Kentucky, SDSU stars hold big promise
February, 24, 2011
By David Thorpe | ESPN.com
Mark Zerof/US PresswireIf Terrence Jones can improve his second step, he'll vastly improve.This week we're studying two guys that are considered "tweeners" by most draft experts, Terrence Jones from Kentucky and Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State. Both guys are having outstanding seasons, as Jones is one of the top freshmen in America and Leonard is the best player on a potential No. 1 seed. Those facts alone help their draft status, but packaged with their NBA bodies, they become highly valuable prospects. But are they powerful small forwards or small power forwards? Let's review what is apparent on tape.
Jones is the more valued prospect, thanks to a huge wingspan on a 6-foot-8 frame combined with outstanding production on a Top 25 team. Freshman forwards in the SEC who average 18 and 10 with a 7-2-plus wingspan are lottery picks. Teams have to love his ability to get buckets in the paint, and he should also be a very effective pick-and-pop guy because he has a great stroke inside the 3-point line. He's not a consistent 3-point threat yet, but projects to be a solid shooter from deep.
I like his "slink" game, his ability to slither by guys using timing and craft to get points or draw fouls -- that's a talent that's tough to teach. It's a talent that carries forward well if guys have size (as opposed to similarly talented guys in college in small bodies who get eaten up by size and length in the NBA). Ed Davis, last year's lottery pick in Toronto, and Reggie Williams, an undrafted forward now in his second season at Golden State, are two guys who have been successful at scoring without exploding by defenders.