Duke vs. NC State: Predicting Future of Each NBA Prospect in ACC Showdown
Despite Duke being the favorite to win this matchup, it's North Carolina State that holds all the NBA talent.
The Wolfpack have four-to-five potential first rounders that will either be leaving this year or the next, while the Blue Devils have just two relevant prospects, only one of which will be relevant for the 2013 draft.
In predicting the future, we only took into account the players that are likely to earn NBA attention. As big as Seth Curry has been for Duke, the NBA isn't likely a fit for his particular services.
The prospects chosen should be in play for either the 2013 or 2014 NBA Draft.
Lorenzo Brown, NC State—6'5'' PG
Prediction: Starting NBA Point Guard
Lorenzo Brown has starting NBA potential because of his rare mix of size, athleticism and point guard instincts.
At 6'5'' he has a crafty handle that allows him to navigate through the seams of a defense, and his quickness, vision and ball-handling skills are on par with some of the pros who've made it work.
Brown is clever and can manipulate the defense with his dribble creativity. That's his bread and butter and it reminds me of the way Rajon Rondo carves up his opponents.
Brown isn't likely to start from day one, especially with so few starting jobs available. The beginning of his career will be a good time for him to develop his perimeter game and learn the tricks of the trade behind a veteran.
With the vision to see things happen before they actually do and the physical tools to execute, Brown has a good shot at landing a starting gig by his second NBA contract.
Mason Plumlee, Duke—7'0'' C
Prediction: Backup NBA Center, Starter Potential
With the lob pass becoming such an integral part of NBA offenses, Mason Plumlee should fit right in.
He's got the speed, hops, athleticism and coordination to play above the rim in the half court or in transition. Plumlee has the potential to become a pick-and-roll machine and make a couple of NBA point guards happy little campers.
There's still plenty of work to be done, most of which in areas where there's room for growth. Over the summer he worked on his post moves, and now he must work on his mid-range game.
He'll probably start off as a backup until he adjusts to other seven-footers and the spacing of the NBA. But Plumlee has shown that he's capable of improving, and with a ceiling higher than initially projected, he's got the potential to be an NBA starter down the road.
C.J. Leslie, NC State—6'8'' SF/PF
Prediction: NBA Reserve Forward
C.J. Leslie has the talent to start in the NBA, but he's slightly stuck between positions and that's going to hold him back.
Still painfully skinny for a scoring forward, Leslie could have trouble making the transition to the NBA interior. Top-shelf athleticism doesn't always fly for frontcourt players who don't have the strength and bulk to back it up.
He reminds me of Hakim Warrick out of Syracuse—another long, bouncy athlete without any defining muscle. Warrick has struggled to find a consistent role in the NBA because of his inability to be effective inside.
Leslie has to become more comfortable and effective on the perimeter in order to maximize his potential as an NBA prospect.
Still, his ability to make plays above the rim and present a mismatch as a face-up weapon should land him in a rotation eventually.
Rodney Purvis, NC State—6'3'' SG
Prediction: NBA Sixth Man
Rodney Purvis was put on this planet to score points, and that's what he'll be asked to do once he gets to the next level.
Purvis is undersized to play a full-time role as a scoring 2-guard, and he doesn't have the mindset or instincts of a point guard. A sixth man role would allow him to stay aggressive, assuming he's inserted into games for the purpose of putting points on the board.
He's got the quickness and acceleration of an NBA guard who can get to the rim or shoot off the dribble.
The 2014 draft is a more promising college exit strategy, as another year in school would allow him to showcase his offensive prowess in a more featured role.
Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke—6'4'' SG
Prediction: NBA Reserve SG
Rasheed Sulaimon has NBA reserve written all over him. He's fundamentally sound, unselfish and willing to defend.
With long arms, smooth athleticism and a confident shooting stroke, Sulaimon is a guy you inject into your lineup to create better floor balance.
Sulaimon is a 2-guard who can handle the ball, but he only uses his dribble if there's a purpose, such as setting up a teammate or taking a driving lane.
There's always a role for limited offense players who can knock down shots, pass the ball and defend perimeter scorers.
It's usually off the bench, but those jobs still pay.
T.J. Warren, NC State—6'8'' SF
Prediction: NBA Reserve Small Forward
T.J. Warren is the type of guy who isn't limited to anything. He's got a wide frame that allows him to gather and finish inside, the body control to score on the move and the touch to spot up on the perimeter.
He rarely makes the same shot twice in one game, scoring all of his points through different avenues of offense.
Warren isn't the fastest guy on the floor, nor is he the most explosive, but his scoring instincts and feel for the game help compensate for his weaknesses.
He can turn every possession into points with the ability to make shots at unique angles from all over the court. Warren will be called on in the NBA to score and provide a bench with offensive firepower.
Richard Howell, NC State—6'8'' PF
Projection: NBA Reserve PF
You won't find many players at the college level who are more efficient than Richard Howell.
Howell doesn't have the athleticism or explosiveness of your typical NBA forward, but he does three things well that should help ease the pain caused by his physical limitations: Rebound, finish inside and catch-and-shoot from 15 feet.
He averages 9.9 rebounds in less than 30 minutes and converts field goals at a 62.7 percent clip. He's strong and aggressive inside, unafraid to bang and pick up fouls.
Howell isn't likely to play regular minutes on a consistent basis, but he's got the potential to provide a reliable source of depth for a frontcourt that lacks toughness.