One thing I noticed about this year’s draft is that the second round — especially the early second round — produced a number of guys that I think have a shot to turn into productive NBA players. Maybe I’m biased because I watched these guys too much when they were in college, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a handful of these guys ended up carving out solid careers:
Jeffery Taylor: Taylor has a long way to go offensively if he wants to become a good NBA player, but this year’s 31st pick in the draft does have an NBA ready skill: his defense. Taylor is a physical specimen, a 6-foot-7 wing that will be able to lock down three or four positions at the next level. If his jump shot continues to develop, Taylor could end up having a long career.
Bernard James: James went 33rd to Cleveland and was immediately shipped off to Dallas in exchange for Tyler Zeller. James is 27 years old, but he’s a young 27 physically (he didn’t play ball for a six year stretch) and an old 27 mentally (he wasn’t playing ball because he did three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan). He’s big, he’s athletic, he’ll defend and he rebounds the ball. What team couldn’t use a guy like that?
Jae Crowder: The thing about Crowder, who went 34th and ended up in Dallas, is that there really isn’t anything that he doesn’t do well on a basketball court. He can defend bigger players in the post and spread the floor with his ability to shoot and he can defend smaller wings on the perimeter while doing damage in the paint. I doubt he’s ever even going to be a starter at the next level, but couldn’t he play the same role as Ron Artest (minus the insanity, or course)?
Tyshawn Taylor: Taylor has the tools to be a successful point guard in today’s NBA. He’s got size, he’s athletic and he is a dynamic scorer that can make plays for his teammates. The problem for the Brooklyn-bound 41st pick is that he truly struggles with his decision-making both on and off the floor. He turns the ball over too much, he takes some silly shots and he found himself in trouble too often during his career.
Darius Miller: James Posey. Bruce Bowen. Danny Green. These guys are 6-foot-7 perimeter defenders that are knock-down three-point shooters. The first three have carved out solid NBA careers. Miller should be next in that line after going 46th to New Orleans.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.
Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.
According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.
That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.
“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”
As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.
Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.
When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.
Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.
Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.
While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.
“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”
Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.