Sunday, June 8, 2008

NBA Draft Profile: DA

And so starts the draft profiling. We'll be offering up profiles of at least the three Jayhawks likely to be first round selections and, if time provides, also those hoping to be selected in the second round or sign via free agency. You can also find this post over at the fantastic college basketball blog, Rush the Court, where they are profiling all of the likely top first round selections, with the help of local blogs. Without further ado, the draft profile of Darrell Arthur...

Darrell Arthur is cheater! To all of the NBA GMs reading this: Do not draft him! When he was in high school, his math grade was changed from a D to a C. This is not a guy you want on your team. End of story.

All kidding aside, Darrell Arthur is a lottery pick. Because if he isn’t and DeAndre Jordan is, my head just might blow up. Granted, this would not be Bowie over Jordan or Darko over Carmelo/Bosh, but it would be a travesty. Fortunately, that won’t happen because DA is built for pre draft workouts. He’s 6′9″, 225 pounds, runs better than any big in the game and can jump out of the gym. Long story short, he already has the perfect NBA body and once (if) he adds 10-15 pounds to the frame, he’ll have that too. You throw in the ability to handle the ball, a few good post moves and an unbelievably smooth jumper and you’ve got yourself a workout specimen.

But will it translate to NBA success? The short answer is “yes.” A longer answer is “yes, but not right away.” And the longest answer is the one you’re going to get.

I would be willing to argue that of the big men in this draft, no one outside of Michael Beasley has a better offensive arsenal than Arthur. Unfortunately, one of the big separating points between him and Beasley is that he can’t really create off the dribble. As you may know, Beasley can. As you may also know, in the 1-on-1 age of the NBA this could be an issue. But then again, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand and David West aren’t making their millions by taking people off the dribble, either. Now, Arthur is not and will never be Tim Duncan. But Elton Brand isn’t out of reach and with a little work in the weight room, he can easily be David West. Chicago and Miami are probably looking to get more out of their picks but I can’t imagine too many other teams being very disappointed if they select a player who in his fourth year is named to the all star team, averages 21/9 and is the second best player on a team that finishes second in a stacked conference.

For any of that to happen, though, Arthur is going to have to make a commitment. As previously mentioned, he is going to have to add some muscle to his body. And with this added strength, he needs to develop an added emphasis on rebounding. For a guy with his size and athletic ability to only average 6 rebounds a game in college is unfathomable. Not only are the rebounds important but with his prowess around the basket, if he can find a way to start grabbing a couple on the offensive end, he would see a noticeable spike in his point production as well. Arthur is good offensively, but he isn’t good enough to outweigh being a rebounding liability at the power forward position. If he wants to crack a starting lineup, he needs to figure out a way to start pulling down 8 per game.

As alluded to earlier, the only real “weakness” in Arthur’s offensive game is his inability to make something happen off the dribble. But at power forward, that’s really more of a bonus rather than a necessity. The issue I have with him on this end of the court is his approach. This could partially be tied into his adding strength and focus on rebounding, but from a macro perspective, he just needs to look for more ways to score. As he plays now, he receives the ball on the block or the elbow and shoots either a jumper or a fadeaway. He’s incredibly good at both of these shots so he is able to score 13 points a game on a very balanced team. I’m not telling him to go out on the perimeter and look to stretch his range, but rather to make harder cuts or more importantly set some high elbow screens on which he can pick and pop. With as well as he runs the floor, if he expands his offensive game by also picking up some easy points on cuts and tip-ins, he could find himself at 20 points pretty regularly.

The one aspect of his game that I haven’t really mentioned is his defense. That’s partly because I’m not really sure how good he is or can be on that end of the court. And I’m having an especially hard time figuring out how well it will translate to the NBA. On the one hand, he has great instincts, long arms, a great vertical and he slides his feet as well or better than any other big man in the draft (possible exception of Mbah a Moute). But in spite of all those attributes, he consistently found himself in some foul trouble and was nothing more than a solid defender. If I had to guess, that’s what I would figure he’ll amount to at the next level as well – he’ll make some plays and he won’t be a true liability, but he’ll get scored on by the bigger forwards.

As you likely assumed before you even read a word of this, I’m high on Arthur’s NBA potential. And certainly there is a level of bias in that assumption. But more than that, I just feel like he’s at his best when he’s playing against the best. Look at his 20/10 against Memphis or during the regular season when he scored 20, 22, & 16 against Arizona, Texas & Texas again. If that’s not enough, look back to last year when in only his 6th game and in only 16 minutes he put up 19/9 in leading Kansas past the defending and eventual National Champion Florida Gators. It’s also worth noting that in that game he went up against two top 10 picks in Horford (9/8 ) and Noah (17/4), a second round pick in Chris Richard (2/5) and that Mareese Speights played 2 minutes, picking up 2 offensive boards and a foul while missing a shot. Darrell Arthur is ready to contribute now and when (if) he puts on some more muscle, he has every capability to be a major impact player.

Out of Chad Ford’s Top 15, with no regard to team need and simply by the requisite of ‘best player,” I’d put Arthur in the second tier…

Tier 1: Bayless, Beasley, Love, Mayo, Rose
Tier 2: Augustin, Arthur, Gordon, Lopez, Westbrook
Tier 3: Galinari, Greene, Jordan, Randolph, Speights

And personally, if it was me, I’d be more inclined to take Alexander, Rush, or even Koufos before most of those last five. But I digress. So like I said earlier, Darrell Arthur has every opportunity to succeed in the NBA. And now you know the long version of why I think that way. Just like in Algebra class, you’ve got to show your work.


Anonymous said...

"Elton Brand isn’t out of reach and with a little work in the weight room, he can easily be David West"

Hold on... Elton Brand < David West? Also, since when is a skinny 6'8/6'9 a "big man"? There are guards (LeBron comes to mind) that are 6'8.

You're entirely correct that in this '08 weak draft, DA will be a lottery pick. Successful in the association? I have my doubts about each of the "automatic" lottery picks this year. This draft is horrendous. Being a Bulls fan, I'm not thrilled with our choices.

Hiphopopotamus said...

First, by that quote I was saying Elton Brand > David West. That's why he can easily be West and if he were to get that good, he could conceivably be Elton Brand as well.

But secondly, and more importantly, if you don't think this is a good draft, I have to think you're taking crazy pills. In the days of one and done type players, I don't think you're going to have too many drafts that stack up nearly as well as this one. It's hard for me to accept Brook Lopez as a possible top 5 pick and it would be pretty tough for me to pull the trigger on either Jordan or Randolph with one as well, but this draft is both solid and deep.

As for your Bulls, if you're not happy with having the choice of Beasley and Rose, I think you set the bar a bit too high in '84.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, a player that is immature and 6'8 OR a freshman guard at a position that the Bulls have an over abundance of. I'm not thrilled on how we're about to fuck this up. There isn't a star in this draft or an automatic #1. Deep draft? Yes. Russell Westbrook as a top 8? Ouch. Some team will brush off a diamond in the rough, but for the most part, this draft will be role players. Take it as you want, but in my opinion, OJ Mayo is probably the most talented player in this draft. Lots of problems though, which is a little un-nerving. The #18 pick could easily be comparable to a top five pick in this draft because there is a lot of parity in players.

And with you Brand/West comparison, you made it sound like without a lot of work Arthur could be Brand OR with weight room work, he would be David West. Now you see what I was thinking. I'd agree Brand > West.

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