Mid to Late-Lottery Picks: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
This article will discuss the good, bad and ugly sides of nine prospects expected to be picked after the fourth pick in the NBA draft.
The players excluded from this evaluation are James Harden, Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio and Hasheem Thabeet.
Most of these players aren't thought of as lottery picks in a conventional, normal NBA draft. Like in any year, there will be sleepers and players who fall well below expectations.
However, in terms of talent at the top, this is one of the weakest drafts in a while after Rubio and Griffin are off the board.
Thabeet is an interesting prospect but he's mentally too slow and will probably be playing in a league which could have used him ten or fifteen years ago.
Earl Clark-F- Louisville
The Good: The first thing that comes to mind when watching Clark is that he has the tools to become an elite player. He's long, talented and extremely coordinated. He has range on his jumpshot, he can pass fairly well and he might just become a tremendous defender at the next level.
The Bad: The knock on Clark is his inconsistency. At times last year he looked like the most talented player in the country. At other times you had to remind yourself he was even on the court.
The Ugly: Word is that he doesn't always go hard. That could be a major problem at the next level. He has the tools, but many have questioned his work ethic and "motor".
Verdict: Chad Ford said he would be surprised if at the end of their careers, Clark wouldn't have made more money than the majority of players in the 2009 draft. Tim Thomas and Lamar Odom are thrown around as players Clark could turn into. If that's the case, he's certainly worth a look after the tenth pick.
Dejuan Blair-F- Pittsburgh
The Good: Every executive who's spoken of Blair has spoken highly of him. He's blown everyone away with his work ethic and by being a genuine human being.
He's a tremendous rebounder on both ends, but especially on the offensive end. He has some ability to score down low. He also is very long with a wingspan of over seven feet. After shedding some weight, he's also been a lot more agile and explosive.
The Bad: At the combine, he measured in at a shade over 6'5". That would be undersized even for most NBA small forwards.
The Ugly: Some serious injuries from high school are causing some trouble for Blair, as reports are that they could become problems down the road. In the lottery, one tends to shy away from players with these injury concerns.
Verdict: Whoever gets him is going to thank their lucky stars if he stays healthy, because he's a hell of a basketball player and one of the few players who can actually be considered a "program-changer."
If he managed to motivate Earl Clark to play hard, in my book, he can walk on water and turn water into wine.
Austin Daye-F- Gonzaga
The Good: Daye has superstar potential in a draft which would be lucky to produce three All-Stars. He can handle the ball, he can shoot better than anyone not named Stephen Curry, and he's a better shot-blocker than any wing prospect period.
The Bad: He has a questionable motor and is 192 pounds. If he's playing as a three, he has lateral quickness issues defensively, and if he's playing as a big, he's going to be dead before he turns 22. Where does he fit?
The Ugly: At the combine, he was the worst performer, bar-none. He failed to lift 185 pounds even once. Ouch!
Verdict: I've been up and down on Daye, and ultimately in the mid-first round range, I think he's a great pick-up with a high-risk, higher reward situation. If nothing else, he winds up blocking some shots and shooting very well off the bench.
At best, he reminds people of Durant at times and turns into a player similar to Rashard Lewis. I really like him however, and hope he works hard because his stats don't do him justice at all.
DeMar DeRozan- G/F- USC
The Good: DeRozan is raw and unproven and would likely be projected to go fourteenth in a normal draft. That said, after another season at USC, he would likely be a mid-lottery player next year.
The potential is there and there is little doubt in my mind that he has every tool to become a secondary star in this league.
The Bad: He just isn't ready to contribute yet. He can bring some defense right away and a few highlights, but he doesn't do anything well enough to be considered a specialist outside of jumping. On a team like Golden State or Toronto however, he might progress a little faster than expected.
The Ugly: The jumper looks alright, but his three-point percentages were horrible for a wing player. He'll need to improve on this.
Also, for a player who's being dogged for not having a great feel for the game, he might have done himself a great disservice by opting to not participate in team workouts, instead doing solo auditions.
Verdict: Take him, freeze yourself, instruct someone to thaw you out in 2011, and I assure you, you'll be pleased with the player he's become. From now 'til 2011, however, expect a lot of growing pains and some shaken confidence.
His entire future depends on his mental toughness. Knowing him, however, I think he has star written all over him.
James Johnson-F- Wake Forest
The Good: He rebounds at a decent rate and fills the stat sheets from the small forward spot. He has a decent jumpshot, he has some nifty foot work and he is from all the things I've read, extremely tough.
One might say that if the NBA had a WWE-style battle royal, Johnson would be a good bet as the last man standing.
The Bad: In a normal draft, he’s a reach at even 18. He’s been a similar player for a while now, has some conditioning issues, has average lateral quickness and is stuck between positions.
The Ugly: He makes costly mistakes at crucial moments of the game, and while he rebounds well in college, he’ll only be a little above average at the next level.
There are some comparisons to Ryan Gomes, while others say he could seriously become a Paul Pierce type player. I would think more the former than the latter.
Verdict: I think that he’ll be similar to Danny Granger, but not nearly as good a shooter and not nearly as good defensively. All in all, I’d wait to see if he drops out of the lottery. It seems unlikely with him getting consideration as high as seventh.
Brandon Jennings-G - Italy
The Good: In terms of potential, Jennings is nipping at the heels of Rubio and Griffin. In terms of speed, he has blazing quickness. The league hasn’t seen someone like this since Iverson.
The Bad: He is driven to be great, and while he may not be mature at the moment, he certainly has been miscategorised as a “bad kid”. I simply think he considers himself to be a trend-setter and like most 19 year olds, he likes attention. He is a lot of flash with some substance right now.
The Ugly: He called out Rubio as being overhyped, when Rubio clearly had a better season than him while being slightly younger in the same league. I see some interesting match-ups in the future, as they are the two most talented play-makers in this years draft.
The Verdict: In the worst case scenario, Jennings will be a little bit better than Aaron Brooks. The best case scenario however is a perennial All-Star. If he slips out of the lottery, I think there will be a lot of depressed GMs by mid-December. Early pick for rookie of the year.
Jrue Holiday-G - UCLA
The Good: He's stronger than most guards and at just 18, he might have an inch or two to squeeze out yet. He's got a tight handle and some nifty passing ability. He's also the best perimeter defender in this draft at the point by a large margin.
The Bad: Remember Russell Westbrook? His success is the reason Holiday is being projected this high in the first place, because it certainly wasn't his eight points per night average.
The Ugly: He has short arms at just an average wingspan while being quite broad-shouldered. His statistics were also terrible at UCLA.
The Verdict: He had a horrible first season at UCLA, but he was playing in a system which didn’t use him properly and playing off the ball isn’t exactly going to show you his full package.
He’s young so there may be a lot of potential there, but he isn’t an elite athlete. He has good size and that makes him an intriguing prospect in the late lottery.
At four, however, the Kings would be reaching in a major way. If you’re asking me, he’s a much better player than Tyreke Evans projecting forward.
Jonny Flynn- G - Syracuse
The Good: A 40" verticle leap is a great place to start when talking about the advantages Jonny Flynn will have at the next level, and what he'll need to make up for his lack of size.
He's a good kid and a leader who leads well by example. His numbers don't blow you away, but they're not bad at all for a player who played at Syracuse in the Big East.
The Bad: The size is a little bit of a concern, and so is his wing span.
The Ugly: His jumper needs some major work, but I'm certain it'll be something he works out within a year.
Verdict: Flynn is a good pick after 10 and he could very well become a solid starting point guard in this league. Early in the lottery however, teams are looking for stars and I’m not sure if Flynn has anywhere near that level of talent or potential.
He can slash to the rim, finish above the rim, and has quite a good motor. In fact, he was reportedly able to dunk the ball standing under the basket off of two feet. He’s an elite athlete.
Tyreke Evans-G - Memphis
The Good: His confidence in his own game is next to none. He has a good knack for creating his own shot and projects very well as a combo guard with his huge near-seven foot wingspan.
The Bad: He just isn't very good. He is a product of the system he played in, and while he may be very skilled, he's just not athletic enough to be as good as he's being projected. Wade? Common.
The Ugly: Character issues and red-flags might see him take a nose-dive on Thursday night, as they are very much known by most executives around the league.
Verdict: There is so much hype since he measured out with a near-seven foot wingspan, and there is talk of him going as high as two, three and four. The problem is, he’s not that good. He isn’t a point guard, he isn’t Dwyane Wade or Penny Hardaway.
He has average athleticism, a shaky jumper and a questionable personality red-flagged with character issues galore. How does a player like this even get consideration as a top-five pick when he could realistically be no better than Reese Gaines? Only in 2009.