Courtesy of Capital One (of the wonderful "Ivan Brothers" spot last year), behold Bill Walton in his greatest performance since the 1973 National Title Game (oh yeah, Greg Anthony and a goat also):
Today’s NBA Draft Blog Scouting Report is the second trip out to Lawrence – first time was for Marcus Morris – now we take a look at his twin brother, Markieff. Coming into Kansas, they were very similar players, but Marcus, by virtue of his time with the US Select Team last summer, has developed a better all-around game, possibly good enough to be a lottery pick this year. If Marcus leaves, is his brother ready to go also? Tough question, but let’s take a look at Markieff Morris:
Markieff Morris, Kansas - Junior
Forward- 6'9, 245
13.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 60.1% FG, 68.4% FT
Post Skills- This is where Markieff does his most damage. He has a great post body, uses his lower half very well to get position and has done a great amount of work to develop a nice repertoire of post moves. He has good footwork, gets good spacing, and has the ability to make a move over either shoulder. I would like to see him improve his face-up game and the consistency of his short jumper. He does a great job establishing position, seals off the defender well, though I think he needs to work on getting lower and establishing better balance. He has very good touch around the rim, and has the ability to finish in close with either hand. He does need to work on going stronger to basket around the rim instead of settling for shots moving away from the basket. Along with this, I would like to see him become more aggressive when he gets the ball, not just with a move itself, but in making the defense think he is making a move.
Footwork- Morris has good footwork, has developed the ability to make moves in either direction, and at times, has shown good foot speed with his moves. His largest problem is that he is becomes very hesitant before, and while, making his move, leading him to turn a 2-step move into a 4 or 5-step move – good defenses will be able to help on that. On the perimeter, he is improving his ability to make a quick move to the rim, he just isn’t quite there yet – he knows what he needs to do, he just hasn’t done it enough to be smooth.
Ballhandling/Hands/Penetration- I have been impressed by the improvement in Morris’ control of his dribble as the season has progressed. He has gotten much better in the post with keeping his dribbles to minimum and close to his body, though the hesitation issue does tend to negate this at times. On the perimeter, he I still a work in progress, but his dribble-control is improving. He has good hands in the post, and gives his teammates a big target to get him the ball. From a face-up/perimeter point of view, he has the ability to eventually be a legitimate threat going to the rim – he just doesn’t have the control of his move yet. He has a surprisingly quick first step to the rim, and uses his big body well creating space to get to the rim. He needs to work on his control and developing his options if he is stopped going to the rim – a short jump stop and quick jumper would be a big help to his game.
Perimeter Shooting- I have avoided comparisons with his brother on purpose, but this is one area where Marcus has clearly surpassed him at this point. Markieff has solid form and decent range, he just doesn’t have the confidence in his 10-18 foot jumper. Eventually, if he develops at the same rate, I see him being a legit threat at least at 15 feet, possibly out to 18. He has good size, but he also needs to get better lift and a quicker release as well.
Rebounding/Passing- Morris is an excellent offensive rebounder – he has a great knack for getting position, reads the angle of misses well and uses his strength to muscle the ball away from the traffic. I would like to see him do a better job getting a second shot off quicker, but he does do a good job of getting the ball in position for a good shot. Morris is also turning into a very good post passer. He sees the court very well, and he is very aware of his teammates, especially in the high post. If there is one knock, it is that he doesn’t always react quickly to double teams and he needs to anticipate when it is coming and get the ball out quickly.
Free Throw Shooting - Morris really needs to improve his free throw shooting to become a real threat in the post. 2 things – one a post player with his skill should get to the line much more often, and two, he needs to hit them once he gets there. His mechanics are fine, so it really is a matter of taking his time and just hitting the shot.
Post Defense- Morris is a solid post defender, uses his lower body well to force players off the blocks and he has decent footwork. He needs to become more aware of the players he is guarding and their tendencies – he has gotten beat too many times by inferior post players because he played them incorrectly. Another major issue is his tendency to not put his arms up on defense – not only does it give players a good shot over him, but he puts himself in danger of getting called for cheap reach-in fouls he can’t afford to get. I would also like to see him work on fronting post players as well, and force teams to try and beat him over the top. He shows good awareness off-ball and is a good help defender, though he needs to work on his foot speed.
Rebounding/Blocking- Fundamentally, Morris is a very good rebounder. He boxes out well, uses his body to force players out, and goes strong after the ball. One minor issue is that I would like him to go after the miss quicker after the box out, but he uses his body so well, it’s not always necessary. With his size and strength, I see no problem with Morris being an effective NBA rebounder. Shot-blocking is something different. One, the issue I discussed above about not having his arms up on defense makes it tough for him to go after shots quickly, and two, his timing is good, but not great. He gets himself into good position to block shots, but he just doesn’t have that explosion to be a legit shot-blocker.
Summary & Intangibles
Athleticism - Average
BB IQ - Above Average
Morris has the potential to have as much of an impact as his brother, but most likely in a much different way. Markieff is much more comfortable in the post, and while he needs to develop some semblance of a perimeter game, he just isn’t as athletic as Marcus. Now, if he was to come out this season, I still think he would be a mid-to-late first rounder, most likely in the 18-25 range. But, in my opinion, whether Marcus leaves or not, I really think Markieff could use the extra year at Kansas to develop the ability to be a dominant post player on offense and to work on his defense. If he does that, I can see him having a shot to move into the late lottery in 2012.
All week, I will be posting much more on tourney-bound players, so keep checking back. Remember, leave any comments below, follow me on Twitter - @NBADraftBlog, or feel free to email me at the link up top.
As the season starts to wind down and we head towards the 2011 NBA Draft, it is time to give some looks at players who are borderline draftees, but may have the skills which could translate to a NBA career. The Case For….takes a look at these players and tries to give a brief outline of what skills they have, what they are missing, and what steps would eventually lead them to the Promised Land of the NBA. This edition looks at a prolific Big East scorer, and the man responsible for some huge baskets over the last few years – Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell. Hazell gave thought to the draft after last season, but wisely reconsidered – has he improved in the areas necessary to be in the NBA next season? Let’s lay out the case for Jeremy Hazell:
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall, Senior 6’5, 188
19.8 ppg, 1.6 apg, 3.5 rpg, 2.4 spg, 42.2 FG%, 33.6 3FG%, 75 FT%
The Good – There are not many players in the NCAA with the shooting range of Hazell. He has a very quick release, gets good lift on his shot, and doesn’t mind shooting with a hand or two in his face. He is very good in the catch-and-shoot and has gotten much better at using his dribble to create space to get his shot off. The Seton Hall team wasn’t very good at setting screens for Hazell to pop open, but when they did, he used them very well. If he gets into the lane, he is able to finish in a variety of ways, and he has improved his ability to draw the defense and find an open teammate. In transition, he has the ability to push the ball, but he is much better filling a lane and getting himself set for the open jumper. Defensively, he has the ability to be disruptive, moving his feet well and being active with his hands. While he can guard point guards if necessary, he is much better guarding the wings. And while he doesn’t like to play a very physical game, he is very tough, and when the game is on the line, he wants it in his hands.
The Bad – Shot selection has always been an issue with Hazell and that hasn’t changed much. With his length and decent speed, he really should make some effort to try and get into the lane, but I don’t recall many players who are content to just take the first jumper available like he does. I wouldn’t mind if he shot as much as he did, as long as he tried to get the best look available. He really needs to add that slashing ability to his game if he has long-term NBA aspirations. Also, while he sees the court well and can wow you with some of the passes he makes, he is just too inconsistent with this part of his game. On the defensive end, the ability is there, the effort isn’t. When he wants to be a good on-ball defender, he can be very good. Off-the-ball, he seems more concerned with saving energy for the offensive end.
The Verdict – I think what bothers me most about Hazell as a player is the lack of improvement from year to year. Going into this season, he must have had an idea of what he needed to work on to have a legitimate shot of going to the NBA, and I just haven’t seen it this year. Yes, there was the unfortunate shooting incident around Christmas, and a wrist injury, which caused him to miss time, but on both sides of that, he looked like the same player we saw the last few years. He can hit the big shot, and not many can put up points at rate he can when he is hot, but he just doesn’t have the complete game he needs to get a real shot at the NBA right now. He has the skills, he just needs to put it all together. Now, would it be outrageous for a team to spend a late 2nd rounder on him. Not at all, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he goes in one of the last 10 picks, especially if he impresses in pre-draft workouts. As of right now though, I think we will see him go undrafted come June, but he should be very entertaining during Summer League.
Check back all weekend for more Scouting Reports, including Markieff Morris, and a new The Case For... on Washington’s Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Leave your comments below, email me any comments or suggestions up top, and remember to follow me on Twitter - @NBADraftBlog.no comments
Time for another NBA Draft Blog Scouting Report on a Kentucky freshman – last month we looked at Terrence Jones, today we look at guard Brandon Knight. Knight came to Lexington with a great reputation as a scorer, but many were waiting to see how he developed as a point guard. Has he done enough to be a NBA-level point guard, or will he be known as just a scorer? Time for a look at Brandon Knight:
Brandon Knight, Kentucky - Freshman
Guard- 6'3, 185
17.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.0 apg, 44.9% FG, 79.7% FT, 40.6% 3FG
Perimeter Shooting- Knight came into college with a great reputation as a perimeter shooter and he has done nothing to dispel that his freshman year. He has great range to go along with solid form – good lift, rotation, gets square to the basket and good release point and speed. He uses screens well to get open, but he does need to work on his positioning coming off the screen – he tends to not come off tight enough, leaving the defender room to get through. Knight has done a great job moving without the ball on the perimeter, looking to find holes in the defense. He also needs to work on using his dribble to create space for his jumper, especially when he has a defender one-on-one on the outside. One of the more impressive things about Knight as a freshman has been his shot selection – he seems to know his limitations, rarely forces bad shots, and does a good job looking to get the best shot possible. He has not been as consistent with his mid-range jumper, but the issues he have seem easy to fix, mainly when he gets into the mid-range area, he never fully gets set before he shoots, often rushing to take the shot before the defense recovers.
Ballhandling/Hands/Penetration- Knight has shown a very good handle and has taken almost immediately to Coach Calipari’s offense, especially his ability to run the high pick and roll. He handles well with both hands and has the ability to make a move to either side. The main thing he needs to improve is his use of the dribble to create space or to get defenders off-balance. Adding a good hesitation or change-of-pace dribble could make him much more dangerous. Also, he tends to get frustrated when being pressured, though experience should fix this. On the flip side, though he has a decent first step and is good at getting into the lane, he really needs to improve most facets of his penetration. First, he really needs look to get into the lane more – he has become more and more reliant on the jumper, which defenses are now looking for. When he does get into the lane, he really needs to become much better with his decision-making – now that doesn’t mean he always makes bad decisions, it is that he often takes too long to make the decision. What were open teammates, quickly become covered and quickly the pass becomes a turnover. Now, it is good that he at least realize he has options, and doesn’t look to solely go to basket. He is very good at finishing once he gets to the rim, has very good upper-body strength and is good at drawing contact. He has also improved with a floater in the lane, though he doesn’t get a chance to use it much.
Rebounding/Passing- Because of the nature of the Kentucky offense, the guards are usually not in position to be effective offensive rebounders, other than their own misses or long rebounds. Knight could be an exception – though he doesn’t do it often, he is very good at using his speed to get in among big men and get his hands on a board or two. Long-term, I don’t see him being much more than that. As a passer, Knight has the potential to be very good – he has shown great growth already this season, and with experience should get better. He sees the court very well, does a good job getting his teammates the ball in places where they will be most effective and is willing to let things open up before he makes a pass. When the pace picks up, he has not been as good, and is prone to getting sloppy with the ball and making not-so-great decisions. Again, his skill-set is solid, experience should fix the rest. One area he will need to improve before the NBA is the post-entry pass – he needs to find ways to get the ball into the post against a variety of defensive looks and not just try to force the ball in.
Free Throw Shooting - Knight is a dependable free throw shooter, he just needs to be more consistent in trying to get to the line – there really is no reason for someone who has the ball in his hands as much as he does, to go full games without a free-throw attempt. But, he is someone who has the mechanics and confidence to want on the line in late-game situations.
Perimeter Defense- Knight is a decent on-ball defender, very active and trying to disrupt passes. However, he needs to really work on his movements, as he tends to play defense flat-footed, and he ends up chasing his man more than keeping himself between the man and the basket. His foot-speed is good, just needs to work on the lateral movements. He has improved significantly throughout the season getting through screens, and is starting to switch-off less and less, avoiding mismatches outside. He has the ability to defend either guard position and at times, has shown the ability to become a real menace to ballhandlers. Off the ball he has been good as well, positioning himself well, getting into help position quickly and recovering and closing when needed. The main thing he needs to watch for is a tendency to be over-aggressive off-the-ball where he becomes susceptible to back-cuts and screens.
Rebounding- Knight has the potential to be a solid rebounding guard – strong body, good leaping ability and good instincts for the ball. He needs to become more aware of offensive players in his area, and at least make the effort to put a body on them instead of heading right for the ball.
Knight can be incredible or cringe-inducing when leading the fast break. He is very good at getting the ball out ahead of the defense, he sees the court very well and he can finish in a variety of ways – either a pull-up jumper or taking it all the way. But, sometimes you really have to questions some of the decisions he makes on the break – whether he has been told to try and pass more or if he is seeing some openings that no one else sees. Either way, he really needs to improve the timing and placing of his passes on the break. He is much better running on the wing and setting up for the jumper of the break – if has time and an opening, he will hit the shot. Defensively, he does a good job rotating back on the break, and has improved his positioning between the ball and the basket, becoming good at cutting off passing angles.
Summary & Intangibles
Athleticism – High
BB IQ – Above Average
Knight has the potential to be a very good NBA player – good size, great shot, and very confident – but he really needs to become much better at his decision-making and passing to have a chance to be an impact guard at the next level. Right now, if he was to go to the NBA next season, he could provide some scoring, but long-term he is going to need to become a much better point guard. I just don’t think he will pick up the skills he needs playing at Kentucky. Like Jones earlier, the best way to maximize Knight’s talent is for him to get some work behind NBA guards and if he is smart he will learn what he needs to. Maturity was a potential issue coming into Kentucky, but he has seemed to be doing well this season. I am guessing we will see him in the 2011 Draft, and would be surprised at this point if he made it out of the lottery – though later lottery (11-14 range), but he could go as low as the mid-first range, 16-20.
Make sure to check back later today for a look at another guard who has shown the ability to score but came into the season needing to show he could do more, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen, as well as a new The Case For… on Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell. Remember, leave any comments below, follow me on Twitter - @NBADraftBlog, or feel free to email me at the link up top.
In today’s NBA Draft Blog Scouting Report we look at a guard who has shown that he can score in a variety of ways and has a reputation as one of the toughest players in the NCAA – Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney. Delaney has been the main reason that the Hokies have been on the NCAA bubble the last few seasons, and this year may be the breakthrough year, especially with a big win over Duke, where Delaney took over down the stretch. But at 6’3 and with a small frame, can he be the complete guard he needs to be to play in the NBA? Let’s take a look at Malcolm Delaney:
Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech - Senior
Guard- 6'3, 190
18.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.1 apg, 41.8% FG, 85.9% FT, 40.6% 3FG
Perimeter Shooting- Delaney will always be thought of as a perimeter shooter first and foremost, and with good reason. He has great range on his jumper, very good lift and a good release point. He has had some issues with taking shots too quickly, before he gets square to the basket, but overall, he is a dependable shooter. Shot selection is a different story. This was a major issue for him coming into the season, and while he made strides in the first part of the season, he seemed to regress as the season wore on. The main problem seems to be his hesitation to take the extra dribble or two to get a clearer look, and at only 6’3, this could be a problem at the NBA level. The thing is he is a good shooter off the dribble, he just needs to utilize it more often. Delaney uses screens well and is very good off the catch and shoot. He does a good job using his dribble to create space when in one-on-one situations. Again though, this is something he needs to do more often to get cleaner looks at the basket. Last, and maybe most important as he moves toward the next level, he has full confidence in his shot – he may take some bad shots, but you know he thinks they are going in.
Ballhandling/Hands/Penetration- Delaney is a solid ballhandler, though he needs to watch a tendency to get careless with his dribble. He handles with both hands equally well, and is very good at using a change-of-pace dribble to keep the defense off-balance. Again, this is where we see a paradox in Delaney’s game. He is very good at keeping the defender back-pedaling, he just doesn’t do it as much as he should. He has a good first step, can get into the lane, and has the ability to hit the shot/mid-range jumper, finish at the rim, or find an open teammate. He is not particularly strong, but he is tough and can take contact at the basket. Unfortunately, the Virginia Tech offense was run mostly with him off the ball, when, after watching them plenty of times, the offense worked better when he had the ball in his hands. While I wouldn’t consider him a good point guard, he is much better than people think, and with more work at the position, I can see him not only creating offense for himself, but for his teammates. At least at this level, the defense is drawn to him when he has the ball. If he gets into the lane, he draws 2 or 3 guys, and can easily find a big man around the rim, or the wing for an open jumper.
Rebounding/Passing- While Delaney is far from a great offensive rebound, he does have a good instinct on missed shots and is very quick to the ball. Once he gets a miss, he is very good at getting a second shot up quickly, though it may not be the best option. I think Delaney is very underrated as a passer, again because he spends more time off the ball. As said above, he is very good at drawing the defense and finding the open man, but the one major area he lacks is his ability to run an offense not centered around him scoring. It will be important for him as he progresses to learn how to keep an offense moving smoothly and to show a good ability to get balls into the post.
Free Throw Shooting - Delaney is a very good free throw shooter, doesn’t mind the pressure of big free throws and has a very even, consistent stroke at the line. Where he is inconsistent is getting to the line, which plays into the above about him not looking to get to the rim enough.
Perimeter Defense- Delaney can be a very tough on-ball defender. He has excellent lateral movement, positions himself well and is very good at keeping his hands active. Off-the-ball is a different story – he has a tendency to play very lax when his man doesn’t have the ball, often looking for opportunities to gamble on a steal. At the next level, he will not have this opportunity, and will need to learn to deny passing lanes better and to improve his footwork when his man is on the move. He does a decent job getting through screens, but he will need to get stronger to handle them at the NBA level. Also, he needs to be more aware of the shooting ability of his man, and whether going over or under a screen is an option for him. His effort on the defensive end can be inconsistent, but this can be due to him playing a lot of minutes every game. If he does play in the NBA, he will need to be able to show a full effort for whatever minutes he gets on the court. Also, he needs to improve closing on shooters, especially making sure he gets out far enough to make the shooter aware of his presence.
Rebounding- As on the offensive end, Delaney doesn’t have the body to be much of a rebounder, but he does give an effort, and is very good at making sure to block out offensive players charging in from the perimeter. His instinct is to leak out on missed shots, but he will need to look for opportunities to get the long rebounds.
Delaney is very good in transition, with the ability to push the ball himself or to fill one of the wings. If he has the ball, his decision-making needs to improve, especially in drawing the defenders who get back and hitting one of his open men. If he chooses to take the ball himself, he is very good at getting an extra speed burst and beating people to the rim, but he needs to make sure he stays in control, sometimes going too fast for his own good. Also, he can be very dangerous with either the pull-up jumper, or the spot-up shot from the wing.
Summary & Intangibles
Athleticism – High
BB IQ - High
Delaney is a tough player to figure out – the things he does well, he does very well, and the areas that need work, need a lot of work. The one thing that pushes him into the draft for me is his toughness and his willingness to work at getting better. While he showed great promise in his first 2 years at Virginia Tech, he adjusted well to being the focus of the offense and as someone who could carry the team when needed. Physically, he does need to get stronger and I really think his future in the NBA depends on his ability to show he can run a pro offense. If you add that to his scoring ability, you have a very solid back-up guard and a good rotation player. While there is a chance he may go undrafted, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team take a shot on him in the 2nd half of the 2nd round. Even if he does go undrafted, he should get a camp invite this fall with a shot to make a team.
Make sure to check back later today for a look at Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight, as well as a new The Case For… on Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell. Remember, leave any comments below, follow me on Twitter - @NBADraftBlog, or feel free to email me at the link up top.