This always happens, but it doesn't make me less surprised year after year. Guys that are locks to be first round picks want to stay in school -- for a number of perfectly good reasons -- and the draft gets a bit more shallow than expected. While Aaron Gordon, Jerami Grant, Jarnell Stokes, and Glenn Robinson III have announced, two possible lottery picks in Willie Cauley-Stein and personal favorite Montrezl Harrell will elude my grasp for at least another year.
First the good. Aaron Gordon. Kid may have been the best all-around freshman in college basketball this year. Defense matters just as much as offense, and there were few better on that end of the court than the bouncy forward out of Arizona. What he lacked in shooting -- he really lacked in shooting, 42% FT -- he made up for in offensive headiness and raw ability. Kid can handle the ball a lot more than people give him credit for, and though he's got a lot to work on, he still shot a very respectable 36% from beyond. I don't want to call one season of atrocious foul shooting an anomaly, but I would not be surprised if he's up to 65% by his rookie year in the NBA. I think he's a 4, and I think he's great. Version 2.0 of the LB Big Board had him at 7.
And I've been chirping about Gary Harris for two years. He's going to the NBA with our boy Adreian Payne. Harris went 10th on both editions of the LB Big Board, and I had this unintelligible thing to say about him, that I stand behind:
"Gary Harris is my uncle. He's my dad's younger brother who got married on vacation in Laos to a Laotian who didn't speak English. She still doesn't. He looks the same as he did 30 years ago. And he can still stick it. I'd be over the moon putting Uncle Gary Laos next to MCW and Wiggins for the next decade, when he'll turn 50 and grow a second mustache."
I want him.
Jerami Grant shares a lot of similarity with Gordon, only with less athleticism and less shooting. He probably projects as a small ball 4 at the next level as well. He's got the ability to cover 2-3 positions once he bulks up, and certainly the wingspan for it -- 7'2.5". That's a long man. I watched him a lot at Syracuse, but I see more Al-Farouq Aminu than Thaddeus Young. Plenty of room to get there, and he seems like a hard worker, but still crazy raw at too many things for me to take him in the lottery. I'd have him in the late teens, as he only received one vote for LBBBv2.
Wrote about Glenn Robinson III a few days ago, and he's also heading to the pros. Unfortunately, drafting him means you have to listen to interviews with his dad for years, and that's not something I'm super into. Otherwise I like him with one of Hinkie's gaggle of second round picks. Think he's a better shooter than the numbers indicate. I expect Nik Stauskas and possibly Mitch McGary will follow, making Michigan the Caris LeVert Show next year.
Jarnell Stokes! I have very few opinions about Jarnell Stokes, which means he's probably going to be an NBA player for 15 years in the vein of a Chuck Hayes or Carl Landry or anyone but Herbert Hill, who I still believe in. Handily, DX released a brand spankin' new scouting report on him today. Stokes went to Tennessee and just bullied people around there -- offensive boards, post position, etc. No game outside of four feet. I know some of you like him, but my excitement over the possibility of Hinkie trading back into the first round would be dampened by drafting Stokes. Second round? Sure.
And now, sadness.
Two very large men have decide the water is too cold and they'll wait a year for it to warm up in 2015.
Montrezl Harrell, one of my favorite sentient beings and, per Mike Baumann: "a motherfucker on the boards," will stay at Louisville to learn more things -- like how to properly say Louisville. I'm a bit puzzled by this, especially since he won a national championship as a freshman and got pretty deep with a bigger role as a sophomore. That Louisville team will be without Russ Smith and Luke Hancock -- not looking great next season. When I saw him at Adidas Nations, he ate my lunch just by looking at it. I got sore just looking at his arms. I am sad I have to wait another year to see him burn cities to the ground in the NBA. He was 15th on the LBBBv2.
This one I'm less shocked about -- the injury concerns of Willie Cauley-Stein are apparently enough to keep him from leaving Kentucky just yet. That's sort of a bummer for Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee, and I actually expect one of them to make a last minute declaration for the draft just to get out of the clutter at UK. Cauley-Stein never seemed like a real option for the Sixers anyway, since all of his strengths are mirrored by Nerlens Noel, only with more athleticism and fluidity. WCS was 19th on the Big Board.
What this does mean is teams in dire need of big men will have to trade down or reach for the guy they want. Outside of Joel Embiid, there are no center prospects until Jusuf Nurkic (fringe lotto) and then all the way down to guys like Isaiah Austin, A.J. Hammons, Walter Taveras, and Johnny O'Bryant, among others.
Still nothing on guys like Jabari Parker, James Young, Mario Hezonja, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and my guy Spencer Dinwiddie. Less than two weeks left to make it official.