June 26, 2009
As we sit in the post-draft afterglow, College Eye is the Dagger's look at players whose draft positions don't line up with their amateur output. Potential, health concerns and the rest of the usual draft night wonkery need not apply here.
1. Austin Daye, Gonzaga; Detroit Pistons, No. 15 overall: Perhaps the Pistons are so blinded by their love for Tayshaun Prince (who was an awfully good college player himself) and so convinced that Daye is in that mold that they're willing to overlook a few simple facts. For one, Daye is nowhere near NBA-ready, which showed up frequently at Gonzaga in 2008-09. For an athletic 6-foot-11 forward playing in the WCC, Daye didn't score much -- 12 points a game -- and only grabbed 6.8 rebounds a game. These are not impressive numbers. Why are they so weak? Because Daye is: He's far too easy to push off the block, and far too easy to dislocate during rebounds. If the WCC's finest pushed him around, Lord knows what the NBA will do.
2. DeMar DeRozan, USC; Toronto Raptors, No. 9 overall: It's not hard to see why NBA teams would like DeRozan -- he's a big, athletic guard with tons of upside. But our equation doesn't factor in upside, and when it comes to collegiate production, DeRozan wasn't anywhere near the top 10. In his one season with USC, DeRozan played 33 minutes a game and scored but 13 points. His three point field goal percentage (16.7 percent, to be exact) was dreadful. The only reason his stats don't look worse is a late-season run of productivity; before January, DeRozan struggled to even crack the Trojans' lineup, and many considering it a pipe dream that DeRozan would be a one-and-done. So much for that. Players may be going to college now, but the NBA is still addicted to potential.
3. Jrue Holiday, UCLA; Philadelphia 76ers, No. 17 overall: There are some mitigating factors when it comes to grading Holiday's freshman season: Instead of playing his natural point guard spot (Drew Collison had that locked up), Holiday was forced to move off the ball. Had he gone somewhere else, his college production-to-NBA-esteem gulf probably wouldn't be so wide. But he didn't, and so it is. Holiday's freshman year stats lend to incredulity: He scored 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists, and his time wasn't exactly limited; he played 27 minutes a game. Holiday simply struggled as a freshman. If all you had was college performance to look at, you'd be shocked to see Holiday in the top 20. But here he is.
4. Taylor Griffin, Oklahoma; Phoenix Suns, No. 48 overall: It feels slightly mean to pick on Taylor Griffin here. Between he and his brother, he got the lesser skills and the worse hair, though, to his credit, he did outdress Blake by leaps and bounds last night. But Griffin is simply not a pro player, and his college days line up with that. Playing alongside Blake, a world-destroying talent on the offensive end, Taylor notched a mere nine points in 30 or so minutes per game. The sight test agrees. It's hard for anyone to be drafted too high in the second round, but the notion that Griffin was only 11 picks behind DeJuan Blair is baffling.
5. B.J. Mullens, Ohio State; Dallas Mavericks, No. 24 overall: I've discussed before why Mullens was such a weird one-and-done at Ohio State. He was the No. 1 recruit in the country before his freshman season, a major, Greg Oden-esque get for Ohio State coach Thad Matta ... who proceeded, once Mullens arrived, to keep the big man off the court at all costs. Mullens is a project. The NBA loves projects. I get it. But if you're a seven-footer and you struggle to stay on the court in the Big Ten, that doesn't bode well for your -- at least immediate -- NBA future.