2010 Draft Preview (1 of 3)
By Ben Couch
June 24, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—With the NBA Draft taking place at 7 p.m. tonight in the Theater at Madison Square Garden, and the Nets holding the Nos. 3, 27 and 31 picks, it’s time to take a look at how things might shake out. Let’s start by reviewing the possibilities at No. 3 who worked out for the Nets. All players listed alphabetically.
What We Said Then: The 6-foot-11, 289-pound Cousins needed to show his potential at power forward, offering the Nets a chance to project his ability to slot alongside Lopez without offering opponents an offensive mismatch every trip down the floor. Cousins’ frame and post prowess are better suited toward immediate NBA contributions, with a nearly 7-foot-6 wingspan that will help him provide a shot-altering presence from the jump. Were the Nets to opt for Cousins, they’ll have to rework his game. Though the Alabama native indicated he prefers playing power forward, he’s admittedly more comfortable at center after spending a year banging inside for Kentucky coach John Calipari.
What Cousins Said Then:
What We Say Now: Cousins is monstrous physically, and likely makes a significant, potentially Rookie-of-the-Year level impact for whichever team drafts him. And while playing the 4 in spurts is plausible, with a full-time transition possible due to his 20-foot shooting range, Cousins seems to be a center for now, and the Nets already have a likely All-Star in Brook Lopez. No question Cousins would find some way to contribute, but wielding two players with duplicate strengths – impressive post games – forces one to be less effective than they could be each trip down the court. That’s a tough sell when equally promising options are available.
What We Said Then: Favors – wee of age (18), though mammoth in still-growing stature (6-10, 246) – was in-house so the Nets could examine his NBA-readiness against the imposing, competitive physical force Cousins has proven to be at the college level. According to the Web site SynergySports, Favors worked 53 combined spot-ups, pick-and-rolls, isolations or off-screens plays into his 387 possessions – 13.8 percent of his total. Favors’ post game is less refined (0.844 PPP, 63rd percentile, “Good”), though he boasts superior transition skills, producing 1.290 PPP (84th percentile, “Excellent”). And though Favors is still developing physically, he stands to bulk up, and league executives are tantalized by the possibility of the Atlanta native’s 7-foot-4 wingspan and 35 ½-inch vertical.
What Favors Said Then:
What We Say Now: Favors has “prototypical power forward” written all over him, though the ink isn’t dry on the not-yet-19-year-old, mainly because it’s impossible to predict exactly when – or if – his full impact will be felt. Having improved during the course of his sole season at Georgia Tech, Favors has shown willingness to work and could blossom further still at the NBA level, now that he’ll be provided better guard help and a more open style of play. Likely to contribute solid rebounding and defense (if he can stay out of foul trouble) from the jump, his offensive game will be limited to transition and cleanup duty until he shows consistency with his midrange jumper. That could be enough for the Nets, but they have to ask themselves whether they’re willing to wait.
What We Said Then: The 6-foot-7, 205-pound Johnson allowed the Nets an opportunity to find out how Johnson reacted to an individually tailored session intended to stretch him toward any limitations that might not have manifested during his All-America junior season at Syracuse. Roaming defensively in Orange coach Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone, the Nets wanted to test Johnson’s lateral quickness to get a better read on his on-ball potential. A mid-season hand injury will likely benefit him long-term, adding an element of ambidexterity that should make his moves harder to anticipate. Executives will weigh Johnson’s maturity and polish against the tantalizing, though uncertain potential of his younger counterparts.
What Johnson Said Then:
What We Say Now: After producing impressive all-around numbers after transferring from Iowa State, Johnson will jump into a contributing – probably starting – role for whichever team drafts him, though his upside might be limited by his age (23 years old). He counters by saying his “basketball age” is younger due to a late start playing organized ball. Johnson’s shot is NBA-ready out to three-point range, and he seems to have shown enough during workouts that team’s are comfortable with his defensive potential playing man-on-man. If you want a player to step in right away, slotting cleanly in to any roster with an opening at the 3, Johnson’s your guy – provided you’re comfortable passing on players who could end up multiple-time All-Stars.
What We Said Then: Nets assistant coach Tom Barrise said that both (Monroe and Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh) should be off the board by the time 10 picks are announced, and possibly even eight. Barrise said Monroe is likely a power forward in the NBA, a good open shooter and smart passer who flashed a righthanded jump hook that wasn’t in his arsenal at season’s end.
What Monroe Said Then:
What We Say Now: The dark horse of the players most mentioned for No. 3 that worked out for the Nets, Monroe wields an impressive post game and renowned passing ability. A 6-foot-11, 247-pound who played center at Georgetown, he’ll likely transition to power forward in the NBA, though he could man the middle for a team playing small or pushing the ball. Less athletic than Favors and less imposing than Cousins, Monroe’s ceiling is lower than either, though he probably ends up a solid, long-term starter for whoever drafts him.