As the Sweet 16 round of the tournament wraps up, we continue to take a look at draft prospects who could potentially be 76ers come the end of June.
I want to reiterate this, don't place too much stock in the NCAA tournament. It's a trap many fall into. The NCAA tournament (from a draft perspective) is great for people who haven't followed college basketball all year to get acquainted to prospects and find out who to scout further. It's important for players in smaller conferences who may not have gone up against NBA caliber opponents. It's good to see how players react to pressure packed situations. But it should not override evaluations made from the previous 30+ games worth of data.
With that being said, here's some of what I'm looking for tonight.
Friday, March 29th
7:15 PM - Louisville vs Oregon
I like Gorgui Dieng a lot, and every time I watch Louisville, I can't help but focus on him. But I think his best role, ultimately, is as a backup big man. A very good one at that, with his post defense, rebounding, shot blocking, and even underrated passing skills. But until he finds a way to be more of a threat on the offensive end I'm not sure I see him playing more than 20 minutes per game. And I'm not sure I can take that in the lottery, even if I think he can be a very solid backup big man.
The Dieng / Arsalan Kazemi matchup will be an interesting one to watch. While I'm not sure Kazemi is an NBA prospect, he is a rebounding force, and watching the two of them battle on the boards will be a good test for Dieng.
7:37 PM - Kansas vs Michigan
This is a fascinating game, with Michigan's high powered offense going up against one of the best defenses in the league in Kansas. How will Trey Burke, who gets a very large portion of his offense on pick and rolls, deal with the presence of a shot blocker as dominant as Withey?
I really, really like Burke, but he unfortunately plays the one position the 76ers are legitimately set at. As I previously stated, I'm intrigued by Glenn Robinson III, who has had a nice tournament so far, but some of his deficiencies concern me, notably on the defensive end.
For Kansas, the prize of their collection, McLemore, has really been struggling. McLemore, currently slated as a top 5 pick, has averaged only 6.5 points and 2 assists on 14.3% shooting from the field. I've talked about McLemore in the past, and you can be sure there will be a detailed scouting report on him as the draft approaches. I love some of the skill sets he provides, but I'd be hesitant to use a top 3-5 pick on him. I just don't think he creates enough to warrant that. Michigan doesn't have a ton of versatile wing defenders, so he should have a chance to get on track offensively tonight.
9:45 PM - Duke vs Michigan State
Mason Plumlee has had a good tournament so far, averaging 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds on 72.2% from the field. Does that excite you? Come on, no?
I've said it before that Plumlee would not be an exciting pick, but he's a possibility where the 76ers are drafting, so he's a player to watch regardless of whether we want him or not. He'll be tested tonight, as the Michigan State front court has been playing well of late.
Seth Curry is another guy who you wouldn't expect to be on the 76ers radar because of his position, but the team has needed a backup point guard all year, and one that can shoot is always a plus. He has quite a few question marks on his ability to translate, but he's worth a look.
On the Michigan State side, Gary Harris is a player who is interesting. I do think a truly good catch and shoot player would open things up for Jrue Holiday quite a bit, and if Andrew Bynum comes back (hah), his weaknesses become much less damaging and his strengths much more of a help. Depending on who ends up declaring for the draft and where the 76ers end up selecting, he's somebody to keep your eye on.
9:57 PM - Florida vs Florida Gulf Coast
Florida Gulf Coast! No, seriously.
Neither team has any prospects I had a ton of interest in for the 76ers. Patric Young is somebody to keep your eye on as someone they could take a flyer on in the second round, but he's not one of my top targets, and I happen to think once Young gets into a workout setting, he may end up sneaking into the tail end of the first round. Just watch the game and root for David to pull off one more shocking upset.