Today teams draft based on potential, skill set, mental edge, and performance at the collegiate level.
What matters most is at the end of that list. Yet teams tend to draft on potential, looking at the player as an "athlete," and not as a basketball player.
An athlete will succeed in many different sports simply based on physical ability. Whereas, a player who has defined himself in a single sport by putting in the time, effort, and developing the flow and mental edge for the game, could become something special.
In this year's draft we have players like Demar DeRozan, who is considered a top 10 pick, although didn't play as well as most thought he would. He didn't shoot well from beyond the arc, under 20 percent to be exact, and his shooting motion is awkward.
But, scouts still salivate over the prospect he is, with his great athleticism.
So let me break down a list of "prospects" I believe will succeed and a list of a few I think will falter.
Players Who'll Succeed
James Harden: 6'4", Shooting Guard, Arizona State
James Harden is probably the smoothest player in this year's draft who is not a point guard. Harden is over-athletic and doesn't force too many plays—he has the savvy of a veteran.
He is commonly calm, cool, and collected during pressure situations. If it weren't for a terrible NCAA Tournament, Harden would be a lock for the top three rather than a top seven.
Tyreke Evans: 6'4", Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Memphis
Evans is a monster athlete, and at the beginning of the season was only being noticed for his freakish athleticism. When he was moved to point guard and succeeded, many NBA teams took notice.
He has all the skills of a PG in a shooting guard's body. He would be great for a team like the Timberwolves, who are in a desperate need of a PG.
Jonny Flynn: 6'0", Point Guard, Syracuse
Flynn rose to the national scene during Syracuse's run in the Big East tournament. He played exceptionally well during that time and proved he had a home somewhere in the NBA.
The only way Flynn won't succeed is if he has trouble defending the bigger guards in the NBA. He reminds me of a stronger T.J. Ford, with more potential.
Eric Maynor: 6'2", Point Guard, Virginia Commonwealth
Maynor may be the most NBA-ready player other than Harden. The thing that makes him likely to perform well on the next level is that he is a TRUE point.
He looks to pass first, but he was also needed to score for his VCU team. The only knock on him is that his wingspan is only 6'2".
Jordan Hill: 6'10", Power Forward, Arizona
Hill was told to go back to school last year and work on his rebounding and intensity. He responded by grabbing 11 rpg last season and being the vocal leader everyone thought he could be.
He's been compared to Chris Bosh because he is highly athletic and can hit the mid-range jumper with regularity. Hill also gets to the free-throw stripe quite often.
Players Unlikely To Succeed
Hasheem Thabeet: 7'3", Center, UCONN
Thabeet is a monster on defense and is fully capable of changing games with his amazing blocks and great rebounding skills. But, as a native of Tanzania and being new to basketball, he is very raw on the offensive end.
He may become better over the years but, to me, Thabeet looks like a young, more athletic Samuel Dalembert at best.
Stephen Curry: 6'3", Shooting Guard/Point Guard, Davidson
I love Curry—absolutely love him! But since when has a shoot-first point Guard with average athleticism and a body weight of 185 succeeded in the NBA?
If he does well, I will be extremely pleased, but his only chance is to be drafted by New York. He knows it and has already said he would love to play for them.
Their fast-paced style will mesh well with his skill set—let's hope for the best.
B.J. Mullens: 7'0", Center, Ohio State
How has Mullens even stayed in consideration for the first round of the draft?
He only played 20 minutes per game in college. What does this mean? Coach Thad Matta trusted his other, lesser-known center over Mullens.
In other words, Mullens wasn't ready for the college level, never mind the NBA. He only has a 32.5" vertical, which is average, and doesn't play much defense. Mullen's will be out of the NBA by 2014.
If you don't agree with any of these projections, let me know; these are simply my thoughts after I did some research.
Feel free to comment.