NBA Draft: Are There Future Stars Beyond Rose and Beasley?
After the top two picks in the draft, the talent seems to level out. Because of that, teams holding picks 11 through 20 can only hope that prime talent remains when they select. With so much talent on the board including stud prospect, SG Eric Gordon, I expect a flurry of trades at this point in the draft where teams move up to get any players who slip out of the top ten.
With that in mind, here is one way in which the next ten picks can end up slotted:
#11 Indiana Pacers - Tywon Lawson 5'11 PG, North Carolina Sophomore
Possibly the biggest possible reach in the draft, Lawson being drafted by the Pacers would fill a huge need that Indiana has at the point. With Jamaal Tinsley watching most games from the trainer's room, Lawson provides the Pacers with the floor leader they have been searching for.
The Pacers will hold out hope for D.J Augustin to get past the many point guard needy teams in the top ten, but if not, Lawson can definitely give them a leader to run the fast break. Arguably the quickest guard in the draft, Lawson has the ability to run defenders out of their shoes. He excels in the transition game and with a dominant big man like he had in Tyler Hansbrough, he can become an above average point guard.
The problem with Lawson comes in the half-court. Playing at UNC with Tyler Hanbrough, Lawson needed a premier big man to excel, and if Jermaine O'Neal could stay healthy for more than ten games in the season he may have just that. Although he is an excellent leader, he sometimes loses focus when he's forced to manage the game at a slower tempo. Add that to some unappealing shooting mechanics and a lack of size, and Lawson has an uphill battle to become a better point guard than his predecessor, Raymond Felton, who Lawson compares favorably to.
#12 Sacramento Kings - Donte Greene 6'10 SF, Syracuse, Freshman
This was one of the easiest selections in the draft considering the Kings dire need for a small forward to replace Ron Artest. With Artest on his way out sooner than later, the Kings need an athletic scorer to pair off with Kevin Martin on the perimeter.
Greene gives Sacramento an athletic wingman who knows how to work with his back to the basket and execute an above average turnaround jumper. Greene's scoring ability at Syracuse is well-acknowledged, but his tendency to shoot the three before driving to the basket, combined with below average defense, leaves Greene with some work to do.
If all goes according to plan, Greene can use his shooting ability and size to become the reincarnation of Rashard Lewis. Learning to play like Lewis, would also allow Greene to ignore the defensive skills he hasn't found as of yet.
#13 Portland Trailblazers - Anthony Randolph 6'11 SF/PF, LSU, Freshman
With the Blazers getting younger by the minute and having little outside of the point guard position to improve on, they draft the best player available in Randolph. I definitely envision Portland trading this pick for an established floor leader as the Atlanta Hawks did in bringing in Mike Bibby, but if not, they take the forward hybrid in Randolph. Supposedly Randolph is still growing and may reach farther past 7'0.
If that is true then the Blazers will have a serious weapon on their hands. The young left-hander has excellent ball skills and has the ability to control the game, if forced into the half-court. At times he could even take over point guard duties if it's necessary.
The problem with Randolph is his lack of size. At barely 220 pounds, Randolph offers very little in terms of toughness. Other players can easily take advantage of his lack of weight on both sides of the ball and this can prove to be detrimental in the post. Randolph seems to have the same weight problems Kevin Durant did last year with possibly just as much potential. Randolph compares favorably with Durant and Memphis Grizzly small forward Rudy Gay, both who still have strength problems in the NBA.
#14 Golden State Warriors - Eric Gordon 6'3 SG, Indiana, Freshman
With Gordon dropping this far, its more than likely that someone will trade up to nab him before the Warriors. As of now, however, Gordon is a shooting guard who is arguably too short for his position. As a result, Gordon makes up for his size with outstanding scoring instincts and the ability to overpower defenders on his way to the paint.
His mid-range shot improved considerably during his time at Indiana and he developed a solid jab step in route to getting off his shot as well. The drawback with Gordon, besides his size, is his tendency to force shots once he gets around the paint. If Gordon can develop more into combo guard ala another Gordon, Ben Gordon, then he could be a successful NBA player.
#15 Phoenix Suns - Chase Budinger 6'7 SF, Arizona, Sophomore
Budinger is one of my favorite players in this draft and is also one of the closest things to a guaranteed pick as a role player, who can contribute right away. At 6'7 Budinger is one word...deadly. Budinger is the doppleganger of Brent Barry coming out of college. With his unbelievable athleticism, Budinger is not afraid to take it to the rim and throw down. Watching him in the McDonald's Slam Dunk Contest proved that he has the fearlessness and flair to transition to the NBA. What separates Budinger from the rest of the draftees is his ability to knock down the three. Budinger excelled when rolling off of screens at Arizona and should continue to do so if paired with Shaquille O'Neal in Phoenix.
The obstacles with Budinger are the same obstacles that Barry still maintains. Budinger has the size to keep up with small forwards on the next level, but lacks the defensive intensity to accompany it. His inability to create shots is also a worry, and a point guard to distribute to him as he comes off screens is a necessity.
With Steve Nash running the point in Phoenix that role is definitely filled. Bundinger is the type of player who will have a long career in the NBA, maybe not as a starter, but one of the first men off the pine if a team should need an offensive outburst.
#16 Philadelphia 76ers - Russell Westbrook 6'3 PG/SG, UCLA, Sophomore
With the Sixers set with starters at four of their five starting positions and drafting power forward Jason Smith in the first round last year, they select Westbrook to be the combo guard they hoped Willie Green would be.
With Green getting injured last year and coming back somewhat lackadaisical, Philly grabs possibly the best true combo guard the draft has seen in a while. Although Westbrook likely isn't starting material, he does have the athleticism to be the first guard off the bench in Philly and give them the spark that Leandro Barbosa gives the Suns in Phoenix.
The problem with Westbrook is his lack of contribution in the half-court game. Although he is a warrior in the transition game he tends to struggle when forced to stand still and become a jump shooter. With the defensive skills of Suns shooting guard Raja Bell and the quickness of Barbosa, Westbrook can become a very effective role player next year for the Sixers in a push for another playoff berth.
#17 Toronto Raptors -Chris Douglas-Roberts 6'7 SF, Memphis, Junior
The man who stole my initials, CDR, is arguably the best slashing collegiate player to enter the draft this year. Blessed with a quick first step, especially on the baseline, Douglas-Roberts can be described only as efficient.
With solid defensive skills and a long frame, CDR is best when working around the paint. During his time at Memphis he turned himself into a better jump shooter and perimeter player.
The drawback with Douglas-Roberts were the problems that led to Memphis' defeat in the NCAA finals. His free-throw shooting and three-point shooting became better as the tournament progressed, but it is still far below where it should be in order for him to become a successful starter. As of now CDR falls somewhere between Memphis alum Rodney Carney and New Jersey Net Richard Jefferson.
#18 Washington Wizards - Kosta Koufos 7'0 C, Ohio State, Freshman
The one thing the Wizards lack is an offensive presence in the paint. With Caron Butler, Gilbert Arenas, and Antawn Jamison on the perimeter, the Wizards need a big man in order to move past the first round in the playoffs. Although Koufos is extremely raw, he has some of the best shooting skills for a 7 footer to ever enter the draft. Like Mehmet Okur, Koufos has the ability to step outside and knock down the three, square up in the paint, or back down his opponent to hit the turnaround jumper.
Although Koufos is extremely mobile in his ability to run up and down the court, he lacks lateral motion on both sides of the ball. Despite his size, he isn't a superior shot blocker and lacks the explosiveness to be a force off the dribble.
#19 Cleveland Cavaliers - Darrell Arthur 6'9 PF, Kansas, Sophomore
With Cleveland starting Ben Wallace and his offensive skills, or lack thereof, at power forward, the Cavs need a scorer with more athleticism opposite Lebron James. Arthur gives them the athleticism and scoring that they lost when they traded Drew Gooden to the Bulls. Arthur's ability to square up and finish around the basket smoothly separates him from most of the other power forwards in the draft.
The negative with Arthur is his tendency to lose focus during the game and become a non-factor. Although he knows how to get around the basket, his lack of strength and killer instinct leave him with below average driving capability.
His lack of hustle at times also doesn't allow him to grab the rebounds he should be snatching away from smaller players. If Arthur can keep his head in the game, he can ultimately turn into a player like that of Antonio McDyess.
#20 Denver Nuggets - Courtney Lee 6'5 SG/SF, Western Kentucky, Senior
With the Nuggets not trusting J.R. Smith with the starting shooting guard duties and Allen Iverson's size best suited for the one position, Lee gives Denver a player who actually excels on the defensive end. As complete a shooting guard as one can find, Lee is an above average assist man at the two or three. Although he doesn't have the explosiveness of Andre Iguodala, the overall package is there for him to be a #2 scorer on any team in the league.
The big problem with Lee, outside of his average athleticism, is the overall competition he played against while at Western Kentucky. With such a low level of competition, can anyone be truly sure that he will succeed against NBA level competition?
If given the chance to play in the NBA, however, he should be able to play the Anthony Carter role in Denver where the shooting guard plays the point guard role on offense next to Allen Iverson.
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