Andre Drummond - At nearly seven feet tall and 280 pounds, it is rare to see a prospect with the mobility, athleticism, and strength that Drummond possesses. It is even more rare to see it in an 18-year-old.
After one season at UConn, where he posted averages of 10 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game, Drummond has the potential to become one of the few elite big men in the game today. Most of the praise Drummond has received stems from his explosive nature and ability to play above the rim both offensively and defensively, causing some comparisons to Dwight Howard.
Additionally, Drummond is said to have been the fastest player on UConn’s team last season, making him an even more intriguing prospect, since he can step off the block and defend the perimeter, while also being able to draw his defender out in pick-and-roll situations offensively.
However, there are also a number of question marks surrounding Drummond, which have caused NBA scouts to think he has just as much bust potential as star potential. For example, Drummond displayed close to no post-up game in college, with most of his points coming off the creation of others. To his credit, the UConn offense was very guard dominant, but Drummond still did very little to assert himself and demand the ball, which has led to concerns over his commitment level and mental approach to the game. Moreover, for someone so big, Drummond only took 2.6 free throws per game in college, which reflects his lack of aggression on offense. Even worse, when Drummond got to the line, he converted an embarrassing 29.5% of his attempts.
With that being said, NBA scouts are well aware of the good and the bad of Andre Drummond, resulting in uncertainty over his draft stock. It is generally expected that he will be picked as early as the number five pick, but if he isn’t, Drummond could slide on draft night, possibly even out of the top ten.
Meyers Leonard - A player who came on as the college basketball season and pre-draft circuit progressed, Leonard has all the physical attributes one looks for in an NBA center. At 7’1”, 250 pounds, the former Illinois big man impresses scouts with his fluidity on both offense and defense. With numbers of 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game last season, Leonard saw his draft stock sky rocket after a freshman season where he saw just over eight minutes per game.
A high basketball IQ allows Leonard to take advantage of post-up situations and put himself in good positions to frustrate opponents defensively with his length. It is believed that he needs more time to add to his frame and develop confidence in his game, so wherever he is selected, likely from pick number nine to the mid teens, Leonard will require patience to see out his development, as he might be a late bloomer, similar to his progression in college.
Tyler Zeller - The most productive college big man (16.3 points, 9.6 rebounds) in this year’s draft, Zeller is moving on the NBA after four years at North Carolina. Noted for his soft shooting touch, including an 80.8 free throw shooting percentage his senior year, Zeller will be able to stretch defenses at the next level with his pick-and-pop potential. In addition, the seven-footer runs the floor very well and can be used in transition, although his finishing has caused concerns in NBA circles, since he is a below-the-rim player. In the half court, he does possess good post moves, but could struggle with the strength and toughness of opposing NBA centers. Likely solid at best in the league, Zeller should be selected in the late lottery to mid-teen picks.
Fab Melo - After missing the NCAA tournament due to academic ineligibility, Melo declared for the draft, where his size (7’-0″, 255 pounds) and athleticism match features that NBA scouts covet. The Big East Defensive Player of the Year last season, Melo averaged 2.9 blocks per game while occupying the center of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. That defensive capability is what Melo brings most to the next level, since his offensive game is raw and rarely extends out more than five feet. To make himself a player in the league, Melo will have to stay in better shape, improve his hands, and continue to learn how the game is played. Also, Melo must rebound better, after averaging just 5.8 per game in his sophomore season, an inexcusable number from someone with his size. If he can do so, Melo can be a serviceable big man in the NBA, but many scouts question his level of focus, causing his draft stock to be somewhere in the late teens to early twenties.
Possible first round pick: Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt)
More NBA Draft Talk