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Best NBA Fits for Top Prospects (ESPN Insider)

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Best NBA fits for top prospects
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November, 16, 2011
Nov 16
12:43
PM ET


By David Thorpe

Getty Images, AP PhotoFor which NBA teams would Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond be the best fits?
College hoops is just beginning, and the NBA season is but a glimmer of hope, yet NBA teams still covet many players from a 2012 draft class that is expected to be very rich in talent. Though team needs will likely change (assuming there's a season) through free agency, trades or player development, the top players in this class bring enough talent to help any team, no matter who it currently employs.
Here's a first look at which top prospects could fit best with which NBA teams.
Anthony Davis, F, Kentucky Wildcats
Best NBA fit: Phoenix Suns
Every team has a need for an energetic and athletic forward who competes hard and plays with passion -- especially one with terrific upside and a downside that still ensures lots of rotation minutes. In other words, Davis has the potential to earn multiple All-Star appearances, and he has no "bust" potential if he stays healthy.
But imagine Davis racing up and down the floor for the Phoenix Suns. Forget about his being paired with Steve Nash, who may not be in Phoenix much longer, but don't forget that this team now seems married to a fast-paced game even when Nash leaves. In their current system, they rarely send more than one body to the offensive glass, the biggest reason why they finished third-to-last in the NBA in offensive rebound rate.


Thorpe's scouting report

Player: Austin Rivers, G, Duke Blue Devils
Height: 6-foot-4; Weight: 200
Date: Nov. 15, 2011
Opponent: Michigan State Spartans
Rivers is strong technically with his footwork on the perimeter. I like his composure on drives. While he's not special as an athlete, his craft with the ball makes up for it. He has "pro" habits, like using his off hand as a weapon when driving.
He's not a finisher yet because of his overall lack of physical strength, but I like the way he's attempting to finish. He can beat his man with his first step going in either direction. He was totally overmatched by the athletes from Michigan State, a fact that will happen less and less as he matures physically.
He clearly wanted to shine on this stage, but to his credit he played within himself and made one easy pass after another. Between now and February, as he absorbs the enormous differences between his prep competition and the types of defense he'll face in college, he'll show huge improvement.
Davis would immediately help them in that area. He would also pair beautifully with one of the most underrated players in the NBA, center Marcin Gortat, and Phoenix's 2011 lottery pick, Markieff Morris. This team, absent Nash, will contend for a record in the bottom three of the league, giving the Suns a decent shot at Davis.
Harrison Barnes, G/F, North Carolina Tar Heels
Best NBA fit: Toronto Raptors
It's clear that Barnes has some explosive offensive potential, especially as a shooter. His game can mature over time into being a shooter and a slasher, a rare and potent combo.
But it's Barnes' defense that intrigues me most, as he looks to be someone who can be a lockdown guy in a league that features many wing scorers with size. That element alone gives Barnes an edge over some other prospects, with many teams in dire need of defensive help.
Imagine the impact Barnes could have in Toronto, probably the worst defensive team last season. Not only would he immediately upgrade the Raps on that side of the ball, but his perimeter shooting partners well with their shooting guard, DeMar DeRozan, who can slash but does not shoot well from the perimeter.
Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut Huskies
Best NBA fit: Cleveland Cavaliers
Like DeMarcus Cousins a season ago, Drummond promises to be a franchise center, at least from the neck down. That's not to suggest that Drummond has head problems or anger issues, only that emotional/maturity issues are about the only thing that could keep him from being a strong -- and maybe even great -- starting center in the NBA.
Talents such as Drummond are what "franchise centers" look like, and no team is in more need of help in that spot than the Cavaliers. Ryan Hollins and Semih Erden are simply not anywhere close to the talent level you need from a starting center, so Drummond would provide a huge talent upgrade. He could also be a force as a rookie partnered alongside defensive demon Anderson Varejao. Pick-and-roll sets involving Drummond and 2011 No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving would be dynamite, too, helping Cleveland get back into playoff contention in his rookie season.
Brad Beal, G, Florida Gators
Best NBA fit: Washington Wizards
The Wizards have reasons for optimism going forward, thanks to John Wall and the improved JaVale McGee. It's nice to have a point guard-center combo with significant upside.
But as one of the poorest 3-point shooting teams in the league, and with Wall probably being a few years away from being a 40 percent shooter from beyond the arc, they should be focused strongly on landing Beal in next year's draft. Beal has a pure stroke and thinks like a scorer. He would be the perfect "ice" to Wall's "fire," as he plays under control and with the maturity of a seasoned veteran. Wall needs to be surrounded with shooters to keep his driving lanes open, so even though their roster needs help at a few spots, no player makes a bigger impact overall for them than Beal.
John Henson, F, North Carolina
Best NBA fit: Detroit Pistons
I thought Henson looked like a top-5 draft prospect last season, though I'm not sure anyone agreed with me. He wisely returned to UNC (wise because he's playing now and the NBA isn't), and though this draft class is strong and deep, he still has top-5 potential.
If the depth of this class drops him down some, teams such as Detroit might be able to grab him, which would be a smart move for the Pistons. Detroit was one of the worst shot-blocking teams in the NBA despite the excellent second-half performance of Greg Monroe. Monroe was a revelation, but he's not a shot-blocker.
The Pistons were also the fifth-worst team in the NBA in rebounding margin. Henson would make a difference in both areas. He is marvelous at blocking shots with his impeccable timing and arms that go for days. And even though he's so thin, he's a terrific rebounder. He and Monroe are excellent basketball players in space and would form a dynamic duo inside for years to come.
 
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The Austin River's portion of the article was just a sidebar note that Thorpe threw in...sorry for the bad formatting
 

EricLA

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i guess if you need to start from scratch, or close to it, Cleveland could work. but Emeka was the supposed to be "that guy" at Charlotte and that didn't work out so well. did Charlotte ever even sniff at a playoff berth?
 
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Does Drummond have maturity issues? I know he's very young and supposedly a really nice kid, but this sounds negative.

Maybe it's benign, and I see that he tried to back out of the Cousins comparison, but I think that is a pretty insulting thing to say about a kid who just turned 18 and appears to be everything Demarcus Cousins was not.
 
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I should add that I didn't think the article was negative about Drummond really; they were just saying that the only thing potentially stopping him from blowing up is Andre Drummond.
 
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i guess if you need to start from scratch, or close to it, Cleveland could work. but Emeka was the supposed to be "that guy" at Charlotte and that didn't work out so well. did Charlotte ever even sniff at a playoff berth?
As much as I liked Emeka, I had some concerns about his somewhat mechanical offensive game translating to the NBA, which in fact seems to be his problem.

AD is simply a more gifted athlete than Emeka. If he can learn how to use those gifts, learn some post moves and learn to how to kick that sometimes idle motor of his into high gear, he'll be a monster at the next level. I'm hoping he can improve in all three areas this season at UConn and be a force by the time the BET rolls around.

At this stage he's showing flashed of greatness, little post game and tentative play. We're just 2 games into the season, so there is a lot of ball to be played for him to develop his game.
 
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Does Drummond have maturity issues? I know he's very young and supposedly a really nice kid, but this sounds negative.

Maybe it's benign, and I see that he tried to back out of the Cousins comparison, but I think that is a pretty insulting thing to say about a kid who just turned 18 and appears to be everything Demarcus Cousins was not.
I thought the write was careful to point out that his maturity issues are not the same as Cousins'. Based on a small sample of what I've read and watched, AD doesn't seem to have that killer instinct switch when stepping onto the floor. He's not a gentle giant, but he's more of a reluctant one. He seems to be one of those kids what was always significantly bigger than his peers and was probably afraid of accidentally knocking them 10 rows deep. Add to that, how physically gifted he is, where he probably dominated most of his life with very little effort. Now he's at a level where the efforts of lessor players can neutralize his gifts if he doesn't match the intensity.

I beating this to death, but the equation for his success is quite simple: focus + intensity + post skills = dominance. IMO, it wouldn't take much more than developing one to two post moves plus the other two ingredients for him to dominate. Emeka improved dramatically by simply perfecting that back-to-the-basket spin-to-his-left kiss-off-the-glass move that never seemed to get blocked. It wasn't like the defenders didn't know it was coming. Nor did Emeka execute it all that quickly.

If AD can simply learn that move, maybe add a drop step (which by the way Alex showed at times last season though I haven't seen it yet this year), and simply focus on catching the ball deep in the post, securing it and going up under control squared to the basket and strong, he's going to get himself at least 10 to 12 points a game. In the few games I've watched, he's been out-of-control and often with his body at angles to the basket. He's received the ball in the post and been reluctant to look for his offense when his back is to the basket. Hopefully it will be a matter of repetition. He needs to make quick safe decision. Catch and spin one way or the other and go up strong. Maybe fake one way once-in-a-blue moon to keep the D honest. An up fake occasionally is not a bad idea, but not the habit. When he fakes he should follow it by either some quick jump move or spin where he gets his shot off. Why? Because if it's to get the defender in the air to draw a foul, he's not capable of cashing in at the line. Granted that can get the opposing bigs in foul trouble, but we need him to finish in the post since his FT shooting is the wost I've ever seen at UConn. Granted a small sampling, but so far it looks real shaky.
 

UConnSwag11

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Drummond and lamb to the Knicks!! At least one of them. One could hope
 
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The title should read "the NBA teams who need these players the most" not the best fit. It will be very interesting to see how a draft works out, if there is going to be one at all, if the season is cancelled. If there is no season, but still a draft, I would imagine there would have to be a real lottery among all teams. In other words, teams like the celtics, lakers, heat, and bulls would have oppotunities at top 10 picks. To just replay the same draft order as last year doesn't make much sense to me. Teams are older, will lose free agents, and some players may stay overseas. Team dynamics will change considerably since the 2010-2011 season. As a fan of the Celtics, I'm excited about that possibility. I don't want to see Drummond or Lamb rot in Cleveland or Toronto.
 
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wow! could you imagine if theres an nba lottery system for the whole league and drummond went #1 to the miami heat? lmfao!!!
 
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