With the conclusion of the ever-fascinating NBA Finals, the next stage of the NBA season is quickly approaching–draft time.
I love the NBA Draft. It’s really inexplicable how much I actually love it, I don’t watch a ton of college hoops outside of my Hokies/in March. But for whatever reason, it consumes my thoughts for at least a week (usually longer if not for the strike shortened season).
One of the things that I love about the draft is that no one knows what’s going to happen. Not necessarily about the picks themselves, everyone knows Anthony Davis is going first…but can anyone tell with 100% certainty exactly how good he’s going to be?
I think that all of the prospects in any draft can be defined by who they can be compared to. Usually, a prospect compares to multiple NBA players, and often all of them are hard to pin down.
The two comparisons, however, that a general manager or scout should focus on are the best and worse possible players that a prospect can become. If you can figure out without much doubt the ceiling and basement of a player, you’re ahead of about 75% of the front offices in the league. More importantly, you know what you’re getting yourself into with a prospect.
Prospects can generally be broken down into three categories: a 1 story house (not a big space between the basement and ceiling..aka a safe player), a 2 story house (no real basement, but the ceiling is pretty high..,aka a player who can be VERY good, but isn’t risky), and a fixer-upper of a house with a huge basement (player with a massive ceiling but there’s a huge space between the ceiling and basement).
So here, I’m going to break down the top prospects by house…and then look at their comps:
2 Story House (high ceiling)-
Anthony Davis (C, Kentucky)
- Ceiling-Kevin Garnett?….Bill Russell? So yeah…this shouldn’t be surprising. He’s awesome. Really good. Huge ceiling..and if all else fails, should be a beast of a shot blocker/defensive presence. I can see him to develop a game very similar to KG’s, with a high post game with the ability to take people off the dribble. But his knack for rebounding and blocking shots….it really does seem a little Russell-esq.
- Basement- Young Serge Ibaka I know this may seem a little high for a basement, but think about Ibaka a year ago. Let’s say Davis never gains more weight nor a post game. All of a sudden he’s a super skinny shot blocking power forward with a nice jumper…sounds a lot like Serge to me.
Bradley Beal (SG, Florida)
- Ceiling-Dwayne Wade Could have gone Eric Gordon here..but an “undersized” two guard that can get to the hoop, shoot and rebound. He comes into a team that lets him develop a bit, and he can be a perennial all star. Also hearing Ray Allen can be the ceiling.
- Basement- OJ Mayo Undersized guy who never puts it all together. Can do any and everything, just never at the same time…maybe was rushed a little bit in order to put it all together. At the end of the day, he can at least still hit an open corner 3.
Dion Waiters (SG, Syracuse)
- Ceiling-better passing Monta Ellis Undersized dude that can simply light it up. Goes to the rim with reckless abandon, can play a little point (if needed), can handle the ball but sometimes over dribbles. Has a streaky jumper that’s hidden by his fearless drives. Waiters is all of this. It describes both players perfectly…except Waiters can be a better 1, hogging the ball less than Ellis has a tendency to do.
- Basement-shorter Jamal Crawford An irrational confidence guy off the bench, who drives the lane, can pass but usually looks for his shot. Indifferent defender. Will probably bounce around a few teams until he finds a winner to come off the bench for (aka whoever drafts him may not get what they want)
Other quick ceiling/basements: Terrance Ross, SG Washington: (Ray Allen/Mike Miller), Austin Rivers, G Duke: (Chauncey Billups/Jason Terry), Jarred Sullinger, PF Ohio State: (Kevin Love/Dejuan Blair).
1 Story House (ceiling’s not that high..but the basement’s not that low)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SF, Kentucky)
- Ceiling-a Gerald Wallace/Metta World Arest hybrid That may sound awesome…but when you think about it, both guys are pretty limited offensively (the Lakers could buy out Mike Brown if they had a dollar for every time a fan shouted NOOOOOO!!! when Metta shot). The thing about MKG is that he’s an elite athlete that knows how to best use the athleticism…attacking the rim and playing awesome defense. Throw in a little Artest-ian craziness..only channeled toward winning..and you have a very nice piece on a contender, and he’ll probably make an all star game or two.
- Basement-Trevor Ariza I know there seems to be a big gap between these two…but the thing is, being Gerald Wallace isn’t THAT high. Ariza is also a good piece on a contender, and can defend and play the break. This is what happens if MKG is stunted by NBA players who can keep up with him defensively.
Harrison Barnes (SF, North Carolina)
- Ceiling-Luol Deng I’m not big on Barnes, and I think this is the best he’ll end up being. A good defender, jump shooter and a especially productive player when shots are being created for him. When they’re not? They both struggle (see: end of each players seasons..NCAA tournament and NBA playoffs.) Richard Hamilton would also not be bad here.
- Basement-Jared Dudley Worst case scenario, his lack of elite athleticism is worse than expected, it is literally impossible for him to create off the dribble and it makes his ability as an above average defender vanish. He turns into a jump shooter off the bench, but has a little more athleticism to do things than say, Kyle Korver.
Thomas Robinson (PF, Kansas)
- Ceiling-an offensively better Dennis Rodman Both undersized power forwards, I think this ceiling is dead on. Robinson is an explosive athlete, who rebounds the heck out of the ball and can defend very well (see the NCAA title game). His size may limit what he does offensively, especially early on, but his defense could come through early and establish himself in the league.
- Basement-Antoine Walker Another undersized guy for what his position, the thing about walker is the thing that could get Robinson in trouble…getting distracted with perimeter play. Walker was solid, but would create headaches jacking up 3s in Boston…eventually pushing him out the door. (Walker could also be used as a basement for Kentucky forward terrance Jones) Robinson is a little bigger than Walker, but still likes to show his ability as a passer/play maker when he should just stick to the low block.
Others: Tyler Zeller, C North Carolina: (Marcin Gortat/Samuel Dalembert), Marquis Teague, PG Kentucky: (Darren Collison/Jeff Teague)
The Fixer-Uppers (players with huge ceilings but also huge basements)
Andre Drummond (C, Connecticut)
- Ceiling-Dwight Howard Oh yeah. If Drummond can put it all together…look out. Big time shot blocker. Excellent rebounder (when trying). “NBA Body” (thank you Jad Ford-Bilas). What’s better about Drummond is that he’s already more offensively gifted than Howard was (or maybe is?). Soft touch, can even hit a mid range jumper….all of this if he’s engaged and wants to be good.
- Basement-some terrible morph between Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry And cue the audience gasp. Kwame could grab boards and play D solidly…but never put it together. Curry had the best post game people had seen in a long time…never put it together. That’s what you gamble when you take Drummond. He could be the best center taken in the draft since Tim Duncan, or he could be the biggest bust since the Brown/Curry draft. The scariest part is that it’s all on him…
Perry Jones III (SF/PF, Baylor)
- Ceiling-….Kevin Durant? Scottie Pippen? You see..as with Drummond, no one really knows with PJ3. He can flat out fly, has explosiveness and can score from seemingly wherever he wants…when he wants to. He played all 3 front court positions at Baylor and can defend them all, pull boards. If he finds a home where he’s comfortable? He could be all-NBA. If he never gets comfortable? Well….
- Basement-Darius Miles I feel like I nailed this one. Another uber-athlete that seemingly had tons of talent…Miles just never put it fully together. He had flashes of what could have been, but never was. Miles was drafted number 3, and at least Jones won’t have that pressure….according to just about everyone, he’s sliding on numerous boards. Again…it’s all up to Jones where he’ll land on this scale.
Kendall Marshall (PG, North Carolina)
- Ceiling-Jason Kidd I’ve said this from day one. If everything falls into place for Marshall, he could become the next Kidd. Big for a point guard, he just sees the floor better than everyone else. Marshall made Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson all look good, and he could still set the table for his teammates at the next level. He’s not quite the defender Kidd is, but is a better shooter (especially early in Kidd’s career).
- Basement-Beno Udrih Solid at finding teammates…but is too slow and is a bigger liability on defense than he can supplement on offense. Can’t guard anyone, especially starters, so he’s relegated to the bench where his holes aren’t as prevalent.
Damian Lillard (PG, Weber State)
- Ceiling-Stephon Marbury The dude is the classic scoring point guard. He can find his teammates if he wants/has to, but can really fill it up. Remember Marbury with the Timberwolves? Dude looked super promising. Lillard is another guy that can really be one of the best in his class.
- Basement-Stephone Marbury This is the one most people my age remember. The one in New Jersey…or Phoenix…or New York…or Boston at the end. The guy who can score…but doesn’t look for his teammates at all, ending up isolating himself. Marbury’s usage rates were never good, he took a lot of shots, and while Lillard’s were extremely good in college (at Weber State) it may not be so easy playing with the big boys.
Others: John Henson, F North Carolina: (Tayshawn Prince/Yi Jianlian or Tyrus Thomas), Royce White, SF Iowa State: (Paul Pierce/Billy Owens), Fab Melo, C Syracuse: (Dikembe Mutombo/Hasheem Thabeet).