- David Thorpe, ESPN Staff Writer
Every Wednesday, the NBA Draft Blog will feature the "Thorpe Report," a genuine scouting report on a featured game each week from ESPN Insider David Thorpe. This week's game: Xavier vs. Vanderbilt on Nov. 28, 2011. Xavier won 82-70 in OT.
School/Class: Xavier, senior
Line score: 42 min., 6-20 FGM, 3-5 3-pt made, 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
Top 100 draft ranking: 48
Game play: Holloway managed the game well, but I saw him settle for playing that role. It wasn't until later in the game that he started dictating things more. Most of that was due to getting locked up by Jeff Taylor and John Jenkins, but it also looked like he was content with being a role player until his team needed him. Considering the Musketeers needed a last-second bucket to force overtime, it almost cost them. He was more aggressive on defense than on offense.
Basketball tools: His perimeter shot has improved a great deal over time. His defense and game management skills allow him to be a draft prospect. There are college players who have similar games without the shooting talent, and they are not going to be seriously considered by the NBA. Holloway's confidence and toughness are NBA level. But can he keep that confidence up when he can't just "out-tough" NBA players the way he does college kids?
Physical aptitude/comparables: Holloway reminds me of Kyle Lowry, but he is not as forceful with his on-court personality nearly as consistently. Lowry, in his last season at Villanova, would not have waited until late in the game to try to take over, and he had better talent around him than Holloway does. He's got long arms, strength and a great stance that makes him an excellent one-on-one, on-ball defender. He tracks the ball well with his eyes and knows when to try for a steal. A lack of quickness and athletic talent is tough to recover from as a point guard (consider the athleticism of guys like Brandon Jennings, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison, etc.). To make up for that deficiency, a player needs to be able to impact the game in other ways beyond just being a steady ball handler.
John Jenkins, SG
School/Class: Vanderbilt, sophomore
Line score: 41 min., 8-18 FG made, 20 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 3 TO
Top 100 draft ranking: 43
Game play: Jenkins has decent quickness but can play more quickly off the catch because of his shooting talent. Defenders have to close him out tighter, so he has more options to get by them. If a defender stays down on his shot fake, however, I didn't see much ability to separate in clear-cut one-on-one actions. He gave Holloway lots of trouble using his arm length to bother shots. He was more effective at this than you'd think.
Basketball tools: He has a pure stroke on his deep shots with a great follow through. Jenkins tries to make an impact on defense by using quickness to disrupt the ball handler. He has a quick release on his 3-point shot, which will help him get shots off after a swing pass against taller guys trying to close him out. This is important for a small shooting guard.
Physical aptitude/comparables: He is built like and moves like Stephen Curry. He plays like Curry on the perimeter but does not look like he has anything close to Curry's scoring talent inside the 3-point line. He does, however, have a burst of speed that he uses to beat defenders to the rim (though I saw this only in scramble situations). He can add that extra gear at just the right time.
Jeff Taylor, SF
School/Class: Vanderbilt, senior
Line score: 41 min., 6-11 field goals made, 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 3 TO
Top 100 draft ranking: 29
Game play: Like Memphis' Sam Young, Taylor's power can help him guard some of the stronger small forwards in the NBA. But his agility and hand size/quickness might enable him to defend much smaller guards, which makes him more valuable because smaller guys will have trouble matching up with him inside and on the boards. He defended Holloway on many possessions with ease.
Basketball tools: He's going to have to score his points in transition or out of a system because he's not going to beat anyone off triple threat or dribble attacks. However, Young has proved that power wings who can shoot can be viable NBA rotation players. Taylor has not shot well from 3-point range this season, a problem if he hopes to get into the first round. If he finishes the season at 38 percent or better, he will be a hard guy to pass on after the top 20 or so are drafted. He has improved as a passer, both with making the right pass on a system read and when improvising.
Physical aptitude/comparables: I love Taylor's hand strength and the power game he employs as a wing player. He'd benefit from using one-leg launches more often on drives, but his power jump off two feet helps him stay under control in transition. He's explosive jumping off one leg or two, to be sure, but using one-leg jumps on occasion would give him some advantages and versatility as a finisher. He's not a playmaking small forward like Andre Iguodala or LeBron James by any stretch, but being able to see and hit an open man as part of a team's offensive system has value. Not every wing can do this.