Stock Up, Stock Down
The definition of high stock might have Alec Burks picture next to it. Burks was a mid-level prospect coming into the year, even seen as a late first round or a mid-second round pick by some. Since then he has shown the complete package as a basketball player, not just as a scorer.
Burks could sit back and jack up shots to pad his stats, but instead he plays within the flow of the offense and displays great patience. His poise has been shown by only shooting the 20+ times twice this season; to put that in perspective Jimmer Fredette (15), Marshon Brooks (9) and Kemba Walker (9) have combined to shot 20+ times 33 times. All of which are scoring more points, but all of which are also jacking up every shot they see.
He plays within the offense and does not force a lot of shots, which is surprising due to the consistency in his scoring. The key to Burks game is his first step and ability to draw contact. Both of those lead to a high volume of free-throw attempts and efficient scoring. The most under rated asset Burks brings to the table is rebounding, for his size and position he is very active on the glass.
Burks has certainly surged up the draft boards all season from where he was (see above) to a potential Top 10 pick today.
The Scouts are Raving
Nikola Mirotic (Spain)
The hottest name rising is a prospect 99% of the basketball community was unaware of three weeks ago. I have seen little tape and have not formed a take on his game, but here are a few links to reputable scouts who have:
Nolan Smith (Duke)
If you are going to have a career year, Smith picked the best (and last) possible year to do so. Smith has been the emotional leader of Duke and facilitator of their offense all season. Once Kyrie Irving went down, Smith switched gears to a level we have never seen him at. Smith looks like the typical great college player who doesn’t translate to the NBA, but when you evaluate his strengths, he does. As a pure point guard or a scoring shooting guard Smith is flawed, lacking the essencial skills to be above average at either. If you look at him as a basketball player you will see a smart, skilled player who brings every intangible to the table. Whispers of Smith being a first round pick are out there, after workouts and the combine reality may set in.
Today Smith is a solid early second round pick.
Justin Harper (Richmond)
Harper has been a quiet – until now – surprise talent stowed away on the Richmond Spiders. He is a smooth power forward who can stretch the defense with his shooting range and hits at a high percentage from everywhere on the floor. Harper’s main skill and asset will be his shooting, he has gained a reputation as a stretch-four. Going into the tournaments he will need to maintain shooting at a high percentage and scoring against top competition to continue his rise.
Today Harper is a great second round talent who will provide shooting and depth for a team.
Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech)
I have maintained all season (including last season) that Shumpert is a Smush Parker clone and will not have an impact at the next level. He is an athletic point guard, big for his position and has a reputation as a defender. His defensive play has changed the minds of who matters as of late; the scouts. By no means has he rocketed into the lottery or even first round, but a team that needs point guard depth or competition for their players could use Shumpert in the second round.
Late second round to undrafted for Shumpert today.
The Scouts are Wavering
Josh Selby (Kansas)
In the pre-season I wrote that Selby was going to be the prospect not worth waiting for, he has proved me right. Injuries, suspension and a very deep Kansas team have played a major part in that process though.
Selby has the talent to be a big time scorer, but his lack of direction and basketball knowledge really holds him back. If Selby expected a small tour of duty in Lawrence then he needs to show scouts a season’s worth of potential in fewer than 10 games (Conference and NCAA Tournaments). Selby had major question marks coming into college and started strong enough to quiet his critics, but his play over the last 15 games as been bad at best.
Most scouts do not mention Selby’s name in the lottery, most feel his value is in the 20’s today.
Khris Middleton (Texas A&M)
The faster they raise you, the quicker they will drop you back down. Middleton was not a mainstream prospect in October, but became one with stellar all-around play. The last five games Middleton has looked less assertive and at times too passive within the offense. His numbers across the board have dropped down causing scouts to wonder if he peaked too early. Did Middleton come out too strong and set improper expectations for himself?
Today he is a late first round pick to early second round pick.