TheMoon's Bulls Draft Preview: Bigs and Smalls - Meyers Leonard, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, Fab Melo, Draymond Green, Tyshawn Taylor, Scott Machado

The first three parts (1, 2, 3) all dealt with wings the Bulls could either take at #29 or trade up for. Next, let's dig into the bigs and smalls. It'll start with 5 potential big men, including a couple who have already been worked out by the Bulls.

1. MEYERS LEONARD (C, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, SOPHOMORE)

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Meyers-Leonard-5756/stats/

http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/meyers-leonard-1.html

Based on his body of work, Meyers Leonard isn't an especially good looking prospect. But Meyers Leonard has more than a body of work, he has...uh... a body. That's kind of it. He's big and he runs well, and that's the meat of why people like him. That means that even though he's slated to go around 20th right now, he'll probably be a lottery pick once the combine/workouts are done. So it's probably not worth it to spend too much time breaking Leonard's game down.

Draft guru Ed Weiland, who writes for a nice little site called http://hoopsanalyst.com/, developed a simple and straightforward rubric for evaluating college players. The rubric changes depending on the prospect's position on the court, and the components of the rubric become more demanding the older the player. For centers, the stats that Weiland found correlate most with successful NBA careers are: 2pt%, Rebs/40, Pts/40, AST/TO, Blks/40 and FTAs/PFs. So here is how Leonard stacks up against the typical NCAA-sophomore-center-turned-NBA-starter/regular rotation player:

2pt% PTS REBS BLKS FTAs/PFs AST/TO
Starter/Rotation Regular 55.6 18.2 11.6 3.4 1.5 0.4
Meyers Leonard 60.4 17 10.3 2.4 1.38 0.63

So yeah, not totally there yet. But he's a great athlete, even though he couldn't quite show it by actually doing stuff. I don't know, I probably wouldn't scream at the TV if the Bulls drafted him, but he reminds me a little too much of this guy (in a lot of ways actually):

PTS RBS AST/TO 2pt% STLS BLKS PER
Meyers Leonard (Soph) 17 10.3 0.63 60.4 0.6 2.4 23.9
Byron Mullens (Fresh) 19 10 0.18 64.2 1 2.4 23.3

2. ANDREW NICHOLSON (PF/C, ST. BONAVENTURE UNIVERSITY, SENIOR)

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Andrew-Nicholson-5518/stats/

http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/andrew-nicholson-1.html

He's a big man at a small school, and it took him until his senior year to really dominate. I wish it were otherwise, but historically that's pretty much the end of the "Andrew Nicholson, 1st round pick" conversation. And look at the splits between his conference and non-conference production (stats per40):

PTS RBS AST/TO 2pt% 3pt% STLS BLKS
Andrew Nicholson (Conf.) 27.2 12.2 0.5 64 47.2 1 3
Andrew Nicholson (Non-Conf.) 20.5 10.7 0.3 52.3 35.3 0.6 2

Sigh. This was actually kind of depressing to write. I want to like Andrew Nicholson. I bet he was a lot of fun to follow as a college player. At the NCAA level, he reminds me of a cross between Antawn Jamison and Al Jefferson. I just don't think he'll be much of an NBA player. Here's a fine highlight video of Nicholson:

3. KYLE O'QUINN (PF/C, NORFOLK STATE UNIVERSITY, SENIOR)

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Kyle-O-Quinn-6516/stats/

http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/kyle-oquinn-1.html

Basically what I said about Nicholson applies here too. Maybe more so. Because if you are a senior big man and you play at a small school and you can't even hit 20 points per40PA, then I doubt you have much of a chance in the NBA. But do his conference/non-conference splits reveal anything (stats per40)?

PTS RBS AST/TO 2pt% 3pt% STLS BLKS
Kyle O'Quinn (Conf.) 21.8 12.9 0.42 64.1 20 0.7 3.6
Kyle O'Quinn (Non-Conf.) 18.6 13.6 0.66 52.8 18 1.1 3.2

I don't know. It's nice he kept his defense and rebounding up out of conference. Although just like with Nicholson, even his non-conference schedule wasn't exactly a meat-grinder. This guy just seems a little too Keith Benson-y for me:

PTS RBS AST/TO 2pt% 3pt% STLS BLKS PER
Kyle O'Quinn 19.5 12.7 0.54 61 18.8 0.9 3.3 28.6
Keith Benson 20.3 11.5 0.58 55.6 39.1 0.9 4.1 28.8

4. FAB MELO (C, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, SOPHOMORE)

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Fab-Melo-5715/

http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/fab-melo-1.html

According to this analysis by Luke Winn, Fab Melo was a dominant defender at the college level this year. Whether the Bulls draft Melo or not, I am going to be very interested in Melo's career as a pro because it will be a decent test of how a guy with an NBA body and great college defense but lacking the usual boxscore indices of NBA athletic ability translates from college to the pros.

As most people know, Fab Melo was a great college defender and a very good shot blocker. But he was merely ok with steals and almost comical as a rebounder. Is it worrisome that a 7'0 270lb college center had the same rebound rate at Will Barton? I think so. And this is where people lose me with the whole "draft Melo to replace Asik" idea. Asik is not just a shot blocker/shot contester/general force-field in the paint. He is also a pretty awesome rebounder (career 19 TRB%). Does Asik without the rebounding truly approximate Asik? More urgently: if Fab Melo cannot be both a defensive anchor and decent rebounder in college, does he even have the ability to be a defensive anchor in the pros?

These aren't rhetorical questions-- I have absolutely no answer to them. If the Bulls draft Fab Melo I will disagree with the pick, but I won't be upset because I can at least see the logic behind their decision and I don't feel like I know enough to tell them they're wrong.

5. DRAYMOND GREEN (PF/C, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY, SENIOR)

This is an odd but tremendously versatile player. He's built almost exactly like Chuck Hayes. In fact, his numbers look sort of like Chuck Hayes' but better:

PTS RBS AST/TO 2pt% 3pt% STLS BLKS PER
Draymond Green 19.8 13 1.26 47.3 38.8 1.8 1.2 26.1
Chuck Hayes 14.8 10.5 1.22 52.2 18.2 2.5 1.2 24.2

I don't think this guy will start anywhere, maybe ever. But there has to be something to a guy who has decent defensive numbers, who rebounds like a center, who shoots 3s and who has a strong enough feel for the game that he can average 5 AST per40PA. And all this in a major conference. He has flaws no doubt, but if some of the better players are gone and the Bulls pick him at 29, I think they will have gotten good value for that pick. Here's a highlight video:

And finally, if you're looking for PGs, here's a couple Not-CJ Watsons...

1. TYSHAWN TAYLOR (PG, UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS, SENIOR)
2. SCOTT MACHADO (PG, IONA COLLEGE, SENIOR)

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Tyshawn-Taylor-5528/stats/

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Scott-Machado-7024/stats/

http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/tyshawn-taylor-1.html

http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/scott-machado-1.html

Probably a lot of people want to replace CJ now and it is natural that people will look at these two guys. Now I'm not saying they can't ever be good players; but when you look at their numbers it's pretty clear they are not ready to take over an NBA team and probably won't be for some time. Here are their numbers from this year:

PTS RBS AST/TO 2pt% 3pt% STLS BLKS PER
Tyshawn Taylor 19.5 2.7 1.35 52.2 38.2 1.6 0.2 19.5
Scott Machado 14.1 5.1 3.03 53.7 40.4 1.7 0.2 23.3


This was clearly Taylor's best college season, but he still did not produce enough to be given serious consideration as a prospect at this point. Neither is he likely to be a "steady, floor general" type at the next level given his weak AST/TO ratio.

I actually like Machado a lot from what I see here. But if you are going to score 14 points per40 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, you had better be amazing at everything else. Machado, alas, comes pretty close; but unfortunately, if draftexpress is any authority, his defense is closer to amazingly bad than amazing. I still like him though, and I think he'll have a nice long career in Europe.

I'd like to end with a poll inspired by a question YaoPau asked last year:

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