Now we’re starting to see a lot of one-dimensional, low upside players getting selected during this portion of the draft, but this is where GM’s earn their money in their search for those rare, “diamonds in the rough.” A lot of these players are pretty close to not being very useful in the NBA. Nevertheless, even if their skills are very limited, they still have something to offer, whether it’d be this season or somewhere down the line, perhaps with another team. We last left off finishing evaluating a “stretch 4” with pick no. 48. We kick off the fourth part of this series with another power forward that can stretch the floor.
49—Erik Murphy, 6’10”, 240 lbs, PF-Florida: Not to be confused with Eric Murphy from Entourgae (although the similarities are striking), this Erik Murphy is a lot bigger than the TV character (in literal terms). NBAdraft.net has compared him to Matt Bonner and for good reason. Besides his height, the thing that attracts scouts to Murphy is his long-range shot. I can definitely see Derrick Rose dribble-penetrate and then finding a wide open Murphy on the corner, ready to jack up a three. He’s also a hard worker that is constantly looking to improve every facet of his game. Size and instincts help with blocking shots.
The problem, just like Kelly, is that he lacks quickness and that is more apparent on defense. He also is a terrible rebounder. Murphy is pretty much your prototypical, one-dimensional player. Luckily for him, that one attribute, along with his size, fits in with the current evolution of the NBA game. However, if he can’t hold his own on defense and can’t rebound, then there’s not much hope for him.
50—James Ennis, 6’7”, 200 lbs, G/F-Long Beach State: Now here’s an interesting pick. Ennis, per DraftExpress.com, has a wingspan of 6’11.5”. He is also explosive and is always looking to finish strong. Of course, with his athleticism and length, this makes him an ideal defender. He will lose focus on the defensive end, but in the right situation, he can be a huge asset. And even with his ability to fly to the basket, Ennis does have a good jump shot in his arsenal. Nonetheless, Ennis is still very raw in terms of creating his own shot and his 3-point shot needs to continue to improve.
He needs to continue to add strength and work on his ball-handling skills. A rare find for any team as Ennis possesses a strong work ethic and intangibles to continue to tap into his latent potential. In this day of age, how many seniors still have plenty of untapped upside? And playing with the Miami Heat should help accelerate that growth.
Just out of curiosity, let’s look back at listed swingmen (SG/SF), 6’6” or taller that were taken as seniors in the NBA draft before the 50th pick in the 2nd round:
- Derrick Byars (2007)
To be fair, there are plenty of seniors that have been selected in the 2nd round that are listed exclusively as shooting guards or small forwards.
51—Romero Osby, 6’7”, 240 lbs, F-Oklahoma: To introduce Osby, here’s the band Darkest Hour and their song “Oklahoma.” Osby made it all the way into his senior year of college where he improved his scoring (especially in isolation), jump shot, rebounding, became a good free throw shooter, decreased his turnovers, and became an unstoppable force in transition.
But one look at his vitals and you can’t help but think “tweener,” especially at power forward. He also lacks quickness, which might prove to be his Achilles’ heel on defense. He seems to not have the strength to defend the post either. On the other side of the ball, he seems to be lacking post skills as well. Although Osby might have the ability to stay with the Orlando Magic as an offensive option, his bad defense will make the coaching staff think twice before putting him in the game.
Now would be a good time to look at listed power forwards, 6’5”-6’7”, drafted after the 50th pick in the second round:
- Luke Harangody (2010)
Harangody is currently in the D-League.
52—Lorenzo Brown, 6’5”, 189 lbs, G-NC State: A combo guard, Brown is a player worth monitoring as the season goes on. Although being on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ may not help him in his first year in the NBA, Brown still has some skills that might prove to be useful in this league. NBAdraft.net compares him to Ramon Sessions. As a point guard, his height is a tremendous advantage and helps his offensive awareness in making plays for others. Size also helps with rebounds, but it also does not hinder his quickness. Ball-handling skills help him limit turnovers. He’s also a solid defender and a ball-hawk as well.
Despite having a good size to be a combo guard, he really isn’t much of a scorer. Matter of fact, he really doesn’t like playing in the post and tries to avoid contact. His jump shot could use a lot of work, too. And even though he is a good facilitator, he still struggles with decision-making in half-court offenses. I’ve mentioned that he was a ball-hawk on defense, but with a lot of ball-hawks they tend to play too aggressively and get into foul trouble or cost the team easy baskets allowed. More strength might prove to be useful, especially on offense. He was described as an “underachiever” in college.
If Brown was more aggressive with the ball in terms of scoring and had a decent jump shot, I’m pretty confident he would have been picked a lot higher than 52nd overall, as guys with his height and PG skills are very rare finds.
53—Colton Iverson, 7’0”, 263 lbs, PF/C-Colorado State: The Boston Celtics select yet another big man in this draft. And Iverson is certainly a big man and has the strength to match the size and definitely knows how to use his body to create space on offense and box out on defense. He’s not just all brawn as he also has some decent post skills and knows how to score around the basket and knows how to pass the ball well for a big man.
Despite his size and length, his lack of athletic attributes and quickness will only hamstring his defense. And unlike Erik Murphy, Iverson’s jump shot is not something he utilizes a lot, plus he’s a poor free throw shooter as well. And even though we can praise his size, he really isn’t known as a shot-blocker and he can still be overpowered by established NBA big men. NBAdraft.net even mentions that his lack of quickness and athleticism results in “too many of his shots blocked.” Also mentioned is “his body fat [which] was one of the highest measured at the combine.”
So is Iverson ready to clog up the middle in the NBA? Most likely. Does he have a lot of work to do to improve his game despite coming out as a Senior? Definitely. Will he amount to much of anything in a couple of years? Not very likely.
Other 7-footers as Iverson and selected this late in the draft in the past:
- Semih Erden (2008)
- Solomon Alabi (2010)
- Hamady Ndiaye (2010)
- Ognjen Kuzmic (2012)
To Iverson’s credit, none of the names mentioned were as well-built as him. Not sure how their body fat percentage stacked up at their combine, however.
54—Arsalan Kazemi, 6’7”, 230 lbs, PF-Oregon: There’s that team to watch again—the Philadelphia 76ers. GM Sam Hinkie is building the Sixers’ franchise with the idea to add length on defense. And Hinkie is on the record, per Dennis Deitch of delcotimes.com, that “Arsalan is a player we were interested in.” Why? Well, for starters, DraftExpress.com has listed his wingspan at 7’0”. That should make one forget about his “tweener” status for just a second. The wingspan along with an extraordinary motor helped him become a rebounding machine in college, especially when crashing the offensive boards. He’s also not afraid to make contact to get to the foul line. And maximum effort on defense will certainly get him some playing time early on. Combined all of this with a strong work ethic and you have yourself a blue-collared player that will endear himself to a very demanding Philly fanbase.
Like I mentioned, he is a “tweener” and he definitely is not very athletic or quick. And as well as he gets credit for his off the ball play, his jump shot is not much of a topic for discussion. He also won’t score down low in the paint either. NBAdraft.net describes him as a “slasher.” If anybody could use extra pounds, it’s Kazemi.
So even though his length and hustle matches well in Philly, the absence of size and offensive skill makes Kazemi a very marginal player in the NBA.