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Pressing On: Lineup Considerations For The Grizzlies In A Post-Rudy Gay World

When the Rudy Gay trade was initially announced, many Memphis Grizzlies fans instantly lost their confidence in the direction of their franchise. A season that was once filled with unbridled enthusiasm had now given rise to forecasts of “doom and gloom” on the horizon.

Following the completion of the trade, the Grizzlies struggled mightily, dropping three of four, with the one win coming against the Wizards at home. The resulting backlash from Lionel Hollins gave the media much ammunition. Justifiably, the internal tension between the coach and front office, coupled with the aforementioned three decisive defeats, failed to instill confidence and rightfully caused many to doubt the wisdom of the moves in the short-term.

Speculation ensued amongst many.

Was Zach Randolph next on the chopping block because Hollins refused to play front office darling Ed Davis? Is Hollins definitely gone next season after voicing his considerable displeasure with the moves? There was some truth to both of these lines of questioning.

Since that point in time, however, the front office has done an excellent job of assuaging these concerns, promising that Randolph will not be traded and verbalizing Hollins’ importance to the franchise. It also helps that the Grizzlies began winning again. After dropping three of four, they have since won three in a row, including a victory against Western Conference rival Golden State. While it is still a bit premature to assess the merits of the Rudy Gay trade, the front office has done its best to mollify some concerns in the interim and ensure fans that the franchise is moving forward.

With this in mind, the operative question then is, how should the Grizzlies move forward?  A fair starting point should involve identifying what made this team successful in the past. And, in doing this, it is important not to jump to rash conclusions concerning the current state of the Grizzlies. One must consider that the new players are not even a month into their tenure with the team. If previous additions are any indication, it is likely going to take some time before they can adjust to Hollins’ system and build chemistry with their new teammates. After all, it took the Grizzlies’ previous starting five a couple of seasons to gel.

With the front office and coaching staff vehemently disagreeing on what made the Grizzlies a potential contender, and so many members of the media entrenched in their stance on the trade, how can we sift through these competing agendas and determine how to move forward? Given the scenario at hand, it is necessary to objectively examine team production. And what better way to do this than to turn to statistics to discover and evaluate lineup trends?

Evan Zamir’s newly-devised NBA WOWY tool provides us with the means of shedding light on many questions regarding team chemistry. According to Mr. Zamir, NBA WOWY allows one to “see which players do better or worse given any arbitrary pairing of his teammates being on or off, with the hope of being able to ‘explain’ why certain combinations of players worked better than others.” After all, what better tool is there for discerning what is/was happening on the floor, than one that allows us to consider different lineups and their net effect on offensive and defensive output?

One notion that I sought to dispel coming in is the idea that inserting Tony Allen into the game crippled the Grizzlies’ offensive output and was a driving force behind many of his team’s offensive droughts. While I was always well aware that Tony Allen’s outside shooting left a lot to be desired, I felt that these claims that he would almost single handedly stagnate the offense were exaggerated to an extent. So, I decided to compare a Grizzlies starting backcourt lineup featuring Tony Allen, Mike Conley Jr. and Rudy Gay on the floor and Pondexter out of the game, to one where Pondexter replaced Allen. In the first scenario, which occurred on a healthy sample size of 1,464 possessions, the Grizzlies shot a 51.0% True Shooting Percentage. On the other hand, a lineup featuring Pondexter, Conley Jr., and Rudy Gay (which had 325 incidences) shot a 54.1% TS%, a fairly substantial improvement. Further, the Grizzlies posted a 101.4 Offensive Rating with Allen in the game compared to a 118.8 Offensive Rating with Pondexter substituted for him. This differential is certainly worth noting and suggests the opposite of my initial impression- that when holding the rest of the starting backcourt constant, inserting Pondexter into the game for Allen substantially improved the Grizzlies’ offensive efficiency. (not for the reasons that one might think though) With that said, other considerations could have factored in as well. For instance, many theories had arisen regarding the fact that Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay did not exactly complement each other, something which I will address later on in this piece. Because this analysis does not necessarily suggest that Randolph and Gay were always on the floor at the same time, additional chemistry considerations may have factored in.

Nevertheless, when Randolph and Marc Gasol were both added to the mix, the Grizzlies posted a 110.5 Offensive Rating and a 51.6% TS% with Pondexter replacing Allen as a starter. When these big men were added to the lineup alongside Allen, these offensive metrics remained virtually identical. This is due to the fact that when the starting backcourt was on the floor together, they were paired with both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph nearly 80% of the time. Given both sets of results, it is safe to say that these findings corroborate the position that adding Pondexter to the Grizzlies’ previous starting lineup would have bolstered the offense.   

On a more micro level, there was a case to be made for the fact that Tony Allen’s lack of outside shooting created a logjam in the paint and hindered the Grizzlies’ ability to score from four feet to nine feet from the rim. Overall, substituting Pondexter for Allen resulted in little change in the Grizzlies’ ability to score from three feet in. However, putting Pondexter in for Allen tended to open up the game for Gay to score baskets at the rim, as Rudy shot about 14% more of his shots from this distance playing alongside Pondexter. He also connected on a higher percentage of his attempts with Pondexter in the game, hitting 60.0% compared to 53.9%. On the other hand, Mike Conley Jr. shot 42.9% around the rim with Pondexter in the game, as opposed to 57.1% with Allen in the game. A likely explanation for this could be that Allen moves more without the ball, whereas Pondexter tends to camp out on the perimeter in halfcourt sets. With more players converged on the perimeter, it may have been more difficult for Conley to penetrate to the rim. The most obvious explanation for this discrepancy, though, is that the defensive threat of Allen and improved defensive rebounding capabilities with him on the floor helped create transition opportunities for Conley. Just outside of three feet, the Grizzlies tended to have more success with Pondexter in the game, shooting about 8% higher from four to nine feet out.

With that said, the notion that substituting Tony Allen for Quincy Pondexter would have resulted in greater gains from beyond the three point line is a myth. The Grizzlies’ starting lineup actually shot a higher percentage from beyond the arc with Allen in the game. However, in both instances, three point shooting accounted for less than 17% of the team’s shot selection, meaning that the long ball was not a central part of the Grizzlies’ offensive attack with the starters in the game. The Grizzlies also shot a higher percentage from the midrange with Allen in the game, so it does not appear that Pondexter’s shooting ability actually enabled the Grizzlies to shoot a higher percentage from the perimeter. While this is somewhat counterintuitive, Pondexter shot well below his average as a part of the starting lineup, likely due to spacing issues.

So why were the Grizzlies a more efficient offensive team with Pondexter on the floor with the starters?  The answer is that every single player in the lineup tended to get to the line more frequently when Pondexter replaced Allen. This was particularly evident for Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay, whose free throw rates climbed, likely due to the paint opening up and better spacing all around. Rudy Gay tended to get to the rim more often, and both Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay had higher usage with Pondexter on the floor.    

On the defensive end, the usual starting lineup held opposing teams to 50.5% TS% and a 92.4 Offensive Rating, compared to the 52.6% TS% and 102.1 Offensive Rating that occurred when Pondexter replaced Tony Allen on the floor. As one might have guessed, team defensive metrics for the pre-trade starting lineup point to Tony Allen’s strong defensive impact on the game. These findings suggest that substituting Pondexter for Allen in the starting lineup was more of an offense-for-defense tradeoff.  

Aside from the offensive chemistry concerns with Tony Allen, other questions abound. Was the Rudy Gay trade necessary because of Gay’s incompatibility with Zach Randolph? To address this issue, I decided to examine the statistics of the starting lineup with Rudy Gay and without Gay prior to the trade. The results were actually fairly surprising. With Rudy Gay removed from the lineup, the Grizzlies posted an Offensive Rating of 111.2 on 152 possessions, while shooting a 50.3% True Shooting %. This was substantially higher than the starting lineups’ 101.4 Offensive Rating, as alluded to earlier. However, their opponents shot a 61.8% TS% and posted a 109.9 Offensive Rating with Gay out of the lineup. Compared to the starting lineups’ previous job of holding teams to a 92.4 Offensive Rating, this differential is dramatic and suggests that Gay had a strong value to the Grizzlies’ starting unit from a defensive perspective. While it says nothing about the fair value that the Grizzlies received in return in the Gay trade, this analysis suggests that the front office may have taken this on/off knowledge into consideration when trading for Prince, who should help fill the defensive void left by Gay.  As for chemistry concerns, I had noticed that Randolph received many easy looks this year as a result of Gay’s penetration to the basket. Randolph posted a 50.7% TS% with Gay in the lineup and a 45.8% TS% without him there. This suggests that Randolph was more efficient shooting the basketball with Gay in the game, and that chemistry issues in the starting lineup were not as evident given this season’s data.

Looking ahead, there is not enough of a sample size to make a determination as to the strength of new lineup combinations. However, early indications are that the starting lineups’ offensive production has declined, turnovers remain virtually identical, and the team defense is also weaker. Still, it is way too soon after to assess whether or not this trade was a success, as there has not been enough time for the new starting unit to develop team chemistry. Moving forward, I believe that the Grizzlies should look for a spot up shooter to bolster their offensive output and a mobile shot blocker off the bench who is versatile enough to keep defenses honest from the midrange. The front office is hopeful that with increased usage, Randolph might be able to replicate his performance in 2011 and replace Rudy Gay’s offensive output. For the Grizzlies’ sake, I hope this is the case.

Freshman Prospects Before New Year's: Marcus Smart

In my last entry for “Prospects Before New Years” I review the ultimate freshman impact player in Marcus Smart. While Smart has a long way to go before he can enjoy success at the NBA level, he possesses some of the best intangibles of any guard in this year’s freshman class.

After winning at the high school level, Smart decided to join sharpshooting teammate Phil Forte at Oklahoma St. His presence has provided an immediate boost, and his play alongside the Cowboys’ returning talent has enabled this squad to attain a slot in the top 25. The Cowboys’ offense has looked more crisp than ever, and they are sharing the ball. Most importantly, though, their defense has been stifling with Smart as the catalyst. Apart from his statistical contributions, Smart has a high motor on both ends of the floor, regularly chasing down loose balls and pushing it in transition.

While Smart is not yet an efficient weapon at the college level, there are a number of things to like about his offensive potential down the road.

First and foremost, Smart functions as a de facto coach on the floor, initiating plays and making sure that everyone is in the right spot on the floor so that the Cowboys can execute their offensive sets. Smart possesses a good awareness of floor spacing and is constantly in motion when the ball is not in his hands, so as to not crowd the player with the ball. As a result, he is often open on back door cuts and gets a good portion of his offense moving without the ball. He also does a nice job coming off of curls, freeing himself for open three point attempts and drives to the basket. While he is only shooting 28.1 percent from behind the arc, he is much more efficient shooting the ball off the catch. When shooting off the catch, he squares his body to the basket more effectively.

While he demonstrates some promise without the ball in his hands, Smart is most comfortable creating for his teammates and thus projects as a combo guard or a bulky lead guard at the next level. The vast majority of Smart’s offense comes from drives to the rim. He has a below average first step for a point guard at the next level. With that said, Smart is crafty enough to drive when the opposition is overplaying or out of position defensively. Despite not being particularly explosive off the dribble, Smart uses his strength and body control to get his defender on his hip. Smart consequently gets to the line with regularity, drawing 5.4 fouls per 40 minutes of action, good for 10th in the Big 12.

He usually capitalizes on these trips to the charity stripe as well, hitting approximately 80 percent of his free throw attempts so far this season. Because of his 6’4 200. physique, Smart has the strength and hangtime necessary to finish through contact at the next level. And unlike most freshmen, Smart typically plays under control driving to the rim, and is fundamentally sound enough to pull up for an open jumper when defenders step in the lane.

In terms of his ability to shoot the basketball, Smart is very much a work in progress at this stage.  While he does have a serviceable enough shooting form with a high release point, he is connecting on a paltry 28 percent of his shots from behind the arc. This is largely due to the poor job that he does squaring to the basket on perimeter shots off the dribble. It is also possible that he jumps at different heights each time he shoots the ball, which could be contributing to his inconsistencies shooting the ball. With that said, Smart is fairly effective on mid range pull ups in the lane, getting good separation and elevation on these shots.

Aside from his raw scoring abilities, Smart does an excellent job creating for his teammates, which is why some envision him playing point guard at the NBA level. Before going into depth about his passing abilities, it must be noted that Smart is most effective with the ball in his hands and thereby would be best served to convert to the point guard slot. As a point of reference, he currently receives a touch on 27.3 percent of his team’s possessions. Not only does he initiate the Oklahoma St. offense by bringing the ball down the floor, but he is unselfish enough to swing it around the perimeter to execute the Cowboys’ offensive sets. Instead of attacking right away, Smart and his team exhibit considerable patience forcing the opposing defense to shift from side to side.

From there, whenever Smart has the ball in his hands, he is a threat to set teammates up for open shots. In particular, when Smart is able to get in the lane, he typically looks to create for them, either dumping it in to his big man for an easy finish or kicking it out to open three point threats on the perimeter. Time and again, Smart’s favorite target, lifetime teammate Phil Forte, is the beneficiary of pinpoint passes, which enable him to get right into his shooting motion. 

Smart also has an uncanny ability to read defenses, often feeding his teammates on their off hands if defenders are overplaying. In particular, on one possession in Oklahoma St.’s recent matchup with Gonzaga, Smart was able to thread the needle to his big man with the defender almost completely standing in the passing lane. Smart understands the relatively lost art of the post entry pass and regularly uses bounce passes to set up his teammates on the block. He is also adept at passing with either hand. As a result of his court vision, Smart ranks fourth in the Big 12 in Assist Rate. Smart also projects as a solid pick and roll player at the next level because of his ability to drive his man into screens, along with his aforementioned vision and passing instincts. His instincts are particularly important in this regard, and I expect him to keep defenses honest with his ability to pull up from the midrange. Finally, Smart does a nice job of making quick, cross-court passes, which set his shooters up with wide open opportunities from beyond the arc.

With his strengths in mind, Smart does have a long way to go before he can become a full time point guard at the next level. He currently plays at one speed, and has a below average handle for a guard looking to transition to the point. He has a fairly loose dribble, which will be stolen more often in the pros than it is at the collegiate level. Because Smart constantly has the ball in his hands and creates for his teammates, he does turn the ball over at a fairly high rate. For instance, he ranks in the bottom 20 of the Big 12 in Turnover Percentage. If Marcus Smart wants to become a full time point guard, he must develop a change of pace dribble to keep defenses off balance.

In addition to his strong passing ability, Smart is also one of the better rebounding guards in the draft. He possesses the length and leaping ability needed to corral loose rebounds, and generally has a nose for the ball. Smart utilizes fundamental box outs, and is also adept at tipping in baskets on the offensive end against bigger opponents. He ranks in the top 30 in the Big 12 in both Offensive and Defensive Rebounding Percentage and may even improve on these numbers as the season progresses.

On the defensive end, Smart demonstrates the most promise, as he has done a nice job of shutting down his opposition’s top guard. Smart’s length and leaping ability have allowed him to become one of the more impactful wing defenders at the college level already. He has been productive on the defensive end, ranking second in the Big 12 in Steals Percentage (35th in the nation overall) and 15th in Blocks Percentage. He has very active hands, and is able to swipe the ball away from players, but is best at anticipating in the passing lanes, where he is incredibly active. He typically turns these opportunities into break away dunks out in transition, where he is very difficult to stop. Further, Smart is one of the most prolific shot blockers under 6’5, and relishes opportunities to swat the ball away from the weak side.  Smart’s leaping ability has enabled him to become one of the leaders in blocked jump shots as well. He does a nice job of avoiding the body of jump shooters and rarely sends them to the line.

Aside from his productivity, Smart possesses many intangibles on the defensive end. He has tremendous awareness on the court and constantly shouts out where his teammates should be on the floor. Unlike most players his age, Smart has a great understanding of help defense. He is accustomed to coming over from the weak side and either double teaming and forcing a timeout, or blocking a shot away. On one occasion, he was faced with a two-on-one situation, but was able to delay a pass by driving the player with the ball towards his teammate, before recovering to the open man. Moreover, he does a nice job of defending the pick and roll, oftentimes trapping the guard up top. 

Otherwise, he is able to go over the top of the pick and negate any advantage. When he is defending a prolific shooter, Smart face guards him all over the court and causes a great deal of frustration, recovering through some difficult screens. In terms of his one-on-one defense, Smart has the length and lateral quickness to stay in front of just about anyone. He has a highly developed understanding of defensive angles, and regularly drives his man into a bigger defender or a trap situation. He has the strength to drive players off of their spot and will step in to take charges.  When he is forced to switch on a bigger player, Smart does a nice job of ‘chesting’ big men off the block without fouling.  

Overall, Marcus Smart plays with a poise uncharacteristic of most freshmen just acclimating themselves to the college level. He has a great motor and works extremely hard on both ends of the floor. His basketball IQ is highly advanced relative to his age, and his body is strong enough to compete at the highest level. Smart must continue to progress as a shooter and develop a better handle if he hopes to play the point guard position in the NBA. While these are considerable holes and would prevent him from contributing immediately as a lead guard at the next level, Smart is still at a very early stage of his development. All in all, Smart is a high risk, high reward player with a winning pedigree that should entice any NBA General Manager. 

Freshman Prospects Before New Year's: Anthony Bennett

In my fourth installment of “Freshman Prospects Before New Year's”, I explore Anthony Bennett, one of the nation’s most productive freshmen and someone who has really captured the national spotlight early on. Prior to joining UNLV’s squad, Bennett was a relatively late bloomer who rose to prominence at high school powerhouse Findlay Prep after growing up in Brampton, Ontario. Coming into this season, Bennett’s talents were overshadowed by bigger ‘name’ players, but his impact offensively has been unmatched by any freshman at this juncture of the season.   

So far this year, Anthony Bennett has dominated on the offensive end of the floor, where he is averaging 19.50 points per game, second only to Shabazz Muhammad in freshman scoring. Standing at a bulky 6’7 239 lbs, Bennett has worked hard to shed weight, while still retaining his strength advantage. As it currently stands, Bennett is one of the more versatile prospects at the collegiate level today. He scores his points in a variety of different ways, from facing up in the post to dialing in from beyond the arc. He is most effective vying for position in the post and then employing his faceup game to attack the basket. Bennett does a good job of utilizing his lower body strength to pin his man on the block. Once he receives the ball on the catch, Bennett typically faces up for an easy jumper in the paint, or attacks the rim with reckless abandon. He has a deceptively quick first step, and is explosive and powerful enough to get to the rim and finish over multiple defenders. Bennett has a flair for the spectacular and likes to make statement dunks to shift his team’s momentum.

In order to drive past his man, Bennett employs a believable shot fake that often draws the defender off his feet. He also boasts an improved handle, which he utilizes to get to the rim from anywhere on the court. On several possessions that I witnessed, he was able to bring the ball all the way up the floor and go coast to coast for an easy lay in through contact. Few players at his size possess that kind of versatility. With that said, I believe that he will only be able to attack the basket from the free throw line in at the next level. His handle is serviceable enough, though, that he will likely be able to translate his post faceup game to the NBA level.  

Due to his aggressive “slashing” mentality and his willingness to draw contact, Bennett is drawing fouls at a very high rate. In fact, his 7.2 fouls drawn per 40 minutes currently ranks 18th in the nation. Bennett must look to maintain this same level of intensity on the offensive end and avoid settling for jump shots, as he did against North Carolina the other night. With that said, Bennett is strong with the ball on his drives, and rarely turns it over. He ranks eighth in the Mountain West Conference in Turnover Percentage, despite having the ball on 26.4 percent of his team’s possessions. In this regard, Bennett understands his limitations and plays well beyond his years.

While he is effective attacking the rim following a post entry feed, Bennett’s back to the basket game is largely undeveloped. He has good pivoting footwork on his faceup moves, so he may be able to develop this facet of his post game down the road. He also has a low enough center of gravity to back his man close to the rim.   When he does opt to faceup and shoot over his opposition, Bennett displays good balance and a highly effective shooting form. He is capable from the mid range as well, and is not shy squaring and connecting on jumpers off the bounce. As a result of these abilities, he is currently converting 61.0 percent of his two point attempts. 

Bennett’s range extends to the college three point line, where he had been shooting the ball pretty well in early action, but has struggled as of late. Overall, he is hitting a mere 31.6 percent of his three point attempts, but he continues to shoot, even when contested. Despite those below average numbers, it is clear that he possesses the range to keep defenses honest at the next level. And, he has put considerable time into his jump shot, so I expect this to be a strength of his down the road, even if he is currently struggling. With this in mind, Bennett must improve his shot selection and not try to force the issue from three point range. In fact, against UNC, he limited himself by camping out beyond the arc and not out-working McAdoo and Hubert for position inside. 

Anthony Bennett also shows some promise in the pick and roll game. He uses his wide body to get in ideal position for picks and usually is able to free up his guards. Bennett then does a nice job of carving space on rim runs, and he is very quick exploding to the basket. Because of his versatility, Bennett will also be able to fade to the outside after setting screens and free himself for open mid range jumpers depending on how opposing defenses are situated. Further, Bennett has a great motor and is able to get out in transition and finish. 

In terms of his ability to collect rebounds, Bennett shows some promise on the glass. He possesses solid box out fundamentals, leveraging his lower body to prevent players from rebounding over the back of him.  Bennett also has a knack of anticipating where the ball is going to be once it hits the rim, and he is able to cover ground in a hurry to chase after rebounds and loose balls. Bennett has a very high activity level on both ends of the floor, and is willing to dive into the crowd to create extra possessions for his team. Currently, Bennett ranks seventh in the MWC in Defensive Rebounding Percentage and ninth in Offensive Rebounding Percentage. These numbers do not fully capture Bennett’s assertiveness and impact on the glass though. This is because he has a tendency to bite on fakes at the defensive end, which continuously puts him at a disadvantage when trying to secure rebounds. 

With regard to his overall impact defensively, Bennett’s post defense leaves a lot to be desired. Bennett constantly opts to front the post, with mixed results. At times, he is able to corral the ball when the post entry pass is telegraphed. However, when the post entry feed is less obvious and the ball is in the hands of a skilled passer, this playmaker is typically able to lob the ball right over the top of Bennett for an easy lay in. I suspect that such plays will consistently occur at the next level as well, unless Bennett is willing and able to change his approach to post defense. Instead of constantly fronting the opposition, Bennett should use his wide base to ‘chest’ his man off the block. When he has played back on post players so far this season, Bennett has given up deep post position, which makes it difficult to recover defensively.  With this said, Bennett is very active defensively, and does a nice job of contesting without fouling when he decides to play positional defense. Bennett has good lateral quickness for a four and is able to stay in front of his man in the post. 

With regard to his physical capabilities on this end, despite his below average height for an NBA power forward at 6’7, Bennett compensates with a 7’1 wingspan. He currently has the fourth best Blocks Percentage in the Mountain West Conference, and this is a testament to his length and athleticism. While he is capable of blocking shots, Bennett is not especially effective as a help defender, sometimes even standing in the way of his teammate and watching the opposition go to the hoop for an easy lay in. Bennett must improve his awareness as a help defender and look to step in and take more charges. With that said, he is able to step out on the perimeter and defend post players who are capable of stretching the defense. When he is defending on the perimeter, though, he is often prone to biting on shot fakes.

In addition to these struggles, Bennett is also a very poor pick and roll defender. Bennett has poor hedging techniques and rarely forces the opposing team’s guard to change directions on pick and roll plays. Instead, he often appears to be mechanically going through the motions, and steps out only momentarily before getting back to defend the rim. On other occasions, he does not hedge at all and allows open perimeter jumpers. In the instances where he does provide a momentary hedge, Bennett rarely recovers quickly enough to get back to his man and is usually stuck on a switch off. Of all the areas he must improve, Bennett’s pick and roll defense needs the most work. 

All in all, Anthony Bennett is one of the most efficient offensive weapons in the country as a freshman (ninth in Offensive Rating among those who use 24 percent or more of their team’s possessions, and 85th best overall). He exhibits considerable promise as a faceup post player who can step out and hit from the mid range. With that said, Bennett has a lot of room for growth on the defensive end. While he possesses the physical tools to improve considerably, his mental approach to defense will need some fine-tuning at the next level. Due in large part to his intriguing offensive skillset, look for Bennett to climb up draft boards and cement himself as a late lottery selection in the upcoming 2013 NBA draft.

Freshman Prospects Before New Year's: Shabazz Muhammad

Shabazz Muhammad projects as a high energy slasher with a developing mid and long range game. As the season progresses, look for him to improve considerably and become one of the nation’s most un-guardable weapons, not to mention a surefire top-5 NBA draft pick.

Freshman Prospects Before New Year's: Nerlens Noel

If Nerlens Noel can continue to progress in his understanding of basketball and improve his skillset along the way, he could actualize his potential and become a top player from the 2013 draft class. He does have a long way to go before he can make an impact in the NBA though.

Freshman Prospects Before New Year's: Archie Goodwin

Archie Goodwin projects as an athletic slasher with arguably the highest upside in the 2013 draft. He must continue to learn how to play without the ball in his hands, as he struggles using screens effectively.

Big East Prospect Watch

With Jeremy Lamb, Andre Drummond, Khem Birch and Mouphtaou Yarou, the Big East once again has several high-quality NBA prospects.

Atlantic-10 Prospect Watch List

With players like Tu Holloway, Chris Gaston and Terrell Vison, the Atlantic-10 has several intriguing prospects.

Horizon League Prospect Watch List

Ray McCallum, Khyle Marshall, Alec Brown, Eli Holman and Andrew Smith are intriguing prospects that scouts will be looking at in the Horizon League.

Conference-USA Prospect Watch List

Even though the All-Conference USA first team was comprised entirely of seniors, the vast majority of the league’s talent returns from a year ago
 

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