The NBA Draft is just around the corner. The draft is an absolute crapshoot, but there a re a couple of things we know for sure – some guys are going to be much better than expected, and some are going to be absolute busts. Identifying the guys that will fall into either group is an inexact science, but we can certainly speculate. Here’s a look at six guys who have serious bust potential:
DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky – Cousins is by far the most interesting prospect in the draft in terms of speculating about what his future holds. Statistically and physically the guy is a freak, and could easily wind up as the best player of this class. There are more than a few red flags, though. His attitude can be lousy on the court – he pouts when things don’t go his way, and he’ll happily take a play off if he isn’t feeling it. He also didn’t play a pile of minutes, so stamina issues are an uncertainty. Of more concern, Cousins showed up at the pre-draft camp out of shape and disinterested, and his early workouts weren’t strong. His stock seemed to be falling, but then he worked out for the Kings. He was as good as a player can be in Sacramento – shooting and moving brilliantly for a big man. If he keeps that up then he’s going to go off the board quickly, and the potential risk for teams is higher.
Hassan Whiteside, Marshall – Whiteside is the kind of player that absolutely terrifies me in the draft. What does he have going for him? Two things primarily – he’s seven feet tall with a 7’7″ wingspan. You can’t teach height, they say, so Whiteside will have wide appeal. If Whiteside were five inches shorter, though, he’d be completely irrelevant. He can’t shoot, he refuses to pass, he doesn’t get involved in nearly as many plays as he should, and he seems happier away from the action then he does mixing it up. He strikes me as a potential big man disaster in the Robert Swift mold.
Daniel Orton, Kentucky – Orton is another guy who is rising based on his potential, and the fact that he payed on that great Kentucky team last year. I just don’t see enough to justify the excitement, though. He’s very raw. He didn’t play a whole lot over the last two seasons, and he doesn’t have huge numbers when he has played. He also is dealing with a knee injury of unknown seriousness, and for some reason he has quit working out for teams. NBA teams love speculating on guys with potential, but I’m not convinced that this potential will be realized. Someone needed to tell Orton to stay in school for another year.
Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati – Stephenson was the best player of his age in New York, so he got the hype that that player usually gets. The problem is that he didn’t really play great at Cincinnati. He only seems to care about the game when he has the ball. The few times I watched him last year I struggled to think of a player I have seen who is more committed to dribbling and playing one-on-one instead of passing and being a teammate. That will be a total disaster in the NBA – it didn’t even work great in college – so Stephenson will have to adjust his game significantly when he reaches the pros. He hasn’t shown that he has the maturity or commitment to do that.
Paul George – George is my least favorite kind of player in the draft – the dreaded fast riser. He played at Fresno State and spent a lot of time looking totally uninspiring when he was there. He’s a 6’9″ shooting guard with impressive athleticism, though, so he’s shooting up draft boards, and is getting talk as high as the 8th pick. Basketball and football teams are both bad for picking guys who can do freakish things with their bodies while ignoring how they actually play the game. George may evolve into a big time player, but he’ll have to take a massive step forward in class to do so, and there are a lot of guys who are a much better risk in my eyes.
Willie Warren, Oklahoma – Warren is still riding on two facts – he’s incredibly athletic, and he had a very impressive freshman year. His sophomore year absolutely should scare teams away from him, though. It’s not hard to look great when Blake Griffin is one your team. Once Griffin went to the NBA (sort of), though, Warren’s magic disappeared. He couldn’t shoot last year, he didn’t show an aptitude for decision making and leadership, and he found new ways to be immature all the time. More than any player other than Whiteside I’ll be surprised if Warren isn’t a bust.