They Smell Like the Future: Brian Zoubek

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 21, 2010 under Commentary | 7 Comments to Read

Photo by Sara Davis/Associated Press.

Duke senior
7’1”, 250 lbs
22 years old
Center
Projection: Second rounder/undrafted

Much about Brian Zoubek’s game is counter-intuitive. For one, most people would expect a Duke product to have a refined skill set. It’s not really so with Zoubek, who was an instrumental part of Duke’s title run in spite of serious limitations to his game. He’s also a seven-footer without much of a post game, a decent defender down low but not a great shot-blocker, a terrific rebounder but merely a so-so overall defender. Overall, you’re looking at a big body with one very marketable skill and little else. That could be enough to make the Mavs sign on the dotted line, particularly if their scouts have faith in Zoubek’s ability to develop the other aspects of his game.

There is absolutely no way to disqualify Zoubek’s rebounding prowess at Duke. He was the best per-minute and per-possession offensive rebounder in the country last season, a skill that’s worth its weight in gold for a second round pick. No team in the league is looking to hand possessions to a player selected this late in the draft. Most are aiming for roster filler, bodies for summer league or training camp, or possibly a project. That puts defense and rebounding at a premium, and while Zoubek may not be the best defender in the world, he looked every bit a world-class rebounder last season. If he can continue to grab boards at anywhere near that pace in the NBA, he should be able to earn some decent burn (even in his rookie year).

I just hope NBA fans aren’t waiting to see Zoubek nail a turnaround jumper or a drop-step hook. If they are, they could end up waiting for quite some time. At present, Brian’s offensive repertoire is limited, and it’s unlikely that it will ever become stable enough to make Zoubek a reliable offensive weapon. Not that he has to be. As long as Brian can convert a minimal amount of open opportunities and not give up too much on the defensive end, he’ll be well-worth the Mavs’ pick and time.

As a bonus, Zoubek is probably the most NBA-ready big man in the Mavs’ range. Since Dallas doesn’t have a chance to net one of the flashier centers in the bunch, they may have to settle for a hard-worker, solid screener, and big rebounder. That worked out pretty well for the Jazz when they selected Paul Millsap with the 47th pick in 2006, and while I wouldn’t expect Zoubek to have anywhere near as successful a career as Paul, we’re looking at a player with a similar (statistically superior, actually) rebounding résumé. That’s obviously not enough to warrant a first round selection, but it’s pretty strong selling point for No. 50.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOBLKFG%3FG%
Per Game5.67.71.01.20.8.638---
Per 4012.016.62.12.61.7------

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
62.664.021.621.89.755.317.7

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
2.14.024.4

Other People:

Joe Treutlein, Draft Express: “Most of Duke’s halfcourt sets started with Zoubek setting a screen at the top of the key, something he does as well as anyone because of his massive frame , high motor, and great strength. Zoubek also passes well out of the high post. Duke’s offense frequently went through him on quick ball reversals, where he did an effective job finding the open man at the 3-point line. Off screens, Zoubek was occasionally featured in pick-and-rolls, but his potential is severely limited here due to his lack of athleticism. He struggles to get off the floor, making his rolls to the basket a bit awkward, especially when dealing with weakside help.”

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, for SI.com: “In fact, Zoubek ranks as the second-best per-minute offensive rebounder in the NCAA in the past decade, behind only DeJuan Blair, who made the NBA’s All-Rookie second team this season after slipping to the second round of the 2009 draft. The difference between Zoubek and Blair is a matter of 7 inches, as the Blue Devil stands 7-1 in shoes and the former Pittsburgh star is just 6-6. Zoubek probably isn’t as good of an offensive player as Blair, but he clearly understands his role and is capable of executing it in an NBA half-court setting. (He averaged 5.6 points and 7.7 rebounds in 18.7 minutes last season.) Considering any big man with a pulse and some girth can earn an NBA opportunity, Zoubek could be a solid pickup in the second round.”

Dana O’Neil, ESPN.com: “Zoubek is still not the first, second, third or even fourth scoring option. When a reporter began a question during Sunday’s news conference by saying, ‘This is for the shooters,’ Zoubek smirked and nodded his head as his coach deadpanned: ‘That’s not you, Brian.’ So strong is Zoubek’s notion to not score, he admits to being a bit panicked when he gets the ball under the hoop, instinctively dishing it outside instead of going to the rim himself. But his teammates aren’t complaining. The 11.5 rebounds Zoubek is averaging over the last four games and countless screens he’s set make him every bit as vital to Duke’s success as Singler, Scheyer and Nolan Smith. ‘There are times when he’s two feet from the basket and instead of going up, he kicks it out to a 3-point shooter,’ [Zoubek's high school coach, Paul] Wiedeman said. ‘I bite my tongue. There’s a method to the madness and the madness works.’ It worked all the way for Duke. ‘I’m a 7-1 white guy who can’t move all that well and I don’t jump that high, so I have to prove myself every day,’ Zoubek said. ‘A couple of more screens and maybe I’ll get some respect.’”

Supplementary Materials:

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.

They Smell Like the Future: Sylven Landesberg

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Photo by Getty Images.

Virginia sophomore
6’6.25”, 210 lbs (Combine measurements)
20 years old
Shooting guard
Projection: Second rounder/undrafted

To be frank, I have no idea what to make of Sylven Landesberg. From a position standpoint, the Mavs could use some long-term depth at the 2. Landesberg isn’t an ideal prospect to fill that role, but he clearly has aptitude and does fit the bill, in a sense. Yet Sylven is further away from NBA production than many other possible draft selections, and he shouldn’t be viewed as a legitimate prospect for two more years at least.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if the Mavs are looking at a player that won’t be ready to roll for a few seasons, position becomes much less of an issue. Who knows what the Mavs roster could look like in 2011 much less in the seasons beyond? With that uncertainty in mind, it’s far more important that Dallas hit on any draft choice in the second round rather than one that fills a specific need. Drafting based on need is a debatable strategy at any point in the draft, but when selecting with the 50th pick? It’s like trying to win the 100-meter hurdles with your legs tied together.

Development aside, Landesberg is about what you’d expect from a swingman: a good collegiate scorer (though not skilled enough to push him into the first round or even the early second round), a decent playmaker, and a somewhat lacking defender. He’s not limited athletically like some of the other perimeter prospects I’ve reviewed so far, he just has yet to develop the defensive sensibilities that make competent perimeter stalwarts out of collegiate stars.

Landesberg wouldn’t be an important addition for today’s Mavs, but if Dallas ends up selecting him, it won’t be for immediate mop-up duty. Sylven is an interesting asset to have for the long-term though, and could be a great trial run for the Texas Legends. If Donnie Nelson can turn the Legends into an Austin Toros-style farm team, Landesberg would be a great prospect to get the ball rolling. He has the natural talent necessary to eventually make the jump into the NBA, and enough holes in his game and specific flaws that an extended tour with Nelson-appointed developmental coaches would do him a world of good.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOSTLFG%3FG%
Per Game17.34.92.92.30.8.443.383
Per 4021.56.13.52.81.0------

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
53.047.34.914.522.236.030.1

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
1.50.913.3

Other People:

Jonathan Givony, Draft Express: “While he gets to the line at a solid rate (about average in fact amongst the NCAA’s top shooting guard prospects), he could do a much better job of driving into his defenders (rather than around them) and not settling for as many floaters in the lane as he currently does. Part of this will come naturally with added strength and experience, but getting coached up in this area and making more of a commitment to not settling for the first shot that becomes available will go a long ways in honing his terrific slashing potential. As a shooter, Landesberg has clear-cut strengths and weaknesses. On one hand he doesn’t get much elevation on his flat-footed and somewhat deliberate stroke, either in catch and shoot situations or when pulling up off the dribble. This will make it more difficult for him to get his shot off at the NBA level where defenders are bigger, longer and more athletic than in the NCAA. On the other hand, Landesberg clearly has an innate feel and touch for making shots, something that again speaks to the talent he possesses. While he probably will need to tweak his mechanics and learn how to get his shot off quicker, he should be able to figure things out at some point in his career.”

Jonathan Givony, Draft Express: “Landesberg’s main appeal as a prospect remains his ability to create his own shot as a 6-6 swingman—something you just don’t find that often. He’s an incredibly smooth, fluid athlete, not terribly explosive, but nevertheless possessing a wide array of shifty ball-handling skills and hesitation moves to get his man off balance and attack him with terrific timing. This is a skill that is extremely difficult to teach, and gives him a great base to build off as a scorer down the road. Watching him play, it’s not difficult to see a little bit of Evan Turner in his game in this regard, minus the same incredible versatility and feel for the game. Unfortunately for Landesberg, he does not currently possess the same ability to finish his drives as he does creating then. He is not incredibly explosive around the basket, often lacking the verticality needed to get his shot off in traffic already at the college level, and not yet showing the best instincts for initiating contact in the paint and drawing fouls.”

The Associated Press: “Virginia’s suspended leading scorer Sylven Landesberg is leaving school to pursue a professional career. Coach Tony Bennett said Tuesday that Landesberg won’t complete the current semester. Earlier this month the sophomore guard was suspended for the rest of the season for failing to meet his academic obligations. ‘I have discussed Sylven’s future with the Landesberg family and been informed that he will be leaving the University of Virginia to pursue his professional aspirations,’ Bennett said. ‘I am thankful for the significant contributions Sylven made to the Virginia basketball program and wish him success in his future endeavors.’”

Supplementary Materials:

Video by Draft Express.

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.

They Smell Like the Future: Dexter Pittman

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | 3 Comments to Read

Photo by Andrew Synowiez/US Presswire.

Texas senior
6’11.5”, 303 lbs (Combine measurements)
22 years old
Center
Projection: Second rounder/undrafted

Dexter Pittman is one of the few second round prospects that was able to dominate his opposition physically in college and may actually be able to do the same in the pros. Standing at about seven feet tall and a whopping 300+ lbs., Pittman was and is a giant. Yet even that strength acts as something of a curse; though Pittman can bully his way into position down low, his weight puts a huge limitation on both his minutes and effectiveness.

Conditioning was the one consistent theme during Pittman’s four years at Texas. He arrived in Austin as a mini cruise liner and is leaving as a smallish yacht, but Dexter still has a long way to go before his body is NBA ready. In the meantime, a team could have a center that can score a few easy buckets in the post, but if any team expects Pittman to play more than a few minutes at a time, they’ll be in for a big surprise. Dex had trouble keeping up with the pace of the college game, particularly late in the season. That doesn’t bode well for his ability to stay involved in the far faster NBA (with a far longer season, to boot), and barring a substantial weight change, Pittman will finish his NBA career the same way he started his collegiate one: as a prospect with indisputable physical gifts and solid basketball skills but denied relevance by the reading on the scale.

It’s not that Dexter’s post moves are all that great, but his physique is imposing enough to clear out all kinds of space. Pittman could be the next to inherit the Baby Shaq throne, but such a moniker would come without a number of asterisks. Dex lacks O’Neal’s sophistication or explosion, which partially explains the teensy difference between being a No. 1 pick/four-time champ/hall-of-famer and a guy who may not even be drafted. He also lacks the mobility to ever be the defensive force Shaq was earlier in his career, even if Pittman’s block rate during his senior season was impressive. Ultimately, we’re left with an empty equivalent, with quasi-O’Neal size but little of what made Shaq into one of the greats.

Elite scoring? Nuh-uh. Pittman can be great offensively in spots, but even at his best he’s doing fairly rudimentary post work with 300+ lbs. behind it. The rebounding? Sub-par, honestly. Dexter was a great collegiate offensive rebounder, but his defensive rebounding is a bit Eddy Curry-esque. There are flaws in Pittman’s game that go beyond his weight issues, and most of them will never be resolved.

Should Pittman continue to shed pounds (his collegiate weight drop is relatively well-documented), he could become an effective NBA player. It’s tough to say exactly what Pittman’s role would be in a league that continues to shift toward speed and versatility over size and specialization, but I find it hard to believe that centers of Pittman’s ilk have completely gone the way of the dinosaur. Even if Dexter lives out his career as a situational counter to the Dwight Howards and Yao Mings of the world, he’ll have served his purpose. Of course to do that, he’ll need to be able to play more than a few possessions at a time, which is going to require some body work.

The biggest obstacle in Pittman’s career will be his ability to stay on the court. If he can lower his body fat to a reasonable level, work on his defense, and continue to refine his low-post game, he could have a long and fruitful NBA career. If not, someone will pay him to play basketball somewhere, even if it’s just to beat up on opposing centers in Russia or the D-League.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOBLKFG%3FG%
Per Game10.45.90.51.81.9.654.000
Per 4021.912.31.03.73.9------

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
63.865.416.520.45.063.024.5

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
1.08.915.3

Other People:

Jonathan Givony, Draft Express: “Dexter Pittman is quite a unique physical specimen in his own right, measuring 6-9 ½ without shoes, with a 7-6 wingspan. He also has the biggest hands in this draft (a new stat) at 10.5 inches. The fact that Pittman tips the scale at over 300 pounds and measuring nearly 21% body fat (fourth highest in history after Chris Marcus, Oliver Miller and James Lang) tells us that he still has a long ways to go with his conditioning. But if he’s willing to commit himself, he could carve out a long and lucrative professional career.”

Ben Polk, A Wolf Among Wolves: “Pittman has a soft voice and a charming, agreeable demeanor. When asked about the trait he would most like to impress upon potential coaches and GM’s he offered, “my hungriness,” which sounds really, really hungry. On the grueling whirlwind of cross-country workouts–Miami on Saturday, Minneapolis on Sunday, Oklahoma City on Monday–he quipped that he was on “a nationwide tour like Michael Jackson”…On the court, though, that soft voice turned into a bellow as he battered and bruised his fellow pro hopefuls. Like Whiteside, Pittman didn’t seem particularly comfortable more than ten feet from the basket, but when he got any closer than that he had a pretty easy time bullying his way to the rim, smiling and yelling all the way.”

Chad Ford, ESPN.com: “Dexter Pittman has always been a favorite of GMs. He has a ton of talent, soft hands and good athleticism. The question has always been his conditioning. In New Jersey, he drew repeated praise for how hard he worked. I get the sense that GMs want to find a way to take this guy. If they get him in the right conditioning program, he could be a monster down the road.”

Supplementary Materials:

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.

They Smell Like the Future: Charles Garcia

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 20, 2010 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images.

Seattle Junior
6’9.25”, 232 lbs (Combine measurements)
21 years old
Power forward
Projection: Second rounder

Charles Garcia has all the makings of both a second round stud and a draft night flub. On the one hand, there’s little doubt that if Garcia, a 6’9” mobile big, went to a top-flight college program (or was good enough to manufacture his own press like Steph Curry, for example), he’d be a higher profile prospect. There would be enough tape to earn him a legitimate place on the draft radar, enough buzz to drive up his stock, and enough of a highlight reel to generate serious interest. I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve seen a substantive amount of film on Garcia, and the same is likely true aside from the most dedicated draft aficionados, the Redhawk faithful, and the more thorough scouting departments.

That makes Charles a bit of a shot in the dark. But when you’re taking that shot to try to hit a prospect that stands with legit power forward size, can run the floor, and can finish around the rim? Still unlikely perhaps, but the odds are skewed slightly in your favor.

I won’t claim to know much about the more technical aspects of Garcia’s game, but I will say this: solid bigs are hard to come by, and it’s not uncommon for a quality power forward to slip through the cracks because of his school’s underwhelming reputation. No one views Seattle as a pro factory, and the fact that Charles was good — but not dominant — as the focal point of an offense at the college level puts him a few tiers below the elite big men of this draft class. That doesn’t mean he’s not useful, and it surely doesn’t mean that he’s not a quality player. In truth, most of us just don’t know at this point.

What we do know is that while Garcia has his strengths, he’s not a very efficient offensive player. He got his as a primary scoring option (to the tune of 28.8 points per 40 minutes, in fact), but committed more turnovers per 40 than anyone else in the NCAA. Does that matter? Sure it does. It’s not always easy to make the mental jump from centerpiece to role player, and his struggles could actually be compounded in the transition to the pros. It’s also possible that Charles’ turnover woes are a product of his style and inherent to his game. Still, to deny the influence of being a productive player on a sub-par team is ill-advised. Even if Garcia really is turnover-prone, the ramifications of that flaw should be limited by his modified role in the pros. Simply, he’ll have fewer possessions to squander and less defensive attention to deal with. Those factors usually have a little something to do with a player’s turnovers, and while eliminating them isn’t likely to turn Charles into a well-oiled offensive machine, it could be enough to preserve his utility against superior competition.

Garcia doesn’t have a lengthy track record against NBA-caliber opponents nor does he have overwhelming statistical support. Instead, he has a solid foundation of evidence that points to the possibility of him being a solid pro, a clear desire to attack the basket, and a complete lack of red flags over his size and speed. To get an NBA athlete this late in the draft isn’t a bad thing, even if it never really works out.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOBLKFG%3FG%
Per Game18.78.31.04.00.8.474.277
Per 4028.812.71.66.21.2------

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
53.149.09.714.08.475.834.9

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
0.82.924.9

Other People:

Matt Kamalsky, Draft Express: “Always in attack mode, Garcia is not terribly discerning when defenses key in on him, leading to a great deal of inconsistency and some problematic habits. Still apt to take a contested jumper with multiple defenders around him, he makes himself a difficult player to play alongside. Creating little within the framework of Seattle’s half court sets, doing the majority of his damage operating one-on-one or in transition, and  turning the ball over as often as any player in our database per-40 minute pace adjusted,Garcia will need to improve his ability to function as a roleplayer on the next level. In order to do that, he’ll need to polish his jump shot, be more active moving without the ball, and cut down on his turnovers to be more efficient as a slashes or face-up post player. Most importantly, he must improve his recognition of things that are happening on the floor, and not just barrel his way into the lane the way he all too often does at the moment. Garcia’s basketball IQ is simply not up to par with his talent-level, something that became more and more obvious as the season moved on.”

Brett LaGree, Hoopinion: “Once one adjusts for pace (Seattle averaged almost 80 possessions per game last season, 13 more than an average college team), Charles Garcia’s production appears far less impressive. Per on-court possession, the only real comp he has in terms of blocks and steals is Luke Harangody, only Dwayne Collins and Tiny Gallon come within 75% of his turnover rate, his offensive rebound rate is below average (though his defensive rebound rate is strong), and he’s a below average shooter inside the arc, outside the arc, and from the free throw line. A year in the D-League is likely his best case scenario.”

Supplementary Materials:

Video from Draft Express.

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.

They Smell Like the Future: Art Parakhouski

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

Photo by AP Photo.

Radford Senior
6’11.75”, 268 lbs (Combine measurements)
22 years old
Center
Projection: Second rounder

Artsiom Parakhouski is not a name that inspires fear. Hell, it’s not really a name that inspires much of anything. As a seven-foot Belarusian playing for a college most basketball fans haven’t even heard of, it would take something truly remarkable to bring Art to prominence. Fantastic Parakhouski is not, but when the Mavs are picking 20 selections into the second round, they aren’t really looking for something glittering in the muck.

Instead, if they can come out of the draft with a center who can sop up some minutes for minimal salary, it has to be considered a minor victory. Art can be that guy. He won’t necessarily come into the league as a pre-packaged low-post option, but he’s a rapidly improving big man that’s still learning the game. He picked up basketball late, and it shows. It also means he has plenty of room to grow from this point on, even at 22.

Art’s not an incredible athlete, but he’s also no stiff. He’s not a gazelle, but Parakhouski has the mobility necessary to develop into a reasonably effective defender. Obviously he’s not there now — how many big men are coming out of college? — but with decent burn in summer league and maybe a D-League assignment, Art could show some defensive improvement by the end of the season. He’s never going to be quick enough to be anything more than average in pick-and roll-coverage and the like, but that’s all it would take to turn Parakhouski into a useful NBA center.

While I wouldn’t necessarily say that Art is raw offensively, his skills are obviously a work in progress. He’s capable of making his open looks, can finish with authority on occasion, and does show elementary form on a few solid moves.

Regardless, Parakhouski comes in as an NBA-ready rebounder. Art hit the boards against weak and strong opponents alike, and no matter how you slice and dice his rebounding numbers, they hold. Overall rebounds per game? Art was tops in all of college basketball at 13.4. Calculate his rebounds per minute instead? He was merely fourth overall. Adjust for pace? He drops to sixth…such a disappointment. Only the sixth best rebounder in college basketball with the 50th pick.

Art isn’t an exciting prospect, even if he is a solid rebounder and well-sized to man the middle. His development could take some time, and even if Parakhouski turns out to be a legit NBA player, it’s likely he’d cap as a spot contributor. There’s nothing wrong with that. The Mavs shouldn’t be looking for permanent fixtures this late in this draft, but if Art could manage to stick on the roster as a third center, then yahtzee.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOBLKFG%3FG%
Per Game21.413.41.12.42.1.581.250
Per 4024.615.41.22.82.4------

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
58.658.415.614.07.365.827.9

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
0.96.023.6

Other People:

Matt Kamalsky, Draft Express: “Artsiom Parakhouski is the second highest usage player in our rankings at 19.8 possessions per-game. He ranks a bit below average in his overall field goal shooting (53.4), but turned the ball over at an alarmingly low 13.2% rate. Playing in a small conference, many teams chose to hack the Belarus native in the post, and that shows in his 17.7% shots-fouled rate with his back to the basket (1st). He attempted the second most jump shots per game at 1.6 per-contest, hitting just 33% of those shots, but showing potential in the process. Unfortunately, he really struggled when finishing at the rim, scoring just 1.15 PPP (2nd worst).”

Matt Kamalsky, Draft Express: “Probably the best showcase of Parakhouski’s potential physical impact at the next level was his matchup against fellow prospect Cole Aldrich and the Jayhawks. Parakhouski was bothered by Aldrich’s length on a number of occasions, but saw success against him when he was able to establish deep position. On a number of possessions, Aldrich forced Parakhouski to be a finesse player, something he’s shown the potential to be, but not with any sort of efficiency.

Moving forward, that may be one of the more important developments Parakhouski is yet to make. His size affords him a ton of success against the average NCAA center, and he’s become especially decisive on the block. His poise on the block and ability to get to the line account for his increased scoring average, but Parakhouski continues to show flashes of potential as a shooter.”

Supplementary Materials:

Video from Draft Express.

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.

They Smell Like the Future: Sherron Collins

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | 3 Comments to Read

Photo by John Gress/Reuters.

Kansas Senior
5’11.75”, 217 lbs (Combine measurements)
23 years old
Point guard/shooting guard
Projection: Second rounder/undrafted

If the Mavs end up picking Sherron Collins in this week’s draft, it means something went wrong. For one, it signifies that the Mavs were unable to move up in the draft from No. 50, despite Donnie Nelson’s indicated interest in nabbing an earlier pick. In addition, it means that the other point guard prospects — be they scorers or more conventional pass-first types — were snatched up by other teams, leaving Dallas holding the bag.

Simply put, despite Collins’ somewhat impressive overall college line, I fail to see his advantage over other PG prospects or what he’s going to bring to an NBA team on the offensive end. He was an inefficient scorer and sub-par playmaker at Kansas, and his lack of height and athleticism are going to be serious problems in the pros. Super serious.

Unless an NBA team can wipe Sherron’s brain clean of all of his shooting tendencies and start from scratch using him as a spot-up shooter and distributor, you’re ultimately looking at a less efficient, slower, and shorter Ben Gordon. In theory, that may not sound all that bad. Then consider that the only reason Gordon is able to get off his jumper is due to his quickness, and the difficulties start to become a bit more apparent. If you look at shorter point guards that are able to create shots in the NBA, nearly all of them have incredible burst speed in half-court sets or end-to-end speed on the break. Collins doesn’t really have either, as evidenced by his sub-par showings in the agility and sprint tests at the combine.

On the agility test, which measures a player’s ability to move laterally around the lane, Collins clocked in as the sixth slowest prospect measured at the combine (he ranked between bigs Daniel Orton and Greg Monroe, for reference). He performed slightly better on the 3/4 court sprint test, but Collins’ time of 3.24 seconds is right in line with the times of Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal. He’s safely removed from the quicker prospects at his position and otherwise, which is unfortunate considering that speed and quickness are exactly what Collins needs to be an effective NBA player.

If you look at any of the NBA’s recent midgets of varying success, they share one trait: they’re pretty much all quicker than Sherron Collins. It’s not easy to get a shot off in the paint or on the perimeter when playing with such a considerable height disadvantage, and its those guards’ speed that affords them the space they need to fire. Here are a few recent draftees of comparable height and their times on those same combine drills:

PlayerHeight (w/o shoes)AgilitySprint
Sherron Collins5'10.25''12.313.24
Jameer Nelson5'10.25''10.663.16
Will Bynum5'10.5''11.123.00
Aaron Brooks5'10.5''10.573.20
D.J. Augustin5'10''11.273.07

Without it, you’re looking at a less efficient Salim Stoudamire with better passing skills. That’s something, I guess, and teams could probably do worse in the second round, but Collins’ offensive game will be locked up in a box upon his departure from Lawrence, chained tight, weighted down, and thrown into the ocean. Or maybe a volcano.

Collins’ redeeming NBA value lies in his defense. Sherron was a fine perimeter defender at the collegiate level, which does at least hint that his on-court mobility surpasses his combine measurables. However, shorter point guards generally have a rough go of it defensively across the board, and Collins figures to be no exception. Still, there’s a lot to like about Sherron’s defensive abilities. If Collins can show that he can defend in the NBA at anywhere near the level he was able to defend in college, there could be hope for him yet.

A lot of that depends Sherron’s weight and conditioning. Multiple reports (and the visual evidence in video form) assert that Collins has trimmed down since the combine. It’s tough to judge exactly what that will mean for his game, and I refuse to throw four years of tape and stats out the window because of dropped waist size and a six pack. If that turns out to make all the difference for Sherron, and he lights up his rookie year as a combo scorer/playmaker playing tenacious defense? I’ll gladly eat crow. In the meantime, I’ll continue to insist that the bad offensive habits are already in place, and that Collins isn’t quite quick enough to be a shot-creator against NBA competition.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOSTLFG%3FG%
Per Game15.52.14.52.41.1.426.370
Per 4018.82.55.42.91.3------

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
55.850.60.817.624.331.723.2

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
1.80.15.6

Other People:

Eamonn Brennan, ESPN.com: “Collins is undersized and not very athletic. He can’t create separation from defenders, certainly not in the NBA, and when he gets to the rim his size can make it difficult for him to finish. But there’s no denying he has a collegiate résumé most players would kill for. Over four years, Collins never averaged fewer than 22 minutes per game. He won a national title with the Jayhawks in 2008. He played smothering defense, led his teams on both ends of the floor and ran Kansas’ break with gusto. If you were starting a college hoops team right now, and you had to pick one point guard — well, you’d probably pick Wall. But Collins would be hard to pass up.”

Joe Treutlein, Draft Express: “Where Collins impressed the most in the scrimmages, however, was on the defensive end, where he played extremely tough, especially on the pick-and-roll, as he fought through screens pretty easily, benefitted greatly by his incredibly strong build and low center of gravity, which allows him to change directions easily and get right up into his man on these types of plays. While Collins’ size will have some defensive drawbacks in the pros, he also is showing he understands how to make use of his size’s benefits, and he has the potential to be a very tough pick-and-roll defender at the next level if he keeps playing like this.”

Matt Kamalsky, Draft Express: “Sherron Collins is the second worst pull up shooter in our group (.62 PPP), but is the second best spot up shooter when left open (1.38 PPP). That could help him considerably in a smaller role on the next level.”

Supplementary Materials:

Also, sweet tat, Sherron. (Via Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge)

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.

They Smell Like the Future: Luke Harangody

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 19, 2010 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by AP Photo.

Notre Dame Senior
6’7.75”, 240 lbs (Combine measurements)
23 years old
Power forward/small forward
Projection: Second rounder/undrafted

Luke Harangody is a player you want to see succeed. We’d all love to believe that a strong, hard-working college star could make a killing in the pros by simply doing more of the same while getting better and better, but it doesn’t work that way. NBA success is founded upon a few fundamental truths, including the proper physical foundation above all else. The highest skills can only get prospects so far without the necessary size or speed, and those physical limitations are often what separate a star from a legend, a role player from a franchise player, a fringe prospect from a sure-thing.

It’s that separation that could limit Harangody’s NBA career. Luke was 9th in all of college basketball in PER, and the overall leader in points per pace-adjusted minute. Those two measures, combined with exemplary rebounding marks, make for a hell of a collegiate résumé. Yet Harangody stands at just 6’7.75” without much athletic ability to speak of. He did more bench press reps at the combine than any other prospect this year or last (23 reps of 185 lbs.). But his vertical? Near the bottom of the bunch. His sprint and agility times? Not pushing the lower boundaries of the combine, but not far off, either.

Harangody may have the basketball instincts of a star, but his lack of athleticism will keep his career grounded. Harangody can continue to work and to practice that bizarrely effective jumper, but he seems destined for a career between positions. He’s never going to gain the quickness or size that would make him into something more, but that shouldn’t stop Luke from creating his own place in the league. The ceiling may be low, but it’s nothing a bit of maneuvering and a little natural light can’t fix.

If the Mavs were to choose Luke, it would largely be as a maximization of value. Even though Harangody won’t be a second round gem in the Boozer or Millsap mold, he may be the safest of all probable late second-rounders. Regardless of your criteria — either measurable or immeasurable — Harangody is simply a prospect that gets it done. There’s obviously going to be a substantial drop in his production given how much more skilled and athletic his opponents will be in the NBA, but there’s nothing to stop him from being a vital asset off the bench. Reserves are often afforded much more latitude to slide between positions, and Harangody’s ability to hit shots from mid-range, work around the rim, overpower his opponents, and hit the glass will make him a welcome addition to any team’s reserve core.

He’ll have to change. Luke will have to transition from a high-usage player to a low-usage one, and a nice bump in his offensive rebounding would do wonders for his career. The difference between Harangody and other prospects though is that we should fully expect him to make the proper adjustments. He didn’t become an elite college player by accident, and though he won’t be given a guaranteed contract on draft night, Luke will still be a valuable addition to a team looking to add a bit of scoring and rebounding on the cheap.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOBLKFG%3FG%
Per Game21.89.11.61.80.7.481.309
Per 4026.411.01.92.20.8------

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
55.150.58.210.611.835.131.9

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
0.82.124.1

Other People:

Eamonn Brennan, ESPN.com: “If you’re looking for the Platonic ideal of a player who is incredibly effective in college but probably won’t have an NBA career, well, here’s your guy. The Gody’s 2009-10 season was a major disappointment. Thanks to injury, Harangody missed Notre Dame’s stretch run, just as Notre Dame started winning enough to get into the NCAA tournament; with him back in the lineup, the Irish lost in the first round to Old Dominion — which, you know, ouch. But Harangody’s four-year career was a flurry of production and All-American nods and the constant nagging notion that no way was this guy going to play in the NBA. Like Harangody’s unorthodox jump shot, it’s weird, but true.”

David Arnott, Rufus on Fire: “Yes, he’s only 6-6, but if you give up on the idea that he’ll be an All-Star and will repeat his 20+ points per game from college — in fact, take away his scoring entirely — what’s left is an exceptional rebounder who rebounded less his final season in college because he was trying to expand his game and shoot three pointers. In college, he was a good defensive player, too, though, of course, his size leads to doubts he’ll be able to do anything productive on that end of the floor, too. In the end, it’s not hard to imagine that Harangody will carry over his rebounding and be at least an average defensive player, which is extremely valuable off the bench. Additionally, his demonstrated work ethic and willingness to re-shape his game has to be attractive to coaches.”

Chad Ford, ESPN.com: “Once again Harangody has gotten himself into great shape and has tightened up his body. I’m not sure where he’ll go in the draft. Everything about him is unorthodox. His shot is ugly (but it goes in), he’s undersized to be a 4 (but he cleaned up on the boards), he’s not a great athlete (but scored at will in college). When I asked him to give me his comparison in the NBA, even he couldn’t come up with anyone. Clearly a workout-type setting won’t be ideal for him. But when you watch him go in 5-on-5, it’s hard to argue with years of 20 and 10 in the Big East.”

Supplementary Materials:

Video from Draft Express.

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.

They Smell Like the Future: Greivis Vasquez

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Photo by Rob Carr/AP Photo.

Maryland Senior
6′6.5”, 211 lbs (Combine measurements)
23 years old
Point guard/shooting guard
Projection: Varies; late first rounder to late second rounder

Greivis Vasquez could either be way out of the Mavs’ draft range (Draft Express’ most recent mock draft has him going in the late first round) or right up their alley (he’s not far removed from being slated as the 50th pick in a previous DE mock), but either way Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban should do their homework. Vasquez looks like a legit NBA prospect, even if he doesn’t have the makings of a star.

Vasquez is a bit similar to Jon Scheyer in that he’s got off-guard size and point guard skills, a combination which should boost his effectiveness in the pros even more than it did at Maryland. Even if he’s never asked to run an offense, Vasquez’s ability to create from the 2 could be an excellent crutch for teams with scoring point guards (think San Antonio, OKC, and yes, perhaps even a future Dallas team with Rodrigue Beaubois running the show), or simply a nice luxury for squads with more conventional PGs.

That said, Vasquez and Scheyer are very different players. Greivis shares Jon’s designation as one of the less athletic two-guard prospects around, and they both will have to become better defenders before being given a significant role at the next level. That’s not an easy task; neither Scheyer nor Vasquz is maximizing their athletic abilities defensively, but there’s still only so much they can do. They can only recover off of a pick so quickly or jump so high to contest the pull-up, and those are things that make or break players in the NBA. Obviously not everyone in the pros is an elite defender, but with Vasquez as an interesting but not undeniable offensive talent, his defensive lapses seriously hurt his chances of becoming an NBA mainstay.

Plus, while Vasquez seems to be a better playmaker than Scheyer, he’s a much less efficient offensive player overall. Scheyer’s 2009-2010 field goal percentage was sandbagged by the number of three-pointers he took (7.2 three-point attempts per game out of 13.3 total attempts), but Vasquez’s lower shooting mark seems to be more of a product of poor shot selection. He’s a good shooter but not an elite one in this draft class, even when given open space.

Still, I can’t shake the feeling that Vasquez is going to hit some big shots during his NBA career. Mostly because he isn’t afraid to take them, and that confidence is an important trait for an NBA role player. Greivis’ faith in his own abilities may be the very thing that inspires him to shoot a long two-pointer with a hand in his face, but with a player of Vasquez’s talent, you take the bad with the good.

The total package is an enticing one. Vasquez is the type of player that will endear himself quickly to his team’s fan base; his skills are impressive, his energy contagious, and his passion evident. There’s no denying that the guy loves to play the game and loves to win, and those are the types things that will make him a fan favorite early in his career. Yet if a team gives Vasquez too much responsibility, he’ll likely show what scouts clearly know: although a top-notch college performer, Greivis just isn’t going to be an NBA star. That said, he deserves to make a roster, and he will. Vasquez seems set for a lengthy NBA career, and that projection would make him a steal for Dallas at 50. It’s going to take quite a bit of slipping to get there, but if the Mavs luck out, Vasquez won’t disappoint.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOSTLFG%3FG%
Per Game19.64.66.34.61.7.429.359
Per 4023.15.57.44.02.0----

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
54.849.63.818.435.231.330.5

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
2.81.010.2

Other People:

Matt Kamalsky, Draft Express: “Greivis Vasquez is one of the more unique players in this sample because of his skill set and role at Maryland last season. The Venezuela native got a lot of his possessions working off the ball, with 14.2% of his touches coming from off screen action. His aggressive scoring mentality is clear in the fact that more than half of his catch and shoot jumpers came with a hand in his face; a shot that Vasquez makes as efficiently as any player on this list. At 21.4 possessions per-game, he is also the third highest usage player in these rankings.”

Eamonn Brennan, ESPN.com: “Vasquez was a lot of things in his college career — a Duke antagonist, a poised leader, a fiery trash-talker — but most of all he was just really good. Few players are as capable on the secondary break as Vasquez. He did a little of everything in his senior season; it wasn’t uncommon to see Greivis grab a rebound on the defensive end, push the ball up the floor, find an open shooter, get an offensive rebound and calmly direct Maryland’s offense from the top of the key. He’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but admit it: If he was on your team, you’d love him forever.”

Fran Fraschilla, ESPN.com: “After Wall, the point guard position is shallow with talent in this draft. Vasquez is on my list because I believe that past performance is indicative of future success and he played well in all four seasons in a top conference. The ACC Player of the Year has some deficiencies athletically and could shoot the ball better, but he is a winner who, even as a second-round pick, should make a roster.”

Supplementary Materials:

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.

They Smell Like the Future: Jon Scheyer

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 17, 2010 under Commentary, Rumors | 8 Comments to Read

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Duke Senior
6’6”, 180 lbs (Combine measurements)
22 years old
Point guard/shooting guard
Projection: late second round/undrafted

Regardless of who drafts him, Jon Scheyer will face an uphill battle for NBA acceptance. For one, he’s from Duke; if there’s a more reviled American institution of higher learning, I know not of it. Beyond that, he’s the preeminent post-Redick, post-Paulus Blue Devil. Every iteration of Duke basketball has its lightning rod, and for the ’09-’10 squad, it stood as a 6’6” combo guard.

A combo guard. It’s a term that makes strict positionalists wet the bed, and more than a few GMs wary of such a prospect’s future. Scheyer certainly fits the bill, but in a more optimal way. Rather than being a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body, Jon has the shooting stroke of a knock-down wing, solid playmaking skills, and a legit off-guard size. He’s not a perfect draft prospect — hence the tag as a likely late second-rounder — but in terms of the value to be found at No. 50 overall, Scheyer could be a good get.

First, a disclaimer: odds are that Scheyer is in and out of the NBA or relegated to end-of-the-bench duty, but let’s dive into a vision of what could be. Selecting Jon would be a gamble, sure, but a low-risk one that could yield pretty decent returns. It’s tough to predict exactly how his overall game will translate from college to the pros, but at the very least Scheyer has skills that appear to be valuable for an NBA team.

Jon will never be the type of athlete that can explode off of a screen or penetrate at will, but his shooting abilities still make him a threat in the pick-and-roll and his experience running the point makes him an interesting selection. His ability to defend NBA shooting guards is a huge question mark, and that’s just about the last thing Mavs fans want to hear regarding a 2-guard prospect. Shawn Marion is really the only true wing stopper the Mavs have had in the Dirk Nowitzki era, and the shooting guard position has provided particular problems for the Mavs over the years. Caron Butler isn’t a terrible defender, but Jason Terry and the aging Michael Finley? The two longest tenured shooting guards weren’t exactly earning their paychecks on the defensive end.

I wouldn’t say Scheyer is more of the same, but well…yeah, he’s more of the same. Quite inferior to JET and Fin, actually, in terms of his defensive ability. He wasn’t exactly a great defender in college, and by upping the talent, strength, quickness, and size of his opponents, things are about to get far more difficult. That said, all Jon has to do is hold his ground on defense. He doesn’t have to lock anyone down, but provided he can prevent his match-up from going hog wild (a big assumpion, frankly), his offense should be good enough to earn him solid time as an NBA reserve.

Scheyer could possibly thrive in a Derek Fisher-like role, should he ever find himself in the triangle offense or a variant. But as an alternative, I could see him and Rodrigue Beaubois coexisting in an Eric Snow/Allen Iverson style backcourt. By playing Beaubois and Scheyer together, the Mavs would have two playmakers that can both create and score, with Scheyer as an oversized point and Beaubois an undersized shooting guard. Beaubois’ ability to penetrate would more than make up for Scheyer’s lack of quickness, and Jon’s shooting touch would be a welcome complement alongside a drive-and-kicking Rodrigue. They could share the ball, utilize each other’s strengths, and maximize the post-Dirk Mavs’ potential by having two entry points for the offense.

Both will have to prove themselves defensively. Beaubois still needs to improve his defensive fundamentals to prove that he has what it takes to really zero-in on NBA ball-handlers, and we have yet to see whether Scheyer can impress with average NBA defense. Still, because of Rodrigue’s athleticism and length and Scheyer’s size, imagining a world in which the two could succeed defensively isn’t that much of a stretch.

Of course, Scheyer doesn’t have to be an NBA starter for the Mavs’ pick to be a success. Even if they can bring him off the bench for limited minutes, Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban would have made something of a late pick. Most teams don’t expect to find a rotation player at 50, yet Scheyer is an NBA-ready shooter that works hard and could eventually contribute for an NBA team…supposing he can continue to find ways to succeed in spite of his lack of athleticism. He may not be an ideal off-guard, but he’s still a rather useful player whether spotting up on the perimeter or running the offense.

Scheyer doesn’t fill any immediate needs for the Mavs and his upside is limited, but if he’s on the board at 50, he’d be a nice value pick. Perhaps not one that yields immediate benefits (the learning curve of J.J. Redick is not only convenient, but fair), but a useful asset nonetheless.

Oh, and the Scheyer face.


2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40-Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOSTLFG%3FG%
Per Game18.23.64.93.61.6.399.383
Per 4019.83.95.33.91.8----

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
57.250.22.211.525.841.623.1

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
2.60.68.4

Other People:

Matt Kamalsky, Draft Express: “John Scheyer ranks as the most efficient overall scorer [among shooting guards] at 1.054 PPP. As one could guess, his tremendous jump shooting ability when left open afforded him success in spot up situations (1.16 PPP), but he surprisingly ranks well above average in isolation (.938 PPP 3rd) and is the most effective pick and roll player on our list (1.16 PPP). Despite his limited quickness, Scheyer is one of the savviest prospects around. If he’s able to show that he can defend his position on a consistent basis, he should be able to carve out a niche for himself in the NBA.”

Eamonn Brennan, ESPN.com: “Scheyer won’t sniff the first round of an NBA draft — he, like Reynolds, simply isn’t athletic enough to hang in the NBA. (Scheyer isn’t athletic even by college standards; much of his scoring came from crafty hesitation moves and efficient cuts around the perimeter). It’s not that hard to understand. But as a college player, especially in Duke’s 2009-10 national championship run, Scheyer was ruthlessly effective.”

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: “Did you know Scheyer was 6′6? I didn’t. I thought he was more like 6′4. But he’s a guy that can shoot, can handle and get even get to the rim. He could run point or play off the ball. Obviously again, like Rautins, you wonder if he could defend Kobe Bryant, but as for a marksman with other abilities, Scheyer could fit [with the Thunder].”

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 4, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Draft profiles will begin next week, all for players that the Mavs may have a shot at taking with the 50th overall pick. As was announced earlier in the week, the 57th pick, which technically belonged to the Mavs, will be sent to the Indiana Pacers as an aftereffect of the Eddie Jones-Shawne Williams trade. Isn’t it just grand when Dallas doesn’t have a first rounder? Still, there are some interesting prospects that could fall, and there will be plenty of content here next week about the ones that could make sense for the Mavs.
  • Jason Terry, expressing his Finals preference on the Colin Cowherd Show: “I had my green-and-white Boston Celtics shorts on last night. Wore them to bed. You know I’m superstitious. … I like Boston.” He also made a mini-pitch for LeBron, and wouldn’t mind having an Andrew Bynum around.
  • In Kelly Dwyer’s epitaph of the Phoenix Suns’ season, he spells out a handfull of reasons why Dirk won’t be riding into Arizona atop a white horse. It’s nothing that hasn’t already been explored, but Dwyer makes everything crystal clear for the few who still think of Phoenix as a possible landing point for Nowitzki.
  • Count Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun among the few, although he argues more that it’s possible that Phoenix could create the space required to land Dirk rather than it being likely. If the Suns can shed Barbosa’s contract for picks, they could use the combination of space and a trade exception to put together some kind of sign-and-trade package for Nowitzki. I agree with Seth in that’s it’s possible, but stand by my original point that it’s a virtual impossibility. Even if Phoenix gains the flexibility needed, I just don’t see Dirk bolting or Mark Cuban letting Dirk bolt.
  • Danny Ferry is resigning as the GM of the Cavaliers; does he know something we don’t about LeBron’s future (or lack thereof) in Cleveland?
  • Mark Cuban on whether there’s any question he won’t answer, in light of his $100,000 fine for his “tampering” comments on LeBron (from 790 The Ticket in Miami, via Sports Radio Interviews): “As long as it doesn’t get me fined by the NBA, I’m usually pretty cool about it. There is no reason to repeat the same mistakes. If you ask me about players prior to July 1, I’m not going to answer. And when I did get fined, that was one of the few times that I didn’t get fined on purpose. They caught me on a weak moment. It was the last question in an hour long interview on technology and business that went into detail. My guard was down. I tried to talk around it, but I didn’t do a good job.”
  • It’s less concerning the Mavs and more concerning professional athletes in general, but Dan Devine’s piece on the mental and physiological effects of pressure situations on athletes is a great read.