Many have mentioned Trey Burke as a potential player of the year candidate (College Basketball Talk). He earned the hype in leading the No. 5 ranked Michigan Wolverines to a 16-0 start, while averaging 18.1 points, 7.5 assists and just 1.8 turnovers per game.
His numbers dipped a little (18 points, 7.1 assists and 1.9 turnovers) after his last game, but he's still obviously having a great year. Despite the impressive statistics, there are a few holes in his game.
Physically, he has most of the tools to become a better-than-average shoot-first NBA point guard, but at this point, I'd say he'd be wise to return to Ann Arbor for his junior season.
Although it was just one game, Burke's most recent performance on the road against the then No. 15 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes speaks to his lack of NBA-readiness.
Take a look at the following slides; I break down Burke's performance this season, and highlight the pros and cons from the Ohio State game.
I'll also highlight a few NBA draft prospects whose stocks are up and down.
Finally, international prospects aren't as big of a deal in the NBA draft as they once were, but there are still interesting players overseas. I discuss two of the more highly-touted, non-American draft hopefuls.
There is no doubting the improvement Burke has shown from his freshman season. He has improved in every category that matters:
This speaks to his work ethic, especially since he's putting up better numbers with fewer minutes. He's also turning the ball over far less. His assist-to-turnover ratio has jumped to 3.6 from 1.7 as a freshman.
While this is great, these numbers don't speak to his defense. We might look at this and think that even his steals are up, and that's true.
However, defense is far more than steals and blocked shots. The more fundamental aspects of defense is where Burke has issues.
While he is dishing out a healthy 7.1 assists per game, he has racked up some big numbers against less-than-stellar defenses. Ohio State and Aaron Craft presented a very tough assignment for Burke as a playmaker.
To put it plainly, he didn't fare very well.
When Burke was in transition, moving north and south with the ball, his edge in athleticism was apparent. He made quick decisions and looked like a player-of-the-year candidate.
Unfortunately for Burke and the Wolverines, those times were few and far between.
Most times, Burke struggled to advance the ball in the half court against Craft's pressure. He dribbled too often and was too indecisive with the ball.
On defense, he displayed a very bad habit of defending with his hands, rather than his feet. He was also out of position while failing to rotate on the perimeter on more than one occasion.
Obviously, he's still a young player, but these are things he needs to address to become a complete player. Take a look at this video that breaks down Burke's performance against the Buckeyes.
This is still upside for Burke as most of these issues can be improved upon.
Is his reluctance to slide his feet on defense a disconnect on that side of the floor, or evidence that his lateral movement isn't proportionately on par with his acceleration.
I'd be willing to bet it's the former.
At 6'0", he is a little smallish, so he really needs to improve his playmaking skills. The scoring will come, but creating for his teammates and defense are the areas where he stands to improve the most.
Burke's stock isn't really down, but if you have him as a late first-round pick, I'd say this game confirms that perception.
Sam Thompson, 6'7", 190 pounds - SF - Ohio State - Sophomore
Burke may not have impressed in the Wolverines-Buckeyes matchup, but Ohio State's athletic sophomore forward did.
He didn't exactly light up the scoreboard with his nine points, four rebounds and two steals, but he did inject tons of energy. He's a solid defender, an explosive leaper and he actually has a good stroke on his jump shot.
Thompson is only shooting 25 percent from deep, so that is something he needs to improve upon, but the form is there. As the Buckeyes struggle to find another capable scorer to complement Deshaun Thomas, Thompson could be that guy.
If he can show a little more of an offensive game—especially during the NCAA tournament—his name could gain some buzz as an early entry.
Take a look at Thompson's amazing athletic ability:
Marcus Smart - 6'4", 225 pounds - G - Oklahoma State - Freshman
There aren't two guards in the nation that have looked like better prospects than Smart. He's built solidly, has better athleticism than people give him credit for, plays both ends of the floor and he can play both guard positions.
It'll be hard for him to come back to school for his sophomore season.
He's averaging 14.1 points, 4.7 assists, 5.5 assists and a blocked shot per game. I like to be careful with comparisons, but he reminds me of a slightly less athletic Dwyane Wade.
He needs to improve his shooting (41.7 percent from the field, 29 percent from three-point range) and take better care of the ball (3.6 turnovers per game), but his size, skill, athleticism and motor are a great combination.
Right now, he's a lottery pick.
Check out highlights of his monster game against then-No. 6 ranked N.C. State from November. He had 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, four steals and four blocked shots.
Ben McLemore - 6'5", 195 pounds - SG, Kansas - Freshman
Most of the time, NBA general managers will genuinely lean toward big men with the top pick in the NBA draft. This year could be the latest example of the exception to that unwritten rule.
McLemore is clearly a future star. He has amazing athleticism and a scorers' mentality.
The college game is holding him to 16 points per game, only because of the structure. He's knocking down 50 percent of his shots; if he were shooting more than 10.9 times per game, his scoring average would be among the nation's best.
If I had a team with any room for a perimeter scorer, and the top overall pick, I'd take McLemore.
Steven Adams - 7'0", 250 pounds - C - Pittsburgh - Freshman
Before the season started, some believed Adams would be a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. So far this season, he's been underwhelming with averages of 6.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Adams hasn't scored double figures in his last five games, and that includes a 24-minute scoreless performance against Cincinnati.
Things can change quickly for big men, especially once the postseason arrives. If he strings together a few solid performances at the right time, he'll be considered a top prospect for 2013 again.
Ryan Kelly - 6'11", 245 pounds - F - Duke - Senior
Kelly's serious foot injury (CBS Sports) will probably cause him to fall out of the draft completely. Because of his limited athleticism, he was most likely a second-round pick at best.
With serious concerns about the stability of his foot, he'll probably have to sign with an NBA team as an undrafted free agent.
Dario Saric - 6'10", 225 pounds - F - Croatia
Of all the international prospects I've watched on video, Saric is the most impressive. He isn't an amazing athlete, but his shooting stroke and vision are excellent.
His post game reminds me of a right-handed Toni Kukoc, and his shot release is similar to Drazen Petrovic. He'll probably never be better than an average defender—if that—but he's an exciting offensive player.
Rudy Gobert - 7'0", 225 pounds - C - France
Gobert is probably the hottest international name in regards to the NBA draft. He's long, very thin, but also very athletic.
Prospects like this can be hit or miss, but the athleticism is there. He has been underwhelming from a statistical standpoint, but that isn't out of the norm for young international players. Here is a highlight reel of Gobert. It doesn't show much beyond raw athleticism, though.