ten. After John Wall seemed like a near lock for National Player of the Year just weeks ago, Turner's play has everyone singing his praises for the Wooden award. His 19.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 5.9 assists are the best all-around numbers in the nation and good enough to be the team leader in each of those three categories. No player has seen their draft stock rise higher and quicker than Evan Turner. Out of the gate he was considered a potential lottery pick, rose up to #6 during our last update, and is now the consensus #2 player in both NBADraft.Net's and Draft Express' mock drafts behind John Wall.
    Rarely will you see both draft sites compare a collegiate player to the same NBA counterpart. Both Draft Express and NBADraft have his best case scenario as Brandon Roy, but, as a Blazer fan who thinks Roy will go down as the great Trail Blazer of all-time, I think he could be even better than Roy. There is no argument Turner is a much better player than Roy was at the same age (college Junior) but only time will tell if Turner can raise his game to the next level as Roy did or posses the clutch intangibles Brandon found with the Blazers. A lot of you may be thinking it would be pointless to draft Evan Turner since we have seen Roy and Rudy can't play together for extended periods of time, but I digress. Turner's 9.3 rebound average and 6-7 height show me he could play the 3 for a period of time and he has the handles to run point as well. Roy, Turner, and Batum on the court at once, just let it marinate.

  3. C-Cole Aldrich:Kansas

  4. Whatever the reason, the higher rewards of fellow center prospects Hassan Whiteside and DeMarcus Cousins or a lack of lateral quickness, Cole Aldrich has dropped significantly to #14 in NBADraft's mock, yet still firmly entrenched in the early lotter at #6 over at Draft Express. Outside of the obvious shot blocking and rebounding, what I enjoy about his game are his post moves, something Joel never had. Although he doesn't seem to make the shot as much as I would like to see, either a mid-range jump shot or off of a post move, more than half the battle is getting a quality look off. For not having the fleetness of foot to move side to side, Cole has a very nice drop step move as well as the occasional up and under. Making the ball go in the bucket off of those moves will come in due time with practice and repetition.
    As one of my favorite prospects in the class for the Blazers, I've made it a priority to watch as much KU hoops as possible and the more I watch, the less enamored I become. The statistics are there, 11 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks, but great collegiate stats don't necessarily translate into NBA success. What really worries me about Aldrich's transition over to the NBA is his lateral quickness and free-throw form. I can see the Joel Przybilla comparisons, but Cole is two inches shorter and weighs the same as Przybilla (245 lbs). While Joel is quick to block shots, it takes Cole a little longer to get from point a to point b. If he can slim down a smidgen and gain some explosiveness, he could warrant a lottery selection. Free-throw form can be fixed with quality time with an assistant coach and a better routine at the line, but Lord knows it's ugly.

  5. PF-Greg Monroe:Georgetown

  6. Monroe could be moving up on the this list by next installment, because he fills up stat sheets like few can at his level. To date he is averaging 15.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. Like Aldrich, both mock draft sites differ as to where they believe Monroe should go and what type of player he will eventually turn out to be in the league. NBADraft sees him going top 10 and views him comparable to a slightly less athletc Lamar Odom, which I can see as he handles the ball well and is a terrific all around player. On the other hand, DraftExpress has a more pessimistic outlook on Monroe, sliding him down to #14 and believing his best case scenario will be Brad Miller. I do see the Miller comparison as well, because both players can shoot it from the outside and are outstanding passers for their height. It's insane to think a 6-10 power forward is .4 assists away from leading Georgetown in dimes on a nightly basis. Thoughts of Monroe working the high-low with Oden are already dancing in my head.
    The talent is there for Monroe but questions have arrived in regards to his passive approach the game and the fact he rarely goes in for the kill. Blazer fans have already seen two passive, unselfish power forwards this decade in Rasheed Wallace and to an extent LaMarcus Aldridge (he turns it up a notch to end seasons), would they want to draft another? Frankly, a system in which Monroe wouldn't have to be the first, second, or even third option would fit exceptionally well for him. Just like Lamar Odom, it would seem like he would thrive with a team where he can defer to others and pick and choose his spots to take over all while not feeling the pressures or burdens of being the go to player.

  7. PF-Patrick Patterson:Kentucky

  8. Although overshadowed by Freshmen phenoms John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson is still doing his job, keeping a low profile under the radar. The 6-8 power forward is putting up All-SEC type number with averages of 14.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and 1.2 bpg. A player of consistency, something everyone knows the Trail Blazers could use more of, out of the 29 games played, he has scored in double figures in 25 of those affairs and more than nine points in all but one game. The most likable facet of Patterson's game is he is much like Dante Cunningham in the fact he knows his role and limitations. When he checks into the game, as a coach, you know he'll bring toughness inside, superior rebounding, and hustle.
    One staple of all championship teams is grit and fortitude which comes from players like Patrick Patterson. As mentioned before, Trail Blazer fans can count the players on one hand who bring a blue-collar scrap to the arena on a nightly basis and they are Maurice Lucas,, Buck Williams, Brian Grant, and Joel Przybilla. Even with the addition of Camby, the Blazers are still consistently finding themselves on the losing end of the rebounding battle and when Greg and Joel are healthy, they can't rebound by themselves. I really think Patterson could be a Carl Landry type player, maybe a bit more defensively than offensively focused, but someone who will put his body on the line with callous disregard and attemp to grab any loose ball.

  9. C-Larry Sanders:Virginia Commonwealth

  10. A new addition rounds out the top 5 in VCU's center Larry Sanders. To be honest, I haven't seen a whole lot of footage on him, mainly just ready scouting reports and basing this spot on team need (center), but he fits the bill quit nicely. Larry has only been playing basketball since his Junior year in high school, or five years, is already a big-time shot blocker (2.5 a night), and is accompanied by a 7-7 wingspan. Anytime a 6-10 big man has abnormally long arms, is still relatively raw in a basketball sense, and already has an instinct for blocking shots, has to be looked at with great consideration come draft time. Not only does he posses great upside along with the likes of Hassan Whiteside, he would come at a much lower premium. Whiteside is in many top 5's, while Larry is slated at #19 in the most recent NBADraft mock and #17 in DraftExpress'. Portland may not even have to trade up to acquire him; he could just fall into their laps. Could you imagine the project Larry Sanders could turn out to be under the mentor-ship of Oden and Przybilla along with the teachings of assistant coaches Lucas and Bayno?
    On the year, Sanders is leading the 20-8 Rams in scoring, rebound, and blocks with averages of 14.8, 8.9 and 2.5 respectively. Although playing in the Colonial Athletic Association does not provide players like Sanders the opportunity to prove their worth on a nightly basis, VCU has knocked out the likes of Duke in prior NCAA Tournaments and former guard Eric Maynor was taken in the 1st round last year and already looks like he will be a mainstay in the league for quite some time. The bottom line is, even if he is a risk or a project that could take a couple of year, the Blazers desperately need a 3rd center and he would provide that and not demand minutes right away. Standing pat or moving up a couple of slots for Sanders may not only be the most realistic draft day scenario but the proper one when it is all said and done.

Players To Watch
  1. PF-Ekpe Udoh:Baylor
  2. PF-Da'Sean Butler:West Virginia
  3. C-Scottie Reynolds:Villanova

No comments:

Post a Comment