Here’s our fifth edition of Pro or No, in which we’ll take a closer look at a few more SEC products. Let’s hope the readers feel as passionately about these guys as they did about Klay Thompson…
Trey Thompkins, Georgia, Jr. – PF
Overview: Thompkins is a guy that NBA scouts can’t seem to figure out. He’s bounced around from the lower ends of the lottery, to late first round/early second round, and now most experts see him going somewhere in the 15th-20th range. The 6′ 9″ SF from Georgia played a very complete junior season, putting up almost 18 PPG and over 8 rebounds per contest. He shoots very effectively, knocking down almost 50%. Of course, there’s always the chance that he’ll return for another year, but I doubt that’s the case here.
Best Case: Most NBA scouts had Thompkins going in the middle of the first round last year. He might drop a few spots this year, but this is a guy who really benefitted from an extra year in college. His game is much more polished, and NBA-ready. He doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses at the moment, and he won’t have any trouble making/staying on an NBA roster. If he does drop down to the latter portions of the first round, I think the team that selects him will be adding really strong value.
Worst Case: I don’t view Thompkins as a boom or bust type prospect. He never boomed and never in his three-year career at Georgia. Oh, I have to come up with a worst case scenario? Okay…Somehow, Thompkins and Klay Thompson wind up on the same team. Thompkins starts running in the same horrible marijuana-crazed circles that Thompson frequents, and they both find themselves out of the league and in a world of trouble within six months.
Tobias Harris, Tennessee, Fr. – SF
Overview: I went to see Harris play twice in high school and was convinced that he was the next big thing. His first season at Tennessee didn’t live up to expectations, and yet he’s still being talked about as a 1-and-done first rounder. The kid’s got game and the all important upside, which NBA executives toss around as a word to justify otherwise insane decisions. At 6’8″, 210 lbs, he already has the prototype NBA body, and most of the skill set to match. While this season was one to forget at Tennessee,it’s tough to blame the players for underperforming. If Harris stays another year or two, things will get better in Volunteer Country.
Best Case Scenario: The best case scenario for Harris is a press conference, at which he announces his intentions to stay another year. With Bruce Pearl doing Bruce Pearl things all year and paying Bruce Pearl amounts of attention to himself first, and then to his players, Harris didn’t develop much as a player this year. That said, his upside is frightening, and another year in school will help him realize it. I see him as a lottery pick next year if he makes the right decision.
Worst Case Scenario: Harris goes pro and is drafted in the middle of the first round as a “purely potential” pick. He’ll get a few minutes each game, but never find himself in a position to really improve his game, as is the case with so many of the guys chosen for their “potential”.
Brandon Knight, Kentucky, Fr. – PG
Overview: One of Kentucky’s two floor generals (the other being Doron Lamb), Knight was the heartbeat of the 2010-11 squad. Sure, the Wildcats would have won plenty of games without him, but few of the ones that mattered most. His penchant for hitting big shots at key moments further solidifies his status as a deserving one-and-done NBA prospect. With Knight having recently declared for the draft, Calipari has already started writing checks to fill Knight’s shoes.
Best Case Scenario: Knight is a lock to go in the lottery of the 2011 Draft, and his skill set is strong enough to expect solid play wherever he lands. But he still has some room to develop, and it would really benefit him in the long run to play on a team that lacks depth at the point guard position. Minutes are the key to improvement in the NBA.
Worst Case Scenario: There are two scenarios that could really stunt Knight’s career: 1) He becomes a Toronto Raptor. 2) He is selected by a team that drafts according to the “best player available” approach, and loads its roster with guards, leaving Knight with 15 minutes per game and little room for improvement. By the way, I understand that line of thinking for NFL teams, but when NBA GMs don’t draft to fill holes in their 5-man starting rosters, I age considerably in frustration. More rants on NBA draft methods to follow.