Thursday, June 27, 2013
NBA draft prospects: Who's the next ... ?
By Paul Biancardi
The recruiting world is flush with comparisons as scouts, college coaches and fans alike search for different ways to project what kind of player a prospect will develop into. With the NBA draft upon us Thursday night, we’re offering our take on five lottery pick talents, including potential No. 1 overall pick Nerlens Noel, by finding their high school contemporaries who may be heading down a parallel path.
No. 1 PG Tyus Jones already has some of the passing skills NBA scouts look for in a prospect.
The Next Trey Burke ...
PG Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley)
Ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2014, 6-1, 171 These two lead guards are similar in size and in their ability to process the game at a rapid pace. They’re also fierce competitors who want to have the ball in their hands in major moments and have a knack for delivering in crunch time.
Burke often looks to score first and pass second. On the other hand, Jones is stellar at dishing the ball and is a creative passer who gets rid of the rock quickly to create assist situations. This kid is one of the best high school point guards we have seen since Chris Paul. He boasts an excellent assist-to-turnover ratio and has a mean floater to get buckets once he knifes through the defense. He is crafty and cerebral in orchestrating the offense and knocks down treys with ease.
The Next Victor Oladipo …
SF Jaylen Brown (Alpharetta, Ga./Wheeler)
Ranked No. 27 in the Class of 2015, 6-6, 200 While he’s probably a better offensive player at this stage due to his ability to draw-and-kick, Brown’s explosiveness and athletic ability often mirrors that of Oladipo’s.
Brown attacks the rim with power, something Hoosier fans saw a heavy dose of during Oladipo’s tenure in Bloomington. Brown regularly draws help defenders with his ability to get to the rim, but like Oladipo, he makes his living in the transition game where he finishes with SportsCenter-worthy flushes. The less the game stops, the more impactful Brown is. He doesn’t want to hear a whistle, preferring to go up and down the floor relying on his athleticism and defensive instincts. On the defensive end, Brown can defend all three perimeter positions and does so with high intensity.
The Next Otto Porter …
PF Isaac Copeland (Raleigh, N.C./Brewster Academy)
Ranked No. 47 in the Class of 2014, 6-8, 189 Like Porter, Copeland is a small-town kid with loads of talent and will play his college ball at Georgetown. Copeland is a bit bigger and more skilled at putting the ball on the deck than Porter was in high school and makes a living getting to the basket using his long strides.
Copeland gets into the lane and can finish via a soft floater, which at his size, is quite impressive. He is an active defender who uses his length to cover ground, get deflections and contest shots. He could be more engaged as a rebounder and shot-blocker, especially given his wingspan, but this is a long, lanky and extremely productive recruit who may enjoy similar success to that of Porter’s with the Hoyas.
The Next Nerlens Noel …
C Goodluck Okonoboh (Boston/Wilbraham & Monson Academy)
Ranked No. 19 in the Class of 2014, 6-9, 215 Of course, the first thing you’ll notice is that both big men sport flattops, but their games are very similar as well.
The explanation for that is simple: Noel and Okonoboh were teammates at Tilton and on the AAU circuit, so Okonoboh would go up against Noel in practice. Evidently, the younger Okonoboh picked up on several of the traits that helped Noel emerge as the top defensive player in college basketball last year and used them to become the top low-post defensive presence at the high school level.
Okonoboh is a true rim protector whose game -- offensively and defensively -- is confined to the paint. He has the size, tools and instincts to develop into an NBA-caliber defender like Noel. Okonoboh has a seemingly innate sense of timing and is approaching a mastery of shot-blocking. In addition, Okonoboh rebounds with length, timing and bounce more than strength. He’s an athletic finisher and lob-catcher, but like Noel, Okonoboh is still a work in progress on the offensive end. Despite that glaring weakness, he can have a major impact on a contest without having to score.
The Next Alex Len C Stephen Zimmerman (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman)
No. 7 in the Class of 2015, 6-11, 215 Despite the wealth of talented bigs in the 2014 class, we had to go down another year to find the player we think has as unique a game as Len. That player is the 6-11 Zimmerman, who much like Len, can score inside with either hand and excels in the pick-and-pop game.
Zimmerman is a fluid, mobile and crafty scorer inside, but truly excels in the face-up game where he can comfortably knock down jumpers out to the arc or use an up-fake to get to the rim -- another facet of his game he shares with Len. He makes himself easy to find near the basket using his frame, despite lacking strength in establishing post position. He tries to block shots and deter scorers using his size, but his defensive game still trails his offensive prowess. Another area of commonality is that both players have a soft touch in the post, but need to gain strength to improve their low-post scoring.