NBA: Top 10 Prospect Report
Joey Whelan will be checking in throughout the season with his Top 10 Prospects Report, a look at who is rising and falling in the game of college basketball:
1. Blake Griffin - Oklahoma
The Sooners big man has been nothing short of spectacular this season. Posting averages of 25.7 points and 19.2 rebounds, Griffin has dominated every team in his path. There isn't a better combination of size, strength and athleticism in the college game right now, and few if any players will be able to challenge the sophomore as the best pro prospect at the collegiate level.
2. James Harden - Arizona State
Few players have gotten off to the kind of start that Harden has this season, averaging 27 points and nearly 7 rebounds over his first six games. While he isn't the world's greatest athlete, he possesses pretty good size and scouts love his basketball IQ. Harden is a very fundamentally sound player with a nose for the basket. If he can continue his stellar play once the Pac-10 schedule kicks off, he is a safe bet to be a top five pick in June.
3. Hasheem Thabeet - Connecticut
Thabeet has had a strong, albeit inconsistent start to his junior year. His scoring and rebounding numbers are up significantly from last season and he has seen a big time leap in his shooting percentage as well. Granted, few teams he has played have been able to physically match up with the Big East giant, and his mundane showing against Wisconsin didn't earn him any points. However, with his size and the occasional showing like he has against Miami (19 points, 14 rebounds, 7 blocks) will be enough to have Thabeet land in the lottery.
4. Jrue Holiday - UCLA
While the freshman hasn't started off at a torrid pace, Holiday hasn't done anything to hurt his already high stock so far. He has been a tremendously efficient scorer so far although his totals have been inconsistent. Holiday is coming off his best showing of the season so far, dropping 20 points on Florida International on a perfect 8 of 8 shooting. His perimeter shooting prowess has carried over from the prep scene with Holiday connecting on over 45% of his attempts from beyond the arc. Increasing the rate with which he distributes the ball will only stand to further help his stock.
5. Earl Clark - Louisville
Sure the numbers aren't going to jump off the page, but at 6'9" and the ability to play away from the basket, Clark is always going to be very appealing to scouts. His scoring numbers are up slightly through his first three games, but what has been the most intriguing change so far is the improvement we are seeing in Clark's perimeter shooting ability. While he didn't have any qualms about firing from deep last year, his form looks much more consistent than it has in the past.
6. Tyreke Evans - Memphis
The freshman has proved his merit on the court so far, leading the Tigers in scoring through the team's first six games. Evans already has an NBA body with elite athleticism but his perimeter shooting has been suspect. The majority of his baskets so far have come in transition or as a result of hustle plays, but it isn't hard to see why scouts have been keeping tabs on Evans since he was tearing up the high school circuit. If he starts to find his stroke from beyond the arc opposing teams will have their hands full trying to contain him.
7. B.J. Mullens - Ohio State
For a player as hyped entering college as Mullens was, 5.5 points and 4 rebounds per game hardly seems like the production one would expect from a future pro player. Of course we can't forget how important physical attributes are when it comes to evaluating a player from an NBA standpoint. Mullens is a legitimate 7-footer with tremendous athleticism; if he is able to put it all together he is capable of putting on some impressive performances. However, if he continues to post mediocre numbers, no amount of athleticism will keep his stock from slipping.
8. Patrick Mills - Saint Mary's
Every time Mills steps on the floor he gives scouts more and more reasons to love his game. His scoring is up significantly from last season, with a slight bump in his rebound and assist numbers as well. Mills has tremendous speed and quickness, but what makes him so dangerous is his ability to change speeds in a flash. His mid-range game has looked fantastic thanks to a soft touch on his pull up jumper and he has shown little trouble beating defenders off the dribble. Things are looking up for Mills' stock at this point in the year.
9. Ty Lawson - North Carolina
The Tar Heels point guard has been nothing short of spectacular to kick of his junior campaign. With averages of 16 points, 6.7 assists, 2.4 steals and a 52.6% shooting mark from beyond the arc, Lawson has been a nightmare for opposing teams this season. The most impressive part of his game this year is the fact that he has significantly increased his assist numbers while actually averaging nearly a full turnover less per game. The question marks surrounding his shooting ability have been quelled at least for now with the huge jump in his three-point numbers.
10. Chase Budinger - Arizona
Budinger has been a high profile pro prospect since he broke onto the college scene; not much has changed six games into his junior year. His scoring and rebounding numbers have increased, but it is the ridiculous shooting percentages so far that catch the eye. Budinger is hitting on over 65% of his shots from the field and from beyond the arc, an absolutely blistering pace that he likely won't be able to keep up. There is no doubt that Budingers production this year will keep his name in the lottery as the season progresses.
Next in Line
Gerald Henderson - Duke: A fantastic athlete, but has gotten off to a sluggish start.
Nick Calathes - Florida: Great size for the PG spot and has been extremely productive so far this season.
Demar DeRozan - USC: Another tremendous athlete who projects out well at the next level who has started off slow.
Patrick Patterson - Kentucky: The SEC beast is having a better year on the boards and has significantly improved his shooting from the field.
Darren Collison - UCLA: Scoring is up, assists are up, shooting numbers are up, stock is up.
What do you think about this year's prospects? Post your thoughts below: