With the All-Star break in the rear view and the dust settling more and more every game, we will continue to change up our Not-so-Big board to cater to where the Cleveland Cavaliers can be anticipated to make their selection. No longer can we just anticipate top-three or top-five status as the Wine and Gold find themselves three games behind the eighth-seeded New York Knicks.
We will be operating under the assumption that, as of now, the Cavs will not be drafting in the top-five this summer. Sure, the lottery can work wonders — it did just that this past year. That said, you’ve seen enough of these Boards to know which players we prefer in the event luck bounces Cleveland’s way once again.
If anything, this updated format will lend insight into any relative drop-off between the top-five and the top-10.
As always, we are slowly accumulating larger samples of these top-flight NBA prospects. We will attempt to update this not-so-big board on a bi-weekly basis – feel free to comment, critique or debate in the comments below. We have a little more shake-up this week following some excellent NCAA contests.
Anticipated top-five: Anthony Davis (PF, Kentucky), Andre Drummond (C, Connecticut), Harrison Barnes (SF, North Carolina), Thomas Robinson (PF, Kansas), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
*Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been removed following his comments regarding a likely return to Kentucky.
Bradley Beal, SG (Florida)
Do I wish Beal would’ve provided a better game against Kentucky this past weekend? Sure. Was his 1-for-10 outing enough to make me forget about the fact that he was averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds per game in the four games leading up to that? Not a chance. The Ray Allen comparisons for Beal are getting more real by the day. While he may not be Allenesque as a finisher just yet, I’ll gladly accept a slightly more aggressive Eric Gordon. If not for the reformat of NSBB, Beal would be in the top five. Thankfully, given the bevy of power forwards lighting up box scores, Beal could fall to CLE.
Jeremy Lamb, SG (Connecticut)
Lamb couldn’t have picked a better time of the year to pick his game up a few notches. Not only did the 6-foot-5 wing close the season with 32 points against Villanova and 25 against DePaul, Lamb took to the Big East Tourney by putting up 22 and 8 against West Virginia and 10 and 6 (only nine shots) against Syracuse. The three ball is falling two-to-three times per game and his athleticism has been well on display. Do I wish Lamb weight more than 185 pounds? Of course. But Let’s not forget that Kevin Durant couldn’t bench 190 when he came into the league. These kids can grow and Lamb can flat out score.
Perry Jones III, SF (Baylor)
It’s almost like someone pulled Perry Jones aside and said, “Hey man, you might want to start trying soon.” Over the last three games against Big 12 talent, Jones has been absolutely dominant. His double-doubles against Texas Tech and Iowa State were a nice start, but his 31 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks against Kansas State were certainly a statement. With a strong NCAA tournament and solid private workouts, this kid could loft himself into the top five discussion again. I salivate over a 6-foot-11-inch NBA small forward; his character and work ethic remain his biggest roadblocks.
Meyers Leonard, C (Iliinois)
Byron Scott admitted this week that he was disappointed that none of his reserve centers have been able to step up in the absence of Anderson Varejao, a player who was already out of position. Once the top-flight wings are off of the board, Chris Grant may have no choice but to focus on big men and Leonard may just provide the most upside out of anyone not named Cody Zeller (who will likely return to Indiana next season). Twenty-one and five against Ohio State, 22 and 14 against Iowa and a slew of blocked shots. As long as he interviews well, Leonard could easily be a Cavalier come next October.
Tyler Zeller, C (North Carolina)
The only thing keeping the elder Zeller below Leonard at this stage is his age. I’d much rather have his younger brother, but the fact that he’s averaged 19 and 8 against ACC competition at this stage of the game is definitely worth a look. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention his 20-of-23 day at the free throw line en route to a 30 and 8 game against the Maryland Terrapins. Zeller could wind up being one of those workout warriors who starts to impress teams when he gets them one-on-one. I certainly wouldn’t be upset to have him in Wine and Gold next season in the event that the Cavaliers don’t wind up in the early lottery.
A few more thoughts on…
Quincy Miller, SF (Baylor) Essentially taking the polar opposite path of his teammate Jones III, Miller has completely fallen flat on his face over the last couple of weeks. His size is tough to pass up, but he desperately needs to stop taking so many jump shots that ultimately provide 2-for-8 and 3-for-9 nights; four of his last five games have been played with nary a free throw attempt. No bueno.
Damien Lilliard, PG (Weber State) In a draft limited in the point guard department, Weber State’s Lilliard is slowly creeping into lottery territory with his very surprising 2011-12 campaign. Sure, he’s a junior, but team’s will gladly look past his age when they see that he’s averaged 23 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game over his last five. Kid’s also a stud from downtown.
Terrence Jones, F (Kentucky) It will be interesting to see where NBA scouts choose to position the 6-foot-9 Jones. He’s one of several players (i.e. Sullinger) who could benefit greatly from post regular-season play. He was a lottery lock had he came out last season, but is presently looking at the mid-to-late first round. He’ll need to keep filling up the box score as he recently has; teammate Kidd-Gilchrist opting out of the NBA Draft also helps his relative stock.
Terrence Ross, SG (Washington) I’m a big fan of the 6-foot-6-inch Ross’ game and think it could translate very well to Byron Scott’s system. He’s solid on the boards, can hit the mid-to-long-range jump shot, is a solid defender and can run the floor. He won’t get a lot of love out this way do to the time zone issue, but if the Cavaliers can somehow acquire another first-round pick, they could do a lot worse than Ross.
Dion Waiters, SG (Syracuse) More of a Dwyane Wade, slashing type of off-guard, but Waiters can jump and score in bunches. He shows a ton of confidence and absolutely zero fear when driving to the rim. His relative lack of range is concerning, but, like Washington’s Ross, could provide excellent value if he’s available at the end of the first round. He’s one to watch in the coming weeks.
Any conference tournament game between now and the start of March Madness. You’re doing yourself a disservice otherwise. Seriously.