DimeMag

Fast 5: Tracking This Year’s NBA Draft Class, Vol. 6

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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It has been an interesting week with an injury to a star prospect and the beginning of conference play. This is the time of year where prospects begin to step up for scouts and stand out in conference play against teams and coaches that know their game. How are these young prospects going to adjust to these tougher games?

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.

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ONE: What Do We Know?
Through the course of a season one thing that scouts want to see is progression. There needs to be improvement or progression from the beginning of a season to this point in the year. That shows the untapped potential to look forward to beyond just simple athletic talent. Adding new wrinkles to the repertoire, improving on weaknesses, and strengthening their overall game gives newfound potential to a prospect.

Freshmen have to learn how to be effective off of more than athleticism against an equal playing field. Upperclassmen have to improve off of a season that was not good enough to catapult them into the next level.

TWO: What Do We Not Know?
What happens when there is no progression? A book is written on a prospect from the first practice on campus. The first chapter needs to create a buy-in and make you want to keep reading the book beyond that, which has created the one-and-done era of basketball. If you are not a one-and-done and the rest of your book is not that compelling, a prospect could linger around in college for four years only to end up in Europe.

That is the key to progression and this year we are seeing that with five or more potential first round talents that were not considered in that light as freshman or sophomores.

THREE: Stock Rising
In the eyes of some UCLA forward Kyle Anderson has played well enough to be considered a mid-first round talent. He has obvious physical limitations as a below-average athlete, but Anderson has a feel for the game that many do not with his ability to see the floor, play his pace, and do a little bit of everything on the court. With his physical limitations, Anderson may be better off declaring early after this season to avoid the book written about him to start filling up with his flaws.

FOUR: Stock Falling
Along the theme of progression there is Andre Roberson of Colorado. The junior forward came onto the scene as a great rebounder for his size and position, but has not added very much to his game since then. I was able to get out to see him live this week and he looks disinterested on offense, passing the ball off regularly and passing up on open shots. Roberson gets his points off of the offensive glass, but at the next level he is not quite a three and too slight to be a four.

His lack of progression took him from being a potential Shawn Marion-type player taken in the top-20 to now being a mid-to-late second round pick.

FIVE: Quick Hitter
Injuries happen and they are very unfortunate, but the injury to C.J. McCollum might have taken the mid-major star from potential top-20 pick to a borderline first rounder. He broke his foot on a routine drive to the basket against Virginia Commonwealth and will be out for potentially 8-10 weeks. McCollum was averaging 25.7 points per game before his injury and this takes away the team’s best player, their best shot at a tournament bid, and likely the rest of his regular season.

Again, injuries happen, and this is a cautionary tale of what can happen when a major prospect comes back for another year.

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Top 5 International Prospects Right Now

1. Rudy Gobert: 7-1, 235 pounds – (1992) France
Stats: (In 18.2 MPG) 7.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 78.2 percent FG, 73.7 percent FT (14-19)
After measuring out with freakish height and reach, Gobert opened the eyes of NBA people across the league. He is a raw athlete with little scoring ability, but has the athleticism and defensive ability of the best college big men in the 2013 class.

2. Dario Saric: 6-10, 223 pounds – (1994) Croatia
Stats: (In 19.5 MPG) 7.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 37.0 percent FG, 38.5 percent FT (5-13)
This is not a new name to the draft conversation as he burst on a few years back as a multi-skilled forward with some point forward ability. He has been up-and-down since then, but has the skill to be a star in any league.

3. Alex Abrines: 6-5, 190 pounds – (1993) France
Stats: (In 7.8 MPG) 1.9 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.1 APG, 30.0 percent FG, 58.3 percent FT
He is a natural scorer that excels at getting to the rim and scoring off of the bounce. This season he has not had the opportunity to get on the court so his numbers are naturally down, but he is the best perimeter scorer in the international class.

4. Sergey Karasev: 6-7, 205 pounds – (1994) Russia
Stats: (In 30.4 MPG) 16.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.0 APG, 38.8 percent FG, 85.8 percent FT
No prospect has progressed and risen higher than Karasev over the past few months. He has the skill-set of a NBA glue player with the ability to defend multiple positions, score, rebound, and shoot the ball.

5. Dmitry Kulagin: 6-5, 195 pounds – (1992) Russia
Stats: (In 19.7 MPG) 5.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 31.9 percent FG, 72.2 percent FT
He has been known to be a bit temperamental and has bounced around with different teams overseas. There is no question about his ability to score on the wing, but will a team take a risk on the Russian?

International prospects are hard to peg in terms of NBA potential and this year is a prime example of that. At the top, there is a great athlete with length and size, but raw overall (with the bust capabilities of Nikoloz Tskitishvili). Continue down the list and there are no certainties in the draft, but a handful of talented prospects that can make an impact at the next level.

Are overseas players overvalued in the NBA Draft?

Follow Kristofer on Twitter at @NBADraftInsider.

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