Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Telep's Top 10: NBA-style bodies
By Dave Telep
Talent evaluation is an inexact science. However, over the last 15 years, because of advances in technology and the ability to see prospects more, be it live on TV or through the Internet, we now know more about players on every level. However, what a college evaluator looks for and what an NBA talent evaluator sees differ.
Context is a big deal for NBA evaluators. In the Association, there aren’t 6-foot-2 shooting guards and sub 6-foot point guards had best be special talents. A 6-11 forward is likely to play facing the basket and 6-7 college power forwards find themselves having to transition to the wing in many situations. The NBA is a man’s game where strength and athleticism trump your collegiate production numbers. Size, length and measurable are tantalizing because of the largesse of the players on each NBA roster.
Sit NBA scouts in a gym at a major shoe camp or postseason all-star game and they’re more likely to see physical traits than the bigger picture with a player. Each year at the McDonald’s All American Game, you try and download the NBA scouts for what they’ve seen. A lot of times they become enamored with the biggest, fastest and most-upside laced players. A long, non-scoring seven-footer could carve out a role as a runner/rebounder (see Tyson Chandler) better than a 6-foot-3, 20 point per game score in college. It’s simply a different game on the NBA level played by giants at their position.
The NBA is a man’s league where size, length, athleticism and speed can trump basketball IQ and what your high school or college resume looked like. An NBA talent evaluator is more apt to see the physical abilities and how it translates to his league. While fans are enamored with the overall legacy of Tyler Hansbrough, an NBA scout sees the ceiling. He’s more intrigued by Roy Hibbert who owns a lesser resume but more NBA quantifiable attributes like length and size.
If an NBA general manager were to crank out the 10 most physically intriguing prospects in the senior class his list might look something like this.
Top 10 physically intriguing players in the Class of 2013
1. Andrew Wiggins, SF: Peel back the layers and you have the son of an NBA player and Olympic sprinter who is 6-foot-7, leaps mid-size buildings and gets off the floor like a pro around the rim. He’s explosive, athletic and owns a ceiling higher than most in his class. He has versatility in his athleticism from different spots on the floor.
Kentucky recruit Andrew Harrison is the best scoring point guard in the Class of 2013.
2. Andrew Harrison, PG: Cruise around the NBA and start naming athletic, 6-5 point guards that weigh 210 pounds. Harrison’s sheer size is a major plus and an outlier for his position. He’ll be a Goliath amongst college point guards next season and even in the NBA the following year.
3. Aaron Gordon, PF: A better athlete than Blake Griffin at the same stage in high school, Gordon’s in a category of freakishly athletic forwards. With offensive development he takes the next step. Height wise, he’s more NBA small forward than power forward making him a slight position tweener. Athletic ability, for now, masks the overall measure of height.
4. Joel Embiid, C: He’s got the highest risk vs. reward factor in the entire class. We were aggressive with his rating (No. 28) because of his measurable and the fact that he’s making strides with his game. The key with him is being able to max out his potential. In terms of length, shot blocking and sheer size this is the most intriguing, raw big in the class. He’ll need time but Kansas knows how to get the most out of kids like this.
5. Julius Randle, PF: From an NBA scout’s seat, Randle has good size but is shy of that magical 6-10 window that ideally suits elite big forwards. Where Randle scores points with evaluators is his body type, ability to accept and deliver contact and play through it. He’s a freight train. He’s a big kid with fast twitch muscles in the lane and a shooter’s touch.
6. James Young, SF: The size, shooting ability and athleticism for the position are unquestioned added long-term benefits. The NBA could see him as a big shooting guard and that gives him a boost on this list.
7. Kuran Iverson, PF: His ability to handle the ball in the open court and shoot with range will lure NBA scouts out to see him. He’s well suited for one-on-one play and could score in those situations. He’ll be subject to the scrutiny of playing hard and staying focused but the physical attributes are simply greater than his peers. Size, skill package and NBA athleticism put him with the cream of the crop.
Chris Walker's size and explosion are two very attractive facets of his game.
8. Mamadou Ndiaye, C: When you’re 7-5 and have shown actual touch to midrange, you have some things going for you. Ndiaye is already the most unique prospect in the class because of his sheer size. He’s raw but so were a ton of players before him. Who knows what the next few seasons will bring.
9. Chris Walker, PF: With Walker, it’s his size and explosion around the rim that get him on this list. Even in traffic, guys will peel off Walker and he’s going to try and rip the rim down when he’s in range. Defensively, he’ll bring length and shot blocking. Like Iverson, the physical measurables are high.
10. Rysheed Jordan, PG: As a 6-4 floor general, you’re in the right neighborhood size-wise to be considered a legit NBA prospect. You feel good about including him on this list, not only because of the physical attributes but also due to his speed and uncanny ability to get into the lane. Factor in his progress as a lead guard and you have a player with added size and athleticism advantages.
The first question one might ask regarding the list is where is Jabari Parker? Athletically, he’s above average in a lot of areas. His game is constructed around skill, shooting and contributing on both ends. He is not a physical freak or exceptionally long player. His résumé will be laced with production, intangibles and a higher IQ and skill rating meshed with an intense desire to win within the framework of a team. On a straight physical attributes scale, when compared to his elite peers, he’s not jumping off the page.
It’s important to remember, this is NOT a ranking of the best NBA prospects in the class. It’s a list that an NBA front office type might keep in the top of his desk drawer as he tracks soon-to-be college players and their production against where they stack up athletically in the Class of 2013. This list means nothing unless the player’s actions back up their athletic ability.