The traditional center is a fascinating player in today’s NBA. The ability to switch pick-and-roll on the defensive end and space the floor on offense has become so coveted that interior focused big guys who can’t really move on the perimeter have become marginalized. Rim protectors still have a lot of value, as we saw with the drop-off Golden State experienced from Andrew Bogut to Festus Ezeli/Anderson Varejao, but guys who can’t guard on the perimeter have become matchup dependent role players, not 30+ minute a game guys.
Depending on how a given “traditional” 5 guards on the perimeter and just how much value they bring on offense they might be able to carve out a truer starting role, but all are fighting an uphill battle. I’m going to analyze the players in order of their DraftExpress rankings before re-ordering them into my own rankings.
This past Sunday the FIBA U19 tournament in Crete wrapped up with a US victory over a good Croatia team. Coming into the tournament I was most excited about getting to watch Croatia play the US due to the matchup between the US’s star-studded roster and Dragan Bender, a potential top-5 pick in next year’s draft. Unfortunately, due to a sneaker dispute between Bender and the Croatian team he didn’t play in the tournament. Nonetheless, there were still a fair amount of prospects I was interested in on the US, Greek, Croatian, Spanish, Chinese, and Turkish teams. For some of these guys I didn’t pay much attention to them while they were on the court, and others I watched every single minute of in this tournament attentively. Part 1 is on the non-team USA guys, part 2 will cover team USA and include rankings for the whole group. Continue reading