Thursday, June 28, 2012

UNC Players NBA Career Prospects

Tonight is the NBA Draft and four Tar Heels figure to be selected in the first round ... probably all in the top 20 selections.

So as someone who has watched virtually every second of every one of their games over the past four seasons, what kind of NBA players and careers will each of these guys have?

HARRISON BARNES:  A lock to be a top ten pick and could be a top five guy.  He could be one of those cats that has a better pro career than college one.  He is a nice shooter who can hit both the three and has a great mid-range game.  He is deceptively quick and athletic and has the ability to be a very good defensive player.  He struggles to create his own shot and he's not a great ballhandler.  I see a lot of Ray Allen in him, provided he gets some handle.

Barnes would be at his best on a team where he has a point guard who is adept at setting up his teammates.  When Kendall Marshall took over the lead guard spot for the Tar Heels in the middle of their freshman season, Barnes exploded.  He is great at getting to his spot, using screens as well as owning a nice one dribble jumper.  I think he'll have a long career just on his shooting alone and could have an All Star or two in him if he gets his ballhanding down.

The ideal situation in this draft?  Cleveland.  The Cavs have Kyrie Irving (yeah, a Dookie) who Barnes already has a friendship with as they both were in the class of 2010.  Washington wouldn't be a really bad spot since they do have John Wall.  He could fall to Golden State or Toronto which wouldn't be bad, but, to me, the Cavs are his best spot.

JOHN HENSON:  A shot blocker, rebounder who has a little jump hook and a spot up jumper.  Lengthy.  He is rail thin and will get bumped around quite a bit and will probably find himself in foul trouble on the next level.  He's also a horrible free throw shooter and tends to get too emotional on both ends of the spectrum.  His career could look a lot like other former Tar Heels Ed Davis and Branden Wright. 

Henson is a better shot blocker than Davis and a better spot up shooter than either of them.  The fact he can hit that 12-15 footer adds some value to him.  But he doesn't have a position.  He won't be a guy that you can run any offense for.

Henson needs to go to a team that already has a post scorer ... whether that is a power forward or center.  He can come in and be the defensive presence who can create space by hitting those mid-range jumpers.  To me, his career will probably be as a 7th or 8th man who comes in with the second team to provide defense

He would do great in Sacramento alongside DeMarcus Cousins, though the Kings won't draft him that high.  Detroit seems to be the team that wants him and he'd do well alongside Greg Monroe.  Portland could use him alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.  If he dropped a bit, Dallas wouldn't be a bad landing spot.

TYLER ZELLER:  Of all these guys ... pretty much of anyone in the entire draft ... you know what you are going to get with Zeller.  He's a quick, fast center who can block some shots, hit jumpers, has post moves and gets to the line (where he can hit his free throws).  Usually known entities scare GMs because they lack the sex appeal of potential. 

Zeller will be a smart backup big man on the NBA level.  He can pretty much fit in anywhere because of this.  That makes it hard to project who will select him.  Possibly those teams I had previously mentioned with Henson.  My dream would be for him to go to Phoenix where they love to run the floor.  That would play into Z's strengths. 

KENDALL MARSHALL:  Marshall is the one of the four that will most likely fall out of the lottery and could fall towards the end of the first round.  Funny, since he showed in the NCAA Tournament that he was the most valuable of the quartet. 

Marshall is a great passer.  A great playmaker.  Efficient and doesn't commit turnovers.  Towards the end of the season, his offense really took off and his shot started to fall.  He is a leader on and off the floor. 

He also won't be able to defend any of the top point guards on the next level.  He is slow by their standards and will find it difficult to beat his man.  To me, he would serve best as a backup point guard who can direct the second team and face off against second-string point guards.

His best bet would be to fall all the way to 28th and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  They could really use his passing ability since this was one of the worst passing teams in the league in terms of assists (they also committed tons of turnovers).  He could come in as the Derek Fisher role and slide Westbrook to the two-guard (though Marshall could guard the other team's two).  He'd be great at deciding who gets the ball and where they should get it ... as his role at Carolina forced him to do the exact same thing.

If not OKC, then any of those playoff teams would work.  Indiana would work great with all those shooters.  Same for Atlanta.  In Dallas, he could back up Jason Kidd or Deron Williams (if he gets there).  In any case, he'll be a change of pace kind of guy. 

Zeller isn't big, isn't strong, isn't a dominating low post scorer.  He's smart, has great hands and can sprint end-to-end with any big man.

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