By LARRY VAUGHT
Ed Isaacson is learning to appreciate more how Kentucky coach John Calipari has put the Wildcats in position to win annually despite have a roster that continually turns over. “What he does is develop the mental attitude the guys need to be NBA players,” said Isaacson, a NBA scout/analyst who operates NBADraftBlog.com and is a NBA contributor for SLAM online.
He shared his views on the current Cats and what might lie ahead for them in terms of the NBA draft.
Question: What have you liked best about Nerlens Noel? Any way he’s not a top five pick and could he possibly be even the No. 1 pick?
Isaacson: “Noel’s raw defensive ability is some of the best I have seen in a long time. Obviously he uses his length well to not only block shots, but to get his hands in passing lanes and disrupt post moves. He still needs to learn how to play solid defense with his feet, but he is ahead of the curve. He is active and you can see the consistent effort on the court, both very important from a young player. He could easily drop out of the top five solely because his offense isn’t even college-ready, let alone close to NBA standards, and teams have been burned by picking one-dimensional players too high. I don’t see that happening though, and depending on who gets the No. 1 pick, he could play his way into that conversation in the next few months.”
Question: With the way Alex Poythress stock has dropped in most mock drafts, how do you evaluate his play and what will scouts be looking most to see from him if he wants to be a lottery pick? Any way he would drop out of first round?
Isaacson: “After Poythress’ strong start to the season, he really hasn’t shown much on the court. Because of his high profile, all of his mistakes are magnified, and what could possibly be passed of as ‘freshman mistakes’ is overexamined. There are some major concerns though from an NBA perspective. He doesn’t have a great feel for the game. He is athletic and can make some plays, but he just isn’t a smart player. It’s almost like he doesn’t realize that this isn’t high school and he isn’t going to outrun and outjump everyone, and he hasn’t adjusted. The tools are there, he just needs to figure it out – which can be tough, because he simultaneously has to be improving. I still wouldn’t see him dropping past the middle of the first round, and there is as good a chance we are talking lottery again in April. He has time to get it together.”
MONDAY: Isaacson on Willie-Cauley Stein and Archie Goodwin.