DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03: John Henson #31 of the North Carolina Tar Heels jumps over Miles Plumlee #21 of the Duke Blue Devils as he drives to the basket during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 3, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
With the 2012 NBA draft tomorrow, we took a look at the prospects in the draft and their potential fits as players on the 76ers, including players available both if the 76ers stay at 15 and if they move up.
With the draft right around the corner, the 76ers will look to add talent to their roster, the first in what could be a series of roster-shaping moves this offseason.
Besides covering the 76ers, I also spend time as a college basketball scout with Draft Express. This article isn't meant to be an in-depth scouting report, and if that's what you're looking for check out the write-ups on Draft Express. Each player contains detailed scouting reports, usually going well back into their high school days. This is merely meant to be an introduction to these players for 76ers fans who may not have seen them play very often.
This article will is broken down into 3 parts: point guards/combo guards, wing players, and big men.
The point guards / combo guards
Damian Lillard [6'3", Junior, Weber State]
A scoring point guard from Weber State, Lillard brings an intriguing combination of athleticism and shooting from the lead guard spot. Not a pure point guard by any stretch of the imagination (although he hasn't been asked to be at Weber State), Lillard is a multi-dimensional scorer that can score in a variety of ways. An extremely good shooter both in catch and shot situations and shooting off the dribble, Lillard's bread and butter is likely to be as a scorer off the pick and roll.
The concerns with Lillard are his lack of natural point guard instincts, lack of size to play the off-guard position, and the low level of competition he played against. That beings said, in a draft that doesn't have a whole lot of diversified scoring from the perimeter, Lillard is going to go well before the 76ers pick, and if they trade up into the range it would take to get Lillard they would likely be targeting a big.
Austin Rivers [6'5", Freshman, Duke]
Austin Rivers, Duke freshman and son of Boston coach Doc Rivers, is similar to Lillard in that he's a scoring guard. Whereas Lillard is likely forced to play the point because of his size, Rivers measured in at 6'5" with shoes on.
Rivers core skill is his isolation ability, as he has the ability to take most of his defenders off the dribble. This is both a blessing and a curse, as while it's a skill set not many players towards the top of this draft have, it also leads Rivers to some questionable shots and hinders ball movement. While Lillard was a solid shooter off catch and shoot situations, Rivers doesn't have that skill, making his contributions when he's not dominating the ball minimal.
While Rivers has the size to play the off-guard position, the consistency in his effort on that end of the court is perhaps his biggest question mark when projecting him to the next level.
Dion Waiters [6'4", Sophomore, Syracuse]
A local Philadelphia product, Waiters spent 2 years coming off the bench for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. These years were somewhat adversarial, particularly his rocky freshman year that almost led to his transfer away from Syracuse.
Like Rivers, Waiters main skill set is his ability to break his man down off the dribble. He's a better athlete than Rivers, and once he gets into the paint uses his strength and athleticism to finish. He's also a little more diversified of a shooter, with a nice assortment of catch and shoot ability, ability to hit shots off the dribble, and floaters in the lane.
While also not a natural point and somewhat undersized to play the shooting guard full time (although Waiters has the same wingspan as Rivers), Waiters does a better job than Rivers of using the attention he receives to setup his teammates.
Having played at Syracuse, Waiters has played virtually no man-man defense in his college career, which presents some challenges projecting that part of his game to the next level.
Kendall Marshall [6'4", Sophomore, North Carolina]
Whereas the first 3 guards listed have been scoring combo guards, Kendall Marshall contains an abundance of true point guard instincts. His problem is that he goes too far in the other direction, rarely if ever looking for his own shot.
How unique has Marshall been? His assists per minute rate is the best among draft prospects over the past decade.
Marshall doesn't have the greatest quickness off the dribble, and is far from an athletic specimen. Without a great pull-up jump shot, he doesn't have much in the way of ability to create his own offense. Whether or not he can score enough to keep defenses honest, and whether he has the lateral quickness to defend in the NBA, are the big questions with Marshall's NBA value.
The wing players
Bradley Beal [6'5", Freshman, Florida]
While Bradley Beal had what most considered a mildly disappointing freshman season for Florida, his draft stock has remained consistently high throughout the season, and he now looks like a virtual certainty to go top 5 in the draft.
Beal has by far the best shooting mechanics of anybody in the draft, with picture perfect form and good elevation. While he shot only 33.9% from three point range on the season, he was much more proficient as the season went on, and most believe his shooting will translate to the NBA as his primary weapon despite not being a knock-down shooting in college.
Beal is almost perhaps the best defender among guards likely drafted high, with good lateral foot speed and a very good job chasing people off of screens. Unlike many offensive players, Beal is always alert and in good stance on this end of the court.
Beal doesn't have spectacular athleticism, size, or ball handling ability (although none to the level of being bad), which he'll have to either improve (ballhandling) or overcome (size) to be a top scoring option in the NBA.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist [6'7", Freshman, Kentucky]
Freshman Kidd-Gilchrist was the 5th option for the national champion Kentucky Wildcats, something that speaks to the level of polish he's lacking offensively. That being said, he's likely to be a top 5 pick despite that, possessing a refreshing combination of athletic gifts and sheer tenacity that's rarely seen.
Kidd-Gilchrist is a good finisher at the rim and a very good athlete, although offensively that's somewhat limited due to his limited ball handling ability. His biggest hurdle at this stage offensively, however, is his jump shot. Kidd-Gilchrist shot less than 26% from downtown on the season and has a very unorthodox release which is going to need a lot of work.
It was his versatility that made him such a role player despite his offensive limitations. He can post-up when needed, run the break as well as anyone in college basketball, and be a pest defensively. Kidd-Gilchrist was able to defend any position on the court in college, and with his combination of length, strength, athleticism, and effort level should be a very good defender in the NBA as well.
Harrison Barnes [6'8", Sophomore, North Carolina]
Right now , Barnes physical profile and athleticism indicates an offensive ability that just isn't yet there, and some question whether it ever will be. Largely content settling for pull-up jumpers, Barnes doesn't yet have the advanced ball handling ability to consistently get all the way to the rim despite his excellent leaping ability.
The core of his strengths come from the combination of his elite physical tools (size, length, athleticism) and his effortless shooting stroke. He's still more comfortable in catch and shoot situations, although he did improve this year off the dribble.
Many think Barnes game is more suited to the NBA, and there is some legitimacy to that. While Kendall Marshall is a wizard with the ball and greatly improved Barnes' effectiveness when he took over the starting point guard role, having a great isolation player or post-up threat along side of him could collapse the lane and open things up for the talented forward.
Jeremy Lamb [6'5", Sophomore, Connecticut]
An enigmatic player, I profiled Jeremy Lamb after last years tournament run. On one hand, his change in role from secondary option to primary playmaker didn't drop his own offensive efficiency like you'd expect, in fact he increased from 57% true shooting percentage to 59%, doing a better job of getting to the line in the process. On the other hand, UConn's offense was painful to watch down the stretch at times as the Huskies lost 13 of their last 19 games en route to a very disappointing season.
That being said, Lamb's ability to shoot coming off of screens and as a stand still shooter makes his floor pretty high. He's also fairly unique from a physical standpoint, with a ridiculous 6'11" wingspan and a 38" vertical leap, all which could help him grow as a defender.
Moe Harkless [6'8", Freshman, St. John's]
Playing for an undermanned St. John's team, freshman Moe Harkless had the chance to play big minutes, accumulate big per-game averages, but also display some of his limitations.
Harkless has great size for somebody who will primarily be playing the small forward position, and his status as a draft prospect is largely based on his physical profile and his outstanding effort level. A far from finish product offensively, particularly due to his weak ball handling and perimeter shooting ability, any team that drafts Harkless is going to have to have patience with him as he refines his game and increases his overall skill-level. That being said, at this stage of the draft that could pay huge dividends down the line.
The big men
Anthony Davis [6'10", Freshman, Kentucky]
There's really not much to say about Davis. He's the prize of the draft, he'll be the #1 pick, and he's the one pick in the draft that there is virtually 0% chance of obtaining.
Thomas Robinson [6'8", Junior, Kansas]
Robinson has some question marks, as he's slightly undersized, and there are questions of whether his post-based offensive game will translate against bigger competition. That being said, with his improved mid-range game (his free throw percentage went from 39.5% his freshman year, to 51%, to 68.2%) and his incredible athleticism and first step, he projects more as a face-up power forward in NBA style offenses anyway.
He's an incredible defensive rebounder, athlete, and an extremely hard working kid who has worked his way through his own recent hardships, Robinson could very well be an all-star caliber power forward when all is said and done.
Andre Drummond [6'11", Freshman, Connecticut]
One of the major enigma's in the NBA draft. Few big men in recent history have had the physical tools Andre Drummond has. Standing a shade under 7" with a massive standing reach and a great vertical jump, Drummond has the potential to be a defensive monster.
At times, that in fact played out. He blocked 2.7 shots in only 28 minutes, and was a monster on the offensive glass. But his perimeter shooting (29.5% from the free throw line), lack of perimeter skills, feel for the game, and general basketball IQ create quite the project.
John Henson [6'10", Junior, North Carolina]
Another extremely long shot blocking force, Henson has his own question marks. Rail thin (although the 216 pounds he measured at was with a considerable amount of added weight from the reported 183 pounds he came in as a freshman), Henson will always be fighting against his size and how that impacts him in the post.
That being said, while he's never going to be a huge offensive threat, Henson's slowly-but-surely increased confidence shooting the ball makes him significantly further along than a guy like the aforementioned Drummond, and he's similarly more advanced as a rotational defender. He has also so far been a much better defensive rebounder, which should increase his ability to contribute sooner rather than later.
Tyler Zeller [7', Senior, North Carolina]
Henson's frontcourt mate at North Carolina, the senior brings a level of polish largely lacking from the big men in this draft. A good rebounder with a strong basketball IQ, ability to run the floor, good hands, and a bit of a post game, Zeller is commonly viewed as a safe pick. Likely to be a contributor but almost assuredly not an all-star. Zeller would likely not be an exciting pick, but he shouldn't be an all-out bust, either.
Meyers Leonard [7'1", Sophomore, Illinois]
Another enigma amongst the big men, Leonard measured out at well over 7" with great athleticism, once again bringing the argument between potential and production to the forefront.
Leonard isn't particularly polished as a basketball player, on either end. On the offensive end his post-game isn't all that fluid or natural and he hasn't showcased all that much from the perimeter. Defensively, he's often in a poor defensive stance and isn't in control when closing out, creating a fairly bad pick and roll defender when the athleticism is there to be a good one.
How much of this is correctable? That largely depends on his work ethic, and your evaluation of his potential going forward will largely be based off of that.
Perry Jones [6'11", Sophomore, Baylor]
A projected #1 pick at times last year, Perry Jones is one of the examples of why it's almost never a good idea to return to school. Not showing substantial progress, Jones enters this years draft with a bevy of question marks that normally aren't associated with someone of his talent level.
The length of a power forward, Jones has been criticized for shying away from contact down low and preferring a perimeter game, one that he has yet to translate his explosive athletics gifts into certifiable perimeter skills. He has an incredible first step from the mid-to-high post area, but he's not all that much of a threat as a shooter and doesn't have enough advanced counter-moves to take full advantage of this.
A jack-of-all-trades master of none, Jones may have too much natural talent to pass on at the Sixers pick.
Terrence Jones [6'9", Sophomore, Kentucky]
A potential lottery pick last year, Jones has fallen quite a bit since that time. Eclipsed by Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jones didn't take a major step forward this year to elevate his draft stock.
Despite that, Jones has a diversified talent level to make him a potential steal in the late teens, and he measured better than expected at the NBA combine. But with the Sixers plethora of ball handlers and a somewhat overlapping role as Thaddeus Young, Jones potential fit as a Sixers is in question.
Jared Sullinger [6'9", Sophomore, Ohio State]
Already with health question marks, as well as question marks about his his unathletic game could translate to the NBA, Jared Sullinger is falling on most mock drafts. Once ranked as a potential top 5 prospect, Sullinger now could see himself fall into the later half of the first round.
Used primarily as a post-scorer at Ohio State, Sullinger has a series of moves and feel for the game on the low block that few his age have. He's also expanded his perimeter shooting considerably and is a very good rebounder, with a 24% defensive rebounding percentage on one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the nation.
With the good comes the bad, and his question marks are abundant. Slightly undersized, with a less-than-stellar vertical leap and one of the slowest lane agility drills among first round draft picks at the combine in recent memory, Sullinger has many athletic question marks. His foot speed makes him a liability defending the pick and rolls, and he's going to struggle to defend face-up power forwards at the next level. Add in being medically red-flagged at the combine due to his back, and the drop isn't entirely surprising.
That being said, with his advanced and unique skill set, his basketball IQ and his excellent effort level, the reward may outweigh the risk.
Arnett Moultrie [6'10", Junior, Mississippi State]
At nearly 22 years of age by the time of his rookie season, Moultrie's advanced age doesn't necessarily reflect his development as a prospect. He saw a good portion of his offense in the post last year, something he's not all that comfortable with. He also didn't take a whole lot of attempts from the perimeter, something he's going to have to prove he's comfortable doing in individual workouts.
He's also thin, which could be troublesome defending the post in the NBA.
He does have good length (nearly 6'11"), great athleticism, and has improved his pick and roll defense. He's a good finisher at the rim off of offensive rebounds and cuts, and a solid defensive rebounder. He may never put together the complete package in terms of skill sets, but he could certainly work himself into a solid contributor.
Royce White [6'8", Sophomore, Iowa State]
Another polarizing figure in this draft, White has as unique of a skill set as anyone available. Running quite a bit of the point for Iowa State, being deceptively quick andwith advanced ball handling moves and great creativity off the dribble, White has a diverse skill set that can be tantalizing. He's improved as a jump shooter, which if he continues would be a very welcomed addition to his game.
His downsides include not being consistent as a jump shooter, being turnover prone, and not having a position to defend at the next level. Add in the abundance of ball handlers on the 76ers have as well as some fears about his admitted anxiety disorder (although he's worked through it so far), and it seems unlikely the Sixers will view his talent as worth the risk.