Looking to the Future: Mid-Rounders

Published: February 18, 2012

The Wolves pick is going to be in the 10-16 range, most likely.  Who could be available then?

We spend a lot of time looking at the front end of the draft, drooling over players like Anthony Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Thomas Robinson.  And, at the same time, being alternately intrigued and worried over players like Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond.

This time, however, I’m going to depart from that and spend this weekend’s Looking towards the Future piece on late lottery picks, because, let’s face it, The Timberwolves pick could end up anywhere from 10th to 16th.   I took the players mentioned between 8th and 20th on the major draft sites and averaged their expected draft position. I ended up with seven guys I thought I should mention.  If your favorite isn’t here, it’s probably because he just missed the cut before or after this middle group of players.

Big Men

Tyler Zeller – The older Zeller is a putting in strong contributions for loaded UNC, coming in second on the team in points.  He’s an athletic center who can run the floor and score periodically in the post when called to.  His rebounding is solid on the offensive end, even if his defensive rebounding rates aren’t too strong.  I attribute that more to playing next to John Henson than any issue on his part.   Tyler ranks anywhere from 10 to 17 on most sites, and I have a feeling he’ll have a solid career in the NBA as a backup and could develop into a starter.

Cody Zeller – The younger Zeller is carrying more of an offensive load than his brother, operating as the primary option for Indiana.  He’s proving to be quite an offensive force as a freshmen, finishing his shots 66% of the time, and hitting at a great clip from the line.  If Cody can put on some more muscle, he could become a good scoring big in the league down the road.  The biggest worry about him is his willingness to crash the boards.  His defensive rebounding numbers are pretty awful, and he’s not teamed up with a powerhouse rebounder the way his older brother is.

Terrence Jones – Jones is playing with a powerhouse squad in Kentucky, lining up next to big-name players like Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Doron Lamb.  Jones specializes in filling the space between all those guys – cutting, running and sometimes driving his way to points at a highly efficient rate.  He’s a good ballhawk and great shotblocker for his position, and if he can bring that combination of complimentary scoring and disruptive defense to the NBA, he’ll have a long, if not briliant, career.

Meyers Leonard – Leonard’s offensive numbers aren’t all that great.  He plays a lot of minutes for a middling pace team, and when you adjust it all, he’s a few steps behind players like the Zellers and other top big men in the draft.  He does shine a bit as a rebounder, particularly as an offensive rebounder.  Because of his game, I want to compare him to Jason Smith but I think he’s got a better ceiling than that.


Quincy Miller – Miller plays second fiddle to Perry Jones at Baylor, but he has a real nice, well rounded game.  He draws fouls at a good rate, hits shots from all over the floor, boards really well and could easily turn into a top 10 small forward in the league once he figures out he should be attacking more.   That’s the issue though, isn’t it?  Aggression isn’t something that can be taught.

Terrence Ross – Ross worries me because he doesn’t have the handle to be a SG in the pros, but I’m not convinced he’s big enough SF either.  He’s also shown almost no improvement from his freshman season other than getting almost twice the minutes and – as a result – producing about twice as much.  He doesn’t shoot particularly well, but neither does he take many free throws.  His strongest attribute is his boardwork, where he posts power-forward like numbers.  He’d need to develop offensively to become a real rotation player in the NBA.


Jared Sullinger – Okay, he’s no where near the range I established above.  I just wanted to re-iterate that I freaking love Jared Sullinger.  I’d take him second in this draft, and wouldn’t even really think about it.  I don’t give a crap about potential when this guy already has established he has the rarest of commodities – a developed post game.  He handles double teams well, crashes the boards hard, and in general, I fully expect him to turn into a Zach Randolph sort of player in the league.  The only guy in my book who I’d consider other than him is Thomas Robinson, and in this case, the younger guy wins.

Every time I check the draft boards, he seems to have slipped another spot in favor of the flavor of the month.   That’s so lame.


Who do you like with a late lottery pick?


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