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Old 06-14-12, 10:34 PM
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Draft loaded with potential star bigs

Draft loaded with potential star bigs
Talented big men are available in the 2012 draft, but they carry great risk
Updated: June 14, 2012, 5:08 PM ET
By Ric Bucher | ESPN the Magazine



Andre DrummondJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesAndre Drummond has the potential to be great, but will he put it all together?

So your team needs a big man. You have dreams of one that could be the next Dwight Howard, and your team is not the New Orleans Hornets. Who should you be pulling for your favorite NBA braintrust to select in the 2012 NBA draft?

A canvass of NBA personnel preparing for the draft produced a group of candidates and accompanying reactions that reflect both what a mixed bag this year's crop of big men are -- after No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, that is -- and how swingman-strong this draft is.

No GM would guarantee that any one of the following three big men is a lock even to be an All-Star, much less a cornerstone player of Howard's ilk. The combination of so many lottery teams already having a solid big man and a looming cap crunch that will coax teams to play it safer in the draft -- it being too expensive to sign a role-playing veteran to do what a solid draft pick could at the rookie salary scale -- means the first big man (after Davis) may not be taken until the bottom half of the lottery.

All that said, remember all the questions about DeMarcus Cousins that resulted in him sliding to fifth two years ago? How many teams would love to rethink that one? Or Amare Stoudemire, who may be a financial burden with bad knees now but was a gold-mine pick at No. 9 in 2002. The point being, there's reason to dream big, no matter how checkered the choices might appear. So, if your team needs size and you're good with it gambling a high draft choice for a shot at something special, this is the high-risk/high-reward order:

Andre Drummond, center, Connecticut

It's been forgotten that at one point last summer Drummond was supposed to challenge Davis for top-pick status. Then, UConn went 20-14 and was quickly dispatched from the NCAA tournament by Iowa State, as Drummond mustered just two points and three rebounds (and four blocked shots) in 26 minutes. If Drummond has some in the NBA believing he could still live up to the early hype, it's a combination of what he did in high school -- leading his team to the 2011 national prep title -- and the circumstances surrounding the Huskies' program this season. Not only did coach Jim Calhoun miss extended time due to illness, but as one Eastern Conference executive noted, "He played with two crazy point guards who didn't always pass the ball," referring to Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright.

Idan Ravin, the private player development coach known as the "Hoops Whisperer," has been working with Drummond since he declared for the draft. Ravin said he chose to work with Drummond because he believes he is much better than he had the chance to show in the Huskies' system.
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ESPN the Magazine's Ric Bucher sits down with Idan Ravin, the "Hoops Whisperer" who is working with UConn big man Andre Drummond. Listen here.

Dominating in today's NBA requires a particular size and athleticism, arguably more than ever before. There's just no way around competing in a game that is increasingly played at a faster tempo with more direct-line attacks at the basket. If a big doesn't have the requisite length to protect the rim and the agility to show and recover on pick-and-rolls, it's practically impossible to keep him on the floor when it matters most. It's why once-stocky centers, such as Roy Hibbert and Kendrick Perkins, have slimmed down so dramatically. Drummond already has vowed to drop 20 pounds off his 7-foot frame. Even at 279 pounds, though, his agility and sprint speed were eye-catching at the draft combine.

"He has the most potential and the most risk," says the Eastern Conference executive. "He has big hands, and that's usually a good sign for a big man who you look to make athletic plays above the rim. But he never put together an entire game at UConn where he looked like a top pick. Whether he becomes Howard or Kwame Brown will depend on whether he can develop consistency in dominating with his athleticism the way Dwight does."

Meyers Leonard, center, Illinois

He's the opposite of Drummond, in that he was projected as a late first-round pick last summer and has moved up the draft chart as other big men were eliminated from NBA draft boards. Like Drummond, he has been discounted because his school had a lackluster season (17-15) and coaching issues (Bruce Weber was fired). But one NBA draft scout tagged him as "the sleeper of the draft," perhaps in more ways than one.
[+] EnlargeMeyers Leonard
Ben Woloszyn/US PresswireMeyers Leonard could be the steal of the draft.

The first, of course, being that he hasn't received anywhere near the attention of nearly a half-dozen other draft-eligible post players. The second is that Leonard seems to be dozing on his own potential. His offensive arsenal is far better than Drummond's, and he plays harder.

"He's a guy who has all the tools and a good upside, but I don't even think he sees himself that way," the scout said. "He's going to have to get his feet wet and then he'll realize, 'I can play with these guys.' He has a low-post and a face-up game and I believe he can pass out of double teams once he develops enough to command them."

But there's equal concern about how a lottery-quality big man could allow his team to lose 12 of its last 14 games, and the fact that he didn't dominate a single game from start to finish in top-pick fashion. Not having demonstrated in high school that he could dominate on a national level puts him behind Drummond on the dice-rolling list, even though scouts lauded his effort level as being consistently higher.

Thomas Robinson, forward, Kansas

The risk in Robinson becoming a low-block force is not with his effort but his size. He actually surprised some NBA executives by measuring as big as he did -- 6-9, 244 -- but it still makes him like David West without the requisite jump-shooting range. "He's going to be a small 4," said one scout.

Scouts say that the Jayhawks, nevertheless, ran much of their offense through him, but at the pro level he is going to have to adjust to being more of an "effort and hustle" player, at least initially, because he has considerable work to do to develop the requisite tools. His sprinting speed is excellent, but it has to be a concern that he was significantly slower in the agility test than both Leonard and Drummond.

Robinson pointing out that his college stats were better than Davis' and that he should be in the running for the top pick doesn't ease concerns about how he expects to be used in the NBA. "Can he make that transition back to making effort plays after having the ball so much at Kansas?" one executive said. "That's the question. He's not ready for you to play through him at the NBA level."

Surprisingly, no GM, scout or executive put North Carolina's Tyler Zeller among their top three as a potential cornerstone big man. Most believe he could very well come into the league and initially be more effective than Drummond, Leonard and Robinson, but that he is much closer to his peak ability right now than any of them. "He is what he is," said the scout. "A quicker version of Spencer Hawes."

That makes Zeller a safer bet -- but this list is not about that. It's about betting it all on potential and, in time, watching all the question marks about your high-risk pick turn into All-Star appearances, not regret.
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  #2  
Old 06-14-12, 11:09 PM
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Every draft is filled with potential star big man. 90% of them and up as big time failures, at least if you look at the predictions going into the draft each year.
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Old 06-15-12, 06:02 PM
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I have a good feeling that we'll be in for a pleasant surprise on draft day. I might be in the minority, but I'm expecting the Spurs to pull another rabbit out of the hat again this year. I won't make any predictions on who they'll draft or trade for, but I just know the front office has something up their sleeve.
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Old 06-16-12, 08:22 AM
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Doesn’t matter the Spurs will draft a G-F shorter than 6’8”.
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Old 06-16-12, 11:28 AM
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I thought we stupidly traded away our draft pick this year!
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Old 06-16-12, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by xmas97 View Post
I thought we stupidly traded away our draft pick this year!
How was it stupidly traded away????????????
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Old 06-16-12, 04:22 PM
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You just never know what the front office might have up their sleeves. Here is a trade idea that I saw on another board that sounded intriguing to me:


One possible trade to have a draft pick could be Splitter and Bonner and possibly Neal for Blatche and the 3 draft choice.
Washington absolutely wants to eliminate the presence of Blatche from the team and could love the chance to not pay Blathe fot the next three years...

They're not gonna take the option in Lewis contract so they don't have a stretch four and Bonner can have some value for them (after all, he's been one of the best 3 point shooters in the decade, and a slashing point man like Wall is ideal for giving him open looks).
They need a, possibly cheap, 2 guard that can take the outside shot having just Crowford under contract (so Neal become highly valueable for them; they can try to develop Crowford and gain another deadly shooter for the Wall's open looks).

They already have Nene in their front line to be paired with the longer and co-citizen Splitter : on paper that's a perfect combination of bigs, and a 6 bigs like Nene, Splitter, Seraphin, Booker, Vesely and Bonner looks like a crew as young and promising as nobody in the eastern conference).

I see a win win for both teams, also if we're gonna amnesty Blatche by the minute he's traded to us (don't think Pop wants to risk trying to train him).

It gives us 6/7 more millions of cap space (at the cost of the amnesty) and, more than everything, gives us the chance to take a possible second building block for our re-building on the fly, strong enough to contribute by the minute he wears silver and black, al la Leonard.
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Old 06-16-12, 10:23 PM
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If you trade for Blatche, you can't use the amnesty provision on him.
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Old 06-17-12, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas82 View Post
You just never know what the front office might have up their sleeves. Here is a trade idea that I saw on another board that sounded intriguing to me:


One possible trade to have a draft pick could be Splitter and Bonner and possibly Neal for Blatche and the 3 draft choice.
Washington absolutely wants to eliminate the presence of Blatche from the team and could love the chance to not pay Blathe fot the next three years...

They're not gonna take the option in Lewis contract so they don't have a stretch four and Bonner can have some value for them (after all, he's been one of the best 3 point shooters in the decade, and a slashing point man like Wall is ideal for giving him open looks).
They need a, possibly cheap, 2 guard that can take the outside shot having just Crowford under contract (so Neal become highly valueable for them; they can try to develop Crowford and gain another deadly shooter for the Wall's open looks).

They already have Nene in their front line to be paired with the longer and co-citizen Splitter : on paper that's a perfect combination of bigs, and a 6 bigs like Nene, Splitter, Seraphin, Booker, Vesely and Bonner looks like a crew as young and promising as nobody in the eastern conference).

I see a win win for both teams, also if we're gonna amnesty Blatche by the minute he's traded to us (don't think Pop wants to risk trying to train him).

It gives us 6/7 more millions of cap space (at the cost of the amnesty) and, more than everything, gives us the chance to take a possible second building block for our re-building on the fly, strong enough to contribute by the minute he wears silver and black, al la Leonard.
The Spurs can't amnesty Blatche and it would be cheaper to amnesty Bonner and move Splitter cost wise. I think a more realistic trade is Bonner and Splitter for Blatche, the draft rights to Emir Preldzic, 3million cash and picks #35 and #47. Only because you got the Wizards taking that #3 pick in this type of draft. I can see them move back but not totally out of the lottery. I'm not that big on Blatche but the Spurs can get their 2011-2012 luxury tax bill paid for and add two decent secound rounders. Blatche has potential and the rights to a very decent Euro SF makes it worth the Spurs pulling the trigger with the additional financial/draft considerations. The Spurs can sit on those picks or trade up. Also to note on Emir Preldzic that he was part of the package used by the Cavs to trade for Antawn Jamison. He was drafted in 2009. This player can shoot and pass. He has the ability to excel and play in an NBA pro offense and competes in high level competition in the Euro League. I do think the Wizards would love to move Blatche in a heartbeat but not at the cost of a premium lotto pick. Lewis has a huge buyout so he is not an amnesty target believe it or not. Which opens it up for the Wizards to use it on AB. Wizards could amnesty Blatche but at 3 more years that's a high cost to pay. Having those potential two second rounders could vault the Spurs back in the first round and still maybe keep their own #59 pick in the process. It's a winner for both sides.
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Old 06-17-12, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by katyspursfan View Post
If you trade for Blatche, you can't use the amnesty provision on him.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WILLTHETHRILL View Post
The Spurs can't amnesty Blatche and it would be cheaper to amnesty Bonner and move Splitter cost wise. I think a more realistic trade is Bonner and Splitter for Blatche, the draft rights to Emir Preldzic, 3million cash and picks #35 and #47. Only because you got the Wizards taking that #3 pick in this type of draft. I can see them move back but not totally out of the lottery. I'm not that big on Blatche but the Spurs can get their 2011-2012 luxury tax bill paid for and add two decent secound rounders. Blatche has potential and the rights to a very decent Euro SF makes it worth the Spurs pulling the trigger with the additional financial/draft considerations. The Spurs can sit on those picks or trade up. Also to note on Emir Preldzic that he was part of the package used by the Cavs to trade for Antawn Jamison. He was drafted in 2009. This player can shoot and pass. He has the ability to excel and play in an NBA pro offense and competes in high level competition in the Euro League. I do think the Wizards would love to move Blatche in a heartbeat but not at the cost of a premium lotto pick. Lewis has a huge buyout so he is not an amnesty target believe it or not. Which opens it up for the Wizards to use it on AB. Wizards could amnesty Blatche but at 3 more years that's a high cost to pay. Having those potential two second rounders could vault the Spurs back in the first round and still maybe keep their own #59 pick in the process. It's a winner for both sides.
After reading up on it, I'm aware that you can't amnesty Andray Blatche if you trade for him, but I will say this......don't ever underestimate a team's desire to get rid of a bad contract. In 2010, the Sixers were willing to let go of the #2 pick to whoever would take back Elton Brand's contract, but they couldn't find a taker. And let's not forget that the Spurs were willing to sacrifice Tony Parker last year just to get rid of Richard Jefferson.
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Old 06-17-12, 04:37 PM
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After reading up on it, I'm aware that you can't amnesty Andray Blatche if you trade for him, but I will say this......don't ever underestimate a team's desire to get rid of a bad contract. In 2010, the Sixers were willing to let go of the #2 pick to whoever would take back Elton Brand's contract, but they couldn't find a taker. And let's not forget that the Spurs were willing to sacrifice Tony Parker last year just to get rid of Richard Jefferson.

All what you said was true. Brand's contract I would say is really hard to swallow at that time. Blatche's deal is not that bad in my view. Should be interesting either way.

Last edited by WILLTHETHRILL; 06-17-12 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 06-17-12, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by WILLTHETHRILL View Post
All what you said was true. Brand's contract I would say is really hard to swallow at that time. Blatche's deal is not that bad in my view. Should be interesting either way.
Like I said earlier, I strongly believe that we are all in for a big pleasant surprise for the Spurs on draft night.
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Old 06-17-12, 05:43 PM
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I would keep blatche. Why not. He doesn't have to be a starter. But a big off the bench that has skill. Don't underestimate the good locker room the spurs have. It could help help him out tremendously. Them trade blair to get vac into the end of round one.

Sign hawes.

Bigs;

PF: duncan, blatche, lorbek
C : hawes, drummond, plumlee
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Old 06-17-12, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by mataipaepae View Post
I would keep blatche. Why not. He doesn't have to be a starter. But a big off the bench that has skill. Don't underestimate the good locker room the spurs have. It could help help him out tremendously. Them trade blair to get vac into the end of round one.

Sign hawes.

Bigs;

PF: duncan, blatche, lorbek
C : hawes, drummond, plumlee
If the front office can pull that off.......WATCH OUT!!
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Old 06-17-12, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Thomas82 View Post
If the front office can pull that off.......WATCH OUT!!
So splitter, bonner, and neal to washinton for the third pick and blatche.

Then trade blair, corey joseph, lorbek and our 2nd round pick this year to cleveland for pick 24 and 34. Cleveland also has the 33rd pick too.

Then we resign danny green, patty mills, de colo, and boris diaw.

Our free agent signing is spencer hawes.

Draft:

1. Andre drummond PF/C
DraftExpress NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Andre Drummond, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook

1. Fab melo C
DraftExpress NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Fab Melo, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook

2. Hollis thompson SG
DraftExpress NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Hollis Thompson, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook

Roster:

PG: parker, mills, de colo
SG: green, ginobli, thompson
SF: leonard, jackson
PF: duncan, diaw, blatche
C : hawes, drummond, melo
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Old 06-18-12, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by xmas97 View Post
I thought we stupidly traded away our draft pick this year!
We got rid of RJ who would be here the next year or so and GOT JAX! How was that stupid? We would get what pick anyways? Most of the times it's a crap shoot and the later first round pick is either stashed or not nearly good enough to play in the NBA!
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Old 06-18-12, 01:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Rzarector7 View Post
We got rid of RJ who would be here the next year or so and GOT JAX! How was that stupid? We would get what pick anyways? Most of the times it's a crap shoot and the later first round pick is either stashed or not nearly good enough to play in the NBA!
We would have had the last pick in the 1st round (#30) if not for the trade. Because we had an identical record to Chicago, we had to flip a coin and ended up losing the toss. In that trade with Golden State, we got an upgrade talent-wise, and a better fit for the team, and basically sold our 1st round pick to them for $11 million.
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