Early Entry Into the NBA: Part 2
I have spent the last week or so studying the NBA Draft 2012 page on NBA.com (found here) and just looking at David Aldridge’s “Big Board” and Scott Howard-Coopers conflicting Mock Draft and it is easy to see how there is a lot of indecision about this years up coming draft. Never the less, I still feel as uncomfortable about freshman playing on the big stage as I did 3 months ago when I wrote Part 1 of this series. Looking at the list of names there are a few big name players projected to go in the lottery, that I am unsure will have a great career right away. Opposed to if they were to stay in the NCAA for two more years. On the other hand, there are some juniors and seniors in this years draft who are ready to play big ball.
Now, I am no expert, and I certainly have not studied the college game to a science like some professional journalists have. The only reason is I simply have no time. Hopefully in the summer when school is over I will have a better chance to look at the draft. Furthermore, with the Draft Lottery on Wednesday, I will get a better read on who will be going where, based on the line up and team needs.
If we look at the Mock Draft on NBA.com (found here) the first thing I notice is that the projected top 5 consists of 3 Freshmen, two of those being Kentucky Wildcats. On that note, the entire Wildcat starting line up and their sixth man have entered in this years draft. Being a Kentucky fan, I am sad to see all of them go, especially Terrance Jones, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller. 3 pieces in the Championship formula for the Wildcats this year and a great part of their team success in recent years. They have all played long enough in the NCAA to grow as players and I assure you that they will have great careers because they have had the chance to grow up.
Back to the top 5. The number one pick in this years NBA draft should be Anthony Davis, if it isn’t, it’s because he either got injured or Thomas Robinson grew 7 inches from now until the draft. Davis, a Freshman, is a great player and showed great improvement over the season. Most noticeably on the offensive end of the floor, where later in the season he showed us his range as a shooter. The only thing with Davis is his size. Even though he is extremely strong, he has a Kevin Garnett frame, and I’m not sure if he has a jumper like KGs that he can live off of should he get bullied out of the paint. At the third spot on the mock draft, we have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Another Freshman, who along with Davis, was on the 2012 championship Wildcat team. MKG shows great promise as an offensive player. He is extremely explosive and can get to the rim with the best of ’em. He even showed us some of his shooting touch in the tournament at the end of the year. Kidd-Gilchrist has the length that makes him a pest on defense and as a result became the Wildcats best perimeter defender. With all of that said, I still think he needs to play another year in the NCAA for the Wildcats. And this is why. Even though he has the stats and can play, if we look at teammate Darius Miller, the fifth year senior who came off the bench, I would feel more comfortable with him on my NBA team right away. Miller was relied on in the NCAA tournament to score when the rest of the Wildcats couldn’t. He came through every time. MGK can do what many NBA players can already do, he needs to find that one thing that he can do better than anyone else, he needs a niche.
I will get back to Robinson later, so we move onto the fourth spot. I have no clue how Bradley Beal ended up at the fourth spot. Don’t get me wrong, he is a great player, but he can’t shoot the ball as well as all of the NBA scouts think he can. I don’t even think he feels he’s that good of a shooter. He definitely does not have NBA range, and once again, look who we have, he’s another Freshman. Goodness gracious, I’m starting to see a bit of a trend forming here… Comparisons have been made about Beal, comparing him to Ray Allen, and rightly so. He has an extremely pure stroke, but one thing you need to remember about Allen, is that not only was he a lights out shooter in college, he was also attacking the rim every second possession. Beal doesn’t. The only thing Beal can do that Allen didn’t was rebound. And as a 6’5″ shooting guard in the NBA good luck keeping those numbers up. Once again, don’t get me wrong, Beal is a good player, and in time can be a great player, just not yet. He is projected to go so high that he will be faced with so much pressure I don’t see him being able to deliver for a team.
My last Freshman analysis is on Duke combo guard, Austin Rivers. Being the son of the great Celtics coach, Doc Rivers, there is no question that Rivers knows the game and has the work ethic to become great. He just isn’t ready to play at the NBA level. His shooting isn’t good enough for the pros and his ability to get to the rim could use some work. One more year in the NCAA and he is going top 5 next year no doubt.
Now, back to Robinson. Thomas Robinson could have entered the draft last year and gone in the first round, but he wisely decided to stay. Shadowed by the Morris twins, Robinson needed to make a name for himself, and this year he did just that. The third year player out of Kansas has grown to become a dominant force on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. He was the Naismith runner-up to Anthony Davis and led his team to second place in this years NCAA tournament. HE IS READY for the NBA. Why? Because he has taken the time to get everything he can out of the college game, rebounding, scoring, defending. All against 3 years of great college and now, NBA big men. Davis never had that chance.
Like Robinson, players like Jeffery Taylor, Terrance Jones, Darius Miller, Kendall Marshall and Draymond Green will all have great rookie years because they have grown as players, found their skill sets and are ready to use them in the NBA.
But again, just like all of my other articles this is just how I feel, you can easily make a case for each of the players I said aren’t ready and you can be equally right.