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. This piece will focus on the prospects of Syracuse, Ohio State, Marquette, and Baylor.
Syracuse – The Orange have dine it this year without any real “high-end” NBA prospects, but they have two guys that could be intriguing options for the Cavs. SG Dion Waiters (Draft Express #25) has become Jim Boeheim’s best and most valuable player and done so coming off the bench. He is a natural two-guard who’s game as shot up the charts with his clutch play. He has decent handles and loves going to the hole strong. It wouldn’t shock me at all if he came out after the season and the Cavs took a long look at him with their late second round pick. SF Kris Joseph (Draft Express #64) is a guy that will be a late second-round type. He was supposed to be Syracuse’s best player this year and at times has had that look. He is 6’7 so he has the frame of an NBA three, but he isn’t a great rebounder and a very streaky shooter. However, being a four-year player in a top program is always a feather in your cap when a team is looking for a role player off the bench.
Ohio State – Local folks all know by now – PF Jared Sullinger (Draft Express #5), will most likely enter the draft and will be a lottery pick. He has a soft touch around the basket, can bang on the glass, and has improved his mid-range jump shot this season drastically. The downside to him is his conditioning and lack of explosiveness. Watching him late in the season the past two seasons, he has looked like he has put on weight and wears down at the end of the games, especially because he is the subject of constant double teams. Some compare him to Carlos Boozer, but Boozer made his bones as a relentless rebounder. I don’t think you can say that about Sullinger. A more apt comparison is Elton Brand. If I were the Cavs picking say eighth and Sullinger was there, I would have to take a long look, but would probably pass. I just don’t see him as a great NBA post man. The explosiveness isn’t there.
SG William Buford (Draft Express #63) is an enigma. A four-year player who can fill it up from the outside, Buford has been kind of a whipping boy with Buckeye fans this year. He hasn’t really taken that next step towards stardom that many expected him to. He is such a streaky shooter that at times you just don’t know if you can count on him. The Cavs could definitely take a flyer on him with one of their second round picks depending on how he finishes the NCAA Tournament and if he impresses in his workouts.
The real second option to Sullinger on this OSU team is SF Deshaun Thomas (NR). Though he plays the four for Thad Matta, he will be a swingman at the next level. Draft Express doesn’t have him rated in its top 100, but I can’t see how that is. He’s got a sweet left-handed stroke and has really shown growth with his back to the basket game, despite the fact that he really is more of a perimeter scorer. If he sticks around one more year and becomes the leading man in Columbus, he could make himself a lot of money in 2013.
Marquette – Though he is probably one of those “great college player” types, I love the game of SG Darius Johnson-Odom (Draft Express #48). DJO isn’t going to wow you with numbers (though he scores 18 ppg), but nobody plays the game harder and with more passion. He is a plus-defender and a great team guy. Think a shooting guard version of Alonzo Gee minus the crazy hops. The Cavs could do worse than having a guy like DJO in their developmental program. Undersized PF Jae Crowder (Draft Express #53) is a guy who put his name on NBA radar screen with an incredible showing this season. The Big East’s Player of the Year does it all and is one of the toughest players in the country. He can shoot from deep, attacks the glass, and can guard four positions on the floor if need be. His 6’6 frame as a power forward won’t help his stock, but he can be an NBA energy guy off the bench as a second round pick.
Baylor – Perhaps there is no player in the country that has scouts scratching their heads more than PF Perry Jones III (Draft Express #9). When he is engaged, the guy can be spectacular and look like the #1 pick in the draft, But the problem is getting him into the flow. So many times he completely disappears and his teammates don’t throw him the ball. He is a 7-foot small forward in reality. His is an athletic freak who half the time doesn’t take advantage of it. The book on him is to be physical. How will this translate at the next level? If I am the Cavs, I run the other way from him if he is there with their first pick. The thing is, they won’t. He’d be a real option for them.
Freshman SF Quincy Miller (Draft Express #17) is another intriguing Baylor prospect who really needs another year in college to hone his skills. He will be a true NBA three with his wiry, 6’9 frame. He likes to put the ball on the floor, create of the dribble, and hit mid-range jumpers. Miller has a nice offensive skill set that will only continue to get better. The question is if (or will) he play defense at the next level. Scott Drew plays a soft zone and nobody really knows if Miller can guard anyone. If he fell to the Cavs with their second first round pick late, he’d be a steal.
Florida – A real target for the Cavs with Bradley Beal (Draft Express #7), Patric Young (Draft Express #24)
Michigan State – Draymond Green (Draft Express #33)
Kansas – Thomas Robinson (Draft Express #3), Tyshawn Taylor (Draft Express #31)