NBA Draft Update

This is an updating of the player rankings I did up at the end of January. A few quick notes on these rankings: There’s a maximum of 40 points in this system. The rankings are based entirely on statistics. The statistics used are different for each position. I don’t make any allowance for player ages, so freshmen and sophomores will have more room for improvement than juniors and seniors. The number isn’t meant to be a final ranking, just a reflection of how each player stands up statistically against successful prospects of the past.

Point Guards 

  1. Ty Lawson, North Carolina: 31.02
  2. Derrick Rose, Memphis: 26.55
  3. AJ Price, Connecticut: 21.75
  4. DJ Augustine, Texas: 21.72
  5. Mario Chalmers, Kansas: 21.27
  6. Nick Calathes, Florida: 20.40
  7. Stefhon Hannah, Missouri: 19.59
  8. Russell Westbrook, UCLA: 16.86
  9. Domenic James, Marquette: 16.11
  10. Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga: 15.38

Lawson continues to be the best guard in college basketball, both in terms of a player and a prospect. The freshmen may have a higher upside, but none has the complete game Lawson does now and none is playing at a higher level. His value was on display this past week when Carolina struggled without him. Rose has solidified himself as the #2 PG and did improve his play in January. I might switch Calathes over with the SFs next month. He’s not really a PG, even though he’s a better passer than most and the Gator offense often runs through him. The rest remain question marks. All do some things well, but none have put things together the way the top 2 have. Westbrook took advantage when Collison was slowed by an injury, but Collison seems to be back close to full strength now and may be back in the top 10 next month. 

Combo Guards 

  1. Brian Roberts, Dayton: 23.67
  2. Jaycee Carroll, Utah State: 22.81
  3. Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati: 22.08
  4. Jujuan Smith, Tennessee: 21.17
  5. Jerryd Bayless, Arizona: 20.54
  6. Sean Singletary, Virginia: 18.03

Bayless ranks much better as a combo than as a PG, and that’s why he’s listed here. Roberts is a pretty poor defender, but continues to light it up at a pace where it will be hard for teams to ignore him in the later stages of the draft. 

Shooting Guards 

  1. Danny Green, North Carolina: 30.06
  2. James Harden, Arizona State: 28.49
  3. Gerald Henderson, Duke: 27.23
  4. Shan Foster, Vanderbilt: 26.06
  5. Wayne Ellington, North Carolina: 25.42
  6. Marcellus Kemp, Nevada: 25.31
  7. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis: 24.67
  8. Dionte Christmas, Temple: 24.16
  9. Martin Zeno, Texas Tech: 23.30
  10. KC Rivers, Clemson: 22.41

When analyzing college SGs it’s important to be aware of whether they’re true SGs, or undersized SFs playing in 3- or 4-guard lineups. If such is the case, will they be able to make the transition to playing the backcourt full-time in the NBA, as their height will demand they do? While that’s a question best answered by the paid professionals, a clue might lie in their statistics. Simply, does a player look more like a guard or a forward when looking at his statistics? The guards will typically have better numbers in 3-point shooting, passing and steals. The forwards do better in FG pct, blocks and rebounds. The player here who looks most forward-like is Gerald Henderson. Harden has good guard numbers, but is also the 2nd tallest starter on his team. That’s something I’ll hash out later in the year, after more analysis has been done. As for the frosh phenoms, Mayo and Gordon, they’re still close, but not quite there yet. Mayo has the better all-around game and seems likely to crash the top 10 next month. Gordon still isn’t much more than a great scorer. He’s starting to show some defensive flashes, but unless he really steps it up, he won’t rank very high as a prospect after this season.

Small Forwards 

  1. Tyler Smith, Tennessee: 31.21
  2. Austin Daye, Gonzaga: 29.98
  3. Bill Walker, Kansas State: 26.27
  4. Malik Hairston, Oregon: 25.97
  5. Josh Shipp, UCLA: 24.80
  6. Will Daniels, Rhode Island: 23.92
  7. Raymer Morgan, Michigan State: 22.94
  8. Chase Budinger, Arizona: 22.64
  9. Mykal Riley, Alabama: 17.89
  10. Gavin Grant, North Carolina State: 17.39

There were 4 big movers in this group during January: Daye, Walker, Shipp and Budinger. Shipp has been hitting the trey with much more efficiency and frequency this year. With Walker and Budinger, I think it was just a case of players turning their great talent into production. Daye is the player who really intrigues me though. He doesn’t start for the Bulldogs, but has put up some amazing numbers in about 400 minutes coming off the bench. He has struggled against the major conferences and has been foul-prone. But a 6’11” freshman who does everything well is certainly a player to watch. 

Combo Forwards 

  1. Pat Calathes, St. Joseph’s: 29.63
  2. Reggie Larry, Boise State: 28.55
  3. Ryan Anderson, California: 24.80
  4. Damion James, Texas: 21.39
  5. Trevor Booker, Clemson: 20.80
  6. James Johnson, Wake Forest: 20.17
  7. Donte Greene, Syracuse: 18.01

Sometimes a player will fly below my radar and that’s been the case with Pat Calathes of St. Joe’s. Calathes is a 6’10” senior and is listed as a G/F. He has a wide range of skills, but some sort of combo forward seems like his best role. I’m always a little leery of seniors who suddenly emerge as strong prospects. With Calathes I’d like to wait until he does this for the entire season before I call him anything too special. I will say that if a 6’10” 22 year old had put up numbers like this in Europe, draft pundits would be tripping over each other to call him the next Nowitzki or Gasol. Larry has stepped up his game, but I’m not sure the WAC is on the level of other conferences, so I’m not sure how seriously he should be taken just yet. Greene faded quite a bit in January, mainly because he’s become a 3-point shooter. When a player is 6’10” the 3-pointer shouldn’t be his main offensive weapon.

Power Forwards 

  1. Richard Hendrix, Alabama: 32.95
  2. Michael Beasley, Kansas St.: 29.03
  3. Blake Griffin, Oklahoma: 27.69
  4. Joey Dorsey, Memphis: 24.52
  5. Darnell Jackson, Kansas: 23.64
  6. DJ White, Indiana: 23.01
  7. JJ Hickson, North Carolina St.: 21.72
  8. Luke Harangody, Notre Dame: 18.49
  9. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina: 18.15
  10. Dejuan Blair, Pittsburgh: 17.91

Hendrix moved ahead, but considering their age, Beasley is still the best player here and the best in college. Griffin also might be a better prospect, but that’s no knock on Hendrix. His numbers have improved across the board, especially defensively. I suspect the graduation of Jermareo Davidson has been a big factor in his improved numbers. This is turning into a pretty solid group when considering the Combo bigs in with the group. 

Combo Bigs 

  1. Marreese Speights, Florida: 29.30
  2. Kevin Love, UCLA: 24.83
  3. Brook Lopez, Stanford: 18.54
  4. Dwayne Curtis, Mississippi: 18.02
  5. Kentrell Gransberry, South Florida: 13.94
  6. Devon Hardin, California: 12.94
  7. Trent Plaisted, BYU: 12.33

This group changed the least from last month. Love seems like a much better player than his ranking here suggests. His number is low due to weak shotblocking numbers. That said, any player who scores this often and efficiently and rebounds this well is certain to get a ton of minutes and have some impact at the next level. The rest have me a little torn. Speights is incredible when he plays, but I’d like to see him get more minutes. Lopez just isn’t there as a prospect yet, but there is a lot to like about him. 


1. John Bryant, Santa Clara: 25.41

2. Alecks Maric, Nebraska: 16.73

3. Dave Padgett, Louisville: 16.31

4. Roy Hibbert, Georgetown: 15.76

5. DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M: 12.11

6. Omar Samhan, St. Mary’s: 10.92

7. AJ Ogilvy, Vanderbilt: 10.36

8. Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut: 9.30

9. Sasha Kaun, Kansas: 7.61

10. Kosta Koufus, Ohio St.: 1.22

I don’t include players from smaller colleges in these rankings, because historically small college players have a poor success rate in the pros, even if they put up terrific numbers. One player to keep an eye on though is center Kenny George of UNC-Asheville. He’s a 7’7” center who has put up double-doubles against North Carolina and South Carolina, along with a 13 rebound performance against Tennessee. He’s only averaging 21 minutes per game, but that seems to be increasing. His Bulldogs are currently atop the Big South, so there’s a decent chance we’ll see him in the tournament, at least for one game. His numbers are pretty incredible and I wouldn’t be too surprised if he progressed to the point where he was the first center taken this year or next. Right now the center position is as weak and full of question marks as a typical class is. Hibbert should make it because of his defense and Thabeet has good defensive potential if not much else. Bryant is starting to show signs of life similar to the way Chris Kaman emerged as a junior a few years ago. Other than that, it looks like a weak group. 

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 he currently a better player. These rankings are based on which players I feel are the best prospects, all other things being equal. I broke them down into groups which is pretty much the way I would draft players. 

Impact players and/or likely stars.  

1. Michael Beasley 

Next level. These are players who should at the very least become solid starters and may lift their games to an all-star level. They’re not quite there as a complete player, or they’re complete enough, but not quite at star level. But they look like they can play an important role on an NBA team. 

2. Derrick Rose

3. Kevin Love

4. Ty Lawson

5 Tyler Smith

6. Roy Hibbert 

Promising Frosh and Soph. Players with obvious skill who are missing something or simply may need a little more time to progress. They’re still young and talented enough to turn things around, and that puts them ahead of other players. With some it’s just a case of seeing if a current hot streak is for real before I move them up a level or two. Others need to make significant improvement to their game in one or two areas. The majority of these players won’t make a major impact, but all are at a point in their career where they could go either way. 

7. Nick Calathes

8. OJ Mayo

9. Austin Daye

10. James Harden

11. Blake Griffin

12. Marresse Speights

13. Bill Walker

14. Chase Budinger

15. Donte Greene

16. Kyle Singler

17. Eric Gordon

18. Wayne Ellington

19. Jerryd Bayless

20. DJ Augustine

21. Hasheem Thabeet

22. Ryan Anderson

23. Gerald Henderson

24. JJ Hickson 

Players who are a notch below. I like all these players, but when their numbers are added up they don’t appear to be anything more than a longshot as far as making a major impact. 

25. Mario Chalmers

26. Chris Douglas-Roberts

27. Shan Foster

28. Tyler Hansbrough

29. Dionte Christmas

30. DJ White

31. Malik Hairston

32. AJ Price  

Juniors and seniors putting up strong numbers for the first time. These players are doing well, but I hesitate to label them a top prospect, at least until I see them do it for a full season. 

33. Pat Calathes

34. Danny Green

35. John Bryant

36. Darnell Jackson

37. Alecks Maric 

Role players. They don’t add up as great prospects, but each has a skill or two that should make them a useful NBA player. 

38. Geoff McDermott

39. Joey Dorsey

40. Kyle Weaver

41. Brandon Rush

42. Maarty Luenen

43. Jaycee Carroll

44. Chris Lofton 

Freshmen and Sophomores who aren’t quite there yet.  These players have some things to like about them, but need to step up their games quite a bit to get where they need to be as prospects. If they played this way as juniors and seniors, they wouldn’t be considered prospects. 

45. Brook Lopez

46. Jonny Flynn

47. James Johnson

48. Darrell Arthur

49. DeAndre Jordan

50. AJ Ogilvy

51. Taj Gibson

52. Devon Jefferson 

Better than this. These players are having down years, but have shown themselves to be better players. Could be an injury or maybe they’re just slumping. 

53. Darren Collison

54. Luke Nevill

55. Richard Roby 

Small College Stars. As I mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of small college players. They’re success rate is very poor, even with great stats. I will mention these players though, as all look as if they’re capable of making an impact somewhere. 

56. Kenny George

57. Tony Lee

58. Jason Thompson

59. Courtney Lee

60. Arizona Reed

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