This is the third of five Siegel's Take articles analyzing the 2008 NBA Draft
prospects. Today's focus is the always deep group of small forwards.
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:
Danilo Gallinari - Armani
- As always with International stars, I begin with the disclaimer
that I'm a college basketball guy.. so I'm mostly going on what others have to
say. With that said, if I had to rate players according to YouTube clips..
Gallinari might be 3rd or 4th pick in the Draft. He just looks like a legit
Anthony Randolph -
- Along with the International prospects, Randolph is the ultimate
risk/reward guy. The youngest kid in the Draft has supreme length and
athleticism. He can run the floor, block shots, and is more skilled offensively
than you'd imagine. Because he's a lefty, comparisons to Chris Bosh make sense..
and you could see him developing along the same arc. Compared to Bosh at the
same point, he's probably slightly weaker, his shot isn't as pure from distance,
and his desire and character is somewhat more unknown.
Nicolas Batum - Le Mans
Considering the lack of stars outside of the Top 5 or so, there's no reason the
physically gifted Batum shouldn't go in the Top 10.
Joe Alexander - West Virginia
- In the middle of
February, most (including NBA front offices) had little clue who Alexander was.
But his Draft stock ballooned with a ridiculous run from March 1st into the NCAA
Tournament.. Once thought of as a raw athletic talent, Alexander started
flashing a reliable mid-range jumper and the ability to either face up or back
you down in the post. Even though he's a junior, Alexander hasn't been playing
ball for that long and his improvement has been swift and substantial. It also
helps that he has the rep of being a good kid with a strong desire to succeed &
Chase Budinger - Arizona
- Towards the end of his prep
career, the high-flying Budinger seemed destined for stardom.. but he hasn't
really improved since then. Part of the Wildcats struggles have to fall on his
shoulders, as he failed to create shots for himself, tended to fade in the 2nd
half, and rarely came up in the clutch. His long-range shots have good form, but
the percentages have always been a bit disappointing. I've long jumped off the
Budinger bandwagon, and now feel he's just an NBA backup.
Donte Greene - Syracuse
- A lot of the other
"experts" seem to love Greene.. but I'm not a believer. To me, Greene was one of
the most painful college basketball players to watch in the last decade, as his
shot selection went from bad to horrendous in just 4 months. It boggles my mind
that a 6'11", 225 lb kid only managed to shoot 41.8% from the floor. Once a
month, he'd get hot and hit a handful of threes, but ultimately he hurt the
Cuse's chances of winning. Oddly enough, despite the infatuation with threes,
its not even like the form on his shot is particularly great. Its misleading to
label him a freshman, because he's older than most sophomores and only a couple
months younger than some juniors. Despite these flaws, Greene still has a great
body.. and you figure he'll improve with experience.
Bill Walker - Kansas State
- Back in high school, when
he was teamed with OJ Mayo and flashing the athleticism of Vince Carter.. Walker
seemed like a sure-fire one and done NBA player. But injuries have slowed his
progress, and he might not even squeak into the First Round. Still, he's got the
physique of a pro, an improving jump shot, and he's younger than people realize.
Donte Greene is only 4 months older.
Davon Jefferson - USC -
Jefferson had his moments last year,
but he also tended to disappear from the action. For a guy with such freak
physical tools, his actual skill set is completely mediocre. Its also
troublesome that he tended to foul out (or come close) in just about every game
in February and March. Like Greene above (and even moreso), its completely
misleading to label him a freshman.. as he should have been a junior by now.
College veteran Richard Hendrix is exactly the same age.
9) Omri Casspi - Macabbi Tel Aviv
- Not sure what to make of this kid..
most clips I've seen are of him dunking, which isn't terribly noteworthy for a
6'8" guy. But he's been getting some good buzz in the international press, as
well as among Draft analysts. So I'll take their word.
10) Malik Hairston - Oregon
- Like Walker & Budinger above, Hairston was
also once a big-time stud prospect.. now he's just trying to get drafted. Even
though it seems like he's been around forever, Hairston is younger than Joe
Alexander and only 12 months older than Donte Greene. Questions persist about
his desire and work-ethic, though there have been sublte improvements over the
year. His 3pt % has improved every year, as has his shot selection and tendency
to turn the ball over. Once highly overrated, Hairston might now be a little
There's really no lock superstar in this group, as the top
talents like Gallinari, Randolph, and Batum are all big risk/reward guys. Those
three have All-Star potential.. but each will go through serious growing pains.
Even Alexander could put up big time NBA numbers as well. But despite being
probably First Round picks, the likes of Budinger, Greene, and Jefferson should
never be more than pro reserves.
Last Year's Siegel's Take - SF Ranking
1) Kevin Durant
2) Julian Wright
3) Al Thornton
4) Thaddeus Young
5) Jeff Green
6) Alando Tucker
7) Marcus Williams
8) Derrick Byars
9) Jared Dudley
10) Wilson Chandler