Home > Uncategorized > A mini-NBA draft preview: Top 5 lists

A mini-NBA draft preview: Top 5 lists

I don’t usually like to talk about myself on the blog, but this summer I am interning at Newsday in New York and on Thursday I will be one of our writers attending the NBA draft.  Even before learning of this, I have been very interested in this year’s draft class as many of the top prospects played in the Big East, and I’ve been fortunate to see 15-20 of the top 30 players live this year.  

For the record, I disagree with most of the experts who say this is one of the wort draft classes in recent memory.  It may not be top heavy, but I think this draft is full of good value no matter where you are picking.

So for the next three days, I will run a mini-NBA draft preview.  We will start today with a handful of lists:

Top Five Overrated Prospects

1. Jrue Holiday PG UCLA – I know he was a top prospect even before coming to UCLA, but I saw handful games of the Bruins this year (including the NCAA tournament game against Villanova, of course), and not once did Holiday do a single thing that made me think he would be a good pro.  He’s a project, and maybe one day he will be an NBA starter, but he had every opportunity to step up and be a playmaker on that UCLA team, and he didn’t.

2. B.J. Mullens C Ohio State – Another hyped prospect who came to college and was underwhelming.  I will be the first to admit that I’ve seen very little of Mullens, but from what I have seen and what I’ve read I don’t think he is impressive on either end of the floor.

3. Brandon Jennings PG Italy – He may very well be a good player, but he would be some one I would avoid.  He seems to be more trouble than he is worth.  Jennings isn’t afraid to speak his mind (saying he was better than Ricky Rubio, for example) and I’ve heard more bad things about him than good.  There are so many point guards in this draft that you can pick some one just as good that will be less of a headache.

4. Gerald Henderson SG Duke – Henderson had his moments this season, but I’m not sure how well his game will translate to the next level.  Although there are a few exceptions, Duke players tend to struggle in the NBA and are soft.  I think Henderson could be a useful player on an NBA team, but a lottery pick?  I think not.

5. James Johnson SF Wake Forest – Wake Forest was nationally ranked most of the season, but Johnson was rather anonymous to most fans outside the ACC.  Nevertheless, he put up strong numbers and was a big reason why the Demon Deacons played so well.  However, I don’t think Johnson will have the type of game that will translate well to the NBA, and he will struggle if he doesn’t get a high number of touches each game.

Top Five Underrated Prospects

1. Terrence Williams SF Louisville – I have been Williams’ biggest fan the past year.  He is someone that will help your team every single game whether it be with scoring, rebounding, setting up his teammates or on the defensive end.  He can play point guard, shooting guard and small forward.  Remarkably, I’m not sure if he’s even reached his maximum potential.  One thing he can do better is score, but he’s so unselfish that he needs to be told to shoot, much like ex-Hoya Jeff Green.  Williams, plain and simple, is the type of player that you need to win championships.

2. DeJuan Blair PF Pittsburgh – You can call me biased towards the Big East, but there was a reason it was the best conference in the country last year.  Blair can be a monster to deal with in the paint, and even if he never scores enough to be a start, the rebounding numbers will always be there.  Undersized power forwards have succeeded lately in the NBA, and Blair will be the next one to have that success.

3. Eric Maynor PG VCU – The Rams’ point guard did not have as much talent around him as the other point guards in this draft, but he led his team to victory.  He may be the best leader of any of the guards in this year’s draft.  With better players around him in the NBA, expect Maynor to improve greatly.

4. Wayne Ellington SG UNC – I think all Villanova fans are aware of what a deadly shooter Ellington can be.  The NBA is changing, and if you don’t have good 3-point shooting, you aren’t going to win anymore.  Ellington is the best shooter not named Stephen Curry in the draft, and he will be an asset to any NBA team.

5. Sam Young SF Pittsburgh – One more Big East guy.  Young is a tough player who got better every year with Pittsburgh.  Look for the development to continue at the next level.  One thing is for certain – we know he will have one of the NBA’s best pump fakes.

Top Five Second Round Bargains

1. Patty Mills PG St. Mary’s – There’s a chance Mills could go in the first round, but no matter where he goes, it will be too low.  He is lightning quick, and much like Maynor, he did well with less in college.  Think a quicker Jameer Nelson.

2. Tyrese Rice PG Boston College – Rice had a terrific year for the Eagles.  It was a one -man show in his final few years at BC, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to scorch the nets, especially from long-range where he is deadly.  He may be a little small, but he has the skills to play the point in the NBA.  He’s a lot like Mo Williams.

3. Jon Brockman PF Washington –  A terrific rebounder, Brockman was a double-double machine for the Huskies.  No matter what, he will be able to at least be an effective rebounder in the NBA.  A team with a weak front court would benefit from adding Brockman.

4. Dante Cunningham PF Villanova – This isn’t just a homer pick, I really think Cunningham can be a good player in the NBA.  No one will work harder, and if he can continue to hit that mid-range jumper that he was so effective at, some one will find minutes for him in the NBA.  Cunningham is a smart player, and he rarely makes mistakes on the court.  He is exactly the type of role player a team needs to win a title.

5. Dionte Christmas SG Temple – A scorer and a playmaker, Christmas would benefit from not having to face double teams every night.  He creates his own shot well, and he will be able to score in the NBA.  Short-term he will be a bench player, but one day he could start in the league.

When you look back in 20 years, these are your top five players

1. Blake Griffin PF Oklahoma – There’s a reason he’s the consensus number one pick.  Griffin has a rare skill set.  He is incredibly athletic, but at the same time he is a terrific traditional low post player.  He will dominate by the end of his rookie season, and then for many years after.

2. Ricky Rubio PG Spain – It seems everyone is divided on Rubio, but I am one that believes he is something special.  The Pete Maravich comparisons are a stretch, but Rubio has the leadership, shooting and passing ability to be the top point guard in the NBA.  He is more than holding his own against solid players in Spain and great players in the Olympics, and in a few years he will be one of the faces of the NBA.  There are two franchise changing players in this draft – Griffin and Rubio.

3. DeMar DeRozan SF USC – It may take a few years, but DeRozan is an electric offensive player, and he will eventually become one of the most dynamic scorers in the league.  We saw how well O.J. Mayo did in his first year, and DeRozan showed flashes at the end of his freshman season that suggest he has similar ability.  The Vince Carter comparisons could be spot on.

4. Hasheem Thabeet C UConn – It’s obvious he needs to improve his offensive game, but Thabeet is the best defensive prospect to enter the draft in a very long time.  He is arguably the greatest defender in Big East history, as he would have shattered the all-time blocks record if he played one more year.  The offense may never be there, but at the very least he can be the next Dikembe Mutumbo, and that’s not too bad.

5. Stephen Curry PG/SG Davidson – He proved he can play point guard, and in the process he proved he was a legit NBA prospect.  However, can he play point guard in the NBA?  I’m not so sure, but what is for certain is that he will be able to score.  He won’t dominate the NBA like he did college, but he is a smart player who can score, and those type of players generally are successful at the next level.

TOMORROW: MOCK DRAFT

-David Cassilo

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