In the second feature of "Doug Gottlieb is Crazy (and So Can You)", I will look at the affable ESPN analyst's Top 30 NBA Draft prospects for the upcoming Draft.
In short - it's a doozy.
In awkward-white-dude love - Gottlieb has Luke Babbitt ranked ahead of Gordon Hayward. And Gordon Hayward ranked ahead of DeMarcus Cousins. And DeMarcus Cousins ranked ahead of Latavious Williams. Okay, so Cousins over Williams is probably excusable - but you get the point.
In lessons of contradiction - Read the article we're talking about today and compare that to Gottlieb's musings on the same subject matter two weeks ago. At least he has all of his bases covered, I guess.
In long - welp, keep reading.
Doug Gottlieb loves the college game. I know this, you know this and your P90X-ing friends know this. What Gottlieb might not know, however, is just how well college success translates to the NBA (Hint: It's not an exact science. At all.).
Still, Gottlieb's top 10 players (since it's Insider, I've left off the bit-more-agreeable descriptions and the remainder of his Big Board) seem to be predicated quite a bit on college success or over-looking into red flags than one might need to when selecting what is more than likely going to be the future of an NBA franchise.
1. John Wall, Kentucky
2. Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
3. Greg Monroe, Georgetown
4. Evan Turner, Ohio State
Not a great athlete and not a shooter with range, but his basketball IQ and ability to create for himself and others make him a valuable asset.
5. Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
6. Ekpe Udoh, Baylor
7. Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
8. Luke Babbitt, Nevada
Think Chris Mullin with a smaller Toni Kukoc-type of feel, and Babbitt will impress you. His array of step-backs, "Euro-steps" and range are different from anyone else in the draft. Babbitt is also a willing passer with a tremendous basketball IQ. Babbitt is the "favorite player" of at least five college recruiters I have spoken to and three scouts said the same thing.
9. Gordon Hayward, Butler
Handles like a 2, rebounds and defends like a 4 on the glass. Hayward is probably a year away in terms of strength and consistency in his shooting, but his Mike Miller-meets-Mike Dunleavy style makes him impressive, as does his ability to win. If you want a winner with upside, you want Hayward.
10. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
A monster down low when he "plays," but he will float and shoot jumpers and will pout. There are some red flags concerning Cousins among several teams. He's a phenomenal specimen and Calipari says he simply needed to mature, but the likelihood that he can be ruled with an iron fist in the pros as he was in college is nonexistent. Still, he showed, like Tyreke Evans under Cal, major personal and professional growth at Kentucky.
He also really likes Larry Sanders and isn't in love with Donatas Motiejunas (who, maybe not coincidentally, didn't play college basketball).
Anyway, back to the matter at hand: isn't this a little bit ridiculous especially following up on Gottlieb's last NBA Draft article?
I can see things to like about Greg Monroe - he's not top three material, but I think he's better than he's currently given credit - but to rank him ahead of Evan Turner is, well, a bit over the top. Especially since it wasn't long ago that Gottlieb himself opined that "Monroe does not want to be a superstar. While he is very smart, savvy and skilled, his lack of aggressiveness in terms of demanding the ball and taking over in key situations is at least troubling."
As far as Luke Babbitt's pro prospects are concerned, I understand that he's good and unheralded and a crazy Toni-Kukoc-meets-Chris-Mullin-meets-Manu Ginobili hybrid, but Gottlieb's argument that "Babbitt is the "favorite player" of at least five college recruiters I have spoken to and three scouts said the same thing" is a little off-putting. Of course he's a player that college recruiters would love to have, but I don't think he's worthy of the eighth overall selection in the NBA Draft - as Gottlieb's ESPN colleague Chad Ford asks, "Who will he defend in the pros?"
Gottlieb stays a bit more consistent with his old-self when ranking Babbitt (who has been picking up steam for awhile) ahead of Gordon Hayward, but I really don't understand how he can rank Hayward as the ninth best prospect in the NBA Draft after he's previously written the following:
Has anyone actually looked at Gordon Hayward's shooting numbers? The guy who is often compared to Mike Dunleavy Jr., shot just 25 percent from 3 in Horizon League play last season and struggled to get a step against Kyle Singler in the national championship game, making just 2 of 11 shots. Just like everyone else, I loved the Randolph Childress-like reverse through the legs step-back in the Sweet 16 upset of Syracuse, but Hayward needs a year and a half in the weight room and the gym in order to justifiably be as well-regarded as he currently is.
So has Hayward magically been in the weight room for a year and a half over the past two weeks? Did he find the Hot Tub Time Machine? Or maybe a pimped-out DeLorean that took him into the future so he was able to be in the gym for a year and a half and now he's back a la Back To The Future? I'm a believer in crazy things, but they don't even make DeLoreans anymore!
As far as DeMarcus Cousins, don't believe the anti-hype - his attitude might not be as bad as everyone thinks.
Oh, and if you think this is just unneeded Gottlieb bashing, I suggest you check out his big board from draft day last season. He gets some things right, sure, but he also had a few big "uhhh, whats?" in there as well. Miss you, B.J. Mullens.