Thursday, November 18, 2004

2005 NBA Draft

From the Dance Floor to the Green Room
An Early Look at 20 College Players with NBA Aspirations
November 18, 2004
Paul Benedict

Though this is an NBA site, it's worth mentioning that the NCAA season has kicked off. It's looking like a highly competitve year as well, with no clearcut frontrunner and several powerhouses returning their stars and nucleuses. With that in mind, it's a good time to look into the 2005 NBA Draft; before we see a blue-chipper from the MAC rise into the lottery and a clueless freshman struggle for playing time but still declare early--in other words, the last time players will bear the stock they've honed since the spring. Now's the chance for prospects to elevate--or deviate. So let's take a look at 20 of the faces we're sure to hear a lot about--from the Preseason NIT, thru March Madness, into the pre-draft camps, and up to draft night.

Dee Brown, G, Illinois, Jr.
Vital Stats: 6-0, 175 lbs. 13.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, 1.5 SPG
Going Pro?: If he has the breakout season many expected of him last season.
Projected Draft Position: Late 1st Round to Early 2nd Round
NBA Comparison: Tyronn Lue
The Lowdown: A lighting-quick combo guard who has the ability to take over a game on both ends of the floor; problem is he just can't do it consistently. Based on potential, could vault up the board with a big season, or, could fall out of scouts' radars with another subpar season.

Ike Diogu, F, Arizona St., Jr.
Vital Stats: 6-8, 250 lbs. 22.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 53.0 FG%, 81.5 FT%, 37.8 3PT%
Going Pro?: Not unless ASU makes a surprise run in the Pac-10 and Diogu reaches his peak draft status.
Projected Draft Position: Late 1st Round to Early 2nd Round
NBA Comparison: Udonis Haslem
The Lowdown: Ike had a monster season like many predicted last year, but ASU was just awful (10-17). If GMs are going to take a shot on an undersized 4, then he has to do more than put up numbers on a bad team.

Raymond Felton, PG, North Carolina, Jr.
Vital Stats: 6-1, 194 lbs. 11.5 PPG, 7.1 APG, 2.1 SPG, 31.3 3PT%
Going Pro?: Given that he's widely considered to be the #2 PG prospect and that several lottery teams will be searching for a PG, it looks likely.
Projected Draft Position: Mid to late lottery
NBA Comparison: A more athletic Andre Miller
The Lowdown: An outstanding athlete and an intelligent playmaker. If shot continues to improve, could be a steady, productive PG in the NBA for years.

Channing Frye, PF/C, Arizona, Sr.
Vital Stats: 6-11, 248 lbs. 15.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 54.8 FG%, 78.8 FT%
Projected Draft Status: Early 2nd Round
NBA Comparison: Jason Collins
The Lowdown: A solid post player who can run the floor and has an above average mid-range jump shot. Will need to bulk up and play center if he wants to succeed because he just won't cut it as a 4.

Francisco Garcia, G, Louisville, Jr.
Vital Stats: 6-7, 200 lbs. 16.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Going Pro?: 50/50. Lack of legit 2 guards elevates his status, so it's a possibility.
Projected Draft Position: Mid to late 1st Round
NBA Comparison: Tayshaun Prince at the 2
The Lowdown: Though his skinny frame limits his ability in some scouts' minds, he has deceptive athleticism and an unteachable knack for the game. If he can get his 3 point touch back in order (32% down from 42% freshman year), he has a chance to creep up the board.

Rudy Gay, G/F, UConn, Fr.
Vital Stats: 6-9, 218 lbs. 21.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 3.7 BPG, 1.6 SPG
Going Pro?: Probably will stay 2 years assuming Jim Calhoun brings him along the same way he did Charlie Villanueva; with that in mind, you may as well tab UConn as preseason favorites in 2006.
Projected Draft Position: Lottery this year, Top 5 in 2006.
NBA Comparison: Rashard Lewis
The Lowdown: Probably a slight notch behind Marvin Williams, but only because he lacks the size to shift to the 4. Regardless, will rank right up there with Marvin as the top prospects in the 2006 NBA Draft.

J.R. Giddens, SG, Kansas, Soph.
Vital Stats: 6-5, 192 lbs. 11.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 47.5 FG%, 40.7 3PT%
Going Pro?: Breakout Year + Lack of SG Prospects + Best shot at going to Final Four = Likely.
Projected Draft Status: Late lottery to mid 1st Round
NBA Comparison: Kerry Kittles pre-knee injuries
The Lowdown: A true shooting guard who can jump out of the building and shoot the lights out. Needs to step up as go-to scorer if he is to live up to draft status and ensure that Kansas plays like a title contender.

Ryan Gomes, F, Providence, Sr.
Vital Stats: 6-7, 242 lbs. 18.9 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 50.7 FG%, 87.0 FT%, 33.3 3PT%
Projected Draft Status: Late 1st Round
NBA Comparison: Devean George
The Lowdown: Made the right choice in returning to school after declaring last spring. Continued development in his perimeter game and improved quickness on defense will seal his 1st round status.

Julius Hodge, SG, NC State, Sr.
Vital Stats: 6-6, 192 lbs. 18.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.6 APG 50.7 FG%.
Projected Draft Position: Mid to late 1st Round.
NBA Comparison: (An intelligent) Ricky Davis
The Lowdown: The reigning ACC POY is a crafty, sleek 2 guard who should be able to contribute in the NBA right away. Doesn't have talent to take over game, but is a solid, versatile player who lets the game come to him.

Jarrett Jack, PG, Georgia Tech, Jr.
Vital Stats: 6-3, 190 lbs. 12.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.9 SPG, 45.6 FG%
Going Pro?: Nearly left last year, but dearth of point guards probably would have landed him in the 2nd round. Not the case this year as he's considered by most as the #3 point guard.
Projected Draft Position: Mid 1st Round
NBA Comparison: A young Sam Cassell
The Lowdown: Has a great NBA body and unparallel leadership skills demonstrated last year as he guided Tech to the Championship game. Must prove last year wasn't a fluke if he wants to maintain status.

Rashad McCants, SG, North Carolina, Jr.
Vital Stats: 6-4, 212 lbs. 20.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.8SPG, 40.8 3PT%.
Going Pro?: If North Carolina has a big year, and McCants has the kind of season that can peak his stock, then he will. The chances of that happening are pretty good.
Projected Draft Position: Late 1st Round
NBA Comparison: Jim Jackson
The Lowdown: A natural scorer, but lack of height (Listed at 6-4, but barely 6-3 supposedly) and questionable attitude will surely draw comparisons to NBA-bust Joseph Forte...which is never good.

Randolph Morris, C, Kentucky, Fr.
Vital Stats: 7-0, 270 lbs. 25 PPG, 15 RPG, 6 BPG
Going Pro?: Caught in flux of High School Prospects last season and saw stock slip. A solid season should vault him firmly into the 1st round meaning he's likely to leave.
Projected Draft Status: Late Lottery to mid 1st Round
NBA Comparison: Jamaal Magliore
The Lowdown: Despite being the third option on an AAU Team which featured NBA Rookies Dwight Howard and Josh Smith, Morris has a huge ceiling. His size, athleticism, and attitude all point to stardom, but all big men require seasoning and Morris is no exception.

Chris Paul, PG, Wake Forest, Soph.
Vital Stats: 6-1, 190 lbs. 14.8 PPG, 5.9 APG, 2.7 SPG.
Going Pro?: Though he reportedly stands firm on his stance of staying for four years, how many players have turned down the pros when they're a surefire Top 3 pick? (Well, former Wake Forest alum Tim Duncan is one).
Projected Draft Position: Top 3
NBA Comparison: Isiah Thomas
The Lowdown:Paul's stock went from hot to scorching after leading the Under 21 USA Team to an undefeated Gold Medal Finish at the FIBA Americas World Championships. Bobcats will definitely be looking for a PG--the homegrown Carolina boy is the best there is.

Lawrence Roberts, PF, Miss St., Sr.
Vital Stats: 6-9, 235 lbs. 16.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 63.4 FT%
Projected Draft Status: Early 2nd Round
NBA Comparison: Gary Trent
The Lowdown: A great college player, but lacks the athleticism, ballhandling ability and shooting skills to maintain his star status in the pros. Could end up being a solid contributor off the bench.

Wayne Simien, F, Kansas, Sr.
Vital Stats: 6-9, 255 lbs. 17.8 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 81.1 FT%
Projected Draft Position: Late 1st Round to early 2nd Round
NBA Comparison: Maurice Taylor
The Lowdown: A very tough, very talented natural 4 who has a solid mid-range game and isn't afraid to bang in the post. Has seen stock drop due to injury concerns, but could end up being a real steal.

Chris Taft, PF, Pittsburgh, Soph.
Vital Stats: 6-10, 250 lbs. 10.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 55.9 FG%
Going Pro?: If he can maintain his Top 5 status, definitely.
Projected Draft Position: Top 5
NBA Comparison: Chris Wilcox
The Lowdown: Most experts have Taft pegged as the #2 college prospect behind Paul, but unlike the PG, Taft has yet to dominate at the college level. Though Pittsburgh's system limits his explosiveness, he will still need to prove to scouts that he is capable of living up to his potential.

Chris Thomas, PG, Notre Dame, Sr.
Vital Stats: 6-0, 180 lbs. 19.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.6 SPG, 38.5 FG%, 82.6 FT%
Projected Draft Status: Mid 2nd Round
NBA Comparison: Poor man's Mike Bibby
The Lowdown: Inconsistent shot and decision-making have kept him from vaulting into the top tier of college point guard prospects. A big year where he combines his leadership skills, athletic ability, and maturity could do wonders for his draft stock.

Charlie Villanueva, F, UConn, Soph.
Vital Stats: 6-11, 225 lbs. 8.9 PPG, 5.3RPG, 1.5 BPG, 51.4 FG%, 36.7 3PT%
Going Pro?: Wanted to leave straight from High School a couple years ago, but stock slipped and came to Storrs. With UConn being a year away, perhaps he'll stick around another year. 50/50 at this point.
Projected Draft Status: Lottery to late 1st Round
NBA Comparison: Jonathan Bender
The Lowdown: No player is tougher to project than Villanueva. He's as intruiging a talent as there is: at 6-11, he can shoot, dribble, pass, and come up with the spectacular play, but he often fades into oblivion on the court and constantly has lapses on defense. If Calhoun can find a way to get the most out of this kid, he's going to be one helluva player.

Hakim Warrick, F, Syracuse, Sr.
Vital Stats: 6-9, 210 lbs. 19.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.1 BPG.
Projected Draft Position: Mid to late 1st Round.
NBA Comparison: Darius Miles
The Lowdown: Has seen stock drop recently as scouts question what position he can play: he's too thin to play the 4 and can't shoot or handle the ball well enough to play the 3. Shear athleticism and jaw-dropping wingspan will still merit plenty of attention.

Marvin Williams, F, North Carolina, Fr.
Vital Stats: 6-9, 230 lbs. 28 PPG, 16 RPG, 5 APG, 5 RPG
Going Pro?: Might stick around a second year if he doesn't get a lot of burn on a loaded Carolina team. It'll be hard to keep this guy off the floor though, and even harder to keep him out of the lottery.
Projected Draft Position: Mid to late Lottery this year, Top 3 if he stays another year.
NBA Comparison: A more versatile Antawn Jamison
The Lowdown: Could have been right in the mix with this year's crop of High School-to-NBAers, but instead chose to flaunt his game at Chapel Hill and improve his draft stock. Roy Williams may not give him a chance to shine this year, but it will be impossible to keep him under reps for 2 years.

Sheldon Williams, F, Duke, Jr.
Vital Stats: 6-9, 240 lbs. 12.6 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.0 BPG, 58.6 FG%.
Going Pro?: With PFs boasting the most talent in this year's draft and that he plays for Duke, probably not. A big year could spell differently though.
Projected Draft Position: Late Lottery to mid 1st Round in 2006.
NBA Comparison: Poor man's Elton Brand.
The Lowdown: Tough low-post player who physically reminds many of former Duke power forwards, Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer. Lacks the offensive game of both, but has tremendous shotblocking ability like Brand and a nasty mean streak like both.


At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luther head is 10 times better than half of these guys. You cant pick for crap.

Vraj Gandhi


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