NBA Draft Stock Report (1/20/11)

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jajuan johnson purdue

Did you see JaJuan Johnson‘s game-winning shot to help Purdue avoid being upset by Penn State?  Johnson has come up huge this season and I have even heard one radio talk show host compare him to a poor-man’s Kevin Durant.  Regardless of how asinine that may seem, Johnson has improved his all around game and his draft stock has never been higher.

The NBA Draft Stock Report checks in on which players have made a name for themselves in the past week; either helping or hurting their future draft position.  Click here for The Sports Bank’s 2011 NBA Mock Draft.

By: David Kay
BUY:
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue, Sr.

Here is a player who stayed in school, continually worked on his all-around game, and has improved in so many different areas.  He has extended the range on his jump shot out to the three-point line (as seen by his game-winning 18-footer Wednesday against Penn State) and seems more comfortable playing with his back to the basket.  Johnson is long and athletic but his lack of strength will be his biggest challenge when making the transition to the NBA.  Right now, I think he is a safe bet to get selected in the late first round but that could change depending on the number of underclassmen who declare for the draft.

Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State, Soph.

I have been really impressed the times I have seen him play this season.  Leonard is far from a finished product but there are a number of things you have to like about this kid’s game; his athleticism, activeness on both ends, ability to rebound.  He had 15 points, 17 boards against UNLV, 19-15 at New Mexico, and a modest 10-10 versus Air Force.  If he can show a more consistent outside jumper, it is realistic that he could be a late lottery pick especially as he continues to get more exposure playing for the unbeaten Aztecs.

Jordan Hamilton, SG/SF, Texas, Soph.

I am really starting to be a believer in Hamilton.  We all knew that he was a gifted scorer entering the season but he had some things to work on this year and that is exactly what he has done.  His shot selection is much better as he is shooting 42.3% from three and Hamilton is starting to show more effort in other areas of the game besides just shooting the basketball.  I think he has a legitimate shot at being a lottery pick especially with a weak crop of true shooting guards in the 2011 class.

Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn, Fr.
Napier impresses me more and more every time I watch a UConn game.  He is a tenacious on-the-ball defender and shows great poise and vision for a young point guard when running the show.  There is no threat of him making the jump to the league, but once he takes the reins from Kemba Walker, I think there is great potential and the possibility of him being a mid-first round pick down the road seems likely.

SELL:
mason plumlee dukeMason Plumlee, PF, Duke, Soph
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I know he is long and athletic for a 6-10 player, but it kind of blows my mind when I see him projected as a lottery pick this summer.  Potential is a dangerous tool especially in the eyes of NBA GM’s, but Plumlee is nowhere near being ready for the next level.

He provides absolutely zero inside presence on the offensive end, will not be able to bang down low with NBA bigs, and does not possess the perimeter game to play the three.  The middle Plumlee does rebound the ball well at the college level and block shots due to that aforementioned length and athleticism (like we saw Wednesday night against N.C. State), but this kid has scored five points or fewer in eight of his last ten games.  I know he plays on a loaded team but I expect a lottery prospect to get his as well on any team.  Barring a major improvement between now and the end of the season, I would really be shocked if he turned pro.

Jacob Pullen, G, Kansas State, Sr.

Due to a number of reasons, Pullen has taken a step back this season as his Wildcat team has really struggled early on.  At the beginning of the season, I felt that Pullen could have late first round potential if he took ownership of the point guard position at K-State; something he has failed to do.  His outside shot has been far more inconsistent this season as opposed to a year ago and being just six-foot tall might be too big of an obstacle for him to overcome at the next level if he cannot run the point.  Right now, he is in serious jeopardy of possibly going undrafted.

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and  is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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