A peek at top NBA Draft prospects

Roderick McLean | Staff Writer

A peek at top NBA Draft prospects

With the NCAA Tournament over, it’s time to focus on the next step for a select few college basketball players: the NBA Draft. There are a large number of bright NBA prospects. Here are players who could have a big impact.

DeAndre Ayton

Arizona freshman center DeAndre Ayton is considered by many to be the best player in this year’s class. Ayton, a 7-0 big man, weighs 260 pounds. For his size, the former Arizona center has great coordination and runs the floor well.

The player he is most often compared to is David Robinson. However, a difference between the two is that Ayton has adapted to today’s style of play by being able to spot up on the floor, even the 3-point line.

His numbers in college were tremendous as Ayton averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He is projected to be the first pick in the draft. The slot can go to a number of teams depending on the lottery, but there is no doubt that Ayton will have a significant impact wherever he goes.

Collin Sexton

Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton is another big-time player. He was one of the most forceful guards in the country and plays with so much energy. Sexton is only 6-2 but is very physical and athletic. He’s great at absorbing contact and finishing at the rim.

Sexton has lightning speed, agility and ball handling, making him a great slasher. Not only does he slash well, but Sexton’s jump shot looks sure and very dangerous in the mid-range area. This season, he averaged 19.2 points, 3.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds. Sexton looks to be a top 10 pick and have the same effect in the NBA that he had in college.

Trae Young

Oklahoma’s Trae Young is often compared to Stephen Curry and Mike Bibby. During the first part of his freshman campaign, Young nearly averaged 30 points and nine assists per game his first 10 games. He’s just the fourth high-major freshman guard in seven years to record a usage rate higher than 30 percent.

Young has shown that he can hit the NBA 3 with his seemingly limitless range.  He has a quick, compact release that doesn’t have any wasted motions. This has enabled Young to get his shot off extremely fast, even through tight spaces.

The Sooner has been most useful in a pick-and-roll style of play as it forces defenders to choose to defend him or the roller. One of the things scouts say Young needs to work on is getting stronger. Standing at just 6-2 and weighing in at 181 pounds, Young is relatively small.

In the NBA, this will be a concern due to so many players being absurdly athletic. Young averaged 27.4 points and 8.8 assists per game this season, which were remarkable numbers.

Michael Porter Jr.

Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. had a short season due to a back surgery. In the two games he played when he came back, Porter looked stiff and out of shape.

He has fantastic size as a wing forward at 6-10 with a 7-0 wingspan. He has an astounding jump shot to go along with his great rebounding ability. He tends to only rely on his shooting against a defensive half court and also doesn’t create a lot of off-the-dribble shots. His pull-up game is good, but can be predictable.

 

Thunder lands Anthony in the nick of time

Roderick McLean | Sports Writer

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ESPN

Carmelo Anthony officially became part of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sept. 23 after the Knicks traded him for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round draft pick, ESPN reported.

Anthony and the Knicks had been trying to part ways this off-season. The Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers were other teams recruiting the 10-time All-Star.

Anthony spent seven seasons with the Knicks, averaging 24.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.

Now the former NBA scoring leader is teaming with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and All-Star Paul George. The Thunder has the latest big three in the NBA. One question still remains: What can Anthony, at age 33, do to help Oklahoma City win a championship?
Westbrook, George and Anthony all love having the ball in their hands, so the main issue will be sharing the ball. If they can do that, the Thunder will be a threat.

Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said Anthony will start at power forward this season after playing most of his career as a small forward. He does have experience playing power forward with the USA Olympic team.

The Thunder starting five will be Westbrook, Andre Roberson, George, Anthony and Steven Adams. This Thunder team has the roster and talent to make a deep run into the Western Conference playoffs this season. Westbrook, Anthony and George are different players with different skills.

One thing they all have in common: They are all looking for their first ring.

Anthony has the opportunity now to play on a playoff contender team without the pressure he had back in New York.

The Thunder opens the regular season Oct. 19 against Anthony’s former team.