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Stephen Graham NBA Draft Scouting Report
by:
May 14, 2005
Strengths
At a chiseled 6-6, 215 pounds, Graham already has an NBA body, complete with a pair of huge arms, wide shoulders, large hands and a very strong lower body. This is always the first thing mentioned by players who have went up against him in high school, college and lately in NBA workouts, just how tough he is to put a body on and how physically impressive he is. With his strength and tenacity, he is not a fun matchup for most players to go up against. He has a prototypical body for an NBA shooting guard, and is even big enough to log some minutes as a small forward without giving up too much.

Graham is also an excellent athlete, much like his brother Joey, but much more fluid in his movements. Watching him move with or without the ball in his hands, it's hard not to be impressed by how much bounce he has in his step. He is extremely quick off his feet and possesses a very nice vertical leap. His lower body strength and good body control make him more of a long jumper (which comes to play in the many memorable soaring put-backs he had at Oklahoma State) than a high jumper, but he can get off the floor to snatch rebounds, alter shots and dunk just fine.

What makes Graham somewhat of an intriguing prospect for the next level, despite his paltry production in college, is his versatility. Restricted almost exclusively to the post at Oklahoma State, he never really got a chance to showcase any of this versatility, but he actually played PG throughout high school and for most of his first two seasons in college before transferring to Oklahoma State. Watching him handle the ball on the perimeter, it's not hard to see that his PG instincts are still there. He is a very creative passer who understands ball movement and is very good at setting the table for his teammates just where they like it. He makes crisp passes and has a knack for anticipating things and finding the open man. He's an unselfish player, probably too unselfish actually, which hurts his NBA potential. He is very good moving with and without the ball, picking his spots well and understands where to place himself in the offense to maximize his time on the floor.

His ball-handling is very solid, and thanks to this attribute combined with his athleticism and PG skills, he is excellent on the drive and dish. Like his brother Joey, he is a solid mid-range shooter, but he's a little bit better at utilizing NBA type moves to free himself up from 14-16 feet to get his shot off, especially strong body fakes to get his man off balance and then pull up for the mid-range jumper.


Weaknesses
At the college level, Graham was a position-less player who was thrown into the post mainly because there was nowhere else his very conservative coach felt he could trust him at. Because of that, he never really got to show scouts what he could do in the perimeter with his ball-handling skills and PG instincts, or at least not on a consistent basis. Watching tape of him, it looks like he was on a very short leash at Oklahoma State. He often looks like was playing the game somewhat tentatively, trying harder not to make mistakes and mask his weaknesses rather then use his skills by playing to his strengths to help his team. He did not seem to have a defined role at Oklahoma State, and this came to play in his tentative decision making skills, which often led to turnovers. His numbers in college were far from impressive, only logging 18 minutes per game in his senior year.

His perimeter shooting is probably the biggest thing he will need to show improvement on to really be considered a serious prospect for the next level. His shooting mechanics looked poor, so this is something he'll have to correct quickly if he's going to make a team. On the year, he only hit 15 three pointers, although on a very good percentage (45.5%), so he's going to have to show some that he can knock down the long range shot on a decent clip in NBA workouts and summer league to give himself a shot at making a team.

Defensively, he has some work to do to show that he can guard his position at the next level, especially man to man. He has all the physical attributes and then some to be an excellent defender, but for some reason he is below average in this aspect of the game. His court awareness is poor, not being used to guarding the perimeter because of his role in college and struggling to stay in front of his man. This did not endear him even one bit to Coach Sutton at Oklahoma State, with every blown defensive assignment almost always leading to a hasty send off to the bench.


Competition
Played his first two seasons at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Transferred along with his brother Joey to Oklahoma State. Reached the NCAA Final Four last season with OSU.

Outlook
Wasn't considered by most to even be an NBA prospect until early workouts in May began to open up some eyes. That word got around to DraftExpress as well, mostly from teams he's worked out for and players he went up against. The buzz around him is clearly growing, to the point that he might have a shot at getting into Chicago if enough NBA teams are interested in putting him on their list.

This whole situation (career, physical attributes, style of play) is eerily reminiscent of Damien Wilkens from Georgia last year (power forward in college as well), but without the bloodlines to give him that extra little nudge. Wilkens played very well in Chicago which led him to be invited to Seattle's training camp eventually and make the team on a non guaranteed contract, even playing extremely well when injuries forced the Sonics to use him.

If the NBA draft was more like the NFL draft, a team would almost certainly pick him based off the fact that he has the physical characteristics, superb athleticism and raw skills to play a position (SG) that he is suited for and is in demand in the pros. He's the type of player that could be valuable after a year or so of sitting on someone's bench and working on his perimeter skills. Unfortunately most NBA teams aren't that patient.

Comments
Bio photo credit: James Schammerhorn, Daily O'Collegian.

Facts
Graduated with a degree in aviation management, and both him and his twin brother Joey are licensed pilots.

 


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