Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Four (#16-20)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Four (#16-20)
Sep 10, 2010, 02:57 pm
To get a jump on the rapidly approaching NCAA season, we continue to break down the top individual NBA prospects in college basketball, going conference by conference. Part four of the Big Ten is led by Ohio State's David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale, followed by Michigan State's Draymond Green, Illinois' Mike Davis and Michigan State's Delvon Roe.

Freshmen have been excluded from these previews, as we'd like to wait and see what they have to offer on the NCAA circuit before we come to any long-term conclusions.

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part One (#1-5)
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Two (#6-10)
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Three (#11-15)

#1 Rodney Williams
#2 Maurice Creek
#3 Kalin Lucas
#4 Durrell Summers
#5 JaJuan Johnson
#6 Robbie Hummel
#7 William Buford
#8 Demetri McCamey
#9 Christian Watford
#10 Brandon Paul
#11 E'Twaun Moore
#12 John Shurna
#13 Jon Leuer
#14 D.J. Richardson
#15 Talor Battle

#16 David Lighty, 6'5, SG/SF, Senior, Ohio State
12.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 49% FG, 38% 3PT, 63% FT

Joseph Treutlein

After breaking his foot early in the 2008-2009 season, David Lighty came back strong as a redshirt junior this past year, posting the best numbers of his career and playing an integral role on a very successful Buckeyes team. Lighty re-fractured that same foot early in this offseason, however, so he once again will need to return from injury come November, while he'll simultaneously have to adjust to playing a more prominent role in Ohio State's offense with playmaker Evan Turner now in the NBA.

Looking at this past season, Lighty made subtle improvements all across the board as a player, increasing his production and efficiency in nearly every category. As a scorer, he's become more accustomed to his strengths and weaknesses over time, while gradually improving his ball-handling and shooting to an extent along the way.

While Lighty still doesn't possess much in terms of advanced moves off the dribble, he's gotten better at attacking on straight-line drives in the half-court and in open space in transition, having a decently controlled handle with both hands, albeit one not especially low to the ground. He has a good first step and second gear, which he combines with good footwork in the lane, as he's often able to gain separation when not in a crowd. This isn't to say that Lighty doesn't possess problems in this area, as he turns the ball over fairly frequently and doesn't operate well when spaces close up, but he's capable of doing damage off the dribble at this level.

In terms of putting the ball in the basket, Lighty is a very good finisher around the basket, especially in transition, where he shows great body control and touch along with a willingness to draw contact when necessary. He's worked on his runners and right-handed floaters to complement this somewhat, but both of those areas are still a work in progress.

The biggest development as a scorer for Lighty this past season would have to be his spot-up shot, as he hit a respectable 38% from behind the arc on 3.1 attempts per game. Lighty has a deliberate shot that he likes to fade away on a bit with a very high shooting arc, but it's very effective in space when he has the time to get it off. Things break down a bit when he's closely contested and break down severely when he's pulling up off the dribble, while he also hasn't shown much NBA range yet. Projecting to the next level, and looking at the limited sample size and his poor free throw percentages (63%), this area of Lighty's game is still sub-par for a shooting guard, and is definitely something that would help his stock considerably if he continued improving.

Another area where Lighty has developed nicely is with his passing game, as he plays a very heady, team-oriented style of basketball, rarely showing tunnel vision on his drives, keeping his head up, and being capable of throwing passes on the move. He dished out three assists per game as the team's tertiary ball-handler this past year, doing so on a variety of drive-and-kicks and hitting cutters in the lane.

On the defensive end, Lighty continues to be a very effective and versatile weapon at this level, frequently matching up against point guards through power forwards on the perimeter and in the post. He plays with excellent fundamentals and awareness to go along with a very high motor, constantly moving his feet, keeping his hands up, and contesting shots all over the floor. Projecting to the pros, however, it's hard to see Lighty's positional versatility carrying over, as his lateral quickness won't be up to par against point guards and he will be overmatched in terms of size against power forwards and even many small forwards. His physical tools project to match up very well against shooting guards, however there are questions if he has the requisite ball-handling and shooting abilities to play the position offensively.

Looking forward, Lighty still appears to have work to do as a fifth-year senior to move himself into serious draft discussions, though the progress he showed this past season is a very nice starting point. The biggest things he has working in his favor are his high motor, strong work ethic, and commitment to playing hard and smart on both ends of the floor, something coaches certainly appreciate from their bench players. Ultimately, though, there may not be one specific thing Lighty does at an above average level for an NBA shooting guard just yet, and that is a big sticking point with many talent evaluators.

#17 Dallas Lauderdale, 6-8, Senior, Power Forward/Center, Ohio State
6.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, .3 assists, .9 turnovers, 2.1 blocks, 77% FG, 41% FT

Walker Beeken

The Ohio State Buckeyes put together a strong season in 2009-2010, winning the Big Ten Tournament and earning a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, before eventually falling in the Sweet 16. They'll strive for similar results this season, and they'll need a solid season from senior Dallas Lauderdale to make it happen. Lauderdale will need to grow in a few key areas this season to help the Buckeyes' reach their potential, and to establish himself as a legitimate prospect for the 2011 NBA Draft.

At 6'8”, 260 pounds, with a freakishly long wingspan, Lauderdale started at the center position for Ohio State last season in a four out, one in system where he was surrounded by perimeter players. As the team's lone big man, he was clearly the fifth option offensively, with his touches limited mainly to dump offs around the basket and offensive rebound opportunities. He made the most of his shot attempts, however, leading all players in our database shooting an incredible 77.3% from the field. Lauderdale's offensive game is still very raw at this point though. He is a horrendous free throw shooter (40.7% last season) and his face up game is nonexistent. His post moves are limited as well, but he has started to develop a basic jump hook with decent touch, which he seems to be comfortable shooting turning to either shoulder and using either hand.

Lauderdale is a much more intriguing prospect on the defensive end. He has a big, strong frame and a tremendous wingspan that allows him to defend players much taller than him in the post. He also blocked 3.5 shots per forty minutes pace adjusted last season, which ranked him 13th of all players in our database. The obstacle Lauderdale will face on this end as a pro is which position he'll be able to defend. Although he does play much taller than his 6'8, it may be a stretch for him to guard some of the bigger centers in the NBA in the paint at times. And while he does have good feet and runs the floor pretty well for a guy his size, he doesn't possess the lateral quickness to cover face up power forwards.

The biggest concern when evaluating Lauderdale as a prospect are his underwhelming rebounding numbers. He averaged a paltry 8.5 rebounds per forty minutes pace adjusted last season, despite having all of the physical tools to be dominant on the glass. This will be the most important area to watch him this season, as a player with his lack of polish offensively has to be a top notch rebounder in order to find a niche at the NBA level. Much of the problem with Lauderdale comes down to simply playing with more energy. He has just an average motor and his conditioning level is also questionable, which prevents him from being as active as he needs to be going after rebounds. Becoming more judicious with when to pursue weak-side blocks and when to stay home could help as well.

This will be Lauderdale's last season to impress NBA scouts, and he'll have to make strides to show that he's a legit NBA player. We've seen there is a place in the NBA for undersized big men with limited offensive skills who can block shots, but those who have succeeded have also been great energy guys and beasts on the glass. More likely than not, Lauderdale is a guy we'll be seeing at Portsmouth this upcoming April.

#18 Draymond Green, 6-6, Junior, Power Forward/Center, Michigan State
9.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 1.2 steals, .9 blocks, 53% FG, 67% FT, 13% 3P

Jonathan Givony

A player with one of the most unique skill-sets in the NCAA, Michigan State's Draymond Green is a collegiate center with the height of a small forward, the passing skills of a point guard, the rebounding tenacity of a power forward and the scoring repertoire of an old school pivot.

From a physical standpoint, Green is a below average prospect at best, as he's severely undersized with underwhelming athleticism and struggles at times with his conditioning due to his hefty frame. He gets his shot blocked quite a bit around the basket, is often the last one making his way up the court in transition, and can look quite winded at times, which hampers him defensively and can get him in foul trouble.

Green's best attributes clearly revolve around his phenomenal basketball IQ and overall versatility, as he's clearly an integral part of Michigan State's game-plan. Quite a bit of their offense goes through him at the elbow, where he can make strong decisions with the ball in his hands and is a threat to beat his opposition with either his jump-shooting ability, his driving skills, or especially with his passing.

Green is one of the best passing big men in all of college basketball, sporting an assist to turnover ratio that most point guards would envy at nearly 2/1, and averaging nearly 5 assists per-40, which is simply phenomenal.

Also an improving jump-shooter, Green showed significant improvement this past season in his ability to spread the floor, out to about 17-18 feet. The next step for him will be to expand his range out to the 3-point line, as it's clear that he will struggle to finish quite as efficiently around the basket in the NBA due to his lack of size and explosiveness.

Green has nimble feet and makes quick, strong, decisions with the ball in his hands, showing a very good left-handed drive he likes to mix in, often after a shot-fake. His ball-handling skills are very good for a big man, and Michigan State at times calls upon him to help break the opposition's full-court press, something he's capable of doing. He can also do some damage with his back to the basket, although it's not quite clear how well this part of his game will translate to the next level considering his lack of size.

Defensively, Green has some very good things going for him—mainly his terrific timing and soft hands, things that allow him to contribute significantly in terms of making plays on the court and getting his team extra possessions. He's an excellent rebounder (12.3 per-40p), particularly on the defensive end, and gets quite a few blocks (1.5 per-40p) and steals (1.9 per-40p) thanks to his ability to anticipate with his terrific feel for the game.

Unfortunately, Green's physical limitations make it quite difficult to project him as being anything more than a liability on this end of the floor in the NBA. His lack of size means he's quite easy to post up and just shoot over the top of even at the NCAA level, and his poor lateral quickness makes it tough to envision him being able to guard most power forwards on the perimeter or even less likely small forwards, which his height suggests he'd have to. This will be a major hurdle for Green to overcome, and it's not quite clear whether a NBA team will be able to get past this issue, despite what he contributes in various other facets of the game.

Regardless, Green projects as an excellent pro prospect who should be able to make a solid living at a high level in Europe, where he can continue to play his natural position at the 4/5. If he can find a way to continue to improve his shooting range and show better defensive versatility than we're giving him credit for, he could possibly make a stronger case for himself for the NBA.

#19 Mike Davis, 6'9, Senior, Power Forward, Illinois
10.7 Points, 9.2 Rebounds, 0.9 Assists, 1.5 Turnovers, 0.6 Blocks, 47% FG, 63% FT

Matt Williams

Last season was a difficult one for Illinois power forward Mike Davis. After exploding onto the national scene as a sophomore, the Virginia native took a step back as a junior, struggling to take his game to the next level. While he once again intrigued scouts with his skill level and posted a number of impressive double-doubles, he seemed to be treading water in a role that nearly mirrored the one he played a year before. Despite all that, Davis flirted with the idea of staying in the draft before returning the school. Heading into his senior year, Davis will once again have an opportunity to boost his stock, but faces a number of notable challenges in doing so.

As a sophomore, Davis showed the ability to score from the inside and outside, seeming to excel at exploiting mismatches and taking advantage of situations where his teammates distorted the defense. While by no means did Davis prove incapable of doing those things last season, he was not nearly as efficient in the areas that gave scouts pause the year before.

The biggest drop off in Davis's offensive efficiency came in the post, where he continued to show good touch, but struggled to connect on shots that he made routinely as a sophomore. The jump hooks, floaters, and turnaround jumpers that made him so effective only fell at a 36.5% rate, down from the 61.3% he shot from the post the seasons before. It seems that Davis's inability to establish position began to catch up with him as opposing defenders made a concerted effort to force him away from the basket and body him when he made his initial moves.

Away from the rim, Davis's efficiency didn't deteriorate quite as dramatically. He still showed a lack of consistency in catch and shoot situations, but continued to impress with his ability to put the ball on the floor and knock down midrange jumpers. Fairly reliant on his right hand when attacking off the dribble, Davis possesses a nice floor game for a big man and can surprise with his knack for finding the open man, but his long, loose shooting mechanics don't allow him to exploit his ability to get open in pick and pop situations or use his dribble to create separation.

Apart from his inside and outside game, Davis proves to be an effective finisher around the rim. Though contact can be an issue for him, his length, willingness to run the floor, and ability to present a big target moving without the ball allow him to make an impact at the basket. In addition to that, Davis has gotten more adept at creating second shot opportunities, but still isn't always as active and aggressive as he could be.

Davis is a very capable rebounder on the whole, nearly averaging a double-double. While he's a good offensive rebounder, he's even better on the defensive end, rankings amongst the top-20 rebounders in our database. Defensively, he does an excellent job going straight up in the post and using his length to contest shots. This keeps him out of foul trouble and allows him to get good position to pursue rebounds. On occasion, Davis flashes the ability to come over from the weak-side and surprise would-be finishers, but isn't aggressive enough to be a major help-side presence. Away from the rim, Davis showed better effort as a junior than he did as a sophomore, but is still limited by his average lateral quickness.

Though Davis has his merits as a prospect, he couldn't parlay the momentum from his sophomore year into a strong junior campaign. He still has an impressive skill level for a big man, but his lack of bulk is a concern when projecting him to the next level and his consistency leaves a lot to be desired. Davis isn't likely to see his role expand too much this season with much of Illinois' core returning, but if he can polish certain aspects of his game, be more active defensively, and continue to rebound at a high rate, he could warrant a second-look moving into next summer.

#20 Delvon Roe, 6-8, Junior, Power Forward, Michigan State
6.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.4 turnovers, 0.8 steals, 0.9 blocks, 55% FG, 66% FT

Kyle Nelson

Delvon Roe just might be college basketball's toughest and injury prone player. Consider the following: after Roe's high school career ended with a microfracture procedure on his right knee, he hyper-extended his left knee and tore his right meniscus during the 2009-2010 season. Roe, however, withheld his injury from Michigan State's coaching staff and played the remainder of the season in intense pain through Michigan State's Final Four run. Unfortunately, though certainly not undeservedly, when Delvon Roe plays, his injuries are the subject of conversation rather than abilities.

From a physical standpoint, Roe looks the part of an NBA combo-forward at 6'8 with a strong frame and long arms. While he likely has to continue to fill out his frame if he wishes to play in the NBA post, he overpowers players at the collegiate level with his strength. Though injuries have obscured his athleticism thus far in his collegiate career, Roe still has good quickness for the post, which coupled with his relentlessly aggressive style of play, allows him to scrappily contribute despite his lack of explosiveness at this point. If he can improve upon the flashes of athleticism and fluidity that he displayed at times last year, however, then Roe is a completely different prospect.

Unfortunately, outside of Roe's athletic potential and solid size, he does not bring much to the table offensively, though his injuries likely are responsible for last season's drop in production. Though he arrived at Michigan State billed as a combo-forward, he does not show much of a face-up game. When Roe receives the ball, he rarely will go into triple threat position or drive to the basket. Rather, he pauses and looks lost, oftentimes passing the ball out to the perimeter if he cannot back his man down.

His jump shot is also raw, showing little improvement from his freshman season. He has a slow and deliberate shooting motion with inconsistent mechanics. He has improved considerably, however, as a free throw shooter, where he now makes 66.1% of his 5.7 attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted versus the 45.5% he shot as a freshman. Roe must become more comfortable facing the basket and on the perimeter if he wants to achieve his potential and emerge as a legitimate prospect for the next level.

Roe's back to the basket game is not perfect, either, though he has improved somewhat since his freshmen season. Despite his injuries, he is still stronger, quicker, and more agile than many Big 10 big men, which allows him to get to the basket as often as his improved, but still not great, footwork allows. His touch around the basket is only slightly above average, as well, though he is considerably better when he is not rushed, as evidenced by the reliable left hook that he made at a nice rate last season.

Where Roe truly stands out as a prospect, however, is with his energy. He is a very smart player with excellent intangibles, willing to move without the ball, set good screens, talk to his teammates, and make the extra pass. Similarly, few collegiate players know their limitations and play within their abilities, both in terms of skill and athleticism, as well as Roe. He also does a good job on the glass, especially on offense, where he uses his size and agility to rebound the ball in the paint and score off of put-backs.

Defensively, Roe is a mixed bag, once again showing excellent intangibles and fundamentals, but limited by his lack of ideal lateral quickness. He works very hard guarding his man in the post and, at the collegiate level, is able to overcome his lack of elite size and bulk by sheer effort. Also and as mentioned in past articles, Roe has excellent timing and a solid basketball IQ, which combined with his length, allows him to gather blocks and steals despite his athletic deficiencies. Unfortunately, however, it is difficult to project him as a competent perimeter defender at the next level.

Going into his junior year at Michigan State Roe is the consummate collegiate role player, displaying the basketball IQ, discipline, toughness, and versatility that is coveted by NBA scouts. He could emerge as a completely different and more intriguing NBA prospect down the road, however if he regains the athleticism that made him a high school star. Early reports from East Lansing indicate that Roe is healthy and ready to produce on both ends of the floor for Michigan State next season. Expectations should be tempered, however, as Roe's troubled injury history has often impeded the tremendous potential and promise that he showed as one of the most valued high school recruits in the country.

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