Oh ok. You got it.
The 2015 NBA Draft Thread: Draft Day Is Here - Page 11
And Okafor is pretty bad defensively as well. Thus the comparison
Okafor seems much more advanced offesnively at his age than Al was at the same age.. so Big Al should be his floor. Should be
Towns is definitely making a case I think it's going to be a split once the draft rolls around. I can't call it right now tbh
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Osh compared Towns to Marc Gasol which I think is a pretty good projection. I think Noah is one of the best passing big men the league has BUT I think Towns can definitely surpass Noah in terms of the rest of his offense
I still think Towns has both of them beat athletically, rim to rim for sure
No way...unless somebody offers them something real nice for Noel. I like a Towns-Embiid or Okafor-Embiid combo better than Noel-Embiid. I think they go with Russell or Mudiay though.
I think both can function in NYC fine. Definitely Okafor, playing in Chicago wasn't he always the big thing as a prep? That's some big city experience already and of course Duke being a marquee program
Towns on the other hand going to Kentucky, the media spotlight definitely a preview of what's to come as a pro
Both guys seem to be pretty mild mannered off the court
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Hinkie will select best player available. He won't take position into the equation, I don't think.
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Looking at Okafor's form, I think his FT % will improve. Even though I'm a Duke fan, I'm leaning towards Towns as number 1. Okafor's offense is twice as good as Towns though. Haven't seen much stuff on Muiday.
Can't imagine him picking JO or KAT unless he's looking to trade someone for picks (which is always a possibility there).
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delusional Laker/Hurricane fan
Don't really agree with the comparisons but who knows.
March Madness is back, and once again, the most exciting event in sports is delivering.
NBA scouts and general managers go out of their way to vocally minimize the influence a great tournament can have on a player's stock. Yes, I get it, professional talent evaluators never judge a player based off one or two games. But the tournament is some players' last chance to show off, and last impressions can be . . . well, lasting.
Because of that, every year a small handful of players see their stock rise and fall based on their play in the tournament. Last year it was UConn's Shabazz Napier who played himself into the first round as LeBron James' favorite college player.
Scouts and GMs were all over the country this past week watching the NCAA tournament. Some prospects shined. Others struggled mightily.
Here's the latest feedback from NBA GMs on a number of top prospects.
Players in our Top 20
Jahlil Okafor, C, Fr., Duke
Okafor has been No. 1 all year in our Top 100. While his grip on the title of consensus No. 1 pick has loosened considerably thanks to the play of Karl-Anthony Towns, Okafor's performance continues to give him the slight lead among NBA scouts and GMs to be the No. 1 pick. Okafor remains the most offensively dominant big man to go into the draft in a while. He's averaging 23.5 PPG and has shot a crazy 21-for-28 from the field during the tournament. He even has picked things up on the rim protection end, blocking two shots against Robert Morris and three against San Diego State.
But his real value is offensively, where he combines a huge body, great footwork and a soft touch around the basket. Some scouts prefer Towns because he's a more complete player. He's clearly better on the defensive end. But Okafor is so good offensively, he's going to be tough for NBA teams to pass.
The Kentucky Kids
Karl-Anthony Towns, F/C, Fr.
Willie Cauley-Stein, F/C, Jr.
Trey Lyles, F, Fr.
Devin Booker, SG, Fr.
Andrew Harrison, G, So.
Tyler Ulis, PG, Fr.
Towns had one of the best games of his career in the opening round versus Hampton, with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in 25 minutes. But it was against Hampton, so take that with a grain of salt. Versus Cincinnati, he was still very solid, with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in 21 minutes. Physical teams can slow down Towns a bit which is a worry, but overall he had a very strong game against one of the physically toughest opponents he's going to encounter. As far as draft stock goes, nothing's changed. He's still very much in the mix to be the No. 1 pick.
Cauley-Stein was quiet offensively, but had 11 rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes against Hampton and 9 points, 2 rebounds and 2 blocks against Cincinnati. Again, the physicality of the Bearcats gave him some issues, but he still played elite defense the entire game and had yet another highlight-reel posterization of a Bearcats player. His draft stock remains unchanged as well. He should go somewhere in the No. 6 to No. 10 range.
Lyles has been one of Kentucky's strongest players the past few weeks and that continued in the tournament. He had 10 points and six rebounds versus Hampton and 11 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks against Cincinnati. He has essentially flip-flopped with Booker as the Wildcat most likely to be drafted after Cauley-Stein and Towns are off the board. He's now in the No. 13 to 18 range.
Booker's shooting slump continues, with a combined 4-for-15 from the field, 0-for-7 from beyond the arc in Kentucky's first two games. He has been struggling lately and it has raised some questions in scouts' minds about his readiness for the NBA. Teams see him as an elite shooter, but given all the good looks he gets because of UK's loaded roster, his slump has been a bit disconcerting. His stock is sliding a little, out of the late lottery and more into the mid-first round.
Harrison continues his resurrection as a potential first-round draft prospect with a stellar performance against Hampton with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and zero turnovers. He also shot 2-for-3 from behind the arc. His play against Cincinnati was a bit more uneven, though he made several NBA-type drives to the basket and finished his second straight tournament game without a turnover. If he keeps playing like this through the rest of the tournament, he's going to move back into the mix as a possible first-round pick.
Ulis has been hot as well. He had 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals against Hampton and 9 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals against Cincinnati. Not only has he become the Wildcats' top floor general and best perimeter defender (if you don't count Cauley-Stein), but he lately has been their most consistent 3-point shooter.
D'Angelo Russell, G, Fr., Ohio State
It was a tale of two very different games for Russell in the tournament. Against VCU in the opening round, Russell was at his best offensively, scoring 28 points, shooting 4-for-7 from 3 and doing just about whatever he wanted out there. His feel for the game is remarkable and when his shots are dropping, he looks like a James Harden-esque combo guard who can score from anywhere.
Alas, against Arizona's pesky defense, led by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Russell couldn't get anything going. He shot just 3-for-19 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3 and was often forced to take long, off-balance jumpers. While his shooting stroke left him, he did have seven rebounds, six assists and just one turnover, and showed he can help his team in myriad ways. I don't think the tournament really helped or hurt Russell. All of the good and bad that scouts have seen all season were on display. Scouts love the stroke, basketball IQ and competitiveness, and they know that his lack of elite athleticism can make him vulnerable to defenders like Hollis-Jefferson or (in his other bad game this season, against UNC) players like J.P. Tokoto. He should be a lock as a top-five pick if he declares.
Justise Winslow, G/F, Fr., Duke
Stanley Johnson, G/F, Fr., Arizona
Kelly Oubre, G/F, Fr., Kansas
In the past five months we've had four players -- Winslow, Johnson, Oubre and Croatia's Mario Hezonja -- ranked as the top wing on our Big Board. All of them are bunched tightly together in the six to 12 range in our Top 100.
With March Madness the last chance to show scouts what they have to offer on the court, it looks like Winslow might finally be gaining the upper hand.
Winslow spent some of November and all of December ranked as the top wing in the draft. But injuries and some poor shooting hurt his stock in January. Lately, he's been out to prove to scouts that their initial ranking of him was the correct one. He's been very convincing playing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Okafor's Anthony Davis. Winslow scored just six points in a win against Robert Morris, but he had 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 block in that 24-minute span. Against San Diego State, he was awesome: 13 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks and 4 steals. He doesn't have to score to affect the game. Scouts were raving about Winslow after the game and if you were to ask me who has helped themselves the most in the tournament, right now the answer would be Winslow. If the draft were held today, I think scouts would take him as the first wing.
Johnson cleaned up against Texas Southern on Thursday, scoring 22 points and shooting 4-for-5 from 3. But against a more athletic Ohio State, he really struggled, shooting just 1-for-12 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3. Johnson's shooting touch generally has been solid all season; it's his struggles finishing at the basket that have scouts worried. For someone so strong and athletic, he's shooting just 53 percent on shots at the rim. That's partly why, despite solid production all season, scouts aren't ready to commit to him as a top-10 pick.
Oubre didn't dominate either of Kansas' games. He was better on Friday against New Mexico State, going 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. Against Wichita State on Sunday, he was just 3-for-9 from the field and 0-for-3 from 3. He had five rebounds, but never really got it going for the Jayhawks. That has been Oubre in a nutshell all season. Incredible talent, spotty production. While we have him ranked one spot ahead of Johnson on our Big Board because of his upside, the truth is scouts are pretty evenly split between the two. This might come down to who dominates in head-to-head workouts.
And on a side note -- Hezonja had zero points in 11 minutes versus Valencia on Sunday in the ACB and zero points in eight minutes versus Crvena Zvedza on Thursday in Euroleague play, so it's not like he's lighting up Europe at the moment.
Kevon Looney, F, Fr., UCLA
Looney suffered a facial fracture in the Pac-12 tournament and it's clearly affecting his assertiveness. Still, Looney -- who led all freshmen this season with 15 double-doubles -- picked up his 16th against UAB. He had another 10 rebounds against SMU -- a total of nine of 21 rebounds this weekend were offensive. While he's a skilled offensive player who can shoot 3s and handle the ball, he's still figuring things out on that end and whoever takes him knows it'll be getting a player who might take another couple of years to develop. But the upside (7-foot-5 wingspan, athleticism, basketball IQ, rebounding ability) are so high, I'm still hearing consistently that he's in the No. 6 to 12 range in the draft.
Myles Turner, F/C, Fr., Texas
Turner's game against Butler was a mixed bag. He scored just two points on 1-for-5 shooting and was plagued by foul trouble most of the game. However, he did grab 10 rebounds in the space of 16 minutes. And I think that game, in a nutshell, is what scouts expect from Turner. His defense, both as a rebounder and a shot-blocker, are well ahead of his offense right now. While he can clearly stretch the floor and is skilled offensively, he lacks the strength and the basketball know-how to put a lot of points on the board. Turner scored in double digits just once in the last eight games of the season and just three times in his last 14 games. With that said, his ceiling is so high, he should be a lock to get drafted somewhere in the mid-to-late lottery.
Frank Kaminsky, C , Sr., Wisconsin
Sam Dekker, F, Jr., Wisconsin
Nigel Hayes, F, So., Wisconsin
The Badgers' big three are all playing great in the tournament -- which, if that continues, will make them a very tough out.
Kaminsky has moved into the discussion for a lottery pick, and his play in the tournament so far supports that lofty draft position. He had 27 points and 12 rebounds and shot 3-for-5 from 3 against Coastal Carolina on Friday and 16 points and seven rebounds against Oregon. Shot-blocker Jordan Bell gave him a few issues, but he still got it done. What role he'll play in the NBA is still a source of serious debate, but Kaminsky's run of good tournament performances continues.
Dekker has had a solid, if unspectacular, season, but he has been great in the tournament. He had 20 points and shot 4-for-8 from 3 against Coastal Carolina and followed it with 17 points and five rebounds while shooting 3-for-8 from behind the arc. It's the combination of size, toughness, athleticism and 3-point shooting that really interests scouts. He has struggled a bit from beyond the arc as a junior. A good shooting tournament probably is the best outcome for Dekker, who sits firmly on the first-round bubble.
Hayes is also making a strong charge into the first round. Like Dekker, he's a versatile forward who can do a little bit of everything. He scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and hit a 3-pointer versus Coastal Carolina. Against Oregon he had 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists (though he shot just 1-for-5 from 3). If he declares for the draft, he has a very good chance of hearing his name called in the first round.
Bobby Portis, PF, So., Arkansas
Portis had a very rough shooting tournament. He went 10-for-27 from the field and struggled to assert himself offensively in either game. However, he was absolutely terrific on the boards, grabbing 13 rebounds against Wofford and 14 against North Carolina. He also had three assists and five steals against the Tar Heels, showing off his bona fide defensive skills. Portis is a bubble lottery pick right now; look for him to go in the No. 13 to 18 range.
Malik Pope, F, Fr., San Diego State
Pope was solid, but not spectacular, in the tournament. His line against St. John's was 6 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block in 24 minutes. He was suffering from the stomach flu against Duke and played just 17 minutes, with six points (2-for-3 from 3) and two rebounds. He's clearly a work in progress, but all the evidence that he has lottery talent was on display -- elite length and size for his position, incredible athleticism and a deep range on his jump shot. He needs to get stronger and improve on his low post game (he spends way too much time on the perimeter), but if he declares for the draft, he's going to get a lot of looks at the end of the lottery to mid-first round. If he decides to wait another season and he gets a starting role as a sophomore, he has the talent to be a top-five pick in 2016.
R.J. Hunter, SG, Jr., Georgia State
Hunter was the new March Madness darling on Thursday after his go-ahead 3-point shot from the parking lot with 2 seconds left helped Georgia State pull off the first big upset of the day. The image of him draining the 3 and his father, Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, tumbling off his rolling stool was iconic.
Hunter struggled all day against Baylor -- until the last three minutes of the game, when he scored 12 straight points for the improbable comeback. He ended the game with 16 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals. Those two 3s he had at the end of the game were the only ones he hit. He scored 20 points against Xavier on Saturday, going 6-for-15 from the field and 3-for-8 from behind the arc.
However, the five assists showed off a talented ball handler who can see the floor. Overall, this tournament probably helped his stock. His shooting percentages have been awful all season, but at least scouts got to see why in the tournament. Hunter can shoot the basketball, but the degree of difficulty behind many of the shots he takes are extraordinary. He'll get much cleaner looks in the NBA. Sources say it's likely he'll declare for the draft before the April 16 deadline. He should go in the No. 13 to 20 range.
Kris Dunn, PG, So., Providence
The downside of Dunn was on full display against Dayton on Friday. He had seven turnovers and shot just 4-for-13 from the field in a bad loss to Dayton. Dunn's stock had been rising the past month, to the point that some scouts were looking at him in the late lottery. I doubt this performance will damage that momentum much. Everyone who has scouted him knows he can play out of control and can try to do too much. In many other Big East games, scouts were treated to his terrific scoring ability, elite court vision, elite athleticism and length for his position. One game won't kill his stock. He'll likely go somewhere in the No. 13 to 20 range if he declares.
Montrezl Harrell, PF, Jr., Louisville
Terry Rozier, PG, So., Louisville
Harrell wasn't dominant in either game. He (understandably) struggled finishing around the rim against UC Irvine 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye on Friday, and Northern Iowa gave him problems at times, too. The toughness and athleticism are always there, but the focus, unfortunately, isn't. He's still a likely mid-first-round pick, but he hasn't helped himself much lately.
Rozier was awesome against Northern Iowa on Sunday, with 25 points, 7 assists and just 2 turnovers. When Rozier plays like he did on Sunday, the talk about him being a late lottery to mid-first-round pick doesn't seem far-fetched. He's tough, athletic and can get wherever he wants on the floor. His jump shot is still a question mark -- he's shooting 2-for-7 from 3 -- but given his strong play as a point guard lately, the Kyle Lowry comps don't seem too far off.
Jerian Grant, PG, Sr., Notre Dame
Grant didn't really have a breakout performance, but when the games were on the line versus Northeastern and Butler, Grant came through with big plays (a steal against Northeastern and a key assist against Butler). If there's a knock on Grant, it's his inconsistent shooting, and scouts saw that this weekend (he shot 1-for-6 from 3), but Grant played every minute for Notre Dame and is a clear leader on the floor. Like Dunn, he's in that No. 13 to 20 mix in the draft. He or Kaminsky should be the first senior off the board.
Jakob Poeltl, C, Fr. Utah
Delon Wright, PG, Sr., Utah
Wright has been getting most of the accolades this season, but it was Poeltl who carried the Utes in the past two games. He had 30 points on 12-of-13 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked six shots against Stephen F. Austin and Georgetown this weekend. Teams were willing to draft him in the mid-first round even without this type of production. But he has been playing great of late and may be able to play himself into the late lottery if he keeps this up against Duke's Okafor on Friday.
Wright struggled shooting in both games, going 4-for-14 from the field and had six turnovers against Stephen F. Austin. Averaging more turnovers than assists in the tournament is not helping Wright's draft stock. He's a senior, and scouts expect more. He needs a big game against Duke or risks falling out of the first round.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, G/F, So., Arizona
Hollis-Jefferson scored 23 points on 7-for-9 shooting against Texas Southern and just 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting against Ohio State. However, the defensive job he did on D'Angelo Russell drew raves from scouts. "He's the best on the ball wing defender in the country," one GM said. "He can guard elite NBA 2s and 3s right now." Hollis-Jefferson's jump shot is clearly a problem, but his defense is so good, it might not matter. He's a shorter version of Cauley-Stein.
Tyus Jones, PG, Fr., Duke
Jones continues to make the argument that he's the best "pure" point guard in the draft. While he doesn't put up dominant offensive numbers or flashy passes, he has had 13 assists and just three turnovers in the tournament. Scouts continue to be divided on his NBA potential. His basketball IQ and court vision clearly are there, but does he have the size and athleticism to be able to compete with the NBA's current crop of elite point guards? He remains in the No. 15 to 25 range in the draft.
Domantas Sabonis, PF, Fr., Gonzaga
Sabonis had big games against North Dakota State (7 points, 11 rebounds in 23 minutes) and Iowa (18 points, 9 rebounds in 27 minutes) and has turned into one of the two or three most important players for the Zags. I've been writing for weeks that he has a legitimate shot of getting drafted in the first round if he declares. His strong play in the tournament is going to keep fueling that fire.
Other prospects of note
Tyler Harvey, SG, Jr., Eastern Washington
In an opening-round loss to Georgetown, Harvey proved he could hang with just about anyone. The Hoyas went all out to stop Harvey and he still managed 27 points on 9-for-20 shooting and hit six of the 12 3-pointers he took. He also turned the ball over just twice despite tons of pressure from Georgetown. It's sacrilegious to compare him to a young Stephen Curry, given what Curry is doing right now in the NBA, but there are enough similarities that teams will give him a long look in the first round. Harvey graduates this spring, so he could make the leap to the NBA if he wants to. Given how hot his draft stock is right now, it probably would be a very good idea.
Justin Anderson, G/F, Jr., Virginia
Anderson was the best 3-point shooter in college basketball before injuring his hand. In the four games since he has been back, he's shot 1-for-9 from 3 and clearly isn't himself. It will be interesting to see how scouts react to his shooting slump if he declares. Many believed his high shooting percentages were fluky and he was bound to come back down to earth. For those who think he's a lights-out shooter, he's a mid- to late first-round pick. For those who think he was fluky, he's a second-rounder at best.
Justin Jackson, F, Fr., North Carolina
Jackson continues to come into his own after a slow start to his freshman season. He scored 14 points against Harvard and 16 against Arkansas in wins for North Carolina. His floater and mid-range game are impressive. He probably needs another year of school to add strength and show a more consistent 3-point shot, but if he declares, he'll get a lot of interest in the 20s.
Michael Qualls, G/F, Jr., Arkansas
Qualls had two dominant performances in the tournament, scoring 20 points against Wofford on 8-for-9 shooting and 27 points and 10 rebounds against North Carolina. He's clearly an NBA athlete who can defend multiple positions. The question is whether he can shoot it well enough to play the wing in the NBA. He went 3-for-8 from 3 in the tournament -- essentially on par with what he has been shooting from 3 all season. He's a sleeper late first-rounder, but more likely a second-round pick.
Joseph Young, G, Sr., Oregon
What else can you say about Young? Time and time again he has proven to be one of the most lethal scorers in the country. He dropped 30 points on Wisconsin, shooting 12-for-25 from the field, with four assists and just one turnover. He added 27 points on 8-for-15 shooting against Oklahoma State. He shot a combined 5-for-12 from 3. The question for Young: Can he make the transition to the point? He has the quickness to get anywhere he wants on the floor and he's a good enough shooter -- but does he see the floor well enough to run the point? It will be very interesting to see what teams do with him. Right now he's a second-round pick, but the scouts I spoke with were all impressed.
Branden Dawson, SF, Michigan State
When the good Branden Dawson shows up, as he did this weekend, he looks like a legit NBA player with a great body, elite athleticism, the ability to defend multiple positions and a knack for attacking the rim. He had 15 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks against Virginia on Sunday, and 14 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks against Georgia. Will more heroics in the Sweet 16 be enough to salvage his draft stock? I don't think he's in the first-round conversation anymore, but he still could get looks in the second.
Wesley Saunders, SG, Harvard
Saunders lit up the Ivy League all season, but could he do it against a high major? He had 26 points, shot 2-for-3 from 3-point range, had four rebounds and five assists and almost led the Crimson to an upset over the Tar Heels. He's going to get some serious looks in the second round.
Mamadou Ndiaye, C, UC Irvine
Ndiaye has had one true believer in ESPN's Kevin Pelton all season. He might have gained a few more with a solid 12-point, five-rebound performance against Louisville. No, he didn't set the world on fire (he had just one block despite being 7-6 with an 8-1 wingspan), but he was active, ran the floor well and clearly gave Louisville problems in the paint. Given his raw basketball IQ and need to get in much better shape, his best chance for development is to probably stay another season with the Anteaters. But if he declared? I bet someone would take a flier on him in the second round.
Devin Williams, PF, So., West Virginia
Williams has drawn attention from scouts both in the Big 12 tournament and in the NCAA tournament with his physical play. He's built like a linebacker and has proven to be a terrific rebounder. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds against Maryland and 17 points and nine rebounds against Buffalo. Next up is a huge, athletic Kentucky front line. If he can hold his own against Cauley-Stein, Towns and Dakari Johnson, he's going to start to generate some major draft buzz.
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The first weekend of the NCAA tournament has come and gone, and soon the Sweet 16 will be upon us. But that comes Thursday. Today is Tuesday. Let’s talk draft.
Here are some notes on a few of the guys who will be joining the NBA in June — five players who lost last weekend, plus a group of 10 to watch this weekend.
Good-bye for Now
D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State
Last Thursday, he gave us the most impressive performance of the tournament thus far. He had 28 points on 10-20 shooting to carry Ohio State against VCU. He was weaving through the defense on the way to the rim and draining shots from the outside. Even the shots he missed were legendary:
Sport-ruining crossovers aside, for anyone who hadn’t seen Russell, that game against VCU was a nice crash course in everything that makes him so great. It’s not just that he puts up numbers — he also finds teammates in the right spots, and he plays under control at all times. He’s got a better feel for the game than any guard in the country. “Feel for the game” is obviously a pretty intangible compliment, but with Russell, it basically means he’s got a knack for keeping the defense off balance. He uses defenders’ momentum against them, he finds passing lanes that shouldn’t exist, and he makes elaborate moves look like second nature.
He is James Harden without all the ********. We’ve talked about this. He’s the most entertaining offensive player in college basketball. Every D’Angelo Russell highlight deserves Wesley Snipes ad-libs.
Athleticism is the only question. And for anyone who doubts Russell’s ability to dominate at the next level, the Arizona game certainly helped their case. Maybe he’ll be too slow to tie NBA defenses in knots. He went 3-19 from the field against Arizona, and while he did add six assists and seven rebounds, the Arizona D was definitely never off balance. Part of this is a credit to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (we’ll get to him), but honestly, it’s also the entire Ohio State team.
The Buckeyes didn’t have the talent to stop Arizona’s offense, and as the game got out of hand, Russell was forced to try to get the offense going with bad shots. That’s how 3-19 happens. Russell should be fine. I can’t wait to watch his sorcery at the next level.
Justin Anderson, UVa.
He’s only a junior, and UVa. is the Pleasantville of basketball programs, so there’s a decent chance he could go back to school. In case he leaves: Anderson was the best player on a top-five Cavaliers team, until a hand injury sidelined him for the stretch run of the regular season. Then an emergency appendectomy complicated his return at the ACC tournament. Basically, he became the Murphy’s Law of All-Americans over the final six weeks. Still, he can do everything well as a guard, and he’s got good size (6-foot-6). This is exactly the kind of player who turns into a steal in the second half of the first round.
His 3-point shooting improved this year (from 29 percent to 45 percent), though there’s some debate among scouts about whether that’s an aberration or a full transformation. We’ll see. UVa. went down to Michigan State on Sunday — Anderson, still recovering from the injury, was limited to 2-7 for eight points — so the tournament won’t give us much insight.
That early tournament exit probably hurts his draft stock. Maybe that’ll push him back to school. On the other hand, falling off the radar makes him a tremendous sleeper option if he leaves.
Bobby Portis, Arkansas
At 6-foot-11 and 242 pounds, he’s got the size of a lottery pick, and he averaged close to a double-double all year. His shooting wasn’t great in either game Arkansas played the first week of the tournament (Wofford, North Carolina), but he had double-doubles in both contests. He’s good at everything, but not quite great at anything. Earlier in the year, I read this scouting breakdown from Sam Vecenie at CBS Sports and came away convinced that Portis will look great if he goes to a good team like the Bulls or Pacers. If he goes somwhere like Denver or Charlotte, he’ll quietly disappear. Watching him against North Carolina made me only more certain that I have no idea how this will go.
Kelly Oubre Jr., Kansas
Every time I watched Kansas this year, I left feeling a little more confused that Oubre was listed as a top-10 pick in every mock draft. He’s tall and athletic, and it looks like he can shoot, even though his jumpers don’t actually fall that often. I guess that’s it?
The defining moment from Sunday’s Wichita State loss was a loose ball that bounced right past Oubre. Even with two full steps on the closest Wichita State player, he still got beaten to the ball. One day, Kelly Oubre is going to make a lot of money playing on a 30-win Sacramento Kings teams.
More optimistic forecast: This whole year was a downer for Kansas, so maybe Oubre got sucked into the black hole with the rest of the Jayhawks. Either way, his stock is high enough to put him somewhere in the top 10.
Cliff Alexander, Kansas
I’d like to claim my seat on the Cliff Alexander Redemption Bandwagon. He was considered one of the best freshmen in America five months ago, and it’s still unclear what went wrong at Kansas, but this year has been a disaster. He struggled early, he was benched by Bill Self, there were eligibility questions … and then he was just gone. If this were the NFL, where future superstars routinely slip through the cracks because of disciplinary and academic issues, Cliff Alexander would be my favorite player in the draft. In the NBA, he’s at least worth a late-round gamble, as a 6-foot-8 power forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. He’s definitely not going back to Kansas!
As for the Sweet 16 …
See You This Weekend
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona
Listen, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was my favorite prospect on Arizona last year. At 6-foot-7, he is Aaron Gordon or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, without any illusions of ever being more. In other words, he’s MKG, but you can get him without giving away a top-five pick and paying him like a superstar. You know how Danny Chau turned Dante Exum into a deity before last year’s draft? Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is that player for me. All I want from this draft is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on a good team, so he can be the new Tony Allen for the next 10 years.
Stanley Johnson, Arizona
He’s definitely good, but it’s hard to tell whether he will be great. Wing players take longer to grow into their bodies and dominate. That’s why my Oubre assessment is possibly unfair, and it’s why Stanley Johnson will get the benefit of the doubt. His frame alone (6-foot-7, 245) makes him a top-10 prospect, and depending on how he plays in the next few weeks, he could lock up a spot in the top five. He also wins the Elfrid Payton award for best hair of any prospect in the draft.
In an Insider back-and-forth earlier this year, Chad Ford described Johnson as Ron Artest without the personality issues, while Kevin Pelton offered a range of comparisons from Luol Deng to Thaddeus Young to Marvin Williams. Which of those four names will he be? I change my mind almost every time he plays. But then, the hair always makes me want to dream big.
Devin Booker and Trey Lyles, Kentucky
The case for Kentucky’s big men is obvious at this point. Every new opponent is just another victim.
Booker and Lyles are more interesting. Booker is a guard who looks doughy, and maybe a step slow, but he never really plays that way. He is 6-foot-6 in shoes, and that, coupled with his shooting, makes him a decent option for any team that needs scoring on the perimeter. Lyles is a 6-foot-10 power forward who hasn’t quite found a rhythm at Kentucky. He’s shown flashes of being a skilled shooter who can space the floor, but the offense is generally so clogged with giants that it’s tough for him to showcase those skills.
I’m not going to lie: I spend most Kentucky games hallucinating about the future of Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein, and rooting for more Tyler Ulis. Having said that, Booker and Lyles could both play themselves into the top 15 sometime in the next two weeks.
Kevon Looney, UCLA
Looney is a good example of someone who could probably be much better after another year in college. He’s a 6-foot-9 power forward, projected somewhere in the mid–first round, averaging close to a double-double on the year. But he’s been quiet for the first two tournament games. Watch UCLA, and he’ll disappear for long stretches at a time.
Then again, you’re more likely to watch UCLA and say, “Holy ****, is Bryce Alford a real person or some perfect college basketball villain created in a lab? First of all, his name is Bryce. He’s also a coach’s son. He’s a relentless gunner. He’s … he’s so obnoxious that it’s actually kinda great. Of course he shot that air ball and a horrible goaltending call turned it into a game winner against SMU. He’s Bryce Alford, and you’re not.”
But again, at no point will you watch UCLA and come away raving about Kevon Looney. If he stays another year, maybe that will change.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
He really did get better staying in school. Grant was suspended for the second half of last season, and he probably would have struggled to make a NBA roster if he’d left last year. Now he’s a senior who’s vaulted himself into the top 20 of the first round. He doesn’t take over games, but he does everything well, and he’s a phenomenal athlete. (You may remember him from this dunk against Georgia Tech in January.) Imagine Jeremy Lamb, but without all the sedatives coursing through his veins.
This weekend, Grant sealed a Sweet 16 trip with an overtime jumper against Butler (16 points, five assists, five boards), and last Thursday, against Northeastern, he had 17 points (7-12 shooting) and five assists. Notre Dame is stuck in the same region as Kentucky, so the Final Four is a long shot, but he’s got at least this weekend to impress scouts a little bit more. Also, he’s Harvey Grant’s son. Still plenty of time for him to bring back the goggles.
Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
As a 6-foot-9 small forward, Sam Dekker seems more like Kyle Singler than Mike Dunleavy. That’s not a bad thing. Singler 2.0 would make a lot of sense, taken in the twenties.
Frank Kaminsky as a lottery pick seems like maybe we’re taking things too far. It’s one thing to say he can contribute in the NBA; it’s another to put him in the first half of the first round. DraftExpress has him going no. 10 to the Pacers right now.
Remember when the Bobcats took Sean May in the lottery? Remember when the Celtics took Kelly Olynyk over Giannis and Dennis Schroder? Olynyk’s not even bad! But … the Celtics would like to have that decision back.
Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, Wichita State
If I owned an NBA team, I would make my GM take Ron Baker in the second round. Find a way. No excuses. Just see what happens. Same goes for Freddie VanVleet.
Justise Winslow, Duke
The best thing I can say about Justise Winslow is that every time he plays basketball, I’m worried he’s going to hurt someone. He careens up and down the court, and he explodes into plays out of nowhere. It’s a public safety hazard. Imagine Jimmy Butler’s frame crossed with Russell Westbrook’s disregard for human limits. That is Justise Winslow.
He can’t totally dribble yet, he can’t shoot, and it doesn’t matter. He had 13 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists against San Diego State on Sunday. Watching Winslow makes me wish Jahlil Okafor weren’t so dominant, so we could all enjoy even more Winslow adventures to the rim.
Sure, for now you would also throw Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s offense into that conversation, but that part can change. Either way, it’s worth a top-10 pick. The worst-case scenario for Winslow is a bigger, stronger version of K.J. McDaniels. If his offense can improve, his ceiling gets a lot higher, and all of this becomes a lot more fun.
Also, he’s named Justise Winslow. He’s destined to be a star one way or another. Don’t overthink this.
Jahlil Okafor, Duke
The original idea for this roundup was to exclude Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns — the guys we know about — but I need to clarify something. Okafor is really good. He’s been unseated by Towns as the top NBA prospect in college basketball, but it seems like loving Towns has distracted us from just how good Okafor’s been.
Okafor has the same feel for the game as D’Angelo Russell, except he’s six inches taller. He’s masterful at leaning one way on a helpless defender, and then spinning right around him the other way. His footwork is flawless, and his post moves are endless. He can even attack people off the dribble. Even the questions about his defense — which have become the popular scout criticism on him over the past month — are exaggerated. Okafor will never be great on D, but so far in the tournament, he hasn’t looked as bad as the skeptics make him sound. And Sunday against San Diego State, his 26 points (12-16 shooting) were the closest thing you will see to a big man doing one, long suplex on an entire basketball team.
I just want to see him play someone his own size. That’s all I ask. If he was dominating people who could reasonably be expected to guard him, it would all be twice as impressive.
Jakob Poeltl, Utah
He is a 7-foot, 235-pound freshman from Austria. He has been a sleeper lottery prospect all year. He has a last name that is impossible for Americans to pronounce. He’s got 30 points through two games in the tournament. Delon Wright will definitely give the Utes a chance versus Duke. But we need an answer to the real question: CAN POELTL STOP OKAFOR?