NCAA Weekly Performers -- 1/9/2007, Part One
Chase Budinger, 67, SG/SF, Freshman, Arizona
Vs. Washington: 23 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, 7-12 FG, 6-8 FT, 3-5 3PT
Budinger doesnt possess much of a dribble-drive game at this stage of his development, but in Arizonas quick passing offense, he gets some opportunities to take his man off the dribble when his defender doesnt have his feet set, and he took advantage of those in this game. Budinger looked very solid in this regard, making about three or four drives in this manner, using both his left and right hand and finishing by means of lay-ups, pull-ups, and floaters, looking comfortable with each. All of his drives consisted of one or two dribbles without much change of direction, but Budinger seems to understand his limitations and knows how to play within himself and the teams offense. When he doesnt have the ball, hes always in constant motion, working to get in position for an open shot opportunity.
Budinger also looked very impressive in transition, showing off his court awareness by dishing out a lot of nice passes for shot opportunities, only some of which were converted by his teammates. He makes great split-second decisions, always keeps his head up with the ball, and dishes out strong, crisp passes through seams in the defense.
Defensively, Budinger was very disruptive in this game, using his instincts and good hands to play aggressive defense against the opposition, making four steals in the game and forcing some other turnovers as well. He possesses good lateral quickness and doesnt let up his intensity, pestering his man and forcing him into making mistakes with the ball.
Budinger is a very fundamentally sound and versatile player on both ends of the court, and he has a strong work ethic and a high basketball IQ to boot. Further, he is extremely athletic and has good overall physical tools, which makes him an excellent NBA prospect. The only thing Budinger really lacks is true go-to ability, which stems from his sub-par dribble-drive game, though thats something he can work on with time. Budinger would have a good chance of being a lottery pick if he declared this year, though theres a good chance he could return for another season at Arizona as well. How he develops his game over the rest of the season, how far Arizona goes in March, and how Budinger performs down the stretch are some factors that could weigh in his decision.
Javaris Crittenton, 6-5, Freshman, Point Guard, Georgia Tech
Vs. Clemson: 22 points, 6 assists, 3 turnovers, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 7-13 FG, 8-9 FT
From what we saw in the Clemson game and beyond, Crittenton has a phenomenal combination of size, frame, strength, blazing quickness, all-around smoothness and outstanding talent. Hes a terrific ball-handler who puts relentless pressure on defenses by constantly looking for gaps to penetrate and get in the lane to draw contact or dish off the dribble. He can go left or right, utilizes shot and ball-fakes effectively, and has a smooth crossover he uses instinctively to keep his matchup off balance. Hes got plenty of herky-jerkiness to his game, and once hes inside the paint, loves to elevate smoothly for either a beautiful floater or a one-handed layup high off the glass. With six seconds left to go in the Clemson game, Crittenton used one of these gorgeous floaters to put Georgia Tech up by one point, but the Tigers came right back and scored at the buzzer off a James Mays layup.
As a point guard, Crittenton has been up and down as you might expect from a freshman playing against good competition in the beginning on his college career. He shows great flashes of court vision at times by making terrific post-entry-pass lobs and drive and dish plays, but has a tendency to get too flashy and play out of control. Hes been very dominant with his ball-handling so far (in the sense that hes constantly dribbling) and therefore fairly turnover prone as well, but hes starting to settle down a bit lately to a certain extent.
At times youll still see him pounding the ball excessively and over-penetrating or running into brick walls. As you can say about most young and athletic point guards, he needs to learn how to pick his spots better, something that will probably only come with experience and maturity. Hes still not overly effective in terms of running a half-court offense and controlling tempo, as he only seems to know how to play at full speed, rather than shifting gears from time to time to keep his man off balance. His decision making and overall focus also often leaves something to be desired in terms of his all-around consistency.
Something that could really help him is a consistent pull-up jumper he can utilize from mid-range. Its something you dont see him use at all as hes either spotting up for 3 or driving bullishly into the lane. Crittenton is knocking down his 3-pointers at a very good clip this year-- 44%--but hes only attempted about 2.7 per game and never really against good competition. Well see as the year progresses if his percentages are for real since he was not known as a great outside shooter in high school, particularly off the dribble. Defensively, he has a very long ways to go in terms of knowing how to contain his man and adequately make rotations with the team concept, particularly guarding the pick and roll.
All in all, its hard to find a point guard in college basketball with more NBA upside than Crittenton. Should he decide to enter the draft, hell probably end up as a first round pick if he takes care of his business the way youd expect him to. At the same time, hes still very much a raw prospect who needs as much high level playing time and experience as he can get before hed be ready to contribute anything at the NBA level. For that reason, another year in college is imperative for his development, and it really wouldnt be a shock at all to send him land as a lottery pick if he takes his time, wins some games in the NCAA tournament, and shows that hes ready to enter the NBA as a legit backup point guard rather than as a long-term project.
Richard Roby, 66, Junior, SG Colorado
Vs. Texas: 30 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 10-19 FG, 5-9 3PT, 5-5 FT
Roby clearly looked to score first whenever he touched the ball, using his explosive first step and long strides to gain ground on helpless Longhorn defenders. He showed off an excellent long range jumper, both on the move, from a stand-still, and off the dribble. The Buffalo junior was able to get his midrange pull-up jumper off whenever he wanted, fully exploiting the height advantage that he had over the Texas guards. From 3-point range he was virtually automatic when not forcing the issue, boasting NBA range when shooting the ball from the perimeter. While Roby's shot is adequate while on the move or off the dribble, it is a bit slow when his feet are set, as he brings the ball below his waste and is slow getting into the shooting motion, something that could hamper his effectiveness at the next level.
While Robys scoring prowess is clearly his strong point, he did a surprising job creating for others in a losing effort. He would have easily wound up with more than the three assists he was credited for if his teammates were able to convert scoring opportunities based off his penetration. For a player who is regarded as a bit of a one man show at Colorado, is was pleasant to see Roby actually look to his teammates once in a while.
While the 2006 NBA Draft early entrant had an excellent game offensively, there were still some obvious flaws in his game. His ball-handling is not up to par for a shooting guard, as his handle can be a bit high and out of control at times. More importantly however was the fact that Roby seemed to lose focus very easily, especially on the defensive end. He appeared to constantly lose track of his man throughout the game, resulting in the collapse of the Colorado defense. Richard did however play the best defense of anyone on Texas phenom Kevin Durant, but it was a team effort as Colorado did a much better job rotating as a whole on the defensive end late in the second half.
Many are speculating that this will be Robys last year at Colorado, largely due to coach Ricardo Pattons resignation effective at the end of the season. He has stated publicly that he does not want to go through a rebuilding process, which Colorado will surely undergo during the 07-08 season. Last year, Richard would have likely been drafted, but made the right decision returning for his junior season. As it stands now, he would be a likely second round pick in the 2007 draft, with the potential to move into the late first round if he is able to play more consistently, due to his scoring ability and the 2007 draft class lack of elite shooting guard prospects.
Greg Oden, 7-1, Freshman, Center, Ohio State
Past 2 Games Combined, Vs. Wisconsin, Illinois: 17 points, 22 rebounds, 0 assists, 6 turnovers, 10 blocks, 6-18 FG, 5-11 FT
Beyond his injured wrist, which has further hampered his already lackluster offensive ability, Oden just isnt a very polished player at this point in his career. He looks very mechanical going to work with his back to the basket, and doesnt really know how to use his massive frame to carve out space and get his shot off effectively. Being able to go up stronger to finish at the hoop using his strength and vertical explosiveness will help him in the short-term once he gets his right hand back, but its probably going to be 2-3 years until Oden starts to truly round out a capable offensive repertoire. At this point in his development, the game still moves a little too fast for him and hes struggled thus far to establish a real role for himself within Ohio States perimeter oriented offense. Things like a mid-range jumper or any kind of real ball-handling skills are just too much to ask for at this point.
For the record, none of this should be considered substantial criticism regarding the type of prospect Oden is, but rather towards the unrealistic expectations that were and still are being placed on him. He was billed as a player who would step out on the college floor and dominate from day one, and even if healthy, that was never going to be the case on the offensive end. At age 18, hes still a long ways away from being a capable first or second option on a good NCAA team, but that doesnt mean that thats not going to come and in a big way as he continues to develop over the next few seasons, which is why hes still holding firmly onto the #1 spot in our 2007 mock draft.
On the other end of the floor, Oden has looked terrific thus far and can only be expected to get better as his chemistry with his teammates improves. Hes a massive presence in the post for Ohio State, and his outstanding bulk and quickness makes him a game-changing type defender and shot-blocker for the Buckeyes. His lateral movement looks excellent and he has an uncanny knack for picking the right angles and elevating off the floor with perfect timing to block plenty of shots and alter countless others. Unlike many young, athletic shot-blockers, Oden is extremely patient and will rarely hack wildly at a defender entering the paint. On top of that, hes showing phenomenal potential as a rebounder, going out of his area on a regular basis and showing great intelligence and hustle in boxing out and coming down with rebounds. Its truly a joy to watch a player like Oden find his way in college basketball, and its going to be even more fun to track his progress over the next three months or so.