The NBA draft’s first round is so passé. All the cool kids hang out until the second round. That’s why Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is still on the Bucks (and still in the NBA mind you) and Joe Alexander isn’t. Ersan Ilyasova was a second round draft choice as well. Keith Bogans is having a successful career as a second round choice of the Bucks. And though his tenure is at an end, Michael Redd is the standard-bearer of Milwaukee Bucks second-round draft picks.
There are more than just rambunctious towel-wavers in the second round. Effective big men, sharp shooters, defensive specialists and slashers can all be found late on draft night. If not, then the team can always just draft a great name like Tiny Gallon, Moochie Norris, Tito Horford or Winston Garland.
Quite often the pre-draft process of the combine, measurements and workouts tear down prospects. Guys are found to be smaller than listed in college. They don’t jump quite as high as expected. They’re footwork isn’t as refined as one would like. It’s disheartening to see such productive players from the college or European ranks drop in the draft because of such things. But for every guy sinking during the draft process, there is another player rising. Diante Garrett is such a player.
He flew under the radar of NBA scouts for his four years at Iowa State. Now he has a chance to be taken in the second round of the draft. One look at his measurements tells shows his value. His 6’4” height and 6’8” wingspan are stellar for a point guard. He has the length and speed to be a real asset on the defensive end. He can swallow up point guards with that length. Garrett can also guard shooting guards which can bring real versatility to a lineup.
Offensively, Garrett could be a liability. On a team with some kooky shooting strokes, Garrett’s would be the weirdest and arguably the worst. His whole body twists to the side and he has a slow release. Also, his decision-making is suspect at best. But he’s a sturdy ballhandler that does a good job of getting into the paint. He keeps his turnovers low and Draft Express has his Pure Point Rating at 1.93, good for seventh among all point guards in this draft.
Early in Garrett’s college career, he was asked to be merely a facilitator and ballhandler. When more was asked from him, his scoring average did go up from 11 points per game to 17, but his offensive efficiency took a hit. Being a second round choice, Garrett will immediately go back to a role that he is more comfortable in. On the Bucks, Garrett will work well within a lineup featuring two ballhandlers like coach Scott Skiles often uses. However, it’d be best if he was paired with Brandon Jennings in such a lineup as a Keyon Dooling/Diante Garrett combo would definitely leave the offense floundering.
Stretch fours that are poor shooters aren’t really stretch fours. They’re just tall guys who are bad at basketball. Trey Thompkins was labeled a stretch four early in his college career. It seemed like a well deserved label as he shot 38 percent beyond the three point line and hit 39 percent of all his jumpers in his sophomore year. Somewhere along the line he lost that touch as he only shot 24 percent from three and 23 percent on all jumpers in his last college season.
Loss of that shooting touch is really unexplainable and going into workouts there was hope that teams would see his jumper return. The Bucks didn’t see that shooting form return in their workout of Thompkins. Bucks Director of Scouting Billy McKinney said, “. . . NBA personnel will call him a stretch-four, a guy that can go out on the floor and knock down shots but we see him playing more inside.”
Thompkins’s shooting may not be as good as hoped, but his post game is better than expected. He scored an impressive 1.1 points per possession in post up opportunities. The soft touch that got him labeled a stretch four plays a huge part in his post game. He still relies heavily on turnaround and fadeaway jumper. But that soft touch paired up with his exceptional footwork gives him plenty of potential to improve down low.
When the college basketball historians look through the record books, they’ll wonder why UCLA didn’t win championship after championship from 2006 to 2009. They were consistently loaded with talent that would flourish in the NBA, as we’ve seen in Milwaukee with the aforementioned Mbah a Moute. For the last seven years, every UCLA prospect except for Josh Shipp has found a home in the NBA as either a star or an important role player. But while at Westwood, these players underperformed and it hurt their draft stock. All of them have performed above expectations. This phenomenon has occurred with such consistency that John Hollinger has had to include a UCLA variable in his latest Draft Rater. This is good news for the likes of Tyler Honeycutt and Lee.
Lee wasn’t the first and won’t be the last guard restricted by UCLA coach Ben Howland’s methodical offense. He played both guard positions for the Bruins, but wasn’t particularly productive in either position. Lee has all the size, athleticism and length to be a combo guard. Yet, he hasn’t shown any of the skills that would suggest he could play either. He shines the most in transition where his athleticism and speed can overwhelm opponents. In the half-court, Lee is pretty dismal.
He’s shooting a terrible 17 percent off the dribble, compare that to his 40 percent shooting off the catch and shoot and one sees that his offensive problems are more tied to his decision making than anything else. His reckless attitude extends from his shooting to his slashing. He gets out of control when penetrating and rarely finds teammates. Now re-read that description of Lee again and figure out what former UCLA guard he’s like then you’ll have a good idea of his niche in the NBA.
Versatility is a big thing in the league right now. That’s why there’s always talk of stretch fours or combo guards. The more a guy can give his team, the better chance he has of staying in the league. But that can lead to a jack of all trades, master of none situation. There’s something to be said about a guy who just does what he does and is good at it. Norris Cole is one of those guys. He’s the complete package at point guard. Cole’s pure point guard rating ranked just ahead of Garrett’s at 2.26.
His game should translate well to the NBA since he does most of his damage off high screens. He’s equally good in transition and the half court. He never puts his head down and always views the whole court, looking for the best shot for his team. Cole faired well in John Hollinger’s statistical analysis of this raft class: His 10.85 rating landed him eighth among wing prospects, ahead of Jimmer Fredette and Brandon Knight.
His shooting isn’t great, but it’s respectable. And that’s really the best way to describe the rest of his game. He has to be very crafty to make up for his average first step. His defense is fundamentally sound, but he’s limited by his athleticism. It’s that limited athleticism that makes people wonder if Cole can really handle the NBA. Playing in the Horizon league, Cole rarely played against top competition. It’ll be interesting to see if his quickness and strength are up to scratch on the defensive end.
Cole could be the type of player that Skiles loves. He’s shown great work ethic (he works hard on his shot, his 85 percent free throw shooting is proof of that). He’s extremely coachable and is fundamentally sound. Skiles highly values those traits. If Cole finds a way onto the Bucks’ roster, he could get minutes quickly.
Ian Segovia writes for the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter.