August 27, 2014

NBA Draft: What the Scouts Are Saying

In case you hadn’t noticed or have been living on the moon for the past four months, the Cleveland Cavaliers have turned into the worst team in the NBA. The only silver lining in hitting rock bottom (which is the correct way to rebuild, might I add) is that the Wine and Gold will have the most ping pong balls in the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery. They will have the best shot of getting the #1 pick.

Naturally, this year’s draft class does not boast a clear-cut top pick as in years past with a John Wall or a Blake Griffin or a Kevin Durant (I know that he was the #2 pick after Greg Oden). A number of kids are getting top pick buzz.

Every year, SI.com’s signature College Basketball writer Seth Davis talks to a gaggle of NBA scouts about the top prospects, puts together their comments and gives them to his readers. Its a great read if you are a big college basketball fan, or a big NBA fan who doesn’t watch a lot of the college game.

With the Cavs a lock to pick in the top three, lets take a look at what Davis’s NBA scouting contacts told him about some of these top kids who the Cavs will be targeting.

Kyrie Irving, 6-2 freshman guard, Duke
Do I have any reservations if he doesn’t play this year? Not even a little bit. He’s that good. He’ll still be a top three pick if he comes out. This is a point guards’ league, it’s not a centers’ league anymore. He’s a good athlete, not a great athlete, so he’ll never be electric like John Wall or Derrick Rose, but Chris Paul is not electric in that way either.

Perry Jones, 6-10 freshman forward, Baylor
He’s the most talented kid in the class, but I don’t think he’s a franchise player. He doesn’t have the personality for that. He’s more of a blend player. He reminds me of Tim Thomas. He gets you 22 and 11, but you want him to get 36 and 17. If a team has a point guard and wants to pass on Kyrie Irving, I could see him going No. 1. He’s so stinking fast it’s amazing. You talk to the coaches, they say he wins all the sprints in practice against the guards. One thing you have to wonder about is he never won, not in high school, not in AAU.

Terrence Jones, 6-8 freshman forward, Kentucky
He’s a lottery pick. He scores inside and in transition. His shot is low, but if he takes his time he can make shots. He needs to be a little less selfish with the basketball, but he’s a talented kid. He’s a poor man’s Michael Beasley. I’m not sure I trust his shot yet, but man, he competes. People ask, What position is he? I say he’s a basketball player.

Jared Sullinger, 6-9 freshman forward, Ohio State
I love him. He’s like Elton Brand but he’s a better basketball player. If he’s not No. 1, he’s not lasting past the top three. He’ll get his shot blocked just like Kevin Love did, but his shooting percentage already accounts for that. He’s comfortable with both hands and he makes free throws. He just has a great feel for the game, and you can tell winning is important to him. My concern is that he doesn’t have a lot of upside, he’s a finished product. And he’s not a great athlete, so he has a ceiling.

Derrick Williams, 6-8 sophomore forward, Arizona
He’s not a great athlete, but he’s physical, he has a high basketball IQ, and he’s a winner. He’s a little undersized, but he’s pretty effective and his numbers are crazy. I love his patience. He’s a four-three combo at the next level. What he’s really developed this year is his outside shot. I question his motor a little, but he’s definitely a lottery pick.

Kemba Walker, 6-1 junior guard, UConn
I think he’ll get his feelings hurt up here. He’s a big-time competitor, but he’s not the feel player these guys are up here in the NBA. He can be like a Jose Juan Barea. Just let him play pick-and-roll at the top. It’s just hard to score in the NBA when you’re little. I like the fact that he has matured because to be honest with you, I hated him last year. He made so many plays and it was all about him, but he has really gotten better with that. In draft rooms there will be a lot of discussions between him, Fredette and Brandon Knight.

Harrison Barnes, 6-foot-8 freshman forward, North Carolina
I finally figured him out. People have been trying to say he’s Marvin Williams, but I think he’s Sean Elliott. He’s not a star, but he’s an all-around good player. If you’re expecting a franchise player, you’re going to be sadly mistaken, but he can definitely help. If he came out, I’m not sure he’d be a top-five pick, but if he slipped to eight or nine people would come up with reasons why they should take him instead of why they shouldn’t.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

  • 5KMD

    Cavs get Irving, still suck and then get Sullinger next year after Sully decides to stay. It works the other way around as well.

  • b

    None of these guys excite me, and like TD said, there’s not a Blake Griffin-type can’t miss here.
    Because of this, the Cavs would be stupid idiots if the don’t draft they Peyton Hillis of the hardcourt, Jimmer “JIMMER!” Fredette.

  • http://www.zirbtv.com Matt

    I hate the comment “it’s a PG league now.”

    Going back to 2000, the only Champion team where the PG was the best player was the 06-07 Spurs when Tony Parker carved up the Cavs.

    Yes, the defensive rules favor a quick PG like Rose or Rondo, but these teams need a slasher or low post player to make a deep finals run.

    Of the favorites for this year, LA, BOA, MIA, SA…. only the Spurs have a top quality PG.

    Obviously Cavs fans would take a PG like Rose and have a competitive team like Chicago, but to say it’s a PG league, in my opinion, is a gross overstatement.

  • REEPJP

    @Matt….I would say Rondo is a top PG in the league….

  • andy

    Also, cavs are guaranteed a top-4 selection with the worst record. Could coceivably miss all three randomly assigned slots.

  • Mike

    I agree with Matt – the point guards listed haven’t gotten past the second round. Small guys are easier to defend in the Playoffs, which makes it that much harder when you’re trying to win with a PG as your primary scorer.

    The Celtics succeed in the Playoffs precisely because they *don’t* rely on Rondo to get them points in crunch time.

  • ben

    they don’t rely on him, but he puts up 30 and 10 anyway.

  • mgbode

    I AGREE. IT WOULD BE TERRIBLE TO HAVE DERRICK ROSE OR CHRIS PAUL. SINCE THEY OBVIOUSLY CAN’T WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP ALL BY THEMSELVES IT MAKES THEM A USELESS DRAFT PICK!!!!!!

  • BigMatt

    If you don’t think a guy can be an all-star caliber player, you shouldn’t draft him in the top 3. It’s all about ceiling with those picks, and the odds are in our favor based on past history. Yes, there are Bowies and Kwames and Darkos and Odens … but there have been a lot more studs than duds drafted that high. Can’t wait to see how it plays out for the Cavs.

  • Brain

    @Matt and Mike

    Rondo might only average like 12 ppg, but thats completely ignoring what makes him possibly the best PG in the league.

    He is the glue that holds that team together, the only real leader on the court that team has. His ability to instantly read situations and dish the ball to whover is most liekly to score on that lineup is damn near supernatural at times.

    Can you imagine any other 6’1″ 24 year old that can dress down KG on national television while KG stands there and takes it? He is for sure not the best scorer on that team, but i would argue since pretty much game 6 of the ’08 finals he has been the best player on that team.

    I’d pernsally love to find that kind of player in the draft, even moreso than a Blake Griffin type. Is there one out there this year? Sadly I dont see one.

  • Matt

    @Brain
    You’re so, so wrong…