NBA Draft: Stock Watch

Thu, 03/25/2010 - 9:50am

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On Tuesday we presented our Stock Watch "casualties". With the Sweet 16 set to begin tonight, here is part two, the "survivors", prospects who have helped and hurt themselves over the first two rounds and still have a chance to impact their draft stock.

Rising

Eric BledsoeEric BledsoeEric Bledsoe 6-1 195 PG Kentucky Fr.

No player did more to improve their draft stock over the first weekend of the tournament than Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe has been the Wildcats X-factor, getting red hot from the perimeter knocking down 9-of-12 three pointers in the two games.

He also made one jaw dropping assault of the rim, cutting through the lane and taking off 6 feet outside for a dunk in which he cocked the ball back for emphasis.

The long-armed, speedy and explosive guard has spent the entire season playing in the shadow of future #1 pick John Wall, but he's begun to prove that he's a unique talent in his own right.

He's shown an ability to knock down shots throughout his freshman season, and despite being inconsistent at times, he picked a great time to find a shooting groove.

Sources indicate that due to Bledsoe's family situation, he will look to enter this year's draft.

His decision is expected to come despite the fact that scouts feel he isn't ready and they question how much leaving prematurely could impact his long term NBA success.

Scout's concerns related to Bledsoe revolve around his ability to run the point guard position and his decision making, 3 turnovers per game. Playing at the off-guard position, he hasn't really been given the opportunity to show what he's capable of, so he's a bit of a leap of faith pick.

He's a physical freak, not unlike former Wildcat Rajon Rondo, who left as a sophomore. But unlike Rondo, it's his PG skills instead of his shooting that is the major concern. Bledsoe doesn't have Rondo's quickness but might be a little more explosive.

Regardless of readiness, with such a weak point guard class and Bledsoe's tremendous finish to the year, scouts concede that he is a near lock for a first round pick and will have a chance to go as high as late lottery in this year's draft.


Wesley Johnson 6-7 210 SF Syracuse Jr.

Wesley JohnsonWesley JohnsonJohnson used two strong performances in the first weekend to make a strong case for why he belongs in the top 3 in this year's NBA draft along with Wall and Turner.

While Johnson's numbers dropped off considerably after his scary mid-season fall and subsequent thumb injury, he has shown that when called upon, he can be their go-to superstar.

There was some concern that the injury could impact his tournament performance, but so far that hasn't been the case. His thumb has not been an issue.

The Syracuse standout was absolutely deadly from the perimeter hitting 7-for-11 combined (on 3's) in the first two games.

His 31p and 14r performance against Gonzaga put skeptics on notice that Wes is ready to step up his play in big games.

With the indefinite loss of Onuaku, more pressure falls on Johnson and teammate Andy Rautins to pick up the scoring load. So far, so good after two blow out wins for the Orange.

They still have their work cut out for them however against a gritty Butler team and a potential Elite Eight match up with either Kansas State or Xavier.

Johnson will look to continue his hot shooting from outside and dominant overall play in order to lead the Cuse to Indy and defend their 1 seed.

Omar Samhan 6-11 270 C St. Mary's Sr.

Say hello to the overall scoring leader of this year's NCAA Tournament. Omar Samhan of the St. Mary's Gaels enters the Sweet 16 averaging 30.5 ppg.

Omar SamhanOmar SamhanAfter tournament wins over Richmond and Villanova, apparently their win over Gonzaga in the WCC championship game was no fluke.

A Gael is an Irish Warrior. Samhan is a half Irish-half Egyptian Warrior, or in his words, "a beast".

While his physique and athleticism don't exactly shout NBA, his post skills and desire give him a chance.

The gregarious bigman has proven to be one of the most dominant centers on the college level with a tremendous senior season and an even more impressive NCAA tournament.

Scouts still aren't sure he is an NBA player, but feel he's got a good shot to get drafted and provided he gets in better shape, play his way onto a roster after such an impressive NCAA tournament showing.

Nolan Smith 6-3 180 PG/SG Duke Jr.

In Duke's win over Cal, Smith was by far the most impressive prospect on the floor.

His ability to get to the rim and the polish he showed taking shots off the dribble had scouts taking notice and his stock on the rise.

There's still debate about how much point guard ability he actually has. He appears a lot more comfortable playing off the ball and just doesn't appear to be a natural distributor or floor general.

Being just 6-foot-3 limits his potential to a degree. But being such a judicious decision maker, and having the Duke pedigree helps his cause.

Smith appears to be a bubble first rounder for the 2011 draft and may ultimately end up going before Singler despite the fact that his teammate was a considerably higher rated recruit coming into college.

Jordan Crawford 6-4 195 SG Xavier So.

Jordan CrawfordJordan CrawfordCrawford has had two monster games so far in the tournament showing both the ability to be a clutch go-to scorer and some combo skills to handle the ball and create offense for others.

While he's just 6-4, and undersized for his more natural 2 position, his long arms and athleticism help him to overcome his size disadvantage. His potential to develop into a combo guard also helps his cause.

Against Pitt, Crawford had a game high 27 points with 6 rebounds showing a multitude of skills. Despite starting slow with 2 missed jumpers and 2 turnovers, he showed his maturity and mental strength to continue fighting and ended up leading the Musketeers to victory.

Crawford began raining 3s in the second half finishing 4-from-7 from deep. He showed the ability to handle the ball out on the break and excellent body control.

He was even more impressive shooting the long ball in the opening round win against Minnesota, finishing 5-11 from deep with 28 points in an 11 point win. He also converted some very impressive moves around the basket including one highlight finger roll.

Scouts are beginning to warm up to the idea of Crawford landing in the first round this year. There is some buzz that he may test the waters to see where he stands during the 2 week evaluation window (April 25th-May 8th). A strong finish to the tourney would obviously help his cause.

Quincy Pondexter 6-7 210 SF Wash. Sr.

Quincy PondexterQuincy PondexterPondexter has stepped up with two quality tournament games showing the ability to play well when the chips are down.

His back to back 18 point games, helping Washington to upset Marquette and New Mexico has his stock on the rise.

Showing the ability to execute in the clutch, Pondexter hit the game winner against Marquette, isolating against Marquette's top defender Jimmy Butler and penetrating all the way to the basket off the dribble and knocking down a leaning 5 foot shot without enough time for Marquette to answer.


Despite lacking a polished perimeter game, Pondexter has vastly improved as a mid-range jump shooter. If he's not scoring around the basket, he has become adept at facing up from 15-18 feet and using jab steps to create space and then elevating over his defender for shots.

Pondexter's ball handling and passing remain a work in progress, but his success in the tournament will give him a real shot to grab a late first round spot as an athletic, mature senior.

Durrell Summers 6-5 186 SG Michigan St. Jr.

Summers has not had a strong season but has put together a solid tournament showing. He's Michigan State's most athletic player and along with injured point guard Kalin Lucas, Sparty's top NBA prospect.

During the year, Summers stats were very inconsistent and he looked lost on the floor at times. Not something you want to hear about a junior. But then again he's such a high level athlete, there's always the chance things will finally click next year and he will fill the holes to his game.

When Lucas went down with the Achilles injury at the half against Maryland, someone had to pick up the slack. Summers finished with a season high 26 points on 10-14 shooting.

Against New Mexico State he shot just 5-15 finishing with 14 points.

Right now, Summers probably would go undrafted, but he would have a shot to be a high second rounder if he can play closer to how he's played in the tourney next year, than the inconsistent player he was throughout this season.

Ryan Wittman 6-6 215 SG Cornell Sr.

Ryan WittmanRyan WittmanCornell is not exactly an NBA basketball factory, but Wittman is the son of well respected former NBA player, first rounder and head coach Randy Wittman and one of the best pure shooters in the country.

While Wittman isn't going to be winning any dunk contests, and may struggle with the speed and athleticism of NBA players, his ability to fill a role as an outside shooting specialist gives him a legitimate chance to be drafted and make a team.


Against Wisconsin, Wittman showed the ability to move well off the ball, running defenders off of screens to create shots. He only needs a little bit of daylight as his motion of catching and getting under the ball and releasing is very fluid and concise.


Wittman has been hot, even for him, knocking down 7-11 from 3 in the 2 tourney games and posting 20 and 24 in the two Cornell victories. His 17-of-25 fg overall shows what a great shot selection he possesses.


He's been a prolific scorer throughout his college career averaging over 15 points and over 42% from 3 throughout.

While his stats are diminished due to playing in the Ivy league, his performances against big name teams, and defensive stalwarts such as Wisconsin and Temple help reinforce the idea that he can play against better athletes.

A big game against the Kentucky Wildcats, who possess better athletes than the teams Cornell has faced so far could really help his cause in opening scouts eyes to his talent and eventually making an NBA team.

Falling

[Player: Kyle Singler] 6-8 220 SF Duke Jr.

Kyle SinglerKyle SinglerSingler actually performed well statistically putting up strong numbers in both tournament games. He had 22 points on 7-12 fg against Arkansas Pine-Bluff and 17 points on 6-12 fg against California.

So why is he listed on the falling list? His physical limitations were glaring against California, a team with 3 prospects that scouts aren't sure are NBA caliber. And his game against Pine-Bluff was against low major players.

Against Cal forward Theo Robertson, Singler had major trouble on the defensive end and could not create shots off the dribble from the perimeter.

His inability to get anywhere off the dribble was a major issue. He either needs to work hard in the offseason on improving his quickness or develop into a dead eye shooter, because right now his game does not translate to being an NBA first round pick.

He did knock down one key three pointer towards the end of the first half giving Duke a 10 point lead. However, most of his baskets came on broken plays and rebounds, using his size against Cal's small guards. Something that he won't have any chance of doing against superior and bigger athletes. He finished the game just 1-6 from 3.

While Singler's outside shot showed a lot of improvement as the season went along and remains a strength to his game, there are still a lot of concerns about his foot speed and ability to defend and make plays on the perimeter.

With Scheyer's departure, Singler will likely assume a larger role in the offense next year and could benefit from a big season.

However, his physical limitations have scouts "singing" the blues in regards to his NBA potential.

Gordon Hayward 6-8 220 SF Butler So.

Gordon HaywardGordon HaywardHayward came up with the big defensive stop when Butler needed it against Murray State, so it's hard to be too critical, but for a player who has received a ton of hype this season with Larry Bird comparisons and future lottery projections, he has not impressed so far in the tournament.

Then again he's not a player that we've ever seen as being a future lottery pick type of talent. First round maybe, but even that could be stretching it. The media adores this kid a lot more than any scouts we've spoken to.

Hayward has put up 12 and 13 in the two games shooting 6-for-21 (29%), doing most of his damage from the line: 12 points.

Hayward's 3 point shot went AWOL mid-season as he lost confidence in it and it fell below 30% on the year. He shot 45% as a freshman from 3 point land, causing a lot of people to get excited about his potential.

Hayward is a solid athlete with a good feel for the game. He has solid leaping ability but lacks explosiveness in his jumping and foot speed.

Similar to Elias Harris who we featured in Tuesday's Stock Watch, Hayward might have his best opportunity to grab a first round spot in this year's draft based on the hype surrounding him, but we wouldn't count on it.

It's possible he can turn things around with a big performance against Syracuse. Then again he may get crushed by the Orange's 2-3 zone.

Evan Turner 6-7 217 SG/SF Ohio St. Jr.

Evan TurnerEvan TurnerTurner hasn't fallen on the mock, as he's still projected to be the second overall pick.

But the pressure he had begun to put on Wall to be the top overall selection has subsided to a degree after his up and down performance thus far in the NCAA tournament.


Turner shot a miserable 2-for-13 from the floor against UC Santa Barbara finishing with 9 points and 10 boards and 5 assists but had 4 turnovers.

He had a better showing in the Buckeyes second round game scoring 24 points (8-19 fg) with 9 board and 9 assists. Extremely impressive numbers but marred to an extent by 9 turnovers.


The good news for Turner is the region has opened up considerably with Kansas' loss and Kalin Lucas' injury. The Buckeyes have now become the favorite to reach Indy from the Midwest bracket. And from there anything can happen.

Turner's only real hope of supplanting Wall as the top pick would be if the Buckeyes could topple Kentucky in the NCAA championship.

Regardless, Turner remains a virtual lock for the 2nd pick, barring a complete meltdown or injury over the next 2 weeks.

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FogeL7
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villa-no-fun

as much as i hate to say it scottie "peedi crakk" reynolds screwed up big time n went from in my opinion an early 2nd round pick to a maybe to even get drafted.

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The Whole Game Round-Up

Real strong article you wrote.Well written and circling the Whole Playing field.I commemorate Aran Smith for writing such a good article.He really can make a very good carrier in Sport Journalism especially sport events concerning about Basket Ball game.I hope that Aran Smith show us the same kind of "Pen Power" that he shown us here.Courtesy of Pay Per Click Services

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Quickeness, You Have It or You Don't

While taking about Kyle Singler, Aran made one of those comments I never understand. He wrote, "He either needs to work hard in the off season on improving his quickness ......"

You can't improve quickness. Either you have it or you don't. Kyle Singler doesn't have it and that's why I don't think he's a serious NBA prospect. He's an excellent college player who has a chance to make it at the next level, but he won't be an impact player. In fact, I thought the rest of Aran's analysis was right on the money.

If you watched Cornell play against Kentucky last night, you saw a perfect example of quickness and the kind of impact it has upon a game. I don't care how hard the Cornell players work, they simply don't have the quickness. It isn't something you can manufacture.

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