NCAA Weekly Performers -- 1/10/2007, Part Two

NCAA Weekly Performers -- 1/10/2007, Part Two
Jan 11, 2007, 01:00 am
Continuing with part two of our NCAA Weekly Performers, we take a look at three freshman in Chase Budinger, Javaris Crittenton and Greg Oden, as well as one junior in Richard Roby.

NCAA Weekly Performers -- 1/9/2007, Part One

Chase Budinger, 6’7, SG/SF, Freshman, Arizona
Vs. Washington: 23 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, 7-12 FG, 6-8 FT, 3-5 3PT


Joseph Treutlein

Chase Budinger had a very strong showing against Washington earlier this week, showing off his versatile game while helping Arizona defeat its Pac-10 foe in a very exciting match-up. Budinger did a little bit of everything in the contest, but was looking his best stroking the outside shot, hitting three 3-pointers on the night. Budinger has excellent shooting form and a lightning-quick release, which makes him very deadly spotting up from behind the arc.

Budinger doesn’t possess much of a dribble-drive game at this stage of his development, but in Arizona’s quick passing offense, he gets some opportunities to take his man off the dribble when his defender doesn’t 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 team’s offense. When he doesn’t have the ball, he’s 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 doesn’t 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 that’s something he can work on with time. Budinger would have a good chance of being a lottery pick if he declared this year, though there’s 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


Jonathan Givony

Although we wrote about him at the beginning of the season following the Maui Invitational, it might be time for a short update on Javaris Crittenton considering how intriguing of a prospect he is and the lack of depth this draft possesses at the point guard position. Standing 6-5 and possessing terrific athleticism and instincts for his position, there are few point guards in the NCAA that you can say have more natural tools that the NBA looks for.

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. He’s 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. He’s got plenty of herky-jerkiness to his game, and once he’s 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. He’s been very dominant with his ball-handling so far (in the sense that he’s constantly dribbling) and therefore fairly turnover prone as well, but he’s starting to settle down a bit lately to a certain extent.

At times you’ll 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. He’s 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. It’s something you don’t see him use at all as he’s 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 he’s only attempted about 2.7 per game and never really against good competition. We’ll 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, it’s hard to find a point guard in college basketball with more NBA upside than Crittenton. Should he decide to enter the draft, he’ll probably end up as a first round pick if he takes care of his business the way you’d expect him to. At the same time, he’s still very much a raw prospect who needs as much high level playing time and experience as he can get before he’d be ready to contribute anything at the NBA level. For that reason, another year in college is imperative for his development, and it really wouldn’t 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 he’s ready to enter the NBA as a legit backup point guard rather than as a long-term project.

Richard Roby, 6’6, Junior, SG Colorado
Vs. Texas: 30 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 10-19 FG, 5-9 3PT, 5-5 FT


Rodger Bohn

Colorado’s Richard Roby put together his most promising performance of the season versus Texas, giving draft fans a glimpse of the player he has the potential to become, when not hoisting questionable shot after questionable shot on a consistent basis. He showed off his ability to create for others, which has been problematic for him thus far this season due to his lackluster offensive teammates and shaky shot-selection.

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 Roby’s 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 Roby’s last year at Colorado, largely due to coach Ricardo Patton’s 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


Jonathan Givony

For people who actually watched him play in high school, rather than blindly thinking he’s already an offensive superstar due to the tremendous amount of hype he received coming in to college, it isn’t actually a huge surprise to see Oden struggling offensively the way he has as of late.

Beyond his injured wrist, which has further hampered his already lackluster offensive ability, Oden just isn’t a very polished player at this point in his career. He looks very mechanical going to work with his back to the basket, and doesn’t 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 it’s 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 he’s struggled thus far to establish a real role for himself within Ohio State’s 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, he’s still a long ways away from being a capable first or second option on a good NCAA team, but that doesn’t mean that that’s not going to come and in a big way as he continues to develop over the next few seasons, which is why he’s 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. He’s 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, he’s 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. It’s truly a joy to watch a player like Oden find his way in college basketball, and it’s going to be even more fun to track his progress over the next three months or so.

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