Article Courtesy of Chris Cox from The Undersized Basketball Blog:
The post-season emergence of Indiana duo Paul George (10th pick, 2010) and
Roy Hibbert (17th pick, 2008) has GMs up and down the draft board searching for long, athletic wings and rim-protecting centres, with evidence of skill and plenty of upside.
In terms of wing players, Tony Mitchell, of North Texas (UNT), is attracting real buzz and rocketing up many teams’ wishlist. The 6’9″ 235-pound forward has a 7’2″ wingspan and 38′ max vertical. Built like an NBA power forward, Mitchell is an athletic phenomenon — check out his appearance at UNT Midnight Madness:
Mitchell’s numbers were encouraging enough, if not spectacular – averaging 15 points and 10 boards, on 57/44/74, as a freshman and 13 points 8.5 boards and 2.7 blocks, on 44/30/67, as a sophomore – for a player competing against bad teams in a weak conference.
At worst, Mitchell’s short college resume has shown he’s capable of developing into a solid three-and-D guy, able to stretch the floor from the four spot. Don’t expect Mitchell to trouble the top five, but his stock explosion could see the UNT alum crack the lottery.
Behind the league’s most effective defensive teams lurks an elite shot-blocking big at the centre. It’s no coincidence that the teams who best protected the rim – holding opponents to the lowest shooting percentage inside the paint during the regular season – all had a dominant big man capable of swatting multiple shots per game, forcing the opposition into a perimeter-oriented game.
When it comes to the big men in the middle, the 2013 draft class contains a hodgepodge of centres in a variety of shapes and sizes. Despite recovering from an ACL tear and concerns over his slight frame, Nerlens Noel remains the favourite to go number 1. Speaking of the possibility of Cleveland taking Noel with the first pick, John Calipari, Noel’s coach at Kentucky, said: “My hope is they take Nerlens because they do their research and say, ‘We need that shot blocker behind what we have… We know he’s going to gain 40 pounds. We know the trajectory.’ They know where he was at the beginning of the year and they know how much he improved because they were here. They saw it. I don’t have to explain anything to Chris.”
Yet, for those without the number one pick, there remains a plethora of bigs for teams to take a punt on, in the hope that their career path will mimic that of late first-round pick Roy Hibbert.