Looking to the Future: Diamonds in the Rough

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.


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