Posts Tagged ‘Draft Profiles’

Kemba Walker – Draft Profile

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

I wrote a few reports prior to starting posting. This is the last of those, so starting next week Mo and I will settle into posting a report on Monday (me) and on Thursday (Mo). Hopefully we’re giving Cavs fans some additional food for thought on potential lottery picks.

Kemba Walker
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 172 lbs
Position: PG
Age: Turned 21 in May

Summary: Walker led UConn to the 2011 NCAA championship. He is a very fast point guard who had many outstanding performances in the 2010–11 NCAA season. His play in the Big East and NCAA tournaments has raised his draft stock to a potential top 5 pick. His speed and play-making ability will make him a quality PG in the NBA.

Basketball Bio: Walker attended Rice HS in New York City and was a top recruit in the class of 2008. He attended UConn and spent his freshman year as a primary bench player on a Final Four team. It was a solid season for Walker, highlighted by a 23 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist outing in the Elite Eight. Following that season; much of the team graduated or entered the draft, leaving Walker as a sophomore leader on a disappointing 18-16 team. Walker was the most effective player on the team, averaging 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals in 35 minutes per game. Following his sophomore season, Walker was viewed as a late first-round draft pick due to his quickness and other skills. He returned to UConn and probably does not regret that choice. Walker was electric in 2010 – 2011 in leading UConn to the NCAA championship in addition to championships at the Maui Invitational and Big East Tournament. For the season, he averaged 23.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in 37.5 minutes per game and was first team All-American and Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA tournament.

Skill Overview: Kemba Walker is very fast. He is a great athlete and ball handler that can change speed and direction at any moment. Defenders have trouble staying in front of him in the half court and on fast breaks, providing many scoring opportunities at the basket and frequent visits to the foul line. Walker is a great leader and made many big plays for UConn last year. He is a very hard worker and an above average rebounder for his position. He plays tough man-to-man defense and fights through screens when chasing his opponent off the ball.

Concerns about Walker include his size; many suggest he is shorter than his listed height. This results in shots getting blocked and is a defensive concern against bigger point guards. Walker has never been a consistent outside shooter. His 33% three point shooting may not bode well for effectiveness from NBA range. Finally, there are concerns about Walker as a “shoot-first” point guard. When driving, he is typically focused on scoring which can result in poor shots when a better option was to pass to an open teammate.

Additional Info / Advanced Stats: Walker significantly improved every year while at UConn. His PER improved from 17.4 in 2008–09 to 20.5 in 2009–10 to 29.6 this year (15th in the country). Walker was tasked with handling much of the Huskies’ offense this year (31% usage rate), and the results were good as the Huskies are national champs. That said, the road to an NBA championship is not built on Kemba Walker using 31% of his team’s possessions. He scored frequently but somewhat inefficiently. He took 18 field goal attempts per game and shot 43/33/82. His 54% true shooting was respectable due to his eight free throw attempts per game. In the Final Four, he scored 34 points on 34 field goal attempts while distributing 7 assists against 6 turnovers. Scoring efficiently will not be any easier in the NBA.

Regarding his prospects for NBA 3-point shooting, Walker is described as having good shooting mechanics. From his freshman to sophomore year, his three point shooting improved from 27% to 34% as he worked hard to improve between seasons. He dropped to 33% his junior year, however he was asked to take shots he shouldn’t take in the NBA. Of his almost 6 threes a game last year, many were contested. Assuming natural progression from a player with a fluid shot and strong work ethic, Walker should convert spot up NBA 3s at a rate higher than his contested college shots.

Where Walker most needs to improve is showing the inclination to pass more often when he drives to the basket. Replacing some low percentage shots for himself with high percentage shots for teammates would greatly improve Walker’s effectiveness. Walker has exhibited good passing skills, as after his sophomore year nbadraft.net said he has “above average vision with the ball, showing the ability to hit the open man, open up the floor, or thread the needle”. At that time, DraftExpress.com said that Walker “has a lot of good tools, excelling in the pick-and-roll game and showing good court vision in general, capable of making tough passes to cutters in the lane.” Walker has improved at taking care of the ball, as this year he committed turnovers on only 11.6% of his possessions (6th best in the Big East). Through reducing turnovers, Walker has improved his pure point rating every year of his college career.

Assuming Walker can balance scoring and distributing more effectively; a best case scenario is as a high quality third scoring option on a contender (like Tony Parker, although Walker’s situation won’t be as good). As a third offensive threat, Walker should not feel the need to force shots and could play to the opportunity/match-up. A lower end of the potential career spectrum for Walker could be similar to Lou Williams or Brandon Jennings; small, fast guards who are more scorers than distributors. Walker will not be a franchise changer, but he will be a quality NBA point guard.

One final note is that Walker is from New York and has mentioned that it would be fun to play for the Knicks. If you are not yet prepared to see another face-of-the-Cavs wearing a NY Yankees hat, Kemba Walker is not the lottery pick for you.

Jan Vesely – Draft Profile

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Kevin Hetrick contributing again. My second overview of a potential lottery pick is about Jan Vesely from the Czech Republic. Mock drafts have him as early as 4th, but I am not particularly high on him as a lottery pick.

Jan Vesely
Height: 6-11
Weight: 240 lbs
Position: SF / PF
Age: Turned 21 in April

Summary: Jan Vesely is from the Czech Republic and plays for Partizan Belgrade in the Adriatic League and Euroleague. NBA scouts view Vesely as a top ten pick due to his combination of size & athleticism. He is known within the Euroleague for his highlight reel dunks and has exhibited good stretches of perimeter shooting. He is very active on the court however he needs to work on fundamentals on both offense and defense.

Basketball Bio: Vesely has played for Partizan Belgrade for three years. Partizan is the top team in the Adriatic League and participates in the Euroleague. He played limited minutes in 2008 – 2009 before becoming a potential NBA lottery pick the next year. In 2009 – 2010 at age 19, he played 22 minutes per game in 28 Adriatic League games; tallying 8.4 ppg and 3.5 rpg while shooting 57 / 32 / 66. Vesely really impressed in Euroleague games that year. In 22 games against the top teams in Europe, he averaged 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 25 minutes while shooting 40% from three point range as Partizan advanced to the Euroleague semifinals. Vesely was projected as a lottery pick in the 2010 NBA draft however he returned to Partizan for 2010 – 2011. This year Vesely has not made much progression. In Euroleague play, he averaged 10 points and 3.6 rebounds in 28 minutes while averaging 10 points and 4.4 rebounds in 24 minutes during 26 Adriatic league games. Euroleague moved the 3 point line back 20” to 22.1 ft and Vesely’s shooting percentages from deep dropped to 31% across both league’s games.

Skill Overview: Vesely is a great athlete. He is tall, runs the floor extremely well and is an explosive jumper. This combination is rare and gives Vesely the potential to be a special player. Many of his points come from hustling and running the floor when he finishes fast breaks, oftentimes with dynamic dunks. He has shown flashes of being a good long distance shooter. His quick, long first step allows him to beat people off the dribble and get to the basket from the perimeter in a couple of strides. He is active and aggressive which results in offensive rebounds and steals. On defense, dirty work is his specialty; he hustles for loose balls and shows hard on pick and rolls.

He has typically played SF however defensively he struggles staying in front of quick perimeter players. About his defense he told NBA Draft Express, “Of course, they are smaller than me, they are faster so I need to work on my aggressiveness, try to get faster and play better defense.” To be a PF, he needs to add strength to defend and keep rebounding position. Vesely came to the game late and is still fundamentally raw and his basketball instincts are described as average. He will occasionally start dribbling without much of a plan. He is an inconsistent jump shooter and a poor free throw shooter. Two years ago he shot free throws at 63% however in 2010 – 2011 that dropped to 51% over 161 free throw attempts.

Additional / Advanced Stats: Despite the top-tier athleticism, Vesely does not yet have a history of doing productive basketball things. He is young and playing in competitive professional leagues, so to some extent that is understandable. On the other hand, he is now the age of college juniors and is still fairly raw. In 2009 – 2010, his PER was 15.2 in Euroleague games and 17.9 in the Adriatic League. This year his PER improved to 21.0 in Adriatic League games however it was 16.5 in the more competitive Euroleague. He converts efficiently around the basket however he is not asked to create a lot of shots for himself as he peaked this year at 6.5 fg’s attempted per game. Despite flashes of quality range on his shot, he was only 21 of 67 on threes this year and will need to step back another foot and a half in the NBA.

Vesely’s defensive rebounding is anemic due to lack of strength and positioning. In 16 Euroleague games this year, he averaged one defensive rebound every 15 minutes. This continues a trend as he has rarely rebounded much better than 4 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes. His long arms and aggressive defense result in steals however he is not a prolific shot blocker. For an extremely athletic 6’ 11” player, his average of 1.2 blocks per 40 minutes in both Adriatic and Euroleague games would seem to indicate poor timing or positioning. Aggressive defense has also lead to foul trouble; he averaged over six fouls per 40 minutes last year before reducing that to five per 40 this year.

NBA scouts are very intrigued by Vesely’s combination of size and explosiveness and think his talents will translate well in the NBA. He is however 21 years old and the only consistent skills he has exhibited are being tall, playing hard, running fast, and jumping high. These are good things, but he has never consistently shot well or rebounded. There are concerns about his strength, basketball instincts, and ability to defend in the NBA. A reasonable good-case scenario for Vesely is as a solid role player who plays hard, shoots well, and finishes with authority; perhaps Omri Casspi with great leaping ability. As a worst case scenario, let’s say he projects as a skinny JJ Hickson that can’t shoot free throws and doesn’t rebound. That’s mean, but he is only 1.5 years younger than Hickson. A best case scenario for Vesely is improving his strength, shooting, & rebounding while refining the remainder of his game. If he can maximize his skills and build on his performance of 2009 – 2010, he can be a very special player. I don’t think a top 8 pick should rely on so many improvements at 21 years old.

Kyrie Irving – Draft Report

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Hello Cavs fans! I’m Kevin Hetrick, one of the Cavs: the Blog draft experts. John actually picked two of us; me because I was persistent and Mo Nuwwarah because he is very talented. Also Ryan Braun will be providing animations of each of the players that are covered, which should be awesome. Every week, we will be posting a couple of reports on likely lottery picks that the Cavs may be interested in. I’m going to start with an easy one, Kyrie Irving, the player most people would like the Cavs to be able to draft.

Kyrie Irving
Height: 6-2
Weight: 180 lbs
Position: PG
Age: Turned 19 in March

Summary: After coming to Duke as one of the most highly recruited prospects in the country, Irving has finished his freshman season. Irving suffered a toe injury and only played 11 games for Duke however they were very impressive games as he is generally considered the likely #1 pick in the draft. He is very effective at creating shots for himself and others. His defensive abilities are very solid and he possesses great work ethic and leadership.

Basketball Bio: Kyrie Irving played high school basketball at St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J. He was ranked as the #4 prospect in the class of 2010 by Rivals.com, #3 by ESPN, and #2 by Scout.com. Irving only played 11 games in his freshman year at Duke due to a toe injury. In the midst of leading Duke to an 8-0 record and #1 ranking, Irving injured a ligament in his toe following a win over Butler. These eight games included four wins over eventual NCAA tournament teams and were highlighted by a 31 point, 6 rebound, 4 assist effort against Michigan State. For these eight games, Irving averaged 17.4 ppg & 5.1 apg in 28 minutes while shooting 53 / 45 / 90. After three months recovering from the toe injury, Irving returned for the NCAA tournament. In three tourney games, he averaged 17.7 ppg & 2 apg while shooting 52 / 50 / 91. Duke lost in the Sweet 16 to Arizona when Irving had 28 points and 3 assists. Following the first 8 games, Irving was generally viewed as the #1 pick in the draft despite his injury.

Skill Overview: Irving is the best point guard in the draft. He is quick and is an effective dribbler with either hand. Great body control allows him to start and stop and change directions must faster than defenders. These skills result in outstanding ability to penetrate and either finish at the basket or find an open teammate. In combination with the body control, he is very strong which aids in his converting in the paint at a high rate. He is a very good shooter with excellent form, resulting in his 46% three point shooting (9th in NCAA if maintained for the year). His size, discipline and excellent fundamentals should allow him to play quality defense in the NBA. His work ethic is great and he is routinely described as an extremely confident player and leader.

The largest concerns about Irving as a prospect are that eleven games is not a huge sample size and there are questions whether the injury represents the start of a trend. Due to missing the ACC season, Irving has not been exposed to significant amounts of high level competition.

While not a super-athlete like recent first picks Derrick Rose and John Wall, Irving is a great athlete and has been compared to Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and Mike Conley. Irving is one of the few prospects in the draft who appears to be a “can’t miss”; at a minimum eventually being a very good starter at his position. Best case prospects are as an NBA all-star to borderline all-NBA.

Additional Info / Advanced Stats: Irving did not play enough minutes to qualify to be “ranked” for per game & efficiency stats. Based on the small sample size available however it can be said that Kyrie Irving made scoring the basketball look easy. His PER was 31.68, ranking him as the 5th most efficient player in college basketball and highest for a PG. Due to his ability to draw fouls (9.4 ft attempts per 40 minutes) and his high shooting percentages, his true shooting percentage was 69.7. This is a ridiculous true shooting percentage for a high usage guard. Although unlikely; if he had maintained this for a season it would have ranked third in the country behind a 3-pt specialist (Jon Diebler of Ohio State) and a low volume power forward (Shane Johannsen of Northern Arizona). Performing like this against a schedule that included 7 NCAA tournament teams, even if for only 11 games, is pretty impressive. His offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) would have ranked seventh in the nation and better than any other high-usage player. In summary, Irving was very effective at creating scoring opportunities and finishing them.

Based on his skill set and performance to date, comparisons including Chris Paul and Tony Parker seem appropriate. As a scorer and a distributor, a good projection is that Irving will be better than Parker but not as elite as Paul. Irving has similar skills to Parker but is a much better shooter and will also get to the free throw line more frequently and convert better when there. Making free throws at 90% would have ranked Irving as the 10th best in the NCAA last year. As a passer, it is obviously no disservice to Irving to say that he is probably not Chris Paul. Watching Irving play it is apparent that even when moving at full speed he has a firm grasp on where his teammates are at, both in the half court and in transition. With that mind though, quantitatively Irving was not a great distributor. Pure Point Rating adjusts assist to turnover ratio to account for both productivity and pace. Irving’s PPR of 1.35 was respectable however it was lower than “shoot-first” point guard Kemba Walker. Irving’s assists per possession used and pure point rating were very similar to Walker’s numbers as a sophomore (In Irving’s defense, why pass when scoring is so easy?). There is little doubt that Irving’s frequent drives, awareness of teammates, and ability to stay in control will result in easy baskets for teammates however it is reasonable to assume he will not be a transcendent passer like Chris Paul.