[Back from a multi-year hiatus (from the front page, anyway), TheMoon is back with his draft coverage -yfbb]
Before we jump in, I want to make a few clarifying points. Some people will look at these comps and reject them for being overly pessimistic. "What are you talking about?! That's not so-and-so's ceiling. Their ceiling is [insert name of all-timer]." I know. I know there is a ~0.5% chance that Ben Simmons becomes whatever peak Grant Hill would have been had injuries not obliterated his career. I don't care about that possibility for two reasons:
1) Its extreme improbability. It's not just that what we are talking about is so unlikely, but that kind of projection infects the entire discussion about prospects. People stop looking at players critically and resort to mooning over them. There's nothing wrong with that. A lush fantasy life is sometimes all a sports fan (or anyone, really) has. But it's not something I am interested in here.
2) Looking at a prospect from the vantage of their most extreme ceiling somewhat forces us by the logic of symmetry to look at them also from their most extreme floor. And every prospect has, however improbable it may be, the same floor: Out of the NBA. I'm not interested in that either because it is both boring and unilluminative.
It might be helpful if you mentally insert the word "Likely" in front of the words "Ceiling", "Mezzanine", and "Floor". I'm not going to change anything though because this preface is the last thing I wrote and it would be annoying to fix. You people should start showing some initiative and do it yourself.
Also, this isn't a Big Board or anything. I'm using the same sequence I see in draftexpress.com's Mock Draft.
Also, I'm only looking at the NCAA players. Maybe I'll do one of these for the foreign guys later.
Mostly when I hear people talk about his flaws, the jumper is the first thing mentioned along with concerns about how he is going to score in the NBA. I have to say this doesn't concern me in the least. The reason is because right now, in college, with that godawful spacing, and despite the fact that every opposing defender knows exactly where hes going to go, he scores. He scores a lot and he scores efficiently. How many guys in the NBA will be quick enough that he cannot take them off the dribble? And strong enough that he will not push them around? Like, four? Five? It's a pretty short list when you think about it.
I do think defense is a HUGE concern with him though, boxscore stats notwithstanding. Even at this lower, slower level hes playing at now, he looks lost pretty frequently on defense. That is a problem.
CEILING: Blake Griffin
MEZZANINE: Lamar Odom
FLOOR: Boris Diaw
Ingram looks great, one of those guys you watch for 30 seconds and you get it. But I do think hes pretty clearly behind Simmons at this point.
In spite of his FT% that shot looks nice and smooth. Don't know why he cannot hit free throws. His ball handling is surprisingly good for an 18 year old his size, but he doesn't seem to get as much separation from defenders as you would expect. Those arms make up for a lot though, especially in college. But he still shot 58% around the rim, and that is really bad. That's what Tyler Ulis shot and he's 5'10'' and weighs less than Willem Dafoe (probably). I think that speaks to his lack of quickness, and probably to his average body control. I do not think he is a terribly impressive athlete for a top draft pick.
CEILING: Danny Granger (2009 version)
MEZZANINE: Rashard Lewis (Seattle version)
FLOOR: Travis Outlaw (Outlaw version)
What we have here is a late-blooming lob target. Chriss is a bit of an athletic savant. Even though he has not been playing competitively for very long, there is much of the game that already comes easily to him. He is fluid, he has great body control and balance, he gets off the ground seemingly without trying, and once he lands he is back up in a jiffy.
He has an odd frame, sort of a smaller version of Terence Jones with a very upright running form. I was surprised how much time he spent posting guys up. I think that is because opponents often put large wings on him. Chriss was a real match up nightmare in college. Too fast for power forwards, too big and skilled for wings. He has a nice looking fade away jumper out of the post that he likes to use.
His highlight reel block to total block ratio is elite. Which is to say it seems like he should have blocked more shots. It does seem like there is a motor issue here (see also: Chriss' rebounding). But personally I think he just does not know what to do with himself very often when the ball isn't right next to him or in his hands. His off-ball movement on both offense and defense is very weak. He stands around a lot on defense, and on offense seems only to recognize the need to cut when he glimpses a lob opportunity.
This feels like one of those guys who people will say has a high ceiling because he is a pogo-sticker (largely two-footed unlike, for example, Timothe Luwawu, who is a largely one-footed leaper), but I don't see how he is ever a starter on a very good team. He looks too small to guard 4s and not fast enough to guard wings.
CEILING: Markieff Morris, or Jeff Green. This speaks to his tweener-ness.
MEZZANINE: Darrell Arthur
FLOOR: Perry Jones
Kind of like with Ben Simmons, my take on him is slightly different than what I have heard from other people. Basically, the knock on him is his jumper. People seem scared that he won't be able to shoot and if he cannot shoot it's all over. He will either bust or merely be a so-so player.
I am much more interested in the development of his handle, which is too high right now. It's not terrible or anything, but a lot of times he's still beating people off the dribble more because he is so fast than because he has a good handle. The ball slows him down too much. I actually think some of his bad decision making is attributable to his body going one speed and the ball going another. He is a marvelous all around athlete, both fluid and explosive, and this speed discontinuity makes him look more awkward at times than he should.
I like PGs who make really good decisions in transition. Dunn makes really good decisions in transition. His court vision is phenomenal. He's the most creative passer in the country other than Simmons.
Wow is he an amazing defender. His strength and aggressiveness are incredible. I also like how much he talks on that end. I think that kind of leadership is indicative of his whole attitude, which I like a lot. In one game versus I think Marquette, Dunn set up one of his teammates for a wiiiiiiide open end-of-the-half corner three. The dude missed so badly that the ball bounced off the top of the backboard. It was like watching a white Corey Brewer. The second the play ended Dunn ran over to that guy and gave him a high five. I thought that was a cool thing to do in a tight game against a conference rival.
CEILING: Rod Strickland
MEZZANINE: Jamaal Tinsley
FLOOR: Charlie Ward
This guy is a project. He played 4 years in college, but he is a project. His only shot of being playable next year without sabotaging the team is if he has a Hardaway Jr.-esque shooting season as a rookie. But Morrow is a great, great shooter, and he barely plays.
One thing about shooting though: I looked at the past 10 years of per40 3PTA stats on DX, and there are very, very few guys who have attempted >8 3PTers per40 and became even decent NBA players.
He's a bad defender. I feel like I know that. It's normal for a guy to gamble when he's so much of his team's offense, but Hield gambles incorrectly a lot. Just reads the play wrong; or, even worse, reads the motion of the guy he's guarding incorrectly. He gets faked out pretty easily.
CEILING: Cuttino Mobley
MEZZANINE: Marcus Thornton
FLOOR: John Jenkins
Stats will either be from hoop-math.com or DX.com or sports-reference.com.