Thursday, June 2, 2011

2 comments A List of Players With "Major Red Flags" From Bleacher Report

Kyle Vassalo, who writes for Bleacher Report, has a list of the Top 10 prospects with red flags, not just red flags but MAJOR ref flags, in the 2011 NBA Draft. Kyle is one of the estimated 35 writers for Bleacher Report who currently have articles up about the NBA Draft and which players will bust. Apparently the Bleacher Report editors call a meeting and immediately demand 40 or 50 writers to write a variation of the exact same article.

Naturally, like any good Bleacher Report article it is a list of the Top 10 players with MAJOR red flags and you have to click on a separate page for each entry on the list. Because pageviews, not great content, is what Bleacher Report seems to aim for.

Let's find out first what a major red flag really is...

Every NBA draft produces a number of players who fizzle. In hindsight, most of them had glaring red flags prior to being drafted.

What kind of glaring red flags did these players have I wonder? Too bad, we get no examples of past player's red flags, which would be helpful to understand the context with which this article is being written.

What constitutes a red flag? It could be a nagging injury, potential holes in his game

"Potential holes in his game?" So basically, if a player doesn't come into the NBA Draft with an all-around game that has no potential holes, that's a huge major red flag. So essentially, every prospect that has ever come to the NBA has a major red flag. You want examples? Let me show you...

Check out this scouting report on Derrick Rose. His weaknesses are described as (and therefore potential holes in his game) are his mid-range game, his lack of interest in defense, his overall perimeter shooting and the fact he could play out of control at times. I guess retrospect says these weren't huge red flags, but a point guard with questionable decision-making, lack of ability to shoot from outside, and a liability on defense doesn't seem to be that enticing to a team. Despite the odds against him ever succeeding, Rose was taken #1 overall and won the MVP award this year.

Let's check out Dwyane Wade's major red flags before he came to the NBA:

Cons: The big dig on Wade is that he is perceived to be too small to play shooting guard and might not have the ball-handling skills to run an NBA offence. Still needs to work on his jump shot and must improve behind the NBA three-point arc.

So Wade is a tweener who doesn't shoot a jump shot well enough nor is he tall enough to be a shooting guard, while he doesn't run the point well enough to be a point guard? Sounds like this guy has some MAJOR red flags! We all know now this was bullshit and Wade is one of the NBA's best players. An NBA prospect tweener with a questionable jump shot is a guy who may have major red flags in the mind of Kyle Vassalo, as we will see in a minute.

My point is you can pick nearly any NBA prospect, find one thing wrong with that prospect and then call that a major red flag. Kevin Durant is too skinny and may not be able to handle the NBA grind. Dwight Howard has very few post moves and doesn't shoot foul shots well. You can do it for any player. A red flag isn't just a weakness in a player's game, because every player has weaknesses coming out of college.

or character concerns, among other issues.

That's my issue, what are "other issues?" Any small issue can be blown up into a huge issue when discussing an NBA prospect. A red flag should be an issue a player has, whether it be personal or on-the-court, that player has shown that could impact his ability in the NBA. Every player has red flags, but a MAJOR red flag should be something a team should look at has having a high probability of affecting the player's NBA career. They are generally something that is out of the NBA team's control.

I feel like Kyle went to Bleacher Report with a list of 5 players with red flags, but they wanted more pageviews in their slideshow, so they made him increase it to 10 players.

Let's take a look at 10 players in the draft who could be throwing up some major red flags prior to draft day.

I also like how the article is not only given no context, but there are no suggestions given. So Kyrie Irving has an injury red flag. Does that mean Kyle Vassalo thinks he shouldn't go #1 overall? He should fall to the middle of the 1st round? Saying a player has no red flags, giving us no other players in the past who had red flags for context, and then not saying how the red flag should impact that player's draft position doesn't bode well for a well-written article.

Let's begin the slideshow!

Kyrie Irving:

We could be looking at the second coming of Chris Paul. We might be looking at another number one pick with Greg Oden injury issues.

His injuries aren't expected to follow him to the next level, but how many guys have injury concerns in college and remain healthy at the next level?

How many players have one major (arguably) injury in college and remain healthy at the next level? How about how many players have zero injuries in college and don't remain healthy at the next level? I can't decide if this is a rhetorical question or Vassalo is actually asking the reader to provide him this information...because he sure as hell doesn't take time off from doing a slideshow to provide us with a single example.

Injuries for a player can be a major red flag. If only we had a way of seeing how Irving performed after he came back from the injury to see if he could perform well and stay healthy...wait, we do because he came back and played three games in the NCAA Tournament.

Against Hampton: 20 minutes, 14 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers and 2 steals.
Against Michigan: 21 minutes, 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, and 1 steal.
Against Arizona: 31 minutes, 28 points, 0 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, and 1 steal.

So coming back from his injury in the exact same season he experienced the injury, Irving seemed to have no problem scoring or playing at a high level. So should his toe injury really be a major red flag? Probably not.

His disappearance from the Duke lineup and sudden return in the tournament threw off the schematics of the team.

Which was obviously entirely his fault that he worked hard enough to rehab his toe and try to come back, rather than sit out the entire season. Irving's work ethic to make it back is probably considered a major red flag by Vassalo as well because Duke didn't win the National Championship, with the sole reason for this not occurring is the addition of Kyrie Irving back into the lineup.

Bismack Biyombo:

Bismack Biyombo might be the most athletic player in the draft.

He's raw, though, and nobody has seen a whole lot of him.

So Biyombo's red flag is that nobody has seen a whole lot of him. Apparently our ignorance about Biyombo and his skill set means his level of play may not be high enough to make it in the NBA. I can buy that he is raw and that's a red flag, but I can't buy a red flag is that we haven't seen him play much. So go watch him play. The red flag is now fixed.

Some mocks have him going as high as sixth, but teams should proceed with caution.

(closes eyes and refuses to watch Biyombo play) Because no one knows anything about him and it is his fault! Teams can't just scout players. Do you think there are just magical boxes that show Biyombo's games or highlights?

Jonas Valanciunas:

Jonas Valanciunas may have problems getting out of his contract with Lietuvos Rytas. Whoever decides to go after Valanciunas is going to have to do their research and figure out exactly what the stipulations are.

This isn't a really a red flag because it has nothing to do with his skills or how they would translate to the NBA. Teams can do research (as suggested) and figure it out.

Wasting a draft pick on a Euro player who doesn't come to the NBA, regardless of how talented, can set a team back years. Ask the TWolves.

Right, because the fact Ricky Rubio hasn't come to the United States to play is the single event that has set the Timberwolves back years. What a simplistic and convenient way of trying to prove your point. Everything would be coming up roses for the Timberwolves if they only had gotten that Euro player to play for them. Rubio's refusal to come to the United States to play for the Timberwolves is a single wave in the tide of problems for them.

Alec Burks:

Alec Burks is a shooting guard whose biggest flaw is that he has problems shooting the ball.

He shot 46.9% from the field this past year. He shot 53.8% from the field the year before that.
He shot 29.2% from three-point range this year. He shot 35.2% from the field the year before that. So it seems like Burks' three-point shooting needs help, but he either (a) gets to the basket effectively or (b) has a good mid-range game. Both skills could translate well to the NBA.

Yes, Burks isn't a great outside shooter. Dwyane Wade shot 50.1% from the field and 31.8% from three-point range his last year at Marquette. I'm not comparing Burks to Wade, just simply saying picking out one problem in a player's game doesn't constitute a major red flag.

Having a two guard with a limited range is dangerous. Penetrating guards like Dwyane Wade are lethal, but without a consistent mid-range jumper, he could tank at the next level.

This is exactly the type of player Dwyane Wade was coming out of college, a guy with an inconsistent three-point shot who could get to the basket. Sure, he is now a penetrating guard that is lethal, but coming out of college there were questions about his outside shot. This is why calling Burks' outside shot a major red flag may be an exaggeration, because Vassalo is using another guard who had an inconsistent outside shot coming out of college as a comparison to Burks. The same major red flag could have applied to the now "lethal" Dwyane Wade.

Jimmer Fredette:

There is a lot to like about Jimmer Fredette.

He's also a useless defender and if his shots don't hit, he has no off switch.

A lot of these major red flags depend on your expectations for a player. If a team drafts Jimmer Fredette as the 6th/7th guy off the bench who can score then this "major" red flag doesn't matter at all. Jason Terry can also be a fairly useless defender at times and he has found a place in the NBA, as have many other players who can shoot, but are liabilities on defense.

Fredette has more skills than the average pure shooter, but he still carries the same red flags that Adam Morrison did when he came out.

If by "same red flags" you mean "they are comparable in very few ways," then this is a true statement. Adam Morrison was a small forward who could score and played questionable defense. Jimmer Fredette is a point guard who can score and plays questionable defense. Other than that, they are completely different players. Fredette is a much better athlete than Adam Morrison is, has fewer health issues, and because he plays a different position his defensive and offensive responsibilities are different from what Morrison's were in the NBA. I guess if the same red flags means there are questions about both player's defense then that would be accurate, but the comparison should probably stop there.

Josh Selby:

If there is a player in the draft who can do to much, he's it. Solid defender, unlimited tools, but he doesn't have Kobe Bryant's stroke and he tries to emulate the way he takes over the game.

The major red flag on Josh Selby is that he isn't as good as Kobe Bryant.

He can be selfish, which obviously doesn't bode well for his position.

He's a shooting guard by the way. Not a point guard. Any team that drafts him should play him at shooting guard. So being selfish isn't an overly terrible trait in a shooting guard.

He's not necessarily a "look at me" sort of O.J. Mayo guy; he's just a competitor.

I have no idea what this means, but it apparently is a major red flag of sorts.

This leads me to another question. Kyle Vassalo is now starting to list guys with major red flags that are looked at being drafted somewhere near the end of the first round or close to the second round. These perceived red flags or issues teams may have with a player in many cases are the reason why the player is going to be taken at this point. I guess what I am saying is it becomes a bit obvious to list players taken close to the second round as having red flags, since these players would go higher if they didn't have these red flags. They aren't even really red flags, but perceived flaws in their game.

Also, I think the biggest red flag with Josh Selby is not that he is selfish or the way he tries to take over the game, but how he did not fit in well in Bill Self's structured system at Kansas. Selby seems to need a more free-flowing flexible system and he adjusted poorly to the improved defense at the college level. So the red flag about Selby is that he seems to struggle to fit into a structured offense within the team, so if he gets drafted by a team that wants him to run the point guard in a structured offense he could possibly fail.

Tobias Harris:

Tobias Harris is a tweener. Is he a 3? Is he a 4? He's got the ball skills to be a 3, but he rebounds like a 4. It's good to be able to play multiple positions. The more versatile a player is, the harder he can be to guard.

Versatility is a major red flag. I hate it when players rebound like a power forward and have the ball skills to be a small forward. These type guys are always making things more difficult by giving the head coach more options in a game.

The problem is that Harris could get caught up in the middle.

That's it. That is the entire reasoning given for why Tobias Harris has a major red flag due to being a tweener. The least Vassalo could have done is copy and paste part of a scouting report that says this exact same thing.

He's got a ton of upside and could pose matchup problems, but he could get lost in the mix.

The mix of what? I'm not saying Harris isn't a tweener, but depending on where many of these players are drafted, many of them could get caught up in the mix. I guess if a person calls being a tweener a major red flag, I look for more information than vague indications a player could "get lost in the mix."

Darrius Morris is a huge point guard. He's got the size, he can stroke the basketball and he is a solid defender. He has everything you would ever want in a point guard, most of the time at least.

Darrius Morris is a borderline first round pick. So his red flag is that he isn't a complete point guard, which if he were, would make him a lottery pick of course.

He goes missing at other times. He's one-dimensional and fails to make an impact at times. Morris could make a huge splash as a sleeper pick in this year's point guard–laden draft, but his inconsistency issues might make him struggle.

Still a little vague, but overall not a bad analysis of Morris. I still don't know if the fact Morris is inconsistent is a major red flag. He is only 20 years old.

Jordan Williams:

At 6'10", he doesn't have the length to camp out in the paint. He's got to be able to run the floor and quite frankly, he can't.

Williams is 250 pounds. He excelled in college at camping out in the paint and rebounding. I guess if you are only look at length as how a post player succeeds in the NBA then this would be a problem. Fortunately, most rational people know there is more to playing in the paint and rebounding than just having length. If that were true, Charles Barkley wouldn't have been a good NBA player and Hasheem Thabeet would be a 2-time All-Star.

Williams is one of those guys who won't be on the floor for extended periods of time. He's great at hauling in rebounds, but he's far more likely to be a bench role player on a good team than the next star center.

Again, Williams is a projected late first round or early second round pick. He's not being drafted to be the next All-Star center, he would be drafted for a bench role. So the fact he isn't an All-Star is not a red flag. Apparently to Kyle Vassalo any prospect that doesn't project to being an All-Star has a major red flag.

Jon Leuer:

Jon Leuer is a huge forward. He can pass very well for a big man. He has great ball skills for his size and knows how to operate on the perimeter. He has a lot of the traits you look for in a shooting guard, he was simply born in the wrong body.

So he has shooting guard skills in a power forward's body? What NBA team would be interested in a player like this? This could create matchup problems for the opposing team when he is on the court. Who would want that?

There isn't a line out the door for big men who can shoot and can't rebound.

But as a bench guy he is valuable, correct, because he has the skills of a shooting guard? Or is that a red flag?

I am also not sure where the idea that he can't rebound comes from. Leuer isn't as aggressive on the glass as he should be, but he did average 7.2 rebounds per game this year and nearly a block a game. He averaged 1.67 offensive rebounds per game as well. Some of that may be attributable to his height, but he can rebound. It's not his overwhelming strength, but he doesn't do poorly on the glass considering he is more of a finesse-type player.

There comes a time when your front court has to step up and own the paint.

As a starter late in a game this is true. Leuer doesn't necessarily project as a starter in the NBA, so he probably won't be on the court when the front court needs to step up and own the paint.

Again, we can't work under the assumption all of these NBA prospects are going to be starters. So knowing this, these "major red flags" turn out to just be weaknesses in a player's game and not really a red flag that could cause the player to completely bust.

There were 12 pages to this slideshow and when you go to Page 12 of the slideshow it takes you immediately to the next article. Oh Bleacher thrill me in your weak and transparent attempts at increasing pageviews. If an slideshow says it is 12 slides long, then that 12th slide should be a part of that slideshow and not the first slide of the next slideshow. That's just cheap. Of course, what else should I expect from Bleacher Report?


Pat said...

Bismack Biyombo:

Bismack Biyombo might be the most athletic player in the draft.

He's raw, though, and nobody has seen a whole lot of him.

Couldn't you just go back to the 2008 draft and replace Bismack Biyombo with Serge Ibaka? And in a draft like this wouldn't a highly athletic, but raw, big man who can run the court and play defense potentially be a good 6th pick. He certainly has a ton of upside.

Bengoodfella said...

Pat, great point. I didn't even think of the Ibaka comparison. Obviously this doesn't mean Biyombo will be like Ibaka, but the fact he is raw or nobody has seen a lot of him isn't a major red flag of his draft status. This problem can be alleviated by watching him play and evaluating him.