Monday, June 22, 2009

ESPN's Draft Preview:Big Guys Summary

ESPN previewed the draft’s big men Monday night. No surprises that most of the special revolved around the most likely #1 pick, Blake Griffin. Been awhile since I’ve seen highlights of him, I forgot how friggin foolish he makes defenders look, a quick spin move to the baseline and exploding above the rest to score. While Griffin was the centerpiece ESPN went into many big prospects; other lottery picks, late round picks, and sleepers. ESPN also dove into possible trade situations too including salary dumps, pick accumulations, and just trading out of the draft entirely to avoid the guaranteed contract for such raw talent.

As previously mentioned the special was Griffin heavy. Definitely not complaining he is the first clear cut #1 pick since LeBron. Griffin(30) is 2nd in NCAA double-doubles for a season only to the Admiral David Robinson(31). Really impressive since Blake missed a majority of a February game against Texas and didn’t play in the next game against Kansas due to a concussion, easily could have added two more to his season’s total there. Analysts’ pros and cons for Griffin:

· Griffin Pros

o Very explosive for a big man. Ability to rise above defenders.

o Even as the best player for Oklahoma he wasn’t a prima-donna. Griffin hustled and made multiple efforts to make a play for his team.

o Great player-NBA ready.

o Blake Griffin is marketable. Nice guy that says all the right things and plays hard. Could be the face of a franchise if need be.

o Trains hard with his crazy-ass trainer, guy won’t even show his identity, the crazy-ass trainer states that Griffin is a mental and physical beast.

· Griffin Cons

o Experts want Blake to add more of a face-up aspect to his game. Being able to hit that mid-range jumper will open up his game even more. Griffin would be unstoppable from the triple-threat position. Jab step here and there to create space and hit the jumper.

o Griffin also needs to improve his free-throw shooting. Only shot 59% from the line last season. If he doesn’t improve on his free throws he may become a liability toward the end of close games, which would cut into his playing time and value

Now onto those teams not lucky enough to have the first pick and need a forward or big man, who do they look to? The next big man projected to be taken off the board is Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet should go #2 or #3 to either Memphis or Oklahoma City, but there are questions surrounding whether he’d play for Memphis [article here]. Hasheem could come to a team and contribute immediately with his defensive presence and eventually for the team’s sake his offense will come around. Offensively Thabeet needs to improve his footwork and his strength, Thabeet sometimes gets out-leveraged by stronger players (DeJuan Blair). Early on, his play should mimic Dikembe Mutumbo; play defense, hustle, rebound, and only take high percentage shots. You have to love Thabeet’s basic defensive mentality, “If you don’t let me score on your end then I’m not going to let you score on my end.” So there are two good big men that will go in the top 3, now onto more uncertain players;

o Jordan Hill—6’10 PF out of Arizona. Averaged a double-double in college and can hit short jumpers to keep defenses honest.

o DeJuan Blair—6’6 PF out of Pittsburgh. Also averaged a double-double. An offensive beast, though undersized he can get his shot off by creating space with his big build. Blair has great hands and is a decent shot blocker for his height because of his 7’2 wingspan.

o Tyler Hansbrough—6’9 PF out of North Carolina. The ACC’s career leading scorer. Proven winner and a known commodity. Not afraid of hitting the gym to throw a new wrinkle into his game. A very underrated overrated player. He isn’t going to light it up, but at the same time it is not like he’s Mark Madsen

o B.J. Mullens—7’1 C out of Ohio State. Raw talent and you cannot teach height. Even though he wasn’t a key offensive player shooting 63.8% from the field.

There is a good chance with such raw unknown talent the 2nd best big man, next to Griffin, could be picked outside the lottery. In the past there have been gems in the late parts of the draft like; Tayshaun Prince, Josh Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Carlos Boozer. These overlooked players all have the tools needed to be good forwards. To be a good forward you need to have height, be freak athlete, and have 1 certain specialty that you bring to the table. Players that could be sleepers in this class and what they bring to the table;

· Austin Daye—6’10 out of Gonzaga. Versatility, height at the SF and the ability to hit the 3-ball.

· Earl Clark—6’10 out of Louisville. Hustle, can rebound from any position he plays at Guard through Power Forward.

· DaJuan Summers—6’8 out of Georgetown. A little of everything, DaJuan is a well rounded forward with decent size and an average offensive game.

· Sam Young—6’6 out of Pittsburgh. Offense, Sam Young is ready for the jump to the NBA and has a solid array of moves including a good ball fake.

· Chase Budinger—6’7 out of Arizona. Pedal to the metal, made for the up and down game. Can run in transition and hit the 3 point shot.

Trades are a huge part of draft day. The Charlotte Bobcats were said to be interested in acquiring a veteran like Allen Iverson or Samuel Dalembert for their lottery pick to try to finally breakthrough into the playoffs. Other teams maybe looking to add veteran leadership instead of another rookie include the Trailblazers and the Wizards. With so many trading phone calls being made they all don’t have to include draft picks. If the Phoenix Suns don’t think they can contend they may look to dump Shaq’s 20 million dollar salary and the Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be a perfect fit for the big man. Chicago may also be looking to avoid the luxury tax and try to trade Kirk Hinrich, experts see Kirk possibly winding up in Portland, Oklahoma City, or Minnesota. Speaking of Minnesota, David Kahn has been on the phones nonstop hoping to make a splash this week, do not be surprised if they make a deal.

Even though the draft may be weak this year doesn’t mean it won’t be interesting. With picks 4 and on being such a crapshoot no team can know who will slide to them. Outside of Griffin and Thabeet I think the best big man from this class will be Austin Daye. He’ll be a project for a season or two but he has the tools to be something great at SF. Enjoyed ESPN’s special and look forward to watching the guard’s special tomorrow night.

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