With the regular season over, 16 NBA GMs have their minds set on the NBA Playoffs. But for those teams that will be counting ping pong balls instead of playoff victories, the upcoming NBA Draft has many intriguing prospects that need to be recognized. So with March Madness over, Dime contributor Lucas Shapiro continues profiling players and giving them a team that would best fit their talent. Last week was Kansas’ Cole Aldrich, so now we’re on to Virginia Commonwealth’s Larry Sanders.
Player Comparisons: Theo Ratliff, Ben Wallace and Sean Williams
Sanders has the type of body one would find in a circus. From the second Sanders enters the League, he will already have one of the longest wingspans in the NBA. This 7-7 wingspan allowed Sanders to average almost three blocks per game in his three years at VCU, and after many efficient seasons, Sanders’ name was put on the big board of NBA prospects. Length is not the only asset that makes Sanders special. For a guy who is 6-10, his foot speed is impressive as well. He runs the floor like a deer and can keep up with smaller players. The smoothness that is in his game is very different from Cole Aldrich’s awkward movements. Sanders is one of those guys who makes everything look easy. Weighing in at a generous 235 pounds, it would be a nice idea to add some weight and upper body strength to Sanders’ frame.
Typically, raw big men from small schools always struggle to have good fundamentals. This is the same case for Hassan Whiteside. Since Sanders has limited competition in the CAA conference, he simply uses his athleticism to takeover. Dunking on opponents seemed to be the preferable option for Sanders, opposed to working on a hook shot. It is a strange situation since Sanders has a nice perimeter jump shot, but his post moves certainly have room for improvement. One thing we can take from Sanders’ college experience is that he has excellent timing. He knows when to block shots versus altering them, and he knows exactly when to grab rebounds. It will be interesting to see if these intriguing skills translate to the League.
A lack of post moves and consistency are worrisome for NBA teams who want to pick-up impact players. Not to mention, Sanders plays for a small school, so it could be a rough transition. However, the same was said about Kings power forward Jason Thompson. The workouts and combine will show whether Sanders is capable of contributing early in his career. It will be key for him to land on a patient team that would want him to develop before he steps foot on the court. Who knows, maybe Sanders would be capable of having a role similar to Serge Ibaka this year on the Thunder.
Believe it or not, height does matter. Sanders’ great length is nice, but if Sanders ends up measuring at 6-8 at the combine, he could be in trouble. He has to develop his fundamentals. If he does so, he could play both forward positions and center. A sign that Sanders could develop faster than many would think is his fast improvement from freshman year to junior year. His scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, defense, and assist-to-turnover ratio have all improved drastically every season. If this rapid improvement can keep up, and Sanders sees that he could be an impact player on a contending team, we could be hearing his name for many years to come.
Best Fit: Boston Celtics*
While Kevin Garnett‘s image has always been as a freak athlete, he’s starting to rely more and more on his fundamentals. The Celtics frontcourt lacks athleticism and could definitely use Sanders. With Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis on the books for a few more years, Sanders would not need to make a big impact instantly. This would allow for him to learn from the veteran Celtics big men.
*Sanders is projected to be picked anywhere from late Lottery to late first round.
Runner-up: Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City loves versatile big men. As one can see from their roster, Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka are all capable of knocking down shots and performing on the defensive end. Sanders would fit the bill. His shot blocking would be very handy for this team that already possesses great length, and adding Sanders would make them arguably the longest team in the NBA. Not to mention, it would also be a great fit since Sanders’ college teammate Eric Maynor is on the team as well.
What do you think?
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