College basketball season is closing in and the Road to the 2013 NBA Draft has begun. It’s time to continue my look at this year’s senior class and some brief notes on areas where they need to show improvement to maximize their value to teams at the next level.
Remember, these are not meant to replace scouting reports, which will come out during the season. These are not all-inclusive and just meant as a brief primer for those who want to track draft prospects throughout the season.
Rodney McGruder, Kansas State, Guard, 6’4, 205
15.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 46.2 FG%, 80.2 FT%, 38.5 3FG%
McGruder emerged as one of the Big 12’s best scorers last season, using a good combination of penetration and perimeter shooting to keep defenses off-balance. McGruder does a great job using his first step to get by the defender and into the lane where he has a very good runner/floater. He is a solid spot-up shooter on the perimeter with good range. McGruder has a solid body and, with the right matchups, can work in the post against other 2’s. He does a good job moving without the ball, looking for openings in the defense. On defense, McGruder is an excellent on and off-ball defender. He denies passing lanes well and he always keeps good position. He is a strong defensive rebounder for his size and uses his body well to get position.
What he needs to show this season: McGruder is a good free throw shooter and should look to get to the line more often. He has the ability to get into the lane and draw contact, but will often settle for the runner/floater. McGruder has to also work on using his dribble to create space for his jumper, as well as hitting his shot off the dribble. He would also create space by coming tighter off of screens. McGruder does a good job getting into the lane and drawing help defenders, he should work on his vision and passing skills to get his teammates some easy shots.
Brock Motum, Washington State, Forward, 6’10, 245
18.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, 55.4 FG%, 73.8 FT%, 39.7 3FG%
Motum, the Pac-12’s leading scorer last season, presents as a tough mismatch for a lot of teams. Motum is a versatile offensive threat, able to play in the post or on the perimeter. He has good footwork, has nice touch around the rim, and is able to finish in a variety of ways. Motum is also able to face-up and drive to the basket, or step out and hit the mid or long-range jumper. He is an option as a pick-and-roll or a pick-and-pop player, and he also does a good job drawing fouls.
What he needs to show this season: Motum has many issues on the defensive side of the court. He needs to be more physical when playing against other big men, especially learning to hold his position and use his lower body. As good as his footwork is on the offensive end, he doesn’t react well or smoothly on the defensive side. As a rebounder, he needs to do a better job getting position and going strong after the ball. When guarding on the perimeter and on the pick-and-roll, he needs to do a better job with his lateral movement and his positioning. On the offensive end, Motum needs to do a better job reacting to pressure and getting rid of the ball quicker. Also, he needs to watch a tendency to bring his dribble up to high, leading to him being stripped.
Chase Tapely, San Diego State, Guard, 6’3, 195
15.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.8 spg, 45.5 FG%, 72.3 FT%, 43.3 3FG%, 1.4:1 A/TO
Tapely has been an integral part of San Diego State’s emergence as a national basketball power. He can score in a variety of ways, including a fantastic mid-range jumper off the dribble or coming off of screens. He has very good range on his spot-up jumper, and can hit the 3 in the halfcourt or transition. He is a solid ball-handler and can attack off the dribble from a variety of spots. Tapely has good court awareness and understands spacing well. He can be a solid defender, especially when pressuring the ball. One of Tapely’s best traits is his desire to want the ball in his hands when the game is on the line.
What he needs to show this season: At the next level, Tapely will probably have his best shot playing the point guard position. He will need to show the ability to be a playmaker, making good reads of screens, and make good passes off of penetration. With Xavier Thames as the primary ballhandler and playmaker, Tapely may not have the opportunity he needs, but should have his chances. He needs to do a better job going strong to the basket, not shying away from contact, and looking to get to free throw line. On the defensive side, Tapely needs to do a better job off the ball, especially with his positioning and getting over screens. He can be too quick to commit to helping leaving his man open on the perimeter.
Tray Woodall, Pittsburgh, Guard, 6’0, 190
11.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.9 apg, 43.5 FG%, 81.0 FT%, 38.6 3FG%, 1.9:1 A/TO
Woodall bounced back from a 3-week injury layoff during the season to be one of the few bright spots in Pittsburgh’s season. Woodall is a very good ballhandler and uses his dribble well to break down the defense. He sees the court well and is a solid passer, getting the ball to his teammates in position where they can make a play. He understands and can make quick reads off of the pick-and-roll, and he does a good job drawing the defense and hitting an open teammate. He does a good job pushing the ball in transition, where he has the ability to dish the ball, take it to the basket, or pull up for the jumper. He is a good spot-up shooter, and has shown that he can hit his jumper off the bounce. Woodall can be a good defender, having good speed and good lateral movement.
What he needs to show this season: Woodall is a solid all-around point guard, but he needs to do a better job in traffic. Before he makes a move to the basket or into the lane, he needs to be more aware of where his options are going to be instead of looking for someone once he gets stopped. On the defensive end, he needs to react better, both on and off the ball, and work harder on getting over screens on the perimeter.
Steven Pledger, Oklahoma, Guard, 6’4, 224
16.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 45.9 FG%, 83.3 FT%, 41.6 3FG%
Pledger emerged as a legitimate offensive threat under Lon Kruger last season. He has a very good mid-range jumper, which he can hit off the dribble or off a screen. He has a strong body which he uses to muscle smaller defenders to get into the lane where he can finish with a short jumper or floater. He uses ball fakes well to get defenders off-balance and create space for his jumper. When he gets to the free-throw line, he is a very good shooter. He has very good range on his jumper and you can’t afford to give him any room behind the 3-point line. He sees the court well and can make some good passes off of the pick-and-roll. Pledger is a good on-ball defender, positioning himself well and having good lateral movement. He closes well on shooters and does a good job hustling out to open men.
What he needs to show this season: Pledger needs to do a better job moving without the ball, making quick cuts and coming tight off of screens. He doesn’t react well to pressure defense and needs to work on protecting the ball. Pledger should look to be more aggressive attacking the basket, especially when he gets a step on his man. Defensively, Pledger needs to do a better job getting through screens and not relying on switches as much. Also, he needs to do a better job off the ball, watching his positioning and reacting better to his man’s movements.
Check back soon as the previews continue with the last of the senior class, another group of juniors, and the start of the sophomores. Follow me on Twitter – @NBADraftBlog and leave your comments below or email me – [email protected]