Siegel's Take: 2008 Center Analysis

June 9th, 2008

This is the last of five Siegel's Take articles analyzing the 2008 NBA Draft prospects. Today's focus is surprisingly solid set of big men.

As I say every year, its important to note that I'm not as kind as most Draft analysts out there. The reality of the NBA Draft is that only a few guys will be stars, a handful more will be starters, a dozen guys will be career reserves, and the rest will all fizzle into nothingness within a couple of seasons.

On with the fun. Players are ranked by their NBA potential:


1) Brook Lopez - C - Stanford - Lopez was everything Cardinal fans hoped for in his second go-around, scoring with ease and improving on the defensive end. The issue is whether that inside scoring ability will translate to the NBA, where he loses the great size advantage and will be overmatched physically at times. To his credit, Lopez got bigger and stronger last year, and does a great job using his size to finish in the post. Despite the associated assumption of Stanford intelligence, Lopez isn't necessarily the smartest ballplayer or creative ballplayer. Defensively, though Robin gets the plaudits, Lopez shouldn't be a major detriment. While he'll never be an all-star, the sophomore has the best overall package of size, athleticism, rebounding, and scoring ability of any big.


2) Kevin Love - C - UCLA - I'm going to keep it somewhat short on Love, because he's a player that most college basketball fans saw repeatedly. Still, I think he's an underrated talent and that the worries about his lack of athleticism are overdone. It seems though that front-offices are beginning to agree, as he seems to be picking up some good momentum. Outside of Beasley, Mayo, Bayless, and Danilo Gallinari, Love might be the best offensive talent in the Draft.


3) Kosta Koufos - C - Ohio State - In the final weeks of the season, Koufos finally showed signs of stardom after a long string of middling performances. The best word to describe Koufos is finesse as he plays without force. The problem though is that this is not merely a lack of athletic explosion, but a lack of emotional spark or passion. If Aaron Gray can average 10 mpg as a rookie, then Koufos can definitely find his way as a long-time reserve in the league.


4) Alexis Ajinca - C - HTV - Going purely on hearsay, Ajinca intrigues me. He basically seems to be the International version of DeAndre Jordan, a crazy long (7'9" wingspan) and solid athlete that has yet to put it together. Ajinca isn't nearly as strong and thick as Jordan by comparison, but he's longer and more athletic. Honestly, who knows?


5) Marreese Speights - PF/C - Florida - Speights has been generating some good buzz in recent weeks due to some good workouts and measurements. The one measurement that worries you is his height, because his size is more suited to being a power forward. But I've lumped him into the Center ranking because it matches his offensive skill set. After blossoming in his sophomore season, Speights showed off decent post moves and an ever-improving jumper. The success of Al Horford, with the Gator pedigree and similar frame, will only add to his growing rep.


6) DeAndre Jordan - PF/C - Texas A&M - Its amazing Jordan is still considered to be a Top 20 pick considering just how useless his freshman season was. While he showed some promise against lesser competition, he was virtually nonexistent in Big 12 play. While the offensive woes aren't terribly surprising, its worrisome that he's not a good one on one defender yet. If you're overmatched by Oklahoma, I'm not sure how you'll cut it as a pro. Like Ajinca, he has the length of an airplane, as well as a mature frame, but it will take a couple years for him to develop.


7) Robin Lopez - C - Stanford - The less talented Lopez is either underrated or overrated depending on who you ask. Some feel that his defensive prowess is overrated, and that he's hopelessly inept on the offensive end. Others see him as a raw talent akin to the European prospects, who improved substantially in the past year and would be more highly rated if not for his older brother's shadows. I tend to fall in the latter camp, who can't help but be intrigued by a mobile 7-footer with length, that can block shots, and has improved every year.


8) Roy Hibbert - C - Georgetown - I've never been a huge fan of Hibbert, and nothing changed after a solid but unspectacular senior season. There will no doubt be a place on the end of someone's bench for a sure-handed good guy with a 7'2" frame, but I never see him being anything more than a career reserve. For the 8th best center that's not a bad thing, but he lacks the starting potential of other guys higher on this list.


9) Joey Dorsey - PF/C - Memphis - You never hear much about Dorsey in Draft circles, because he's ancient (24), undersized (6'9"), and has virtually no offensive game. Still, he's a presence blocking shots, especially from the weak side, and could find a place in the league now that zone has taken over.


10) DeVon Hardin - PF/C - California - Last year, I had Hardin 8th in my Center rankings before he withdrew. A year later, and there's been virtually no improvement on his part. He's basically the same intriguing body and athlete that he was then, just a year older. If Hardin was 18 or 19, he'd be a legit top 20 pick, but now there's little reason to think he'd be a productive pro.


Summary: I don't see any future all-stars in this group, and its conceivable that not one of these guys ever even makes it as a long-time starter. Still, there's also a lot of solid reserves and role players in this mix and Hardin is a better prospect than the #10's at other positions.

Last Year's Siegel's Take - SF Ranking
1) Greg Oden
2) Spencer Hawes
3) Tiago Splitter
4) Ante Tomic
5) Sean Williams
6) Aaron Gray
7) Marc Gasol
8) DeVon Hardin
9) Stanko Barac
10) Kyle Visser