Be it the coaching carousel or a player’s NBA Draft prospects, it’s fascinating to watch the impact that these three weeks can have. While all four head coaches in the Final Four are more than secure in their positions, what about the players?
There will be some surefire lottery selections on display in New Orleans, and there will also be some guys who may not receive much publicity in June (in whatever year they enter the draft) yet wind up hanging around the league for quite some time.
Guaranteed successes? Likely busts? Role players on playoff teams? Here are a few possibilities.
The Cardinals really don’t have a guy in their rotation one would point to as being a likely lottery selection, but there is one whose best basketball is ahead of him: Wayne Blackshear. Hampered by a shoulder injury for much of the season, keep an eye on Blackshear in his sophomore campaign.
NBA success: Chane Behanan (he’s got the motor and athletic ability to do so, and with some seasoning that includes a mid-range game Behanan’s got a shot)
NBA bust: Peyton Siva (he’s a bottom portion of the draft projection for 2013 and that seems about right; decision-making’s been better but there’s still room from growth there as well as with his jumper)
Playoff rotation guy: Gorgui Dieng (improving but still has a ways to go offensively; his work on the defensive end as a shot-blocker would help him stick around, and with a team that can afford to give him time to develop Dieng could be successful)
Thomas Robinson is the lottery guy for Kansas but similar to Louisville they’ve got a player who will get there down the line. Remember the name Ben McLemore, as he’s only been able to practice due to his not being cleared academically. He’ll make some serious waves next season.
NBA success: Thomas Robinson (may be undersized for an NBA ‘4’ but he’s got a motor and athleticism that would more than make up for that; he’ll be a lottery pick this summer)
NBA bust: Tyshawn Taylor (this likely depends on where he’s selected as a situation like Draft Express’ projection of late 1st to Miami would be ideal; team workouts will be key especially from a turnover standpoint)
Playoff rotation guy: Elijah Johnson (he and Travis Releford have been valuable glue guys for the Jayhawks, and with Johnson’s athleticism he could be the kind of 2nd round player who helps a team out come 2013)
Loaded. Absolutely loaded. In addition to the guys listed below there’s also point guard Marquis Teague, and with a couple years of seasoning Kyle Wiltjer has the potential to be a pro as well.
NBA success: Anthony Davis (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would also qualify here; no school has ever had the top two picks in the draft and that’s possible should these two enter the same year)
NBA bust: Terrence Jones (Jones put together one of his best all-around games of the season against Baylor but consistency is the issue here; he’ll be a lottery pick but what happens after that would be up to him)
Playoff rotation guy: Darius Miller (he’s done a very good job of filling whatever role needed over four years in Lexington, and that’s a good rehearsal for what he’d have to do at the next level)
It seems pretty easy to pick out which Buckeyes have the best chances of hearing their names called in an NBA Draft, but some franchise with a track record of success will find room for Aaron Craft. With his ability as a defender, distributor and leader Craft would fit perfectly as a backup point guard. And keep an eye on Sam Thompson as his game matures over the next couple of years.
NBA success: Jared Sullinger (Sullinger can be successful in the NBA and that’s the expectation here; as his body matures Sullinger will fit into the role of an NBA ‘4’ and it’s important to keep in mind that he’s still playing out of position at the ‘5’)
NBA bust: Deshaun Thomas (he’s improved defensively over the last month but the question is what position would he be able to guard at the next level; too small to be a ‘4’ at the NBA level he’d likely have to be a ‘3’, and defensively that’s a major question mark)
Playoff rotation guy: William Buford (he hasn’t had the best luck offensively in the last two NCAA tournaments, but there’s no doubt that Buford can score as he ranks among the best scorers in school history)