ESPN’s John Hollinger recently unveiled some new rankings, evaluating the pro potential of top college stars. Unsurprisingly, both DeVon Hardin and Ryan Anderson were mentioned, as both figure to have NBA futures.
The first thing to note is that Hollinger’s system is NOT a mock draft. He doesn’t account for college freshmen (not enough data) or foreigners who will enter the draft. He also makes no attempts to forecast where certain prospects will be drafted. Rather, it is a mathematical system based on a player’s college stats, age, and height. Players are assigned a score, and anyone rating higher than about 550 is seen as being an impact player worthy of a first-round selection. Scores below 500 are bad news.
If you’re an ESPN Insider, you can read Hollinger’s lengthy article from last year, in which he introduces his system and tests it out by retroactively applying it to the last 5 NBA draft classes. Overall, I’d say it looks pretty good. His system manages to find several draft sleepers over the past 5 years, as well as avoid quite a few NBA Draft busts.
In this year’s rankings, Ryan Anderson comes out looking pretty darn good. Hollinger has him 4th among the players rated (college freshmen are excluded from this list) with a score of 608.03, behind only Arizona’s Chase Budinger, North Carolina’s Ty Lawson, and Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert. Does this mean that Anderson will be a lottery pick this June? Not quite.
ESPN’s Chad Ford has Anderson at only No. 38 on his big board, and while Anderson could certainly play his way into the first round by continuing his "monstrous start this season," he’ll almost certainly suffer when traditional scouts get a look at him. Basically, he doesn’t have the "NBA body" that scouts love. The same scouts that drooled over DeVon Hardin’s long, athletic, muscular body will be unimpressed by Anderson’s relatively unathletic 6′ 10" frame. Their loss. All he does is play basketball. He scores prolifically, both inside and out, he rebounds, he defends, he even passes the ball pretty well. Whenever he turns pro, some team will find a steal near the end of the first round.
Ryan Anderson may not be the world’s greatest athlete, but he’s an awesome *basketball player*.
And what about Hardin? Where does he rate on Hollinger’s system? I don’t know. Hollinger only listed the top 20 prospects, meaning that whatever Hardin’s score is, it’s surely well below 500. Ouch. Here’s what Hollinger had to say:
I know a lot of pro scouts like him, but his college numbers just aren’t good. I’m not sure how else to put this. Hardin’s rebound numbers are better this season, and that will improve his stock some, but he’s still both raw and prone to turnovers.
OK, so not exactly an endorsement. Honestly, though, I’d say that’s a rather sober, accurate assessment of Hardin. Yeah, he’s got value on the defensive end, playing some D, blocking shots and grabbing boards, but his offensive game, despite flashes of decency, has still not emerged. In half of the Bears games this year, he’s had 7 or fewer points, and only 3 times had he hit more than 3 field goals in a game.
And yet, Hardin still checks in at No. 17 on Ford’s big board, with an outside shot at making the lottery. Why? Potential. He’s got all the physical tools to dominate in the NBA, and with players like this, scouts always think that if you could just teach them a little basketball, they could turn into all-stars. I don’t really buy that. It’s one thing to take a raw teenage prospect from Europe and stash them in a developmental league for a few years, but you have to wonder — if Hardin hasn’t figured out how to score by his senior season in college, will he ever get there?
Right now, the results from Haas Pavilion are pretty obvious. Ryan Anderson is unquestionably the best, most valuable player on the team, and I don’t think that it’s that close. When the team is hurting for a bucket, Anderson’s the one guy they can really count on to create his own offense. Hardin, on the other hand, has still struggled to find a rhythm at times, falling victim to foul trouble at others. If the light ever turns on, watch out, but as the season goes on, I’m more and more skeptical that it eventually will.
The game against Utah last Saturday featured one play that really typifies where Hardin is right now. Out playing perimeter defense (which he does surprisingly well for a big man), Hardin uses his 7′ 3" wingspan to tip the ball away from one of Utah’s guards, loping down to court undefended for an easy bucket. He grabs the ball, goes up for the slam…and misses, the ball bouncing wildly off the rim and out of bounds. Utah ball. That’s what we get from DeVon. So much talent, so much potential, but still unpolished. Oh, if only.
Oh, and by the way, Cal ended up losing to Utah by two points. Oh, if only.
Will it go in? With Hardin, one never knows.