Trending Prospects (2/17/2011)

Trending Prospects (2/17/2011)
Feb 17, 2011, 01:21 pm
Kyle Singler, 6-8, Senior, Forward, Duke, 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 turnovers, 43.5% FG, 36.4% 3FG, 77.9% FT

Kyle Nelson

Kyle Singler has certainly lived up to his lofty high school ratings as far as Duke is concerned. With his senior season and college career winding down, Singler is again an essential piece of a talented team that is a key contender in the hunt for a second national championship. His NBA future is still very much a cause for debate, though.

Singler has decent size for an NBA combo-forward at 6-8 with a solid 230-pound frame and average length. As mentioned in previous articles, he is just an average athlete, however, without NBA-caliber explosiveness or quickness.

Though his numbers and percentages have fluctuated, Singler has progressed gradually as a scorer during his four years at Duke. He is averaging 17.5 points per game primarily as a spot-up shooter on just 20.2% of Duke's overall offensive possessions. While he is shooting only 36.4% from beyond the arc on six attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted, he still shows the same high release, quick release point, and fluid mechanics as in the past. On film, he is a streaky shooter who flourishes in rhythm, but who often displays shaky shot selection, which he will certainly need to improve as he transitions to a new role at the next level.

Though Singler is still a solid perimeter shooter, he is a less than efficient scorer inside of the arc. His 48.8% 2FG ranks him in the bottom half of our top 100 prospect rankings, but it represents his best showing since his freshman season. Singler displays a solid mid-range arsenal built on footwork and fundamentals, but he lacks the first step to excel as a slasher even at the collegiate level.

His lack of explosiveness does him few favors around the rim where he continues to struggle as a finisher, especially against long and athletic defenders. He also struggles to get to the line, where he attempts just 4.1 free throws per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Similarly, while his ball-handling skills have improved, he still drives right on almost 70% of his possessions.

Singler will likely play a similar role as a spot-up shooter at the next level and he has proven to be an outstanding role player for Duke throughout his career. This season, in particular, he has thrived as a capable and willing passer while turning the ball over a career low 1.9 times per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Similarly, his high energy level, effort, and focus on offense will likely help him overcome some of his athletic deficiencies in the NBA.

Despite being a solid man-to-man defender at the collegiate level, Singler will likely struggle at the next level due to his below average lateral quickness and length. As has been the case throughout his career, Singler struggles to stay in front of quick perimeter players and oftentimes lacks the strength and size to guard the post, which is a positional issue that will follow him to the next level.

Furthermore, Singler has regressed further as a rebounder, averaging just 6.9 rebounds to 40 minutes pace adjusted, numbers that are decent for a small forward and very poor for a power forward.

Though Singler is a proven winner and a relatively complete player at this point in his career, there are questions surrounding the extent of his upside, as he doesn't seem to have improved a great deal over the past few years. Not possessing the size or strength to operate effectively in the post, or the quickness and ball-handling skills to be a great shot-creator on the wing, there are some concerns about whether Singler is destined for a role as a one-dimensional player, one who is not particularly consistent at that particular dimension—shooting.

The fact that Singler has been a role-player essentially throughout his college career, doing so on a competitive and winning team throughout, will play in his favor, though. He is not the type of player who will need to make a huge transition in his style of play to make an impact. Furthermore, he's ready to contribute immediately, as he's a mature player both physically and mentally, who has been coached by one of the most respected men in basketball over the past four years. These things, along with his strong intangibles, could all look very attractive to a good team drafting in the second half of the first round looking for a solid piece to add to their rotation.

Nonetheless, scouts will be watching closely to see how well he performs down the stretch against elite competition and in individual workouts. While Singler's draft stock may not be as high as earlier in his career, his size, basketball IQ, and pedigree will surely endear him to NBA teams.

Iman Shumpert, 6'4, Junior, Guard, Georgia Tech
17.0 Points, 6.1 Rebounds, 3.5 Assists, 2.8 Steals, 2.4 Turnovers, 39.9% FG, 25.5% FT, 82% FT

Matt Williams

A former McDonald's All-American, Iman Shumpert has played a prominent role in Georgia Tech's backcourt since stepping on campus as a freshman. A combo guard with a scorer's mentality, Shumpert attempted to find a balance between shooting and passing playing next to the likes of Lewis Clinch, Gani Lawal, and Derrick Favors as an underclassman. Now a junior, Shumpert has gotten the opportunity to shoulder the offensive load as the clear cut first option for Paul Hewitt's rebuilding Yellow Jackets, seeing his shot attempts per-40 minutes skyrocket from 11.3 last season to 17.3 this season. Despite reinforcing many of our conceptions about his weaknesses offensively, this has been a breakout season on a number of levels for the Illinois native.

As we've stated in past reports, the intrigue around Shumpert as a potential NBA player revolves around his exceptional physical profile for a player seeing time at the point guard position. Standing 6'4 with an extremely rangy frame, Shumpert is fluid, agile, deceptively quick, and an explosive two-foot leaper.

Though Shumpert has certainly played quite a bit of point guard throughout his career at Georgia Tech, he's spent more time off the ball recently. In his first two years in Atlanta, he struggled with his shot selection, liked to dominate the ball, and proved fairly turnover prone looking to set the table for others. Now forced to score out of necessity as a junior, Shumpert's passing numbers have declined, but he's turning the ball over far less, getting to the line quite a bit more, and has gotten more and more efficient as the season has gone on, even if his sub 40% shooting remains disconcerting.

He still has a significant amount of work ahead of him in terms of learning how to play winning basketball—as evidenced by the lackluster season is Georgia Tech is having (11-14 overall, 3-8 in ACC), but we have seen some progress individually on Shumpert's part, even if it's been mostly in a losing effort. Georgia Tech's degenerate offense has plenty to do with this obviously, but Shumpert can't escape criticism for how bad his team looks in the half-court, since he's often the main culprit.

Shumpert's desire to have the ball in his hands, his team's need for leadership, and the subtle improvements he's made offensively have regardless generated a number of extremely impressive performances from the young guard, including a 30 point outburst against UNC and a recent 27 point outing against Virginia Tech.

Still a streaky perimeter scorer, Shumpert is far too reliant on his jump shooting ability, and often looks to pull-up when he puts the ball on the floor. 68% of his shot attempts are of the jump-shot variety, but he knocks down just 28.4% of them, and gets even worse when pulling up off the dribble, making 19.5% of his pull-up attempts. While he's hitting his free throws at a very respectable rate, Shumpert's shooting still haven't caught up with his solid mechanics and remain by far his biggest weakness, especially when you look at the way he operates on the floor sometimes—usually taking the first shot available to him, regardless of whether it's a good or bad attempt.

Shumpert's most consistent contributions come in transition, where he can use his speed and first step most effectively. A solid finisher who has become more adept at drawing contact and finishing plays himself instead of forcing tough passes, Shumpert still flashes good court vision on occasion, but has a great deal of room to improve offensively on the whole.

The same can't be said for his play on the defensive end, where he has absolutely flourished this season. Combining excellent length and lateral quickness with good intensity, Shumpert is simply exceptional one-on-one, rebounds the ball at an outrageous rate for a guard, and leads our database in steals by a pretty considerable margin. Extremely active with his hands and feet, Shumpert does a great job maintaining his balance and denying penetration and has the physical tools to defend multiple positions in the NBA.

While Shumpert certainly hasn't had a stellar offensive season despite his productivity, he's made a lot of key improvements in other areas. If he lands on a team with a coach that can help him hone his shot selection, eliminate the inefficient parts of his game (mainly his stubborn insistence for settling for pull-up jumpers), and play to his strengths, the improvements he's made as a slasher, rebounder, and defender could make him a very useful player at the NBA level.

Though he projects as a roleplayer due to his lack of jump shooting ability and pure point guard play, Shumpert has the ability to compete with any guard in the country in workouts on a good day, and is a clear-cut sleeper prospect to watch should he enter the draft.

Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3, Point Guard, Junior, Kansas
8.8 points, 4.7 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 2.7 turnovers, 46% FG, 76% FT, 31% 3PT

Joseph Treutlein

Playing the most amount of minutes on the #1 ranked team in the country, Tyshawn Taylor is having his best season as a collegian, even if he still has a fairly modest stat line. He is also leading his team in assists despite spending as much time off as on the ball, and is performing more consistently than he has in any of his previous seasons.

On the offensive end, Taylor is the team's primary point guard, usually bringing the ball up the court and getting the Jayhawks into their offense, making quick decisions and rarely unnecessarily holding onto the ball. Using his excellent size, good first step, quickness, and change of direction ability, Taylor has a knack for finding open spaces on the floor and can get by most college opponents with ease. He's done a good job developing his vision and feel over the years, showing nice ability to recognize double teams and find the open man. He shows excellent ability on drive-and-dishes when he keeps his head up, and also makes a lot of simple passes in the flow of the offense.

While Taylor's point guard abilities have grown noticeably in his time in college, he's clearly still developing and is prone to making errant decisions with his dribble at times. That said, playing in Kansas' offense where he spends so much time off the ball and is forced to make quick reads and rarely overdribble should definitely be helpful in his transition to the NBA, where he won't have to make the play style adjustment most college point guards do.

In terms of his own offense, Taylor has a decent groundwork of skills in all areas but doesn't really excel in any one. He shows the most potential with his ability to attack the rim due to his speed off the dribble combined with his body control and ability to change direction. He relies mostly on simple moves going to the basket, doing a great job utilizing screens to get the step on his man and showing a strong second gear in the lane.

While Taylor shows no problem getting past his man and getting virtually wherever he wants on the floor, his ability to finish both at the rim and in the lane is still a work in progress. At the basket, Taylor doesn't show the greatest elevation in the half-court and shows problems finishing over weak-side defenders. He has tried to compensate this by developing his array of floaters and runners in the lane, which in the long term should be to his advantage, but at the moment he doesn't finish any of them with consistency. To his credit, his speed and potential with pick-and-rolls should play better in the more widely spaced NBA, where he should be able to get some less crowded forays to the basket.

As for Taylor's perimeter game, he has a respectable jump shot with college three point range, but it's never been a big staple of his game (just 1.2 attempts this season), and his efficiency from behind the arc has always hovered in the low to mid 30's. He shows excellent elevation on his shot with a high and quick release, but his mechanics aren't very polished and he has a strong tendency to jump into his shot. The most immediate gains to his offensive game would likely come from taking this segment of his game to the next level, and will likely be a big priority for him after the season ends.

On the defensive end is where Taylor is perhaps most impressive, as he has ideal physical tools for a point guard with his 6'3 frame and excellent lateral quickness and instincts. His fundamentals are very good and he shows great tenacity on this end, often getting into his stance well past the three-point arc. He's prone to overextending himself at times and can bite on pump fakes, but when he's zoned in he's very tough to shake off the dribble while he's also consistent with getting his hands up to contest shots.

Looking forward, Taylor's key role on the best team in the country is going to give him plenty of important exposure in March and April, and the learning curve he's shown at point guard over his three seasons should be attractive to NBA teams in spite of his unimpressive stat line. The fact that he's a two-way player with great physical tools and flashes some very impressive skills at times will also help, and he could see himself creep into some first round discussions as the draft draws nearer, depending on which other players decide to enter their name.

Elias Harris, 6-8, Sophomore, Power Forward, Gonzaga
11.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.9 turnovers, .6 steals, .3 blocks, 51% FG, 75% FT, 34% 3P

Derek Bodner

Elias Harris finished up his freshman campaign with an impressive 24 point performance against Syracuse in the NCAA tournament, capping off an extraordinary -- albeit somewhat inconsistent -- freshman season that seemingly put him in line to be a potential first round pick. Since surprisingly deciding to return to school last year, Harris has had one setback after another, creating a significant amount of uncertainty about his NBA prospects heading forward.

Harris' struggles began during the offseason, as he struggled to find playing time with the German national team. He then suffered a series of injuries early in the year that limited him early on and caused him to gain a significant amount of weight -- a shoulder injury before the season began and an achilles injury 5 games into the season. The injuries appeared to affect his athleticism, conditioning and energy-level, all of which were amongst his main selling points last season.

Furthermore, the loss of senior Matt Bouldin has created a void in the Bulldogs offense. The loss of Bouldin's playmaking abilities hasn't been fully replaced, and combined with inconsistent point guard play -- Demetri Goodson has never played the role of a major shot creator, junior college transfer transfer Marquise Carter hasn't had the type of impact the Bulldogs had hoped, and David Stockton is a redshirt freshman -- has resulted in fewer open looks for Harris.

Harris still has the physical profile that made him such an intriguing prospect, with good size, length, and a frame that looks like it should fill out fine for an NBA small forward. When healthy, he's an above average athlete with good coordination and an excellent second jump, which along with his length makes him a good finisher inside. Still, he's struggling to regain the same explosiveness that made him such a force around the basket last season, and his intensity level doesn't seem to be the same.

Harris still displays a good collegiate post game, ranking in the 84th percentile in efficiency according to Synergy Sports technology. He's shown some improvement in his post moves, flashing an occasional quick spin move over and drop step to go along with his right handed hook shot, and does a good job of playing to, and through, contact.

That being said, Harris is undersized to be primarily a post scorer in the NBA, and improving his perimeter game was imperative to making the transition successfully. Harris' jump shot has not made much progress this year. Part of that can be explained by a change in the quality of looks he's getting, as he's attempting more contested jump shots and jump shots off the dribble than last year, areas of his game that aren't yet fully developed.

Still, Harris has struggled to reproduce last year's success from the perimeter even when getting quality looks. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Harris has dropped from 1.68 points per shot on uncontested catch and shoot jump shots down to 0.882 this year, a drastic drop off.

After shooting 45.1% on three pointers last year (albeit on limited attempts), that number has fallen down to 34.1% this year. While never possessing picture perfect form on his jumper, the loss of effectiveness is disconcerting for a player who needed to prove his ability from the perimeter. Harris struggles through bouts of inconsistency with getting his feet set and with his follow through, and it has shown thus far in the results.

Further hampering his productivity from the perimeter is his ball-handling, an area Harris still needs considerable improvement if he's going to make the transition to the small forward position in the NBA. Outside of using his left hand to setup his spin move back to the right, Harris doesn't do much driving to his left. At this stage in his career, Harris is neither proficient at creating for himself or for others, and has lost a degree of quickness on top of that.

Another reason for his drop-off in productivity has been his inability to get to the free throw line at the same rate he did last year. Harris did a great job of drawing fouls last year, averaging 7.1 free throw attempts per 40 minutes, pace adjusted. While his free throw percentage has gone up fro 67.6% to 75% this year -- a good sign, for sure -- that number has fallen down to 4.8 free throw attempts per 40 minutes, pace adjusted. This is an area where his injuries, and the slow start and weight issues that may have contributed towards, may be showing up.

Harris uses his size well on the on the defensive glass, showing a high motor and doing a good job of tracking balls and using his good hands to secure rebounds. His technique could stand to improve some, as he at times gets caught failing to put his body on a man and boxing out as effectively as he could. This is an area that he should be able to improve upon, and he should be an average rebounder for a small forward at the next level.

Defensively is another area that's not so cut and dry when projecting Harris to the next level. His combination of size, length, and athleticism makes him an intriguing defender from a tools perspective, and his work ethic should lend itself well in this regard. That being said, his technique is sometimes in question, as he can get caught over rotating and biting on pump fakes, and he must prove he can move his feet well enough laterally to defend NBA level wing players, which is currently an area of concern. He must continue to play with the same chip on his shoulder that we saw last year, something that he's not really doing right now, likely partially due to his injury struggles.

For a player who was likely a first round draft pick had he entered the draft last season, many will question Harris' decision (along with those who advised him) to return, and rightfully so. Not much has gone right for the German prospect since last season ended. While there are a combination of factors -- mostly legitimate -- that have combined to explain his drop in productivity, for a player who last year had a ways to go to prove he could play on the perimeter in the NBA, this season has raised more questions than answers for him as a prospect.

Especially concerning for him is the fact that he's the same age as many NCAA seniors in this year's draft class, something that will surely affect the way NBA teams view him. While it's not impossible Harris returns to his previous lofty draft status -- one only has to go back to Wesley Johnson last year to look at a substantially older player (for his class) who improved his draft stock dramatically in a short amount of time-- Harris has a great deal of work ahead of him. May will point to him as the classic case of knowing when to strike while the iron was hot, and now it's up to him to prove them wrong.

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