NBA Draft 2013: Key Lottery Prospects Who Will Be Massive Reaches
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Each and every year, NBA general managers get too excited about long-term potential and end up committing the cardinal sin of making massive reaches in the lottery. Thanks to a few point guards and centers, as well as one forward, the 2013 NBA draft will be no different.
There will certainly be quality players picked in the lottery on June 27, but there will also be more reaches.
Over the last five years, we've had teams fall for the traps set by Austin Rivers, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, Jimmer Fredette, Cole Aldrich, Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn, Michael Beasley, Joe Alexander and more.
The list can go on and on, as the draft sometimes morphs into a glamorized guessing process.
These five players might not reach the "bust" level of Thabeet, Vesely, Flynn and Alexander, but they'll end up failing to make lottery-sized impacts in the Association. For various reasons, they're all set to become massive lottery reaches.
Vitals: 6'9", 196 pounds
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.0 blocks
As former Memphis Grizzlies scout Tony Barone explains in the embedded video, Giannis Adetokunbo is one of the more intriguing players in this draft because he's the one guy who has simultaneous Rookie of the Year and end-of-the-bench potential.
He's also almost completely an unknown, and he's only been on scouts' radar for a few months now. Adetokunbo is still very much an enigma.
Whichever team takes the gamble on him will be doing exactly that: gambling. While there's an outside shot that the lanky two-way forward could end up developing into the NBA's next superstar, there's an even better chance that he could completely flame out when he's not playing against low-level competition.
DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony relays this Greek forward's background story, and it's a fascinating one. I'd highly recommend checking it out at some point before June 27. In doing so, he also shines a light on one of the major red flags surrounding Adetokunbo: he has virtually no high-level experience.
The 18-year-old hasn't been playing professional basketball for a long time, and as a result, he's extremely raw and doesn't have a true position on the court. He's a long-term project player, and while gambling on him could result in hitting the jackpot, it could also turn into a complete waste of a lottery pick.
Bismack Biyombo should be serving as a cautionary tale here.
Vitals: 7'0", 255 pounds
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 2.0 blocks
Steven Adams is projected as a mid-lottery pick because he has size, can play defense and rebounds the ball well. The long-term hope is that he'll develop into a competent offensive player, but if that does happen, it's a long way down the road.
At the moment, he's so limited offensively that it'll be a while before he can carve out a consistent spot in any rotation. He's too much of a liability.
Adams even admitted that he can't dominate from Day 1 in a recent interview, and while he's confident in his game, that lack of ability to contribute right away is problematic for a lottery pick.
He sees himself as a high-energy guy, one who thrives in transition and makes plays because he hustles. Adams may eventually want to be like Marc Gasol, who he calls "the man," but his projected role sounds a lot more like, say, Chris Andersen.
While he'll certainly take future strides as his technique—particularly his footwork—becomes stronger, Adams displays a striking lack of touch around the basket. That will ultimately limit his long-term growth on the offensive end of the court and leave teams wondering why he was considered a lottery talent.
Vitals: 6'6", 184 pounds
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 2.8 steals, 0.5 blocks
Michael Carter-Williams' size and transition game are tantalizing teams in need of a point guard, but they're also masking a number of flaws.
There's a reason that MCW finished at No. 9 among point guards when I objectively ranked the playmaking abilities of this draft class. Actually, there are a number of them.
For all his strengths in transition, the massive floor general struggles when he's put into half-court sets. He's not a good shooter, he doesn't maintain control over the ball in any situation—particularly when running the pick-and-rolls that the NBA loves so much—and he isn't the finisher he's made out to be when not running at breakneck speed.
During his sophomore season at Syracuse, Carter-Williams took a step backward when it came to his control over the ball. He finished the year with a 22.2 turnover percentage, which is far too high for a primary ball-handler.
The Syracuse product is one of the worst scorers in this draft class, so he's going to have to make his mark through defense (an area in which he's a bit overrated due to the fearsome Jim Boeheim zone) and facilitating.
And if he can't hang onto the ball...
Vitals: 5'11", 171 pounds
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.1 blocks
Shane Larkin is a great athlete who thrived in pick-and-roll sets at Miami, but he's too small to guard most NBA point guards, and he doesn't display overly impressive defensive instincts.
Standing only 5'11" would be fine if the Hurricane product had long arms, but his appendages are even shorter than they should be. In fact, they fell just shy of 5'11", leaving him unable to affect passing lanes like a man with his quickness should.
This size will also help diminish his PnR effectiveness.
Under Jim Larranaga, Larkin dominated in the half court because he could hit shots off the dribble and find the rolling man even through tight windows. His lack of height hurt his court vision, but not as much as it will against the bigger athletes of the NBA.
Once he's facing a much higher level of competition, Larkin's ability to get shots off will suffer, as will his competency hitting cutters. It's a brutal combination, and one that will ultimately leave this 20-year-old floor general coming off the bench as a scoring spark plug.
Unless he learns how to draw contact or finish around the rim more consistently, Larkin will struggle with the ACC-to-NBA transition.
Vitals: 7'1", 255 pounds
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.2 steals, 2.1 blocks
Whether he bucks the odds and goes at No. 1 or falls down into the low single-figures, Alex Len will end up being a major reach in the 2013 NBA draft.
Don't get me wrong. The Maryland Terrapin will develop into a quality rotation big, he's just not going to morph into anything more than a low-end starter.
The problem lies in his mentality.
Len displays a number of impressive physical tools, and, as the saying goes, you can't teach size. The big man is surprisingly adept at clearing out space with his rear end and establishing deep position in the post. For a 20-year-old, that's a great start.
However, the 7-footer doesn't do much when he gets there. He lacks the aggressiveness necessary to demand the ball and go to work, and he's often comfortable passing the ball out for a reset rather than continuing to battle against his man
This mentality is tougher to change than any sort of technique, and Len can't become a dominant player without switching away from that mindset.