DraftExpress Mailbag (#4)

DraftExpress Mailbag (#4)
Jan 22, 2006, 03:50 am
The fourth edition of our mailbag. Every week or so we will try to answer the best questions we are asked either by email or other methods. Questions about specific prospects, requests for features on the site, the policies, methods and principles we try to incorporate into the site, complaints, praise or anything else is fair game. If you would like to write an observation about a prospect, team or trend we are seeing lately anywhere in the world, feel free to as well. If you would like to participate, please get in touch using the “contact us” form or send me an email .



Love what you are doing with the site - the newly added "my mock draft" option is an out and out winner.

I had a question about James White. Back in his high school years he was touted as "the next big thing". People would talk about him they way they talked about Gerald Green before last years draft.

White decided to stay in school and seemed to fall under the radar a little while at Florida but since the move is now making some noise again with Cincinnati. It seems the additional time spent in college has treated him well and I don't see any reason why he wouldn't go lottery in the '06 draft.

What do you see holding him back from being maybe even a top ten pick and how do you feel about his progress since high school?

I know that I'd love to land him at the Bobcat's as a lock down defending SG who can handle the rock, shoot the 3 ball and take it to the hole. That's just what we need.

Imagine Gerald "Crash" Wallace and James "Flight" White running the break together?





I think there are a number of things holding him back from being a lottery. First would be the depth of this draft at his position. By our count, he has no less than 10 swingmen projected to be drafted ahead of him at the moment, so he already has a lot of ground to make up. Second would be his age. As a 23 year old 5th year senior, some people might question just how much upside he has left to continue to improve compared with many of the 19 or 20 year old guys that he is competing with for a spot on a team’s draft board. I personally think he still has a ton of potential considering how much he’s improved from last year to this, but we’ll see how other people look at him in April/May/June.

He still has quite a few holes in his game as well. Despite being one of the best athletes in this draft, I often get the feeling that he still has absolutely no clue how to actually take advantage of it, at least not on the offensive end. I would like to see him use his first step to take the ball strong to the basket and either finish or get to the line 5-6 times a game. You are lucky if he does that once a game. How many times have you seen Hassan Adams on a highlight reel this year? Now how many times have you seen James White? That tells you that White just doesn't use that incredible athleticism enough, because they are both in the same class in terms of their sheer explosiveness. It’s tough for me to put my finger on it exactly, but I think it’s a mix between him not being a very fluid player, not a good enough ball-handler in tight spaces, not incredibly aggressive or tough with that “I am going to dunk on you and there is nothing you can do about it” attitude, and also just not having a very polished offensive game in terms of being crafty about creating space for himself off the dribble. With that said, he has a lot of positives to his game as well as you pointed out, which is why he moved into our first round a few weeks ago.


How do you decide who to include in your mock drafts. Do scouts tell you. How right on are they and how right on are you mock drafts? Will Yotam Halperin really be drafted?



First off I want to stress that look at ourselves as much more than “just” a mock draft. Our articles, interviews, scouting reports, first-hand coverage and features are the bread and butter of what we do and what we take the most pride in by far. Anyone can throw together a list of players and call it a mock draft. Very few can actually say they’ve seen all the players on their list, especially when talking about the obscure college and international players.

We decide who to include in our mock draft first and foremost by watching the players countless times live, on tape, sometimes in practice, private workouts, by attending all the various pre-draft camps, and by communicating with a large network of people that we trust who have been doing this for longer than us to get their opinions and make sure we aren’t missing out on anyone. That network includes the coaches, scouts, NBA front office people, the NBA’s official scouting service, the players themselves, sometimes agents who have good info to share with us, and many other people who watch a lot of basketball. It’s not an exact science since things change very quickly, but we’d like to think that we do a decent job at what we do. Most of the work we’ll be doing over the next few months involves breaking down the players on tape.

There are a number of scouts I talk to and trade information with to try and make sure that we aren’t missing out on anything. Sometimes I get great info, and sometimes I don’t. Everyone always has an opinion, though, and they are interesting to hear. I much prefer relying on my own two eyes to be honest. It’s very popular in the media these days to quote anonymous NBA scouts as the backbone for an article or argument. You’ll often read stuff like “NBA scouts think,” “NBA scouts are salivating”, “NBA scouts project,” etc, etc. This to me is code for “I haven’t seen him play myself, but that’s not going to stop me from trying to sound credible anyway…” Let’s be honest here, these scouts are making their living working for their teams. NBA teams spend millions of dollars a year making sure they are on top of all the various draft prospects. Do you really think they are going to just give away their sleepers and best info to some random person for free? I personally don’t think so. The things I get in “trades” and are considered "off the record" for the site are usually more valuable, but you still need to take everything with a grain of salt. As we get closer to the draft, the agendas will start to come out, and that’s when I would start questioning these types of reports even more. We’ll hear them and probably even publish them because everyone loves reading these types of things, but nothing can replace the dozens of hours of hard work that goes into evaluating every single draft prospect. Let’s also keep in mind that the people that end up actually making the decisions are the NBA GM’s, and not the scouts. It’s nice and dandy that Scout Joe Blow thinks that Monty Cantsin from Hick State Community College is the best thing since sliced bread and is a sure-fire lottery pick. But does his boss feel the same way?

Now regarding the mock draft, if you must know, ours was by far the most accurate last year, and not by a small margin. But still no one is perfect because we are basically trying to guess what 30 different general managers will do in a span of a couple of hours, which is impossible. Last year we had 13 picks nailed precisely, 25 of the first 26 players drafted overall, and 52 of 60 players drafted overall predicted correctly in our final mock. Looking at ESPN and all the various mock draft sites, the average variance between where players were actually drafted compared with what we predicted was the lowest by far for both the first and especially the second round of the draft. We did a good job, but I am hoping to do a lot better this year. There are a lot of variables involved of course.

Oh yeah, and about Halperin. He's got a lot of buzz right now, and I've always liked his game, but ask me again what I think of him in about two weeks. I am waiting on a big package of tapes to come in. Being projected in the 50's this early in the year hardly makes him a sure-fire thing. He's got his work cut out for him these next few months, I can tell you that.


To Jonathan Givony, I’ve been reading your comments here and at RealGM. I'm just wondering based on the Toronto Raptors needs, mostly at SG and at the C, who would you think fit nicely with their concept? I personally have been looking at Ronnie Brewer, any thoughts. Thanks




I haven’t had the pleasure of watching the Raptors play this year except for maybe a half or two here and there when League Pass was free, so it’s tough to really answer that before I at least check them out in depth once or twice. From what my intuition tells me, they will probably be looking for a big guy who can play good defense and rebound to compliment their other two talented PF’s who don’t do much of that. Aldridge has the potential to be excellent in those areas (as well as score really well) so I can’t see a situation in which they would pass him up. Since Toronto is winning a bit too much as of late to really be in the mix for him without help from the ping-pong balls, I would say that the next best guy for them is Tiago Splitter. His shot-blocking numbers don’t jump out at you, but he is without a doubt a terrific defensive player with the size, instincts, smarts and fundamentals to translate that over to the NBA extremely well. His lateral quickness allows him to stay right in the grill of anyone with two very long arms right in his man’s face at all times. He’s not an explosive weak-side shot-blocker like a Marcus Camby or Dwight Howard, but he does the job extremely well on team defense as well. His frame and defensive style of play remind me a bit of Tim Duncan’s, although there is no comparison between the two offensively. People will look at his numbers in Europe and sneer, but all you have to do is watch him play a few times to get the picture that he will an NBA starting center for a very long time. Before this question comes next week I will go ahead and answer it: he will be able to play Center in the NBA and is best suited for that position skill-wise. There are many schools of thought here, but I personally look at what position a player will be able to defend when projecting his NBA position. His size is ideal for it as he measured out a quarter inch under 7 feet tall at the 2004 Chicago pre-draft camp with a 7-2 wingspan and a 9-1 ½ standing reach. He has nice wide shoulders, very solid lower-body strength and quick feet. I don’t think that you need your center to be bulky like a Rafael Araujo in today’s NBA, but there are some who will disagree of course.

If it’s a wing player the Raptors will be looking for with their 2nd pick, I think they should be praying that Denver starts losing and that J.J. Redick will be available for them. His defense is nothing to write home about, but I think he’ll be the perfect 2nd or 3rd scoring option on a playoff caliber team and will give his team an immediate boost with the way he spreads the floor. I know you are only allowed to compare white guys with white guys, but Redick’s best NBA comparison to me is Michael Redd. Think about the reasons Redd went in the 2nd round in one of the worst drafts of all time and then compare him with Redick. People said he was undersized at 6-5, could not put the ball on the floor, was not a good enough athlete, did not play any defense, was one-dimensional, etc etc. We all know how that turned out.



I read this site just about everyday, and one feature that would be absolutely fantastic, okay, well at least kinda handy, would be if you noted which prospects had profiles complete and/or when the last update was in the mock drafts . It would be as simple as putting a fourth line with a date or cramming it onto another line. That way anything recently updated would be more obvious to people who check regularly.




Space is definitely at a premium in that section. One more line for all 30 columns definitely adds up. It’s also a bit of a headache technically. I can think of two ways to do it. One would be to run an automatic query for every player on the mock draft and maybe either have what you wrote above or place a checkmark next to his name if his scouting report has been completed. That’s a lot of queries, though, especially once we add the “on the bubble” section as well. I am not sure I want to slow down the page that much. I have logged on to our site with dialup and it’s a pretty frustrating experience already. The second option would be to manually add something into the HTML page every time I add a scouting report, but that’s not something I really want to mess around with considering my limited technical knowledge and the time that would take. We’re going to be pumping out scouting reports (real…ones…not…just…a…generic…paragraph…in…shoddy…english…chock…full…of…clichés…and…hype) soon at a pretty nice rate once I get a better grasp of some of these guys.

Two things to keep in mind:

1) I am almost certain that every player on the mock draft has had at least something written about him on the site. A lot of guys have had entire articles written or multiple paragraphs that can serve as preliminary scouting reports to at least give you an idea of what type of player we are talking about. We recently changed the way we present these, so I would go and have another look. If a player doesn’t have a full scouting report in his profile, it should go to the “links” section automatically where you’ll most likely find one or two “spotlight articles” that should be able to hold you over in the meantime.

2) When you come to the site every day, make sure you look at the “new/updated profiles” section on the right hand side under the TV Watch. After we add in one last batch of players that need to be entered into the database next week, you will only find the latest updated scouting reports there. They sit there for 10 days I believe. You’ll see Aldridge’s newly updated scouting report there for example now.


Hi John,

I am an avid follower of mock drafts and I haven't seen Mike Gansey on the radar. It seems like every WVU game I watch Gansey is putting up big offensive numbers and making key hustle plays. Gansey obviously doesn't have world-class athleticism, but it appears he has a polished perimeter game and high basketball IQ. Do you think he has a future in the NBA?



If the NBA draft was like the NFL draft, I would say no, probably not. Thankfully for Gansey it isn’t, because he doesn’t have that prototypical size, frame or athleticism you look for in a 2 guard, and also might be missing a bit in the slashing and defensive departments which are considered very important for his position. With that said, he convinces me more and more about being able to make it in some capacity in the NBA every time I watch him play. How much of that is due to West Virginia’s wide-open, high scoring system I am not sure, but I have to believe he is going to get his chance to prove himself at the pre-draft camp in Chicago at the very least. With his shooting ability, intangibles and the way he plays the game, he is one of those guys that are impossible to write off. Brad Nessler of ESPN was talking about him on Saturday and summed him up by calling him a “basketball player.” I think that is definitely the best way to describe him.

Hey Jon,

I know I've e-mailed you a bit on certain prospects, but some questions have came to mind as of late:

1) I know you guys don't do a Team Needs draft, but with the way teams are shaping up for the lottery in January (teams like Atlanta/Charlotte/Portland/Toronto), what position will be heavily demanded for? I know 2005 really was a Point Guard-heavy draft with Deron/Paul/Felton all in the top 5, and guys like that. But what position will be favored when the teams pick? It kinda feels like a big man draft to me.

2) Are Shelden Williams and JJ Redick top 10 prospects? The more I read you guys scouting reports, the more I feel each of their games is 'lacking' so to say. Like Shelden's offensive game, and Redick's defensive game. Are there guys like Randy Foye, Paul Davis, Rodney Carney and Hilton Armstrong that could jump them if their respective teams perform in the NCAA Tournament?

3) With the seniors thing, who do you think will most likely make themselves known that most people don't really know about? And with that, how far do you think James White's stock can go considering he seems to be the guy that will work his butt off at workouts in June, which could certainly be a factor.

Hope you can answer these questions ay, your entire team does a great job.


Hi J,

1) We’ll be doing team needs once the picture clears up a bit more about who is drafting where and who is definitely in the draft. I think the first one we did last year was after the lottery was conducted. I am thinking we’ll do something similar this year.

Regarding the team needs sections (the actual articles), we’ll again be relying on you guys to help us out since we don’t get to watch as much NBA basketball as we would probably need to to do a good job. This time, amongst other features in the pipeline, we’ll have a much better system in place to allow any of our registered users to submit an article through the site and for the “team clubhouses” to be able to host multiple articles from our users. There will be some quality control, but I liked the way it turned out last year and would like to take that a step further this time around.

1) a. What kind of draft will this be? A few weeks ago I wrote about how as many as 10 potential lottery teams could be looking to draft a point guard based on their early team needs. Unfortunately this looks like the worst point guard draft in quite some time, and it only seems to be getting worse by the week. What I think ends up happening is that whoever plays well in March and takes their team far will be the one that rises up the board. I don’t think that’s necessarily a great way to decide who to pick (see: Deron Williams being drafted over Chris Paul), but history shows us that the tournament plays a big role in certain players’ draft stock, especially for point guards.

I am also feeling the big man thing lately. This is shaping up to be a surprisingly good draft for big guys. 3 of the top 4 players on our current mock draft are 6-11 or taller. 7 of the top 15 are bigs. The rest of the draft is littered with big guys of all shapes and sizes. There are some bangers like Taj Gray, Paul Millsap, Justin Williams, Eric Williams, Marco Killingsworth or Louis Amundson; project guys like Patrick O’Bryant, James Augustine, Yemi Nicholson, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Solomon Jones or Mohamed Kone; skilled perimeter oriented ones like Matt Haryasz, Vladimir Veremeenko or Kevin Pittsnogle; and the list goes on and on.

This is also shaping up to be a nice draft for wings, depending on what position you consider certain players to be you can count as many as 16 guys that play either the 2 or the 3 in the first round of our mock draft.

2) Like I said above, a lot of things are going to change once we hit the tournament. There are always 2-3 players at least that solidify themselves or jump into the lottery or the first round because of the way they played in March. Look at Sean May, Channing Frye, Julius Hodge, Luther Head, Francisco Garcia, etc for examples from last year. Notice a trend about their age…

So any one of those guys you wrote above could definitely jump them even without an amazing tournament showing. They are all right on the cusp as it is. Since it’s so difficult to find players that are stepping up their game right NOW and establishing themselves as top 10 prospects, we probably have a tendency to put the proven guys (like Williams, Redick) in that area until some of the younger guys do enough to justify putting them in that area based on their potential. That’s sort of what happened last year with a guy like Hakim Warrick.

3) That’s a good question about the seniors. I could see a scenario in which Yemi Nicholson’s team doesn’t make the tournament, he hires some hot-shot big time agent who puts him on an amazing diet plan, and then he emerges at workouts in May twenty pounds lighter and in the shape of his life. He is already a pretty decent athlete with nice size, good hands and an NBA frame, he just gets so winded because he’s not in very good shape. Get him to pull a Carlos Boozer on us (but before the draft, not after), get the hype machine up and running properly, and I could totally see him going in the 1st round. This is a guy that started off his career as a walk on at Fort Lewis College, the media is just going to eat up that story, don't you think?

Terrell Everett is another guy who could really help his stock in the next few months. Watching him play, it’s impossible not to notice how good and natural of a passer he is at 6-4. He also plays solid defense and is a pretty good athlete to boot. If he can find someone to help him with his outside shot, he could be outstanding in Chicago as long as he went there with the right mentality.

A lot of people are talking up Justin Williams of Wyoming these days, but from the 3-4 games I’ve watched of his, I still haven’t seen it myself. He’s a terrific athlete and shot-blocker, though, so someone could easily fall in love with him as long as he measures out OK.

Trent Strickland, Bobby Jones, Julian Sensley, Dwayne Mitchell and Ricky Woods are five guys that are all outstanding athletes and possess at least one NBA ready skill. I think at least one of them could end up being a “workout warrior” who flies up draft boards once teams get a close look at them. James White fits into this mold as well. You can read more about him above.

Observation of the Week:

This week's observation of the week had to be removed because of apparent plagiarism on the part of the person who emailed me. It had some key parts that were copied almost directly from another source. It's quite unfortunate that people have to rely on others to make observations. We were unaware of the apparent plagiarism when initially publishing the piece. Thanks to one of our readers for pointing that out.

Sort of answer:

Just to clarify, I am saving this spot at the end of every mailbag for the best email I got intended to “make me think”. Sometimes people want to do some persuasion, get something off their chest, make an observation about something basketball related, etc etc. Because I publish it doesn’t mean I agree with it necessarily, but I can still enjoy reading it since it made me take a second look and maybe look at things in a different light.

Regarding McNamara, it’s difficult for me personally to project him to the NBA. He’s probably going to have to be a point guard, and every time I see him he seems to be doing just the opposite to show that he is capable of running a team. I know the numbers say otherwise, but I’ve always been the kind of person that goes out and watches someone with my own eyes rather than relying on raw numbers or 2nd hand observations. His shot selection seems very bad, and you would think that if he was anywhere near as good a shooter as Dick Vitale and his fellow goons at ESPN would lead you to believe; he would be able to knock down more than 35% of his outside shots over his career. His athleticism to me is below average even for the college level, and is his defense. I think he is an interesting guy to bring into Portsmouth and maybe Chicago to take a look at how he looks outside of Syracuse’s system, but to me there are at least 20 PG’s I would take over him right now. Like I wrote in Steve Novak’s scouting report: Shooters haven’t fared as well as the often repeated “the NBA always needs shooters” manta would lead you to believe. Steve Kerr and Kyle Korver were drafted in the 50’s in their respective drafts, one of the best shooters in NCAA history in Salim Stoudamire went in the 2nd round, players like Matt Walsh and Matt Freije only had a cup of coffee in the NBA, and the list goes on and on.

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