Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2010 Top 10 SFs (6-10)

The following is a list of the number 6-10 small forward prospects in the 2010 NBA Draft, along with their current NBA comparison, their main strength, biggest weakness, career outlook, and ideal situation.

6. Quincy Pondexter (Washington) – Josh Childres

Strength: Maturity. Along with Damion James and Sherron Collins, Pondexter is one of only three seniors who have a chance of being picked in the first round. He had a very consistent four year career at Washington, where he became one of the best scorers in the country.

Weakness: Exposure. Pondexter was never a huge name, and at Washington he was overshadowed by the likes of Spencer Hawes, Jon Brockman, and more recently highly touted freshman Abdul Gaddy.

Verdict: Pondexter may not have superstar potential, but he could be a steal for someone in the late 20's or early 30's. He'll be able to come in and add eight points per game as a rookie, with an expanded role increasing his output.

Best Fit: Someone is bound to fall in love with Pondexter, and I hope that like Marcus Thornton (Hornets) and Wesley Matthews (Jazz) last year, that team lands him on draft day, because if he's given an opportunity, Pondexter will almost certainly make the most of it.

7. Gordon Hayward (Butler) – James Jones

Strength: Basketball IQ. Hayward is probably number two in this class in terms of basketball IQ, right behind Evan Turner. He understands the nuances of the game and does a great job of getting his teammates involved.

Weakness: Physicality. Despite Hayward's size and offensive skill, he'll likely be a liability early in his pro career due to his lack of strength and physicality. I won't be surprised to hear the term "soft" used to describe Hayward more than once.

Verdict: For some reason, I think of Hayward in the same light as former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Each is undeniably skilled, with a defined set of physical limitations. However, it is the intangible aspect of each player's game that is his best asset. Unfortunately, I think the speed of the NBA game will limit Hayward's ability to read and react like he did so effectively at Butler. It pains me to say, because I like the kid, but I just don't see his skills translating well to the NBA. With that said, I think Hayward would be an unbelievably perfect fit for the European style of play.

Perfect Fit: I've had Hayward slotted in with San Antonio at #20 in my mock draft, and I think that's a good fit because Greg Popovich knows better than to ask too much of Hayward athletically. As tepid as I am about Hayward's prospects, if he could make it anywhere, he could make it in San Antonio.

8. Devin Ebanks (West Virginia) – Earl Clark

Strength: Potential. Ebanks had huge hype when he entered West Virginia last year, but he really hasn't done much to live up to expectations in his two years in Morgantown. He is still an intriguing prospect because of his long arms and his athleticism, but he is far from a finished product.

Weakness: Maturity. Ebanks missed the first few games of the Mountaineers regular season with an undisclosed personal issue, which only added to the belief that Ebanks was somewhat unstable. Add to that his inconsistent play and lack of statistical improvement, and many wonder whether Ebanks will ever reach his potential.

Verdict: At this point, Ebanks is a hit-or-miss prospect at best. Personally, I see him as the type of player who will be better on his second or third team, once he realizes that his NBA dream is hanging in the balance.

Best Fit: The best thing that could happen to Ebanks is falling into the second round. Having to win a contract rather than having one guaranteed to him would be a huge motivational tool, which is not to be underestimated when dealing with 20-year old young men. A team with a promising perimeter rotation would also challenge Ebanks, so a team like New Jersey (#31) would be optimal.

9. Stanley Robinson (Connecticut) – Rodney Carney

Strength: Athleticism. Robinson will be a top five NBA athlete as soon as his name is called on draft night. He can jump out of the gym and get up and down the floor with the best of them.

Weakness: Polish. Size and athletic ability aren't the issue with Robinson. The real question is what he'll be able to do in a half-court set in the NBA. He doesn't have great ball skills or a consistent jump shot, and his ability to defend at the next level is still up in the air.

Verdict: I've been very critical of Robinson from the beginning because I believe that at the very foundation of basketball scouting is the question of whether a guy is an athlete or a basketball player. Robinson is clearly a great athlete, but when I try to determine what he'll do on the floor, I run into trouble after "get up and down in transition" and "posterize guys on a nightly basis". He just doesn't seem to have one usable basketball skill which would make it necessary to keep him on the floor.

Perfect Fit: Put simply, the Warriors.

10. Darington Hobson (New Mexico) – J.R. Giddens

Strength: Versatility. Hobson averaged 16 points, nine rebounds, and four and a half assists per game for Steve Alford's Lobo's last season. He has the size to play either wing position in the NBA and could even play some point forward if the situation dictated.

Weakness: Lack of quality experience. Hobson spent only one year in Division I, and at New Mexico of all places. While the Mountain West was relatively strong in 2010, it paled in comparison to major conferences like the ACC and the Big 12. After earning a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament, is appeared that the March Madness stage would be Hobson's coming out party, but an early exit at the hands of Pac-10 #11 seed Washington (See: #6: Quincy Pondexter) doused those hopes.

Verdict: Honestly, Hobson is one of the players in this class that I know the least about. He had a very productive season at New Mexico, but for some reason, I give a lot of the credit to the system and the players around him. Watching him at the Chicago Combine, Hobson moved well, but he seems a little awkward to me. Like I said, my knowledge of him is very limited, but I don't see him as an NBA starter.

Perfect Fit: I think Hobson would be one of the better options for the Knicks when their two second round picks come up in the late 30's. Hobson is versatile and would be a nice fit with Wilson Chandler or some unnamed free agent signee.

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