It's not a bad year to have more than one pick, and I can see the Warriors ending up with 2 big men out of this draft. Big men take longer to develop and are projects. However, great bigs are such rare commodities, teams should strategize and use their resources first and foremost on them. Much like how the NFL teams draft QB's high just because the position is so important to the team. This is an exceptionally deep draft for big men. I would urge the Warriors, if they retain their lottery pick after May 30th, to use it on a big man. Here is a list of the top prospects:Center: Drummond, Zeller, Leonard, Melo
Power Forwards: Davis, Robinson, Perry Jones, Terrance Jones, Sullinger, Henson, Moultrie, Nicholson
If the Warriors get the top pick, take Anthony Davis. When scouting services rate Davis's best case scenario as Kevin Garnett and worst case as Marcus Camby, you know he is an exceptional talent. He's the phenom. It doesn't matter that he's skinny, just like it doesn't matter that Chris Paul is short for his position.
If we get the second pick, take Drummond. Drummond is an exceptional athlete for a player his size and he is only 18. Drummond is the best center prospect since Oden and could be the dominant center in the NBA in his prime. Watch the highlights and see the two plays where there is a turnover and Drummond drives it himself to the hoop and scores. When was the last time you saw a big men that size move like that? Again, he's 6 ' 11" and 275 lbs. That's why, come draft night, Drummond is going to go second. I don't think any GM will end up passing on him. There are questions about his motor running hot and cold and questions about his focus, but unquestionably Drummond has the most upside besides Davis in this draft.
Andre Drummond Freshman Highlights 2011-2012 (via mafisher13)Third pick, take Thomas Robinson. Robinson is the next coming of Carlos Boozer and Robinson is taller. Robinson is just a relentless bulldozer of a rebounder and offensive scorer. He is tough and he just goes after it. The difference between him and Sullinger is that Robinson is athletic and he is built. So all those effort plays are just that much more effective with Robinson. He can't shoot like Boozer but everything else he does is already at the NBA level. He is the best rebounder in this draft. He has the highest pace adjusted per 40 minute rebound rate. He also draws lots of fouls. He really should have been the NCAA tournament MVP but Kansas lost.
Implicit in these picks is passing up on Kidd Gilchrist. I understand his appeal but I do not agree he is a good top 3 pick. Kidd Gilchrist is going to find it tougher on all fronts because he doesn't have the exceptional physical build for his position. His build is average. Even in college, he is not above average on the offensive end and in the NBA, his offense is going to be way below average until he develops his game. On the defensive end, he is going to have a tough time guarding the top small forwards in the NBA. Small forward is a position lacking depth in the NBA and Kidd Gilchrist will be able to guard the bottom half of the league, but against the top forwards, he's at quite a disadvantage. Durant, Lebron, Carmelo, Gallinari, Deng, Granger, Gay, Igoudala, and Gerald Wallace are all not just bigger, but taller than him. I love his toughness and I love players with heart and hustle.
Last year, I had a fan post about Faried and how we should pick him. Even while he never moved up the draft board I still had Faried as someone we should pick behind Irving, Kanter and Biyombo, ahead of Thompson. (Klay worked out great for us.) What I saw in Faried was his motor and physicality would still be elite in the NBA. I don't see that level of elite athletic ability in Kidd Gilchrist. I am not saying Faried will be a better player than Kidd Gilchrist. I think Kidd Gilchrist will be the better player but in this year's deep draft, I wouldn't pick him 3rd. If I drafted Kidd Gilchrist, I would serious consider moving him to shooting guard where his elite defensive instincts can be dominant. His size and quickness will allow him to become a shut down defensive player. If he can limit a player like Kobe, his value to his team will be very high.
I also posted in the past that Evan Turner is not worth a high lottery pick, for pretty much the same reasons. His build plus athleticsm together is just average and his skill set is not elite enough to become the type of star you would hope to get with the second pick. Even now, when Turner has a breakout game in the playoffs, people say he's found his groove. He has great games, but he cannot be consistantly dominant because nothing he does is dominant. He had a great game 2 and game 7 in the playoffs, but his average for the whole series is pretty much back to his below NBA average norm with a net minus on plus/minus stat. I do think Kidd Gilchrist will be better than Turner.
If the Warriors get the 7th pick, they should pick Meyers Leonard or trade down a few spots and pick him. Meyers Leonard didn't really play last year and began picking up speed this year. In the second half of this year, he was arguably as good a center as any in the NCAA. He played on a par with Sullinger head to head, out scoring Sullinger 21 to 9 in their second meeting. I've watched videos on all the big men and I believe Leonard has an incredibly high ceiling and relatively high floor. He's a little bit ungainly, but I love his basketball IQ, his legit 7' 1", 245 lbs build, and his athleticsm.
Meyers Leonard Highlight Mix (via swishscout)Here is what he brings:
- His build is elite. When the Chicago combine comes, Meyers is going to measure incredibly well. 7 foot 1 or more in shoes and 245 lbs is not a stretch. He has a huge wingspan, 7 foot 3 inches. He's not just tall for NCAA. He is tall for the NBA. At 245 lbs, he's not thin either. He looks like he has big bones and will gain an additional 10 to 15 lbs easily. He is bigger, much more athletic, and has a much better mortor than Jeremy Tyler. (An aside on Tyler, when I watched him work out at the combines, he was in the worst condition of all the big men and his motor was the worst. When he plays now, he never seem to have enough to make more than a few athletic plays.)
- His offence and defense will translate to the NBA. He shoots well facing the basket and his go to move is a baby hook from the post, although not smooth but effective. Both of these will be just as unblockable in the NBA. He shoots 73% from the free throw line. He's still raw and needs work. On defense, he's already a legit shot blocker at the NBA level. He needs work on holding the post and blocking out on rebounds. That will come when he gains a little more weight and develops more.
- An lastly, he's only 20 years old. He played guard as a high school freshmen and center as a sophmore due to his sudden growth spurt. He barely played his freshmen season at Illinois. He can and should develop much more.
Here's Leonard winning the Illinoise State High School dunking championship. He's the second one.
2009 Illinois State High School Dunk Contest (via johnlogan90)For the rest of the big men in this year's draft, here is a run down in the order I value them:
Arnett Moultrie. He's the best offensive player on the list and he rebounds. Everything he does offensively will translate to the NBA. At 6' 11", his step back jump shots are reminiscent of Garnett and Nowitzki. He has a quick release on his shots from outside and at 6' 11" those will be open to him in the NBA. He shoots .444 from 3 point range, although very few shots, and he is an efficient .549 field goal percentage scorer overall. He can handle to create shots for himself. You often hear that a big man can handle like a guard, but big men do not need to handle like a guard. They need to handle the ball the way Arnett Moultrie does. Put it on the floor to create space for shots or to penentrate the paint. He rebounded well in college at 10.6 per game. It's reasonable to think he'll rebound his position. His defense won't be a strong suit, but he could be an incredible offensive juggernaut. Moultrie's team did not do well this year and I believe he is somewhat undervalued because of that. Moultrie played against Kentucky this year. I didn't watch the game but I assume he matched up against Anthony Davis. Both came away with 13 points and 11 boards.
Arnett Moultrie Highlights (via 63Starlin)Tyler Zeller as a power forward and back up center. Zeller is another quality prospect and I really like him as a Pau Gasol type player at power forward and back up center. In comparison to Leonard, Tyler Zeller has short arms and is not as athletic. Both of those traits are detriments to his center prospects in the NBA. Tyler is not a defensive intimidator. Tyler's game on the offensive side is similar to the type of game David Lee and Pau Gasol plays, quick turnaround hooks, run the floor, finesse big men. Tyler Zeller is 7 foot 250 lbs, the same size as Pau Gasol. Tyler can develop a smooth good 12 to 18 foot shot facing the basket. He shot them well this year but only took on the average a few shots a game. He shot 80% from the free throw line. It's really close between Zeller and Sullinger. It's a matter of preference as to who one picks. I simply like the Pau Gasol 7 footer power forward model better for the Warriors front line.
Sullinger. Sullinger has a higher floor than every one other than Anthony Davis. He is already very good and his game translates well to the NBA as a power forward. I wouldn't be surprised if Sullinger has the best rookie season out of everyone. I just don't think Sullinger has a very high ceiling. He really isn't comprabable to Paul Millsap. Millsap has one of the best 15 to 18 foot shooting percentages in the NBA, including guards. Millsap is a relentless energy player where as Sullinger is questioned for his motor. Sullinger is more of a Kevin Love type player. Love, to me, is a once in a generation player and Love is taller. Sullinger already has problems with length at the NCAA level and that will translate to the NBA.
Perry Jones and Terrance Jones. Both are really better fit at small forward rather than power forward. They're both a bit of a tweener. Watch Perry Jones' game highlights. He avoids contact on the offensive end and he doesn't post up. His offensive game is definitely more suited for small forwards and since his rebounding is poor. I wouldn't want him at power forward. I am not putting them in my big men rankings.
Perry Jones Mix - Baylor Highlights (via swooshnationdotcom)Fab Melo. Not enough rebounds and not athletic enough for a high pick. If he is there at 30, he is worth the pick. He's better than Jeremy Tyler. Melo can play now in the NBA.
John Henson is the type of player I am very wary of. Wiry thin, not quite 7 foot, and he doesn't have an offensive game that translates to the NBA. He really can't play power forward or center in the NBA. If he gains weight to play power forward, his athletism is going to suffer because of the amount of weight he needs to gain. He can't shoot. He shot only 50% from the free throw line and that is standing still with no one guarding him. At this point, he can't even be a one way player because opponents will just back him down until Henson needs to foul them. In the NBA, he's basically an opportunity rebound put the ball back in the basket player on the offensive end and athletic opportunity shot blocker on the defensive end with very little other offense or defense to contribute. Lastly, it would be different if he is 18. He is already 21.
Nicholson. He's undersized and he actually regressed from his junior year to senior year. He also did not play in a major conference. Not a high first round pick consideration.
I can't recall a draft with so many good and productive big men that have the requisite NBA size. If we don't draft one this year, it would be an opportunity lost.
To recap my rankings for big men.
6) Tyler Zeller
8) Fab Melo
Perry Jones and Terrance Jones were not considered for the power forward position.
For the 30th pick, I would love to have the Warriors trade up, if needed, to draft Quincy Miller. Miller is another undervalued player due to his knee injury from last year. He was a highly ranked player coming out of high school. He didn't play up to his potential this year due to his recovery from the injury. He's got all the tools and has great size to be a great small forward in the NBA. This is gamble worth taking in the second half of the first round.
p.s. I've held on to this post for a few weeks now and today I read the Warriors are indeed interested in Meyers Leonard for a mid first round pick.
Lastly, for all the draftniks. Here is the full North Carolina vs Kentucky game where as many as 7 players will go in the lottery. Watch how Tyler Zeller is the focus of the North Carolina offense and in the 2nd half he's double teamed as soon as he touches the ball.
#5 North Carolina @ #1 Kentucky 12-3-11 (Full Game) (via ruethewhirly)