DraftExpress Mailbag (#2)

DraftExpress Mailbag (#2)
Dec 24, 2005, 04:03 am
Part two of our newest feature on Every week or so we will try to answer the best questions we are asked either by email or other methods. Questions about specific prospects, requests for features on the site, the policies, methods and principles we try to incorporate into the site, complaints, praise or anything else is fair game. If you would like to write an observation about a prospect, team or trend we are seeing lately anywhere in the world, feel free to as well. If you would like to participate, please get in touch using the “contact us” form or send me an email .


Hi, great work with the site! You guys cover basketball like no one in the media does. Keep up the great work.

My question is, where is the love for the mid-major players this year? You guys did an awesome job all season long nailing guys like Andrew Bogut, Danny Granger,Orien Greene, Devin Green, Robert Whaley and others last year…why have you guys gone away from that? Are there just not many good mid-major prospects this year?


Thanks for the kind words. It’s a very valid question you ask. The biggest challenge when it comes to covering the mid-major prospects is actually getting to see them play. We have a strict policy on this site; we don’t talk about players that we haven’t seen with our own eyes. Last year we relied heavily on requesting tapes from the schools themselves to watch players that weren’t under the national spotlight. This year our appetites have been wet and we have an even bigger list of players to keep track of, but unfortunately it’s been tough to acquire tapes of some of them. I believe that the fact that we were able to get a number of tapes of Orien Greene (Louisiana Lafayette was great here) helped us find out that there is a highly intriguing NBA prospect playing in the Sun Belt. Ultimately from what he says this helped Greene show that to NBA teams himself, as the Celtics were one of the many teams following what we had written about him. Will we be able to do the same this season for some of our sleepers?

Some mid-major coaches we’ve dealt with appear to be reluctant about seeing their players get the type of exposure that could very well help them in their future professional careers, whether it’s in the NBA or in Europe. One college coach told me that he “doesn’t want this NBA stuff to be a distraction from winning our conference”. This is in stark contrast other high profile, high-major programs we’ve dealt with who are often more than willing to help out with whatever is needed, whether its questions about a scouting report, a tape, or even an invitation to watch the player practice.

That’s not saying that all mid-major coaches are bad and all high-major coaches are good, or that anybody owes us anything for that matter, but this is something that is tough to understand. Whether its NBA scouts who tell us that they read this site frequently to make sure they “aren’t missing out on anyone or anything”, or the many European teams that are constantly on the lookout for potential targets, this is not something that can hurt the player or the team. Finding the diamonds in the rough is probably the most rewarding part of doing what we do, and I truly do believe that there are a lot of excellent players outside of the major conferences. Without just a little bit of help from the people this affects most, though, it’s often hard to get a read on them. And that can be a bit frustrating.


People always say that the biggest improvement in ability for players is often shown between their freshman and sophomore seasons in college. Which sophomores do you think have made the biggest leaps in ability compared with their freshman year?


I think you are right. I’ll try to list five players who have really stood out in the early going so far.

Biggest Leap:

LaMarcus Aldridge- Yeah, I know, he only played 16 games last season because of injury. Still, you can’t help not being extremely impressed with how much he’s improved this year. He almost looks like a completely different player. Not only is he bigger and stronger, his attitude is much more suited to what you want to see from a guy who is 6-11, freakishly long and extremely athletic. He’s averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds and 2 and a half blocks and he’s barely broken a sweat. Look for him to continue to improve as the year moves on and his coach and teammates learn how to actually utilize him.

Al Horford+Corey Brewer+Joakim Noah- Call me a cheater, but these three guys would not be the best frontcourt in America (except for maybe UConn) if they weren’t playing alongside each other. Plus, I only have 5 spots to work with and don’t want to waste three of them here. What makes these three sophomores so fun to watch, beyond the phenomenal athleticism, fantastic defense and infectious enthusiasm they display, is they chemistry they show sharing the ball amongst themselves. Show me another 3-4-5 trio in the NCAA that averages close to 9 assists per game, despite playing in a fairly slow paced offense and just not all that much offensive skill or polish between them. All three are raw offensive players, but they make up for it by sharing the ball beautifully amongst themselves, sticking to their strengths, and executing Billy Donovan’s offense to a T. They’ve all made huge strides in their game in helping their team jump from being well out of the polls in the preseason to the top five and an 11-0 record right now.

C.J. Giles- Even though he’s still nowhere close to realizing his full potential, Giles is a guy that is really making some serious strides playing inside the post for Kansas lately. His minutes are up from 8 per game last year (with a bunch of DNP’s towards the end of the season) to 23 per game this season. His scoring has also tripled, as have his rebounds and blocks. He looked really impressive two weeks ago shutting down Leon Powe in the 2nd half of the Cal game two weeks. Giles has an incredibly high ceiling as we’ve told you many times, but he is still nowhere close to being a polished college basketball player.

Rajon Rondo- You can’t argue with the numbers, 16.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game this season compared with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists last year. And it’s not like he wasn’t playing that much for Kentucky last season, at 25 minutes per game compared with 32 this season. There is no doubt that Rondo has made a huge leap in ability, but something tells me that we haven’t seen anything yet. He is still prone to streakiness, but lets remember that like almost everyone on this list except for Aldridge (and maybe Brewer), Rondo was not considered a top basketball prospect until very late in his high school career. Which means that his learning curve is that much steeper.

Roy Hibbert- He’s 7-2, averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in just 23 minutes…and just turned 19 two weeks ago. Hibbert has been drawing great praise from everyone around the Georgetown program for the progress he’s made as a player thanks to his attitude and excellent work ethic, with Coach John Thompson even going so far as to say that “one day, Roy is going to be one of the best players in the world”. Sounds like hyperbole, but the guy is really getting people excited in the DC area. Hibbert runs the floor very well for a guy his size, but still has a lot of work to do on his all-around game. If he continues to improve the way he has over the past year, he’s probably a lock to make the NBA at his size, and could even make some serious noise in the first round when its all said and done.


Dude, check this link out…

In a way…this is the pre-history of draft web sites.

Some really nice things over there, and in 10.5 yrs perspective…even fun to read.


Dude, I love that site. VERY fun to read indeed. Whenever I am wondering how highly or lowly regarded a guy was coming out of college 5, 8, 10 years ago as a draft prospect, I go there. Check out the Brad Miller, Steve Nash, Todd Fuller, Tim Thomas and many other scouting reports. A lot of them are good, a lot of them are awful, but they all teach you a little bit about what was going on at the time they were written. They can help you learn about where and why people were right about a guy that got drafted high, or wrong about a guy that was drafted too low. As well as vice versa. It was one of the inspirations for us to start our own site about 2 years ago. It’s a shame that it hasn’t been updated past 2004. We get so many emails from people who want to contribute stuff to us, but we can’t take all of them of course. Someone should really resurrect it since it’s an awesome resource. If anybody knows what the history of that site actually is (who wrote all those scouting reports?), please let me know.

By the way, the home page for that site is:


I've been reading good things about LaMarcus Aldridge from your site and others, but have never seen him play. I'm Canadian, and we don't get much NCAA up here. In your opinion, would you say that he could be big enough to be a legitimate Centre in the NBA, or does he have more of a Chris Bosh build? What would you say his optimum playing weight would be when he matures? I imagine the answers to these questions could determine whether he goes #1 or not in 2006.


I do think he will be able to play Center in the NBA if needed, much in the way Marcus Camby or Dwight Howard play the position. It all depends on the team that drafts him and their style of play. Don’t expect him to be able to guard Shaq or anything like, but physically he should be able to hold his own against most other NBA centers inside the paint. His frame should definitely be able to put on another 20 pounds or so if needed. Even though he is only listed at 6-10, I am almost certain that he is actually a lot closer to 7 feet. He has a great wingspan and plenty of athleticism to go along with that anyway, so the physical attributes are certainly there. Offensively we know that he has a terrific package already. I would not get too hung on comparing him to Chris Bosh, even though that comparison has been out there for a long time. Bosh is listed at 6-11, but he might have the longest neck in the NBA, which adds at least another two inches to his height. That’s just wasted height obviously, which is why his standing reach (9-1) is just average for a guy that size, the same as Ike Diogu’s. Aldridge’s ability to play center will be dependant on doing two things that Bosh has shown that he can’t do well enough to play that position in the NBA, which is defend and rebound. Those are the two things that we’ll be watching closest as the year moves on, as well as his will to dominate on both ends.


I want to know more about the top PG’s that are expected to eligible for the 2006 draft. The top 3 seems to be Darius Washington, Rajon Rondo and Daniel Gibson. What are their strengths and weaknesses compared to each other? Are any of those guys future All-Star material or are they more of future starters? How do they compare to the PG:s of the 2005 draft?


Yes, those are commonly referred to as the three top candidates for 2006 at this point, even though its still very early. I wouldn’t rule out Jordan Farmar either, though. Sergio Rodriguez from Spain could be a sleeper as well, I am not sure this is the last we’ve heard of him. Look out for a detailed article this upcoming week that will answer all your questions about their strengths and weaknesses. Are any of them all-star material? I can’t say so with the same confidence that I thought Chris Paul was an all-star. I think Rondo definitely has the highest ceiling of the three, but that is dependant on a lot of things that really aren’t in my hands.


If Adam Morrison were a European prospect, would there be as many questions about his effectiveness in the NBA? He drops 40 from all over the floor in a variety of ways, and all you hear is "Well, can he do that against NBA wingmen?" I am sick of this, he plays the game on offence to near perfection, this guy deserves more hype.


More hype? I am not sure that would be possible. I don’t know what rock you are living under, but I know a lot of people that have already had enough. I could put a new Adam Morrison article on the headlines part of the site every single day if I wanted to, but I decided to hold back since it was getting out of hand I thought. He is in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated if you haven’t had your fix of his diabetes and what he thinks of the Larry Bird comparisons. No offense to Morrison, but there are a lot of other really good NCAA players out there that beat writers can talk about. But you know all about the media and their herd mentality by now.

What if he were a European prospect? Hmmm, that’s a tough to answer. I think there would probably be more questions about his game actually, since along with his obvious lack of athleticism, the fact that he isn’t a fantastic three point shooter, and his medical condition, you also would have to wonder about how his game will translate to the American style of play. So no, I think that would only hurt him more, since you can tell that there is obviously a backlash against European players with the way their success is becoming more and more rare in the NBA lately.


Nick Fazekas has been underrated all his career, and you are doing the same. He is twice the player that the Kansas Russian is, and you make it sound like they were evenly matched. Why are you so prejudiced? Can't a team besides Kansas have a good player? I am sure 90% of the major colleges would love to have him.


[This is in reference to the following article, analyzing the matchup between Nick Fazekas and Sasha Kaun.]


I am sorry you feel that way. I've been watching Fazekas play for the last 3 years now and that is my honest assessment of the player he is and his NBA potential. Instead of just throwing out baseless accusations, I would like to see you actually comment (objectively) on specific things that were written in the article about Fazekas' strengths and weaknesses as a player. We evaluate all players equally regardless of the team they play for and I really think that you completely ignored all the good things I said about him (the majority of the article) and instead decided to focus only on the bad. I don't think that a prejudiced person would go on and on the way I did about Fazekas being one of the most skilled big men to come out of the college ranks in quite some time. Go ask Nevada fans about our track record in terms of talking about the team and it's prospects and you'll discover that we've been extremely complimentary of everything the Wolfpack have accomplished over the past few years. Try to go beyond your biases as a fan of your team and actually try to think about the things we are writing. It will make you a much more open minded person.

Follow-up question:

Boy, have I been put in my place. My main point was that you started off implying Nick and Sasha had comparable games. 35 points versus 19? Come on. Sure, Nick needs even more weight, but he holds his own underneath. Your's is just an opinion, also. What's your background? Coach? NBA player? College all-star? How many games have you won? You should reread your column and see who is the most close minded.



I never said they had comparable games. You seem to be looking at this game as an indication of where these two players stand now from a head to head standpoint, while I am using it to look at different parts of their game in order to try and project how they might develop into the NBA caliber skills teams look for in from players at their positions. That seems to be the difference here. I could care less who won that game and which player got the upper hand on paper. Fazekas holds his own underneath at the college level, but from what we saw by the way he was pushed around by Kaun against Kansas and in numerous other games, he will have a tough time against NBA big guys. That's all I was trying to say.

My background is similar to many high level decision makers at the NBA level. There are quite a few that never played Division I basketball. It didn't stop people like Lawrence Frank, Donnie Nelson, Jeff Van Gundy and Sam Presti amongst many others from making a difference in the NBA and NCAA, and I don't plan on letting it stop me either. That Jeff Bowden/Billy Knight type logic is outdated and has proved to be incorrect. You don’t need to be a great chef to tell someone that their food stinks, and you don’t need to be a famous comedian to know that a joke isn’t funny.


I just read the article "Mailbag" and really enjoyed it and wanted to post a question or more so suggest a topic for a future article.

It seems the number one complaint in mainstream basketball is that the game is no longer played correctly. Its come to be somewhat of a mantra and what is left out in the discussion is how the game should be played and how it is played now. I often wonder if it is simply a hangover from the basketball played in the 1980's and early '90's or if we are not able to get a grasp a new paradigm in basketball because it is quite new and all too easy focus on the egos in the game. So I would love to see a 2 part article that

1. Describes the new trends in basketball, like the 6-9 to 7 foot small forwards, 3-4 wing player units, dual combo guard backcourts... Maybe some great scout can enlighten us on what a 5 man unit can look like and how it is effective. Show how teams can incorporate some of the athletic marvels like Nowitzki or Nate Robinson and not jeopordize the team when they face traditional position match ups. Then maybe you can highlight some future prospects that fit with some of the new phenomena.

Then 2. Could deal with players/prospects that fit the bill for old school basketball, like pass first points and back to the basket big men. Or could be looked at as far as their ability to fit into a team system like the Spurs or Pistons promote.

I think the game is very fresh and developing now and deserves some words put forth to help people (me) understand the current trends, which seem far from one dimensional when you have teams like the Suns and Hawks throwing athletes at you and the aforementioned Spurs and Pistons running a classic 5 player set.

I also have a second topic that I wish was addressed; Draft Express does a wonderful job scouting college basketball, the Internationals and now the D-League, but early this season I find a great curiosity towards players in the NBA that aren't getting minutes and seem to have talent and may have a future with another team. I cringe every time that I read the Hornets boxscores and see that Macijauskas sat another game on the bench (this to me is huge knowing what a pay cut he must be taking and having watched him in the preseason and been impressed with his aggressive play). Some other examples are Beno Udrih, Lawrence Roberts, Mario Kasun, Robert Whaley, Zarko Cabarkapa and Ha Seung-jin. These players have shown promise in limited minutes and seem to be in a scoutable positions as either being players that may blow up in time or maybe need to be in a better position.

Thank you for the invite to suggestions and an even greater thanks for providing articles to the public. By far, Draft Express has been the most enlightening basketball source I've read.

Thanx again,




Thanks for that email and especially the kind words. Some great ideas you threw out there. I am bouncing these ideas around with my staff. The stuff you are talking about in part two of your email is something that we are already working on, so good looking out on that.

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

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