As you probably know, I'm not a fan of college basketball. To me, the concept of "come watch basketball that's like the Eastern Conference, but without any of the good players," doesn't sound so enticing. I get the argument that some people (like Jesus Gomez, for example) watch the games not for rooting interest but just to learn/scout the players, but I don't find that to be a worthwhile endeavor at all. I would never presume to be able to evaluate talent as well as R.C. Buford and his scouts can, and being able to project raw prospects who are used one way by their collegiate teams and would be used in an entirely different role by pro teams makes the whole exercise pointless to me.
The last time I had a strong opinion on a collegian, I proved I have no idea what I'm talking about. I had watched a bunch of Kawhi Leonard at San Diego State University and I didn't think he'd be very good. So I'll just wait until these guys play in the real league for a bit and form opinions then, thanks.
That said, here's some opinions on the incoming draft class anyway. The profiles I link to throughout are via ESPN.com's draft guru Chad Ford, because, well, nobody is more credible than that guy.
Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky
Strengths: Best two-way center prospect, only 19 year-old.
Weaknesses: Stats, may need time to adapt to a coaching staff who plays him more minutes in games than Pop does to Timmy in a FOGAFINI.
Of note: Towns wasn't much of a scorer at Kentucky, but he put up points easily against Notre Dame in the Elite Eight when they refused to double him. He made it look comically easy, actually. He'll probably wind up being pretty good.
Spurs chances of drafting him: Low.
Strengths: Most polished offensive arsenal of any center prospect, including advanced post moves. A "true big man" according to Ford, so apparently he's not two little people with one standing atop the other's shoulders and wearing an over-sized trench coat and a fedora.
Weaknesses: Reportedly "lazy" on defense and not terribly quick, explosive or athletic. Procured 34 rebounds in six NCAA tournament games.
Of note: Is only a distant cousin of Emeka Okafor and not his son, which I assumed for the longest time.
Spurs chances of drafting him: Not likely.
D'Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State
Strengths: Left-handed, which makes him one of God's favored children. Very good shooter. Excellent taste in role models.
D'Angelo Russell says on ESPN Radio he tried to model his game after Manu Ginobili at a young age— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) June 22, 2015
Weaknesses: "A good penetrator" who at 6'5 somehow struggles "to finish at the rim." That's an odd combination of traits.
Of note: A certain basket-blogger is rather excited about Russell's potential.
In 2009, Steph had a 42.1% eFG on jumpers off the dribble. D’Angelo Russell had a 51.6%. WHAT.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) June 21, 2015
Steph Curry had a 46.2% eFG on jumpers his last year at Davidson. Russel had a 53.4% efG on jumpers last year.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) June 21, 2015
Curry shot 37.5% eFG out of the pick and roll his last year at Davidson. Russell had a 53.9% out of pick and roll last year. HAIL RA!— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) June 21, 2015
Spurs chances of drafting him: YET ANOTHER Spurs draftee named D'Angelo? Come on.
Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
Strengths: "A 7-foot-2, 19-year-old prodigy from Latvia that looks and plays like a cross between Dirk Nowitzki, Andrei Kirilenko and yes, Kevin Durant."
Sounds awesome, I'll take three of him.
Weaknesses: Enter hilarious Darko Milicic/Yi Jianlian/Nikoloz Tskitishvili joke here.
Of Note: Worked out for NBA people just in isolation rather than against competition, a la Jianlian. Kyle Lowry worked out with him a year ago and was impressed.
Spurs chances of drafting him: Sub-optimal.
Strengths: First name, athleticism
Weaknesses: Shooting, passing, ball-handling, motor.Besides all that though he sounds like the ideal franchise point guard prospect to me.
Of Note: Larry Brown loves Mudiay, and was convinced that he could've won an NCAA Championship at SMU with him. In a completely unrelated story, Mudiay decided to instead play as geographically far away from Larry Brown as possible.
Spurs chances of drafting him: I'm hearing they'll be willing to offer Reggie Williams for Mudiay's draft rights, so... pending.
Strengths: Shooting range, athleticism
Weaknesses: Drawing fouls, decision making, attitude
Of Note: Basically, he has the personality of the bully jerk from every 80's teen movie. Likeliest candidate to show up to the draft with an annoyingly attractive girlfriend.
Spurs chances of drafting him: Doesn't seem like their type.
Strengths: "Potentially elite defender," which doesn't mean anything because that applies to literally everyone. Strong poise and leadership skills befitting a Dookie.
Weaknesses: A "tweener" who suffers from "a total lack of a mid-range game." Seems ironic.
Of Note: There will be so many awful puns in his future, and I will account for some of them.
Spurs chances of drafting him: There will be no Justice for the Spurs. Without his athleticism, they'll just have to win slow.
Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
Strengths: Frequently compared to DeAndre Jordan in that he's a shot blocker with no offensive skills to speak of besides dunking.
Weaknesses: Not quite as explosive as Jordan and definitely not in his class as a rebounder. So he's a worse version of a limited player. Sign me up!
Of note: Despite name, not a former child actor.
Spurs chances of drafting him: Won't Can't-Shouldn't
Strengths: Pretty much the polar opposite of Cauley-Stein in every way. A polished scorer inside and out whose whole defensive objective seems to be "stay out of foul trouble."
Weaknesses: "Not an elite athlete." Always looks completely baked.
Of Note: You kept waiting for Kaminsky to get destroyed against formidable and springy front-lines against Arizona, then Kentucky and then Duke, and it didn't happen. He more than held his own the whole tournament.
Bonus of note: I like his prospects as long as he doesn't go to the Knicks.
Spurs chances of drafting him: Only if the Pacers are interested in making another ill-fated trade, and I can think of a Brazilian reasons why they would be.
Strengths: Good at almost everything, elite at nothing.
Weaknesses: "Doesn't always play with confidence," which is weird because the guy I watched in the tournament sure looked like a cocky son-of-a-gun.
Of Note: Mr. Dekker is my favorite player of this draft class, so he's going to be terrible.
Spurs chances of drafting him: Not nearly as high as I would like.
Strengths: Runs a good pick-and-roll, floor vision
Weaknesses: Not quite the dynamic athlete some of the other prospects are, shot 31.6 percent from downtown last year.
Of Note: Son of former NBA power forward Harvey Grant, nephew of Horace Grant.
Spurs chances of drafting him: Slim-to-definite.
Tomorrow: Another draft preview, but this time about people the Spurs might actually have a chance of picking.