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Joey Graham NBA Draft Scouting Report
by:
June 13, 2005
Strengths
The first thing to talk about with Joey Graham is his impressively sculpted body. At 6'7 and 225, Graham looks like he could be playing in the NFL. With his combination of first tier athleticism and superior strength, there are very few NBA wing prospects as physically equipped to play in the league. Once Graham gets going to the basket, rim-rocking dunks are sure to follow. He uses his leaping ability and long wingspan to convert with ease near the basket, and rarely forces things at the offensive end. However, where Graham's potential really shows through is on the defensive end. He is a converted PF, and this tendency towards physical play could allow him to develop into an absolute terror on the defensive end. Graham is currently up and down on the defensive side of the ball, but clearly has as much upside in this area as any wing prospect in the draft. As he continues to improve his perimeter play, Graham's defense could be the area that really explodes. The aspect of the game that Graham has already mastered is the mid-range jumper. He doesn't have a very consistent release, but his shots simply keep going in. He seems to have no problem hitting it with a man in his face, and as long as he gets his feet set, Graham is as good as automatic. On the season, Graham shoots a very impressive 54% from the floor and an astonishing 88% from the line. The three-pointer isn't a regular part of Graham's arsenal at this point, but he is showing signs of being able to shoot a very high percentage from behind the arc. Mentally, Graham plays under control and with the savvy of a veteran. Despite a tendency to float at times, he usually plays an aggressive, physical style, and thanks to his days as a 4-man, really knows how to pick up easy points at the rim.



Weaknesses
Graham began his career as a PF at Central Florida, before transferring to Oklahoma State for his final two seasons. Despite his athleticism and perimeter shooting, Graham is clearly still a developing wing, and nearly all of his weaknesses revolve around this transition. The first thing to talk about when it comes to Graham's weak points is his lack of a first step. You would expect a player with Graham's physical characteristics to be able to slash to the basket with ease, but Graham doesn't, unless he is allowed to clear space with his left arm (the source of many of his offensive fouls this year). He isn't able to get by quicker perimeter defenders, and doesn't have that knack for knifing down the lane, unless he's close enough to dunk it. In another weak point related to a lack of perimeter skill, Graham shows very little in the way of ballhandling ability. He rarely puts the ball on the floor and when he does, he will always attempt to go left. When it comes to creating offense, he either shoots the standing perimeter shot, or catches the ball near the basket and floats it in. The ballhandling and first step difficulties sort of compound each other, making it somewhat difficult for him to be a go-too guy on the offensive end. Part of the reason that he may shoot such a high percentage is that he would really struggle if he did decide to start forcing things a bit at the offensive end, and OSU needs a guy to force things at times. For Graham to truly take advantage of his unique athletic ability, he needs to develop his ball skills and driving ability quite a bit more. Finally, if we were talking about a sophomore here, these weaknesses might not be as concerning. Unfortunately, Joey Graham is a 23 year old 5th year senior. I fully expect him to continue developing his guard skills, but how much more can we expect from a prospect already fairly advanced (relatively speaking) in years?

Competition
Graham plays in the Big XII, so he gets some of the best competition in the nation on a nightly basis. There is a disturbing correlation between Graham shooting less and OSU losing, which means better teams/defenders might be able to keep Graham under control from time to time. However, Graham has put up some very nice stat lines against some very good teams.


Outlook
Joey Graham has the potential to rise or fall quite dramatically within the first round. He has the physical tools of a lottery pick, but might be a bit behind the curve skill-wise. His first step and overall slashing ability really need to improve. However, his midrange jumper has to be considered a plus, and he's the kind of player that could really skyrocket once individual workouts begin. Keep an eye on out this March, as a big tourney performance could signal the beginning of a very successful couple of months for Joey Graham.

 


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