The debate between potential and production rages on in the NBA Draft, and with each passing year "upside" seems to extend it's lead.
That debate could continue for the Rockets in the form of choosing between the likes of LSU's Glen Davis and Boston College's Sean Williams in this Thursday's draft.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the New Jersey Nets are considering both forwards at the 17th pick. The Knicks reportedly like Williams at #23. The Houston Chronicle also reported this morning that Williams is going to meet with the Rockets today.
Williams, at 6-foot-10 with very good leaping ability and athleticism, is an intriguing prospect. A World Class shotblocker and solid rebounder who improved offensively last year, Williams finished with 12.1 points, 6.9 boards and 5 blocks a game in 15 contests.
He had some big games in there too -- 19 points, 15 boards and 7 blocks against Kansas, and Mike James couldn't have been too happy about Williams' triple-double (19 points, 10 boards, 13 blocks) against Duquesne. He reminds me more of a Keon Clark or Kelvin Cato when they came in to the league (see CNNSI video analysis of Williams).
|No, it's not real, and yes, there will be more prospects to choose from ... but Glen Davis vs. Sean Williams best illustrates the college production vs. NBA potential debate (Photoshop by Clutch)|
But there are "gotchas" with Williams. Plenty, in fact. Most notably his multiple offenses with marijuana that led Boston College to kicking him off the team. The weed is one issue, but not being able to control it when your status with the team is threatened is another.
"I'm not as sold on [Williams]," said ESPN's Jay Bilas for a TV Guide interview published this morning. "He can block shots and rebound, but he's got a lot of question marks about him that scare me."
Steve Danley is in a unique position to offer some insight. The 6-foot-8 forward just finished his collegiate career at Penn and the Rhodes scholar finalist just published a column for the New York Times this morning on players he would avoid and seek out.
On Williams, Danley wrote:
Three years ago when we played Boston College, our game plan was not to guard Sean Williams. We wanted to use his defender to help against Craig Smith and Jared Dudley. The Eagles finally made an adjustment and started cutting him toward the basket, and he made a dunk coming down the lane. But I don’t care how many shots a guy can block. If he doesn't need to be guarded outside two feet, under no conditions would I spend a first-round pick on him.
Granted that was three years ago, but you can see why many think Williams is a longer-term project and any Amare Stoudemire comparisons to Williams have to be digested with a large serving of salt.
Davis, aka "Big Baby", also has his pros and cons. For his part, Danley offered a different view on Davis:
I can't understand how Davis has dropped so far down most draft boards. He has unbelievable feet and is a polished offensive player. What's more, he is an engaging personality from a marketing standpoint and a teammate's perspective. He'll be a fan favorite. I would be completely fine with my favorite team, the Wizards, taking him with the 16th choice in the draft. Of course, front-office executives are worried about his weight, so he may fall to the second round. I'd be even happier if the Wizards could grab him there.
The 6-foot-9 (in shoes) Davis averaged 18.6 points and 9.7 rebounds as a sophomore, leading LSU to the Final Four. As a junior last year, he finished with averaged of 17.7 points and 10.4 rebounds. Projections are all over the map, with the hyperboles ranging as high as the next Charles Barkley and as low as the next Tractor Traylor.
Though he's not likely to be as good or bad as those two players, Davis' weight problems (down to 290 for the draft after being as high as 360) and low-flying game lead many to think his potential and upside isn't quite high enough.
Obviously there will be several other options for the Rockets to choose from outside of just these two -- they may not even take a power forward at all. But if I had to choose between only these two, I'd have a hard time with it. If you're looking for a contrast to Chuck Hayes, the offensive skillset of Big Baby could be a nice addition down the line. He may be undervalued right now.
However, I do lean towards Williams. The local kid has size and athleticism that are sorely needed at the power forward spot in Houston and you've got potential down the line where he could be more than a shotblocking, rebounding role player.
48 hours away ...
General manager Daryl Morey commented on local radio yesterday that the Rockets have some potential trades lined up that are contingent upon how the draft unfolds.
When we asked Tuesday afternoon what the odds were for the Rockets to move up or down in Thursday's draft, Morey said it was still "most likely we stay where we are".
The aforementioned Danley, while praising draft prospect Demtrius Nichols out of Syracuse:
Shooters are at a premium in the league. Teams are stockpiling shooters; look at Houston’s pickup of Steve Novak. The difference between Nichols and Novak? Novak can’t guard driftwood (we played together on a team the National Invitation Tournament sent to Europe).
"Can't guard driftwood". Ouch. Maybe it wasn't Jeff Van Gundy after all.
Speaking of the draft, one of the Rockets 2006 draft picks, 6-foot-9 forward Lior Eliyahu out of Israel, is at the Toyota Center today.
Former Rockets VP Dennis Lindsey told us a few weeks ago that Eliyahu, the 44th pick of the 2006 draft, would be joining the Rockets for the summer league, and that's why he's in town. The Rockets 5-game set in the Vegas Summer League kicks off on July 10th.