Kris Joseph, 6-7, Small Forward, Senior, Syracuse
The leading scorer and rebounder on the undefeated #1 ranked team in the country, Kris Joseph has had a strong start to his senior campaign, likely drawing plenty of attention by virtue of his team's excellent performance.
Joseph has made some subtle improvements in a few areas of his game, the most notable of which is what can be seen at first glance, that he's added some bulk to his frame. Joseph in the past has struggled with his ability to finish through contact due to his lack of strength, but has shown flashes of improvement in limited attempts this season, looking more comfortable finishing in the lane on both power and finesse moves when he utilizes them.
While Joseph appears to have improved some of his tools for finishing inside, it unfortunately has yet to translate into consistent results, as he's actually getting to the free-throw line at a much lower rate this season.
The decrease is mostly a result of Joseph playing exclusively on the perimeter this season (as opposed to being utilized as a combo forward) and changing his scoring tendencies some, favoring pull-up mid-range jumpers a bit more than he has in the past. With that said, on the occasions he is attacking the rim on cuts and straight-line drives, he is doing a better job powering up through contact, not being afraid to go strong to the rim.
Joseph is not the quickest or most explosive small forward prospect you'll find in this draft, but he has an excellent feel for scoring, and thus finds ways to get the job done at the college level.
As a shot creator, Joseph has made strides in some areas, looking more comfortable with his advanced ball-handling abilities, commonly using behind-the-back dribbles and both hands with a lower, controlled dribble on the perimeter, but has yet to develop the same comfort level operating in tight spots going to the rim. His increased mass doesn't appear to have slowed him down noticeably, and he's probably playing at close to an ideal weight for his game.
Joseph's spot-up three-point shooting remains his most potent offensive weapon, as he's proven last season's strong performance was no fluke. Joseph has again increased his three-point attempts (from 4.5 to 6 per-40 minutes) and percentages (36.6% to 41%) thus far this season, being a very dangerous threat when left open, and even showing some nice ability to knock down spot-up shots on the move in transition. This is an improvement development for him, as he likely won't be asked to operate as heavily with the ball in his hands in the NBA as he does at Syracuse, making it more necessary for him to be a knock down shooter.
As far as Joseph's pull-up jumper goes, it's still largely a work in progress, with him being very inconsistent pulling up from mid-range while defended. While his advanced ball-handling has improved some, he doesn't have the ability to consistently get separation from his defender in isolations, and his shooting form is still prone to breakdowns pulling up off the dribble. This isn't likely something he'd be called on to do in the NBA, and could benefit from having a more limited offensive role there, but his developing skills in all areas are still a nice development, as just being able to keep the defense honest in this area is useful.
On the defensive end, the story remains the same with Joseph, as it's very difficult to evaluate the things he'd be asked to do in the NBA in Syracuse's strict zone system. His effort level and focus remain solid, and he certainly has the tools to be a good defender at the small forward position (and perhaps a passable one in limited minutes at the power forward with his improved physique), but he is rarely put into situations where he has to defend a man one-on-one in isolation or the post.
Looking forward, Joseph should continue to get heavy attention from scouts all season with Syracuse likely to remain a strong contender for a #1 seed, and brings some appealing tools to the table from an NBA perspective. His combination of size, scoring instincts, spot-up shooting, and ability to attack on straight-line drives makes him a good fit for a role-playing 3 at the next level, though his defense still remains a question mark. Joseph's also made some slight strides in the little areas this season, increasing his rebounding and cutting down his turnovers, things that definitely won't hurt his stock.
Joseph's draft position may be hurt by his advanced age (he just turned 23) and the depth of this year's class, but he could find himself in the first round mix when it's all said and done if he continues to play well and his team continues to win.
Draymond Green, 6'7, Power Forward, Senior, Michigan State
Michigan State had some question marks going into this season, lacking consistency at the point guard position and in the post. At an impressive 10-2, however, things are clearly working out better than expected and senior forward Draymond Green is playing a heavy role in that. There is not a more skilled and versatile power forward in the country, as Green can score, rebound, and pass the ball at an elite level on any given night.
While Green is clearly very productive at the NCAA level, projecting him in the NBA isn't a seamless endeavor, primarily due to his average physical tools and tweener status. Listed at a generous 6'7 and 230-pounds with long arms, Green is very undersized for the power forward position. He is not a particularly explosive athlete either, lacking ideal quickness and leaping ability, despite being highly coordinated and mobile. While he has made impressive strides slimming down his frame, further improving his body and maximizing his athleticism would help his case significantly.
On the offensive end, Green's deficiencies with his back-to-the-basket and off of the dribble are well known. Though he is averaging a career high 15.9 points per game, he continues to struggle as a finisher, making just 47% of his attempts inside the arc and 32.4% from beyond.
That being said, his most NBA-ready offensive attribute is his jump shot. Green continues to display the shooting touch that he displayed as a junior, making over one 3-pointer per game. While his slow, flat-footed release and inconsistent percentages leave something to be desired, when given a chance to set his feet and get a clean shot off, he shows enough potential to lead you to believe he could develop into a solid floor spacer in time. As Green is often Michigan State's de facto point guard in lieu of consistency elsewhere in the rotation, it remains to be seen if his lower senior shooting numbers are a result of ideal playmakers around him. His career high 75% from the foul line and excellent showing against Gonzaga (where he made 4-5 attempts), leaves some reason for optimism in this regard.
One area where Green continues to excel is with his passing. Though his assist/turnover ratio is less impressive this year as in the past, watching him facilitate the offense in transition, out of the low post, and even as the team's traditional point guard in half court sets is remarkable. So, too, is his ability to seemingly seamlessly adjust to new personnel. Though Michigan State fields a very inexperienced roster without much initial chemistry, Green, in particular, has an uncanny ability to get his teammates the ball in ideal positions to score. NBA decision makers will like the versatility he displays as a shooter and passer, not to mention his above average ball-handling skills and basketball IQ, considering his potential as a stretch-power forward off the bench.
Unfortunately, Green's defensive deficiencies have become even more pronounced as a senior. At 6'7, he is too small to guard elite post players, and lacks the lateral quickness to defend perimeter players, even face-up power forwards at the NCAA level. While his effort and aggressiveness will never be questioned, it is difficult to project him as an adequate NBA defender at this time.
Still, he continues to be a rebound the ball at an excellent rate, even against top competition as evidenced by his 18-rebound effort against North Carolina's NBA-caliber frontcourt. His 12.1 rebounds per-40 are a career-high, and at just 6'7, he is grabbing 25% of his team's total defensive rebounds. His soft hands and nose for the ball help him here, but his aggressiveness, in particular is on full display on the glass.
When describing Green's potential at the next level, his rebounding, 3-point shooting and elite passing ability are certainly intriguing. He also brings a host of intangibles to the table, however, from his reputation as a good teammate to his consistently high IQ brand of basketball that may make his deficiencies less glaring in a spot-role.
While Green certainly doesn't look the part of an NBA player, there is no doubt that he possesses a variety of skills that at the very least will put him in consideration to be drafted or earn a NBA roster spot.
Chace Stanback, 6'8, Senior, Forward, UNLV
Chace Stanback is not the most glamorous prospect in the senior class, but he has played a major role in the Running Rebels' impressive 12-2 start. Along with fellow UCLA transfer Mike Moser, Stanback has made an impact on both ends of the floor and has come up big in key moments. His 28-point, 10-rebound effort in UNLV's upset of then top-ranked North Carolina was one of his more impressive outings, and while he certainly has some weaknesses as a draft prospect, Stanback has shown intriguing role-player potential on a number of levels so far this season.
While Stanback's numbers may not jump off the page and most of his averages have not changed all that significantly from last season, the senior has been extremely efficient through 14 games. After going 8-9 from three point range in a recent win over Louisiana Monroe, Stanback is shooting over 45% from beyond the arc this season, has knocked down his free throws at a superb 85% rate, and has turned the ball over just 16 times in 367 total minutes, one of the lowest marks among prospects in our database.
The efficiency Stanback shows as a role-player is significant, because he lacks elite NBA physical tools. The Fairfax high school product is not particularly fluid or explosive for a small forward, looking somewhat upright in his stance. Despite those limitations, his aptitude for playing within himself on the offensive end for stretches and ability to use his long arms and adequate lateral quickness to capably defend some forwards at the college level remain interesting.
On the offensive end, Stanback's most significant tool is his catch and shoot jump shot. With some 81% of his total field goal attempts coming in the form of perimeter jumpers according to Synergy Sports Technology, Stanback does a good job setting his feet out on the perimeter, shows a high release point, and seldom attempts a shot out of rhythm. Though he doesn't get great elevation on his release and is at his best when his teammates create open looks for him, he's flashed the ability to take what defenders give him and knock down pull-up jump shots off of one or two dribbles, connecting on a rock solid 51% of his jumpers overall.
Apart from the occasional drive into the midrange to exploit an off-balance defender attempting to close him out, Stanback is a limited shot creator for himself and teammates. He does not have an especially quick first step nor does his ball-handling ability afford him the ability to shake his defender in one-on-one situations. For that reason, Stanback is not a factor for stretches on the offensive end when his teammates are not making plays for him.
While his lack of aggressiveness as a scorer closer to the rim can be perceived as a limitation, from a NBA perspective, his ability to stretch the floor and not force the issue could be viewed positively considering the role he'd likely be asked to play at the next level.
Apart from his jump shooting ability, Stanback is not a terribly dynamic offensive threat, but his ability to play low-mistake basketball is a plus. Showing a nice feel for the game moving without the ball and converting simple plays around the rim, Stanback won't dunk on anyone in traffic or soar above a defender to pull down a rebound, but he is quick to fill open lanes, makes the easy pass, and uses fakes and soft touch to score in the immediate vicinity of the rim. Considering he leads UNLV in scoring, the fact that the senior averages just 1.2 turnovers per-game is indicative of his simple, but efficient offensive skill set.
Defensively, Stanback has had some nice stretches of play since doesn't give up on many possessions, does a decent job rebounding his area, and can disrupt shooters with his length. However, he lacks the lateral quickness to consistently deny penetration against quicker wings and does not have much experience defending the post. He does a terrific job shutting down driving lanes and contesting the shots of comparably athletic players despite getting out of position at times, but can't always compete with aggressive slashers when his motor isn't running hot. He's not a gambler by any means, but in order to compensate for his weaknesses defensively at the next level, he'll need to play a bit more conservatively.
A solid spot-up scorer who has shown flashes of potential defensively, Chace Stanback's jump shooting ability and length give him some merit as a roleplaying three who can stretch the floor for his teammates, not disrupt the flow of an offense, and offer a sound, albeit unspectacular, defensive presence against certain matchups on the wing. At 22 years of age, Stanback doesn't have the upside of other small forwards in this draft, but if he continues shooting the ball at a high level, stays out of trouble off the court, and gets dialed in during UNLV's tournament run, the Portsmouth Invitaitonal Tournament candidate could garner some attention next spring or in NBA training camp.