Draft Preview, Pt. 2

Welcome to part 2 of the draft preview. If you missed the first part, click here.

A quick reminder of some of my logic:

  1. I hate the Big East with particular vitriol for Georgetown and Syracuse. Thank you “Weak” Wes Johnson and Jonny Flynn. I don’t know why I hate Georgetown, I just do. Not much as these guys though.
  2. I am partial to players I have seen. Living in Tempe, AZ, I catch a lot of Pac 12 games in person, hence I probably have an admittedly inflated opinion of some of these guys.
  3. Basketball talent is more important than positional fit. Positional fit makes you wind up with Wes Johnson when DeMarcus Cousins is staring you in the face. Conversely, sometimes you’re KAHNNN-vinced that you can play players of a certain position together…and you get Jonny Flynn. One last tip of the hat to Kahn.
  4. Certain skills translate well (shooting, rebounding) to the NBA, while others do not. As such I value specific traits highly.
  5. This draft sucks. The players suck. I suck. You suck. Kahn sucks. There is just not much to work with aside from 2-3 players like McLemore and Noel.

Now, a few guys I would like the Wolves to target, specifically at 9, but later on as well (in addition to KCP):

Shabazz Muhammad – G/F – UCLA, Fr.

I saw Shabazz once in person and on television often. He’s just a good basketball player. His slightly unconventional play makes him a tough guard. One thing the PAC-12 has had a lot of in recent times are good wing defenders. Guys like Solomon Hill, Carrick Felix, and Andre Roberson can all really get after it defensively. Shabazz never really looked troubled by those players. He has NBA range, he rebounds and gets easy buckets. He played much of the year injured as well after missing the first three games due to questions about his eligibility. Only one game with single-digit scoring. The guy has an elite skill, so I think he will be one of the best players from this weak draft.

Shabazz had roughly 27 more assists for UCLA than I had last year. If he gets the ball you can bet it is going up. Being a chucker is fixable however. He does not have elite size, but he’s big enough. He’s 20 years old. Which is roughly 8 months older than McLemore. It just doesn’t matter…they’re not 23 a la Wes Johnson. As many know his father altered his birth certificate. When he was asked about lying about his age, Shabazz said something along these lines, “I never said I wasn’t 20 years old”. I wonder what birthdays were like at his place. Was his age altered there? Did some of his friends know and others were in the dark? Many questions, few answers.

Verdict: I am a big fan of taking players who were considered truly elite prospects coming into college. You look at guys like Avery Bradley and Lance Stephenson, who while not stars in the NBA are both trending upward. I really think he can be like a poor man’s James Harden, scoring at a similar level but never getting his teammates involved. I think at minimum he is a NBA starter with maybe as much upside as anyone in this class.

Barring Oladipo or McLemore falling into the Wolves laps, Shabazz is a good consolation prize.

Tim Hardaway, Jr. – G – Michigan, Jr.

 

A fine combination of skills and attitude, Hardaway can be of use in the league. He can be a serviceable catch and shoot 3 point threat, provide depth, and bring an understanding that goes with being the son of a former NBA player. I am a firm believer that the NBA pedigree has a big impact on contributions, especially early on.

He is another player who is just not able to consistently create his own shot. He doesn’t have the strength or athletic ability to work his will. His handle isn’t elite.

Verdict: NBAdraft.net says his comparison is Aaron Afflalo. I think he is at minimum 15% better than Wayne Ellington, who unfortunately he remind me of. Given how he was used in college (spot-up 3 pt shooter, 5 attempts a game), I think that will also aid his transition to the NBA, as I expect that will very much be his role at least early on. Similar to our recent upgrade at GM, I can see him fitting in on the Wolves mainly because almost any player we bring in at the 2 spot is an upgrade from any player we have had over the past 3 years.

Glen Rice, Jr. – G – NBA D-League (Formerly at Georgia Tech, kicked off the team)

GR Jr. has pretty good size for the 2 guard position at 6-6, 211 lbs. Nearly doubled his production in the D-league playoffs, leading the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the championship. He averaged 25, 9.5 and 4.3 in the playoffs. Yes it is only the D-league, but those guys are pros and to hang big numbers on them must say something, especially in the playoffs. NBAdraft.net says that the final straw of his getting kicked off of the GT squad was allowing a friend to drive his vehicle while impaired, resulting in a DUI for the driver. There were multiple other issues as well. Not the smartest move of course, but it isn’t like he was shipping 4-5lbs of weed to his home address and getting caught like our favorite Vikings WR, Jerome Simpson. Jerome’s quote regarding his subsequent suspension for the incident, “man, that’s the just technicality of my situation”. High (get it?) comedy. Anyway, back to hoops.

Relative to Tim Hardaway Jr, I think Rice has a higher ceiling as he is a more capable individual scorer. However, I do believe that he can definitely be a true knucklehead, and possible distraction. So there is a bit of tradeoff. He’ll never be better than an average defender.

He’s currently 22 years old, so I think physically, you can’t expect a ton growth/development.

Verdict: Player comparison: Morris Almond/Anthony Peeler. Full disclosure; I have no idea who Morris Almond is. I had to enlist my tracking service (Google) to become an informed individual. Looks like he was out of the league in 2010 and then back for a year and then out again. This is concerning to me. Let’s focus on the glory of AP, who I remember chucking crap shots and getting undressed on defense. No matter. AP was a serviceable player for a long time in the league. If you can get Rice any time after pick 20. I think you’ve got a rotation guy, who can get you some scoring and stretch the d a little with his spot shooting.

Worth a 2nd round flyer:

Jamaal Franklin – G – San Diego State, Jr.

Not to be confused with LaBradford (The parents liked the name Bradford, but thought it could use a little oomph) Franklin, also of SDSU. Best player on his team for 2 years. Doesn’t shoot it super well, but he was relied on for so much on those teams. I presume this dragged his percentages down substantially, so his efficiency suffered. He boards the heck out of the ball, average 9.5 boards from the guard spot (damn, shawty, damn). He also averaged 3.3 assists per game. I just really like what he brings to the table. He’s a solid defender to boot, should be able to guard 3 positions. Good size.

He’s not an elite athlete, but he’s better than most 2’s in this draft. I worry because I don’t see the elite skill that I desire. He does many things well, but I don’t see the saving grace. That’s why I think he’ll go in the 30-40 range, which is very reasonable.

Carrick Felix – G/F – Arizona State – Sr.

I wouldn’t be a proper homer if I didn’t pull for this guy. Carrick has solid size and is a great athlete who tested very well at the combine. The strength of his offensive game is the catch and shoot three which he hits at a very consistent clip. He is a limited ball handler and doesn’t do well creating his own shot. Even in college he was tentative going to the rim, which was odd because he was such a great athlete and could use a pump fake from 3 to open driving lanes. He is a great team player and he is a great defender (should have been Pac 12 defensive player of the year, but he settled for first team). He nearly averaged a double double in conference play and averaged 14.1 ppg and 8.1 rbs overall, while shooting 50% from the field. He hung a monster 16 pt 18 rb game on UCLA toward the end of the season. He might have led the county in blocks where guys thought they had a layup, but he tracked them a la LeBron.

I think his ability to catch and shoot, willingness to defend, and genuine effort will mean he finds a way to carve out a decent career. His athleticism should allow his game to continue to expand, this is especially true if he has a quality PG, like he had his senior year at ASU.

Other worthwhile flyers (in general, not Wolves specific):

Nate Wolters – G – South Dakota State – Sr. – St Cloud, MN product with Steve Nash game (mandatory comparison for tall white point guard).

Ray McCallum – G – Detroit – Jr. – Reminds me of Eric Maynor.

CJ Leslie – F – North Carolina State – Jr. – Another major recruit who didn’t pan out, but has substantial tools.

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