First off, the “Defend Cleveland” show on 91.1 FM will be interviewing me tomorrow (Monday), immediately after their 11 am break. The station is Case Western University’s campus bandwidth; if you are clamoring for more Cavs related draft talk, please tune in, on your radio or online.
Today’s post defines Tier 3 of my Big Board; players whose career spectrum looks like 75th percentile of “one-time all-star”, while 25th percentile equals “starter on a 40-win team”. That range is completely subjective; since eleven players are included – two or three will meet or exceed the top end, while an equal number match or fail to reach the bottom.
Before moving on, I will briefly mention the rumors of Cleveland trading #4 and #24 for Charlotte’s #2 pick. Because of my MKG infatuation, and the apparent likelihood of him sliding to four; it’s not my first-choice draft-day scenario. Grabbing a highly regarded prospect while keeping the other first-rounder sounds great. If the Cavs really prefer Beal however, the value of the respective picks seems very reasonable for the Cavs. Beal possesses great potential, and the stakes for this year’s first pick are high; Cleveland’s management needs to get it right. It will be interesting to see what happens on Thursday.
Now, on to tier 3. A chance of two of these players falling to #24 exists.
- Anthony Davis (tier 1)
- MKG (tier 2)
- Thomas Robinson (tier 2)
- Bradley Beal (tier 2)
- Andre Drummond (tier 2)
- Harrison Barnes – The first tier 3 player starts a run on North Carolina Tar Heels. Possessing great size, solid offensive production and “NBA-combine MVP status”; Barnes offers a lot from a guy that turned 20 last month. Like many though; I have not convinced myself of his rising star. Drawing a firm distinction between Beal and Barnes represents a large reason my Draft Board posts split into tiers.
- Dion Waiters – Ten weeks ago, when Waiters resided in the early-twenties of most mocks, I placed him above Austin Rivers. I should have followed my instincts further though. A lengthy list of positives exists for Waiters: efficient on offense, committed to defense, young, strong & athletic; this diamond in the rough eventually received notice from many. The Sophomore Syracuse Sixth-man shot up draft boards and apparently received a promise in the mid-lottery. I see shades of Russell Westbrook. In May 2008, the UCLA sophomore resided in the mid-first round in most mocks, before rising to the mid-lottery by draft day. Undersized for a wing, not exactly a point guard, but efficient, explosive and a top-notch defender; Oklahoma City snagged him at a surprise #4. Could this be shades of four years ago? Are all the pre-draft Cleveland rumors smoke screens and they made the promise at #4? How would a Kyrie Irving & Russ Westbrook backcourt look? I’m rambling now and do not think this happened, but the thought was fun.
- Tyler Zeller – In May, I forecasted Zeller as a 14 & 8 guy on 56% true shooting. That still stands.
- John Henson – Henson probably never develops a money eighteen-footer or a reliable post game, but destroying opponent pick-and-rolls, swatting weak-stuff as help, rebounding, and finishing strong all help accumulate wins, too.
- Kendall Marshall – Draftexpress’s best-case of Andre Miller and worst-case of Jose Calderon sums up my thoughts on Marshall very well. With fear of being too precise; I think a 10-year NBA stint with accumulated PER between 17.4 and 17.8 sounds right. Basically, a solid and steady career seems imminent.
- Evan Fournier – I’m going out on a limb here; bear with me through another Austin Rivers comparison. Many mock drafts still show the Duke freshman as a lottery pick. Fournier is three months younger than Rivers. His PER in the top French professional league bested Rivers’ mark in the ACC. Without attempting to prove this; French Pro-A is a grown man’s league and at least half of the players in the ACC will someday wish their career reached that level. Athletically the Frenchman and the Dukie prove similar, except Fournier stands three inches taller. A bit of a hunch; I bet the young foreigner proves to be a talented NBA scorer, and he serves as the first of my “tier 3” players that potentially slips to Cleveland.
- Terrence Jones – In a vein similar to Kendall Marshall; I think Jones is a can’t miss, with a relatively low range between “ceiling” and “floor”.
- Jared Sullinger – Did you know that Dejuan Blair missed three games in three NBA seasons after being medically red-flagged by the NBA? Obviously, I am not a doctor and would not know what Sullinger’s x-rays meant even with access to them. That said, what if he was treated the same way the Spurs treated Blair? Basically, he averages 20 minutes a night…no exceptions. Could Sully offer 8 years of above-average PER as a big-body stretch-four? As one of the NCAA’s best rebounders and most-efficient scorers as an underclassmen; I say yes. Sign him up, if he slips to #24, and team doctors think his back handles controlled NBA minutes.
- Meyers Leonard – Really big, surprisingly agile, and producing effectively at a young age; Leonard is worth a dice-roll late in the lottery. As a best case, I envision him approaching the season Roy Hibbert recently posted. On the other hand, a lot of super-sized bigs flopped in the past; Leonard needs to improve his physical and mental toughness to prove world-class.
- Jeremy Lamb – Many pass-off Lamb’s 2012 struggles due to the dysfunction of UConn’s season. I’ve never been in a pro locker-room, but my guess is that the internal dynamics of the average NBA team picking in the top-ten proves approximately 78 times more ridiculous than the Huskies. Last week, I discussed a reasonably likely career for Lamb as statistically similar to Jamal Crawford; a skinny, scoring guard with average shooting efficiency that does not otherwise stuff the box score.
- Perry Jones III – Did you know that Perry Jones once spanned 275 consecutive minutes this season of on-court time between blocked shots? And summing his “Standing Reach plus Max Vert” leaves him third-best of the 150+ draft prospects in Draftexpress’s 2012 database? Also he registered a top-ten-percent three-quarter-court sprint time? How do these three questions make sense in succession? The player whose career outcomes, according to DraftExpress, range from “Rudy Gay meets Josh Smith” to “Yi Jianlian” rounds out tier 3.
That’s it. Tuesday, I’ll move on to my arbitrarily defined Tier 4.