With the Sweet 16 upon us and the end of the NBA season rapidly approaching (didn’t it seem like this season last like a month?), this will be your (and NBA scouts for that matter) last few chances to see some of the top prospects play real competition. I have never been a “workout” guy. I go by what I see on the court.
With 16 teams left, I thought it would be a good time to take a look into who is left in terms of NBA prospects the Cavaliers could be interested in with four draft picks this June (two first rounders and two second rounders). If the season ended today, the Cavs would have the eighth worst record in the NBA. So unless they essentially end up losing out the rest of the way, they will be picking somewhere between sixth and ninth with their first selection.
The first part of this series, we looked at the #1 Kentucky Wildcats. We followed with the UNC Tar Heels and then Syracuse, Ohio State, Marquette, and Baylor This piece will focus on the rest of the field.
Florida - A real target for the Cavs with their first pick is talented Freshman SG Bradley Beal (Draft Express #7). The former McDonald’s All-American from St. Louis was a member of the All-Freshman team in the SEC and would have won it if not for a guy named Anthony Davis. He can do it all. He shoots the three ball with precision, he has a nice mid-range J, and has no problem taking the ball strong to the hoop. He’s 6’4, 200 lbs, and plays with a confidence about him you can’t teach, yet he’s not cocky. By all accounts, Beal is a great kid and a solid teammate. He’s the type of two guard that could be a perfect pair with Kyrie Irving for years to come in Cleveland.
PF Patric Young (Draft Express #24) is a very similar prospect to Tristan Thompson. He’s a 6’9 big body who loves to rebound but still is a work in progress offensively. He has shown improvement in his Sophomore year becoming a starter for the Gators and their only true inside presence. He should be a mid-to late first rounder if he chooses to turn pro, but if he stays another year, he could develop into a lottery pick in 2013.
Michigan State – There is no player who is more universally loved and respected more in college basketball this season than SF Draymond Green (Draft Express #33). The superlatives you have heard before: He’s a coach on the floor. He is the ultimate teammate. He can do it all. The truth is on the NBA level, he could be a perfect off the bench, jack of all trades guy who could play right away. Green passes the ball extremely well for a 6’6 SF/PF type. He has “San Antonio Spurs” written all over him. You could see a team like that taking him late in the first round and plugging him into the rotation right away. The Cavs could take a flyer on him late in the first as well.
Kansas – Another player who’s stock went through the roof this season was PF Thomas Robinson (Draft Express #3). T Rob was a 15 minute a game bench player as a Sophomore playing behind the Morris Twins in 2010-11. But this year he became the centerpiece of the KU offense and has shown more than anyone could have imagined. His motor is legendary, as is his rebounding ability (led the country in double-doubles this season). But it was his offensive game that has been taken to a new level. His has a smooth face-up jumper and is explosive going to the hole. Unless the Cavs are picking in the top four, they won’t have a shot to get him. If they got a chance to get him and paired him with Thompson in an undersized but powerful front-court, you’d have quite a duo for the future.
Like Robinson, PG Tyshawn Taylor (Draft Express #31) enhanced his draft profile with a strong Senior year. Taylor was as maligned as any PG in the country and was often the whipping boy of the KU fan base because of his turnover issues. But this season with no true backup, Taylor turned into an offensive force. He is about as quick as you will find in the college game with the ball in his hands driving past his man. His outside shot, once a non-factor, improved dramatically as he was KU’s best three-point shooter. At this time last year, he wouldn’t have even been drafted. Instead he could be a late first round pick. If he ends up in the second round, don’t be shocked to see the Cavs take a long look at him. As we all know, there currently is no true backup PG on the roster other than the newly signed D-League call up Donald Sloan.
Indiana – Hoosier fans won’t be happy to see the name Cody Zeller (Draft Express #15) on this list, but you can’t ignore this prospect. Of the three Zeller brothers (Luke played at Notre Dame, Tyler at UNC), Cody has the highest ceiling, and that is saying something with Tyler a likely lottery pick himself. Nobody expects Cody to turn pro after his successful Freshman season with the talent IU has coming in next year, but if he did, he’d be highly coveted. He runs the floor as well as any big man in the country, has tremendous hands and feel around the basket, and has a soft touch. He is 6’11 and 215 lbs and another year of bulk would serve him greatly. You will see him in the lottery whenever he decided to come out.