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OSU NBA Draft Chances (Now Expanded and Updated!)

Now that the season has come to a close, and with a mention of Cunningham testing the draft waters, it seems like a good time to evaluate the individual talent of players on the OSU basketball team. I did one evaluation earlier in the year, but frankly that was an early analysis and there were still several games left, with development still to come. Here are some updated thoughts about the draft chances for the Beavs.

Jared Cunningham

Jared has a genuine chance at getting drafted if he were to leave this year, but he really shouldn't leave just yet. He has okay size for a PG and has great athleticism. He has okay ball handling abilities, his shooting stroke looks good, and it shows that he has been developing a midrange jumper. Overall his offensive skill set is actually looking quite good, the only problem being that if he is projected as a point guard then he needs to work on his vision and get some practice running the offense. This would help his prospects, but seems unlikely with the current OSU roster.

On the defensive end he had been playing pretty well before the last CBI game, where he just kept getting beat. Some was due to poor help from the man guarding the screener, but a he got beat off the dribble once or twice as well. The steals numbers look good and those are for real, he has great anticipation in the passing lanes. Jared can be a great defender, but sometimes it looks like his focus is lacking.

In terms of NBA comparisons he actually has very similar numbers and award histories as Shannon Brown, now with the Phoenix Suns. Brown was drafted in the 1st round, pick 25, which might be in part because of the talent in that draft, which looks pretty bad in retrospect. There isn't a lot of talk about Cunningham on draft sites, but from what I could find he seems to be right on the cusp of being drafted. My opinion is that he will probably still go undrafted this year, but if he returns and really blows it up next year he could end up as high as Brown. At his current playing level I do not see him getting drafted.

Cunningham can declare he is NOT going into the draft up to April 10, which is National Letter Of Intent day, but actually has until April 29 to withdraw his name so long as he does not hire an agent (and Cunningham does not intend to).

As a disclaimer, none of the following players are in discussion of getting drafted yet, these are just projections based off each player's upside.

Devon Collier

I am still pretty high on Collier, he has two more years to realize his potential. He has the size, athleticism, and coordination to be able to play, but he needs to work on finishing with his right hand. He has some solid post moves, and has the strength to finish through contact, but he is limiting his options down low without any right handed moves. He also struggles with free throws, he has a decent stroke, but I only saw in the last game that he shifts the ball before he shoots, that might be having some effect on his shot.

On the defensive end Collier plays well, but with his physical skills he could be even more of a defensive stopper. He could use some work on his rotations also, but quite honestly the entire OSU defense needs to work on that. He is a very effective blocker, he has good timing and good reach, and he is generally a pretty good rebounder.

For Collier to make it to the NBA, he is going to have to play with even more energy and really become a rebounding monster. I'm not sure at this point if he could ever be an effective scorer consistently at the next level, but rebounding is a valued skill and if he continues to work harder at that, he can find a place in the league. By the time he graduates, I think he could end up being a mid or a high second rounder.

Eric Moreland

Moreland is an interesting prospect, he has grown by leaps and bounds this season. He has all the physical tools necessary, he just needs to develop any kind of offensive game. His shooting has improved, he hits threes in pregame and drilled one in a late conference game. If he can develop a consistent shooting touch he could be extremely dangerous down the road. He has a surprisingly good handle for his size, but uses that ability poorly by recklessly charging into the lane, which brings me to another aspect he needs to improve on, body control. This applies to both the offensive and defensive end, on the offensive end Moreland gets a lot of charges, if he was just able to have a little pull-up floater from 6 feet out or so, very few opponents could defend that shot. He just needs to stop before he runs over the defender, and he could go from offensive liability to a weapon.

On the defensive end he needs to act less on fakes and just settle down a bit. He often gets beat when his man has the ball, but he also gets himself out of position consistently. He is a terrific blocker and rebounder and that is part of why he has real value, he has the size and energy that cannot be taught. It feels like his has much more upside than anyone else on the roster just based on his growth from this year. If he continues to develop at the rate that he currently is, I believe he could actually break out of the second round and be a first round prospect. Realistically he will probably end up in the second round, but it all comes down to how much more he develops during his time at Oregon State.

Roberto Nelson

Berto is a good shooter, decent ball handler, and is a fairly creative offensive player. He can play as a shooting guard, but from limited samples, he seems to be a decent distributor as well. On the defensive end he is alright, but nothing spectacular. He hasn't shown the ability to take control of a game nor does he have outstanding athletic abilities that give him extra upside. Nelson still has a chance to change his fortunes with two years left at OSU, but while it is a Jared-dominated team Berto is not going to have much of a chance to reach his maximum potential. He may have started slow at OSU, but there is still some hope for him yet. I thought at first to immediately write him off, but if he shows enough savvy Berto could end up like an Andre Miller type of player. However, unless he shows the ability to dominate a game he will not be drafted.

Angus Brandt

Angus has a game built more for the international style, he is more of an outside shooter than a physical rebounder or post-up player. He is not very assertive on the offensive end beyond pulling up for the open jumper. Even more troublesome is the defensive end where Brandt is often passive until contact then he slaps at the ball. Brandt can be solid when he is completely focused, but unlike the rest of this OSU squad Brandt does not have the speed to recover from his mistakes. If Brandt suddenly flips the switch and becomes a high energy player that rebounds well, he might have a shot, but it seems far more likely that he ends up overseas.

Joe Burton

Burton lacks the athleticism required to play in the NBA, but I do wonder how he will do overseas. As a big man that passes well and generally has a nice touch he should be alright, but the turnovers will always be a problem. It always seems like Burton tries to force passes in order to make up for his lack of athleticism, and his defense is subpar so if he is not creating offense, he is a liability. If he just calms down and tries less of the spectacular plays I believe he will find a team somewhere, all he needs to do is force less and to take what the defense is giving more often.

Ahmad Starks

Starks is a terrific shooter, okay ball handler, and a decent defender, but this is all at the college level. Depending on the numbers Starks puts up he has a shot at getting drafted, but the stats are against him. In the history of the league, there have been only 24 players at 5' 9" or under, 17 of those players have played in more than 15 games, and only 10 of those players have played in 100 or more games. Most of those players are from the distant past, and of recent memory only four of them after the 1980s or so were drafted in the first two rounds of the draft.

In order for Starks to be drafted he is going to need more assists, since he will only be considered as a point guard. His ballhandling is okay but not superb and that is going to hurt his stock. Also, when watching games I am not convinced that Starks will ever really be anything but a scoring guard. After watching several guards get drafted with the expectation that they would learn how to be a point guard (see Bayless, Jerryd), I do not believe that most teams would be willing to chance that. That being said, he still has time to develop the necessary skills, but he would need to put up about 20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and ~2 steals per game his senior year to really get some attention.

What makes this case most interesting is that Starks could pull off those sort of numbers his senior season, he currently sits at 12.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 steals for last season. Without Jared his senior year, Starks could become the main scorer, along with Collier and Nelson, so he could potentially increase his numbers to that point. If Starks continues to improve at the his current pace then he could turn into a draft prospect, although his draft range would be the edge of the second round, and he would most likely still end up undrafted.

Final Thoughts

Most players on this roster could try and climb onto an NBA roster, but Cunningham, Collier, and Moreland have the greatest chance by far. They are all great athletes that fit in the NBA talent wise, but they just need to keep developing. The other named players all have a very slim chance at the NBA, but it will be much more difficult. Any of the unnamed players either have no real shot or else they have much too small of a sample size. Challe Barton never seemed to really assert himself and has not shown much of what he can do, so any judgement really ought to wait until after next year's campaign. Another player we will find out about next year is Daniel Gomis, who should add even more shot blocking to the frontcourt and hopefully some rebounding as well. He is highly touted, but I'll wait until I see him to decide any thing about him.