Monday, March 27, 2006

Stock Ticker

What the NFL combine is to the NFL draft, the NCAA tournament is to the NBA draft (for American players at least.) With the Final Four set, I thought I'd take a look at which players elevated their draft stock and which ones did the most damage to their immediate earning potential.

Stock Rising:

1. Tyrus Thomas, LSU. The freshman power forward was probably a lottery pick already, but with the athleticism he put on display the last few weeks, the "Rudy Gay sweepstakes" have turned into the Tyus Thomas sweepstakes.

2. Joakim Noah, Florida. At the beginning of the season, people were complaining that LaMarcus Aldridge was the only big man worth drafting high. Now with the emergence of Thomas, Noah, and O'Bryant (and the possibility that McRoberts, Hansbrough, Glen Davis, and Hibbert could go pro) there's suddenly some actual depth at this position. Noah's best attribute is effort. Given that 75% of NBA players don't give a damn on any given day, that gives Noah a huge edge.

3. Patrick O'Bryant, Bradley. The best true center in the tournament, O'Bryant has a great combination of size, agility, and Jay Bilas' pet attribute, length. He's only a sophomore, and there's still room for him to put some weight on his frame and get bigger. Worst case scenario, I think he develops into another Channing Frye. Best case, Brad Daugherty or maybe even Tim Duncan (no pressure).

4. Marcus Williams, UConn. While for the majority of the tournament, it looked like UConn was on cruise control, Williams was the only player to show focus in every game. He has a great feel for running an offense. He does turn the ball over a little too much, but he appears to be improving in that area. He could be a good fit to a team that already has a big time scoring guard, such as the Cavs or Lakers.

5. Ryan Hollins, UCLA. Three weeks ago, Hollins was going to have to do what most History majors do and get a job at Blockbuster this summer. Now, he's looking at being drafted in the 2nd round and possibly having a Jelani McCoy-like NBA career.

Stock falling:

1. Paul Davis, Michigan State. A month ago, he looked like a lottery pick. But with his poor performance in the Spartans' first round loss to George Mason combined with the emergence of players like Thomas, Noah, O'Bryant, "Big Baby" Davis, Hilton Armstrong, and even Josh McRoberts, Davis may have played his way out of the guaranteed contracts of the first round.

2. J.J. Redick, Duke. Redick is still one of the two best pure shooters available in the draft, but his slump over the last month pushed him out of the top 10. The LSU game showed that he has trouble dealing with contact, and doesn't sell the foul call well when he is touched. On the defensive end, he's adequate but not stellar. I think NBA teams are realizing he might be more of a specialist, similar to Damon Jones.

3. Marco Killingsworth, Indiana. I just can't figure this guy out. He looks to me like he could be an absolutely dominant player in the mold of a Charles Barkley. But instead, he just refuses to put two solid games together. I have no idea why this is. In retrospect, he would have been a perfect fit for UConn.

4. Rudy Gay, UConn. As Bill Rafferty would say, this one is a nickel-dimer, since Gay is still assured of going in the top five. But just a few weeks ago, he was the consensus #1 player available. I guess acting like a basketball court is the most boring place on the planet will damage your draft stock. But this is the NBA, so it won't hurt him that badly.

5. Rajon Rondo, Kentucky. Anytime Patrick Sparks overshadows you, you've got problems.


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