February is always an interesting time to look at your draft board. For the most part, you've got enough information to make a reasonable judgment on a player (or, at the very least, you're running out of excuses to avoid making a judgment at all). Yet, at the same time, you know that it's not even close to the board you'll trot out in June. There's still so much left to happen. A month of regular season games. The NCAA Tournament. Some incredible posting-up of folding chairs. Danny Ainge anonymously slandering every draft prospect for six weeks leading up to draft day. It's all ahead of us.
But come on. It's February. It's the month of ridiculous expressions of love. Some are perfect, and they'll lead to a prosperous life together. Some are ill-advised, and you'll look back on them in a year and question what you were thinking. Some are just painfully awkward, to the point where nobody really knows what we're doing at this restaurant, because we're not dating, but it's Valentine's Day, but we're just friends, but...I digress.
So let's talk about prospects that I love, with some help from some numbers compliments of Synergy Sports.
I know, I know. We've already covered the phenomenon known as RussellMania. However, one of the tenets of the road to RussellMania is that I'm just going to keep telling you how good he is until you just accept it, and embrace him as your favorite prospect. (This is also known as the Roman Reigns Corollary.)
The church of Voodoo is accepting new worshippers on a daily basis, as Russell continues to put together ridiculous games and equally ridiculous Vines of his ridiculous passes.
What I love most about Russell is how good he is in the half-court and off the dribble. One of the most frustrating things about the Sixers this year has been how awful their half-court offense is. As a team, they're by far the worst half-court offense in the league, averaging 0.77 points per possession in the half-court. They don't pass the eye test, the numbers test, the smell test, any test you give them, their dog ate it.
Russell, on the other hand, averages a point per possession in the half court, 1.14 PPP on jump shots off the dribble, and 1.18 PPP on jump shots in the half court.
Russell is now the #2 ranked prospect on DraftExpress, which I put a lot of weight into because
Derek threatened to beat me up if I said otherwise they are consistently an excellent combination of scouting and sourcing. It's truly been a meteoric rise, and as far as pure entertainment value goes, Russell is my favorite prospect in this draft. He's fun, he's exciting, and he's a legitimately good basketball player.
If you're noticing a theme, it's that I'm in love with shooters this year. Part of that is no doubt Sixer-induced bias, but part of that is because truly good shooting has seemingly become a rare skill amongst top college prospects in recent years.
Offensively, Booker 3 (trademark pending) has been absurd. It's hard not to imagine Booker's offensive skillset on the Sixers, where he's been an incredible shooter in the half court (1.15 PPP on jumpers). He's also excellent in catch-and-shoot situations.
Where the real amazing happens, however, is in transition, where Booker averages 1.56 points per possession. When Booker shoots in transition, Kentucky scores 69% of the time.
In the half-court, he's pure catch-and-shoot (71% of his half-court offense is catch and shoot.) He's had little success at creating off the dribble or getting to the rim. Defensively, he's shown flashes of being a good defender. He doesn't have the great physical profile the Sixers normally want out of a wing, but he is a shooting guard in every sense of the word.
He's another guy, much like Russell, who has been climbing boards all season. I'm not sure how much higher he can go because of his half-court limitations, but we're less than a season removed from "For me, it's Stauskas" at #8, so I imagine there's room to grow.
If you don't know how much I love Montrezl, you haven't been paying attention. Liberty Ballers pretty much doubles as a Montrezl fanzine at this point. I've gushed about him. Levin's gushed about him. Baumann's gushed about him, although I'm surprised his piece wasn't edited to say what a great fit he'd be on the Celtics (like a young Sully!).
He's the best. And unlike the previous two, I'm not going to justify it by throwing a ton of numbers at you to prove my point. OK, maybe a couple. He's averaging 18.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per 40 minutes. He's been excellent around the bucket, averaging 1.22 PPP on post-ups and 1.37 PPP on non post-ups. Regardless, when Harrell gets the ball inside and shoots, Louisville scores over 60% of the time.
The obvious fear with Harrell is that his size restricts him from doing that in the pros. He's an undersized power forward at 6'7", there's no doubt about it. That said, I believe in his rebounding instincts, and his 7'3" wingspan can make up for what he lacks in height.
I'm a believer in MONTREZL. I think he'll make for a very good pro, and I think he's properly ranked somewhere in the 15-18 range.
BIG BOARD AND MOCK THE SIXERS
That's right. The Big Board is back. As a reminder, this is a Sixers-specific big board, not a listing of the best prospects.
1. Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke - He has the highest floor and the highest upside in this draft. He remains the top guy.
2. D'Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State - I didn't think this would happen, but I've reached the point where I'm less concerned about Russell's finishing than about Emmanuel Mudiay's shooting.
3. Emmanuel Mudiay, G, Guangdong - I'm still in love with Mudiay's athletic gifts. He might still be the best guard in this draft, but Russell's been playing out of his mind, and visibility helps.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky - I haven't been totally enamored with Towns lately because he doesn't really seem to be improving like I'd hoped. Could be nothing, could be something.
5. Kristaps Porzingis, F, Latvia - Still high on Kristaps. He's the last guy in Tier 1 on my board.
6. Stanley Johnson, F, Arizona - He's pulling away from the rest of the wings, because he's been a substantially better shooter than most thought he'd be at this point.
7. Kelly Oubre, F, Kansas - I was out, but he pulled me back in. Struggled with the flu last week, but he's been much better in conference play.
8. Mario Hezonja, F, Spain - Hezonja went off last week with a game where he shot 8-8 from distance. He continues to show flashes, which is really all you can ask for from a 19-year old in the ACB.
9. Justise Winslow, F, Duke - Justise has had patches of good play, and patches of bad play. He's strung together a couple decent games lately, and I'd like to see that continue.
10. Kevon Looney, F, UCLA - There's a lot of people who are in love with Looney, and he checks all the boxes for things I like in a prospect, but every time I watch him, I come away simply whelmed. Not overwhelmed, not underwhelmed. Whelmed.
11. Myles Turner, F, Texas - Maddeningly inconsistent. He has the tools, but I almost wonder if he'd be better off staying for another year to develop.
12. Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky - Short of him falling to the Heat pick, I can't imagine any scenario where he ends up on the Sixers.
13. Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky - SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS EVERYBODY
14. Bobby Portis, F, Arkansas - He's been one of the most consistently good prospects in the nation this year, and he's been a double-double machine in conference play.
15. Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville - I BELIEVE IN YOU, MONTREZL
As for Mock The Sixers this week:
3. D'Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State - I think the bubble is going to pop a little on D'Angelo at some point, and he'll settle into a nice spot between 3 and 6.
15. Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville - Deal with it.