4. Jared Sullinger: I like Sullinger. He seems like a decent guy and a great teammate. His post moves and ability to use either hand around the rim are a blast from the past. I love his consistent production in the Big 10. What I don’t like is his injury history and lack of explosiveness. I know his dad explained that his back problems were apparently easily fixable, and that he shouldn’t have injury problems in the future. I’m not sure I buy it based upon two factors: 1. An NBA season is 82 games, and if he couldn’t hold up over 32ish with more rest in between games why should he in a more compressed and longer season? 2. Sullinger’s body-type screams back and knee problems. It might be unfair to judge him based on this fact, but I can’t ignore all that weight on those knees and back given the pounding he’s sure to endure in the NBA, especially given his lack of elevation.
Which brings me back to his minimal athleticism. In the most important game of Sullinger’s season (against Kansas in the tourney) he pretty much disappeared. And most NBA frontlines are more intimidating than Thomas Robinson and Jeff Whithey. I just can’t see him being an effective offensive player against the taller, longer, more athletic players he’s sure to face. And how is he going to be able to guard more quicker and longer 4’s on the larger NBA floor with less help defense?
That being said, I realize Sullinger could become a great back-up/solid starter in the league, and there’s nothing wrong with that. His ceiling to me seems to be Luis Scola, but a slightly better rebounder and not quite as good of a shooter. I could honestly be convinced to draft Sullinger, just not with either of the Blazers’ picks.
3. Perry Jones III: He’s athletic and talented, but is missing two of the most important attributes every NBA player needs: a drive to succeed and an actual position. Offensively he’s a decent enough shooter and has some post skills, but I can’t see him being able to score in the post consistently against stronger and bigger NBA players (especially given his lack of a post game) or being able to take quality defenders off the dribble. He doesn’t seem to have the ball handling or court awareness to be a stretch 4 either a la Lamar Odom (Terrence Jones might?). Defensively his lack of position is even more glaring. Stronger power forwards would exploit his lack of strength and there’s no way he can stay in front of athletic 3’s. His most glaring weakness has to be his passive nature though. He wasn’t a freshman last year and he wasn’t on an underachieving team. If he couldn’t be motivated to play hard on a successful team that went far in the NCAA tournament, why would he be motivated to play 82 regular season NBA games a season? Also, the Big 12 last year wasn’t exactly a powerhouse conference. The fact that he couldn’t raise his statistics from his first to second year speaks to a lack of desire and work ethic. He just seems like another Anthony Randolph to me, but with less of a competitive edge. Can someone say Hassan Whiteside?
2. Austin Rivers: I know he went to Duke. I know he is Doc Rivers’ son. I know he was a top recruit with copious amounts of hype out of high school. I think if you took these three attributes away though his perceived value as an NBA prospect would be minimal. His shot selection is poor, he’s undersized, he’s not a facilitator for other players (i.e. can’t play point guard), his player efficiency is awful, and he’s not a standout athlete. I guess he has some handles and he’s hit a couple of big shots, but I see his ceiling as Jamal Crawford, and not in a good way.
1. John Henson: I simply do not understand why any team would spend a top 10 pick on Henson. So he has go-go-gadget arms and a decent motor. Maybe he can shoot from 18 feet a bit. But what else is there to say? He’s a bean pole, and doesn’t show any signs of being able to beef up. His shoulders are so narrow it might take two of him to equal Sullinger and Robinson’s respective shoulder widths. Where is the weight that he supposedly vows to put on going to go? I see Henson’s CEILING as Brandon Wright, who currently is on the Mavericks in case you forgot. Maybe he’ll block some shots, but so what? He’ll be a “defender” (although shot-blocking is maybe the most overrated defensive statistic) who can’t really guard any good post players. And it’s not like he’s a freak athlete to make up for his lack of strength. His vertical leap was BELOW average. And if you ever saw him playing for UNC, he would have been absolutely useless (aside from shot blocking) without Kendall Marshall and all that other talent around him. I wouldn’t touch Henson in the top 20.
So there’s my thoughts. I’m very interested to see which prospects are most objected to by fellow BEdge followers. Feel free to argue with my picks, but if you do then I’d like to hear your own.