Commentary

Draft Rater: Beasley has most pro potential among collegians

Originally Published: January 31, 2008
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
Michael BeasleyAP Photo/Charlie RiedelThe numbers support the case of Kansas State's Michael Beasley being the best big-man prospect.
Let's face it, the NBA is a busy place in February. But before we get too consumed by trades and All-Star weekend and playoff races and what not, let's take a step back and have another look at the draft. Actually, the fans of a few teams (hello, Heat fans!) will be more than happy to do this already as they look ahead to whom their teams might select this June.

To review, last year I created a system to rate college players' pro potential based on their NCAA stats; earlier this year I updated that with a list of the top returnees from a year ago.

Now, with half a season of college stats under our belts, we can start evaluating players based on their performances this season.

Before we do, let's make sure you take this list with the proper mouthful of salt. Because this is based on a half-season, we're looking at samples of 400-600 minutes from most of these players. Thus, short-term flukes can have a dramatic impact on the rankings. Additionally, in a universe as vast as Division I college basketball, with minutes samples of this size, one should expect a couple of players who don't really belong to creep into the top of the list just by chance. In a couple of cases, it appears that is what might have happened.

Additionally, a lot of teams play cupcakes in the first half of the season and pad their stats against bad teams. I have a schedule adjustment in the rankings, but it's possible it doesn't deal with this harshly enough; we'll know better once we see the year-end rankings in April.

Finally, this whole system relies on heights and birthdates being correctly reported. If either isn't the case, then the whole thing blows up. With the reputation college heights have for being inflated, this factor is of particular concern.

Of the players on the list below, the one most vulnerable in that respect is the No. 2 prospect, Oklahoma's Blake Griffin. He's listed at 6-10 but some scouts suspect he's only 6-8; were that the case, he'd fall to the No. 6 spot.

Also, the No. 12 prospect, North Carolina's Ty Lawson, would drop to No. 15 if he's an inch shorter than his listed 6-0, as many surmise; and teammate Tyler Hansbrough would tumble out of the top 20 entirely if he turns out to be only 6-8.

With all that said, these would be the top 20 players if the draft were held today. I used a minimum of 400 minutes played this season to qualify. Note also that stats are through Monday, so it doesn't include more recent games, such as K-State's win over Kansas Wednesday night:


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