Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Five Impact Players for Next Year

1. Brandon Roy. He’s the most NBA-ready of the players in the draft. He actually measured even taller (6’6 ½”) and tested as more athletic than most expected at the recent combine. Roy is a complete player on both ends of the floor, can get to the hoop, shoot, handle the rock, and create shots for his teammates. He’ll contribute next year.

2. Shelden Williams. Williams isn’t the most athletic guy in the draft, but he’s a great rebounder and shotblocker, and he can score with his back to the basket. He’s benefited from playing in Coach K’s system for the past 4 years. He’ll be a solid player next year, and for the next 10 years, but don’t expect him to get too much better than he is now.

3. J.J. Redick. We can’t leave out Williams’ former Duke teammate and first-team All-American, Redick. Some knock his athleticism and ability to get his own shot, especially after he couldn’t knock anything down against LSU in the NCAA tourney. However, he is still a lights-out shooter, and as a role player in the NBA, he won’t have defenses focused on shutting him down. On the right team, one with a good post player and/or someone who can drive to the hoop and force the D to collapse, he’ll be able to make a career of knocking down kickout jumpers.

4. Adam Morrison. I’m not a huge Morrison fan. A big portion of his game revolves around creating space for his sweet jumper, but I have my doubts about whether or not he’ll be able to do this against many of the more athletic defenders in the NBA. Nonetheless, he’s a pretty good scorer, and will probably average around 12 points per game next year. In a shallow draft like this one, he’ll probably make one of the biggest impacts of anyone in his class.

5. LaMarcus Aldridge. I wanted to give this spot to Andrea Bargnani, who could really be something special. But Aldridge, who’s been knocked for not being strong enough, is still much stronger than Bargnani. Aldridge crashes the boards hard, runs the court well for a big man, and can score both facing the basket and with his back to it. His scoring at Texas was deceptively low due to the fact that he played with a number of ballhogs.

Adam’s Comments: First of all, Dritz, way to stretch yourself. All five of these guys are projected as top-eight picks, so those were some bold choices. (Voice dripping with sarcasm.) That said, I can see all these guys faring okay next year. Roy is my guy and as many of you know (if you religiously read and memorize the blog – and really, who doesn’t?), I have been touting him for Rookie if the Year since March. Not only is he a very skilled and mature player, but his name is spelled R-O-Y, which stands for … you know it.

I find it interesting that you give Redick a boost by virtue of the fact that defenses won’t focus on him as much in the pros, yet you don’t give Morrison the same benefit of the doubt. I guess it all depends on where they end up. If Morrison winds up in Portland (as anticipated due to the ongoing “Draft the Stache” campaign), he is indeed going to have to work extremely hard to get shots. Whereas if Redick goes to Houston like Chad Ford seems to think, he will be feasting on Yao and T-Mac kick-outs. I suppose I agree with you, but it really boils down to their respective situations.

As for my top five “immediate contributors,” I would include Roy and Aldridge (I think he’s quickly becoming the most underrated player in the draft, as he and Roy have basically traded places on most projections), as well as Randy Foye (Roy’s biggest challenger for ROY, depending on who drafts Foye), Marcus Williams, and Shannon Brown (my choice for the “Josh Howard Late-20’s Pick That Blows Up” Award).

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