Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Five Future Impact Players (3-5 Years)

1. Andrea Bargnani. This guy could make an impact in less than three years. Unlike most European players who are drafted young and raw, Bargnani is 20 and has been playing in one of Europe’s most competitive leagues for one of Europe’s most competitive teams, and playing well. At 7’0,” the obvious comparison is Dirk, and all reports are that Bargnani is the real deal. Along with a strong perimeter game, he boards pretty well, and gives good effort on D. Word is Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo is a big fan, and many predict Bargnani will be the first pick in the draft.

2. Tyrus Thomas. A freakish athlete at 6’9”, Thomas burst onto the scene with his dominant performance during the NCAA tournament. With his ability to run the court and fill up a stat sheet, many have compared him to Shawn Marion. Critics wonder if he might be the next Stromile Swift. Personally, I think a better comparison is to a shorter, “poor man’s Amare Stoudamire.” His athleticism and shot-blocking ability make him extremely disruptive on D, and he runs the court very well. His offensive game is raw, but at only 19, that can develop. Bulls GM John Paxson is said to be in love with Thomas at #2. One worry: with rookie contracts under the new CBA being only for three years, he’ll still be too raw at the end of his first contract for the team that drafts him to be able to tell whether or not he’s the next Marion or the next Swift. This will make it hard for someone to decide whether to re-sign him. But he has the ability to be the best player in this draft.

3. Randy Foye. Some have referred to Foye as a “poor man’s Dwayne Wade.” He’s athletic, but not as strong or explosive as Wade. He’s skilled enough to help out now, but some teams want him to learn to run the point. Give him a couple years to pick up the position, and with his basketball smarts, whoever drafts him will be pleased.

4. Rudy Gay. In the past, Gay would have been on my “overrated” list, due to his propensity to disappear during games and questions about his heart. However, after Charlie Villanueva showed me up for dogging him about those issues later, I’ll give Gay a shot. He is a long, strong, freakish athlete with a good jumper and ball skills. He can do pretty much everything on the court, when he wants to. If he matures, he probably has the most potential of anyone in this draft.

5. Joel Freeland. This 7-foot Brit star of the Reebok Eurocamp has only been playing basketball for three years. He’s very athletic, blocks shots, and plays high-energy D. Offensively his skills are developing rapidly, and he’s already getting a decent mid-range jumper. He could be a real steal at the beginning of the second round, but he’ll take at least 2-3 years to develop.

Adam’s Comments: First of all, British people can’t play basketball, so that Freeland guy is going to suck. As for your other choices, I see that you also like Foye but think he needs time to learn the point. Fair enough, although I personally think that in today’s NBA he can ball right away. You don’t need defined guards anymore as evidenced by Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa and others who are “tweeners” yet still make huge impacts. I think if you can make defenses respect with your jumper, get by people with the dribble, and finish at the rim, you can destroy defenses. Does Foye fit the bill? Check, check, and check. So I think he contributes right away.

I believe that Gay is just as likely to be out of the league in five years as he is to be any good. I know The Seal (Charlie V) has you rethinking things, but I remember Villanueva putting forward pretty good effort. The questions about him were more centered on “will he get it?” He had concentration issues more than hustle problems. With Gay, he simply doesn’t seem to give a crap. My Dad calls him Darius Miles with a better jumper. Now, some people think that’s all Miles needs and would therefore take that as a compliment. Trust me, its not.

The guys that I think will be really good down the road after slow starts are Alexander Johnson (possible workout wonder, but more likely a legit player that is still learning how to use his new lean, mean frame), Mouhamed Saer Sene (supposedly he went from not being able to shoot a layup to being a physical specimen in one year – I think he’s going to be a better version of Diop, which suddenly isn’t too terrible), and Shawne Williams.

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