Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Great Luka Doncic Debate

Actually, there's not much of a debate...the kid's a stud.

But is Luka Doncic a sure-fire top 3 pick in the 2018 draft, as many people think? The answer is clearly no.

There are a lot of unknowns with him, plus there's a boatload of talent in next year's draft, so the competition will be fierce. If some of the college Freshmen hit their potential then we could see Luca slide a bit on draft day.

Past Euro guards have had good but not great success in the NBA, with some busts as well. But before I go all Mario Hezonja comp on you, let me say this. I think Luca is the best Euro prospect since Kristaps and will likely be a dynamic player in the NBA. He's got more vision than a 40 day fast in the desert and he's an absolute natural on the court. He's like a 6-8 version of Rubio, with a better shot. He's good!

So good that he could go #1 overall next year... or #2 behind Michael Porter Jr., the 6-10 small forward from Missouri who has elite offensive skills...

...or he could go #3 behind DeAndre Ayton who, up until recently was considered the #1 guy in this class. If Ayton dominates as a freshman at Arizona he'll be in that top 2 conversation...

...or Luka could go #4 behind Mo Bamba, the lengthy Longhorn. Bamba has the type of coordination
and agility that you just don't see in 7-foot players. He's got much better hands than most shot-blocking bigs (think Nerlens) and he changes ends like a guard...

...or Luka could get drafted #5 behind Jaren Jackson who is emerging as an elite prospect. Still 17 years old, Jackson has shown a rate of improvement and development that already warrants top 5 consideration and after a year with Izzo...

And there are other Freshmen in this class that have top 5 potential like Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky, Collin Sexton of Alabama and Sophomore Robert Williams of Texas A&M.

Alls I'm saying is keep an open mind. Luka Doncic is a great player but he's not alone. There are a handful of big time talents in the 2018 draft class and the competition at the top will be fierce.

Luka is a basketball prodigy and he has every right to be in the conversation for #1 overall. But the top of the 2018 draft class is stacked with talent and all of these guys are vying for the top spots.

I wish every day was draft day but we'll just have to wait until next June to see how this all plays out.

Here's the full 2018 NBA Mock Draft.

Jontay Porter NBA Draft Scouting Report

6-10 - 240 - PF - Missouri

Younger brother of Michael Porter Jr., Jontay is a big time prospect in his own right. He's a solidly build and athletic forward with an advanced game.

Porter is highly skilled with the ball in his hands. He can step out and hit the three and makes plays off the dribble. He has a natural feel for the game and knows how to play within team concepts. He shows good versatility on the offensive end, as a player who can bang in the post or make plays outside the lane. He's a crafty passer who knows how to draw the defense and dish the rock.

He's got good range on his shot and is a capable three point shooter who will only get better as he develops his game. He doesn't have elite offensive skills like his brother but he's a talented player who knows how to score the ball.

He's got a strong build and a chance to be a force in the paint once he adds muscle to his frame. Even at 240 lbs he shows good explosiveness and can get above the rim easily. He's a quick leaper who surprises with his athletic ability.

A stout defender, Porter holds his own in the lane using his strength and size to gain position. He does a good job of bodying-up and making things tough for the offensive player. As a shot blocker he surprises with his quick leaping ability and good length. He's not the next Jordan Bell but he can defend at the rim and give good weak side support.

There's not a glaring weakness in his game. He does need to add muscle and refine his body but that should come over the next few years.

His release is a bit slow on his outside shot and he doesn't project as the same level of shooter as his older brother. He's got good enough form on his jumper but it's far from perfect. He shoots more of a set shot with a low release point.

He's not a true run/jump athlete. He plays kind of an old school game and will have to continue to develop his perimeter skills and refine his body to max his potential in today's NBA.

Michael Beasley or Trey Lyles.

Projection: possible first round pick in the 2019 or 2020 NBA Draft

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Shareef O'Neal NBA Draft Scouting Report

6-10 - 205 - PF - Arizona

Shaq's son is a high level combo forward prospect who possesses nice athleticism and an emerging offensive game.

O'Neal is a fluid athlete who is well coordinated, has good strength and a solid build. He runs the court well and has nice leaping ability, allowing him to make plays above the rim. He's a high level dunker and has nice touch around the basket. On the defensive end he show's great timing as a weak-side shot blocker and impressive length and leaping ability.

Although he projects as a power forward, O'Neal shows a lot of small forward traits and is developing nice perimeter skills including an improved handle and expanded range on his jumper. He has a very smooth release on his shot and can hit out to college three. He shoots from a high spot with good rhythm and excellent form.

O'Neal's ability to play on the wing at his size is impressive. If he can continue to develop his guard skills he'll be a load to handle on the perimeter.

Doesn't have ideal size to bang in the paint (although he is likely still growing) and lacks strength.

Needs to play with a more consistent motor and pick up the effort on the defensive end.

Jermaine O'Neal.

Projection: possible first round pick in the 2019 or 2020 NBA Draft

Mikal Bridges NBA Draft Scouting Report

6-7 - 210 - SF - Villanova

Bridges is a prototypical three and D prospect who has nice physical tools, great length and good shooting touch.

Bridges is a superb shooter with a picture perfect jump shot and great accuracy. He hits better than 90% from the free throw line and over 50% from the field. He's got an accurate and quick 3 point shot and hit's about 40% from downtown. His ability to space the floor on offense and D it up at the other end of the floor makes him a valuable commodity.

Bridges is an above average athlete with a solid build and good length. His 7-foot wingspan allows him to play bigger than his height and makes him a menace on defense, both on the ball and reading the passing lanes. He can guard multiple positions, allowing him to switch on pick and rolls.

He's fluid in the open court and reacts quickly to the play. He changes ends very well, with long strides and good straight-line speed, and he can really get up above the rim. He's got a really good touch around the basket and is an efficient scorer who doesn't need a lot of shots to score points.

Bridges seems to have a clear role at the next level, thanks to his outside shooting and defensive versatility.

Bridges isn't the most creative player and works better off the ball as a floor spacer. He needs to improve his ability to get to the rim and develop his drive and kick game. He doesn't project as a first or second option on offense and is more of a complimentary piece, rather than a star.

Reminds of Rasual Butler or a smaller version of Otto Porter.

Projection: mid to late first round pick in the 2018 or 2019 NBA Draft