NBA Draft Update

Another update on the prospect rankings I’ve been doing each month. For many of these players this will be fairly close to their final ranking, as they will play in only a few more games. Others, especially players who have missed significant time due to injury, could improve or decline fairly dramatically. Right now the draft is shaping up as a fairly mediocre one. There are only a few players who I would call solid choices, in the sense that I’m pretty certain at this point that they’ll make a strong positive impact at the next level. There are also some talented freshmen and sophs who don’t appear to be great prospects at this point in their careers, but clearly have the tools and time to get to that point. I included small college players for the first time this month. Basically I added up their numbers like I would the major college players and deducted 10 points. I know, real scientific. I think it gives a good idea of where they stand though and I didn’t want to ignore these players completely. Next update will be after the tournament and will be followed by a complete draft analysis in June.

To refresh on the rankings, this is just a ranking of how well each player compares to successful prospects of the past and is not a final subjective ranking. Players with a score of over 30 are strong prospects. Players 20-30 are shaky, but some of them will emerge to be pretty good players. Below 20 is a shaky prospect. Freshmen and sophomores are generally given some leeway as they have more upside. Eventually I’ll probably throw in an adjustment to reflect this, but I’m not quite there yet. 

Point Guards 

  1. Ty Lawson, North Carolina: 31.01
  2. Derrick Rose, Memphis: 24.88
  3. Mario Chalmers, Kansas: 23.11
  4. Stephon Hannah, Missouri: 19.59
  5. Tony Lee, Robert Morris: 18.25
  6. Russell Westbrook, UCLA: 16.47
  7. DJ Augustine, Texas: 13.83
  8. Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga: 13.47
  9. Kevin Bell, Fresno St.: 13.39
  10. AJ Price, Connecticut: 11.58

Every PG had a rough month, other than Chalmers. Lawson and Hannah missed most of the month with an injury and the others all saw their production slip. For Lawson the tournament will be huge. He struggled there last season and will need a good showing to keep his top spot. Right now Lawson and Rose are well above the others. Both should make a strong impact in the NBA. Lawson looks like a pretty sure thing to me right now, assuming he keeps things going through the tournament. Rose needs to improve both his passing and scoring efficiency, but is quite a bit taller than Lawson and has more upside. 

Combo Guards 

  1. JuJuan Smith, Tennessee: 20.64
  2. Sean Singletary, Virginia: 18.16
  3. Jaycee Carroll, Utah State: 17.72
  4. Brian Roberts, Dayton: 17.22
  5. Jerryd Bayless, Arizona: 16.58
  6. Rob McIver, Houston: 14.82
  7. Curtis Jerrells, Baylor: 14.67
  8. Greivis Vasquez, Maryland: 13.26
  9. Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati: 12.92
  10. Jamont Gordon, Mississippi St: 12.35

Bayless is probably the top guy here, and I might move him to PG if he stays in college longer than this season. It’s just that he grades out better here. I’m partial to both Carroll and Singletary. Both seem to shoot with no conscience, which is a good thing for a CG to have. Both remain longshots though.

Shooting Guards 

  1. Danny Green, North Carolina: 27.51
  2. James Harden, Arizona State: 26.88
  3. JR Giddens, New Mexico: 23.84
  4. KC Rivers, Clemson: 23.27
  5. Marcellus Kemp, Nevada: 22.50
  6. Shan Foster, Vanderbilt: 22.12
  7. DeMarcus Nelson, Duke: 21.87
  8. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis: 19.95
  9. Arizona Reed, High Point: 18.94
  10. Wayne Ellington, North Carolina: 18.55

Green and Harden have topped this list all season and both remain decent prospects. Harden moreso because of his age. The 2 freshmen phenoms, Mayo and Gordon, still miss the top 10. The reason is neither has very strong defensive numbers and both have the high turnovers that have doomed other prospects in the past. A high TO rate is usually corrected with another season in college and isn’t much of a concern. The weak defensive numbers often stick with a player throughout his college career. Mayo is actually pretty close to where he needs to be and I think he’ll be fine. Gordon’s defensive numbers have been way below standard all season and while it’s way too early to declare him a likely bust, he’s headed in that direction. 

Small Forwards 

  1. Tyler Smith, Tennessee: 30.54
  2. Austin Daye, Gonzaga: 28.87
  3. Malik Hairston, Oregon: 25.23
  4. Nick Calathes, Florida: 24.38
  5. Mykal Riley, Alabama: 23.92
  6. Sonny Weems, Arkansas: 23.29
  7. Robbie Hummel, Purdue: 23.07
  8. Kyle Singler, Duke: 21.21
  9. Chase Budinger, Arizona: 20.26
  10. Will Daniels, Rhode Island: 19.62

I moved Calathes here from PG. His numbers looked more like that of a PG, but this appears to be his position. I like the freshmen SFs, Daye, Calathes, Hummel and Singler, much better as a group than the more-hyped freshmen guards. Smith has topped the list all season and pretty much has me sold on himself as a top 5 prospect. As a player he looks to pass first, but can score easily when he needs to. He was the one who hit a couple of big buckets that secured the win over Memphis. This might be the strongest position in college right now, though it’s still unknown how many of these players will enter the 2008 draft. 

Combo Forwards 

  1. Reggie Larry, Boise St: 27.27
  2. Pat Calathes, St. Joseph’s: 27.59
  3. Ryan Anderson, California: 24.06
  4. Trevor Booker, Clemson: 20.80
  5. James Johnson, Wake Forest: 18.84
  6. James Gist, Maryland: 16.36
  7. Damion James, Texas: 13.91
  8. Donte Greene, Syracuse: 13.37
  9. Jonathan Cox, Drake: 12.80
  10. Kyle Hines: UNC-Greensboro: 12.38

Larry and Calathes are a couple of players who can score efficiently and defend well. The problem is this: Larry is more of an inside player and he’s 6’6”. Calathes is more of a perimeter guy and he’s 6’10”. For that reason Calathes seems like the much better prospect of the two. A big guy who can play the perimeter is more valuable than a short guy whose strength is his inside game. Of the others, Anderson is a player whose offense will definitely be an asset on any team that can hide his defense. Greene was at the top of this list two months ago, before he decided to become a 3-point specialist. Breaking himself of this habit will be a key to his eventual success. 

Power Forwards 

  1. Richard Hendrix, Alabama: 31.08
  2. Michael Beasley, Kansas St.: 28.83
  3. Blake Griffin, Oklahoma: 25.62
  4. Joey Dorsey, Memphis: 23.07
  5. DJ White, Indiana: 22.64
  6. JJ Hickson, North Carolina St.: 19.00
  7. Luke Harangody, Notre Dame: 18.55
  8. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina: 17.95
  9. Dejuan Blair, Pittsburgh: 16.91
  10. Matt Nelson, Boise St: 15.64

Very little has changed in this group from lat month. Richard Hendrix continues to be the best college player no one is talking about. Michael Beasley continues to be the top player available. Blake Griffin is still very good, but in the shadow of Beasley. Joey Dorsey is still a limited, but valuable player. 

Combo Bigs 

  1. Marreese Speights, Florida: 26.22
  2. Kevin Love, UCLA: 24.70
  3. Jason Thompson, Rider: 20.32
  4. Devon Hardin, California: 16.71
  5. Kentrell Gransberry, South Florida: 13.67
  6. Dwayne Curtis, Mississippi: 12.60
  7. Brook Lopez, Stanford: 10.36
  8. Trent Plaisted, BYU: 9.85

Love is a player to watch. He has 13 blocks in his last 6 games. A small sample to be sure, but if Love can show he’s even an average defender, he’s one of the top 3 players in the draft and possibly #1.  One guy who’s highly rated elsewhere, but doesn’t do well here is Lopez. This is one where I’m going to stand by the ranking for now. Lopez has done little to show he’s a prospect other than grow to 7’. He doesn’t even hit half his shots and is a below-average rebounder. 


  1. Kenny George, UNC-Asheville: 28.16
  2. John Bryant, Santa Clara: 25.87
  3. Alecks Maric, Nebraska: 18.10
  4. Roy Hibbert, Geeorgetown: 15.16
  5. Dave Padgett, Louisville: 12.79
  6. Brian Zoubek, Duke: 10.52
  7. DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M: 9.53
  8. Omar Samhan, St. Mary’s: 9.53
  9. Sasha Kaun, Kansas: 6.41
  10. AJ Ogilvy, Vanderbilt: 5.23

There aren’t any true centers who have emerged this season as anything other than longshots or role players. I’m a big Roy Hibbert fan, because of his defense, but his numbers are nothing special. George is 7’7”, but is still very much a work in progress. Bryant and Maric look like reserves at best. DeAndre Jordan and Hasheem Thabeet both flash some promise, but both are very raw. 

The Top 60 

Here are my subjective rankings of the top 60 prospects. These won’t match the numerical rankings. The reason is the rankings are meant to be more of a guideline than a hard and fast reflection of any players’ value. Another reason is the ranking doesn’t take age or experience into account. I’d rather take a chance on a freshman who might be able to play than a senior or junior who I know won’t be able to play, even though the senior might currently be a better player. Last month I broke the players down into groups like impact players or talented freshmen with weak numbers, etc. This month I’m going to put them in order of which player I would draft first all other things being equal. 

Top 10 

Michael Beasley

Kevin Love

Derrick Rose

Ty Lawson

Tyler Smith

Austin Daye

Richard Hendrix

Nick Calathes

James Harden

Roy Hibbert 

I might have Daye, Calathes and Harden higher than others do, but they’ve played better and more resemble successful prospects than other more hyped frosh. In Daye’s case the numbers are for fewer minutes, but as a 6’11” SF his upside is as high as any player. Hibbert is listed because there are few players more valuable than a center who plays strong defense. 

Next 10 

Blake Griffin

OJ Mayo

Kyle Singler

Robbie Hummel

Eric Gordon

Jerryd Bayless

Danny Green

JJ Hickson

Marreese Speights

Mario Chalmers

Mostly freshmen here. These are players who have promise, but need to fix their game in an area or two before they’ll be able to help at the NBA level. Included are Green and Chalmers, who are sort of personal favorites of mine at this point. Time will tell if they deserve the relatively lofty ranking I gave them. 

Bubble 20 

Ryan Anderson

Joey Dorsey

Chase Budinger

Kenny George

Chris Douglas-Roberts

Donte Greene

James Johnson

Bill Walker

Darren Collison

Anthony Randolph

Geoff McDermott

DeAndre Jordan

Hasheem Thabeet

Kyle Weaver

Pat Calathes

Jonny Flynn

DJ Augustine

DJ White

Brook Lopez

Brandon Rush 

Calling this group the “bubble 20” is my clever way of saying they’re all on the first round bubble. Many of these guys will head back to school, so if I’m looking at this thing right, the 40 players I’ve listed so far should make up most of the first round once they’ve been thinned out by those returning to college. This doesn’t include the foreign entrants, whom I haven’t looked at yet. 

Final 20 

Russell Westbrook

Wayne Ellington

Reggie Larry

Malik Hairston

Devon Hardin

John Bryant

Jujuan Smith

Stephon Hannah

AJ Ogilvy

Jason Thompson

Greivis Vasquez

AJ Price

Jaycee Carroll

Damion James

Luke Harangody

Sean Singletary

Paul Harris

Darrell Arthur

Jeremy Pargo

Tyler Hansbrough 

I like watching Hansbrough play and I would like to say he’s a better prospect than this, but the POY favorite simply doesn’t measure up as anything more than borderline when it comes to his NBA chances. This group could also change a lot between now and when all the players have declared and are measured, weighed and worked out.

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