I am usually the guy that doesn't change opinion through the NCAA tourny, but this time I have a very different opinion of players after watching these guys play with elevated purpose. I was going to make this another comment on MullensMafia's post, but it got too long... oops. Some of my other top picks have fallen, others have risen, but overall my view on the talent has changed a bit. My biggest changes in opinion are as follows:
-Rodney Hood - Showed really poor defense in the tournament, almost like he was detached from the game. I was really in love with his scoring ability and development during the regular season, and one bad game shouldn't be a deal breaker, but when other players have risen with such promise the inevitable will happen.
-Adriene Payne - Was a very solid player for MSU during the regular season, showing great skill set and versatility. I don't like that he was injured and didn't come back as his old self. Instead he took a back seat in the offense and became more focused on passing. All the potential is still there.
-James Young - My new favorite pick in the draft for our position. On a young team that needed someone to step up and lead the way in scoring during the final stretch of the tournament, James Young stepped up as the go to guy. In fact he seemed to be an alter focal point of the offense as Randle's role was fading with his injury. His three point shooting is the most accurate, but in the tourny he made every shot that counted, including the eye-opening jam that was really my turning point in pulling for this guy. That dunk had NBA written all over it. I WANT THIS GUY.
-TJ Warren - His stock hasn't really gone up that much since I last looked at the guy, but I think it is worthy of merit that he dragged his sorry ass team through those first two tourny match-ups. Well not entirely, but honestly I felt the biggest thing holding that team back was their coach. After watching the coaching brilliance of UConn's Kevin Ollie, the coaching job of Gottfried should be equating to Gottfired (clever eh?). This guy has a viable NBA skill set, is use to being the focal point of an offense, which means that he can handle on ball and off ball situations better than most. I actually liked Warren the most for his off ball presence. With some three point tweaking he could be go to scorer.
-Cleanthony Early - To be honest this guy wasn't even on my radar until the tournament. I just fel like he hadn't really had enough chances to prove himself against a strong defensive team. Well his single handed torching of the Kentucky defense was more than enough validation for me. The guy has an NBA body, NBA athleticism, go to scoring mentality and a winning mentality. This guy is my dark horse right now, and I think his stock will rise in workouts.
-Elfrid Payton - This guy may not be the stud that MCW has become, but he certainly has all the potential to get there. Just like Early this guy is gifted with the NBA body, NBA athleticism, and go to scoring mentality. I saw him more as a score first then pass first PG which may continue to fit with our current mold. I watched his tourny game and this guy was looking like Marcus Smart trying to win the whole thing for his team. I was impressed. If my other picks are not still around we should be looking at this guy.
-PJ Hairston - I know there are many who would shy away from PJ due to his "off-court issues" but as I stated before, his crimes were hardly criminal. I may be covering this guy cause I am an UNC fan, and a weed fan, but hey those aren't criminal either (imo lol). And if you've ever been to Durham, the place I grew up in, you would know that having agun on you isn't a bad idea. ANYWAY, the guy can flat out ball. He has certainly proven himself at both the collegiate and D League levels. If you haven't had the chance to watch him in action with his D League team yet you can look his team up on YouTube. The D League posts all their games their.
-Zach LaVine - This kid has certainly flashed some potential causing some to say he has Westbrook-esque athleticism. While that was certainly on display earlier in the regular season, we kind of saw LaVine drop off as the season finished out. LaVine's roll in the tourny was minimal as well. Normally i would be placing this guy under Stock Down, but that intriguing potential still has me curious. Defense will be a concern with this guy, being that he is a lightweight. Watch this Vid to see him in full on beast mode:
To Trade Up For:
Yeah there are going to be a lot of these guys, but I picked the ones that were still within reach if we were to make a trade and also would be the best fit on our team in my eyes.
-Aaron Gordon - There was so many times where I watched this kid in the tournament and had flashbacks of MKG doing similar things, BUT not as well! That's right! Aaron Gordon is MKG 2.0 without a doubt in my mind. Just as good on the defensive end (arguably better defensive potential with his frame), just as good at rebounding (again maybe more potential due to frame), just as scrappy, just as good as attacking the basket, and even better at shooting (though still not saying much). This guy blew me away during tourny time and of all the top ten picks available I felt like this was the real-deal no-doubt future All Star. Yes shooting will be his greatest downside, but this guy can still hit threes in clutch situations.
-Mario Hezonja - It is unclear if he will declare for the draft this year, but if so WHEW! This guy is a little like LaVine in that he comes off the bench and explodes like the sun. His potential is so bright it cannot be ignored. Think Manu Ginobili on steroids. Words won't do this guy justice, so make sure to take a look at this guy in this YouTube clip: