NBA Draft Prospects, 11-20
We’re quickly closing in on the midway point of the NBA season, and it’s likely that a few of the bottom-tier teams have already cast an eye toward the 2012 NBA Draft, which is expected to be absolutely loaded with instant-impact players and franchise building blocks. The Crab Dribble will be tracking the top 30 draft prospects all season leading into our draft coverage in June, keeping tabs on whose stock is rising, whose is falling and who should think about enrolling in classes for another year. Here’s an initial look at numbers 11-20. Click here to see prospects 21-30.
11). Brad Beal, Florida (Fr.)
6’4″, 195 pounds
NBA comparison: Eric Gordon
Beal has been a little up and down on a Florida team loaded with guards, but it’s clear he has a ton of ability and is only going to get better. He is a fantastic shooter who is not only capable of getting hot from beyond the arc, but also has a nice mid-range game. He maintains great poise on the offensive end, rarely looking rushed and typically doing a good job of finding his shots within the offense. He’s a solid ball-handler and has little trouble separating from his defender, although he tends to shy away from contact going to the basket. Defensively, he has long arms and good lateral quickness, although his intensity wanes a little. Beal is a little undersized for the shooting guard position, but would be a nice fit in an up-tempo offense that allows him to play to his strengths.
12). John Henson, North Carolina (Jr.)
6’10″, 210 pounds
NBA comparison: Ed Davis
Henson is incredibly thin, but is a terrific defender with an expanding offensive game. His long arms and excellent timing allow him to block and alter a large percentage of shots around the basket, and he’s even shown the ability to step out away from the basket and stay in front of ball-handlers. He struggles to maintain position because of his frame, but doesn’t seem to mind physical play and attacks the glass hard. On offense, he doesn’t have a ton of post moves, but has developed a solid jumper and is great at finishing lobs around the basket. Plays with enthusiasm and tends to be the emotional spark for a sometimes lackadaisical North Carolina team. Limited strength gives him a ceiling, but he can be a great defender at the next level.
13). Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State (Jr.)
6’11″, 230 pounds
NBA comparison: Jason Thompson
Moultrie has quietly emerged as one of the better NBA prospects in the country, combining good athleticism with a big frame and constantly running motor. He first showed up on the NBA radar after a good freshman year at UTEP, but has blossomed since transferring to Mississippi State. While he has the size to play in the post full-time, he also brings a nice mix of perimeter skills, although he sometimes becomes too enamored with staying out of the paint. He lacks polish as a true post player, but has shown a willingness to improve, and he could develop as a back to the basket player. He runs the floor well for his size, and is a willing rebounder at both ends. Moultrie will need some work, but he has the potential to be good big man and solid rotation player.
14). Terrence Ross, Washington (Soph.)
6’6″, 190 pounds
NBA comparison: DeMar Derozan
Ross is a superb athlete who is climbing the draft boards after a subpar freshman year. He has a nice shooting stroke, although his shot selection can be an issue, as has shown a lack of patience at times. He can beat his man off the dribble, but will need to improve his ball-handling to break down NBA defenders consistently. Ross excels in transition, where he can show off his tremendous leaping ability and speed in the open court. He can attack the rim as well as anyone in the college game, and has no problem finishing over defenders. On the defensive side, Ross has the potential to be a great defender, but loses focus easily and lacks discipline and fundamentals right now. Overall, Ross still has plenty of room to grow as a prospect, but already is worthy of a top-15 pick with his offensive abilities.
15). Austin Rivers, Duke (Fr.)
6’4″, 195 pounds
NBA comparison: OJ Mayo
Rivers has elite offensive ability, but his game also has plenty of questions marks at this stage. He’s a great outside shooter who has no trouble creating his own shot with a wicked crossover and stepback move, but he also has tunnel vision and often forces shots without looking for open teammates. Defensively, his effort is inconsistent, but he’s slowly adjusting to the rigors of the college game, and shows enough potential to make scouts think he could be a serviceable NBA defender. Although he plays a combo guard role at Duke, he’s likely a shooting guard at the next level, as he lacks point guard instincts and vision. He sometimes displays poor body language on the court, but is making progress at containing his emotions. Because of his dad, former NBA guard and current Celtics coach Doc Rivers, he will be under a microscope early in his career. However, there’s no doubting his talent, and with a little time, he could be a terrific NBA guard.
16). Patric Young, Florida (Soph.)
6’9″, 245 pounds
NBA comparison: JJ Hickson
Young’s stats don’t jump off the page on a guard-dominated team, but his combination of strength and athleticism have scouts drooling. Young is as solidly built as anyone in the college ranks, and he uses his size well in establishing position and fighting for rebounds. Offensively, he has a decent jump hook in close to the basket, but isn’t yet a consistent offensive threat outside of dunks and putbacks. Defensively, Young holds his ground well and is a great shotblocker, although Florida’s lack of depth has forced him to play more conservatively than he would like. Young’s size prevents him from being a very fluid player, but he brings an energy and passion to the floor that should endear him to scouts.
17). Mason Plumlee, Duke (Jr.)
6’10″, 230 pounds
NBA comparison: Drew Gooden
Plumlee’s offensive arsenal is nothing to write home about, but he’s an elite athlete who will be a very good defender and rebounder at the next level. Plumlee is a high-riser who is adept at finishing lobs and flushing home tip dunks, and he has very good body control while in the air, especially for someone of his size. He’s a very good helpside defender, serving as Duke’s rim protector when they go with smaller lineups, and he shows a good understanding of defensive rotations. He also shows a willingness to accept his limited offensive role, and is good at setting screens and rolling to the basket to distract defenders and open up shooting lanes. Plumlee will never be a big scorer, but scouts will always love someone with his combination of size and athleticism, not to mention his defensive capabilities.
18). Doron Lamb, Kentucky (Soph.)
6’4″, 195 pounds
NBA comparison: Wayne Ellington
Lamb is a smooth scorer with a nice outside stroke who only needs to add strength to realize his full potential. Slightly undersized for the shooting guard position, Lamb makes up for it with a high basketball IQ and tremendous poise, as he never seems to get rattled late in games. He’s a great long-range shooter who knows how to spread the floor, and also has shown a willingness this season to drive to the lane and take contact. He has a nice mid-range game, and is a capable ball-handler and passer, making scouts think he could play a little point in the pros. Defensively, he has good lateral quickness and long arms, although he tends to gamble sometimes and has gotten himself in foul trouble with lazy fundamentals. Lamb will be a good fit at the next level as a combo guard off the bench.
6’5″, 205 pounds
NBA comparison: Rip Hamilton
Buford doesn’t have the upside of some of the players behind him, but he also comes with very little risk and should be a solid rotation player for a long time. He’s got a smooth shooting stroke and is quietly one of the most efficient scorers in the country, capable of playing a secondary role in an offense designed around other players. Buford is a great spot-up shooter, but may struggle somewhat to create off the dribble at the next level. Howver, he’s hit a number of big shots for the Buckeyes in his career, and displays a calm demeanor on the court, even during crunch time. He’s not an elite defender, but he’s more than capable of staying in front of guards and forcing them into tough shots. Buford has a definite ceiling and doesn’t have one skill that stands out, but he’s a solid all-around player who will have home in the league for years to come.
20). Tyler Zeller, North Carolina (Sr.)
7’0″, 245 pounds
NBA comparison: Marcin Gortat
Zeller is another legit big man in a league that seems to be lacking them, which is why he will likely be off the board sometime in the middle of the first round. Zeller is a true center who can play with his back to the basket and has developed a nice array of post moves, including deadly jump hooks with both hands. He runs the floor incredibly well for a big man, and has soft hands that enable him to make tough catches. On defense however, he doesn’t always display the same intensity, and can get pushed around by more physical players. He is a good rebounder, but added strength would help him, as he’s not an elite athlete. Zeller is a smart player and is accustomed to playing with other great players, which should help him transition to being a role player in the NBA.