Monday, June 25, 2007

Five Good Questions with . . . Rob Ward of NBA Draft Blog

Today’s Five Good Questions is with Rob Ward of NBA Draft Blog.....if you want the latest on the NBA Draft, you have to go check out his site....
  • NBA Draft Blog

  • Q1. What is up with all the talk that Kevin Durant's stock has dropped over the last month? What has he done to merit this?
    Despite the talk, Durant's stock has not dropped. He has been considered a lock to become the second pick in the upcoming draft since the end of the college season and he still is. However, scouts and GMs have been able to evaluate Durant more thoroughly recently and his flaws have become more obvious. Durant desperately needs to gain upper body strength. He was unable to bench press 185 pounds even one time in recent testing of draft prospects. Basketball skills and bench presses are two different things, but the NBA is far more physical than anything Durant has experienced.

    He needs to add more muscle to his 200-lb frame, and he won't reach his potential until that happens. Durant's reputation has been built on his scoring ability, but scoring in the NBA is much harder, especially when you are at a physical disadvantage. That was the case with last years #3 draft pick, Adam Morrison. He was a scoring machine in college, but was bullied in his rookie NBA season and struggled physically. The opinion of most scouts is that Durant is a solid prospect with actual superstar potential, but his physical deficiencies are a concern.

    Q2. What is the lowdown on Yi Jianlian? I have seen him being predicted to go as high as the third overall pick and as low as the 12th.
    International prospects are often afforded the luxury of being evaluated differently than American prospects, especially NCAA prospects. The hype begins for the international player when scouts get excited over grainy video of him dominating inferior competition and continues when they invite him in for a private work-out and get to see him shooting uncontested jump shots in an empty gym. The NCAA player is on display 30-35 times a year against skilled competition. Scouts are able to over-evaluate and become too familiar with a college player's game-time flaws, whereas the international player is too often evaluated with a tape measure.

    That being said, Yi Jianlian is an interesting prospect. He is a legitimate 7'0", runs like a deer, and has an impressive mid-range game. A star on the Chinese national team, he has played very good in international tournaments and has even outplayed many NBA players from around the world. In addition, he has been training in Los Angeles for over a year, specifically to be prepared for the NBA. Like too many big men today, he shies away from contact and plays too far from the basket. This is also a concern because if he wants to play on the wing he must improve his 3-point shooting ability. I like this prospect, but he is a bit risky because he hasn't played against American competition on a high level. Nevertheless, I have him going #4 to the Memphis Grizzlies in my mock draft.

    Q3. Who are some "sleeper" picks? Which players are "under the radar?"
    This draft appears to be very deep, with potential stars at the top, starters in the middle, and contributors throughout the first round. There also appears to be plenty of potential sleepers available. Some have fallen because they have size or athleticism issues, some have come out of school too soon, and some just do not have enough hype at the right time. I prefer sleepers that have been productive in college, or internationally, and are ready to play immediately. There are roughly 450 players in the NBA and only a small number are All-Stars, the rest fill roles. Here are a few sleeper prospects that can contribute now:
    Alando Tucker: 6'6, 210, SG/SF, Wisconsin – Few players have been as productive in NCAA play the past few seasons as Tucker has been. He’s mature, strong, and fundamentally sound, but he's a bit small for his preferred Small Forward position in the NBA and that might knock him out of the first round.
    Taurean Green: 6'0, 180, PG, Florida - Three of his teammate will go in the lottery, but Green is overlooked because he is so small. The team that drafts him will get the starting point guard from the current two-time NCAA championship team. He has leadership and three-point shooting skills, and is the son of a former player. If he was a few inches taller he'd be a top-ten pick.
    Marc Gasol: 7’1, 280, C, Spain – I have Gasol going #20 in my mock, but I seem to be alone in my opinion, as most other scouts do not have him in the first round. The problem for many others is his terribly slow foot speed and lack of athleticism. I am not concerned with that. I like his size (he's huge), strength, and maturity for his age (22). Rarely does a prospect come with this combination of size and solid fundamentals. He’s a different type of player than his brother, the Memphis Grizzlies Pau Gasol, but I think he will be an NBA starter soon.

    Q4. There was talk that Jeff Green was having second thoughts about staying in the draft. In the end, he decided to stay and forgo another year at Georgetown. Did he make the right decision? What type of NBA player do you see him as?
    All players would be better if they stayed in school as long as possible, but that sometimes hurts their draft status. Green is a lottery prospect already so it wouldn’t matter either way. He is one of the most game-ready prospects in the draft. Talented and unselfish, I see him as a contributor that will help on both sides of the court. He's a reliable scorer, a sound rebounder, and a determined defender. He's probably not a future star, but should be a very good starter for a long time.

    Q5. Finally, I have to ask you about Greg Oden. What type of NBA career do you expect from him? Will he be as good as Jabbar and O'Neal? What part of his game is best suited to the NBA?
    As good as Jabbar or ONeal? No, that wouldn't be fair to those two legends that have worked so hard for their lofty places in NBA history. We shouldn’t project anyone past his near future. Oden has all the tools to become an excellent player in the NBA, perhaps even the best center in the league soon. I don't, however, believe that he will become a scoring machine. His game is evolving and I would love him to aspire to become fundamentally dominating like Tim Duncan, rather than an overpowering offensive force like Shaquille O’Neal was in his prime. Oden has great character and has an impressive basketball IQ. He can change the game on defense with his superb shot-blocking and rebounding skills and will keep opponents uncomfortable with his improving low-post offense. I project him as a future All-Star that will make the Portland Trailblazers a formidable team almost immediately, but lets not put him in the Hall-of-Fame just yet.

    I want to thank Rob for his is much appreciated....

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