In looking at how a player will transition to the next level, there are three main questions that need to be answered:
1) Can he create his own shot? The ability to get a good look at the basket in a 1-on-1 situation is the key to any offense.
2) Can he play off-the-ball? If he can't create his own shot, he has to at least be able to make the defense respect him, either by being able to stretch the floor or, as a big man, being able to finish inside.
3) Can he defend a position? Will his body type / athletic ability allow him to defend NBA players and keep him on the floor? The more positions he can defend, the more versatile a line-up he can be a part of.
An effective NBA player will answer yes to two of these three things. All things being equal, the ability to create your own shot is the most important, while a big man (4 or 5) is more valuable than an equivalent skill package for a guard.
How the top prospects in the 2010 draft fare according to this test (the numbers after their names -- the positions they can guard in the NBA):
1,2,3) Greg Monroe - 4,5 / DeMarcus Cousins (finisher) - 5
1,3) John Wall - 1,2 / Evan Turner - 2,3
1,2) Willie Warren
2,3) Derrick Favors (finisher) - 4,5 / Al Farouq Aminu (finisher) - 4 / Ekpe Udoh - 4,5 / Ed Davis (finisher) - 4 / Xavier Henry - 2,3 / Wesley Johnson - 3 / Avery Bradley - 1 / Terrico White - 2 / Stanley Robinson - 3
1) Lance Stephenson, Dexter Pittman
3) Devin Ebanks - 2,3,4 / Cole Aldrich - 5 / Daniel Orton - 5 / Larry Sanders - 5 / Eric Bledsoe - 1
2) Patrick Patterson, Damion James, Gordon Hayward, Jordan Crawford, Craig Brackins, Greivis Vasquez
Players I haven't seen play enough to form an opinion about: Luke Babbitt, Paul George, Hassan Whiteside, Dominique Jones, Elliot Williams, Darrington Hobson, Quincy Poindexter, Solomon Alabi,
Under-rated players going into the draft:
- Greg Monroe: 6'11 and can play both front-court positions. There is very little he can't do on the basketball court: he can shoot, handle, pass and create his own shot either off the bounce or on the block. Comparison: Pau Gasol, Andrew Bogut and Brad Miller.
- Willie Warren: would have been a top 10 pick last year. Injured most of the season, he shouldn't take all the blame for the dysfunctional mess that was the 2010 Sooners. Comparison: Ben Gordon.
- Stanley Robinson: proved he could hit a stand-still 3 at Connecticut last year. He can be a dominant force defensively due to his athleticism at 6'9.
- Wesley Johnson: A top 3 pick should be able to create his own shot. He was more of a finisher/spot-up shooter at college; I'm not sure he provides more value than someone like Xavier Henry. Comparison: Trevor Ariza, Richard Jefferson.
- Patrick Patterson: at only 6'8 he will have a hard time with the length of NBA 4's and the quickness off the dribble of 3's. Probably better suited to a reserve role off the bench.
- Gordon Hayward: He played a lot of 4 for Butler, hard to imagine he will have the foot-speed to defend 3's on the perimeter or get his own shot off at offense. Not too many white guys starting at the small forward position in the NBA.
- Derrick Favors: did not get a lot of good looks inside last year. Lane was clogged by another big man who can't shoot and guards who couldn't get him the ball. A huge question mark offensively.
- Daniel Orton: did not play much at all behind Cousins and Patterson at Kentucky. Flashed the ability to score off the block and has good bulk and foot-speed for a big-man. A wing and a prayer pick at this point.
- Eric Bledsoe: can't shoot and wasn't given the chance to create much for himself or run the team with John Wall at the 1.
- Ed Davis: very under-developed physically and can't score from the outside effectively. Similar to Brandan Wright, another UNC album who has done nothing at the next level.