Our goal this season is provide year-round draft coverage because of the impressive nature of this draft. With that in mind, Tyler Lashbrook of Orlando Pinstriped Post and I are going to be doing a weekly email chain where we'll discuss specific prospects in the draft, general narratives about the draft, and other tomfoolery pertaining to the selection of players. They'll run every week, alternating between our two sites: Fear The Sword and Orlando Pinstriped Post.
This week, we discussed Joel Embiid of Kansas and Marshall "Tha God" Henderson of Mississippi.
(okay so I just made up that nickname. Roll with it)
Sam: Our primary topic today is going to be Joel Embiid, and within that we're going to have to discuss the development of raw big men generally.
On one hand, Embiid has the look of a surefire first overall pick. He's a legit seven-feet tall with crazy long arms. His post game is remarkably refined for a kid that just started playing basketball three years ago, with excellent touch around the rim and the potential to blossom out to around 15 feet (that three-pointer crap just needs to stop). Even his defense isn't a train wreck for a kid with limited early basketball IQ because of his skill around the rim -- although his offense is definitely ahead at this point.
On the other hand, he struggles to catch the ball from time to time. He looks a bit like Joel Anthony in his comfort level there, and as Anthony has shown being able to catch entry passes and have soft hands is one of the most important skills for development in a big. Because of that he has turnover problems, which are always scary for a big.
What say you?
Tyler: Joel Anthony is a really low basement there, but I know what you're saying. He's a little goofy at times and his hands are so massive that it's almost like he's swallowing the basketball rather than letting it flow natural on his finger tips. But, man, is he polished around the rim. The move here at 1:10 is unfair. Kansas' offensive spacing needs some work, but that's a refined post move and is why he's garnishing Hakeem Olajuwon comparisons.
The Olajuwon comparison is easy to make: The Dream is from Nigeria, Embiid is from Cameroon, a neighboring country; The Dream was new to basketball at Houston, Embiid is too. But I liken Embiid to Roy Hibbert right now. That defensive potential is off the charts and both guys have a tendency to bring the ball low when they catch it in the post.
Neither is too shabby of a comparison, though, which is why people are so excited about him.
Sam: Oh I didn't even mean Anthony as a direct comparison, just as far as what he looks like catching the ball. He has that awkward thing where he tries to grasp at the ball instead of attacking it or letting it come to him. That could simply come along as he continues to develop and increases his hand strength, though.
I actually think that I disagree with you on where Embiid is right now, especially in regards to the Hibbert thing. I think he's way behind defensively compared to his offense. He just doesn't quite yet have the basketball sense of when to rotate. He's still thinking out there instead of it being an automatic reaction. That's what so terrifying about his potential: he's already fantastic protecting the basket. And he looks to have the mobility to become good in pick-and-roll defense. It's just getting it to become a second-nature thing. He may not have the coordination to do so, but then again he just started playing basketball.
We haven't even talked about his rebounding yet, which maybe the craziest part of all of this and where he most diverges from Hibbert. The guy just gobbles rebounds, which is so odd considering I don't think he has the best hands. He has a defensive rebounding rate of nearly 30%, and is averaging 16 per 40 minutes! He's so good at clearing space and using his length to just get way higher than people and come down with the board.
The greater question now becomes: where do you have him on your board? I was low on him to start to season, but I think I was wrong about that. It was mostly due to having now seen him.
Tyler: That's fair. I just think he's aesthetically resembles Hibbert in his size and how he moves around the paint, especially on offense with his jump hooks. It should also be noted that I'm talking about the Hibbert of now, not the Hibbert of Georgetown.
Last week we talked about the three tiers of prospects. In Tier 1, I have Wiggins, Parker Randle. Tier 2 is Smart alone. And Tier 3 is Gordon and Exum. After catching up on Embiid tape, I'll throw him in the third tier.
Tonight will be a tough challenge for him, if he's on the floor against Patric Young from Florida. Young is undersized, but he's a strong, physical pesky defender and will be the best post defender Embiid has seen all year. Let's hope that we get that matchup.
Sam: Hmm that's interesting. I guess in a way he does look like Hibbert. I think he's a bit more agile than Hibbs is, but the rim protection I guess makes sense along with the jump hooks. It's just hard for me to really look at him as Hibbert-like because the way they produce is so different I think.
I'd say I have him in Tier 2 with Randle, Smart, and Gordon (completely excluding Exum because I just haven't seen him enough to make an adequate judgment), and he is pretty much even with Gordon to me now for my #5/6 spot. The foul issues are terrifying (he's averaging 7.8 per 40 minutes), the turnover rate of 20% scares me, but he already has such an effect on the game that it's impossible to ignore. Kansas's offensive rating jumps nearly four points when he's on the floor, and their defensive rating drops by nearly 11 points because of his ability to protect the rim. Those numbers are insane. If his foul rate starts to drop, he's going to be able to stay on the floor more and that's going to lead to an even greater effect on Kansas's ability to win games. He's someone where it's going to take time in the NBA, and not every team might be the right situation for him. But the result down the road could be crazy.
Don't even get me started on Patric Young. He's not actually good at basketball.
Speaking of not being very good at basketball (to throw on my segue hat), let's switch gears to my favorite player in all of the NCAA and the complete and utter antithesis of Embiid: Marshall Henderson. So...uhhh....23 three-point attempts in a single game this weekend. Discuss.
Tyler: MARSHALL! He literally plays EXACTLY like my MyPlayer on 2K. Just create a slow white guy and let him hoist three after three. I don't know if I've ever even shot that many though on a video game. Love or hate him, he's so much fun. He's like the over-confidence meter to the max. Marshall Henderson is like King Joffrey from Game of Thrones. The show is going to be way worse when he's inevitably murderer, or in Marshall's case, when he's gone.
Also: I cover the men's team here at WKU and Marshall is gracing the floor with his presence on December 30th. I should just avoid professionalism, sneak in a flask and get absolutely plastered on press row. On the other hand, I like my gig and maybe I should just give it to Marshall. We could be buddies! This is a real thing!
Sam: Funny thing is that Marshall's not even really slow. He's athletic and has incredible cardio to run off of screens like he does the entire game. Or maybe he's just taking full defensive possessions off to rest. But who cares! Hoist!
If I don't see an image of you at some Western Kentucky pre-NYE bash with Henderson just pounding Coors Light, I will consider this entire sequence to be lost. There's no circumstance where shouldn't just throw professionalism to the wind and just get plastered during the game. You damn well better believe that I just checked to see how far it was from Columbus to Bowling Green, Kentucky. It's unfortunately about 5 hours, meaning I'm not making that trek while home for the holidays. But the thought crossed my mind.
As far as Marshall's NBA prospects, do we think he actually has any? Can he just be a Steve Kerr-like gunner in the NBA? His TS% last season was actually good despite nominally shooting about 40% because he gets to the line. He's just an absolute walking contradiction and I have no idea how to actually evaluate him.
Tyler: Making that five-hour trek might be a brilliant plan. We could see if Marshall wants to go to Nashville! I would love to hang out with Marshall on Broadway. We could make him wear a cowboy hat, buy him shots all night and sing country music like besties. I'm in if you are!
An NBA prospect, I want to say yes so bad (because how funny would that be?), but I can't. I can't. I mean, the NBA doesn't make any sense but Marshall Henderson in the league reaaally doesn't make sense. What I can do, however, is imagine him on the same floor as Kobe Bryant, jacking up shots and leaving the Corpse of Kobe in sooooo much rage. Can we put Kobe on a team with Marshall, Nick Young, JR Smith and Andray Blatche? I want this to happen. *turns on 2K14*
You're talking yourself into this, aren't you?
Sam: You know, last year kind in on it. Then I found out that he's 6'2 in shoes. With a 5'11 wingspan. And with a turnover percentage that is in the top 2 of the SEC this season. Plus he's bat shit crazy. Like, there's just no way, right? There just can't be.
But you know what, he doesn't waste any motion on the floor, can get his quick release shot up over anyone, and can really run off of screens. I don't think there's any chance he can actually play in the NBA or get drafted because he'll never be able to defend anyone, but he's going to play professionally SOMEWHERE. Its such a weird concept. Normally I really buy into those guys that consistently run around screens like he does on the defensive end because those guys are solid defending each other in the NBA. They intrinsically understand where the other guy is going to go. It's why J.J. Redick, Kyle Korver, and Gordon Hayward are solid NBA-level defenders despite middling athleticism and wingspans. But Henderson just starts at too much of a disadvantage with those measurements I think.
I would pay so many dollars to see him on Kobe's team. I would consider buying Lakers' season tickets. That would be the most entertaining thing ever. Kobe would literally develop the capacity for heat vision in order to eviscerate Henderson with a single stare.
Tyler: AND his favorite players are JR Smith and Jamal Crawford? Drink it all. Drink all of the alcohol you can! Drink one for me!
Don't get me wrong: nothing sounds better than watching Henderson run off of David West screens, draining fadeaway threes over Dwyane Wade and giving the choke sign to every crowd in every city. But it's impossible. Life, sometimes, is just a bitch like that.
Sam: And now I'm sad that life is bad and we'll probably never see Henderson in the NBA. Ugh. I guess we'll just have to live with Embiid jump hooks and blocked shots as the take away from this email thread.