2008 NBA Draft Rankings: 16-30
Yesterday, I went through the first 15 potential draftables. Today, I'll do the next 15. As with the previous post, I'm not going to bother trying to figure out who's taking who. The players are based solely on talent, potential, and whether homeless guy hanging out with me thinks their name sounds cool.
16. Marreese Speights: Marreese played basketball at Admiral Farragut for only one year, and they retired his jersey number. Need I say more? Probably. The kid put up some pretty impressive numbers - 14.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 62 percent shooting - despite playing only 24 minutes a night (his per-40-minute stats are about 28 points and 18 boards). He has a few post moves and a decent jumper from eight feet and in, and he's tall, solid and has arms like telescoping poles (meaning he can play PF and, if needed, C). He's also pretty good on defense, which is a bonus. The knocks on him are that can't create his own offense and tends to (gulp) use his big body to avoid contact instead of initiating it. The fact that he's already been tagged as a "finesse" player is probably a bad sign...
17. Mario Chalmers: I might have ranked this kid a little too high, but I have my reasons. First, his name is Mario. How can you not love that? Second, after a slow start he finished his junior season at Kansas shooting almost 52 percent from the field and 47 percent [!!] from three. And that 52-percent clip is better than some of the "big men" in this list. (Sorry, but I'm a nut for shooting percentage.) In addition to his sugary stroke, Mario provides floor leadership (2.3:1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio) and defense (2.5 SPG). However - and you knew there was a "but" coming, right? - some people question whether he's a TPG (true point guard) and he's too small (6'2", 170 lbs) to play SG. His handles aren't great and he's not much of an athlete. Kinda gives me the Chris Duhon vibe...but hey, maybe he could be the next Keyon Dooling!
18. Donte Green: He has the athleticism and ability to take (and make) the kind of crazy, off-balance shots that make you think of Vince Carter. Unfortunately, he's also like Vince in that, instead of using his potent step jabs and pump fakes to get to the hoop, Green tends to make made love to the fade away three (hence he took twice as many three-pointers as freethrows last season...hello, Chuck Person!). But hey, he can score (17.7 PPG), rebound (7.2 RPG) and turn back an offensive player or two (1.6 BPG). But the kid needs to put some meat on those bones, learn to take advantage of his speed/jumping ability, and stop wimping out en route to the hoop.
19. Robin Lopez: He's not as talented as his twin brother, Brook. "Offensively challenged" is how one scout put it, which seems kind of ominous. But if the Greg Kites, John Koncaks, Joe Kleins and Mark Madsens of the world have taught us anything, it's that there's always a market for goofy white centers who are willing to rebound, block shots, bang bodies and score all their points on garbage plays and put backs. And that's exactly what Robin brings. Sure, you might as well tattoo "Backup Center" on his ass, but those six fouls could be crucial come playoff time.
20. JaVale McGee: Sleeper alert!! This kid was described by one scout as "absolutely bursting with potential." Has anybody in NBA Draft History ever exploded due to a surplus buildup of potentiality? If not, JaVale might be the first. His parents both played pro ball: His pop, George Montgomery, was a second-round draft pick in 1985 by the Portland Trailblazers. His momma, Pamela McGee, and her twin sister, Paula, were All-Americans who led USC to NCAA National titles in 1983 and 1984. So yo, he was born and bred on hoops. But it's not like he's just a big "what if" or anything; his sophomore numbers at Nevada were decent: 14.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.8 BPG and 53 percent shooting. He's seven feet tall, can face the basket, jumps like he's wearing Iron Man's rocket boots and can create his own shot off the dribble. But he's raw, lacks a post move menu, and is still kinda puny for NBA play. Shoots freethrows like Shaq.
21. Serge Ibaka: How can you not want to sex somebody named "Serge"? And his hometown is "Congo." How cool is that? He's a Yankess fan, which lowers his stock in my eyes a little bit, but he crazy long and jumps like he's springing off a trampoline. He can rebound, block shots, and shoot from up to 18 feet out. He's also drawn favorable comparisons to Shawn Kemp (before Kemp's drug and Twinkie addictions, that is). Of course, he's been compared to DeSagana Diop, too. [Shudder] And his only real experience is in the Spanish second league...so expect a raw rookie with loads of potential that may never be reached (i.e., a "project").
22. Chris Douglas-Roberts: CDR spent his junior season at Memphis playing in Derrick Rose's all-eclipsing shadow...and he had himself a season: 18.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 54 percent shooting (including 41 from distance). Not only can he play bombs away, he can also take people off the dribble and finish anywhere around the basket. Bonus points are awarded for the following facts: He's an hombre with a knack for defense and he's willing to take the big shot in pressure situations. Needs to hit the gym, though, and tends to shoot the ball like it's going to blow up if he doesn't.
23. DeAndre Jordan: I've read several different scouting reports that liken DeAndre to Dwight Howard. That's how big (6'11", 250 lbs) and gonzo athletic he is. But his freshman year numbers at Texas A&M were just "meh": 7.9 PPG (on 61 percent shooting), 6.0 RPG, 1.3 BPG in 20 minutes per. He can catch the rock, leap over everybody and slam it home...but he doesn't always play hard and has a tendency to coast up and down the court like he's in a pickup game. His 1.0:3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio and Chris Dudley-like freethrow shooting (43 percent) are huge drawbacks. But hey, if you like "tremendous upside potential," then DeAndre's your man.
24. Roy Hibbert: Now here's a big boy: 7'2", 278 lbs. He's not just big, he's strong and long (but not in the porn star way). Expect: Rebounding, shot blocking, and rugged interior defense. Do not expect: Quickness, explosive leaping ability, or much scoring (beyond dunks and stick backs). Think a slightly younger and less insane version of Kendrick Perkins (although I saw one scout compare him to Joel Przybilla). Fun fact: Hibby shot 100 percent from three during his college career (he was 3-for-3).
25. Nicolas Batum: On the surface, this kid has the complete package: Athleticism, long arms, versatility, quick hands and feet, long-range shooting ability, b-ball IQ and an NBA-ready body. But there are two problems. First, he averaged a disappointing 8.5 PPG and 3.5 RPG in Euroleague play this year (for LeMans in France...yes, he's a Frenchie). Second, he stopped participating in a workout with the Toronto Raptors a few days ago after a stress echo test - a treadmill test that measures the health of the heart - came back in the "borderline" area. Yeah.
26. Alexis Ajinca: Uh oh. This is the second Frenchman in the Top 30. My bad. Anyway, Alexis has a - wait for it - 7-foot-8-inch wingspan. He's so freaking long that you can probably expect Hubie Brown to start humping his leg someday soon (if he isn't already). The kid has some decent speed and springs, and the official "Soft Euro Jumper." He can rebound and block shots, but he prefers to face the basket on offense rather than mix it up in the post. He had seven blocks (and several other "redirections") in a game during the French Cup, but, again, these are Frenchies we're talking about. They enjoy surrender so much they may very well have been launching the ball directly at his outstretched hands. Bad news is he's skinny and kind of a weakling for somebody his height, and there's no guarantee he's going to come to the states if drafted. This guy will be picked for potential only. Comparisons: I've seen him likened to Jonathan Bender (yikes), Mikki Moore (uh oh) and "a poor man's LeMarcus Aldridge" (that's better...I think).
27. Jason Thompson: I like this kid. Played a full four seasons at Rider. His senior year averages were: 20.4 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 2.7 BPG on 56 percent shooting. Since he's a little older, he already has the [MORE JARGON ALERT!!] NBA body going for him. He's also got length, long arms and range up to, oh, 15 feet or so. But his numbers have that "Big Kid, Little School" feel to them. He's not a great leaper, isn't that fast and doesn't have a large offensive repertoire. But he'll be able to rebound, block shots and bang right away.
28. Courtney Lee: He's a shooter (40+ percent over the course of his four years at Western Kentucky), plain and simple. He's also a pretty deadly mid-range shooter who will put it on the floor every now and then. So expect some fairly proficient gunning and very little in the rebounding or passing departments. Criticisms include "apathetic approach to defense," "lack of aggressiveness" and "first name is Courtney."
29. Ante Tomic: It's pronounced "Toe-Mitch" in case you were wondering. In many ways, he's the prototypical Euro big man: He can handle the rock, pass with aplomb, and shoot the heck out of the ball from mid-range. He can also move his feet around the basket like Fred Astaire and has a catalogue full of post moves. However, his arms and legs look like golf clubs wrapped in silly putty...so he'll get pushed around in the NBA. A lot. He also tends to get into foul trouble, and that won't help. But his smorgasbord of skills should make up for it, so long as he starts pumping some iron.
30. Ryan Anderson: Some people think Ryan has what it takes to become the next Troy Murphy. And this, naturally, makes his mother want to cry. But it's not all bad. He had a strong sophomore year at California (21 PPG, 10 RPG) and has a pretty sweet stroke (41 percent from downtown) for somebody his size (6'10"). Not a superduper athlete, and he needs to bulk up and work on his quickness/lateral movement or he'll never be able to play NBA defense. He could be one of those "draw the opposing big man out of the paint" guys.