NBA Draft Stock Watch: Conference Tournament Week (Part Two)

NBA Draft Stock Watch: Conference Tournament Week (Part Two)
Mar 13, 2007, 04:04 am
Greg Oden, 7-0, Freshman, Center, Ohio State
3 Game Average: 17 points, 12.3 rebounds, 4 blocks, 21/34 FG, 9/14 FT, 27.3 minutes


Jonathan Givony

Helping his team to a Big Ten tournament championship in a mostly extremely impressive three day stretch, Greg Oden showed all of his strengths and weaknesses as an NBA draft prospect. And while he didn’t dominate in the last game against Wisconsin, it was easy to notice the progress he’s been making over the past few months.

At the collegiate level, Oden is a man amongst boys, plain and simple. He has an NBA body, outstanding length, and the type of athletic ability that most 7-footers can only dream of. This was felt throughout the tournament in the work he did defensively in the paint and on the glass, where he dominated in certain stretches and really changed the game for his team.

Oden is extremely quick off his feet and possesses a phenomenal second bounce after his initial vertical explosion. This helped him pull down 16 offensive rebounds in the three game stretch, many of which were converted directly into made baskets through tip-ins or ferocious put-back dunks. He has outstanding touch on his put-back attempts, just being able to stick his hand in gracefully in a perfectly timed maneuver to tap in a loose ball into the basket, sometimes using the glass. Although ESPN and other highlight reel compilers got plenty of mileage out of the thunderous put-back he had coming out of absolute nowhere against Purdue late in the 2nd half, one particular play he made stood out even more above the rest in this tournament. Mid-way through the first half in the second game, Oden was stuck on the left side of the rim as an errant shot ricocheted off the right side of the glass. Without hesitating, Oden reached over from damn near the other side of the paint and used his amazing wingspan to tip the ball up and into the basket, almost effortlessly. It’s these kinds of plays that automatically put Oden into an exclusive class of talent as far as his combination of physical attributes and instincts go.

His terrific leaping ability, combined with his timing, also helped him block 12 total shots, although you never got the sense that he was risking his position on defense of for rebounds by rotating over aimlessly. Numerous times throughout the weekend you could see strange things happening around Oden’s territory in the paint that you normally don’t expect from opposing players. Three or four consecutive pump fakes, traveling calls, awkward misses off the top of the glass in transition, and plenty of frustrated 3-point heaves as teams just abandoned the notion of slashing towards the paint altogether. These are things that don’t show up in the box-score, but are a direct result of his presence as a tremendous intimidating force inside. As a defensive rebounder, he looked very active as well, going over the top of his man and often out his area to corral rebounds constantly with his big and very soft hands.

Offensively, Oden showed some nice things, particularly in the quarterfinals against Michigan, where he scored 22 points. He converted his jump-hooks at a very good rate, often throwing them high off the glass with his right hand using a very nice touch, sometimes from as far as 6-8 feet out. He also showed a devastating drop-step move, which put him point blank right at the rim in a situation that he will always convert at 100%. On another occasion, against Purdue, again setting up from the right baseline, he faked a move to his left shoulder and then spun quickly to his right towards the middle of the paint into a left-handed jump-hook from very close range, which he converted. The whole sequence couldn’t have taken more than a second at most to execute. These are exactly the kind of advanced moves that get you incredibly excited about his upside on this end of the floor.

In terms of weaknesses, Oden could certainly have done a better job in man to man (as opposed to team) defense going up against the 6-7 Carl Landry. The crafty senior post man took him out to the perimeter on a couple of occasions and capitalized on Oden’s reluctance to come out and guard him by draining a number of long mid-range jumpers. He still struggles when pulled out to defend the pick and roll, not sliding his feet well enough to hedge the screen and get back in a timely fashion. Landry also wasn’t shy about establishing deep position inside and scoring on him with his terrific base and excellent touch, finishing with 24 points on 9-16 shooting. Oden relies excessively on his shot-blocking tools in this area, giving up too much space in letting smaller post players get right where they want to, which for a player of Landry’s caliber (let alone a real NBA big man), is just not going to work. In the Wisconsin game, he was almost completely neutralized in the first half, going scoreless after being saddled with foul problems before recovering nicely in the decisive second half.

Offensively, while he showed some great flashes, there are still too many long stretches in which he is almost completely silent, not calling for the ball despite his obvious natural advantages over the weak frontcourts the Big Ten has to offer, and struggling to create offense for himself on a consistent basis when he does get the ball. He had quite a few awkward and mechanical moves with his back to the basket where he just bulldozed his smaller and weaker man over using his brute strength to somehow throw the ball in the rim or get to the free throw line, but it’s hard to see these types of moves translating over effectively to the NBA. He still needs to work on his counters to expand his arsenal of tricks with which he can finish with, but at age 18, he’s not doing poorly for himself at this point.

All in all, Oden is proving that the tremendous amount of hype he had coming out of high school was not unfounded, although he’s not the devastating offensive force that fellow #1 pick candidate Kevin Durant is at this point in his career. It’s fairly clear though that with his amazing physical attributes and outstanding intangibles, he will develop into a fantastic NBA player down the road, although just how good is still up for discussion.

Jeff Green, 6-9, Junior, SF/PF, Georgetown
Big East Semifinals: 30 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 blocks, 9-21 FG, 12-14 FT, 0-1 3P

Jonathan Watters

Georgetown's meteoric rise to a 2-seed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament has been fun to watch, and the Hoyas enter March Madness as perhaps the country's hottest team. Along with 7-footer Roy Hibbert, junior swingman Jeff Green has led Georgetown back to the top of the Big East. Despite averaging only 14 ppg in John Thompson III's slow-paced offensive system, Green was recently named Big East Player of the Year. He then tore through the Big East Tournament, scoring 30 huge points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a hard-fought win over Notre Dame and netting 21 in the championship game, a blowout win over rival contender Pittsburgh.

Opinions on Green's future tend to vary quite a bit, as he doesn't fit very well into an NBA positional mold. He doesn't have the body type or skill-set of a traditional small forward, but certainly isn't a pure post player, either. Green does most of his damage facing the basket, capable of operating in the post against smaller defenders, but more comfortable attacking in the midrange against larger opponents. His perimeter skill-set has improved over the past three years, and he really began to emerge as a scorer over the second half of Big East play this year. But at the same time, he still has a long ways to go on virtually every aspect of his perimeter game. Green is an adequate standstill shooter out to the 3-point line, but he can polish up his form and isn't a player that is going to force teams to guard him actively on most nights. His ball-handling and first step are very much works in progress as well.

But at the same time, there is a definite polish to Jeff Green's game. This comes in his ability to identify and take advantage of opportunities within Georgetown's Princeton-based system. As a player who can find a way to burn a defense in almost any situation, Green is a near constant threat to find one of his teammates on a back-cut, displaying excellent court vision and a true understanding of what his teammates are doing at all times on the offensive end. If he isn't whipping a pass into the lane through multiple defenders, he is waiting for cutters to clear the lane, leaving the paint vulnerable to a slashing move. Green doesn't exactly move like a true wing, but he is athletic and mobile enough to attack bigger defenders off the dribble. His court vision and ability to take what the defense gives him certainly help here.

Even though Green doesn't appear to be on the fast track to superstardom, it is easy to see him having success in a smaller lineup where he pulls defenders away from the basket and attacks from the high post. Much like Boris Diaw, he probably will be most effective against a bigger defender, and struggle a bit when forced to matchup with true wing forwards. But most of all, it is clear that Green knows how to play within the team concept. He certainly could play in a more selfish manner, as Georgetown's most talented offensive player, but he has accepted his role as facilitator, and the entire Georgetown program has benefited from it. After a deep NCAA Tournament run, it could be the time for Green to test the NBA waters.

It will take the right match, but this is a forward capable of making an immediate impact and filling a niche for a team interested in winning right away.

Caleb Green, 6-8, Senior, Oral Roberts
Mid-Con Championship: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 11/19 FG, 3-5 3P, 3-6 FT


Jonathan Givony

The 3-time Mid-Con player of the year seems to have a knack for putting on a show whenever his team is on national television, something that for Oral Roberts’ sake will hopefully extend to their first round matchup on Thursday with #3 seed Washington State.

The first time we saw Green this year, he registered possibly the most impressive overall performance of his phenomenal four year career, beating Kansas on the road while putting up 20 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals. He also hit 2 of his 3 attempts from behind the arc, which ended up registering for 33% of his made 3-pointers on the year. The next time Green was on TV, it was on the road against Arkansas, in a close game that got away from Oral Roberts midway through the second half. Green had 23 points, 15 rebounds and 3 steals in that game, shooting 0-1 from behind the arc. And in this last showing, Green was playing in what could have been the last game of his career, going up against Oakland in the Mid-Con Championship. He showed up in a big way for his team with 28 points and 9 rebounds, while knocking down 3 of his 5 attempts from behind the arc, accounting for another 50% of his made baskets from that range on the year.

At the end of the day, Green is an upgraded version of your classic 4-year, undersized mid-major power forward. He doesn’t have great size (6-8 might be stretching it), nor is he a great athlete, but he just knows how to get the job done, to the tune of nearly 2500 points in his career. He does it with superb versatility, being able to score equally as effectively with his back to the basket as he is facing the basket. He is extremely smart and a superb passer as you may have guessed by the 8 assists he dropped on the Jayhawks earlier this year, even if he has to be a little more selfish than he would probably prefer due to his extremely important role on Oral Roberts.

In the post, Green has an unorthodox jump-hook shot that he can throw in the basket with superb touch from anywhere within a 12 foot radius around the hoop. If his man takes away that move, he’ll gladly go to his secondary option, his turnaround jumper, or his third, a reverse pivot move that he executes with beautiful footwork. Not particularly quick, nor explosive, he uses his body intelligently to set himself up for fakes and crafty spin-moves to give himself a chance to put the ball on the rim—in which case it normally drops thanks to his terrific feel.

Facing the basket, Green is a very good ball-handler for a power forward. He likes to create mismatches and put pressure on the defense by taking his man out to the perimeter and then finding angles to make his way to the hoop off the dribble. This helps him get to the free throw line at a near-incredible rate, just under 11 times per game. That stat puts him in first place in that category amongst the 500+ NBA draft prospects in our database, and not by small margin.

As a rebounder, Green is also amongst some of the best rebounders in this draft class, pulling down 9.3 per game, despite his average size and athleticism. That tells you a lot about his great hands, timing and positioning, as well as the tenacity in which he plays in.

Defensively, it’s very hard to gauge him accurately, due to the fact that he just doesn’t seem to do anything except keep his arms in the air in order to stay out of foul trouble. Oral Roberts needs him on the floor for as many minutes as he can handle, and getting in foul trouble or being worn down by chasing players around screens is simply not an option for them. With that said, it’s not hard to tell that his lateral quickness is average at best, and that’s where many of the question marks about his pro potential really start to emerge—the position he’ll hypothetically defend at the next level.

Green has the body type of a power forward, despite likely being somewhere around 6-7, and would seemingly benefit greatly by shedding 10-15 pounds before he fully engages himself in the NBA draft workout process. Improving his shooting mechanics is also a must, possessing a fairly ugly, deliberate flat-footed stroke that is just not going to fly on the wing in the NBA. Despite shooting 5/9 from 3-point range in the three games we saw of his this year, he was only 1/8 in the other 30 games we didn’t, which tells us a lot more about his perimeter shooting ability.

All in all, despite his flaws, Green is the type of player a team could certainly fall in love with at some point of the draft process. His game is somewhat similar to that of Ryan Gomes, and his intangibles appear to be just as strong. Being an undersized power forward isn’t the curse it used to be a few years ago as Gomes and guys like Craig Smith can tell you, so Green will have a chance to stick if he plays well in as many NBA settings as he can, including Portsmouth, the NBA pre-draft camp, summer league and training camp, if he’s to make it that far. If he doesn’t, a six figure contract in Europe awaits him at virtually anytime, as his game is absolutely tailor made to that style of play.

Joey Dorsey, 6-9, Junior, PF/C, Memphis
3 game Average: 27.3 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 10 RPG, .6 BLKS, 1 STLS, 2 TOPG, 6-14 FG (43%), 14-27 FT (52%)

Eric Weiss

Memphis waltzed through the Conference USA tournament, and Dorsey may have gained a little more national notoriety by making some spectacular plays in the process. In the championship game, Dorsey racked up 9 points 13 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. Dorsey was able to draw 11 free throws out Houston’s defenders, many credited to his tenacious work on the offensive glass. Dorsey grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and took 27 free throws in just 3 Conference USA tournament games, a trend consistent with his regular season efficiency and per-minute production.

Even though his overall numbers may not be impressive, Dorsey’s size and athleticism are clearly intriguing. But it’s his per-minute rebounding numbers that really stand out.

Dorsey’s offensive/defensive rebounding numbers have been substantial all season and his production percentages have gone up across the boards for most of the team defensive categories. Fundamental shooting technique is still a concern with Dorsey, as his shooting percentages reflect. But the fact that Dorsey has the ability to draw fouls and get his team into the bonus is a plus even with his poor free throw percentage. Considering his minutes and the level of aggressiveness he plays with, Dorsey is pretty effective at avoiding fouls. Dorsey averages 2.8 fouls per game, or 4.3 per 40 minutes. But in that span of time, Dorsey is able to generate 12.9 combined offensive rebounds, steals, and blocks.

Dorsey is an “intangibles” guy all the way and has a long way to go, but if a team were looking to bring someone in to work with he might have a future as a dirty work player, ala Reggie Evans. Evans knows the game much better than Dorsey at this point, but it was hard work and growth that got him there. A good showing in the NCAA tournament should help gain Dorsey even more attention from those who love the spectacular. Dorsey should be able to carry that into his senior year, buckle down, and work on his shooting mechanics and overall decision making.

As a junior, Dorsey could exercise his pass to participate in the pre draft process, work out with a pro trainer, and go up against superior competition if he can afford to do so. An offseason dedicated to fundamental development this summer will pay dividends on the court next year and a level of familiarity with the draft process going forward.

Dorsey’s definitely a player to watch through the tournament and into his senior season, not because he has star potential, but because of his ability to develop into the type of do-all role player every team needs. Whether he puts in the work or not is another matter, but players who can affect the game without scoring and can play physical defense without fouling are worth keeping an eye on.

Darren Collison, 6-1, Sophomore, Point Guard, UCLA
Vs. California: 20 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 7 turnovers, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 5-15 FG, 7-9 FT, 3-10 3P


Arron Afflalo may be the dominant All-American on UCLA, but Darren Collison is the most valuable player for the Bruins. The lightning quick, talented sophomore point guard has been making UCLA’s offense run from day one of the season. Combining his excellent athletic ability with his good basketball IQ, Collison has grown into an All-American caliber player in only his second season out West. He was held in check for the first half against a Cal team that was playing some of its best basketball, only to explode in the second half and bring UCLA all the way back to force overtime.

For Collison, it all begins with his terrific first step. He is extremely hard to cover in one-on-one situations, and add in that UCLA is constantly setting screens for him when he has the ball and he is nearly impossible to stop from getting into the lane. Inside, Collison has shown a remarkable ability to finish against much bigger players despite being just 6-1 and a reed-like 165 pounds. He does a great job at not only maneuvering his body around defenders while in the air, but also puts great spin on the ball as he lays it up. He picks up a good percentage of his assists in the paint as well, recognizing when to dish to open teammates who are left open when he draws defenders.

Collison is very dangerous in transition, using his great court vision to hit teammates in stride for easy baskets, and pulling up off the dribble for jump shots. Despite his unorthodox mechanics, he can stop on a dime and knock down threes from NBA range and has a knack for doing it at big times, as he showed against Cal. Collison actually shoots better from the outside (45% from three) than he does from mid-range. He has a tendency to double clutch when he pulls up around the foul line, and this often throws his shot off slightly. He makes up for it with his fantastic ability to finish when driving to the basket and that has allowed him to shoot 48% on the season, a very high number for a wing player.

What is really exciting about Collison is how smart of a basketball player he is. UCLA runs plenty of screens for him when he has the basketball, and he is one of the best players in the country at using them to his advantage. Rather than simply trying to beat his man around the screen, something he can do most of the time, he will often reverse direction on his defender. This not only loses his defender, but forces his screener’s defender to pick him up. Collison is thus usually left with a one-on-one situation with a slower post player who he can take to the basket, or he has freed his teammate up for a cut to the basket. This is one of the reasons Collison finished second in the Pac-10 with 6 assists per game, as he is an extremely intelligent point guard.

Collison is perhaps at his best on the defensive side of the basketball, where he averages a Pac-10 best 2.3 steals per game. In addition to his fantastic speed and acceleration, he anticipates passes very well. He is fast enough to turn a routine pass into two points at the other end of the floor in a manner of seconds. Collison is very hard to beat off the dribble and almost impossible to screen completely. Even on plays where a screener is able to get a body of him, he is quick enough to usually recover in time to prevent his man an uncontested look or an open lane to the basket. Rebounding is his only real weakness defensively, where again with his small frame, he often resides on the perimeter looking to pick off long rebounds and spring the other way.

Should he choose to return for his junior year, Collison will not only be on many preseason All-American lists, he will also be projected in the fairly high in the NBA draft. He poses the necessary skills to be an undersized point guard at the next level: speed, great shooting ability, and most importantly, a very high basketball IQ. Collison has the potential to be a real playmaker at the professional level, and will make a fast break oriented team very happy one day. He would almost certainly be a first round pick this year and possibly go top-20 or higher if all goes well in the NCAA tournament, but is on track to graduate following his junior year and therefore could decide to stick around for another season.

Paul Harris, 6-5, Freshman, Guard, Syracuse
24 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 9/16 fg, 6/9 ft

Mike Schmidt

A highly touted recruit and native New Yorker, expectations ran high for Paul Harris from the moment he stepped on campus. There were many highs and lows for him this season, but he went out on top with a strong performance against Notre Dame in the Big East tournament. In just 22 minutes, Harris had his best game of the season, while desperately trying to bring the Orangemen back from a late deficit.

Throughout much of the game, Harris wasn’t a primary scoring option, but would come through with an occasional strong drive to the hoop, or a big rebound in traffic. Late in the game, Harris’ intensity on both ends of the court shined through. With 6 minutes remaining and Syracuse down by 8, Harris took the ball the length of the court after rebounding the ball, and forced Notre Dame to foul him in transition. He missed a jumper the next time down the floor, but stole the ball and scored a layup in transition again on the next play to make up for it. Over the last 6 minutes Harris scored 14 points, mostly on transition drives to the basket.

Harris has as good of a body as any wing player in the country, and uses his powerful build to finish over anybody inside. He has great quickness getting to the basket off the dribble, and uses his 40+ inch vertical for highlight finishes at times. In just 21 minutes per game this season, Harris managed to average 7 rebounds a game, thanks to his leaping ability as well as his excellent positioning. Shooting has always been the weakest part of his game, and an improved stroke would help him greatly next season. He only made 1 three pointer the entire season, and this will be scrutinized by scouts unless he can improve in this area. In high school, Harris played point guard quite a bit, and displayed the ability to create well for teammates with the ball in his hands. His role throughout his freshman year at Syracuse didn’t allow him to do this, but he still appears to have combo guard potential for the next level. Harris was also known as a great lockdown defender, something that is hidden by the Syracuse zone.

Next season, Harris’ role should increase significantly, and it should allow him to become more comfortable on the court knowing he can play through his mistakes. If he can continue to score using his slashing skills, and improve his jumper during the offseason, he will have a chance to become a first round pick at some point over the next two seasons. Team success would help as well, and Syracuse has a strong class of recruits that will arrive on campus in fall of 2007.

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