The Nets own the 57th overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, a selection that normally doesn’t yield much talent (Tanguy Ngombo, Ryan Reid, and Emir Preldzic are the last three to be selected 57th overall). This year’s draft is not like most drafts, however, as a surprising amount of major college impact players are projected to go in the 50-60 range. Should the Nets not use this pick as trade bait, they could very well draft a player that could have an impact similar to the impact Isaiah Thomas had on the Kings this season. Here are a few potential sleepers the Nets could snag at the 57th overall spot.
Note: DraftExpress.com’s mock draft was my reference. I considered all players within the 47-60 range on that draft for this article, as well as players that went undrafted by DraftExpress. Also, all listed heights are with shoes on, and are rounded to the nearest inch.
Mike Scott, 6’9”, 241. PF, Virginia.
A 2012 First Team All-ACC selection, Scott averaged 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and carried his team to an NCAA Tournament birth. Normally those numbers and accolades can secure a prospect a much higher selection than 57th, but Scott’s performance in the tournament left people wondering whether or not he could handle himself against the elite. Matched up against Patric Young and an athletic Florida squad, Scott and the Cavaliers got blown out 71-45. Scott’s numbers weren’t bad (15 and 6), but he he didn’t look like he belonged on the same court as the Gators in terms of athletic ability, and that cannot be ruled out when evaluating an NBA prospect.
That being said, Scott has the ability to carve out a significant role for an NBA team down the road. Think of guys like Dante Cunningham, Tyler Hansbrough, and DeJuan Blair when evaluating Scott. All three, especially the latter two, had skill sets that led to stardom in college, but they lacked the hops and athleticism needed to be NBA stars. Undeterred, they have all carved out roles for themselves, and all three made appearances in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Scott’s basketball ability and work ethic should lead to him carving out a similar role in his NBA career.
Bernard James, 6’10”, 215, C, Florida State.
There are two big knocks on the NBA potential of Bernard James, and both are very legitimate concerns. First, James is 27 years old. He spent the earlier part of his 20’s in the Air Force, where he picked up the game and realized his outstanding height and wingspan (7’3”) could make him a defensive force. James proceed to join the Seminoles and spend 2 seasons dominating on the defensive end, and no one is questioning his potential to be a solid NBA defender.
He may not be able to keep himself on the court in the big leagues long enough to showcase his abilities, however. The second knock on Bernard is his inability to put the ball in the hoop, making it even riskier to draft the 27 year old James (who will undoubtedly need time to develop an offensive game, if he even is able to). Yes James shot 60% from the field last year, but a majority of those baskets came on dunks against college students 6-9 years younger than him. His free throw percentage sat at 55% last season, a figure he’ll have to improve on if he wants to get legitimate minutes and avoid “Hack-A-Bernard.”
Should Bernard’s finishing ability translate to the NBA, he could carve out a role similar to that of Joel Anthony. His upside, however, is far superior to Anthony’s, as Bernard’s leaping ability and wingspan are through the roof. If the Nets take James, they shouldn’t expect immediate results, but he could develop into a quality rotation player for 5-10 years.
Terrell Stoglin, 6′, 184, G, Maryland
As a student at UMD, I became a huge fan of our basketball team this season. We had a lot of young players and a lot of talent, but none of that talent was able to develop while Stoglin was on the court. I think he has a future in the NBA, but no one in the country took more bad shots than our diminutive shooting guard. He rarely obeyed the team concept that coach Mark Turgeon tried so desperately to implement, which led to the Terps living and dying by Stoglin (in a fashion my friends and I believed similar to the New York Knicks living and dying by Carmelo Anthony).
Stoglin is an immensely talented scorer, but his size and attitude problems (Stoglin declared for the draft because he was suspended for his junior season due to violating the school’s code of conduct) have pushed him to the point where most mock drafts do not include him. It is possible that Stoglin cannot find a role with an NBA team, but how many teams can say with confidence that they don’t want a guy who can get shots off against any defender? Stoglin averaged 21.6 points per game last year, and often looked like the only guy who belonged on the court against the powers of the ACC. He’s not a sure thing, but who is this late in the draft? After watching a full season of Stoglin in person, I believe his ceiling is a worse version of Nick Van Exel, and he could potentially be a quality scorer off the bench for years to come.
Tu Holloway, 6′, 185, G, Xavier
Holloway was projected to be a late first-round/early-second round pick last year by many draft experts, but he elected to come back to school and had a very difficult start to the season, highlighted by that nasty brawl against Cincinnati. Holloway and his teammates handled themselves very poorly during and after the brawl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxnA69ekobI&feature=fvwrel), and the perception of Holloway suffered as a result. Watching that video is terrifying, if Holloway really thought that what he said in the press conference was acceptable then he doesn’t deserve to be in the NBA (also worth noting, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin made a hell of a speech at the end, very well said).
Holloway, aside from that scarring incident, was one of college basketball’s best players over the last 4 years. He had all the moves and a sweet jump shot, and he was able to lead Xavier to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances and secure a Third Team All-American bid for himself. I believe in second chances, and I feel that Holloway got caught up in the the heat of the moment and spoke irrationally. He is more talented than most players in the second round, and has the upside of a starter in the NBA. If all the players in this article are available to the Nets when they pick, I think they should draft Tu.
Khris Middleton, 6’7”, 215, F, Texas A&M
Another player whose stock plummeted from last season to this one, Middleton never really seemed comfortable this year, which is understandable considering the tragic Parkinson’s diagnosis of 1st year head coach Billy Kennedy. The team never got on track and finished 14-18, and Middleton’s stock declined with each loss. There is less to say about Middleton than most other prospects, but his upside is higher than his projected draft position suggests. He is an athletic player with a good shooting stroke, and could find a role in the right system (say San Antonio or New York or any of the offensive minded teams). Should the Nets decide to assemble a fast paced team this offseason, the skills and athleticism of Middleton could be very useful. Don’t expect any Anthony Morrow like explosions from him, but he could turn into a very consistent scorer that plays within the boundaries of the offense.
Other prospects in the 47-60 spots in the draft, according to DraftExpress, include Kris Joseph, William Buford, and Scott Machado. Machado is unlikely to fall all the way to the Nets, as the nation’s leader in assists should rise in mock drafts in the coming month. Joseph and Buford are both relatively safe picks at this juncture, and each could carve out a role with the team that drafts them. Joseph has significant upside, but I feel his inconsistency at Syracuse will plague him throughout his NBA career, while Buford lacks the dominant athletic ability to have real upside in the NBA.
It is entirely possible that the Nets decide to trade this pick, and it’s equally likely they make an overseas investment with it like so many other teams tend to do at the end of the second round. If they keep the pick and stay with American collegiate players, however, these are the guys to watch out for.