Kawhi Leonard

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Kawhi Leonard

ESPN just moved him to the top 5 of there big board.

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It is because of this

It is because of this article/observations by Chad Ford. This was copy and pasted from ESPN.com. Here is his logic, personally I dont think a few good workouts should move you into the top five. I'm fine with someone going from 46 to 23 because of workouts, but not into the top five.

LAS VEGAS -- They say that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Well, I'm about to spill a few draft secrets from Sin City.

I spent the last two days with trainer Joe Abunassar, of Impact Basketball in Vegas, looking at a number of first-round prospects.

Abunassar has a great track record with clients like Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups, Danny Granger, Rudy Gay and many others. Once again this year he has a whopping 20-plus prospects in his gym preparing for the draft.

Here are five things I learned:

1. Kawhi Leonard is a big-time prospect

The San Diego State forward remains a bit of an enigma to NBA scouts. He ranked as just the 56th-best high school prospect in the class of 2009 by ESPNU and didn't really come on until his senior year in high school.

As a freshman he drew raves for his athletic ability, motor and rebounding, but scouts struggled to see exactly how he fit at the next level. Last season he helped lead the Aztecs to one of the best records in college basketball and drew serious attention from scouts. But after the season, the NBA was still largely split on what his pro potential was.

While we had Leonard in the top 14 of our Big Board most of the year, a number of NBA executives were much more pessimistic about his future. They pointed to his "tweener" status and subpar perimeter shooting as concerns. A few weeks ago, one GM told me he thought Leonard was, at best, a role player at the next level.

I respectfully disagree, as do a handful of NBA execs and scouts. I was blown away by Leonard at the workouts. Not only is his physical profile impressive (huge hands, long wing span, NBA body), but also he's much more skilled than your typical high-energy forward.

Leonard has been working on his jump shot since the season ended and was stroking it from NBA 3-point range the two days I was in the gym. And he demonstrated excellent ball-handling skills for a player his size -- both are prerequisites for an NBA small forward. He also has the ability to guard the 2, 3 and 4 at the next level.

Leonard proved to be a real gym rat as well. He was the first guy in the gym and the last one to leave both days I was there. On Tuesday I arrived at 9 a.m. and left at 5:30 -- Leonard was there the whole time working on various things; he must have shot 1,000 jumpers.

I've been trying to find a good NBA comp for him all year, and I think the best may be the Blazers' Gerald Wallace. Leonard has the same type of motor and toughness and is more skilled than you think. If he keeps shooting the ball like he did Tuesday and Wednesday, I believe he could end up being a top-5 pick in the draft. We've moved him up to No. 5 on our Big Board after seeing what he brings to the table.

He may not be a superstar at the next level, but it's hard to figure how he misses as a 10-year NBA player with that work ethic, physical profile and motor.

2. Malcolm Lee could continue UCLA's hot streak in the NBA

What do Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo have in common? They were UCLA guards who didn't appear to be great NBA prospects at first glance (Westbrook may have been the exception, but not for everyone) who have gone on to have excellent careers in the NBA. All four were starters on playoff teams this season despite their youth.

Here's a prediction: Lee will continue that hot streak for UCLA. Lee was a top-rated prospect coming out of high school but struggled to dominate in college. While he's earned a rep as an elite perimeter defender, his offensive game has been a work in progress.

What I saw Tuesday and Wednesday really impressed me. He's long, explosive athletically, very quick laterally and made a lot of very good decisions with the ball in three-on-three play. His jump shot is still coming along but the rest of the game looked to be there. The NBA loves big point guards and I think Lee will ultimately be a point guard in the league. I could see him sneaking into the first round and possibly even challenging Darius Morris. Morris is more of a pure point, but Lee is a significantly better athlete.

3. Maryland's Jordan Williams has transformed his body

Williams was one of the best rebounders in college basketball last season -- but he was a bit on the flabby side. He showed strength and toughness in the paint, but his lack of explosive leaping ability and conditioning were major issues.

Williams heard that feedback loud and clear from NBA scouts when he decided to leave school and he's spent the past six weeks in Vegas working on his body. The results are pretty impressive, as you can see here in this photo I tweeted Tuesday.

He's lost 10 pounds, dropped from 13 percent body fat to 8 percent and really hasn't lost any strength but has gained quickness, explosiveness and agility in the process. He's also improved his jump shot over the course of the past six weeks as well.

Williams might be slightly undersized for a center (he measured 6-8 3/4 in socks, 6-10 in shoes at Impact), but he's got a 6-11½ wingspan, is physical and is a proven commodity on the boards.

4. Diebler and Pullen shoot the lights out

The two best shooters I saw in the gym the last two days were Ohio State's Jon Diebler and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen.

Diebler, as many college fans know, shot a scintillating 50 percent from 3 last season -- an amazing feat for a guy who took 227 of them.

Pullen didn't shoot as high of a percentage, but everyone knows the guy can be unconscious from deep when he gets on a roll.

Pullen claimed that, of the two, Diebler was the better shooter and the truth is he's probably right -- but their games are different. Diebler will make his living in the NBA spotting up and shooting, while Pullen has a bit more to his game. He can create his own shot off the dribble and even showed some point guard skills in the workouts I saw. Both guys are potential second-round picks based on their shooting acumen. The NBA always needs shooters, and both players bring a lot to the table.

5. Reed needs a chance

I was really excited to get a chance to watch Saint Louis forward Willie Reed work out Wednesday. Reed was on the NBA's radar as an athletic, bouncy power forward before being suspended from the team for the 2010-11 season for academic reasons.

Reed's woes didn't end there, though. There were allegations that he didn't help a girl who claimed that his roommate sexually assaulted her. Reed was cleared of any wrongdoing and ended up not being charged in the incident, but the stigma stuck as a number of GMs said they had concerns about Reed's character.

A year later he's trying to prove to NBA scouts that he's an NBA player and he's a good kid.

He's got a good case on both counts. Reed has terrific size and athleticism. He measured 6-9 3/4 in socks (6-11 in shoes) with a 7-3 wing span. He's an explosive leaper, has a great motor and even shows a very reliable 10-foot jumper around the basket. He needs to get stronger and continue to work on his offensive game, but he really passes the eye test.

I also sat down and talked with Reed for a while about the incident. He's had a rough life, like so many kids in the draft. He bounced around to five high schools and then only lasted two years at Saint Louis. He said he's always struggled with grades and despite hours of studying, struggled to keep up with team practices, travel and school. Interestingly, Reed stayed at Saint Louis last season despite the suspension and kept going to class. His grades improved and he's planning to go back to school to finish his degree in communications.

Strangely, for a guy so talented, he's been unable to secure workouts in New Jersey, Chicago or at a big group workout in Minnesota later this month. It seems odd that players NBA scouts have seen dozens of times keep getting invites to these things while intriguing players they haven't seen, like Reed, don't get the nod. I think he's got a real shot at the second round once he gets into workouts -- if teams will give him a chance.

I've got plenty more from Sin City, and we'll conclude by looking at a few more prospects tomorrow.

Going camping

The NBA released the official list of participants for the Chicago pre-draft camp. The list doesn't contain any real surprises. A number of the top international players aren't on the list, but it's not because they're snubbing the camp -- most of them are still under contract with their European teams and are playing overseas.

Here's the list:

Keith Benson, Marshon Brooks, Alec Burks, Jimmy Butler, Norris Cole, Kenneth Faried, Jimmer Fredette, Andrew Goudelock, Jordan Hamilton, Ben Hansbrough, Justin Harper, Tobias Harris, Tyler Honeycutt, Scotty Hopson, Kyrie Irving, Reggie Jackson, Charles Jenkins, JaJuan Johnson, Cory Joseph, Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, Malcolm Lee, Kawhi Leonard, Travis Leslie, Jon Leuer, DeAndre Liggins, David Lighty, Shelvin Mack, Demetri McCamey, E'Twaun Moore, Darius Morris, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Lucas Nogueira, Chandler Parsons, Jereme Richmond, Josh Selby, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Singler, Chris Singleton, Jamie Skeen, Greg Smith, Nolan Smith, Isaiah Thomas, Malcolm Thomas, Trey Thompkins, Klay Thompson, Tristan Thompson, Jeremy Tyler, Nikola Vucevic, Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams, Jordan Williams

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Willie Reed is 6-11 in shoes?

Willie Reed is 6-11 in shoes? Wow.

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Another case of Chad Ford......

Going cuckoo bananas over someone after an individual workout. Leonard's hands are freakishly huge, and his athleticism is real, but I want to see him hitting trey's games before I go crazy over his shooting. He is definitely a guy who has probably staked a claim to be in the lottery, but I have a hard time trusting Ford. He seems to go crazy over a player and move them up after every workout he sees. I feel he likes to switch things up, because it makes headlines and it gets people interested in ESPN insider articles. Just my take.

Jordan Williams looked like a beast in the pic he posted of him, but when he says "He is 6'10, but he has a 6'11.5 wingspan", has he not come to the realization that this would more than likely still be undersized for a post guy? Luckily Jordan Williams has the bulk necessary to still bang down low, but these guys act like everyones wingspan should be the length of their height, and in the NBA, that is clearly not the case. Just as someone who has seen height and length statistics on numerous prospects over the years, wingspans are usually longer. I mean, it is a good thing that Jordan Williams is not a T-Rex, but I really dislike that he uses his wingspan in a way that might give him more height than an average post player. So, Jordan has decent size for a PF, but would be more than likely below average for a 5. Still one of the better post prospects in the draft, but I feel Ford is misleading in trying to make it seem like his wingspan being an inch and a half longer than his height makes him stand out, when it definitely does not.

I initially got insider for recruiting info, and because I was dying to know who Oregon's basketball coach would be next year. But, for NBA and draft insiders, I have to say, it is pretty weak sauce. I mean, it is interesting and it gets info other people might not right away, but it eventually becomes old news that gets covered better by a more impartial source. Meanwhile, I expect that this is not the last major shift Chad Ford makes on his Big Board, he does the same thing every year and he has to keep changing to keep people interested, because he really does not have very much to say.

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I stated this whole time,

I stated this whole time, Leonard will be somewhere between Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Gerald Wallace. Wallace for years, was the worst shooter in the NBA, that's why he was avilable for Charlotte in the expansion draft. I do think he goes mor 8-14 then 1-7, he could be a good defender right away.

Always liked Malcolm Lee, if the Knicks buy that 1st round pick later in the draft, I wanted either Lee or Morris from Michigan. I compare Lee to a Antonio Daniels type, I think he can play the point guard spot, but also defend shooting guards as well.

Jordan Williams is a Boozer type for me, I think he's more suitable for the power forward position, because his low post game, but will be a center beacause he isn't that fast. A Al Horford without the mid range.

I don't think Diebler nor Pullen will be drafted, I think both will have to go the Matt Carroll route.

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Why are these guys called

Why are these guys called experts when they get every thing wrong all the time. I believe that they do a lot of research and spend a lot of time comign up with thoughts and predictions, but sometimes they just put stuff out there just to make it appealing to read. I agree some get stuff right, but remember tthe times when they said Yao would be a bust, Okafor should have gone before Dwight, Morrison is the next Larry, Patrick O Bryant should be the number one overall, John Riek would be top 3, and Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn were good, but Stephen curry's game wouldn't translate? All these things are said by so called experts, and I think that they go to far into detail which is why they get it all wrong

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Why are these guys called

Why are these guys called experts when they get every thing wrong all the time

They do?

Moon River
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Take Shumpert and run. He would be perfect in the triangle, assuming you are going to keep it.

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Leonard is not a top 5

Leonard is not a top 5 talent. He can really crash the boards, but c'mon Chad Ford. Yes, he has nice handles, but the dude is only 6'7'' and now days that is the norm.

Are they shooting uncontested shots during these workouts? I hope not. Hell, I rarely miss when shooting by myself.

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Shumpert will not be any

Shumpert will not be any better in the triangle than Smush Parker was........

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Any team that takes him Top 5

gets what they deserve. Thats why he works for ESPN and not as an NBA GM. If he was any good at this isht, some owner would hire him.

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Leonard is more a childress (hawks era) than a G-wall, and you don't draft that kind of player in the top 5 nowadays...

waiting the measurements too, not sure at all he's 6'7...

From what i saw in college that was an awfull shooter, rushing things, serious traveler, some costly TO, not comfortable in the half court game at all.

There's no skills, there's no size in college that's good for him and his numbers, his hustle stats, if ford saw him as a big time prospect, and top 5 pick 7 weeks before the draft, that's good for him too...

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