Friday, April 11, 2008

2008 Mock Draft 2.0

There are three primary needs that have to be addressed this offseason. One is the acquisition of a PG that could relieve Baron Davis and get his minutes down so that he is fresher towards the tail end of the season and games. Another is more depth on the bench that would replace some of the wing players that will be gone (Pietrus, Barnes). Someone that falls into the 'Hybrid Forward' mold that Nelson loves to throw out there and force opposing coaches to adjust to. But the biggest need of all is an upgrade at the PF positions. We need a player that can match-up with the physical bigs of the West. Someone that can play good man defense, has post up capabilities, and can hit a mid-range jumper. We need someone that could complement both Wright and Biedrins. We need someone that is powerful, thick, and with a lot of potential to grow into a force in the NBA. The West is only going to get stronger, and the best way to find that elusive big man is through the draft.

At #14, the Warriors should be able to get that quality big man, whether it be Love, Arthur, or Speights.

  1. Heat - Michael Beasley
  2. Supersonics - Derrick Rose
  3. Grizzlies - Brook Lopez
  4. Timberwolves - Jerryd Bayless
  5. Knicks - OJ Mayo
  6. Clippers - Danilo Gallinari
  7. Bucks - Eric Gordon
  8. Bobcats - Kevin Love
  9. Pacers - DeAndre Jordan
  10. Bulls - Russell Westbrook
  11. Suns - Anthony Randolph
  12. Kings - Darrell Arthur
  13. Trail Blazers - D.J. Augustin
  14. Warriors - Marreese Speights
  15. Nets - Kosta Koufos
  16. 76ers - Darren Collison
  17. Wizards -JaVale McGee
  18. Raptors - Donte Greene
  19. Cavaliers -Earl Clark
  20. Nuggets -Ty Lawson
  21. Magic -Nicolas Batum
  22. Nets - Chase Budinger
  23. Jazz - Joe Alexander
  24. Spurs - Roy Hibbert
  25. Super Sonics - Brandon Rush
  26. Rockets - Robin Lopez
  27. Grizzlies - Tyler Hansbrough
  28. Hornets - Tyler Smith
  29. Pistons - Hasheem Thabeet
  30. Celtics - Richard Hendrix

Prospect Profile: Marreese Speights

        Wednesday, April 9, 2008

        Prospect Profile: Nicholas Batum

        When I first saw this kid play in the Nike Summit last year, I thought he would be a sure lottery pick. Nicholas Batum was laid back for most of the 1st half but then turned it on later in the game to show his ability to dominate in his age group using his size, skill, fluidity, and athleticism. He looked like a well-rounded SF that had the ability to play multiple positions.

        However, Batum's lack of a killer instinct is holding him back when playing against better competition. Batum has the tools to succeed but has a long way to go when it comes to playing consistently aggressive and focused throughout long stretches. His team, Le Mans, finished a dismal 2-12 and he has a tendency to disappear in long stretches. Although he is logging in 26 min. per game, he is putting up disappointing numbers (8.5 pts/3.5 reb/2.7 ast/1.5 stl/ .5 blk). He's the most talented player on his team, but he just doesn't the mental toughness to step up and take control yet.

        Like Rudy Gay who played the same inconsistent but sometimes spectacular game in college, Batum could evolve into a similar player with the same success. Batum's versatility and skills are what Nelson covets in his players. There are a few other players in this draft with similar abilities and size (Donte Greene, Anthony Randolph, Joe Alexander, and Earl Clark). Batum as the potential to be among the best of them if he could play with less apprehension and have more confidence in his abilities. Batum will have to prove that he can compete against stronger competition in order to get consideration from Chris Mullin and the Golden State Warriors, but he certainly fits the Nellie-ball prototype player: multiple positions, defense by deflections, 3 point range, long, and athletic. He's a classic high risk, high reward type pick - not sure if Batum is worth the wait considering the other more proven players that should be available when the Warriors pick.



        Birthday: 12/14/1988
        NBA Postion: SG/SF
        Class: N/A
        Ht: 6-8
        Wt: 210
        Int Team: Le Mans
        Hometown: Pont l’évêque, France

        NBA Comparison: Rudy Gay
        Strengths: Agile forward with size, an incredible wingspan, and great all around skills ... Has a natural feel for the game, and great physical attributes ... Competitive ... Team player, but also knows when to take over ... Clutch player. Shows the ability to raise his level of play in big games ... Makes his teammates better with his vision and ability to create ... Has a diverse offensive game with the ability to pull up off the dribble, hit from outside, and penetrate to the rim ... Shows a good stroke from outside, and excellent confidence to shoot through cold spells ... Has 3 point range ... Quick hands and feet, plus athleticism make him a potential lock down defender ... His foot speed and first step is very quick ... He has huge upside but needs to gain more experience ...
        Weaknesses: Needs a lot of weight ... Right now he's at least 15-20 pounds below where he needs to be ... Getting stronger will allow him to go inside and finish as well as make him stronger defensively ... Must continue to develop and gain experience ... Must gain more defensive intensity ... Must prove himself on the senior level ... Notes: One of the top prospects in his age group in Europe ... Led France to win the 2006 U18 Championships in Greece ... Won MVP of the 2006 Albert Schweitzer Tournament, leading France to first place ... Still just a kid, his face looks like he's even younger than his age ...
        Aran Smith - 5/2/2006

        from DraftExpress:

        Top Draft-Eligible Performers in the Euroleague Regular Season
        February 4, 2008
        Batum should be topping this chart, he should have taken this edition of the Euroleague by storm. Nobody, not a single player, comes close to combining his physical gifts and skill repertoire. Instead, we’re hearing an already familiar tune: inconsistency, a certain lack of character and… perhaps some softness(?) mixed in with stretches of impressive play that only a freakish athlete like him is capable of deliver.
        Unlike Gallinari, Batum hasn’t been able to emerge as the team leader Le Mans needed in order to overcome a pretty forgettable regular season (2-12 record), especially considering the very poor situation they had at the point guard position and the excellent creative skills Nicolas enjoys. But he barely ever came up aggressive enough to command his team’s offensive efforts for long periods. He wasn’t fearless enough attacking the basket, and his jumper is still a work in progress. And particularly, he disappeared again from the court in crunch time with concerning regularity--which didn’t help his team avoid some painfully close losses.
        However, whenever he figured things out, he really impressed with his abilities. The guy can be simply unstoppable, able to create his own shot at will, to easily set up his teammates for easy baskets, to play lock down defense taking advantage of his freakish wingspan and athleticism, and come up with a slew of highlights in the form of blocks, dunks, long-range off-the-dribble shots, etc.
        Batum needs to realize that he’s the clear-cut best player on his team, and start playing accordingly. It would be a crime to waste such an impressive collage of basketball goods. Indeed, he should be a lock for the lottery, but even if we can easily project him there, there’s no solid ground to protect him from slipping, given the concerns his game draws.

        Roundup: Rollercoaster-Ride Batum On the Upside
        December 19, 2007
        Although his team Le Mans couldn’t win any of the games played this past week,
        Nicolas Batum is back to showing his best face, running for a three-game streak where he scored over twenty points in each contest. Concerning only the last week, he started with 24 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Euroleague, following with 21 points, 2 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks in the close road loss against Clermont in the domestic competition.
        We had the chance to watch Batum against Maccabi, where his superb execution stood out. Indeed he stayed perfect from the field, a rare circumstance, especially if he shoots from long range. He connected on a couple of spot-up treys, but also netted an off-the-dribble bomb released over the head of a shorter opponent. All in all, he’s looking more reliable and comfortable from the arc these last couple of weeks, but there’s no assurance yet that this trend will continue.
        Another interesting characteristic in his game against the Israeli powerhouse was his post game. Twice he took his match-up to the post, and twice he came up with excellent results. The first one, in the low post, finishing with a right-handed hook shot (not the most orthodox around, without much elevation, but still effective given the size differential he enjoys); the second one, in the mid post, using a pivot move to beat his opponent and deliver a layup after an excellent extension. There’s no need to stress the great potential a long guy like him enjoys playing with his back to the basket, especially if he’s evolving at the shooting guard position.
        On the negative side, he didn’t look very effective trying to beat his opponents off the dribble, although he was usually guarded by much smaller and quicker players (Maccabi fills the backcourt with combo-guards very often this season). The problem continued on the other end of the court, as he couldn’t always stay in front of those small perimeter players he had to guard.
        The rest was there, such as his excellent passing game (he threw a terrific assists across the lane, found his open teammates easily, and fed a bunch of cutters), ability to run the floor or his above-the-rim plays (a put-back dunk off an offensive rebound for example, and a couple of terrific blocks). He was also unusually active cutting towards the basket during the first half of the game, which provided him with a couple of easy baskets.
        In the end, everything came effortless for Batum. He always transmits a feeling of ease while looking able of taking over almost at will. But that’s the key word, will. We’re going to see more of these performances this season. The question would be… how often?

        from ESPN:

        Draft Projection: Mid to late first round

        Similarities: Mickael Pietrus

        Notes: Plays for LeMans in France. Averaged 8.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg in 26 mpg in Euroleague play this year.
        Positives: Silky-smooth swing man. Has a high basketball IQ and can play several positions on the floor. Long arms. Very athletic. Excellent defender with quick hands and feet. Beginning to show nice range on his jump shot. Has developed a pro body.

        Negatives: Needs experience at the top level. Is known for disappearing from time to time on the court. Lacks consistent aggressiveness. Needs to work on his ballhandling skills.

        Summary: His dominance at the 2007 Nike Hoop Summit had many believing he would be a lottery pick. However his play for LeMans this season has been uneven. He can be spectacular at times, then disappear at others. He's looks like a mid-first-rounder right now.

        The French Sensation

        Scouting Video

        Nike Summit 2007

        Monday, April 7, 2008

        Prospect Profile: Earl Clark

        Don Nelson loves this kind of player - versatile, athletic, size for his position, good ball-handling, improving mid-range game, and quick. Nelson is the master of mis-matches, and versatile, skilled players are the key to much of the success of Nellie-ball. There are a few 'hybrid' forwards in this draft (Anthony Randolph, Donte Greene, Joe Alexander - also French Prospect Batum) so let's see what Earl Clark brings to the table and what make him different than the others.

        Earl Clark was ranked 4th best Shooting Guard by coming out of high school which means many believed he has good enough handles to grow into a point forward role. At 6'-9", that's always a good sign when determining if he would work in a Nellie style team. His range on his shot is improving and his mechanics suggest that he will continue to improve with more work. He can drive past bigger defenders because of his quickness and post up smaller ones because of his size. Like Greene, Alexander, and Randolph,he is a very good rebounder for his position. He doesn't have the 3 point range of Greene, but Clark's proven that he can hit the 3 on occasion (37% his freshman year). Clark, however, shoots at a much higher rate (47% fg) than all of them.

        Based on his per-40 rebounding stats, Clark is the best out of the group at 11.4 reb/40 followed by Anthony Randolph at 10.4 reb/40. And like Randolph, he is a good shot blocker at 2.4 blk/40 as compared to Randolph's 2.8, Alexander's 1.9, and Greene's 1.8. These two skills, rebounding and shot blocking, are sorely needed on the Warriors.

        One area Earl Clark needs to improve is his assist to turnover ratio. This weakness in his game was best exemplified in the Elite 8 game where he turned the ball over 7 times and only dealt out 1 assist. With more experience and hard work, hopefully, he will cut down on his turnovers and take better care of the ball. Sometimes he loses focus during the game and tries to make plays that are too risky. Joe Alexander has the best A/T ratio of the group.
        Of the four hybrid players, Clark has the lowest scoring average per 40 min. adjusted at 15.6 as compared to Alexander at 21.4. Clark is also the weakest free throw shooter at 65.4% from the charity stripe.

        There is a good chance Earl Clark will be available when the Warriors select either at 14 or 20 and it will come down to workouts leading up to the draft for Mullin to make his decision on whether to go with one of the hybrid forwards fit for Nellie-ball or with another position player that would fill a hole in a more conventional manner. Alexander is the most nba-ready of the 4, Clark is somewhere in the middle, and both Greene and Randolph have the most upside. If Clark can show that he can shoot it consistantly from mid-range and beyond, he might be the high on Mullin's draft charts.



        Birthday: 1/17/1988
        NBA Position: Small Forward
        Class: Sophomore
        Ht: 6-8
        Wt: 220
        College Team: Louisville
        Hometown: Rahway, NJ
        High School: Rahway

        NBA Comparison: Danny Granger

        Strengths: Clark is a rare breed of SF who makes those around him better with his great vision and unselfish passing ability ... Has prototypical small forward dimensions with long arms and a strong wiry frame, a very bouncy athlete ... He has shown a great deal of improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons in both his body and game, a tribute to his strong work ethic and desire ... Hits the glass extremely hard, his long arms and explosive leaping ability make him a Windex man. His added strength has given him the ability to battle inside with bigger players ... Has very good touch and form on his shot. Similar to Danny Granger with his all around skills: passing, ball handling and shooting ... His versatility sets him apart from most small forwards as he has the ball handling and passing ability to create shots for himself and teammates ...

        Weaknesses: Showed a solid touch in his freshman year hitting 37% from 3, but on a low volume of shots (10-27). He still must extend his range and develop better consistency on his shot. If he works hard at it, there's no reason why he can't be a quality 3 point shooter at the next level. But it will require a lot of work as the difference between the current college and pro 3 point line is huge ... His shot off the dribble is improved but still needs work. He's better at scoring off garbage baskets and on the break than pulling up off the dribble ... Not a real outgoing kid, one of those guys who leads by example. He has gained confidence and improved in this area but will need to become more vocal as his role with the team expands ... Must focus more attention to the defensive end of the floor. Should gather more steals considering his length and athleticism.

        Aran Smith - 11/29/2007

        from DraftExpress:

        April 2, 2008

        Fresh off his team’s run to the Elite Eight, which just happened to coincide with some of the best play of his NCAA career thus far, this is as good a time as any to take another look at Louisville’s Earl Clark. We’re talking about one of the more interesting long-term power forward prospects in college basketball, a player few can rival in terms of pure upside with his package of size, length, superb athleticism and versatile skills on both ends of the floor.

        Clark is not the most productive player you’ll find these days, having averaged just 11 points per game as a sophomore. He started off the season in outstanding form, particularly over the first month or so, but then went into a prolonged slump until March. He proceeded to emerge at just the right time as far as Rick Pitino and Louisville were likely concerned, though, usually coming off the bench. From what we could see on tape, his best days are clearly ahead of him.
        Versatility is the operative word when discussing Clark’s game. He looks comfortable facing the basket and operating on the perimeter, usually to put the ball on the floor going either left or right with a tremendous first step and very long strides. His ball-handling skills aren’t incredibly advanced—changing directions or performing advanced moves isn’t in his repertoire quite yet—but for a 6-9 player, it’s pretty impressive to see him blow by defenders and finish at the rim with his smooth body control. Clark can also do some work with his back to the basket, taking advantage of his excellent frame, length and quickness--even if his post-moves and footwork are very unrefined. He runs the floor exceptionally well in transition and is a tremendous finisher thanks to his superb physical tools, which comes in handy on set plays in the half-court as well, where he can come off a screen and cut to the basket. Clark’s jump-shot is still extremely streaky, but his high release point and decent (although inconsistent) form leaves room for optimism for the future.

        Although he has plenty of potential offensively, Clark’s best attribute right now might be his rebounding ability. He has the tools (size, wingspan, hands, outstanding leaping ability) to make his presence felt, and seems to have developed more of the nastiness needed to go out and dominate his matchup on a regular basis, although still not on a consistent basis. Defensively, Clark is phenomenal when he puts his mind to it, thanks to his terrific lateral quickness, which allows him to switch out onto perimeter players on the pick and roll with ease, and makes him extremely disruptive when combined with his length. He looks pretty intense for the most part on this end of the floor, contesting shots, getting in the passing lanes, coming up with blocks, and doing a great job recovering back onto his man after getting beat. His frame might be a little on the slender side to deal with some of the more bruising back to the basket power forward types he’ll face, but his wide shoulders lead us to believe that he’ll be able to put on about as much weight as he needs in the NBA.

        Clark is another prototypical example of the “hybrid forward” that every good NBA team seems to have these days. He can defend both forward positions as needed, and can serve as a tremendous mismatch facing the basket offensively and especially in transition. Polishing up his ball-handling skills and becoming a much better perimeter shooter will be important for him, but it seems to be the mental side of the game that he needs to improve on the most. Clark has a tendency to coast at times, looking fairly passive and losing his focus too often, which leads to unforced errors in the form of turnovers. His physical and mental toughness came into question at times early on in the season, which showed up on both ends of the floor, but hurt his team most defensively, when he just didn’t compete the way he should. This has become less and less of an issue as the year has moved on, but it’s still something for teams to keep in the back of their mind.

        from ESPN:

        Draft Projection: Mid to late first round

        Notes: Clark has declared for the 2008 NBA Draft. He will likely hire an agent, ending his college eligibility.

        Positives: Point forward with excellent size, athleticism and length. Perimeter oriented on offense. Good mid range jumper. Excellent passer. Good rebounder. Developing a low post game in the absence of Derrick Caracter. Has improved his ball handling. Good energy. Explosive.

        Negatives: Needs to continue add strength. Needs to develop more range on his jump shot. Still hasn't developed a great feel for the game. Summary: An excellent NCAA tournament, where Clark was Louisville's best player, combined with a solid performance in the second half of the season have scouts once again buzzing about Clark. His combination of size, athleticism and versatility could make him a sleeper in the second half of the draft.

        Louisville Basketball - Beast of the Big East

        look for #5