2010 Draft Preview: Upside and excitement

Upside downside inside and outside
Hittin you from every angle there’s no doubt
I am, the one and only Method Man

Method Man – Method Man

How could I even begin to talk about upside without the finest rap song addressing upside that there is?

“a guy whose skeleton is infused with upside, making his ceiling impossible to project and upside irresistible to talent scouts and general managers.”

Upside is everyone’s favorite word on draft day. Which players can improve the most? Who’ll be the league’s next future superstar? Is this player too limited because he can’t chew gum and walk at the same time? Is a player’s ability to turn on his television without using a remote or getting out of bed because of his long arms more important than the fact that he is only in his third year of organized basketball?

Decisions, decisions.

Some players jump off the page (screen I guess actually) come draft night though. They measure too well to be passed on and visions of former greats dance in the heads of fan bases and front offices alike. This draft is no different in its amount of players who’ve bathed in the sea of potential.

Xavier Henry addresses upside and other questions regarding the draft process.

Xavier Henry
Guard 6’6″
DraftExpress.com Mock:
15 Milwaukee Bucks
NBADraft.net Mock: 10 Indiana Pacers

Xavier Henry is an interesting case. One of the best freshman in the nation last season, Henry is already physically ready to step into the league and play some productive minutes. He’s one of the draft’s most prolific shooters and spent the season causing no problems off the court as he played at one of the top schools in the nation.

And almost universally people are down on him.

Henry’s athleticism supposedly doesn’t jump off the page. We’ll know more once the athletic testing numbers come out later this week from the Chicago combine, but that seems to be the primary cause for concern with the Kansas sharpshooter. Despite being 18-years-old, it’s almost as if everyone feels he’s maxed out on who he will become physically as a player. Which is crazy.

No, Henry may not turn into Jason Richardson and win dunk contests, but once he gets into the league and works with teams’ staffs, doesn’t it seem reasonable he must get a little quicker and figure out a few moves to help offset any quickness issues he has? Shouldn’t his clean rep, good size and stellar shooting ability out weigh the concerns about his athleticism. Maybe not, but if he falls into the Bucks laps at 15, he could be an incredible value.

His size is definitely a big selling point.

Among wings, Xavier Henry looks terrific, as expected, at 6-5 ¼ without shoes, with an excellent 6-11 ¼ wingspan. He has ample size to play either shooting guard or small forward, which should help ease his transition in defending perimeter players at the NBA level.

Given the struggles the Bucks had early in the season last year with Charlie Bell defending opposing shooting guards, you’d have to think if John Salmons is giving indications he’ll be interested in more money, Henry is the kind of player the Bucks are interested in at the two size wise. As a defender, the ability to get a hand in the face of opponents is huge, even if the defender can’t rise up and get a block. Charlie Bell was rarely able to bother the shots of players four or five inches taller than him and it showed in the production of opposing team’s shooting guards.

But Henry’s shooting is what’s got him to where he is now.

He shot 41.8% on 3-point shots last year and 78.3% from the free throw line. Henry struggled a bit inside the arc, making just 49.2% of those shots.    His athleticism issues seem to come to ahead on the difficulty he has creating his own shots, which is reflected in his poor shooting percentage on 2-point shots. Most of his threes, according to Draft Express, are spot-up shots, which isn’t such a bad thing. When he gets to the league, Henry will likely be relied upon initially as a shooter and spot-up shots should be the primary focus for him.

Unfortunately, wings in Milwaukee’s offense are asked to do much more than just spot-up. Creation and dribbling skills seem to be especially important in Coach Scott Skiles offense when it comes to wings, which would explain why a former point guard like John Salmons had so much success. Whether or not Henry could replicate that success is difficult to project.

Working in Henry’s favor though, is his high marks on John Hollinger’s Draft Rater.

The Draft Rater projects Henry as the sixth best prospect in this draft, not too shabby for an 18-year-old who seems to be slipping down the board. It bears mentioning, that Joe Alexander ranked very high in Hollinger’s Draft Rater before the Bucks drafted him. Yes, that didn’t work out, but couple that information along with the fact that Darnell Jackson was a top 12 prospect in his class according to the Draft Rater, and it seems like the Bucks may be analyzing stats in a similar manner.

Hassan Whiteside
Center 7’0″
DraftExpress.com Mock:
14 Houston Rockets
NBADraft.net Mock: 14 Houston Rockets

One of the first things people talk about when Whiteside comes up, after his length (the stuff of legends), is maturity. I wasn’t really sure if Whiteside deserved the bad rap he was getting when I started looking into him a few weeks ago. I tried to find anything I could that was negative about the prolific shot-blocker from Marshall and saw very little. He didn’t start Marshall’s final two games this season, apparently for some sort of issue, but their coach had little negative to say about him in the press. Immature was the word that kept coming up as I’ve read about Whiteside though.

Well, Chad Ford had more on the issue in his recent wrap-up of the Chicago combine.

A number of teams reported to me that their interviews with Whiteside were rocky. I can understand why. In the 15 minutes or so I spent with him one-on-one he projected a confidence that bordered on naïve arrogance. He compared himself to everyone from Dwight Howard to Hakeem Olajuwon (with whom he spent a week training), complained about where I had him on my mock draft (No. 14 to the Rockets) and was insulted that our scouting report didn’t have more on his 3-point shooting ability.

Whiteside clearly believes he has the stuff to be great … but my interview with him was eerily similar to the one I had with Tyrus Thomas a few years ago.

As a prospect, complaining about your ranking seems like a significant no-no. If he wants it to change, the best way to go about that is working hard and showing he’s interested in tackling his flaws. Whiteside appears more interested in touting his perceived strengths than making his flaws lesser. The thought of Whiteside hanging out around the 3-point line all game ala Tim Thomas already has me petrified.

But oh that tantalizing upside. Whiteside is the exact type of player that the word upside became part of the NBA lexicon for. This tidbit of information from DraftExpress shows why he could be so maddening and why he’s such an intriguing prospect.

The freakiest measurements of all belong to Hassan Whiteside.  The soon-to-be 21-year-old freshman bafflingly elected to arrive for measurements in flip-flops (a true story), which only gave him an additional inch in shoes (6-10 ½ without shoes, 6-11 ½ with)—as opposed to Cold Aldrich who gained 2 ¼ inches. With that said, he possesses one of the longest wingspans in NBA pre-draft camp history at 7-7.

7-7 wingspan? Seriously? It’s no wonder Whiteside had three points, rebounds and blocks triple-doubles last season. Whiteside could step into the league and be an impact defender, that is, if he can stay out of foul trouble and contribute enough in other areas to get on the court. It doesn’t always work out that way though. Remember Hasheem Thabeet? One of the NCAA’s finest shot-blockers ever, Thabeet spent time in the D-League last season as a number two pick before getting much serious run with the Grizzlies.

But Whiteside’s ability to step out and hit a jumper (and in his mind, step out and hit threes) gives hope that he could develop enough of an offensive game to be serviceable. The name that comes up most with regard to similarities on ESPN.com is Marcus Camby, who certainly has developed the ability to step out and hit mid-range jumpers.

Whiteside is certainly the classic, high-risk high-reward pick, but at 15 overall for the Bucks, it’s more of a medium-risk.

Kevin Seraphin
Center 6’10”
DraftExpress.com Mock:
24 Atlanta Hawks
NBADraft.net Mock: Not listed (?)


Yeah, that’s what I said too. I hadn’t heard much about Seraphin until I saw him in the lower half of the first round on a couple of mocks and started looking into him. A 6’10” center with a 7-3 wingspan, Seraphin is the latest French import catching the eyes of the league’s decision makers.

Having only started playing basketball when he was 15, Seraphin is, believe it or not, a little raw. I know, I know, you’re shocked. But his great size and ability that has gotten him into the starting lineup for one of the top teams in France according to Draft Express, has a lot of teams interested in finding out more about him.

Seraphin looks like he might be able to eventually step in and be a nice backup for Andrew Bogut, but he probably isn’t the answer the Bucks are looking for at power forward according to Draft Express.

His activity level and intensity seem to fluctuate quite a bit from game to game (leading to some inconsistent performances), he has limitations stepping away from the basket, his ball-handling skills are crude, and his mid-range jumper is very much a work in progress – all hints that his future position is clearly center, where his bulk and length should compensate for the inch or two he lacks in prototypical size for an NBA 5-man.

Even more appealing, is that Seraphin could be left in France for another year or two so his skills could develop and paycheck could be delayed. Staying in Europe is often a very attractive scenario to teams, it’s like sending a prospect to finishing school without having to foot the bill. When Seraphin is ready, he can come back and hopefully step in and play meaningful minutes right away, creating a very nice value. Ersan Ilyasova certainly has panned out nicely.

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