Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 2nd Mailbag: Q&A

I'll take this time to answer questions that came about over the last couple of weeks.  If I haven't answered your questions this week, I'll look forward to answering them the next time.  Hope you'll enjoy reading the answers to your questions.

1. Can Wang Zhelin make the NBA?
Absolutely.  I feel he's one of the most underrated draft prospects who may be eligible for the 2013 NBA Draft.  He notched 19 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal in 22 minutes, and did a chase down block in the Hoops Summit on Gary Harris, and followed it up with a block on another opponent.  You can see this play here, from this video by OregonLive.  It's the number one play on the countdown.

He's seven feet tall, moves his feet very well, has some post moves to score inside, and is a terrific rebounder and shot blocker who is very active on the glass and as an interior defender.

There have been players who played very well who didn't get much buzz initially, and went on to become draft picks in the NBA, such as Omri Casspi, Milan Macvan, and Tomislav Zubcic.  He hasn't played much professional basketball, but hopefully he'll get a chance to further show his skills for Fujian QB in China.  I feel he'd be a great draft and stash pick from the late first to the second round, as he projects to be a mobile, defensive center who would bring great energy, motor, and effort.

I certainly feel he most definitely can make the NBA.  Between now and 2016, he has some chances to play in international competition for China, where he would rise quickly up draft boards if he plays well against NBA level talent.  While I think he'll wait a year or two to declare for the draft, he'd be an intriguing draft choice, as his skill set could make him a lockdown interior defender at the next level if he continues to develop.  

2. When is next year's NBA Draft?

It's in June as always!  It's on June 27th.  Found this key, relevant information for you via nba.com, in this article, nba.com/news/key-dates/index.html.  Hope this helps.

3. Is Anthony Raffa an NBA prospect?  If so, what are his chances of being drafted or making an NBA roster next season? 

Yes, I do think he's an NBA prospect.  Raffa's a scorer who can shoot, rebound, and has the ability to defend, as he's posting solid averages of 23 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 2.0 assists per game, while making 39% of his three-pointers in his first 6 games this season.  But for him to make an impression on NBA scouts, he'll have to play well in postseason or at Portsmouth.

I expect there to be plenty of competition for roster spots among players to be invited to the Portsmouth Invitational, and Raffa is obscured due to playing in the Big South Conference.  I do consider him to be a prospect, though he's likely a longshot to be drafted.  It's uncertain whether a good season would garner him an invite, as former teammate and Coastal Carolina standout forward Chris Gradnigo had a solid senior season, but was unable to garner an invite to Portsmouth.  But if Raffa gets into Portsmouth, he'll have a decent chance to make an NBA summer league roster.  Even if he doesn't find his way into the summer leagues, he has the skills to latch onto a team either overseas or in the D-League.

4. Is Jake Cohen an NBA Draft Prospect? 
Yes....sort of.  But his odds of making into the NBA don't look good at the moment.  After a decent junior season, he's regressed, as he is averaging only 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.5 assists per game, and his three-point shooting percentage has dipped from 37% to 31% this year.

I envision him to be a Greg Mangano type, where Cohen could be resourceful as a stretch big who could pull opposing big men away from the basket and knock down shots, block shots, defend, and play position defense.  But he's not rebounding very well this year, and needs to improve as a shooter as well.

Cohen's also been very foul prone, so he hasn't been able to obtain more minutes to improve on his averages.  Last year, his numbers were intriguing enough to suggest room for improvement and a Portsmouth invite.  This season, I'm not so sure, but it appears to be looking towards him missing an invite, as he's putting fairly pedestrian numbers.  I've had some doubts about his ability to rebound, which could hurt his chances of making the league, but I've been willing to overlook this with his strong ability to score inside and out, and ability to block shots.  But he'll need to play better than he has so far to gain some ground, as his slow start doesn't appear to be a good sign right now.

5. Where would you predict D.J. Cooper to be selected in the 2013 NBA Draft?
He'll probably be in the second round to undrafted range.  Cooper did a great job of leading his team far into the 2012 NCAA Tournament, as they defeated Michigan and South Florida to face North Carolina in the Sweet 16, and he's a good facilitator, rebounds well for his size, and can come away with many steals.  He's quick, and is a fast player who can get many shots up.

However, he's been an atrocious shooter for the first three years of his career, and had a really bad shooting game against North Carolina, and took many questionable shots, though the Tar Heels possessed many solid prospects that became first rounders in the 2012 NBA Draft.  That will probably stick in the minds of several NBA teams and scouts, as that was the last big game he's played so far on national television.

But I do like that Cooper's making a concerted effort to improve his shooting, and so far it's paid off this season.  He's experiencing season bests in field goal percentage (45%) and three-point percentage (35.5%), and is becoming a better shooter and more efficient scorer this year.  His team is off to a fairly strong start with a 6-1 record, as he could make some noise if his team makes the 2013 NCAA Tournament.  He'll have to impress in the postseason, in the pre-draft camps, and in workouts, but he's off to a better start this season.  He still has ways to go before rising up draft boards, but several strong performances against top notch teams would be a good start.  I think the highest he could go would probably be in the second round, but if he plays well, he could find his way onto an NBA roster as a resourceful backup point guard in the league.

6. Will the Great West Conference be no more?
Well, they currently exist right now, and that's mostly what matters.  But after the 2013-14 season, they will only have three members so far, and they don't have an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament, as they do not appear to be recognized as an actual, legitimate conference by the NCAA.  In the future, Division II teams may be added to this conference, or the conference could disband altogether.

For now, they do exist as a conference, and though they likely won't have a team represented for at least the play-in game in the NCAA Tournament, they'll be able to crown a conference champion, which should help their conference a little bit this season.  But with teams frenetically changing conferences, it's possible that this conference may in its last years of existence.

7. Rodney Purvis is in Chad Ford's top 100.  Are you aware of this?
Yes.  He was a McDonald's All-American, where I first saw him play, and he is a skilled offensive player who can shoot and take it to the rack.  He is a very good athlete and handles the ball well, though he's asked to be much more of a role player, as he is asked to share the ball and play alongside C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell, T.J. Warren, and Scott Wood.  I do think he could be a late first round pick, but don't be surprised if his numbers appear to be fairly one-dimensional this year as he'll asked to catch and shoot, and space the floor to open up driving lanes for the rest of his teammates.

8.  Are players that play in the MEAC liable to not get drafted?  Why or why not?
I would say most of them are probably liable to not get drafted, mostly because they are perceived to play in a very weak conference, so it takes a special player to get the attention of NBA teams, executives, and scouts, and/or strong performances throughout the season and afterwards.

But I would say that Kyle O'Quinn having a great career at Norfolk State, and his strong performance when he led his team past Missouri in the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament, as well as playing very well at Portsmouth to be named MVP serves as an inspriation to MEAC players everywhere.  I think O'Quinn and Norfolk State's strong performance in the tournament and successful season gives players in the MEAC hope that there can be players that could be drafted from this conference.  It still may be a longshot that another player in the MEAC gets drafted this year or several years down the road, but it now more of a realisic possibility as it's not entirely out of the question.

9.  Were you aware that Latreze Mushatt is currently injured?
No I was not.  But thank you, for pointing that out.  I will include him in the conference previews as a returning player next season, should I continue to do them next year.

10. Durand Scott is a possible NBA prospect right?
Yes.  He is an athletic, 6-5 combo guard who can really score the basketball, defends well, and is an athletic player who can play multiple positions.  He had a very good showing against Michigan State, and I feel he could be a late first to second round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

11. Where do you project Adria Gasol in the 2013 NBA Draft, or in future drafts?
I don't project him to be drafted for the 2013 NBA Draft, or to come anywhere close.  As for future drafts, I don't have anything planned for that, so as far as my knowledge, anything goes for that, for now.  But he has not played in college basketball this season, and is technically a walk-on at UCLA, so his chances to be drafted appear to be slim and none.

If he does end up getting drafted though, it would be because a team would consider taking a flyer on him as a draft and stash pick late in the second round, since he is a Gasol brother, but he's very far away from the league, from a skill standpoint.  I think it'd be in his best interests to see how well his year goes at UCLA, and then maybe consider playing overseas in Spain in case if things don't work out well for him at UCLA.  But I do think the NBA summer leagues could be in his future, as siblings of NBA players have frequently been on summer league rosters, such as Daniel Artest, Joel Bosh, and Tony Durant.

12. Would you consider ranking NBA Draft prospects by position?
I'm leaning towards no, because we're going into an age of the positionless model, where the NBA is starting to move away from established positions.  Positions are starting to become antiquated, as it is now about putting your best five on the floor.  The Utah Jazz have incorporated Millsap at the three to implement Favors in the lineup alongside Al Jefferson, as they are starting to do this fairly regularly.

In addition, the Miami Heat are starting to use LeBron James at the four, which really creates havoc upon teams in the NBA.  In an age where multi-skilled players and versatility are valued, positions become less important and are starting to go by the wayside, which is what we're starting to see in the NBA.  Instead of the five positions, it may be more important to group players in terms of three groups; smalls, wings, and bigs, because those are the big broad strokes position groups, and seeing players this way would allow people to see players as interchangeable within the traditional position sets.

That's all for today.  Thanks for the questions.  We'll answer some new ones the next time, so continue to send in questions and searches, and hope you guys have an excellent week.  Thanks again, and we look forward to the next mailbag.