“There is 1 guy that shows up on far too many mock drafts this year that just screams big white bust. And I don’t mean the good kind, like Lotta Topp. I mean like Jon Koncak, Joe Klein, Patty O’Bryant (face it – he’s white), Lampe, Frederick Weis, and Tim Young (that one still stings, even though it was in the 2nd round). And that guy is Kosta Koufus. Do you see him going in the 1st round?”
M: I think Koufos is definitely going in the 1st round, in fact Chad Ford currently has him going to your Golden State Warriors (though we doubt that happens). And in truth he should be, if for no other reason that Hedo Turkoglu needs a Euro uglier than himself in the league. It’s unfair to lump the Greek buzzard with those other guys – he may end up being a stiff, but he’ll be his own stiff. He’s not a banger like Koncak or Klein, and he’s not dead on arrival like those other guys. Koufos can shoot, that’s the big difference, and if he can mix it up even a little bit there’s room for a guy who’s 7 feet and can consistently hit the mid-range jumper. Even if that room is as LeBron’s caddy.
I’ll tell you who looks like the bust of the draft to me – JaVale McGee. The similarities to O’Bryant are frightening, even down to the Irish surname. Seriously, check out a youtube clip of him and tell me this couldn’t have been Patrick O’Bryant’s highlight reel.
Speaking of which, here’s a youtube clip from one of my favorite potential sleeper/busts in the draft, Jason Thompson. Biggest surprise? The Rider student body is hot. Almost makes up for a Communications department that is about as sophisticated as Hayward High’s.
R: Agree on the Koufos assessment. I think he should be a pretty good player in the league. He’s big and he’s skilled and virtually every PF/C in this draft is some kind of gamble. Having said that I understand why people are dubious about him. Probably my least favorite thing about the institution of the one-and-done rule is the insistence of pretty good prospects who had below average seasons to enter the draft solely on the basis of their stock prior to college. Jordan, Greene, Koufos, Hickson were all at least borderline Lottery picks if they’d been able to go from the Preps to the Pros, they couldn’t, they had average NCAA years and are entering anyway. Part of it is probably a personal problem. I like the rule and think it works wonderfully with the Beasleys and Roses and even Mayos of the world, who reinforce their early hyperbole. But the criticism of it creating collegiate mercenaries is only reinforced by the aforementioned four, whose accumulated college success are a one game NCAA tournament appearance and an NIT Championship. But you should see their AAU highlight reels on You Tube.
As for the bust prediction, I’d agree with McGee if I still thought people had him pegged as a late lottery pick, but anymore both the Armani and Armchair G.M.s seem to have him going from the late teens to late twenties, which sounds about right. This is a kid who dominated athletically against underwhelming competition, in an underwhelming conference, who looks like Austin Daye’s younger brother and whose resume highlight presently is a couple of forwarded You Tube clips (let’s be honest, if they edited three minutes of you and I playing basketball and set it to Talib Kweli’s “Just to Get By” we’d probably look like late lottery picks also.) To me in order to bust there has to be an almost unanimous sense of the picks unbustability. Your previous reference to Sweetney is a great example. I’d lay my busts out as follows:
1) Anthony Randolph – Chard Ford has him rated as a Top 5 talent on the basis of intangibles.
2) Alexis Ajinca – Three days ago this guy was barely in the first round, suddenly he’s a Lottery Pick. This did not turn out so well with Mouhamed Saer Sene.
3) Russell Westbrook – I actually like Westbrook a lot. But I like him going to the Pacers or Kings or a late Lottery team. There were questions about Westbrook in terms of position transition coming out of the season and I’m not sure those questions have been sufficiently answered. Westbrook’s two best qualities are his strength and athleticism, aren’t those usually qualities associated with Power Forwards? Sure he can play some point, sure he was effective when Collison went out mid-season, but if you take him at 4,5,6 you’re basically drafting your franchise Point Guard, and I’m not sure he’ll ever be fully effective without some other Point Guard or distributor to play off of.
This all brings up an interesting thought. In terms of the differences between the NBA and NFL Draft, and there are myriad, isn’t the biggest one the following: at the time of the NFL Draft the draft makes sense, and in retrospect it makes virtually none. It’s impossible to assume, from a college evaluation standpoint, that the back-up running back for a mediocre Minnesota Golden Gophers team (Marion Barber) is going to be a better pro than the enigmatic Longhorn who helps carry his team to a Rose Bowl win (Cedric Benson). Benson as the fifth pick, given his collegiate output, wasn’t farfetched three years ago, now he can’t get claimed off waivers. Good luck trying to glean who are your Tom Bradys and who are your Heath Shuler’s or for that matter who are your Peyton Manning’s and who are your Heath Shulers. Inversely the NBA Draft is completely chaotic early on. The importance of workouts, the inability to assess comprehensive career output given the sheer number of preps, one-and-dones and Euros, the constant posturing of agents and coaches and General Managers. But when you look back on the draft, and who picked where, you think “yes, of course.” Look at 2003. You have one of the greatest, and certainly the most touted, High School players in the history of the sport, you have an NCAA Champion as well as 3 other players who had just appeared in the Final Four, and you have a mystery Euro who no one’s really seen and who most recently was playing hoops in gyms where spectators could smoke. Of this group who do you think is going to be the bust? But in 2003 no less a G.M. than Joe Dumars passed on Anthony, Bosh, Wade, hell even Hinrich, to take Darko. So this year if Ajinca ends up drafted before Hibbert (and International Bigs are the basketball equivalent of the Commodities Market, he could 5, he could go 50…Saer Sene vs. Pavel Podkolzine) would it really shock either of us retrospectively if Hibbert ended up the better pro?