A collective scouting report on 40 prospects in upcoming NBA draft
Six NBA scouts, one coach give their analysis on 40 prospects in Thursday's draft
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Finch is tired. Real, real tired.
In the last year he has traveled thousands of miles. He slept in more than a hundred hotels. In the last two months alone he has pored over video for scores of hours, watched dozens of workouts and sat through countless meetings while his co-workers shared opinions and plotted strategy.
So yeah, Finch is tired. But he's ready for his big night.
That night is Thursday, when the NBA holds its annual draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Regular visitors to this space know all about Finch. He is my amalgam of NBA scouts who have given me their thoughts on college prospects on the condition of anonymity. I usually do my Finch column late in the college basketball season, but I am offering a bonus edition now in advance of the draft.
Over the last week I interviewed six NBA scouts plus one coach to get fresh opinions that were informed by the workouts prospects have gone through for the benefit of those teams. Then I combined all the quotes into a single opinion uttered by a fictitious character named Finch. (That name was created several years ago by my highbrow colleague Alex Wolff, who selected it because Finch was the character Scout's surname in To Kill a Mockingbird.)
This year's draft features an especially strong crop of international players, but since college hoops is my bailiwick, I have limited my list of prospects to collegians. The two exceptions are Enes Kanter, the Turkish native who was a student at Kentucky but was ruled ineligible, and Jeremy Tyler, the Southern California big man who skipped his senior year of high school to play in Israel and Japan.
Here, then, are Finch's evaluations of 40 prospects who are hoping to hear their names called Thursday night. I'm sure you'll join me in wishing Finch good luck at the draft. Most of all, let's hope he gets a good night's sleep.
Marshon Brooks, 6-foot-5 senior guard, Providence. I've watched him work out, and I'll tell you what, he has really helped himself. He's long, he's athletic and he flat out scores. You watch him play at Providence and he didn't guard anybody. He also took a ton of shots. We asked him about that and he said, "My coach says I didn't shoot enough." So that was the role he was asked to play.
Alec Burks, 6-6 sophomore guard, Colorado. I'm not big on him. If your game is built on getting the ball to the rim, there are about 10 teams in the league you can't play well against. You have to be able to make open shots, and I don't know that he can do that. Burks is going to be a good player eventually, but I'd be scared to take him in the top 10 because those guys have to play right away. As good as Dwyane Wade was in college [at Marquette], what really put him over the top was when he got to where he could make NBA threes.
Jimmy Butler, 6-8 senior forward, Marquette. Typical Marquette guy. He's a hard-nosed defender, good mid-range shooter, can guard a couple of positions. Butler does a lot of different things and he's steady defensively. He's a second-round pick.
Norris Cole, 6-2 senior guard, Cleveland State. I love him. He's a poor man's Maurice Cheeks. He has defensive abilities, good size, great hands, can run a team. One of our scouts is absolutely in love with this kid. I'm telling you, his wheels are ridiculous. He's like Ty Lawson, except he's more of a scorer.
Kenneth Faried, 6-8 senior forward, Morehead State. He's a guy we're divided on. I saw him play a couple of times in college and he made some brilliant plays. I love his energy, and of course I love the way he rebounds. His footwork is terrible and he won't be able to score for you. He's not a real strong guy. To me, he's a notch below Bismack Biyombo and Tristan Thompson.
Jimmer Fredette, 6-3 senior guard, BYU. I saw him work out and he shot the ball very well. He's a little Steve Nash. People try to find a way to say he's not going to make it and find flaws. They compare him to J.J. Redick, but he can handle the ball so much better and can get his own shot. If he goes to the right team, people are going to say, "Wow, I can't believe we passed on him." He's a rich man's Dan Dickau.
Andrew Goudelock, 6-3 senior guard, College of Charleston. We had him in for a workout and I'd say he's a stretch. He didn't shoot it well but you know he can make shots, so that wasn't a concern for me. He might be an Eddie House-type who can stretch the floor. He doesn't have NBA athleticism so he has to be a specialist. Just don't say he's a point guard. If you set a pick-and-roll, the guy who sets the pick has very little chance of getting the ball. Goudelock is going to dance with it until he finds an opening for a shot.
Justin Harper, 6-9 senior forward, Richmond. I watched him in a workout, and he can really shoot. He doesn't rebound that well and he's a little soft. He's a shorter version of Channing Frye.
Tobias Harris, 6-8 freshman forward, Tennessee. I saw him in Chicago [at the draft combine] and I was very disappointed. He should have gone back to school and lost some weight [223 pounds]. He can rebound it and push it like a point forward, but his shot is a little funny. If you swing it to him and [defenders] close out, he'll be challenged. People project him as a first-rounder, but I've heard he hasn't looked good in the workouts. But he's intriguing because he's young and he does have a good feel.
Tyler Honeycutt, 6-8 sophomore forward, UCLA. He's the big tease in the draft. He's pretty talented. Passing, rebounding, has a really good floor game. He's a good athlete with a great second jump. He kind of reminds me of Doug Christie. Sure, he was inconsistent, but he was only a sophomore, right? That's not a concern for me. My worry is that he's always going to take the path of least resistance. If you're not ready to play on every possession in this league, they'll make you look silly.
Scotty Hopson, 6-7 junior guard, Tennessee. I just keep waiting for him. Waiting and waiting. He'll have a good game when he shoots and moves well, and then the next game he won't show up. He worked out for us and was just OK. His size, his length, his athleticism -- it's all good, but sometimes he floats like he doesn't care.
Kyrie Irving, 6-4 freshman point guard, Duke. Just a great kid. He has only an 11-game body of work, but he has an incredible ability to get in the lane. He's a pass-first point guard, but he can also score. He's not a freak athletically like Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook. His game is more of the Chris Paul variety, but I don't know if he'll be that good. His lateral mobility is probably his biggest question.
Reggie Jackson, 6-3 junior point guard, Boston College. He's better than people think. He's a good mid-range shooter, can shot-fake, put it on the floor and make a play. In the NBA you have to be able to make a play off a close-out, and I think he can do that.
He's been said to have a promise from Boston at No. 25, a promise from Oklahoma City at No. 24. He hurt his knee, but we hear he'll be ready. When a kid skips Chicago and skips workouts, you know something is going on. But I saw him play in the ACC Tournament and I thought he did a real nice job running his team. He reminds me a little bit of B.J. Armstrong.
Charles Jenkins, 6-3 senior guard, Hofstra. He worked out for us and he looked pretty good. When I saw him in Chicago, I thought he was heavier than I remembered and not as quick. The kid led his conference in scoring and assists and he was double-teamed all year. He's put together like a tank. People try to make him a point guard but he's not a point guard; he's more of a power guard.