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Category → Draft Dreams 2012

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Perry Jones III

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, sophomore forward from Baylor
  • Key Stats: 14.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 30 percent from three
  • Projected: Top 10
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

I profiled Jones last year before he decided to stay in the draft, and the book on him is basically the same: superstar upside with serious questions about how hard he will push himself to be a franchise player.

If you lined all of the prospects in this years draft up and evaluated solely on who was tallest, could run the fastest, jump the highest, dribble through cones the quickest … Jones might be the No. 1 pick. But for two seasons at Baylor, he’s seemingly been content with being pretty good, not fully tapping into the immense physical gifts he possesses.

In all honesty, he’s the prototypical recent Joe Dumars draftee (other than Greg Monroe) — position-less, possessing fantastic measurables, but ultimately meriting lottery consideration based more on what he could accomplish some day as opposed to what he has accomplished to this point as a college player.

Pros for the Pistons

Jones does some things that would immediately help the Pistons. He runs the floor beautifully. He finishes well. He has good hands. He can move without the ball. All of those things fit very well with the other young players perceived as Detroit’s current building blocks. Guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight are both much, much better passers in a faster tempo than they are in the halfcourt, so having a player who can run with them and finish would be a nice advantage for both. Greg Monroe is adept at finding cutters who hang around the basket, and it’s easy to see Jones on the receiving end of precise Monroe passes from the high post.

If he can improve his perimeter game enough to be a full-time small forward in the NBA, Jones would be the heir apparent to Tayshaun Prince. It’s unlikely that he’d enter the league as ready to contribute as Monroe was or mentally tough enough to work through mistakes and still stay confident in big minutes like Knight was, but Jones’ presence could possibly give the Pistons enough incentive to start gradually minimizing the ample role Prince has played the last few seasons. That would benefit both the Pistons and Prince.

Cons for the Pistons

There are several noticeable things Jones doesn’t do just yet. His 3-point shooting improved this season, but it’s still a pretty poor 30 percent. The Pistons really need to add another floor-spacer to create driving lanes for Knight and Stuckey.

Jones’ overall field goal percentage also dropped, he got to the line less and he blocked fewer shots on a per-minute basis as a sophomore too. Some of this could be attributable to the fact that Jones, a likely lottery pick last year had he declared, may have been preoccupied with his future rather than his present. It frequently happens with big-time NBA prospects in college.

If Jones is a small forward in the NBA, then he’ll be a very good rebounder for his position. If his offensive skills don’t develop enough to play that position, there will be questions about whether he’s strong enough to play the four full-time.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Perry Jones is both an elite athlete and has a great face-up game that wasn’t always used well at Baylor.”If he comes in and really starts hitting shots, he could go very, very high,” one GM said. “As a power forward, I think he’s going to be a disappointment in the league. But if he could be a Paul George-type player? He could be special. George was accused of being laid-back in college, too. It’s why he slipped to No. 10. Now you see the way the Pacers use him and you think the sky is the limit for him.”

DraftExpress:

One thing that no one ever questions is Perry Jones‘ talent. Just how rare and unique a player he is becomes immediately evident the moment you start watching him. He has a tremendous combination of size, athleticism and skills, making him appear to be capable of doing anything he wants on the basketball court. He shows terrific footwork inside the paint, has 3-point range on his jumper, can handle the ball fluidly from coast to coast, and is a breathtaking finisher around the basket.

NBADraft.net:

A super athletic forward with an enormous upside … His explosiveness and physical package put him in a very rare group of players even at the top level … Possesses the versatility to play inside and on the perimeter … He is extremely fast, using his long and powerful strides to cover great distance in a very short time … A very natural and smooth athlete, he is able to change direction and get off the ground (even on 2nd and 3rd jumps) with ease … Has the ability and confidence to handle the ball in the open court and is willing to push it out in transition once he gets it off the glass … Shows an intriguing repertoire of moves off the dribble (going to both hands), add to that his extremely long and fairly quick first step and it makes for a very difficult weapon to match up with off the bounce … He has a knack for moving without the ball; he makes good cuts going to the basket and knows how to find the openings off drive & dish or pick & roll situations … His ability to catch difficult passes in traffic also makes him a good passing target inside … Once his catches the ball close to the hoop, he is an extremely efficient finisher, because he knows how to utilize his length and leaping ability … He is able to do some damage on the low block because of his reach and athleticism, but he is most effective when facing up, because he can use his quickness to get by opposing bigs … He is a decent rebounder, and when he makes up his mind to go get the ball, he becomes a threat on both ends of the floor … Has the potential to become an impact player on the defensive end, where his wingspan could wreak havoc in the passing lanes and in the blocked shots department.

ESPN:

Basketball isn’t always easy when you’re tagged as a one-and-done player before puberty.

“My heart goes out to him,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “He gets judged on his potential instead of where he is now. If he wanted to be judged like an NBA player, he’d be in the NBA.”

Instead, at least for a few more months, Jones remains in Waco. The 20-year-old cartoon fanatic who loves to play paintball returned for his sophomore season because he realized he lacked maturity. Before turning pro, Jones said he “wanted to become a man.”

What is the best thing Perry Jones III does for his team?

Evan Jacoby (follow him on Twitter) is the lead NBA Draft analyst for Rush The Court:

A polarizing prospect, PJIII has undeniable talent and displayed an ability to do any and every thing on the floor at Baylor, albeit with underwhelming overall productivity. His handle, touch, and leaping ability for a player his size (6’11”, 220 lbs) is as rare a combination as you’ll find in the NBA, which makes him such an intriguing prospect. Perhaps most impressive is his ability to face up on the perimeter, where he can easily blow by bigger forwards but keeps defenses honest with a confident mid-range jumper. Against smaller defenders, he can feast inside with good footwork and finishing ability. If Jones ever figures out how to use his body and be more efficient with his opportunities, he has All-Star upside.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: John Jenkins

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, junior guard from Vanderbilt
  • Key Stats: 19.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 43 percent from three
  • Projected: Late first/early second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Two guards who are elite shooters (Jenkins is among best pure shooters in the draft) typically rise in the draft rather than fall. Klay Thompson, for example, started off projected in the late first round territory where Jenkins currently is listed in most mocks and by the time the draft rolled around, he’d risen all the way into the lottery. If I had to guess with Jenkins, I’d assume he’ll go higher than currently projected (although I don’t think he’ll rise like Thompson did — Thompson is a much bigger guard than Jenkins). But still, if he manages to hang around until early in the second round, he’s a great fit for the Pistons.

Pros for the Pistons

The Pistons have several skills they could use in their backcourt — passing, the ability to take care of the ball, shooting and size. Jenkins brings two of those things. He’d possibly be the best shooter on Detroit’s roster the moment he joined the team. He’s shot above 40 percent from three his entire college career and the Pistons desperately need a long range threat or two.

Secondly, at 6-foot-4/215 pounds, he’s not a gigantic guard by any stretch, but he’s certainly bigger than Detroit’s other backup options under contract for next season — Will Bynum and Ben Gordon. Jenkins is big enough and defends decently enough to be an upgrade over either of the current backups against bigger guards on second units.

Cons for the Pistons

With Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight as the two primary guards, the Pistons probably crave having a more traditional, pass-first point guard who can also knock down open threes as a backup. Unfortunately, they’re unlikely to get a player with both of those skills in the second round (unless they end up with Scott Machado). Jenkins’ shooting would certainly be welcome, but he’s also not a player who could give minutes at the backup PG spot. Lawrence Frank seems to like using a three-guard rotation rather than a four-guard rotation, at least based on last season, so the Pistons might be looking for a guard who can give minutes at either spot if they are indeed looking for upgrades in their backcourt backups (and they should be).

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

  • Big-time shooter with deep range on his jumper
  • Super quick release on his jumper

DraftExpress:

Looking forward, Jenkins is an interesting prospect due to his one extremely potent skill, but his success will largely be dependent on where he’s drafted due to his obvious limitations. Because he appears to be a truly elite shooter and has the intangible qualities well suited to his likely role, he should have a good chance of carving himself out a niche in the NBA, but how well he does will be very tied to the offensive scheme he plays in and how he’s utilized by his coach. Maximizing his defensive and athletic abilities should be his biggest priority in pre-draft and beyond, as he likely largely is what he is from an offensive standpoint.

USA Today:

His coach, Kevin Stallings, believes there’s more to it than that.

“His shooting skills speak for themselves,” Stallings said. “You don’t have to discuss those too much and haven’t had to discuss them much since he arrived on campus.

“But his defense has just gotten so much better. He’s now a quality defender that we can rely on and actually really depend on, and that’s a big change from his first two years. His ball-handling and passing have gotten better also.”

What is the best thing John Jenkins does for his team?

Christian D’Andrea (follow him on Twitter) writes for Anchor of Gold, SB Nation’s Vanderbilt blog:

John Jenkins may not be an elite athlete, but he’s got one elite skill that should make him a valued commodity in the NBA for years to come – a deadly accurate long-range shot. Jenkins came to Vanderbilt as the best shooter in his high school class and immediately lived up to those expectations. He cracked Kevin Stallings’s starting lineup as a freshman and proved that he can be a deadly scorer against the SEC’s elite defenses.

Jenkins may be a bit undersized for a pro shooting guard at 6’4″, 220 lbs, but his size hasn’t hampered his offense at all. His ultra-quick release helps him get off shots before defenders can close in on him, so getting his shot off was never a problem in the NCAA. He became a specialist at drawing fouls in the act of a three-point shot, attesting to his quickness with the ball in his hands.

However, the rest of his game lags behind his shooting skill. Jenkins improved throughout his time in Nashville but he’s just an average athlete. His passing and ballhandling aren’t impressive. He showed off an improved ability to get to the rim as a junior, but the legit bigs of the NBA would eat him up on many of his drives. He also has the stigma of being a below average defender. That’s no longer true after last season and his opportunity to work with Matt Painter and the U-21 Team USA squad, but he’ll never be a stopper at the position.

With Jenkins, you’re getting an elite shooter who will be able to contribute at the next level. His defense is underrated right now, and he’s got the work ethic to become a solid one-on-one defender and a potential asset when it comes to team defense. His offense will be driven by his jump shooting, but he’s proven that his ability behind the arc is strong enough to be a consistent scoring threat.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Will Barton

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-6, 175 pounds, sophomore guard from Memphis
  • Key Stats: 18 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 35 percent from three
  • Projected: Late first/early second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Like all Pistons fans, I’m an advocate of Detroit finding an impact big in the first round. But object 1-A on my desired wish list is an athletic wing who can legitimately push Tayshaun Prince for minutes. Barton is a player who would fit that bill if he slips to the Pistons in round two.

Pros for the Pistons

I love guys who show big-time improvement, and that’s exactly what Barton did from his freshman to sophomore season at Memphis. His overall field goal percentage jumped from 43 to 51 percent and his 3-point shooting jumped from 27 to 35 percent in increased minutes. I also like that Barton got more selective with his long range shot. He shot more threes as a freshman than he did as a sophomore, but in his second college season he improved his percentage by shooting the three less without eliminating it from his repertoire altogether.

He’s also a good rebounder for his size, collecting eight per game. He might not be a guy who is ready to start from day one in the NBA, but he has a nice mix of perimeter skills and versatility, plus has shown that he works at his game and still has a lot of room to grow.

Cons for the Pistons

Although he’s not Austin Daye-skinny, Barton does need to get stronger. That’s the good (or salvageable, I should say) thing about having Prince signed long-term. There wouldn’t be pressure on a player like Barton to take over that position right away. Prince could still get the bulk of the minutes while a hard-working player like Barton could, hopefully, get stronger and chip away, gradually earning a bigger role as he’s physically ready for it.

It’s good that Barton’s shooting improved, but with one bad season shooting the ball from three and one decent season, that’s still kind of a small sample size to declare that his shooting woes from outside are behind him. If he’s going to be a NBA rotation player, him being able to knock down the three, especially on a team like the Pistons that needs more long range threats to get better floor spacing, is going to be vital.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

The Good: Barton is one of the smoothest scorers in college basketball. He can score from anywhere on the floor and can get buckets in a hurry. His long, lanky frame makes him a tough guard. He can be a game-changing defender on the perimeter and is an excellent rebounder for his size.

The Bad: He needs to add strength and he could be more consistent from 3-point range. Occasionally he falls back into the bad habits he had as a freshman.

The Upside: Barton has grown tremendously this season. He’s developed a lethal midrange game, has dramatically improved his rebounding numbers and cut way down on turnovers and bad shots. A few NBA scouts have him in the late teens to early 20s on their boards.

DraftExpress:

Barton’s focus on attacking the basket has also led to him getting to the free throw line at a much higher rate. His handle could still use some tightening up, but he’s utilizing his quick first step and rangy strides to get to the rim and is also more active on the offensive glass and with cuts in the basket area. His nine free throw attempts per-40 ranks him second amongst all wing prospects in our database. Despite this increased emphasis on getting to the basket, he’s nearly cut his turnover rate in half from last season, which is quite impressive.

NBADraft.net:

NBADraft.net: You were one of the best rebounding wings in college last season. What do you think separates you from other players your size in that regard?

Will Barton: Determination and will. I have a knack for finding the ball. I like to rebound because at my position I’m able to push it. If a big man gets a rebound then he usually has to find an outlet. If I get the rebound then it’s an automatic fast break. I love having the ball in my hands and getting out on the break. It is really just determination and will to get my team extra possessions and limiting other teams’ possessions. I’ll do anything for my team to win.

What is the best thing Will Barton does for his team?

Frank Murtaugh (follow him on Twitter) writes for Tiger Blue, the Memphis Flyer‘s Memphis Tigers blog:

The fabled “intangibles” that made Will Barton an All-America candidate — and Conference USA’s Player of the Year — as a sophomore in 2011-12 will be his greatest asset on draft boards. Ironically, they could be viewed as his greatest weakness, too. Barton did everything his Memphis Tigers needed last winter, including lead the team in rebounding (8.0 per game) despite weighing 175 pounds soaking wet. A natural, if at times unorthodox scorer (in the mold of his Memphis predecessor, Chris Douglas-Roberts), Barton led C-USA with 18.0 points per game. But he can’t be called a pure shooter, is too small for any kind of post presence, and doesn’t have the ball-handling skills to break down the kind of pressure defense he’ll face in the NBA. Barton, simply put, is a basketball player who finds his way (literally, on the floor, and on a larger scale of player development). He wears his emotions as visibly as his headband. If he’s able to find a comfortable role with an NBA team, he’ll be a fan favorite.

NOTE: He’s most often compared to Rip Hamilton, largely because of his thin body type. But Barton isn’t in the same category of shooter as Hamilton. Not really close.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Furkan Aldemir

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, 20-year-old PF/C from Turkey
  • Key Stats: 8.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, .9 blocks in 20 minutes per game while shooting 61 percent in Turkish league
  • Projected: Second round

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

This year’s draft isn’t loaded with international prospects, but there are a lot of guys in the second round like Aldemir who are big, young and unknown. Whoever the Pistons take with the second of their two second rounders is probably a longshot to make next year’s roster anyway. It might make more sense to look at a raw international player who will stay overseas for a couple years and potentially develop. Plus, Pistons fans would definitely love to have a guy called ‘Mr. Rebound.’

Pros for the Pistons

Aldemir is a banger who likes to stay around the basket and according to scouts, is a good rebounder. That’s exactly the type of player the Pistons (and just about every team) could use. At just 20-years-old, there’s also a good chance that Aldemir can add some bulk to his frame.

Cons for the Pistons

If Aldemir doesn’t get stronger, he’s probably a longshot to play meaningful minutes in the NBA. Most scouting reports describe him as a player who likes to be in the paint and around the basket fighting for the ball. At 220 pounds, it’s just not realistic to expect that that would end well for him in the NBA without getting significantly stronger. Still though, whoever the Pistons use that late second round pick on will have an uphill battle to make a roster that could be crowded if Jason Maxiell exercises his option, Vernon Macklin is re-signed, Kyle Singler comes over from Spain and Ben Wallace decides to play another year. It makes a lot of sense to take and stash a foreign player or a college player willing to go overseas.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Aldemir is one of the best rebounders in the Euroleague, but the rest of his game still needs a lot of work. He’s undersized for his position, isn’t an elite athlete and isn’t a great scorer inside or outside. But rebounding does seem to translate at the next level and that alone could make him a late first or second round pick.

Euro Hopes:

He is a rebound specialist. Has great positions on defense but specially on offense to grab rebounds. Boxes out very well, and uses his big wingspan to catch a lot. Using his skills he also blocks many shots. He is a good defender, over center and power-forwards also. Has mobility, being smart. On ofense he knows how to move without ball. Very dangerous receiving the ball inside the paint, using his wingspan to dunk o score lay-ups easy. On transition he runs very well fastbreak, and also backwards recovering on defense.

European Prospects:

Aldemir has still a lot of parts in his game where has to progress. So far, he has no outside game at all. We do not speak about a lacking jump shot around the paint but he feels not very comfortable when getting the ball out of position. He showed some problems to execute well a hand off situation where the guard did not pick up the ball and he had to play the dribble entry from outside. In the paint, his shooting touch is looking good but it would help him if he could come up with a bit more explosiveness on his finishes as he often prefers the layup to the dunk when he has a defender in front of him.

What is the best thing Furkan Aldemir does for his team?

Sam Meyerkopf (follow him on Twitter) is the co-creator of EuroLeague Adventures:

Furkan Aldemir had a breakthrough year in Europe and turned himself into a potential rotation post player in the NBA. He’s a below the rim big man who will earn his first few salaries off of his rebounding prowess and solid roll game off of pick and rolls. His offensive game stays within seven feet of the basket, which means he doesn’t really have a jumper and doesn’t create much, if any, offense for himself. But that’s not what Aldemir is here for. He keeps his nose around the basket where driving perimeter players can dump it off to him for strong finishes or he’ll attack the offensive glass where he was one of the best in the Euroleague this year.

This season he played almost exclusively center for his Turkish club Galatasaray, averaging 6.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in just 17 minutes a game of Euroleague play. At 6’9″ he’s not quite tall enough for center in the NBA and doesn’t really have quick enough feet to be a power forward. But with power forwards continually extending further outside the line, I’ll give up a couple inches and put Aldemir in the middle of the paint.

Defensively Aldemir isn’t going to send many shots flying into the bleachers but he can hold his position in the post fairly well. Really athletic bigs or stretch fours that step away from the rim could give him trouble. His counter is that he plays with such toughness and scrappiness that he’ll be able to overcome some of these disadvantages. He’s not afraid to be rugged in the post, and his ability to gobble up rebounds will keep him on the court.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Jeff Taylor

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, senior F from Vanderbilt
  • Key Stats: 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 49 percent and 42 percent from three
  • Projected: Late first round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

There’s really little chance that Jeff Taylor would rise enough to be in play in the late lottery when the Pistons pick and there’s little chance he falls out of the 20s, where he’s currently projected, to the earlier of the Pistons’ second round picks. Still though, he’s the type of efficient shooting wing they should be hoping they can land in the draft. Plus, he’d give the Pistons the only two Swedish players in NBA history along with Jonas Jerebko. Any time you can become the most popular NBA team in Sweden, you have to do it, right?

Pros for the Pistons

Taylor is was of the best outside shooters in the country this season, hitting 42 percent of his threes. He’s also an explosive athlete and willing defensive player. In short, he’s about the prototypical wing the Pistons need right now as they are incredibly deficient in shooting, defense and athleticism on their wings right now. Not only would Taylor’s shooting ability stretch the floor and open lanes for Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight, who are both much better in a faster tempo than in the halfcourt, but he would be able to run with them and finish.

Cons for the Pistons

Taylor’s not the best at creating off the dribble, which wouldn’t be much of an issue in Detroit since Stuckey, Knight and Tayshaun Prince handle that. The bigger issue with Taylor is simply his availability. As I said above, he’s currently projected too low for the Pistons to consider him in the lottery and too high for them to have a shot at him in the second round. But don’t sleep on him. He’s EXACTLY the type of under the radar, hard-working and productive prospect who can rise quickly with great workouts. If he does that and some of the underwhelming late lottery bigs, well, underwhelm, don’t be shocked if he plays his way into that conversation. Considering he does things that fill some very significant needs for the Pistons and that Joe Dumars has occasionally shown an inclination towards taking under the radar prospects (Stuckey, for instance), it’s maybe not out of the realm that he could play his way onto Detroit’s first round radar, depending on how the draft plays out before they pick.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

The Good: Taylor is one of the best athletes in the game. He’s an explosive leaper who excels out in transition. He has dramatically improved his jump shot over the past four years.

The Bad: He still struggles to dominate offensively at times and his aggression level can vary depending on the matchup. He’s already 22 years old, which hurts his stock a little.

The Upside: Taylor finally had the breakout year NBA scouts were hoping for as a senior. His athletic ability alone makes him a legitimate first-round prospect. If he were to land on the right team, he could have a great pro career. He’s wilted a bit in big games over the past few years. If he can take over in the tournament, he could take one more big step up the draft board.

DraftExpress:

While Taylor’s offensive game remains a work in progress, he is still an outstanding defender who should be able to contribute immediately in the NBA on that end of the floor. While his reported 6’6 wingspan is unimpressive to say the least, he has excellent lateral quickness to stay in front of all but the quickest point guards and the strength to guard four positions at the collegiate level. Furthermore, and as we have written before, his fundamentals are superb across the board, giving him the chance to be a real presence on this end of the floor at the next level.

NBADraft.net:

NBADraft.net: You are known as a defensive stopper and have been an All-SEC defender the past 2 seasons. What is it that sets you apart from other players on the defensive side of the ball?

Jeffery Taylor: I take a great deal of pride in not letting my man score. I think that is the most important thing. You have to take pride in not letting your man score and everything else takes care of itself. It isn’t all about athletic ability. I feel like defense is all about your mentality and how you approach the game.

NBADraft.net: How does it feel when you shut down the other team’s best player?

Jeffery Taylor: It feels really good. It is definitely something that has always been important to me. I take it personal if a guy scores on me. Definitely being a stopper and people being able to rely on me on the defensive end is definitely the type of player I want to be. It is the kind of player I’ve always been.

ESPN:

Taylor wasn’t flawless Sunday, but he did a lot of things to make those apathetic NBA scouts take notice. His combination of ball skills and penetrating ability comes packaged in a wide, well-built 6-foot-6 frame. His athleticism allowed him to turn one drill — in which campers were asked to catch the ball, pivot, and lay it in with their opposite hand — into a surprisingly impressive dunkfest. When campers were shown a series of three- and four-stage ball moves (“OK, this is a crossover, then a stepback, then a BIG step through the lane, and then we want a clean finish over coach, who will be standing on that chair near the goal. Everyone got it?”), perhaps only North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes and Kentucky guard Doron Lamb picked up the instruction with the same immediate ease as the Vanderbilt swingman.

What is the best thing Jeff Taylor does for his team?

Christian D’Andrea (follow him on Twitter) writes for Anchor of Gold, SB Nation’s Vanderbilt blog:

Taylor’s best attribute for the Commodores came from his defense. As a three time All-SEC defender, Taylor was counted on to cover the opposing team’s top scorer at the 1-4 positions. As a senior, he held Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to 5.7 points per game in three matchups with Kentucky and covered everyone from Kenny Boynton to Tobias Harris through his career.

While that defense made him a standout player early in his career, his work ethic was what set him apart as he developed. Taylor was always a high level athlete for the Commodores, but he had difficulty syncing those gifts to his natural talents. He improved throughout his time in Nashville to fill in the holes in his game. The most popular stat that people point to is his improved shooting; Taylor went from being a 9.1% three-point shooter to connecting on 42.3% of those shots as a senior. However, another story from earlier in his career might better showcase his dedication. After getting pushed around his sophomore year, he came back to Vanderbilt with 25 added pounds of muscle. Despite the added bulk, Taylor was more explosive than ever on the court.

Jeffery Taylor played four years at Vanderbilt and he’s shown continual improvement on the court. He’s far from a finished product, but he’s got the defensive talent and shooting to contribute right away at the NBA level. I think his value will rise since he’s got talents that will shine in individual workouts and combine type measurements, but whoever invests a pick on the senior will get a good return on their investment.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Henry Sims

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-10, 245 pounds, senior C from Georgetown
  • Key Stats: 11.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 46 percent
  • Projected: Mid to late second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

What, you really expect me to argue against the Pistons taking an unselfish, great passing big man out of Georgetown? In the second round, you could do a lot worse than a decently athletic seven-footer who has a good attitude and is used to being a backup, making it likely he could adjust to being a role player in the NBA as well. Also, along with Greg Monroe, it’s pretty cool that Sims has a support system like this to help him along.

Pros for the Pistons

Sims fills a couple of pressing needs and could be on the board when the Pistons use the second of their two second rounders. He’s big, first and foremost, at nearly 7-feet tall with a long wingspan.

He’s also pretty fast and athletic. He can catch the ball inside and score around the basket. Like the man he backed up for two seasons, Monroe, Sims is a willing and good passer for a big man, so having two bigs who are constantly looking to pass for the Pistons wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Sims also could still have some untapped upside despite being a senior. He was only a starter for one of his four seasons at Georgetown after being a pretty decently regarded high school prospect. It’s possible that he could continue improving after he finally got a more prominent opportunity to play his final year of college.

Cons for the Pistons

Sims would be a similar pick to Vernon Macklin — a player who isn’t necessarily ancient by prospect standards, but the fact that he’s played four years in college does make it less likely he’ll make a significant leap forward. Macklin showed some flashes in very brief minutes last season, but if the Pistons plan on keeping him around (he’s a free agent), he’ll have to play more this season. It probably wouldn’t make sense, if that’s the plan, to bring in a similar project like Sims, who they would need to give minutes fairly quickly to evaluate whether or not he’s capable of being a rotation player or not. If the plan is to not bring Macklin back, then I’d be all for Sims (provided the Pistons are a little more committed to getting him occasional minutes with the NBA club or in the D-League than they were with Macklin most of the season).

Sims is also only a so-so rebounder. If he can defend, finish, run the floor and block an occasional shot, a lack of rebounding from a backup big who otherwise provides energy isn’t a huge issue, but it’s still probably something teams considering drafting him will scrutinize.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Sims played well against Kansas and Memphis. He is a fluid athlete who runs the floor, can score around the basket and seems to finally, after three seasons playing a backup role at Georgetown, be ready for the spotlight. I’m always leery of older big men who suddenly break out — especially when your career game is against Memphis’ weak interior defense. But when you look at what scouts were saying about him as a high school prospect, he’s worth a closer look as a potential second-round prospect if he keeps playing like that.

DraftExpress:

From the low block, Sims relies on an assortment of drop-steps, hook shots, and turnaround jumpers, showing the ability to turn off either shoulder and finish with either hand, though his touch isn’t great with either. He has a strong tendency to extend his drop-steps under the rim, where he likes finishing with reverse lay-ups, doing a good job utilizing his length to create separation. Sims struggles operating through contact and doesn’t really have a go-to move at this stage, showing inconsistent results with all aspects of his finesse game, and it’s not likely teams at the next level would look for him to create his own offense in the post.

NBADraft.net:

Sims emerged as one of the more unique big men in college ball, after averaging in double figures while leading his team in assists and blocked shots. Sims has great size and deceptive quickness, and possesses a feel for the rim that allows him to score in the paint. If Sims can continue developing the midrange game, he’s be able to contribute in a variety of ways to an NBA front court.

Washington Times:

“The last three years, people thought I was just wasting a scholarship,” Sims said. “It was painful to go through that for three years, not living up to what I knew I could do. I had people chirping about me, and it definitely hurt me.”

Sims returned home to Baltimore last summer and stayed longer than usual to work on his game and soak up the wisdom of his mother, Brenda.

“She told me this is your last go-around,” Sims recalled. “She said you don’t want to look back and say I wish I would have worked harder and would-have, could-have. She basically put everything into perspective. I controlled my destiny.”

Sims maintained his focus when he returned to Georgetown for his senior season.

“Some kids, it takes a while for the light to go off,” Thompson said.

Rewriting, however, can be refreshing.

“I finally feel like myself as a basketball player,” Sims said.

What is the best thing Henry Sims does for his team?

Andrew Geiger (follow him on Twitter) writes for Casual Hoya, SB Nation’s Georgetown blog:

In the highlight video below, Henry summarizes himself and teammates as follows. “We play hard from beginning to end and . . . we handle our business on and off the court.” Sims certainly did that over the past year. A late bloomer after beginning his career behind (now-Piston) Greg Monroe, Sims flourished in his senior year, displaying his full range of skills as well as impressive athleticism. Big Hank led Georgetown in both blocked shots and assists, a testament to his versatility and a remarkable achievement even in a Georgetown offense that features its big men. Sims not only clogged the lane on defense but also was its vocal leader, directing a defense that ranked in the top ten nationally. Having stepped into the role of senior leader, Sims also stepped up his game on a bigger stage, putting up consecutive 20-10s in the Big East Tournament. In all, Sims is a skilled, athletic big man who’s still just scratching the surface of his ability.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Jared Sullinger

Note: Ian Levy at Hickory High has started his awesome similarity scores for prospects again. I’m going back and adding links to previous #DraftDreams profiles who have similarity scores available and will continue to add them from this point forward.

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-9, 265pounds, sophomore F/C from Ohio State
  • Key Stats: 17.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 52 percent
  • Projected: Mid to late lottery
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Other than the fact that Sullinger has frequently been mentioned as a strong possibility for the Pistons if the lottery shakes out as predicted, I’ve started to become more enthused about Sullinger as he’s seemingly become more undervalued.

A year ago, had he declared, he would’ve been in the No. 1 pick conversation. When he decided to stay in school, it was assumed that he’d take another huge leap forward and cement himself as a top three pick. Instead, he improved incrementally as a sophomore, gave scouts more time to nit-pick his weaknesses and he’s plummeted towards the bottom of the lottery in most mocks. I’m at the point where, even thought he Pistons could use a more athletic player, I think Sullinger would represent pretty good value if he’s available where the Pistons are likely to pick.

Pros for the Pistons

Do you like rebounds? Because Sullinger grabbed nearly a quarter of all available defensive rebounds when he was on the floor for Ohio State the last two seasons. He gets good position on the glass and he seems to have the instincts going after the ball that most good rebounders possess.

He’s also worked on his game. His stats didn’t make a huge leap from freshman to sophomore season, but he did work to get himself into better shape as a sophomore and he did extend his range out past the 3-point line (he didn’t take a ton of threes, but he hit 40 percent of his 40 attempts out there this season after only attempting 12 threes as a freshman). Also, via Tony Manfred of Business Insider:

Once you dive into the stats, you find that Sullinger is stunningly similar to Love as a college player.

Now, I think it’s pretty crazy to draft Sullinger expecting he’ll morph into a top five player the way Love did. But Love is the best example of a player who was knocked around a bit by scouts for being short and pudgy for his position despite great production during his one college season, and that hasn’t been a problem for him in the NBA. Sullinger is short for his position and has had questions about his conditioning, but it’s hard to ignore his production, particularly on the glass.

Cons for the Pistons

As a fan of Big Ten hoops, I watched a lot of Ohio State the last two seasons. I was down on Sullinger at times, mostly because of his defense. I’m not sure he has the lateral quickness to stay in front of bigs who can put the ball on the floor. Against Michigan State, for example, Sullinger was beat off the dribble a couple times by Derrick Nix, who no one will ever mistake for Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire. The Pistons already have a porous frontcourt defense, and Sullinger won’t address that need I don’t think.

Although he blocked the occasional shot in college, he’s not the rim protector the Pistons lack, either. A Sullinger-Greg Monroe frontline certainly has its attractive qualities (boards, boards, boards), but it would also give the Pistons a starting frontcourt with really limited athleticism.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Sullinger has been one of the two or three most dominant big men in the NCAA the past two years. He’s a load in the paint and excels both as a scorer and as a rebounder. His thick frame allows him to get and keep great position on the block. He’s one of the NCAA’s best scorers with his back to the basket. He has a very high basketball IQ and it shows at both ends. He’s very skilled for a player his age, has terrific hands and shows advanced post moves around the basket. He also continues to improve his face-the-basket game and can even shoot the 3 when called upon. Defensively, he’s one of the top rebounders in college basketball. His 30.39 PER ranked 10th among current college players.

Nevertheless, there are major question marks for Sullinger. Despite his slimmed-down physique, Sullinger is an underwhelming athlete. He plays mostly below the rim, doesn’t move well laterally and at times still struggles with his conditioning. What complicates matters is that Sullinger is severely undersized for his most natural position (center) and even undersized for the 4 at the next level. His long arms make up some of that difference, but it’s been pretty clear for the past two seasons that Sullinger struggles when playing against length.

DraftExpress:

The biggest key to Sullinger’s dominance has been the opposition’s inability to keep him outside of the paint. While he’s lost a good deal of weight, he’s still retained all of the strength in his lower body that makes him so difficult to handle one on one. With his terrific base and low center of gravity, Sullinger is constantly working to establish better post-position down low. Tough and extremely aggressive, he’s not afraid to simply put his ass into a defender and go to work until he gets to where he wants to on the floor.

NBADraft.net:

Highly refined, old school post player in a draft saturated with “potential”. His game is marked by both power and skill. Legitimate low block scorer often working his way into a high quality look (17.5 PPG on 52% FG). Master of positioning at 280 pounds and establishes early. Uses his wide body and derriere to keep defenders locked onto his hip. Tremendous lower body strength pinning his opponents into submission. Aggressively throws his weight around and unafraid to punish those in his path. Thrives on contact. Wide array of post moves on the low block, finishing over either shoulder with either hand. Footwork and understanding of angles are advanced. Soft hands and a feathery touch. Nimble elusivity for his size. He has taken strides in the face-up game, working from the elbow area in space without threat of a double. He’s a dual threat from there, either comfortably popping a mid-range jumper or attacking off the bounce with skilled handle. Quickness is not his ally, but he’s a bull in a china shop. Technically sound jump shot with smooth release.

Sports Illustrated:

“He made a good move staying in school,” one scout said. “Without all those foreign forwards in the draft next year — guys like [Jonas] Valanciunas, [Bismack] Biyombo, [Jan] Vesely, [Enes] Kanter — Sullinger can probably lock down a spot in the top five.” Evaluators will watch Sullinger’s matchups with players who have NBA-level size and length with particular interest, as the jury is still out on whether he can be an elite power forward in the pros, or just a complementary piece who uses his bulk to battle for rebounds. “He’s already a monster down low in college,” another scout said. “I think he could help himself by playing a little lighter next season, because his body was a concern coming into his freshman year, and proving he can step out into the mid-post and free-throw area and knock down shots.”

What is the best thing Jared Sullinger does for his team?

Luke Zimmerman (follow him on Twitter) writes for Land-Grant Holy Land, SB Nation’s Ohio State blog:

Sullinger is just one of those guys that makes everyone else around him better. They say “when you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” This goes especially for Jared, and unfortunately lends to some of his detractors who see him with the ceiling of a Kenny Thomas or have him unfairly prejudged as another Mike Sweetney. Sullinger has extremely soft hands that let him not only catch everything thrown within his general vicinity, but also lend in aiding him in finding the open teammate in the event of the inevitable double team. Yeah, he’s not a jump out the gym athlete, but neither is Kevin Love or Luis Scola. When other teammates are in a clear funk, Sully is particularly prone to take the weight of the situation on his back and do everything he can to finish smoothly around the basket and keep the offense flowing.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Evan Fournier

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, 19-year-old forward from Poitiers (France)
  • Key Stats: 14.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 52 percent and 27 percent from 3-point range
  • Projected: Mid first round

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

I obviously haven’t seen much of Fournier, since he’s an international prospect, but the name tossed around most often in comparisons is fellow Frenchmen Nicolas Batum. That comparison, along with the fact that France has produced significant NBA talent in recent years — Tony Parker, Batum, Boris Diaw, Roddy Beaubois to name a few — has me sufficiently excited about Fournier as a prospect.

Pros for the Pistons

Small forward is a position of need for the Pistons. I won’t start another Tayshaun Prince debate here, other than to say he’s getting older and, even if you believe he’s well-suited for big minutes now, that type of role is certainly not in his or the team’s best interest for the life of his contract. He needs to ease into a more secondary role and the Pistons need a successor.

The good news with Fournier? At age 19, he’s still a raw talent who, like Batum, may need to gradually work his way into the lineup. This would suit Prince, who is reportedly hesitant to cede the primary role he’s been in the past few seasons, and it could be good for the Pistons, who would have a competent veteran in place to keep in the small forward job as Fournier develops.

And if he develops? He’s a lanky slasher who handles the ball well, finishes well and, because of his length and athleticism, could project into a bothersome defensive player.

Cons for the Pistons

Fournier is currently projected to go just outside the lottery, somewhere in the 15-20 range. So if the Pistons like him, they might be reaching a bit if they take him with their lottery pick. That’s the only way they’d get him, too — there’s no way Fournier falls out of the first round. If anything, his youth and upside will help him climb. One thing that perhaps hurt his stock, as is mentioned below, is that Fournier didn’t play in this year’s Nike Hoops Summit, so he’s still a bit of an unknown commodity.

He’s also not a great 3-point shooter yet, something the Pistons desperately need more of. Putting Fournier on the floor with their other entrenched wing, Rodney Stuckey, would mean two of the Pistons’ three perimeter positions would be occupied by players who aren’t 3-point threats (although Stuckey has at least made that shot a more competent part of his arsenal). The Pistons undoubtedly will look big first in the lottery, but if their targets come off the board, Fournier is one of the prospects just outside the lottery who is a gamble but might have more upside than the more limited bigs towards the back of the lottery.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Fournier is a productive, scoring two guard who thrives at getting to the basket. He has good size for his position and is producing as a 19 year old in the French League. He needs to get stronger and he really needs to improve his jump shot, but teams could take a flier on him in the late first round.

DraftExpress:

He possesses ideal physical attributes for a NBA wing at 6-7 with a strong frame, and has the ability to create his own shot very effectively thanks to his excellent size, strength, and ball-handling skills. Despite his height, he’s able to get very low with his dribble, showing terrific footwork and body control driving into the lane, often using crafty change of speed moves, spins and hesitations.

Patient and mature with his drives, he reads the secondary line of defense extremely well, frequently making intelligent passes off the dribble to cutting teammates as help-side defenders rotate towards him.

NBADraft.net:

Considered to be the top European shooting guard talent of the 1992 age group.

Ridiculous Upside:

The lowdown on Fournier: he has excellent size, plays at a free-flowing pace, quick, can handle the ball and finish, solid defensively and isn’t afraid to get into the paint.

How will this translate to the NBA, particularly when it comes to guarding bigger and stronger guards or wing players? Is he really first round material or will he slide into the second round come June 28, in Newark, New Jersey?

While there are a lot of “wait and see” factors to consider, the tools are certainly there in Fournier’s game.

What is the best thing Evan Fournier does for his team?

Wendell Maxeey (follow him on Twitter) is one of the best in the business when it comes to reporting on overseas basketball. He writes for Ridiculous Upside and read more about his background here. A must-read for die-hard hoops fans:

Evan Fournier is coming off a season with Poitiers in the Pro-A French League where his all around numbers (14 points per game, 3.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game) and abilities certainly justify being a mid to late first round prospect this draft, but his stock did slip some by not participating in the Nike Hoop Summit last month. Lanky and athletic on both ends of the floor, the body type and French swagger screams Nicolas Batum, but at 19 years old (Fournier turns 20 in October) the transition to the NBA remains a mystery especially when it comes to guarding quicker and stronger two-guards. Still, Fournier has solid upside: high basketball IQ, good size at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, and three years of pro experience under his belt. Don’t be surprised if a team like Houston or San Antonio makes a play for Fournier.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Andrew Nicholson

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, senior forward from St. Bonaventure
  • Key Stats: 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 2.0 blocks per game, 57 percent shooting, 43 percent 3-point shooting
  • Projected: Late first/early second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Nicholson has improved just about every facet of his game tremendously in four years at St. Bonaventure, he’s known for his work ethic and he plays defense. Those things, combined with being tall, would make him a good bet to immediately contribute to the Pistons.

Pros for the Pistons

Nicholson is a high-energy player who doesn’t mind playing defense, is a solid shot-blocker and, most importantly for Greg Monroe-related reasons, has great hands. Monroe loves to pass around the basket and Nicholson is good at catching and quickly finishing. Check out this line from ESPN’s Chad Ford:

Wants to dunk everything in the paint

Yeah, that’ll work. Also, Nicholson has extended his range as a college player out past the 3-point line, He should an amazing 43 percent out there this season. The Pistons could use another shooter in their lineup, particularly if they use the amnesty clause on Charlie Villanueva.

Cons for the Pistons

The biggest knock on Nicholson seems to be that he’s only average or slightly above as a rebounder. I’m honestly not all that concerned about that. He rebounds well enough at the college level and the fact that he’s a hard-worker and is known for playing with a lot of energy makes me confidence it’s something he could improve. Also, if you remember, scouts weren’t wowed by Monroe’s rebounding ability when he was coming out of college and that didn’t end up being an accurate assessment of what he’s capable of. Nicholson has also had occasional turnover problems, as many young big men do.

Nicholson won’t rise high enough in the draft for the Pistons to take him with their lottery selection, but he’s one of several bigs (Festus Ezeli, Fab Melo to name a couple others) pegged for the late first/early second round who the team should definitely pounce on if he lasts on the board until their second round pick.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Nicholson continues to mature as a player. Every year, those David West comparisons look just a little bit closer to the mark. While there were questions about his toughness and basketball IQ early in his career, he just keeps getting better. In a losing effort against a swarming Florida State defense, Nicholson had 20 points and seven rebounds and was 4-for-5 from the 3-point line.

The 3-point shooting is especially noteworthy for Nicholson. For the first 22 games of the season, Nicholson hit a total of four 3-pointers. In his last 10 games he hit 19. Nicholson’s age keeps him from having a high ceiling, but it’s more likely than ever that someone takes him in the 20s.

DraftExpress:

Nevertheless, standing 6’9” with excellent length and big hands, Nicholson has some intriguing aspects of his game, both in terms of his physical profile and from a skills perspective—and is almost certainly not a finished product yet.

Offensively, Nicholson relies heavily on a very refined post game that’s tough to defend at this level, particularly when paired with the improving perimeter game he showed last year. With good footwork, counter moves, and an ability to finish with either hand, Nicholson has plenty of moves in the low post. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Nicholson is shooting 54% in post-up situations, while doing a solid job of drawing contact and getting to the line.

NBADraft.net:

After not getting off to the start many expected for his senior season, he ended his career on a high note, playing extremely well down the stretch and especially in the A-10 conference tournament while leading his team to their first NCAA Tourney appearance since 2000. While displaying more tenacity and an improved skill set during this time, his ceiling is very high and he still has room to grow, making him a very intriguing prospect.

ESPN:

Realizing that the demands of Division I college basketball and the hours of lab work required for a chemistry major wouldn’t necessarily jive, Andrew Nicholson decided he needed to change his major to something a little less demanding.

So he did.

To physics.

“It’s still very challenging, but I have the capacity to do it,” Nicholson said without a trace of arrogance. “I’m very, very, very, very good at time management. I’ve got it down to the millisecond.”

What is the best thing Andrew Nicholson does for his team?

Kyle Zamiara (follow him on Twitter) is the sports editor for The Bona Venture, St. Bonaventure’s student newspaper:

After an up and down start to his senior season, Nicholson put the team on his back the final nine games of the Bonnies’ season, eventually winning the Atlantic 10 Championship. His presence in the paint draws double teams and creates opportunity for teammates on the perimeter. Nicholson also is dangerous from long range as he hit 43 percent of his three-pointers this season. He’s a relentless workhorse that can take over games if he isn’t challenged.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Austin Rivers

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, freshman guard from Duke
  • Key Stats: 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals per game, 43 percent shooting, 37 percent 3-point shooting
  • Projected: Top 15
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, had an incredible amount of hype coming out of high school. In fact, many scouts projected that he could be the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft before he’d even played a college game. Things obviously didn’t materialize that way. Rivers didn’t have a bad season by any stretch, but he also wasn’t the game-changing force his hype suggested he would be.

Still, I’m not sure there is a player who will be available towards the bottom of the lottery with more upside.

Pros for the Pistons

Like other wing players I’ve profiled, Rivers wouldn’t be in play for the Pistons unless there is a run on big men early and a shooting guard is clearly a far superior player than whatever frontcourt players are left. I think it’s an unlikely scenario, but it could happen nonetheless. And in this case, I would be fairly excited if the Pistons end up with Rivers.

If they end up picking ninth, chances are they will select from a crop of players who have the potential to be solid, if unspectacular, starters and rotation players in the league. That’s not bad. Rivers, on the other hand, should at least be a rotation player, but he’s still a phenomenal talent and one slightly underwhelming college season doesn’t change that. If the Pistons took Rivers and he flopped, it’s a failed pick. But there’s also the slight possibility you take him in the late lottery and he develops into the star player just about anyone who watched him closely in high school thought he would become. That’s a pretty enticing gamble, even if it’s probably not the most practical move the Pistons could make.

As far as on the court, Rivers is a good perimeter shooter, he was one of the quickest shooting guards in the country off the dribble and, for a freshman, he’s already good at drawing contact and getting to the free throw line.

Cons for the Pistons

The con, obviously, is that Rivers doesn’t address the frontcourt deficiencies. I would counter that by saying that, if the Pistons do believe he’s best available when they draft, two of their three most valuable trade assets are in the backcourt — Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey. If you believe Rivers is better than one or both of those guys from the team’s perspective, you take him and you move either Knight or Stuckey, since both should be able to bring a reasonable return at the moment.

But that’s really the only way taking Rivers would make sense, if it were the first of two moves, the second being a trade that sends out one of their guards for a capable forward or center.

Oh, and as Chad Ford notes, Rivers has molded both his game and demeanor after Kobe Bryant. That could be a positive or negative depending on your stance on Kobe. I’ll just leave it at that.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

For Rivers to have a really successful NBA career, he’s going to have to drop the Kobe act and become a better shooter and really work on that floater.

If he does that he’ll be really effective. But I’m not sure he knows what he is and that has been, time and time again, a problem for players as they make the leap to the next level.

DraftExpress:

A crafty ball-handler with no shortage of shifty hesitation moves or blistering cross-overs, Rivers showed the ability to create separation from his defender in one-on-one situations and turn the corner to get into the paint on the pick and roll, even splitting the defense in impressive fashion on occasion. Extremely confident and aggressive, River’s decision-making once he got into the paint and drew additional defenders quickly became a point of interest for scouts, as the young guard struggled with aspects of his dribble-drive game throughout the season.

NBADraft.net:

Rivers is a talented scoring guard will be able to put points on the board at any level … His jumper is strong, his ability to operate off the dribble is very good, he has the bloodlines, and he can’t be accused of not being aggressive … He needs to get more mature, continue to get stronger, be less selfish, and work on his D though … He’s still a likely eventual lotto pick, his offensive skills are just too good to be ignored.

Charlotte News Observer:

Duke freshman Austin Rivers might not be a true point guard and is small for an NBA shooting guard, but he sure is hard to guard. That’s why I think he’d actually be a better fit in the NBA than in the college game.

Rivers has this herky-jerky dribble-penetration game that consistently gets him to the rim. With the NBA strictly enforcing the no-hand check rule, it will be easier for him to excel at this than under college rules.

What is the best thing Austin Rivers does for his team?

Chad Lykins (follow him on Twitter) covers Duke basketball for Duke Hoop Blog:

When you think of a guy like Austin Rivers, the first few things that enter your mind is: fearless, self-confident, and the ability to score the basketball. Rivers has had an NBA-ready game since his junior year of high school. As a freshman at Duke, the Duke offense ran through Rivers, as he led the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game. He is lethal from anywhere on the floor and can catch instant fire quickly. Rivers is exceptional at attacking the basket, as he found himself at the free throw line a team-high 184 times. He is at his best in isolations. He possesses a deadly first step and crossover dribble that would leave some of the top NBA defenders shaken. Through his one and only year Duke, he has learned to be more in control of his play.  He also excels in an up-tempo environment. If selected by Detroit, his game would thrive with the Pistons style of play (Detroit ranked among the top half of teams in the NBA in fastbreak points per game). He is instant offense wherever he may land in the league and within a few years will be considered with among the top scoring guards in the NBA.

Previously