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Present (and future) scorers abound in '14 small forward class


POSTED: Apr 21, 2014 11:00 AM ET
UPDATED: Jun 25, 2014 9:29 AM ET

By David Aldridge

BY David Aldridge

TNT Analyst

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Even after a rough showing in the NCAA tournament, Duke's Jabari Parker remains a top SF prospect.

If you want small forwards who score, you'll have your pick of them in this year's Draft.

There are threes of different heights and sizes, some thick and some small, but the top prospects here share a common trait: they can score. The way the NBA has evolved offensively during the last decade, with the 3-pointer becoming an integral option, many teams' shooting guards and small forwards are interchangeable. That means shooting is at a premium at both positions.

The small forwards this year don't all shoot lights out, but they figure out ways to be effective. And they could intrigue those teams with multiple first-round or second-round picks that are looking to stash and develop players. A lot of these guys could well crack the league, though it may take longer than normal.

And after we look at the small forward prospects today, we'll look at power forwards on May 5 and centers on May 19, the day before the NBA Draft lottery.

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DA's Big Board Schedule

POINT GUARDS | SHOOTING GUARDS | SMALL FORWARDS
POWER FORWARDS | CENTERS

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Small Forwards

A note on the rankings:

This is not a predictor of when these players will be taken. These rankings, based on discussions with dozens of NBA and college coaches, and NBA college scouts and team executives, address the question of how ready players are to play the position which they are assigned: In other words, if there was a game tonight, who would play better at that position tonight, not in three years. Players are ranked based on the position that the coaches and scouts believe is their best NBA position, and even then, there is always disagreement between teams.

For example: UCLA's 6-foot-9 sophomore Kyle Anderson is a point guard in college (he's a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's top point guard). And he'll certainly handle the ball a lot as a pro whenever he's drafted. But more NBA teams with whom I've spoken list him as a power forward prospect as a pro -- some compare him with the Spurs' Boris Diaw, who displayed point forward skills early in his career with Atlanta and Phoenix, but is now a more traditional frontcourt player. So we will list Anderson as a power forward on the Big Board.

Again: This is not a mock Draft. They are a complete waste of time, especially this long before June. No one has any idea what will happen between now and then; we don't even know all the teams that will be in the lottery, much less in which order they'll be picking. We don't know if there will be a major injury that will impact what a team wants or needs, (Of course, I will humiliate myself yet again and post a mock Draft just before the June 26 extravaganza. Y'all seem to like it.)

In the interim, what follows is a rough consensus of what NBA personnel people, GMs and coaches, and college coaches that I trust -- and that, obviously, can't be quoted by name -- believe is the pro potential for this year's crop of college and international players.

• "Sleepers" are players almost certain to go in the second round but who may have first-round talent or otherwise have an impact on the teams that select them if they overcome perceived shortcomings.

• "Some Scouts Like" are players who are not certain to declare, but are viewed as potentially draftable if they do -- with an emphasis on "potentially."

All measurements are the official ones available after the Chicago pre-Draft combine. Measurements for players who did not attend the pre-Draft camp are from their respective university or team.

David Aldridge's Big Board 2014: Small Forwards

RANK | NAME | SCHOOL/TEAM | CLASS/AGE | HT | WT > Projected

1. Jabari Parker | Duke | Freshman | 6-8 | 235 > Top 2

2. Andrew Wiggins | Kansas | Freshman | 6-8 | 200 > Top 2

3. Doug McDermott | Creighton | Senior | 6-7 3/4 | 218 > Top 10

4. Rodney Hood | Duke | Sophomore | 6-8 1/2 | 208 > Mid 1st

5. T.J. Warren | N.C. State | Junior | 6-8 1/4 | 220 > Mid 1st

6. Jerami Grant | Syracuse | Sophomore | 6-7 3/4 | 214 > Late 1st

7. Glenn Robinson III | Michigan | Sophomore | 6-6 3/4 | 211 > Late 1st/Early 2nd

8. C.J. Fair | Syracuse | Senior | 6-8 | 218 > Early 2nd

9. Cleanthony Early | Wichita St. | Senior | 6-7 1/4 | 209 > Second round

10. Thanasis Antetokounmpo | Delaware 87ers (NBA D-League) | 21 | 6-6 1/4 | 205 > Second round

Honorable Mention: Melvin Ejim, 6-7, 219, Iowa State; Alex Poythress (SO)

Some Scouts Like: JaKarr Sampson (SO) 6-9, 214, St. John's; LaQuinton Ross (JR) 6-7 1/2, 238, Ohio State; James Birsen (19) 6-10, 202, Fenerbahce

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Last year was a dry one for small forward prospects. This year, the three is back with a vengeance. And beauty will be easy to behold.

Who's better, Parker or Wiggins? Depends on the team drafting

That will certainly be the case when teams have to decide between Duke freshman Jabari Parker and Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, two of the premier prospects of recent years -- and a large reason why this year's Draft has had so many teams planning and plotting for months to have as good a chance as possible to draft high.

For several months, many teams were enamored with Wiggins, the Toronto teenager who made it clear early on that he was only going to be at Kansas for one season. It's not that he had a bad season for the Jayhawks, but he didn't have the overwhelming, dominant campaign many believed. Neither did Parker, whose Duke team was upset by Mercer in the second round of the NCAA tournament. But Parker put up bigger, better numbers (19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds per game) for the Blue Devils.

Scouts basically cleave this way about the duo: if you want to win a game tonight, pick Parker. If you want to win a game in two years, pick Wiggins. He might wind up being the more complete pro. Might.

"They're two different players," an Eastern Conference general manager said. "Jabari's more skilled, more polished, a more ready small forward in the mold of Carmelo [Anthony]. And Wiggins is in the more athletic, quicker, faster mold of small forward. Depending on who gets the pick, even if you talk about somebody who gets the one or two pick, obviously if Milwaukee or Philly got it, they'd just take the player they like better ... but if a team that is not expected to get into the top three, like Detroit [is expected to be picking] at eight or Cleveland [is expected to be picking] at nine, now I think you really have some interesting things. They're going to choose based on the players they have."

About Jabari ...

Jabari Parker
Scouts liken Jabari Parker's game to that of New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

Parker, whose father, Sonny, played for Golden State in the 1970s, won four straight titles at Chicago's fabled Simeon High School. He excelled during his one season at Duke, becoming an all-American and the only unanimous first-team all ACC selection.

Parker had a conference-high 14 double-doubles for Duke, scoring 20 points or more 18 times. He will not be judged by his combined 13 of 38 shooting in the Blue Devils' last two games -- a loss in the ACC tournament final to Virginia and the loss to Mercer in the NCAAs.

"What doesn't he do well?," asks an ACC coach whose team played Duke this season. "He shoots the three. He's a hard, fast driver. He can post you up. He can overpower you. He finishes above the rim. He's quick off his feet. Reminds me of Carmelo.

"He has a wide, thick body that's powerful and durable, and when he gets to the rim he can finish. And after the game, you shake everybody's hand. He gives you a firm handshake, and he looks me right in the eye ... he was very respectful, very professional. Played really hard. I just really like him."

Scouts believe there will be times when Parker can play the four in the pros as well.

"He can play outside, he can play on the block," says an executive of a lottery team. "He can pass it, shoot it, rebound. The thing he has to do is work on his body, but I think he'll do that. I don't think he's going to be a great defender, and I think Wiggins has a chance to be a better defender. And, when you're talking about the number one pick, a guy who's going to be the face of your franchise, he's humble, yet confident. He's got the whole package."

The concerns about Parker center on him being a little heavy at times, and whether he has the obsessive edge -- "Kobe Bryant nastiness," as the lottery team's executive says -- that a franchise player has to possess.

"Parker's going to get hit on his body," one GM said. "He's got to get in better shape. He got winded in way too many games this season."

There is the additional factor of Parker's Mormon religion, which would seem to make him a natural fit for the Jazz, who are desperate for an anchor around which to package their collection of young talent. Parker said last week that he would not be undertaking the normal mission that many -- though not all -- Mormons undertake. The missions, during which time the missionaries share the gospel of the Latter Day Saints with others around the world, can run up to two years.

The unstated hope in Salt Lake City is that Parker would be more comfortable settling there and playing for Utah for an extended period. Things are better these days when it comes to the perception of Salt Lake City, but there are still a lot of players who balk at the notion of planting roots there.

"He's probably not only more physically ready, he's probably more mature than most of the other one and done guys," said one personnel man. "Again, because he's so mature, I think he's more worldly in his vision and how he thinks -- because of his religious background."

About Andrew ...

Wiggins, who averaged 17.1 ppg and 5.9 rpg, was a second team all-American, as well as an All-Big 12 first teamer and the Big 12's Freshman of the Year. He had a huge performance early in the season against Parker and Duke, going for 22 points and eight boards, and went for 26 and 11 against eventual Final Four team Florida.

Wiggins Declares for 2014 NBA Draft

Wiggins' performance went up and down during the middle of the season, as the Jayhawks dealt with several injuries, most notably to center (and fellow likely Lottery pick) Joel Embiid. But he finished strong, destroying West Virginia with 41 points, dropping 30 on Oklahoma State and 22 in the Jayhawks' Big 12 semifinal loss to Iowa State. Like Parker, he didn't have a great NCAA showing, scoring just four points in Kansas' loss to Stanford. It won't linger in the minds of scouts, however.

"He's a hell of a prospect," said a Big 12 coach whose team played Kansas. "The only thing that I see some weaknesses on he's got to be more consistent being aggressive. Sometimes he kind of floats around. I don't know if it's their offense or it's him. He's talented enough that he should touch the ball every time. And his jump shot has to be more consistent."

Wiggins may need some time to continue maturing. But the finished product could be breathtaking.

"As far as a couple of years down the road, he could really take off because of his athleticism," a Pacific Division executive said. "I think his skills are going to improve. He's not the smooth scorer that Parker is. He's more explosive. He can go off in spurts. He's probably a little better in the transition game."

Said a Southeast Division executive: "You are banking on the tremendous upside you see."

Scouts believe Wiggins, unlike many prospects, can be a two-way player from minute one in the pros.

"He's going to be a lockdown defender," an Atlantic Division executive says. "You just look at him in college ... when's the last time you've seen a very talented, super-athletic guy in college be a really good defender? This kid already is. As a marked guy, a so-called superstar in waiting, he's already given you the defensive part on the floor."

Wiggins actually has more work to do on the other end of the floor. Scouts believe he handles the ball too erectly; instead of being in classic "triple threat" position, he frequently stands almost straight up and down, making him extremely vulnerable to pros who would use their quick hands and feet to separate him from the ball.

"His ballhandling could be a little tighter," the Big 12 coach said, "but he's pretty good at one or two dribbles. I wouldn't want him bringing the ball up against pressure. He's got to play a little lower when he brings the ball up against pressure. But I think he's got a good basketball IQ. I think he understands how to play."

The biggest question on Wiggins, though, is also about his killer instinct.

"The concerns people have are, number one, what's his personality?," the Atlantic Division executive said. "Does he have the personality to take over? Those are legit concerns. I've seen him for three years and you rarely come away from watching him without having that concern."

Said the Southeast executive: "He's got to show the willingness to be aggressive all the time. Is he going to be the Scottie Pippen/Tracy McGrady mode, or is he going to be the LeBron James/Michael Jordan mode?"

High-scoring McDermott looks NBA-ready, too

Doug McDermott
Doug McDermott's experience with Team USA last summer gives him a unique Draft edge.

McDermott's story -- playing for his father, Greg, at Creighton, for four seasons, racking up every award of significance both in the Missouri Valley Conference and, last season, in the Big East, winning the Wooden Award and being named Associated Press Player of the Year as a senior -- is the stuff of collegiate legend. The nation's leading scorer at 26.7 ppg, McDermott saw every conceivable defense the last two years, and busted just about everybody, anyway.

McDermott's pro potential is quite strong. He doesn't have quite the ability to put the ball on the floor that Parker has, and he's not going to be the defender Wiggins could be. But he's got a chance to be really good.

"He's a pure shooter," a Western Conference executive said. "He's got a special skill, and he's a really, really intelligent player. The other guys are still raw. It depends what team he goes to, but I think he's going to be able to come in and contribute right away. He's a very efficient scorer. He was a marked man every game he went into. I'm sure opponents' game plan was to shut him down. He was smart enough and skilled enough to find a way."

McDermott also got a head start on most of his 2014 Draft brethren by playing last July in USA Basketball's Men's National Team mini-camp. McDermott and Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart were the only college players invited to the camp, which started the winnowing process for the World Cup team that will play in Spain this August and September.

"He's got an advantage over every player in this Draft other than Marcus Smart, and that advantage is that the NBA has already seen him play against NBA players last year in Vegas and he looked just fine," a Central Division executive said. "He came off screens, he shot the ball. He's already answered the question of whether he could do it -- he's done it. I think that's a huge advantage for him. Those that question whether he can guard his position or not, all you have to do is pop in the DVDs from the games in Vegas. He's showing you he can guard Harrison Barnes; he's showing you he can guard NBA players. I don't know what other kind of proof you need other than that."

McDermott will have to show he can be credible defensively, and he will be helped if he goes to a team with a good low-post option. Imagine, for example, McDermott playing off of DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento, or Andre Drummond in Detroit.

"The fact is, the kid's had a bulls' eye on his back for at least two seasons. He's had defenses put on him and much better athletes put on him," one executive said. "He's pretty talented, and he's obviously got some grit to him. He doesn't strike fear into people, but he lets his game do the talking. If he can just become an average team defender, he'll be fine. And with the trend in the league going smaller, I see him playing some four, because of the postup game. He's got some of that herky-jerky stuff down there."

ACC standouts Hood, Warren have their backers

After the top three, there is little consensus. Some scouts like Duke sophomore Rodney Hood; others prefer N.C. State junior T.J. Warren.

Hood played one season at Duke after transferring from Mississippi State. Playing off of Parker, Hood posted solid numbers, averaging 16 ppg and shooting 42 percent on 3-pointers. He was a second team all-ACC selection. He puts more than one scout in mind of Calbert Cheaney, who was the all-time leading scorer in the Big 10 before being a top-10 selection in the 1993 Draft by Washington.

"He can put it on the floor and take it to the rim," an ACC coach said of Hood. "He's got some length. I would say that he's a mid to late first round kind of guy. He shoots it well. He puts it on the floor. He has some length. He runs pretty well. The thing that concerns me about him is toughness. [But he is] a hard-ass driver."

That word -- toughness -- came up again and again, unprompted, by NBA types when discussing Hood.

"I'm not convinced on him," a Southeast Division executive said. "I don't know how tough he is. I look at him more as a two than a three, where he would have the best advantage. As a three I think he'd struggle at this level. I don't know if he could get off his shot."

But Hood's supporters think he'll be able to adjust to the more physical pro game.

"I like Rodney," one executive said. "He's a pretty versatile guy. I think he needs to improve him range and his consistency with the jumper outside of 18 feet. But he's got a really nice midrange game. He can get into the paint and elevate. He's got a real good sense of where. He can put the ball on the floor and create space for himself. Guys like that are real valuable. I think that's where guys like Hood sets himself off from other players. I think at some point he's going to be required to shoot the three. Not that he can't do that, but right now it's not the best part of his game."

Defensively, scouts believe Hood will be able to guard multiple positions.

"He can impact the game without scoring," another exec said. "He can rebound his position. Just a very smooth game. His game has grown from Mississippi State. He's one of the safer picks in his range. You don't worry about him being a bust or not as good as you thought he would be. You don't have to worry about character issues."

Warren plays like a throwback. In an era where the three is viewed as everything by the analytics community, he shot a horrid 26.7 percent from 3-point range. But he still led the ACC in scoring (24.9 ppg) and won ACC Player of the Year honors. He doesn't talk trash. He just fills up the stat sheet.

"He's a scoring savant," said an ACC assistant coach.

"When you think about it, you think about, OK, so you watch kids from college, and you think, does he dominate the high school game? This kid dominated the college game," an ACC coach said. "At the end of the year, he goes into Pitt, against a really good team that had just played pretty well, and he dropped 30-plus on them. He leaks, he slips, he drives hard, he can post you up."

Warren is not a great shooter, and he will have to work at the defensive end. But he could be the same kind of impactful late Lottery pick as a Paul Pierce, who fell to 10th before being taken by the Celtics in 1998.

"He's a professional scorer," an assistant general manager said. "Not a great 3-point shooter, but he can make the midrange jumper, the floaters. And he's a good enough athlete that he's a capable defender."

Warren also impressed NBA types by losing 20 pounds last summer, getting down to 218.

"He's an average to below shooter outside of 19 feet," one executive said. "Average to below average athlete. But he has an exceptional feel for scoring. His game is similar to Paul Pierce. He doesn't have the shooting ability (of Pierce) but he makes use of his craftiness.

"He's very good at getting to the free throw line and drawing fouls. He's lost a lot of weight since getting to State. I think his body of work in showing he can score at the next level, even with his limitations, he's shown that enough for teams."

Many questions color scouts' view of Orange's duo

Syracuse will send two small forward prospects -- senior C.J. Fair and sophomore Jerami Grant -- to the NBA. Both have questions they'll need to answer at the next level.

Grant, the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant (Horace Grant, who won titles with Chicago and the L.A. Lakers, is his uncle), is a big-time athlete who will have to show he can make shots (he didn't make a 3-pointer last season for the Orange, taking just five attempts all season).

But, the Draft is often about upside. Grant has upside. One scout compared him to how Sixers star Thaddeus Young was as a collegiate player.

"He's not ready like Warren and McDermott, but athletically, a year from now, two years from now, he could be as good as those guys," one executive said. "He's got bounce, he plays hard. Eighteen months from now, you might have a pretty good player."

But the concerns about his shooting remain.

"I like his athleticism and rebounding, but again, he's a non-shooter trying to play a perimeter position," a Northwest Division executive said. "He moves well and he's long, but because he plays in that Syracuse zone, you don't know what he does defensively."

Fair also struggled to shoot from distance, making just 27.6 percent of his threes, though he had a strong season for Syracuse, leading the Orange in scoring and being named first-team all ACC. He had big moments, including 28 points in Syracuse's win over Duke in February.

"I think C.J. is right there with" Hood, one admirer said. "He's going to, like all Syracuse guys, get tested defensively to see how he adjusts. But he's got a good offensive skill set."

But other personnel types aren't as sure. They worry about his quickness, his ability to create his own shot, and that problem behind the arc. Does Fair, they ask, do anything exceptionally well enough?

"I think C.J.'s had a really good collegiate career, but I look at what he shoots from the three," one Atlantic Division executive said. "That's a big concern. He and T.J. don't shoot threes, and when they have shot threes, they haven't done it very well."

And there's more ...

Cleanthony Early
Cleanthony Early has the look of a future rotation player in the NBA.

• Michigan's Glenn Robinson III, the son of Glenn (Big Dog) Robinson, declared for the Draft after averaging 13.1 ppg this season for the Wolverines. He was an honorable mention all-Big 10 selection as a sophomore, helping lead Michigan to the Elite Eight. While teammate Nik Stauskas bloomed into a likely late lottery selection, Robinson was more steady, if unspectacular.

Robinson shot 30 percent on threes, which was a drop off from his numbers as a freshman.

"He's kind of tough to figure out," a Pacific Division man said. "Sometimes, you go, man, this guy's really good. Other times, you don't notice him. That's the toughest thing -- what type of player is he going to be? He definitely has the skill, but does he have the mindset to be a scorer all the time? He didn't show it to me consistently."

• Wichita State was undefeated all season until losing in the third round of the NCAAs, with senior forward Cleanthony Early leading the way. Early, who led the Shockers in scoring, was a Wooden Award finalist, earning second team all-American honors from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and being named first-team all Missouri Valley Conference.

Anthony will have to show he's more than, as one scout put it, "a four trying to be a three." He shot 48.6 percent this season, including 37 percent on threes. His likely role in the pros would be as a rotation guy off the bench.

"He's got a chance," one executive said. "He's a guy who's going to find his way onto a team. It depends where he goes and how much he plays early on."

• More intriguing to NBA types is NBA D-League product Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who plays for the 76ers' affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. Before I have to type that name again, he's the older brother of Giannis, the Bucks' first-round pick. (There are two more basketball playing brothers in the family; I will wait until they're old enough to be Draft eligible before putting my fingers through that trauma again.)

Thanasis Antetokounmpo played for Filathlitikos in Greece before coming to the States, where he was taken in the D-League Draft last year by Delaware. He played 29 minutes a night for Delaware, averaging 12 ppg. He is eligible for the NBA Draft this year; if he isn't taken, he'd become a free agent, able to sign with any team.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo
Many scouts view Thanasis Antetokounmpo as a raw-but-promising small forward prospect.

Like his little brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo is a freaky athlete, who is a lot more athlete than basketball player at the moment.

"He's a really good on-ball defender with long arms, very athletic," said a D-League coach whose team played against Delaware. "Good kid, too. Still a little raw offensively but definitely has a chance."

He will definitely be a long-term, long-range project for any team that takes him.

"He's not as long as Giannis, but he's a better athlete," a veteran personnel man said. "This kid really runs and jumps; Giannis is just so long. He's a more typical 6-7 small forward. Not a great shooter. He's got athletic skills that people would like to work with. I think his shot's better than his brother. His shot's gotta be tweaked to get better, but he's got stuff coaches would like to work with."

And NBA types aren't hard-hearted; they know the story of the family, which moved from Nigeria to Greece to try and find a better life. It's a moving story, and the Antetokounmpo children are, by all accounts, first-rate people.

"He's as solid as you can get for a person his age," says a scout who's watched Delaware play frequently this season. "The feel for the game is not there. No concept of time and score, when to go hard, when to not go hard, he doesn't understand that. In three or four minutes, he's gassed. He can hardly get to the bench. He just plays too hard, too fast. You're going to get a guy that's raw, as far as understanding the game."

• Iowa State's Melvin Ejim had one of the great careers in recent college basketball history for the Cyclones, winning Big 12 Player of the Year honors as a senior while also being named Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year twice. He led the Cyclones in scoring and rebounding, and became just the fourth player in Big 12 history to total 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.

But Ejim (pronounced Edge-um) will have to show a more diversified game in the pros.

"He's got to play small forward because of his size," a Western Conference executive said. "He can shoot it better than C.J. and he can shoot it better than Grant, but he's not a typical three. He's going to have to learn how to play it. He's a better spot up shooter than putting it on the floor. Plus, being a little older than the other guys [Ejim is already 23 years old], that might push him down."

Ejim helped himself with strong performances in the Big 12 Tournament.

"I like him a little bit," an Eastern Conference executive said. "It's funny, because I would say he grew on me. He's not quite quick enough to be a small forward, not quite big enough to be a power forward. But the more you look at him and the small ball in the NBA, he has an NBA skill -- he can score."

• Kentucky's Alex Poythress has yet to decide whether he'll turn pro after two years in Lexington. He's not likely to be a first-rounder if he comes in, but if he were to be taken by the right team in the second round, scouts think he could develop into an effective role player.

"He's got more of a power forward's game, but I think he has a chance to develop," a Western Conference executive said. "He's going to be an energy guy, a reserve player. Draymond [Green] has expanded his game where he can make the NBA three. Poythress hasn't shown me that he has that yet. But I really like his toughness, just his physicality. I think that's going to get him a spot."

Like almost everyone that comes to Kentucky these days, Poythress came with high expectations, a McDonald's all-American. But despite being named to the all-SEC freshman team in his first season, Poythress struggled to lead those Wildcats, who failed to make the NCAA Tournament and were knocked out of the NIT in the first round by Robert Morris.

Poythress returned for his sophomore season and became Kentucky's sixth man. His numbers dropped significantly, and he got in John Calipari's doghouse at times during the team's run to the NCAA title game.

"You look at him physically, and he's obviously a powerful athlete, with his size and leaping ability," one Atlantic Division personnel man said. "He's a value guy, much maligned with Cal, like Terrence Jones, was always in his doghouse for whatever reason.

"I look at it with Cal as, he must see something with this kid, because he's always on him. I don't think it's all there yet, fully extracted. Certainly his star isn't as shiny as it was, but is that the market readjusting? I don't think we know what his ceiling is. But I do think you're going to get value there."

• Among other potential draftees, the hope is that St. John's sophomore JaKarr Sampson has a similar trajectory as another former Red Storm forward, Maurice Harkless, who was taken in the first round by Philadelphia two years ago. Sampson will not go in the first round, but some scouts believe he has potential to do better in the pros than he did in college, where he averaged 12.8 ppg and 6.1 rpg as a sophomore.

• Someone could take a flier on Ohio State junior LaQuinton Ross or 19-year-old James Birsen, a 6-foot-9 Turkish player who played this season for Fenerbache Ulker in Istanbul. Ross didn't dominate for the Buckeyes, but had his moments; one college coach compared him favorably with Robert Horry.

Birsen was on the world roster for the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland two weeks ago, scoring seven points in 19 minutes. One scout says Birsen is "a good shooter [but] not a knockdown shooter. Athletically, he's marginal. He's gotten his body better, but it was so bad to begin with. It's a below average body. He's a below average athlete. I think he could fail. I don't see anything special there. You have to be special at something, and I don't think he is."

Longtime NBA reporter and columnist David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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