Draftastic, Part 3: The 50-50 shots

June 23rd, 2009 by John Krolik

“We’re going to get so much pussy tonight, you guys!”

Sidebar: I just found this website (name of website majorly unsafe for work) today. This is probably the greatest website ever made; like 60% of the pictures this summer may be from it. Just a heads-up.

Assuming the Cavs can’t buy up or trade up in this draft and nothing crazy happens, this next group is probably who they’ll be looking at with the 30th pick. With a pick that low, the central dilemma is this: do you look at a guy who definitely has NBA talent but might not be able to put their game together and become effective in the league, or a guy who knows how to play his game at the college/international level but might not have the talent to implement his game when the talent level rises?

There are tons of examples of both kinds of player working out or failing, so the best you can really do is look at the situation on a case-by-case basis and hope for the best with the guy you choose. Here are the guys that are predicted to go at (or close) to the 30th pick that I think could help out the Cavs:

(By the way, full disclosure/disclaimer for the draft: the draft is not really my thing. I had legitimately never heard of JJ Hickson last year, and was hard-core on the CDR bandwagon. In my defense, this was before the Mo trade, but you can see some of my dismay in the live-blog I did with FreeDarko last year.)

Patrick Mills, PG, Saint Mary’s

Probably the easiest guy at 30 to get legitimately excited about. If you saw the Australia vs. USA game this summer and saw Mills holding his own and sometimes looking like the best player on the floor against the best players in the world, you know this guy has a lot more game than you normally see at 30. (Just like Carlos Arroyo! Wait, that’s bad. Although I always liked Arroyo.)

He’s insanely fast with the ball, which I love, and has a clean stroke and is comfortable pulling up and creating his own shot-he’ll go for 30 once or twice after he gets drafted, although it might only be in the summer league. (Guarantee: Patrick Mills will be a summer league stud.)

This kid is a scoring guard off the bench, plain and simple. He’s going to come in, pressure the defense, and get his shots up, and every now and again he’s going to trigger a one-man run when the opposing team least expects it. And the upside is considerable; in the right situation, he might mature his game around better players and become a passable playmaker, maybe become a sort of poor man’s JET. Or maybe getting more open shots will turn him into a truly deadly scorer instead of just a shot-creator and he’ll be a poor man’s Ben Gordon. As much as anyone at 30, he clearly has the pure talent to play in the NBA.

But there are some serious problems. Like I said yesterday about Lawson, the difference between the fast point guards that become beasts and the ones that flame out isn’t their outside shots-more often than not, it’s about their ability to finish at the basket when they get there. And Mills hasn’t shown that he can finish at the basket at all or draw fouls. For a Cavs example, Boobie’s probably quicker with the ball than Delonte, but he hasn’t been able to parlay that skill into conversions at the rim the way Delonte has.

And when LeBron sits, Mo generally does a lot of shot-creation and many possessions consist of Mo firing jumpers off of the dribble, like Mills likely would.

What I like about Mills is how much he loves to push the ball, something I keep mentioning I would love to see this team do more, and there is the chance playing on a weak St. Mary’s team made him into more of a chucker than he would be with real talent around him.

But he didn’t produce at a high enough efficiency level to crack this rotation when he was in college, so it’s hard to be totally sold on his ability to do it at the NBA level.

Chase Budinger, SG/SF, Arizona

This is the guy who people really seem to dislike in this draft, and it’s pretty easy to see why: he was a highly regarded prospect coming out of high school, and most thought he’d be one-and-done to the lottery, but he showed very little desire at Arizona. He pretty much fits the “soft” stereotype to a T: lots of athleticism, doesn’t use it, mostly shoots jumpers, doesn’t want to be a go-to-scorer, doesn’t play much D. (Being white does not help him here.)

As I’ve mentioned before, a realistic expectation in this draft is to replace Wally’s minutes with a more competent backup swingman. And for better or for worse, Chase would give you a lot of what Wally did; good shooter who can stretch the floor, deceptively good finisher inside, a guy comfortable playing without the ball, a guy who can play in control in the half court.

He’s a pure shooter, a guy who can make catch-and-shoot threes playing with LeBron and do some damage off pin-down screens when he’s forced to create for himself, and he can even make plays if the defense crowds him. Say what you will, but 18 a game on 48%/40%/80% are pretty legitimate scoring chops at the 30 spot. And with his athleticism, he might be able to add the X-factor of filling the wing in transition or catching teams backdoor for finishes, although he’s pretty clearly not a slasher. Think dead-broke man’s Jason Richardson.

Defensively, he’s a far cry from a stopper, but if you’re going to get minutes on this team, you’re going to go 100% on the defensive end, and with his athleticism he should be able to acquit himself somewhat on that end, although his lack of lateral quickness will come into play.

He’s not going to add any new dimensions to the Cavs on either ends of the floor, but he seems very capable of being a highly effective role player.

Rodrigue Beaubois, PG, France

The mystery man of the draft. There are two things to get excited about with this guy; he’s got a government-experiment body, and he can finish inside like few guards can. At a cut 6’2, Beaubois did as well in his agility drills and sprints as any of the fastest point guards in the class, earning him the (somewhat dubious) distinction of this year’s Combine Darling. But what really turned heads is his wingspan, which measured at 6′ 10. Wowzers.

With that wingspan and that athleticism, Rodrigue projects as a legit backcourt stopper at the NBA level, which is always a nice thing to have, especially since the Cavs don’t really have a guy who can check faster point guards. (In fairness, few teams do with the hand-check rules as they are.)

The other exciting thing about Beaubois is his ability to finish inside-he loves to push the ball in transition and has a great handle, and converts two-pointers at a 63.3% clip, which would have been the best mark in the NBA this year. That’s absolutely insane. This guy is a French Rondo.

There are two big downsides. First off, he’s not a shooter at all. He shoots some threes and actually clears 30%, but his Snow-like 58.3% FT percentage would suggest he’s a terrible natural shooter. Cavs fans now how much teams sagging off of Snow with impunity stalled the offense for the years he was here.

Second, the biggest reason Rondo can overcome his lack of an outside touch is that he’s a phenominal playmaker, and can pressure teams with the ball in his hands by using his teammates as, in effect, his outside options. Rodrigue isn’t much of a playmaker at all. He recorded a 2.3/1.9 AST/TO ratio, which isn’t going to get it done.

I have no idea how to project Rodrigue. He’s got skills that rival any guard in the NBA, particularly that insane ability to convert on two-pointers, that make me think he’s way, way too talented to pass up on. On the other hand, I really cannot project how a point guard who can’t shoot or pass can be effective in the NBA. He facinates me, but I think I’d rather see how the Beaubois experiment works out on another team for the sake of my developing ulcer.

Omri Casspi, SF/PF, Israel:

Ugh. No thanks. He’s a poor man’s Yi. If we draft him, I will be mad. I am trying not to envision the possibility right now. Although I did say Brook Lopez was a guaranteed bust last year, so take my opinion with a large handful of salt.

Until next time, campers. Tomorrow, the safety picks.

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