Draft Buzz - Should I Stay or Should I Go?
By Aran Smith
The decision of when to leave for the NBA can make or break a players career. For some the pressure to leave forces them in too early before their stock is truly in the first round and before their skills are developed to make their way in the NBA. Others end up waiting too long ala Chris Marcus, Terence Morris or Chris Duhon and see their once first round stock plummet into the second round or even go undrafted by not showing improvement.
So it is crucial to make the right decision and leave at the right time.
A number of players have made their intentions clear that they will sign an agent (most recently Gabe Pruitt) and remain in the draft. But for a number of players the decision is still to be made. The withdrawal deadline is June 18th, 10 days before the draft.
Obviously players should weigh their options after workouts and listen to what teams are saying about their draft stock before signing an agent. But as it stands now, here is a look at whether the key early entrants should Return (to NCAA or Europe) or Go (to the NBA).
[img_assist|nid=3871|title=Javaris Crittenton|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=329]Javaris Crittenton 6-5 195 PG Georgia Tech Fr. -- He's a player with sex appeal due to his tremendous athleticism and upside. Crittenton benefits from both the lack of quality point guards and depth in this year's draft. Despite some thought to the contrary, this is in fact a weak draft outside the top half a dozen players. The late first round area has a lot of question marks and projects plus a number of players are still likely to pull out. The track record of point guards leaving this early is not in his favor, but with an NBA style game, Crittenton is a scoring point with excellent athleticism with a real chance to leapfrog Acie Law and be the second point guard taken. Verdict: Go
Jason Smith 7-0 240 PF Colorado St. Jr. -- Smith was recruited by Duke but came into the college game virtually unknown. He had a breakout freshman season and followed that up with an excellent sophomore season, and an even better junior campaign. At 7 feet, Smith is a bit of a finesse guy with excellent touch but he shows the willingness to go inside and battle. He'll need to get stronger and tougher so there's a certain project element even though he's an upperclassmen. Regardless Smith has a good shot to land in the mid to late first round. Verdict: Go
Daequan Cook 6-5 210 SG Ohio St. Fr. -- Cook struggled for playing time at the end of the year, however many scouts feel he's a first rounder this year anyway. Some attribute that lack of playing time to the team trying to keep the player around for next season. Cook had some monster games before Oden returned to the team, and never was able to get the same touches afterwards. The latest news is that Cook is set to stay in the draft regardless if he's projected in the first or second round. He would probably benefit in the long run by returning to school, but with a solid shot to get in the first round, it's hard to fault his decision either way. Verdict: Go
Rodney Stuckey 6-4 205 SG E. Wash. So. -- Stuckey should weigh his options before deciding to stay in for good. But the real struggle for him is convincing scouts that his tremendous productivity is not just a product of his inferior competition. Stuckey displayed some point guard skills this year, and he's obviously a tremendous scorer. But how effective can he be as a role player? Stuckey is an interesting player with a chance to move up into the mid to late first round with solid showings in the Orlando camp and workouts. Verdict: Go
Thaddeus Young 6-8 217 SF Georgia Tech Fr. -- Young will likely take a year or two before he's ready to contribute to an NBA team, but with such a high ceiling he's considered by scouts as a likely late lottery to mid first rounder. He's another player that would surely benefit by developing into a college star next year as opposed to riding an NBA team's bench. However, the opportunity is there to secure his financial situation, therefore a decision to leave should not be second guessed. Verdict: Go
DeVon Hardin 6-10 240 PF California Jr. -- Hardin is a big wildcard in this year's draft having missing most of the season after breaking his foot. With a lack of quality bigmen in the draft, a team could look to roll the dice with him in the later part of the first round. Hardin is far from a lock for the first round, and will really need to impress in workouts to get in. His lack of touch limits his overall potential some, and his injury further complicates matters. Hardin's best bet is to return to Cal for his senior year, where he would have a chance to play himself into a top 15-20 pick. Verdict: Return
Charles Rhodes 6-8 240 PF Miss.St. Jr. -- Rhodes is an undersized bigman with excellent explosiveness and athleticism. He's a likely 2nd round pick next year but would probably go undrafted this year. Entering in his junior year makes sense as he can put his name out there and possibly get some info on what he needs to work on in NBA scouts minds. Verdict: Return
Sean Singletary 5-11 175 PG Virginia Jr. -- Singletary is undersized but had an excellent season. He might be best advised to leave this year despite having little chance of going in the first round. He benefits from the lack of quality point guards in this year's class as opposed to next year. Unlike someone like Sessions, Singletary's upside and draft stock likely wouldn't rise a great deal next year due to his lack of size. Verdict: Go
Ramon Sessions 6-3 190 PG Nevada Jr. -- Sessions is still a bit of a sleeper despite playing for one of the top teams on the West Coast and alongside All American Nick Fazekas. He would likely fall in the 40-50 range in this year's draft. Sessions is not expected to remain in the draft, and should benefit by returning to Nevada next year and showing the ability to take an even larger role in the offense with the departure of Fazekas. Sessions has a great size and speed combination and shows a solid ability to run an offense and play the position. Verdict: Return
Joseph Jones 6-9 250 PF Texas A&M Jr. -- Jones lacks huge upside so it's unlikely he's a first rounder next year anyway. So the question is, does he have a legit chance to be a second rounder this year? Maybe. He won't have the benefit of playing with Acie Law next year should he return so defenses will be able to key on him even more. But if he works hard on his conditioning, he could improve his stock. Verdict: Return
Spencer Hawes 6-11 250 C Washington Fr. -- Point guards and centers have the hardest adjustment to the league when they leave early. Hawes would be a project and likely take a number of years to develop. He looked slow and unathletic at times, but at just 19, there is a lot of room for growth. He was affected by a midseason infection and lost some strength which affected his play. Hawes has a football mentality, which you love to see in a bigman. His skill level is extremely advanced, but his lack of speed means he won't fit into a running team well. Despite being a few years away, Hawes is a likely late lotto pick. Verdict: Go
Jeff Green 6-8 235 SF Georgetown Jr. -- Green was quoted as saying he is 70% to return to G-Town and 30% to stay in the draft. However few scouts give that much credence. Green could be motivated by the Gators big 3 returning to win another title. With such an impressive recruiting class adding to their Final Four team, they would have an excellent shot to win it all next year with Green there. But it's likely too much to risk injury. Look for Green to stay in the draft and find a spot in the 6-10 area of the lottery. Verdict: Go
Brandon Rush 6-6 202 SG/SF Kansas So. -- Rush has never broken out into a superstar, but his athleticism and length give him a good shot to find a spot in the late first round. Should he return and not show improvement, his stock could fall. Rush is in an excellent draft to get into the late first round area and his two years in college have given him a good base to begin his NBA career. Verdict: Go
Julian Wright 6-8 225 SF Kansas So. -- Wright promised his mother he would graduate and was on pace to do so in 3 years. But plenty of NBA guys go back and graduate after being drafted, and he'll be able to take courses in the offseason. Wright's stock is in great shape after a solid season at Kansas. His athleticism, versatility and potential is likely to be rewarded with a mid to late lottery selection. Verdict: Go
Marcelus Kemp 6-5 210 SG Nevada Jr. -- Kemp is a tremendous offensive player who should only improve upon his stats with Nick Fazekas off to the NBA. He isn't seen as a threat to get into the first round and could go undrafted if he remains in this year's draft. Verdict: Return
Marco Belinelli 6-6 200 SG Italy 1986 -- Belinelli had such a dreadful season that he's no longer a lock for the first round. Some of the meltdown should be attributed to his team which completely fell apart. But Belinelli's game has come under scrutiny. He hasn't developed his defense and his attitude off the court and work ethic has also drawn criticism. He's still a likely late first rounder, but no longer the lock for the first round that he once appeared. Verdict: Go
Ante Tomic 7-1 220 PF/C Croatia 1987 -- With the time involved in adjusting not only to the NBA but the American culture, a prospect like Tomic drops some due to his age and underdeveloped body. A team could look to give a guy like him a promise in the late first round area, ala San Antonio with Mahinmi, and keep him over in Europe to develop for a few seasons. But teams like to keep their options open and not run the risk of a player they prefer being there at their pick. If Tomic has secured a first round promise as some scouts have suggested, he should remain in the draft. Verdict: Return
Petteri Koponen 6-4 195 PG Fin.1988 -- Despite an excellent performance in the Hoop Summit and a lack of quality point guards in this year's draft, Koponen is seen as a second rounder at best by scouts. He is one of the top point guard prospects in Europe but still light years away from being NBA ready. Verdict: Return
Artem Zabelin 7-1 210 SF/PF Dynamo St. Petersburg (Russia) 1988 -- International scouts are very down on Russian players pointing out that besides AK47 none have done anything in the league. The Clippers took Korolev with the 12th pick 2 years ago and have nothing to show for it. So teams are wary of Russian players and upside European picks in general. Zabelin will need to prove himself on the pro level before he will be considered a first rounder. Verdict: Return