Chad Ford, David Thorpe, Fran Fraschilla and Ryen Russillo of ESPN wrote:
Not all great minds think alike. When it comes to evaluating talent, there are more opinions than Rasheed Wallace's career tech count. So we turned to our draft bloggers -- Chad Ford, David Thorpe, Fran Fraschilla and Ryen Russillo -- to get each of their takes on three big questions as the 2010 NBA draft creeps ever closer.
1. What player in this draft is getting less attention than he deserves?
Ford: Xavier Henry. At one point he was ranked in our top 10 before he tailed off a bit in conference play. He has an NBA body, an NBA skill (3-point shooting) and just tested as a much better athlete than scouts had given him credit for at the combine. Had he not played on a stacked title contender at Kansas, his production could have been much higher.
Thorpe: I'd lean heavily to Trevor Booker. NBA execs mention Paul Millsap and Carl Landry when they are discussing Booker. Um, hello? Those are two of the top 18 power forwards in the game! Booker has the "beast" mentality with long arms -- a perfect combination. If his neck was an inch longer, he'd be a lottery candidate. Who cares about neck length?
Fraschilla: Jordan Crawford. When it is all said and done, the essence of the game of basketball is to put the ball into the basket more than your opponent does. Crawford is, easily, one of the best shot-makers in this entire draft and I see no reason why that won't translate to the NBA level. He is a better athlete than he appears, and he puts that athleticism to good use, snaking his way into the midrange and around the basket. And, as evidenced in the game against Kansas State in the NCAA tournament, he has the ability to hit from deep. His lack of conscience about shot selection can be channeled into an "instant offense" mentality.
Crawford's microwave capabilities may not be at the level of former Pistons star Vinnie Johnson, but more realistically, I think he can have a Bobby Jackson-like impact in the NBA. That would make for a very solid career for the Xavier star.
Russillo: Craig Brackins deserves some more heat.
I don't get it. Last year he was a lottery guy, this year I don't hear about him that much. I understand that his numbers went down across the board in a few more minutes per game, but he is still about as good offensively as anyone his size in this draft. He measured just under 6-foot-10 and can shoot, post and rebound. I think he's masked by the fact that his team was awful this season. They won four games in the Big 12 and it brought down his numbers and his stock.
2. What player outside of Chad Ford's top 30 could you plug into the rotation of one of the teams in the Finals?
Ford: Trevor Booker is a senior with NBA toughness, athleticism and a big-time motor. He won't be a star in the NBA, but he'll try to fit into the same mold as DeJuan Blair and Carl Landry. A team like the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers could use another guy like that right now.
Thorpe: I think Dominique Jones could be a big help to Boston's rotation. We all saw how Nate Robinson played the hero role for them in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, and Jones has the talent and mindset to be similar. When the Celts last won the title, Eddie House was a big part of their second group. They do not have anyone who has been like him consistently, and Jones should be able to come into the league and score right away.
Fraschilla: Trevor Booker gets my vote too. I have always advocated for second-round selections who have what I call "winning skills." These are players that bring high energy on the court, a specific high-level skill and are low maintenance off the court. Booker fits this perfectly.
After four years as an ACC starter, he has competed against -- and in some cases dominated -- guys who are already in the NBA. His power, explosive jumping ability, nose for the ball and experience would make for a great rotation player early in his career on a team like the Celtics. Think of him as a Glen Davis or Leon Powe type, both of whom had knocks on them coming out of college, but helped the Celtics win a title in 2008.
Russillo: This is a tough one. Both teams could use a PG, but there are about five total in the top 60. The Celtics consider shooting one of the most important skills and there aren't many shooters this year.
The Lakers' biggest weakness has been their bench, so I'll say Dominique Jones as well. Jones can get to the rim, and if he could do that in the NBA, it would be great for a Lakers second unit that doesn't have anyone to create their own shot consistently. Jones lived at the free throw line this year and that would be a nice virtue in L.A.
3. What player outside of Chad Ford's top 30 will be the best five years from now? In other words, which guy's upside are you most willing to bank on?
Ford: Jordan Crawford is my choice here. He's a big-time scorer who has deep, deep range and combines that with terrific athleticism. If teams weren't so concerned about his attitude, he'd be a lock for the first round.
Thorpe: Elliot Williams has the best upside of this group of players. Speed and quickness are huge advantages in the pro game, as is the ability to get to the free throw line. Williams has both -- in a big way. It's always hard to gauge guys who played only one season, if they didn't play well throughout (think Anthony Randolph). It's even tougher to measure a guy who played for two different teams in his two seasons of college basketball. My guess is, had Williams gone back to school (and I am in no way suggesting he should have), he'd have been easier to project as a top-20 talent.
Fraschilla: This would be a great place to pick an international player because, even though NBA scouting in Europe is better than ever, there are some guys falling through the cracks again with excellent long-range potential.
Instead, I'll go with Devin Ebanks. I don't know what was going on with him this season at West Virginia. The decision behind his benching by coach Bob Huggins early in the season raised questions, but there is no question he can be a very solid NBA player. He was, in my opinion, the best prospect at the LeBron James Skills Academy last summer. At worst, he will rebound and defend the small forward position and is relatively good at attacking the basket off the dribble. While he is, at this point, a below-average outside shooter -- 10 percent this season on 3-of-30 behind the arc -- he did shoot 77 percent from the foul line. So there is hope, offensively.
I'd be surprised if he lasts until the second round.
Russillo: Gani Lawal. He has fallen from mid-first to No. 40 in Chad's latest top 100. I can understand why he isn't a hot name anymore, but the guy competes every minute he is on the floor. He definitely takes some shots outside his range but I think he can develop better selection. His best attribute is his ability to run the floor and he consistently beats his man in transition. Lawal's effort will keep him in the league.