Player Breakdown

Breaking down Durrell Summers

April 2, 2010

The sky's the limit for Summers, who can take it to the rack and shoot the 3. (Pic via NYTimes.com)

Few players in the college basketball possess the dynamic athletic ability and shooting touch of Michigan State junior Durrell Summers. However, few players have displayed more inconsistency than Summers, leading to fluctuating minutes and production. The 6-4 Detroit native has found his game after being benched late in the season, leading the Spartans to a surprising appearance in the Final Four.

ToTheTin presents a breakdown of Durrell Summers.

Strengths

Incredible leaping ability. Able to elevate over defenders on jump shot and at the rim. Has long arms and a quick release. Rarely takes bad shots. A 45 percent shooter overall, shoots only 35 percent from 3-point range but has improved throughout his career. A pure scorer; able to score inside and outside. Moves well without the ball. Has the athletic ability to be an adequate perimeter defender at the next level.

Weaknesses

Tends to drift and play with inconsistent effort levels. Not overly assertive or aggressive. Not a great ball-handler or passer. Not overly interested in playing defense or doing anything besides scoring. Horrible team defender, rarely rotates and gets lost on screens. Has a wiry frame and needs to add strength. Has clashed with Tom Izzo throughout his career in East Lansing.

Projection

Summers averages just slightly above 11 points per game on the season, but his performance in the NCAA Tournament has opened some eyes and should help his draft stock. The junior has averaged 20 points in the first tournament games while shoot over 50 percent from 3-point range. His game is similar to former Spartan Shannon Brown’s at the college level. Summers would be advised to remain in school for another season.

Breaking down Jimmer Fredette

March 21, 2010

Fredette showed Florida he's got big-time game. (AP Photo/Pic via NYDailyNews.com)

Jimmer Fredette gave college basketball fans a glimpse of his remarkable ability while dropping 37 on Florida during BYU’s overtime win over the Gators. In addition to helping the Cougars to their first NCAA Tournament win since 1988, the 6-2 guard has become on of the best players to watch in the entire tournament field. Fredette is a prolific scorer with two forty-point games under his belt this season. A 47 percent shooter from 3-point range, Fredette is also able to score inside on a variety of moves. He averages 4.7 assists and should be able to play the point at the next level. Don’t expect the junior to declare for the draft early, giving him another season to put up big numbers for BYU.

ToTheTin presents a closer look at Jimmer Fredette.

Strengths

A highly-accurate high-volume perimeter shooter, averaging five attempts per game from 3-point land. Good mid-range game; able to pull up off the dribble and stop quickly. Smooth handle and crafty moves make up for limited foot speed. Has a beautiful change-of-pace dribble and crossover move to free himself for jumpers. Able to score inside on a variety of Steve Nash type moves; runners and up-and-unders around the rim. Has excellent court vision and shows ability to create shots for himself and teammates.

Weaknesses

Not overly fast or quick. Certainly not an explosive athlete. Adequate defensively, but would struggle to keep up with quick NBA guards. Occasionally forces shots and is reluctant passer at times. Has limited upside and is most likely a finished product despite being only a junior.

Pro Projection

DraftExpress.com ranks Fredette as a Second-Round pick in the 2011 draft. A strong performance against some of the better guards in the country, including tonight’s matchup with K-State’s Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente, could vault Fredette up the rankings quickly. Fredette’s game is similar to Steph Curry on the college level, but he lacks the quickness and speed of Curry’s game. Still, he should be able to find his niche at the NBA level as a shooter and secondary ball-handler. Comparable to former Chicago Bulls guard John Paxson.

Breaking down James Anderson

March 16, 2010

The dynamic Anderson dominated the Big 12 and carried Okie State to the NCAA Tournament. (Pic via BleacherReport.com)

James Anderson burst onto the scene as a skinny freshman with impressive range and sneaky athleticism. Three years later, the Big 12 Player of the Year has displayed steady improvement and is projected by DraftExpress.com as a first-round pick should he decide to forgo his senior season, which many people expect him to do. The 6’6″ shooting guard has become a dynamic scorer despite playing on a team with limited talent. Anderson is always the focal point of the defense yet still manages to put up numbers while displaying remarkable efficiency.

ToTheTin present a closer look at James Anderson:

Strengths

A pure scorer. Able to get his shot off against more athletic, taller defenders. Has shown drastic improvement in terms of coming off screens and finding holes in the defense. An excellent spot-up shooter. Shooting a career-low 36 percent from 3-point range this season, but has legitimate NBA range. An improved ball-handler able to get to the rim off the bounce. Crafty and effective around the basket, doesn’t have to jump over defenders to score the ball. A good team defender with a nose for the ball. Averages six rebounds per game and is willing to play physical.

Weaknesses

Plays a bit stiff. Lacks a quick first step and explosive athletic ability. Mid-range game has improved but still needs work. At right around 200 pounds, lacks the ability to post up. Needs to continue adding strength to his slight frame. Not a great passer or creator off the dribble. A poor individual defender with average foot speed; rarely gets into a defensive stance.

Pro Projection

Anderson has improved every year and staying in school is certainly not a bad idea. He will certainly be a First-Round pick and can provide immediate help to teams with his shooting ability. Anderson is hurt somewhat by Okie State’s lack of a decent point guard and a consistent inside scoring threat, which highlight his few offensive limitations. He will never be a defensive stopper, but needs to show improvement to avoid getting picked on by opponents. Anderson will have a solid NBA career, the only question remaining is when it will begin.

Breaking down Evan Turner

March 13, 2010

Turner's all-around game and athleticism will make him a top-5 pick in the NBA draft either this year or next. (Pic via collegehoopsjournal.com)

Evan Turner has put together quite a resume during his three years in Columbus. The 6-7 forward has taken his game to another level this season in particular, averaging 19.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game while leading an undermanned Ohio State team to the cusp of securing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Turner has flourished in his junior season while playing the point, showcasing his diverse talents both offensively and defensively.

ToTheTin presents a breakdown of Evan Turner:

Strengths

A sensational ball-handler for his size. Uses body to shield off defenders while dribbling. Size helps his court vision, making him an excellent passer. Crafty and coordinated, able to finish at the rim or using a variety of floaters. Excellent mid-range game and jump shooter. Gets tremendous elevation on shot with high release. Has a nose for the ball, both defensively and on the glass. Creative player can be deadly in transition, however Ohio State rarely chooses to run. Understands when to be aggressive and put team on his back. Shot selection is very solid; knows when to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim.

Weaknesses

Not many. A sub 30 percent shooter from 3-point range; a poor spot-up shooter. Tends to dominate the ball and over-dribble, which could be due to Ohio State’s lack of a second ball-handler. Not accustomed to moving without the ball.

Outlook

Turner has yet to make his intentions known regarding his NBA future, but he would almost certainly be the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft should he decide to make the jump. His well-rounded game is reminiscent of Scottie Pippen, although he is certainly not the defender Pippen was. Turner benefits somewhat from having little competition in the Big Ten in terms of quality perimeter players who can even come close to matching his ability. Aside from Turner, the Big Ten probably has just two or three legitimate professional prospects at the guard/small forward positions. It will be interesting to see how Turner performs on a national level in the NCAA Tournament. If he improves his jump shot, especially from 3-point range, Turner could be a perennial All-Star in the NBA.

Breaking down Jon Scheyer

March 12, 2010

Scheyer has improved his point guard skills throughout his college career, but his best chance of playing in the NBA will be as a spot-up shooter. (Pic via slamonline.com)

Jon Scheyer came to Duke with a reputation as a big-time scorer. Four years later, he has expanded his game to become one of the best point guards in college basketball. The 6’5″ native of the posh northern Chicago suburb of Northbrook is averaging 18.8 points and 5.2 assists this season. Questions regarding his size and athleticism have many wondering if he will succeed at the next level. DraftExpress.com projects Scheyer as the 29th pick in the second round of the 2010 draft.

TTT presents a breakdown of Jon Scheyer:

Strengths: Good height for a point guard. Not a great athlete by any stretch, but coordinated and crafty. Able to get to the basket against quicker players. A 40 percent shooter from 3-point range with a solid mid-range game. An excellent shooter off the dribble. Good court vision. Unselfish and aggressive on the offensive end. A solid team defender; has averaged over 1.5 steals per game in his career.

Weaknesses: Limited athletically and weak physically. Has added some muscle to his wiry frame, but would likely get bullied in the NBA. In addition to lacking strength, doesn’t possess great speed or quickness. Has a slow release on jump shot and doesn’t get great elevation. Rarely gets separation from defenders, even at college level. Poor 1-0n-1 defender due to average foot speed.

Outlook: Scheyer has all the intangibles as far as leadership and unselfishness, but his physical limitations will make it difficult for him to latch on with an NBA team next season. Scheyer would probably be best served to spend a couple years playing overseas, where he could make good money and improve his game against solid competition. His best chance to make an NBA roster will be to focus on becoming a great shooter. Another Dukey, J.J. Redick, has laid the blueprint for Scheyer…work hard, get stronger, and there is a spot in the rotation on any NBA team for a long-range marksman.

Breaking down Tyreke Evans

Evans is expected to be a top-5 pick in the 2009 draft.

Evans is expected to be a top-5 pick in the 2009 draft.

Tyreke Evans had some being shoes to fill when he arrived at Memphis last fall. After getting off to a slow start due primarily to the team’s inability to replace Derrick Rose, coach John Calipari shifted Evans to the point. The Tigers finished 33-4 largely due to the versatility of Evans, who averaged 17.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, and 3.9 apg last season. The Pennsylvania native drew praise from coaches and broadcasters for his maturity and toughness and quickly became a hot NBA prospect.

TTT presents a look at Tyreke Evans’ NBA future:

Strengths

Rock-solid at 6’6″, 225. Able to get to the basket by using strength and agility. Became a good shooter off the dribble last season. Showed ability to get separation from defenders, elevates well on his jumper. A pure scorer who does his best work around the rim. Not afraid of contact and willing to take the big shot. Good ball-handler. Long arms and size make him a tough defender. Plays with intensity and possesses good leadership skills.

Weaknesses

Shot improved during last season, but still needs work. A poor spot-up shooter. Can become impatient offensively, forces shots and over-penetrates at times. Not a great passer, tends to make poor decisions; averaged an astounding 3.6 turnovers per game at Memphis. Mid-range game needs improvement. Usually had the ball in his hands, needs to learn to play without the ball. Won’t have a size advantage he enjoyed in college at the next level, making it harder for him to get to the basket.

Breakdown

Evans will almost certainly be a top-5 selection in the draft. He is a low-risk pick with good upside and would fit perfectly in Minnesota or Sacramento. His game doesn’t have many weaknesses, but the few shortcomings are glaring. Evans shot only 27 percent from 3-point range last season and won’t be an overly effective NBA scorer until he improves his jumper. NBA teams would be foolish to attempt to make him a point guard given his lack of court vision and turnover problems. Evans is known for having a strong work ethic and should get better throughout his career. He has the potential to be an All-Star and will certainly be a steady player for years to come.

Breaking down Stephen Curry

Curry was dynamic at Davidson, but how will he fare in the NBA?

Curry was dynamic at Davidson, but how will he fare in the NBA?

Stephen Curry burst onto the scene as a skinny freshman at little-known Davidson. Three years later, he is expected to be a lottery pick in the NBA draft. His career numbers are staggering, but his lack of size and questions about what his position will be at the next level make him an intriguing prospect.

TTT presents a look at Stephen Curry’s NBA future:

Strengths

A tremendous shooter, has great balance and extension on jump shot. Doesn’t get great elevation on shot, but is crafty enough to get separation from defenders. Developed a good mid-range game throughout his career. Improved his ball-handling, which enabled him to breakdown defenders off the dribble. Able to go right or left off the dribble. Showed the ability to get to the basket more efficiently as his career progressed. Excellent in the pick-n-roll game, can score or distribute the ball. Able to pass off the dribble with either hand, has above-average court vision and a knack for making flashy passes. Not usually overwhelmed by bigger, more athletic defenders.

Weaknesses

Size, or lack thereof, is the source of Curry’s main weaknesses. Got stronger throughout his college career, but still not nearly strong enough to defend bigger players inside or bother them on the perimeter. At 6’3″, he lacks length to contest shots. Not a great defender in college, not very physical on the defensive end due to concerns about getting in foul trouble. Was durable at Davidson but could wear down during an NBA season. Not a true point guard, has a score-first mentality. Numbers are somewhat inflated due to playing limited competition in college.

Breakdown

Curry is projected by most draft services to be selected either by Washington at No.5 or by New York at No.8. Scouts and draft experts have struggled to find a comparison to Curry; he has been labeled as being similar to players ranging from Mike Bibby to Troy Hudson.

His scoring makes him an attractive pick, but size will really hurt him in the NBA. He isn’t explosive enough to be an Allen Iverson type, and certainly won’t be anything close to the player Chris Paul is (Dick Vitale spent last year touting Steph as the next CP3). Curry played point almost exclusively last season at Davidson, but has limited experience at the position and was rarely defended by bigger, stronger guards. He will immediately become a defensive liability, which would be a problem for any team besides the Knicks. With the draft featuring the likes of DeMar DeRozan, Tyreke Evans, and James Harden, teams would be wise to overlook Curry to select a bigger wing player.

I look for Steph Curry to have a nice NBA career. He could become a star in the right situation, but his shortcomings limit his value as a top-10 pick.

Breaking down Terrence Williams

Williams' stock is rising as the NBA draft approaches.

Williams' stock is rising as the NBA draft approaches.

Terrence Williams underwent an amazing transformation during his Louisville career. His first two years were filled with inconsistent play, bad shot selection, and a personality coach Rick Pitino described as “aloof”. He showed signs of improvement during his junior campaign, and last year become a vocal leader while averaging 12.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, and 5.0 apg for the Cardinals. Williams’ all-around ability and jaw-dropping athleticism have NBA teams interested.

TTT presents a look at Terrence Williams’ NBA future:

Strengths

A fabulous athlete; wowed scouts with workout at NBA combine. A strong finisher around the rim, not afraid to drive the lane. Solidly built at 6’6″ 220. Explosive leaper, quick off his feet. Became a lock-down defensive player as a senior, reads passing lanes and anticipates well. Long arms make him a dynamic rebounder for a guard, quickness allows him to defend smaller players. Sees the court like a point guard, a willing and able passer. Unselfish to a fault. Showed improvement on his jumper throughout his career, shot 38 percent from 3-point range as a senior. Can go left or right off the dribble, rarely gets flustered under pressure.

Weaknesses

Overcame constant bouts with inconsistency last two years in college, but still tends to drift at times. Often becomes too passive offensively, reluctant to drive the lane and look for own shot. Settles for 3-pointers despite having the ability to get to the rim. Effort and intensity were questioned during early part of his career. Shot is improved but still very streaky. An awful free throw shooter for a perimeter player.

Projection

Williams has more strengths than weaknesses and has All-Star talent. His inconsistent play in college could scare off a few teams, but the talent is unmistakable. Coaching will go along way in determining how he develops at the next level. Williams has a reputation for being a hard worker and could develop into a star if he lands in the right situation.

Williams could go as high as 10th in the draft and shouldn’t last much longer than 20th. Draftexpress.com projects Williams as the 16th pick in the NBA draft, going to the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls reportedly love his defensive ability and think he would be a good compliment to Derrick Rose, assuming the club chooses not to re-sign Ben Gordon. T-Will could become a poor man’s Scottie Pippen in Chicago.

Breaking down Chase Budinger

It's gotta be the hair: Budinger won't be the next Larry Legend, but should have a long NBA career.

It's gotta be the hair: Budinger won't be the next Larry Legend, but should have a long NBA career.

Chase Budinger came to Arizona as highly-touted can’t-miss NBA prospect. Coaching changes and a roster in shambles prevented Budinger from reaching his full potential in college. After three seasons with the ‘Cats, Budinger left school and hired an agent. He showed improvement during his junior season, averaging 18 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 3.4 apg.

TTT presents a look at Chase Budinger’s NBA future:

Strengths

Good size for a perimeter player – a legitimate 6’7″ with very long arms. Fairly strong, should be able to add weight without loosing agility. Decent ball-handler, has good vision and can see over the defense. Gets great elevation on his shot and has a beautiful stroke. Very athletic – was a star volleyball player in high school. A spectacular leaper, has potential to really improve at the next level.

Weaknesses

Plays with inconsistent energy and effort. The game comes easy to him, but developed a tendency to drift and disappear during games. Not a great finisher around the basket despite size and leaping ability. Tries to avoid contact, doesn’t always respond to physical play. Has the skills to be a good defensive player, but lacks the mindset.

Projection

Draftexpress.com currently has Budinger as the 24th overall selection in the 2009 draft. Despite not living up to expectations at Arizona, he has what NBA GM’s love: potential.

From a pure ability standpoint, Budinger reminds me of a young, spry Dan Marjele. I like his game, but I’m not sure he has the mental and physical toughness needed to be a starting-caliber NBA player in his career. His skills will keep him in the league for a long time, but it’s hard to predict what kind of player he will become.

Breaking down DeJuan Blair

Blair's energy and rebounding prowess make him a safe first-round pick in the 2009 draft.

Blair's energy and rebounding prowess make him a safe first-round pick in the 2009 draft.

Blair’s career at Pittsburgh was short but very sweet. He averaged 15.7 ppg and 12.3 rpg last season while leading the Panthers to the brink of the Final Four. He also showed NBA scouts he can compete against taller inside players, something he will have to do at the next level.

TTT presents a look at DeJuan Blair’s NBA future:

Strengths

Very strong upper-body, solid base. Shows good footwork and agility for a big man. Big hands, able to grab the ball in traffic. Has shown the ability to catch tough passes. Doesn’t try to do too much around the basket; will settle for a lay-up rather than attempting a difficult dunk. Vastly improved his passing and decision-making during his sophomore campaign. Developed a variety of post moves, displayed good patience and rarely forced shots. Long arms compensate somewhat for lack of height. Attitude and toughness make him a very popular player with teammates and fans.

Weaknesses

Listed at 6’7″, but probably closer to 6’6″, making him very short to play inside in the NBA. Not overly explosive off the floor. Tends to pick up silly fouls, needs to learn how to control his body. Not great defensively in college, mainly because he was afraid to pick up fouls. Will likely struggle on defense against bigger players in the NBA. Has a good touch around the basket, but needs to improve his left hand. Needs to continue to develop his offensive game at the next level.

Breakdown

DraftExpress.com projects Blair as the 15th pick in the 2009 draft. Although he has somewhat limited upside, Blair should have a nice career. He has similar size to Jason Maxiell, but lacks his explosiveness. Needs to develop a jump shot to maximize his pro potential.

Blair won’t be a star, but figures to be a very good role player for many years.

Breaking down Hasheem Thabeet

Thabeet can certainly finish strong inside, but his offensive game needs a lot of work.

Thabeet can certainly finish strong inside, but his offensive game needs a lot of work.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun has certainly seen some terrific college players, so his comments regarding Hasheem Thabeet last month speak volumes about the 7’3″ center’s talent.

Calhoun called Thabeet “one of the most dominant defensive players in the history of college basketball.” And, after averaging 4.2 blocks per game during his three seasons in at UConn, it’s difficult to argue that statement.

TTT presents a look at Hasheem Thabeet’s NBA future:

Strengths

Excellent size, obviously. Has a huge wingspan, able to block shots with either hand. A fantastic help defender, loves to roam the paint looking for shot blocks. Big hands, improved upper-body strength. Has learned to finish strong as his career has progressed. Still very raw offensively, but has clearly improved. Has become a decent free throw shooter and continues to work on a hook shot. Good athlete for his size, has good footwork and explosion.

Weaknesses

Has only played truly organized basketball for five years, so his offensive game is still very raw. Has big hands, but not always able to secure the ball in traffic. Often gets knocked around by stronger players, needs to improve his balance and lower-body strength. Not a great one-on-one defender. Effort is inconsistent at times. Doesn’t appear to be in great shape, often appeared to tire in physical games. Rarely fights for position on offensive end, struggles against double-teams.

Breakdown

DraftExpress.com projects Thabeet as the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. He will almost certainly go in the top-five, and would especially help the Kings (who wouldn’t) and Thunder. Although he has certainly improved throughout his career, I wish I knew more about his work ethic. What I do know is his effort was inconsistent at times.

He should be a good pro for years, and could be an All-Star if he lands with the right team and works to improve.

Breaking down James Harden

jamesharden

The Arizona State program was in shambles until James Harden arrived in Tempe. ASU posted a 25-10 record in 2008-2009 as Harden put up impressive numbers – 20.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.2 apg.

TTT presents a look at James Harden’s NBA future:

Strengths

A strong finisher around the rim. Looked more agile in his sophomore season, able to elevate over smaller defenders to get his shot off. A good spot-up shooter. Lets the game come to him – generally won’t force shots. Has a nice mid-range game, uses floaters and pull-up jumpers to avoid offensive fouls. Almost always under control; makes the game look easy. Unselfish, willing to pass the ball when double-teamed. Above-average defender with good size and strength. Excellent character, seems very coachable.

Weaknesses

Although he has improved his shot, Harden isn’t a great shooter off the dribble. Needs to continue to develop 3-point range. Not overly fast or quick off the dribble, could struggle to get to the basket against quicker players. Adequate ball-handler, but very turnover prone, as evidenced by his 3.4 turnovers per game last season. Often tries to makes spectacular pass instead of simple play.

Breakdown

Harden projects as the fifth pick overall according to DraftExpress.com. His size and all-around game will make him a solid NBA player for many years to come. He won’t be a superstar, but will certainly help turn around the fortunes of his NBA team.

Similar to the Clippers Eric Gordon from a size and shooting perspective, although not as quick or explosive. If he improves his shot, he could be the next Joe Johnson.

Breaking down Ty Lawson

Lawson might be playing his final college game tonight against Michigan St. (Pic via mixtapemonster.wordpress.com)

Lawson might be playing his final college game tonight against Michigan St. (Pic via mixtapemonster.wordpress.com)

North Carolina meets Michigan St. tonight in a matchup of storied programs and terrific point guards, as ACC player of the year Ty Lawson takes on Big Ten player of the year Kalin Lucas.

Let’s take a closer look at UNC’s Ty Lawson’s NBA future:

Strengths

Quickness and speed personified. Few players in college basketball can match Lawson’s burst to the basket. Good strength, stays low to the ground on the dribble. Able to get into the lane at will. Has improved throughout his career in Chapel Hill, and has become a reliable shooter and decision-maker. Shot nearly 47 percent from 3-point range this season, and averaged 6.6 apg and fewer that two turnovers per game. Has the ability to control the tempo and pace of the game.

Weaknesses

Not a great defender. Very strong, but at 5′ 11″ may have a difficult time defending taller players. Not overly skilled at shooting floaters, since he faces little difficulty getting to the basket. Certainly an improved shooter, but may take some time to develop NBA 3-point range.

Breakdown

Depending on what happens with Ricky Rubio, Lawson could be the first point guard selected in the 2009 NBA draft. Most draft services project him to be selected between picks 9-18 in the first round. His character and work ethic make him attractive selection, and I expect Lawson to have a long and productive NBA career. Has the potential to be an All-Star point guard if he lands with the right team and improves his jumper.

Breaking down Jerel McNeal

McNeal has improved throughout his career at Marquette (Pic via feetinthepaint.com)

McNeal has improved throughout his career at Marquette (Pic via feetinthepaint.com)

Jerel McNeal leads Marquette (23-6, 12-4) into Pittsburgh tonight to take on Pitt (26-3, 13-3). He will shoulder a huge load tonight against a tough Panther defense, and will assume additional ball-handling duties with PG Dominic James out for the remainder of the season.

McNeal declared for the NBA draft after last season, but a poor showing at pre-draft camps inspired him to return to Milwaukee for his senior year. He has flourished during his senior season and is one of the leading candidates for Big East player of the year.

TTT presents a look at Jerel McNeal’s NBA future…

Strengths: McNeal is an athletic wing player. Long arms, good finisher around the basket. Able to go right or left off the dribble. Has a solid mid-range game and has learned when to pull up instead of barreling towards the basket. A much-improved jump-shooter; shooting 42 percent from 3-point range this season after just 30 percent a year ago. Willing to take big shots and likes the ball in his hands in crunch time. Was the Big East defensive player of the year in 2008, and has retained dedication on the defensive end. Very competitive and won’t back down from bigger players.

Weaknesses: At only 6’3″, McNeal is undersized to play shooting guard in the NBA. Still needs to improve jump-shot and prove that he has legitimate NBA 3-point range. Not a great ball-handler, so don’t expect him to play the point at the next level. Size may limit success on the defensive end.

Breakdown: McNeal projects as a late first-round pick in the 2009 NBA draft. He will be a role player during his NBA career, but has a good work ethic and should improve. He has a strong character and will accept his role. McNeal could follow Raja Bell’s career path. Bell broke into the NBA as a defensive specialist but has worked hard to become a great shooter. On the other side of the coin, McNeal could become an Aaron Afflalo-type if he doesn’t continue to improve his shot.

Breaking down Sam Young

All eyes will be on Pitt’s DeJuan Blair Monday night in lovely Pittsburgh when No. 6 Pitt hosts West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl.

Blair is coming off a 32-point 14-rebound performance Saturday and now has 15 double-doubles this season to help the Panthers to a 21-2 record.

But Pitt’s best player might just be senior G/F Sam Young, who has endured two career-threatening knee injuries and is averaging a team-leading 17.8 ppg this season.

TTT presents a look at Sam Young’s NBA future…

Strengths: Young is a fantastic athlete with great leaping ability and long arms. Has a wonderful shot fake and has improved his off-the-dribble game. Possesses a good mid-range game and has the ability to get his shot off over taller defenders. Can be a lock-down defender and plays the passing lanes well. An active rebounder on both ends. Has good instincts offensively and moves well without the ball. At 23, Young is a very mature player with good strength.

Weaknesses: Although he shot nearly 38 percent from 3-point range last season, Young is not a great outside shooter. He has a strange release at times and is not very consistent from the perimeter. Began his career as primarily an inside player, and doesn’t look comfortable handling the ball against aggressive defense. Explosive leaper, but not overly quick or fast. Injury history has to be a concern, although he has stayed healthy over the past two seasons. Not as much upside here as with younger, less developed players.

Young should be a solid defender in the NBA

Young should be a solid defender in the NBA

Breakdown: Young is a very solid Big East player but has somewhat limited upside. He really needs to work on his jumper, but he can be an opportunistic scorer and a good role player. Providing that GM’s around the league aren’t scared off by his age or injury history, he should be a relatively risk-free pick on draft day. Defense will be his calling-card at the next level. He will most likely play shooting guard in the NBA, but he also has the ability to defend bigger players.

Young’s maturity is his best asset and makes him an attractive late-first early-second round pick. He would be a valuable addition to a contending team by providing instant stability off the bench. He will never be a star, but Young should have a long NBA career.

Breaking down Blake Griffin

Oklahoma beat Nebraska 72-61 last night behind another strong performance from Blake Griffin, who scored 27 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for his 15th double-double in 19 games this season.

My favorite mock draft website, draftexpress.com, has the 6’10” Sophomore as the no. 1 overall pick of the 2009 NBA draft, which will most likely belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Griffin is expected to declare his eligibility for the NBA following this season. His game should to lead to immediate success at the professional level.

TTT presents a look at Blake Griffin’s NBA future.

Strengths: Griffin is a legitimate 6’10” with a long wingspan. He displays excellent footwork and is very quick and explosive. His effort and energy have never been questioned during his two years in Norman. Griffin is willing to play inside, has a soft touch around the rim, and rarely takes bad shots. He improved his conditioning during an intense off season workout program. He also improved his perimeter game during the summer and is now a capable mid-range shooter.

Weaknesses: Griffin relies heavily on his superior athletic ability to score inside. He rarely needs to display true post moves to score, but that will change at the next level. Griffin struggles to pass the ball when facing double-teams and occasionally gets pushed away from the basket when trying to re-post. Defensively, he relies on his athletic ability to rebound and rarely boxes out opponents.

Griffin will flourish at the next level

Griffin will flourish at the next level

Breakdown: Griffin’s skill set is often compared to that of Michael Beasley. Griffin is taller than Beasley and more of a true inside presence. While Beasley figures to end up being a small forward throughout his NBA career, Griffin will be a power forward who could even shift to center in a pinch. Griffin is probably more athletic that Beasley and more inclined to be a great rebounder in the NBA. Some added muscle and experience will ensure that Griffin does not become the next Brandon Wright.

Although it will take him some time to develop into an offensive threat, Griffin should get big minutes right away at the next level. He plays with much more intensity that Beasley and and his attitude has never been questioned. I expect Griffin to become an All-Star caliber player after only a few seasons in the League.

The Thunder have drawn well in it’s first season in Oklahoma, and the ability to draft Griffin would provide a huge marketing boost to the young franchise. Griffin’s presence would help make OKC the most exciting young team in the NBA.

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One response to “Player Breakdown

  1. Given that this post is probably dated, you may have changed your mind somewhat on a few of Blake’s weaknesses you list. I do disagree on your assessment of his passing ability. He got great looks out of double-teams this year, often finding his brother for backside dunks. His vision is one of his strengths.

    Also, it now looks like the Thunder won’t get him, which is a shame.

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