Tuesday, June 26, 2007

NBA Draft Spotlight: Swignmen

Happy tuesday to you all! Apologies far and wide for my lack of a publication yesterday, but I got held up writing research papers. Is there anything more annoying and time-consuming than a research paper? Anything more frustrating? Within my time on this earth, I have yet to find it.
Today I'll shed some light on the 2 and 3s in the draft. I originally intended to cover 1 position a day, but again, I don't have the necessary time to do that anymore. So today will be the 2/3s, tomorrow the mammoths at power forward and center, and on Thursday I'll put up my own mock of the first 40 picks in the draft.

It's true that my time covering these events is limited. But nevertheless, I can't remember a forward who's intrigued me more than Kevin Durant. Durant is just a straight up stud. He's 6'10 and at 18 has plenty of time to grow even further. His wingspan is comparable to that of some Boeing models. He's the best shooter at either forward position since Dirk. Durant's an athletic marvel who can run up and down the court all day, and perhaps most importantly: He has the passion to win, and win now. All I've ever heard about Kev suggests that his lifelong dream, from the time he was a tyke, was to someday play in the big leagues. Therefore, despite bench pressing less than me, I think Durant has the ability to become a truly special player in this league-and I'm not talking KG special. The sky is the limit, and Durant could end up going up there with the Birds, Magics, and Jordans. Supersonics, I envy you this day.
Comparison: Dirk Nowitzki/Tracy McGrady. If he develops, he could actually be the best of both players. I'm entirely serious-he's got all the athleticism and fluidity of T-Mac and all the prowess, grit, and sniping ability of the Big German. The absolute worst case scenario? He'll be a borderline all star like Rashard Lewis.

Durant is far and away the top player at these two positions. But the second best is no slouch: Fellow small forward Jeff Green of Georgetown. He's a dude who does nearly everything well, and is a polished enough player to make an immediate impact in the association. Green's 6'9 but possesses ball handling skills far better than the norm for a man his size. He's also a terrific passer and possesses a developed post game. He's a smart player who's never been a detriment to a locker room. He exhibits a varied defensive game, being able to match up with most 2s and the majority of 4s. If he has a weakness, It's his mediocre shooting ability.
Comparison: Boris Diaw.

Defense wins championships. And those looking for it will turn to Florida's Cory Brewer. With outstanding athleticism, relentlessness, and experience, Brewer is the best defender in the entire draft. He's a winner along the same lines as Durant, and is as humble as they come. He does not yet possess the offensive game that would surely push him above the rest of the terrific forward cast, but could easily be the second best to translate to the league.
Comparison: More capable Josh Smith.

The next player on the list is a bit of a mystery. Al Thornton is no spring chicken as far as college players go. Thornton is an athletic marvel, wearing a 6'7 frame but displaying startling speed and leaping ability. The lithe duo-forward from Florida State is surprisingly raw for a player of his age, but he has his talents. While Thornton's shot is good, his greatest strengths lie in physical toools, and he translates these into a solid defensive game, good rebounding skills, and an ability to run the court endlessly. His basketball IQ is not enviable. However, his potential is very high. Comparison: Corey Maggette.

The first real shooting guard on the list is USC's Nick Young. He's a smart player who stands at 6'6 and 206, displaying average strength and speed for his build. His passing is mediocre, and his defense can be overly reckless. But Young wows people with his wingspan (7'0), leaping ability (44") and shooting ability. He is fearless and greatly confident, and his defensive versatility is terrific. He lacks the potential superstar factor evident in a lot of the previous mentions, but is a safe bet as a contributor for many years to come.
Comparison: Josh Howard, slightly lower upside.
Quite often, one will see players whose playstyle is completely out of whack with their size and role. Julian Wright is one of these players. He's guarded shooting guards, but displays a 9 foot standing reach. He can pass with the best of them, but his shooting is extremely suspect. Wright has lit up the stat sheets in many ways, and is reminiscent of a Kirilenko or Hughes in this aspect. He blocks, steals, scores (albeit not a well as some would like) and rebounds very well. It's probably the thing attribute stated more than any other; but Wright's greatest strength is his freakish athletic ability. His combination of strength and speed will take him farther than anything else. If his defense develops, he could become...
Comparison: Andrei Kirilenko.

I am a staunch opponent of stereotypes. But all too often, people will come along to justify the not necessarily unjustified. Rudy Fernandez, a Spanish guard, stands at 6'6 and weighs 172 pounds. He is a good shooter and is said to be very coachable and hardworking. His greatest weakness, other than being the embodiment of the walking beanpole, is a supposed lack of toughness. His offensive game is explosive and polished, and he displays a balanced inside-outside game. However, Fernanzed is still a 19-year old project, nothing more. If he spends more time around the weight bench and improves his defense he could
Compares with Manu Ginobli
. I know most wil label me a stereotyper as well for lumping together all skinny, explosive, raw Euro guys. But the skill resemblance is striking.

Oddly shrouded in mystery is the size of Daequan Cook. He is listed anywhere between 6'3.5 and 6'6. Obviously this causes some problems when evaluating Cook, but here is the information widely known. He is a shooting guard primarily and exclusively, lacking the ability to play the 1 or 3. While this may appear confining, Cook's skills may help him retain attractiveness to prospective teams. He is unfortunately raw and lacks the ballhandling abilities to dominate other guards one on one or run an offense. However, he's very quick for a 2 guard and has a vast amount of untapped potential. Some liken him to current Cavs dissapointment Larry Hughes. However, I think that, if he speculatively reaches most of his potential...
Compares with Jason Terry. The tweener build, the inconsistent defense, the mediocre ballhandling skills and the explosive feet. Give Cook time to refine his shot, and you get two distinctly similar players.

Honorable Mentions: Derrick Byars, Jared Dudley.

Mavs Factor:
Ah, again we turn the spotlight to everyone's favorite franchise! The team probably won't target a shooting guard with the 34th pick. However, listening to Norm throw out random completely unfounded ideas (Did anyone else hear his Larry Johnson 'rumor' today? Dream on...) apparently passes the trait to listener. Last week, he suggested a trade-up with Houston, the franchise inhabiting the 26th slot. It's very possible this guy will be gone by then, but if Marco Bellinelli is available It's not inconceivable that the deal is made. Alas, Bellinelli also adds to the stereotype constantly plaguing Euros: Raw, skilled, quick, lithe. He's a project with a lot of promise, one of the best players in Italy. His defining factor is his jump shot, which has some comparisg him to a lesser Ray Allen. I don't see him approaching that borderline superstar level, but he's certainly a player to keep an eye on as long as expectations are held off for several years.

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