6 2014 NBA Prospects Who Must Have Bounce-Back Season to Revive Draft Stock
Knowing when to stay in school or declare for the NBA draft is all about maximizing your stock.
Sometimes, it takes a few years for a prospect to become the guy that pro teams are looking for.
These are the guys who've struggled to meet or exceed the bar that's been set for them. If they want a chance at reviving their stocks, they'll need to make some adjustments and turn heads in the process.
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina, 6'9'', SF/PF
With James Michael McAdoo, the question was never about talent or natural ability. The kid is a stud athlete with an NBA-ready body and loads of potential.
But he doesn't always apply himself effectively.
He's now shot below 45 percent from the floor in back-to-back years despite his potent blend of athleticism and size. You'll often see McAdoo resort to tough fadeaways and off-balance runners, as well as struggle to finish after contact inside.
And though a capable post scorer, he's not exactly a high-percentage option.
Given he hasn't hit a three-pointer yet at the college level, his chances of playing the wing in the pros are slim. I don't want to jinx him, but McAdoo fits the bill as a potential NBA tweener, making him a risky option for a team with a high pick in a strong draft.
Now a junior, he's running out of time to convince scouts he's a regular rotation player at the NBA level. McAdoo either has to make more mid-range jumpers or finish a higher percentage of his chances at the rim.
Isaiah Austin, Baylor, 7'1'', PF
He just wasn't very convincing.
Isaiah Austin looked good some games and quiet in others.
Despite his 7'1'' size and advanced skill level, he only shot 45.9 percent as a freshman and finished 14 games with fewer than five-made shots. Austin didn't make the impact you'd think a prospect with his physical tools and talent is capable of making.
He wasn't bad in 2012-13—he just left scouts with more questions than they initially had. His NBA position is now unclear, with many uncertain if he's a stretch forward or a center. At Baylor, he struggled with physical play inside and shot-creation on the perimeter.
Austin will want to clarify his offensive strengths this year, as well as put that size, length and skill set to use more consistently.
Alex Poythress, Kentucky, 6'8'', SF/PF
There's really no other way to put it—Alex Poythress was simply too limited offensively as a freshman.
Unless he was being set up for a slam or a spot-up three-pointer, or he was crashing the glass for an offensive rebound, scoring chances rarely found Poythress. He averaged fewer than seven shots per game in 2012-13, finishing as a single-digit scorer on 17 separate occasions.
Poythress is a line-driver player—he doesn't have the ball skills or handle to change directions or create his own shot. We haven't seen much of a perimeter game off the dribble or a post game down low, and many still question what he brings to the NBA table.
Scouts are going to want to see him expand his offensive game and become a bigger threat with the ball in his hands. And it might be awfully tough to do so on Kentucky's loaded roster.
Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'7'', SF
Kyle Anderson didn't stand out to NBA scouts the way he did to college recruiters back in high school.
Nicknamed "Slow-Mo" for a reason, Anderson operates at his own pace. He's more of a facilitator than a scorer, which is odd for a player who projects as a small forward.
The ultimate ceiling comparison for Anderson would be Jalen Rose, with his great size and ability to play that point-forward position. But in his one year at UCLA, Anderson's lack of athleticism and offensive firepower stood out more than his timing, instincts and passing skills.
At 6'9'', he shot just 41 percent from the floor and wasn't much of a factor as a scorer away from the rim, making only eight three-pointers all year.
His defensive outlook is questionable as well, given his lack of foot speed and strength.
The Anderson camp has already claimed he's leaving for the pros after the year. If that's the case, he'll have a lot of persuading to do over the next six months.
LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State, 6'7'', SF
Entering his freshman year at Oklahoma State, many projected LeBryan Nash as a potential one-and-done prospect.
But inconsistency ultimately held his stock in check, as it did in 2013. Nash started off hot last year before cooling off—and then heating up and cooling off on an every-other-day basis.
Nash has shot-creating ability as an attacker or perimeter scorer—he just hasn't converted enough of them.
He's shot below 25 percent from downtown in back-to-back years, a bad sign for an offensive-minded wing. You won't find too many scoring small forwards who can't play behind the arc.
Nash has to extend his range this year, and ultimately remain engaged for a 30-plus-game season.
He's going to enter the draft with an offensive specialist label strapped to his chest. But there isn't a big margin for error with these type of prospects. If he's not scoring, he's not helping.
Alec Brown, Green Bay, 7'1'', C
Alec Brown set himself up with a strong sophomore year that landed him on NBA radars. But he never followed through as a junior, with his shot-blocking, rebounding and field-goal percentage all falling off.
He became more of a perimeter-oriented big man last season, and though he extended his range out to the three-point arc, NBA scouts are more concerned with his ability to man the paint.
Brown isn't exactly playing against future All-Stars out in the Horizon League. With his size and touch, there's no reason he shouldn't be a double-double threat whenever he takes the floor.
The buzz surrounding Brown picked up again this summer at Adidas Nations, but another down year could really squash his first-round chances.