Looking to the Future: Diamonds in the Rough

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Published: February 4, 2012

The top prospects have been separating themselves as of late, but there are some sneaky good players that should be available later in the first round

Over the first few weeks we have tracked the lottery bound prospects that the Hornets might target with Minnesota’s pick and their own, but if and when a trade for Kaman or Landry go down, the Hornets might receive a late first round pick as part of the package. Historically, there hasn’t been a huge difference between picks at the end of the first round and picks at the end of the lottery. We need look no further than our own roster as Greivis Vasquez, the 28th pick of the 2010 draft, has outperformed both Al-Farouq Aminu (8th) and Xavier Henry (12th) so far.

This draft looks to have a set of tiers, with Anthony Davis sitting at Tier 1 by himself, and six guys hovering right below him in Tier 2 (Drummond, Gilchrist, Barnes, Jones, Robinson, and Sullinger). The rest of the lottery will be filled out by guys with “potential”, and this is why so many of those picks are busts. Guys who have had productive college careers will be passed up in favor of unproductive players or one-year wonders who possess the prototypical physical attributes. Below are the list of guys who will go at the back end of the first round/early second that GM’s will be kicking themselves for not taking. Hopefully Dell won’t be one of those GM’s.

Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri

Missouri rose all the way up to number two in the country last week, despite the fact that most analysts say that they don’t have any NBA players on their roster. Wrong. Ratliffe is an undersized power forward who will get bypassed by a lot of teams, but will turn out to be a solid pro when all is said and done. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and does not try to do more than he can, which is actually pretty rare for a college kid. He is an excellent finisher around the rim, but can’t shoot a lick, and you know what? He doesn’t try to. Through his first 22 games, he has take five jumpers. 5!!! And that is why he is shooting 75% from the field.

Check him out: Ratliffe and #4 Missouri take on Thomas Robinson and #8 Kansas tonight on ESPN. 9 EST/ 8 CST

Damian Lillard, Weber State

Every single week there has been multiple Lillard comments, so I am finally giving in. Look, Lillard is damn impressive  but I just don’t believe that Demps and Monty want a young point guard running this team. But let’s say they do; what does Lillard bring to the table? First of all, you get a guy who can flat out shoot. He’s connecting on nearly 46% of his three’s and 90% of his free throws. You also get a physical speciman with one of the best defensive rebounding rates for a guard in the nation.

What you don’t get is a guy who has played against a lot of high level competition. In his two games against quality big schools (Cal and BYU), his stats were way down and Weber State lost both games. In the 19 other games, Lillard averaged 27 points, shooting nearly 50%. Against Cal and BYU, Lillard averaged just 14.5 PPG and shot just 31% from the field. Perhaps Lillard can have a Stephen Curry type run in the tournament, and if he does, he can go late in the lottery. If not, GM’s will have to wonder whether he can have success against legit competition and that could mean a slide out of the first round.

Check him out: Sat, February 18th on ESPN 3 vs. Texas-Arlington. 8 PM EST/ 7 CST

Kevin Jones, West Virginia

Jones is 10th in the NCAA in PER and is averaging nearly 21 and 12 in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. After his sophomore season, Jones was considered a first round prospect, but regressed somewhat in his junior year. This year he has been remarkable, but he is likely to fall to that late first round/early second area due to his age and size (or lack there of). He is only 6’8″ and he lacks the athleticism to make up for the 2-3 inches he will be giving up every night. But he is non-stop energy and looks like he has turned the corner, becoming a beast on the boards. If the Hornets target other positions early on, Jones could give the Hornets another hard working overachiever on the front line.

Check him out: Tomorrow @Providence on ESPN 3. Noon EST/ 11 CST

Looking to the Future is a weekly article that you can find every Saturday only on Hornets247.com. For past articles, click here. If you see any other diamonds in the rough we should look out for, let us know in the comments.

16 comments
Simon
Simon

What about Tony Wroten Jr? or are you thinking he'll go too high to be available if we get an early 20's pick for Kaman?

RockyMountain
RockyMountain

I agree with you. Tony Wrotten Jr has superb athleticism. Has all the potential to be a superstar IMO. If Davis or Drummond or Thomas or Sullinger are gone, I say NOH should pick this guy.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

Damian Lillard! LOL that way, we'd have 3 super awesome stud defenders at PG/SG/SF with Lillard, Gordon and Ariza not to mention Davis at PF and Mek at C. WOOT :)) that has the potential of a top defensive team in the NBA.

neitzelbaby12
neitzelbaby12

anthony davis has big unibrow and it creeps me out!!!

Noah
Noah

I know, you think he would shave it one day because its pretty noticeable but i guess he likes it

Nik
Nik

idk where i saw the link for this video..but it has convinced me that trey burke from michigan will be a solid pg/back up pg in the nba.. hes undersized but plays with good intensity and court vision. .435 from the field and .356 from 3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCWaZrb6zLY

Noahh
Noahh

Why do people like drummond, i dont get it, he hasnt done anything in college and people are saying draft him over anthony davis. I find it stupid to draft potential over proven basketball players like anthony davis, is this just me?

SP
SP

Emeka Okafor vs Dwight Howard, which do you take now? That's the only reason people take potential over proven talent..

David
David

Who did you see that said to draft Drummond over ADavis??? According to ESPN a poll of NBA GMs has Davis unanimous #1

Tim
Tim

He had a pretty big game against Georgetown (18 its, 7 rebs, 2 asts, 1 block) and is steadily improving. He has the most upside in this draft.

Trey
Trey

Another guy we could use a draft pick on is Kenny Boyton from University of Florida. He's a guard and he's a scorrer he would be able to come off the bench for gordon. If you want to check him out florida plays vandy today at 12 on cbs heres his freshman highlights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUWV04DYhkM he just a freshman in this video he's a senior now. One more good prospect is Irving walker he's the point guard for florida. He's 5'6 or 5'7 but he has amazing range and plays with alot of heart he could be a great backup or maybe even a potenial stater.

Eli
Eli

If were gunna have a young pg running the show, i'd rather go with a good passer than a good shooter.. Kendall Marshall > Damian Lillard

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

If you listened to me on the podcasts, you know I LOVE Marshall, but I think a point guard who is more of a scorer/shooter is a bigger need if Eric Gordon is going to be on this team long term. Gordon needs the ball in his hands and is fabulous at running the pick and role, much like D Wade. If you were Miami's GM and you could have either Marc Jackson or Mark Price in their primes, which would you choose? If Gordon is healthy, the point guard on this team will have to be a perimeter threat and have an impact without the ball. Yes, I like Marshall better than Lillard, but I think Lillard>Marshall when you talk about a fit with Gordon.

504ever
504ever

The only player I want off of the current Carolina team is Kendall Marshall. Today he was the star of the game, leading the comeback at Maryland. He had 16 assists, making Henson's and Zeller's stats look great with uncontested layups from his passes. Plus Marshall was 3-7, 1-1 from 3pt. I'd take a change of pace, pass first guard to run the 2nd unit while he works on his offense in the NBA. As a bonus Marshall is 6-4 195, with quicks to blow by people in college! (Remember D-West was primarily a rebounder out of college, and Chris was not a consistent perimeter shooter. Look at their offensive games now!) Oh, Harrison Barnes, Mr. So-So perimeter shooter and nothing more in college, was 5-15 (.333) today.

Tim
Tim

Oh, and I like Scott Machado a lot more than Damian Lillard.

Tim
Tim

Aminu wasn't even mentioned in the top 20 sophomores... Sucks.