Sorting out the Late First Round

Sorting out the Late First Round

I’ve now officially written about 26 players in this years draft, all of which I expect to be drafted sometime in the first round. Maybe Christian Wood or Delon Wright will fall to the first couple picks of the second round, but all of the players previewed have been likely first rounders. The end of the first round is a bit murkier, and there’s a large group of guys with at least a decent chance of sneaking into the back end of things.

Looking at DraftExpress and Chad Ford’s top 100 and mock drafts, here are my quick thoughts on all the other guys appearing in either Draft Express or ESPN’s top-30 or most recent first round mock, and whether or not they deserve to go in the back end of the first round. In some instances, I’ve really scouted these guys, but others I’m making quicker judgments based off or 1 or 2 games, their statistical profiles, and the tools they possess.

Montrezl Harrell (DX 22, ESPN 26): Harrell is probably the biggest lock for the first round of this group, but he has slid considerably from the potential lottery pick status he retained for most of his college career. He’s got the length to make up for things, but he’s both undersized and underskilled for a traditional power forward. He’s going to be a good pick and roll finisher and has some versatility on D, but his lack of shooting or skill on offense combined with mediocre instincts and size give him a lot of risk of being a dreaded minus on defense and minus on offense. I never bought the lottery hype, and even 22nd is a little rich for my blood.

Draft Value: Late 1st/Early 2nd 28-34

Jonathan Holmes (DX 24, ESPN 54): DraftExpress sees the Texas 3/4 tweener as a potential late first rounder, but ESPN seems to take the wiser position here. He’s a stretch four without a consistent shot, and below average feel for the game on both ends. His movement on D is impressive, but undersized forwards who can’t shoot and can’t play make aren’t very appealing. If he was younger it might be worth taking a shot on him improving his shot and feel, but he’s a senior; if he goes in the late first it would be a huge mistake.

Draft Value: Late 2nd 49-59

Anthony Brown (DX 27, ESPN 50): Here again, DraftExpress is considerably higher on the college senior, but ESPN looks like they’re acting more prudently. Decent size for a 2 or 3 combined with a sweet stroke make it easy to envision him becoming a 3-and-D wing, but digging deeper things don’t look so great. His defensive STL/BLK numbers are really poor for a college senior; suggesting he doesn’t have the athleticism or instincts to compete at the NBA level. If his creation skills had been more consistent earlier in his career he might be more intriguing, but his profile doesn’t provide enough of the extra stuff to suggest he can actually cut it in the NBA. The size, shooting, and reputation with some scouts deserves a shot, but not in the late first round.

Draft Value: Late 2nd 44-54

Robert Upshaw (DX 29, ESPN 42): Upshaw’s off the court concerns bring him down considerably, but on the court he is clearly the best prospect of this group. Upshaw’s length, athleticism, and timing make him the best rim protector in this whole draft class, an incredibly value distinction. His touch on the offensive end around the rim is actually pretty good, and he’s great going up for lobs.

Mobility on defense and lack of other offensive skills or great basketball instincts are big flags for him, but his combination of rim protection and pick and roll diving gives him an easy path to NBA success. In a stronger late first round his character concerns might push him into the second, but in this draft his talent is probably too much to pass up. He’s the only player who I have ranked ahead of any of the guys I’ve already written about, and a playoff team would be smart to take a chance on him.

Draft value: Late 1st 20-30

Terry Rozier (DX 47, ESPN 27): Rozier is an athletically impressive guard who works hard on the defensive end, and has pretty good instincts as well. Unfortunately, he’s pretty small so his defense might not totally translate to the NBA. Offensively things aren’t so great, he doesn’t get in the lane or draw fouls well, he’s got poor vision for a point guard, his shot selection is really shaky, and his outside shot is inconsistent. If he can figure out his jump shot he’s got some hope as a 3-and-D Patrick Beverley type of mostly off ball point guard, but he’ll need to reign in the shot selection in addition to having the shooting and defense translate.

Draft Value: Early/Mid 2nd 35-45

Chris McCullough (DX 30, ESPN 28): Coming off a torn ACL means whatever team drafts him will need to have patience, but McCullough looks like a player who might be worth it. He was incredibly inconsistent in his short college career, meaning he flashed both a very good side and a very bad side. The good is that he’s an incredibly fluid athlete who can really make plays on the defensive end, finish around the rim, and actually has a decent jump shot and offensive skill.

The bad is that he’s got a poor feel on the offensive end at this stage, a still very inconsistent jump shot, and despite his athleticism only shot 57% around the rim in non-transition situations along with frequently drifting in and out of games. Draft models see him as a potential lottery pick, and even if Syracuse’s zone inflated his defensive numbers his combination of length, athleticism and potential skill make him worth a gamble in the late first.

Draft Value: Late 1st/Early 2nd 25-32

Jarell Martin (DX 39, ESPN 29): At first glance Martin is very likable; being highly skilled, athletic, and having a big strong body make him an interesting power forward prospect. However, he’s got T-Rex arms and his defensive numbers are indicative of someone who just doesn’t have the instincts to get by on that end of the floor. Offensively, he also lacks feel for the game and his jump shot isn’t consistent enough to be a true stretch four. His unique handles and athleticism for a man his size give him a little upside, but he profiles as a really poor defender with no one offensive skill that really translates to the NBA.

Draft Value: Early 2nd/Mid 2nd 32-42

Joseph Young (DX 53, ESPN 34): Of all the players who I’ve seen pop up as potential late-first rounders, Young is the one who shocked me the most. He’s an old and undersized point guard who doesn’t pass the ball at a point guard level and doesn’t play defense either. He’s a really good shooter and a dynamic scorer, but small college seniors who don’t even score efficiently at the college level don’t offer much potential as scorers in the NBA. If he could play D there would be some hope that he could be a 3-and-D type point guard like Rozier, but he’s never shown a commitment on that end or put up the defensive stats to suggest he can survive in the NBA. I don’t just not see him as a first rounder, I don’t see him as a second rounder either.

Draft Value: Undrafted 60+


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