Sunday, March 4, 2012

How NBA Scouts See Drummond, Lamb

We interrupt your dreams of another miracle Big East tournament and NCAA tournament run to remind you that both Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb should be lottery picks in this year's NBA Draft and, in all likelihood, will go pro once the season is over.

I asked a couple of NBA scouts -- one from the Eastern Conference, one from the Western Conference -- what they liked and disliked about the respective games of Drummond and Lamb. Most of what they said isn't ground-breaking or anything most UConn fans don't already know, but it's interesting to hear from guys who's jobs are on the line when it comes to scouting and rating potential NBA players.

Here's what they had to say:

“Drummond is what I call an alien,” said the Eastern Conference scout. “He’s from another planet, physically. He’s just so gifted, it’s mind-boggling. As a player, he’s just learning to play. For any guy like that, if he would just play as hard as he possibly could, all the time, the results will be good most of the time because he’s just flat-out physically superior to almost everyone on the planet.”

The scout added that Drummond “has the potential to be an NBA all-star, no question in my mind. But it’s a long way between where he is today and being an NBA all-star.”

"I know the Connecticut fans want performance night-in, night-out, but I don't know how realistic that is from a guy just learning to play. The NBA has shown time and time again that it will wait on a big. They won't on a smaller player. They want instant gratification on smaller guys."

The scout stressed that Drummond has to improve his fundamentals, particularly on offense.

“At times, I thought he was shooting not off his palm, but off his wrists,” the scout said. “I’d never seen anything like that. I didn’t think it the ball had any chance of going in. (Against West Virginia), he was hitting turnaround shots, and one of the scouts leaned over and said, ‘If he keeps hitting those shots, he’ll be the first pick, not the second pick.’”

The Western Conference scout echoed those sentiments.

“You’d have to start from scratch,” he said. “It’s a testament to the world of AAU. Someone who (cared) about the kid would have started at basic fundamentals. He doesn’t even hold the ball correctly. You can teach anyone how to do that, especially when they’re young enough. With his talent and athleticism, all he needs is a hook shot. If he can hit an open jump shot, he’d be basically unguardable.”

He added: "He’s very friendly, seems like a nice kid. With all those big guys, you’d like to crawl inside his brain. Does he like to play? A lot of big guys are forced into it because of their size. How much does he wanna work? He's so physically talented, he can probably make a living roaming the court, rebounding, blocking a shot here and tehre, alley-oops. But right now, there's a real lack of skill."

*** As for Lamb, the Western Conference scout believes he’s a perfect NBA two-guard.

“He has the position, you don't have to worry about him making the adjustment," he said. "I don’t know too many guys you’d take ahead of him at that position. He does have a nice arsenal of shots. He’s pretty smooth once he gets in a rhythm. The shot he hit (against Providence), that classic little floater, that’ll help him at the next level if he doesn’t forget about it. You can’t get to the rim all the time in the NBA, so you’ve got to offset that.”

Lamb hasn’t shot the ball as well as many expected this season – 32.7 percent on 3-pointers, and just 28.5 percent on 3-pointers in Big East play. But he’s been the focal point of many opponents’ defenses, something he won’t likely have to worry about in the NBA.

“(Scouts) take that into account,” the Western Conference scout said. “You’re not going to ask him to carry an NBA team and be a Kevin Durant or anything. He can even be a MarShon Brooks, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

The Eastern Conference scout likes Lamb, as well.

“He’s going to be a high pick also,” he said. “He’s got a high skill level, a bright upside. He needs to get stronger, a little tougher, and better off the bounce. He’s got a good 1, 2 dribble off the bounce, but after that I have questions. That being said, he’s young, it’s all ahead of him. He has a golden future.”

Both scouts pointed out that it would behoove both players – particularly Drummond – to stay in school for at least another year.

“In a perfect world he should stay in school, I think,” the Eastern Conference scout said. “But I’m not addressing the financial component, which is a driving force. I’d like to see him stay at Connecticut, I think a great deal of the coaching staff. Any player that will stay at Connecticut and work will have the opportunity to get better.”

But there are two words that any likely lottery pick needs to hear that normally convinces them to go pro:

"It’s called 'Greg Oden,'" the Eastern Conference scout said. "It's crystal-clear. If Greg Oden stayed at Ohio State, I have no doubt that they would have won a couple of national championships, if he was healthy. But the fact is he went to the NBA and he got his money. Thank God he got money, look what's happened since. It's been a nightmare physically. every player is a knee injury away from his career being over."

Indeed, all signs point to Drummond and Lamb going pro.

“(Lamb) will be right at the top (among two-guards),” the Eastern Conference scout added. “The only guy ahead of Drummond would be (Kentucky’s Anthony) Davis. You’ve got a kid like Thomas Robinson of Kansas playing at a very high level, he’s going to be a terrific NBA player, but he’s smaller, obviously, than Drummond.

“(Drummond) is going to go, if not second, then very high.”

*** Lamb earned first team all-Big East honors on Sunday while Drummond made the all-rookie team. The conference's Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards will all be announced on Tuesday, between morning and afternoon sessions of the Big East tourney at Madison Square Garden.

My picks would be: Jae Crowder, Player of the Year; Moe Harkless, Rookie of the Hear; and Stan Heath, Coach of the Year. I'm guessing that's how it'll go, though Drummond (the preseason pick) probably has a shot at Rookie of the Year. And Mike Brey seems to win Coach of the Year every season, so maybe we should just earmark him for that one, as well.

Anyway, here are the all-Big East selections:

Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, G, So., 6-5, 185, Norcross, Ga.
Jason Clark, Georgetown, G, Sr., 6-2, 170, Arlington, Va.
*Jae Crowder, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-6, 235, Villa Rica, Ga.
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette, G, Sr., 6-2, 215, Raleigh, N.C.
Kris Joseph, Syracuse, F, Sr., 6-7, 210, Montreal, Quebec
Kevin Jones, West Virginia, F, Sr., 6-8, 260, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati, G, So., 6-4, 215, White Plains, N.Y.
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame, F, Jr., 6-9, 244, Glenview, Ill.
Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall, G, Sr., 6-0, 174, Englewood, N.J.
Scoop Jardine, Syracuse, G, Sr., 6-2, 190, Philadelphia, Pa.
Maalik Wayns, Villanova, G, Jr., 6-2, 200, Philadelphia, Pa.
Henry Sims, Georgetown, C, Sr., 6-10, 232, Baltimore, Md.
Vincent Council, Providence, G, Jr., 6-2, 180, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Herb Pope, Seton Hall, F, Sr., 6-8, 236, Aliquippa, Pa.
Dion Waiters, Syracuse, G, So., 6-4, 215, Philadelphia, Pa.
Darryl Bryant, West Virginia, G, Sr., 6-2, 195, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Cleveland Melvin, DePaul, F, So., 6-8, 205, Baltimore, Md.
Hollis Thompson, Georgetown, F, Sr., 6-7, 205, Los Angeles, Calif.
Kyle Kuric, Louisville, G-F, Sr., 6-4, 185, Evansville, Ind.
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh, G, Sr., 6-2, 190, Scotch Plains, N.J.
Moe Harkless, St. John’s, F, Fr., 6-8, 190, Queens, N.Y.
Andre Drummond, Connecticut, C, Fr., 6-11, 275, Middletown, Conn.
Chane Behanan, Louisville, F, Fr., 6-7, 250, Bowling Green, Ky.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, G, So., 6-5, 185, Bowie, Md.
LaDontae Henton, Providence, F, Fr., 6-6, 220 Lansing, Mich.
Moe Harkless, St. John’s, F, Fr., 6-8, 190, Queens, N.Y.
D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s, G, Fr., 6-3, 186, Missouri City, Texas
Anthony Collins, USF, G, Fr., G, 6-1, 175, Houston, Texas

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