Breaking Down North Carolina State's 5 NBA Prospects

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 22, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 23:  Lorenzo Brown #2 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drives against Elijah Johnson #15 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Semifinal at Edward Jones Dome on March 23, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

North Carolina State entered the year as a popular favorite in the ACC, thanks to a strong freshman class and three upperclassmen who have gradually improved.

But the offensive flow has been choppy, and the pecking order of their NBA prospect rankings might have changed in the process.

This team has five potential first round picks, two of whom are likely to enter the 2014 NBA draft.

Lorenzo Brown, PG- 6'5'', 185 pounds - Junior

Projection: Mid-first Round to Mid-second Round

Lorenzo Brown's most coveted NBA attribute is his ability to create shots for others as a true, pass-first facilitator. 

He's got excellent size for a point guard, which allows him to see over the defense, and a ball-on-a-string handle that he uses to weave in and out of traffic. Brown's ability to manipulate the defense with the dribble by forcing them east when he's looking west, or triggering a collapse with a drive and dish, creates scoring opportunities and easy looks for teammates.

Where Brown struggles is in creating offense for himself. He's got a shaky jumper, which is down to 16 percent from downtown this year. And at only 185 pounds, finishing at the rim will be a challenge at the next level.

He resembles a poor man's Rajon Rondo with his speed and cleverness handling the ball along with a suspect perimeter game. 

Brown is losing steam after being outplayed by Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and Trey Burke of Michigan, which could make him a value pick later in the draft. Anywhere outside the top 20 sounds realistic.

C.J. Leslie, SF/PF- 6'9'', 200 pounds - Junior 

Projection: Mid-first Round to Mid-second Round

Leslie was a high-profile recruit coming out of high school, improved from his freshman to sophomore year and has just started to get going as a junior for the Wolfpack.

He's an explosive athlete, which doesn't take long to notice when you're watching one of his games. Leslie has excellent instincts inside, and actually has legitimate power forward moves and counter moves operating down low.

A constant target above the rim, Leslie is best used making cuts in the half court and running in transition.

Where he needs work is on the perimeter, which could unfortunately be the area of the floor he's relegated to occupying at the next level.

Leslie lacks the strength of most 4s in the pros and won't get the easy finishes he's getting in the ACC. Someone like Hakim Warrick, who has similar tools, has struggled to making the transition to the NBA.

Still, Leslie's combination of talent and top-shelf athleticism won't let him slip too far in the draft.

Richard Howell, PF- 6'8'', 257 pounds - Senior

Projection: Second Round

Howell may not pack the upside of his counterparts, but he brings the most reliability and consistency as any player in his conference. 

He's averaging 14.4 points and 9.8 rebounds on a ridiculous 67 percent from the floor. 

You may not find a more efficient player in the country with his rate of production per minute. Howell is strong and aggressive, finishing just about every opportunity he has and showing tremendous fight battling inside.

Howell's 15-foot mid-range jumper has become automatic, which has helped him to present prospective NBA teams with an inside-outside package that can provide depth off the bench.

Because he lacks a high ceiling or electric athleticism, the second round is a more reasonable projection. But if there's anyone out there looking for toughness tomorrow, Howell could get looks at the back of the first round.

T.J. Warren, SF- 6'8'', 230 pounds - Freshman

Projection: 2013 Late First Round, 2014 Lottery

Nobody expected Warren to be the top prospect on the team, but that might be the case 10 games into the year. 

Warren is a strong, husky forward who's deceptively light on his feet. He's got excellent touch from the perimeter in both the mid-range and behind the arc (68 percent from the floor, 63 percent from downtown on 1.1 attempt per game).

Warren's ability to make shots from all over the floor is a valued attribute for someone with NBA size and strength.

With a deep team and loads of talent around him, Warren might be better off waiting a year to declare for the draft, when he'll have a more prominent role as a top-two scoring option.

Rodney Purvis, SG- 6'3'', 195 pounds - Freshman

Projection: 2014 Mid-to-Late First Round

Purvis is a natural scorer with the ability to create his own offense, and that's what NBA teams will be coveting if they choose to select him.

He's undersized for the position that best suits his game, but his instincts are on point and so is his feel for the rim. 

Purvis hasn't had many plays called for him considering the many options available to NC State's offense, which is why he's likely to make his national introduction as a sophomore instead of a freshman.

With Lorenzo Brown dominating the ball, Purvis will be an immediate breakout candidate the moment Brown makes his move for the NBA.


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