NCAA Tournament: NBA Draft Stock Watch (Final Four)-Stock Down/Neutral

NCAA Tournament: NBA Draft Stock Watch (Final Four)-Stock Down/Neutral
Apr 01, 2007, 09:47 am
Stock Neutral

Greg Oden, 7-0, Freshman, Center, Ohio State
13 points, 9 rebounds, 20 minutes 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 6-11 FG, 1-4 FT


Jonathan Givony

Had Greg Oden managed to stay on the floor for more than 20 minutes, it’s very likely that he would have ended up landing himself a spot in the ‘stock up’ portion of this column. Once again, though, he couldn’t, partially due to his own lack of experience and partially due to the trigger happy NCAA referees who seemingly have to blow their whistle any time any type of contact whatsoever is made in the low post. Oden committed two fouls—a moving screen and a charge—in the first 2 ½ minutes of the game, forcing him to sit for the next 17 ½ minutes until the second half kicked off. As they have all tournament long, though, his teammates did just fine without him on the floor, actually increasing their lead and not looking like they had lost anything without his services.

When the 2nd half finally kicked off and his exile period was completed, Oden took a while to get back in the rhythm of the game. He looked very tentative to start off and just not in sync at all with the rest of his team, particularly with the work he did within the team defensive concept. He blew some rotations, did an average job on the glass, and was caught out of position a number of times to give Georgetown two easy points.

He got himself together pretty quickly, though, partially thanks to the terrific job his point guards Mike Conley Jr. and Jamar Butler did feeding him in the post. Oden established deep position inside on Roy Hibbert on a number of occasions, and did a good job using his strength and athleticism to finish strong around the basket. He grabbed some good offensive rebounds to help collect easy points, and as the game progressed began to show the more advanced side of his offense as well.

It started by spinning into a difficult 10-foot jump-hook shot with his right hand, and then continued with a super quick and aggressive drop-step move he converted off the glass. He was called for his 3rd foul of the game with about 12 minutes to go in the game—a very questionable foul on Roy Hibbert—but continued to play extremely well regardless. With Hibbert in foul trouble himself, Oden was able to establish deep position inside the paint, and showed excellent patience and poise making a basket from a tough angle.

The most impressive move he had tonight actually came on a miss, taking off from not that far from the free throw line and nearly converting an extremely long dunk attempt thanks to his incredible length and explosiveness.

On the other end, Hibbert was playing extremely well himself, making this a matchup of skilled future NBA lottery pick 7-footers that we rarely if ever get to take in at the collegiate level. Hibbert established great position of his own on the offensive end, and then really bothered Oden at times with his length and absolutely terrific timing in his man to man defense. Oden was forced to commit his 4th foul of the game with three minutes to go when he was unable to rotate laterally quick enough on a seemingly simple play, a problem we’ve seen him struggle with repeatedly this season.

He finished off the game strong, though, hitting a 10-foot jump-shot, grabbing a strong rebound out of his area, and then coming out of nowhere to erase a shot by a Georgetown guard and help ice the game.

All in all this was a solid outing by Oden, despite the foul trouble, and most importantly, his team won. He showed the good and the bad parts of his game on numerous occasions, and is still the same phenomenal long-term prospect he’s always been.

Joakim Noah, 6-11, Junior, PF/C, Florida
8 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists, 4 turnovers, 3-7 FG, 2-7 FT


Jonathan Givony

Although his final stat-line probably won’t end up blowing anyone away, Joakim Noah had a typically solid showing in the Final Four to help his team come up with yet another victory.

He played facing the basket more than he usually does, creating his own shot by putting the ball on floor nicely on a couple of occasions to draw fouls and show off his excellent ball-handling skills. The ball went through him a good deal on the perimeter, and his outstanding passing skills were on full display with the way he kicked the ball out to his shooters for easy looks, or to his big men in the post on high-low plays. Noah again struggled finishing through contact like he has many times this season, missing a couple of chip-shots that he normally would have converted had he been slightly more focused. His stroke from the free throw line also looked extremely poor. With a bit more composure, Noah would have finished with 14-15 points in this game easily.

Defensively, Noah did a fantastic job both locking down his matchups and cleaning up the glass. He rotated nicely over onto oncoming slashers, and twice went stride for stride with a UCLA guard to pin their layup attempt onto the glass emphatically. He also did a wonderful job rebounding the ball on both ends of the floor, going out of his area on numerous occasions accompanied by a primal scream.

For those scouts who have seen Noah play all season long, this game probably didn’t teach us anything new about his strengths and weaknesses. Other prospects ranked as top-10 picks (like his teammate Al Horford or fellow big man Roy Hibbert) are undoubtedly playing more impressive basketball, though, something that doesn’t bode well for Noah’s draft stock.

Darren Collison, 6-0, Sophomore, PG, UCLA
9 points, 0 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 turnovers, 3-14 FG, 2-2 FT, 1-6 3P

Joey Whelan

Collison had an up and down game in UCLA’s loss to Florida in the Final Four. The lightning quick point guard struggled to put the ball in the basket, but was able to make up for it by setting up his teammates very well throughout the game.

Usually very tough to cover offensively because of his great first step and shooting ability, Collison was unable to find his range on his jumper, shooting just 3-14 from the field. Credit does go to Florida though as the Gators made sure to contest any and all shots that Collison attempted, especially when he got near the paint. In particular Collison struggled from beyond the arc, hitting just 1-6 attempts, after shooting well over 40% during the regular season. Several of these shots though came in the waning seconds of an already decided game, though.

Despite the poor shooting effort, Collison showed his true point guard abilities, distributing the ball very effectively to teammates. He relied on his great first step to beat his defender into the lane, drawing additional defenders, and dishing to open teammates. Collison has shown a great knack all season long for knowing when to take the shots he gets inside and when to pass off to open players. Florida was quick to get out and contest Collison, and he was more than happy to get his teammates easy baskets.

Defensively, Collison played a typical solid game, playing tough on the ball. Florida tried running him off a lot of screens, but Collison was too quick to get bumped off his man for long. He deflected a couple of passes as well, relying on his great instincts for the ball.

This game won’t help or hurt Collison in the long run. What he lacked in scoring, he made up for with his ability to get the ball to open teammates and with a typical solid defensive performance.

Taurean Green, 6-0, Junior, PG, Florida
10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 2-9 FG, 5-6 FT, 1-7 3P

Joey Whelan

With a strong win over UCLA for the second straight year in the Final Four, the Florida Gators find themselves in a second straight National Championship. Green did what he had to do in the defeat of the Bruins, play solid defense and manage the offense. Strong performances from Corey Brewer and Chris Richard made things easy on Green who could defer much of the scoring to his teammates.

This wasn’t the strongest game for Green offensively, struggling with his shot hitting on just 2 of 9 field goal attempts. In particular he had problems from beyond the arc. After going 9-16 in his last two games from the outside, Green was just 1-7 on three point attempts. Despite his shooting problems, Green still managed to get to the line a couple of times thanks to his strong drives to the basket. He also had a few nice assists, particularly in transition.

In a tough defensive match up against UCLA’s speedy Darren Collison, Green performed particularly well, holding Collison to just 9 points. Green played another steady game at the helm for the Gators, in a game where he wasn’t needed to provide scoring he still managed to give a solid performance. He didn’t wow offensively, but he didn’t make costly mistakes either, and he stepped up defensively in helping his team advance to the title game.

Stock Down

Jeff Green, 6-9, Forward, Junior, Georgetown
9 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 4/5 FG, 1/2 FT


Mike Schmidt

During the season, Georgetown’s rise to the top of the Big East strongly correlated to the play of Jeff Green. The junior forward’s all-around game and leadership allowed him to win the Big East player of the Year award. Green has never been a go-to scorer, but he did try and step up as the main option during a few key stretches in the NCAA Tournament. Against Ohio State in the Final Four, he did the usual small things on the floor he has become known for this season, but failed to elevate his game to push Georgetown past Ohio State.

In the first half, Green was relatively quiet, though he did collect 6 rebounds. Offensively, he only scored five points on two back door cuts and a free throw attempt, and these points came with under 3 minutes left in the first 20 minutes. He didn’t particularly help himself in any area of the game, though he did draw a charge in addition to creating a couple scoring chances for teammates after one of his offensive rebounds.

The second half is where Green had his chance to shine, but he failed to lead Georgetown on a surge when it was needed the most. He did make a couple nice reads in the Princeton offense which lead to a couple nice scoring attempts, mostly on cuts to the basket. With around 8:45 remaining in the game, Georgetown’s go-to scorer Roy Hibbert picked up his 4th foul. Green was unable to contribute any points while playing as the first option on the offensive end, and Ohio State went on a 7-0 run, which essentially put the game out of reach.

In terms of NBA potential, Jeff Green’s game has some limits right now. First of all, he lacks a true position at the next level, and can be most accurately labeled as a combo-forward at this point in time. In terms of creating offense, he struggles going to the basket off the dribble, and lacks the tremendous explosiveness other wing players in this draft have. He has displayed some ability in the post, but this mostly comes against smaller players.

There is a lot to like about Green when it comes to the NBA, however. When given the ball inside in the right position, he has the ability to use his long arms and athleticism to make some very impressive finishes. Green brings great passing ability to the floor, which he showed off a number of times against Ohio State. In the Princeton offense, he often receives the ball at the top of the key, and his ability to read the defense has lead to a 3.2 assist per game average this season. When rebounding, Green not only uses his great physical attributes, but he also positions himself well and shows good anticipation in getting to the ball.

Though Jeff Green played poorly in the final game of his junior season, he did plenty throughout the course of the season to boost his draft stock. He has the potential to be a very good role player at the next level, considering he has already showed the willingness to do all the little things at the college level. At this point, it seems likely that Green will try his luck with the draft and test his stock, and if he decides to keep his name in, he will have every chance to land somewhere between the late lottery to mid first round.

Arron Afflalo, 6'5, Junior, Shooting Guard, UCLA
17 points, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover, 5-14 FG's, 4-4 FT's, 3-9 3-PT, 22 minutes

Jonathan Watters

The final stats may not look entirely terrible, but this wasn't a good game for UCLA's accomplished go-to scorer. Afflalo was mediocre at best in UCLA's Final Four run a season ago, and appeared to be heading down that same path until a scintillating Elite Eight performance against Kansas got him back on the right track. But it wouldn't be for long, as the same Corey Brewer that locked Afflalo up in the 2006 National Championship essentially reduced him to offensive decoy in the 22 foul-plagued minutes he played in the rematch.

Afflalo did sit most of the first half after picking up two fouls almost immediately after the opening tap, but really struggled to make anything happen even when he was on the court. He rushed contested outside shots and couldn't make anything happen off the dribble against the quicker, longer Brewer. Afflalo would be held scoreless the first 34 minutes of the game, only getting on track once Florida essentially had the game under control.

While a second consecutive Florida disaster doesn't erase the impressive season Arron Afflalo has put in, players on the first round bubble usually shouldn't slip so hard when the lights are this bright. Afflalo now has a tough decision to make - should he gamble on making the first round, or head back to UCLA where his return would likely make the Bruins the national favorites headed into 2007-2008.

Ron Lewis, 6-5, SG, Senior, Ohio State
9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 1-8 FG, 7-8 FT, 0-3 3P

Joey Whelan

After having played a stellar tournament filled with clutch shots and big scoring performances, Lewis took a big step back in Ohio State’s Final Four win over Georgetown. Offensively, the senior played his worst game by far of the tournament, unable to get anything going from the field.

Usually a pretty controlled player going to the basket, Lewis forced several tough shots in the lane, but got bailed out a couple of times on foul calls. The senior was efficient from the free throw line, but that was about the only thing he did well on the offensive end of the floor. He hit just one field goal in the game, a pull up jumper from the elbow late in the first half. Lewis also struggled from behind the arc, missing all three outside shots he took, despite having shot nearly 50% from deep during the tournament. As a whole, Lewis just looked out of it on the offensive end, rarely moving without the basketball, tending to just wait on the perimeter for the ball to come to him. This was very evident mid-way through the first half when a pass intended for Lewis was deflected because he didn’t come to meet it, but waited for the ball to reach him instead.

Lewis was able to salvage some of his performance on the defensive end where he made some nice plays, including grabbing 3 steals. He made one particularly nice strip of a ball against Georgetown’s Jessie Sapp that led to a breakaway lay up for teammate Mike Conley Jr. Lewis was also able to come down with a couple of nice defensive rebounds in traffic thanks to his athleticism.

This was a disappointing performance from Lewis, who prior to this game had helped his stock more than perhaps any other player in the tournament. The National Championship game still remains though, and with a world wide audience watching, Lewis has a chance to come up big one last time for the Buckeyes and leave college with a positive final impression in the eyes of scouts.

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