College, NBA / Nov 14, 2011 / 3:00 pm

Finding The Perfect NBA Teams For The Top 10 College Prospects

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers (photo. McDonald's All American Game)

You can’t not enjoy March Madness. Games all day long. Upsets. Bracketology. Skipping classes to see Indiana State and Oakland. Considering yourself an expert on Belmont because you watched their conference championship for about eight minutes. It doesn’t eclipse the NBA playoffs for me as far as enjoyment, but it definitely has it’s share of Shining Moments. Take away brackets and polls, and the main reason why I watch the field is to find the future pros, the guys who’ll be All-Stars down the road, the different makers, the next Taj Gibson, the next Jared Jeffries (more fun than you might realize). March will reveal sleepers who turn out to be busts. It’ll reveal nobodies who get their first glimpse of the big time. Frauds will emerge. Stars will develop.

This year, that aspect should be better than ever… or at least ever since players started skipping college for the NBA. While last year’s draft was an exercise in “Why should I care?” this year’s is loaded. It’s going to have big men, post-up players, athletes, point guards, wing scorers – it’s going to be littered with difference-makers. But as we’ve come to see with much of the NBA, even the most talented need to find the right situation to prosper.

With college basketball tipping off, and tonight being the first real Big Monday of the season, here are my top 10 college prospects and where I hope they end up.


10. Austin Rivers
At this point with a kid who’s been hyped non-stop for the past two years, I think I have a pretty good idea of what Rivers will become in the NBA: a two guard who will excel offensively for a team that needs a player with his cockiness (I say that in a good way) and ball skills. He may not ever develop into an All-Star, but I’m almost positive he’ll be averaging 16-18 points a night pretty soon.
BEST FIT: Toronto
The Raptors have a few decent offensive backcourt parts, and I think DeMar DeRozan is developing into one of the more overlooked young players in the game. But they don’t have a single guard who can create shots off the dribble. Jose Calderon is a conventional lead guard. Leandro Barbosa isn’t a player you can go to consistently with the shot clock running down. And DeRozan is much more comfortable playing 17 feet and in. They need someone like Rivers (They could also use a point guard like Marquis Teague, who will probably prove at Kentucky this season that he’s Rivers’ equal).

9. Quincy Miller
I’ve been so up and down on Miller’s potential. Sometimes I can’t help but be intrigued by his feel for the game. But often he doesn’t look like a top 10 prospect, and can get lost in the shuffle. He’s had his issues with injuries and people questioning his brash attitude. Now, Miller’s come out of it all to play on basically an NBA pre-draft team in Baylor, where everyone there seems to be in the same situation: young, raw athletes looking to find their way into the lottery.
BEST FIT: Phoenix
Remember the last versatile wingman who could play inside and out, and had a really weird looking shot? Steve Nash helped turn him into one of the best players in the world. Miller isn’t the athlete the Matrix was, but he can handle and finish. Defensively, there’s no comparison. But the Suns could use a younger wing player. Miller wants to be great. He wants to learn. He says he’s spending this whole year in Baylor working to improve his J. If Grant Hill is still in Phoenix by next year, I can’t help think of a better tutor for this kid.

8. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
At the start of his junior year at St. Patrick’s, Kidd-Gilchrist was being called the best player in the country, regardless of class. I saw him play Findlay Prep that season when the two teams were ranked No. 1 and 2. It might’ve been the best high school game all season and pitted four future pros against each other: MKG, Kyrie Irving, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson. I came away thinking there was a limit to MKG’s potential that would probably keep him from ever being an All-Star. At the same time, he had the look of someone who would one day become a third option/defensive stopper on a championship contender.
BEST FIT: Sacramento
The Kings have kings in Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. Jimmer Fredette is going to need shots as well. Offensively, Sacramento has incredible individual talent. It’s young, but it’s there. Kidd-Gilchrist competes harder than anyone else on this list. He’ll be happy scoring five points or 20, and I think he’s smart enough to fit in wherever he goes. Out in California’s capital, he’d endure himself to teammates and fans for doing everything Evans and Cousins don’t.

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  • EvanZ

    Every team can use Drummond or Davis.

  • world

    Your wrong On MKG potential limit…dead wrong.

  • the truth

    Great list but i agree about MKG…watched him play his first 3 games at UK and i was expecting pure hard work and athleticism. He showed a huge display of offensive moves from off the dribble, in the low and high post and off the ball. Dude can flat out play and works his ass off.

  • matt

    Raptors need Harrison Barnes. Rivers is a SG (We already have DeRozan). If Rivers could play the 1 that would be perfect but he can’t. Also, at the 1, the raps have some1 no one ever thinks about, Jerryd Bayless, he is a solid starter but is just ok off the bench. As a starter Bayless averaged 18 pts + 7 assists/game. Which is pretty solid, better than Jennings – most overrated player in the NBA.

  • Sam

    The only positive thing I could possibly take out of the lock-out as a Net fan is that we might actually wind up with Davis.

    He has the potential to be an elite power forward-center hybrid in the mold of Duncan/Garnett. Those are what I like to call ANCHOR guys, big men that change the game for their team both on offense and defense. A combo of Williams and Davis would make the Nets one of the NBA’s elite teams in just a few seasons.

  • Sws20

    My boy t jones doesn’t get any love??? What’s up with that?

  • IDOT

    I could actually see Rivers play in Detroit, Cleveland, or N.O.

  • ctkennedy

    No LebryanNash he will be a better pro than Rivers

  • baloogawhales

    I know it’s early but Drummond hasn’t done anything to get the number one spot on this list. Watched him play today and he is huge, no doubt about that, but what are his other skillsets? He does have soft hands and his second jump is lightning quick, but have yet to see an offensive go to move.

  • baloogawhales

    I know it’s early but Drummond hasn’t done anything to get the number one spot on this list. Watched him play today and he is huge, no doubt about that, but what are his other skillsets? He does have soft hands and his second jump is lightning quick, but have yet to see an offensive go to move. maybe i’m too quick to judge…we shall see.

  • http://www.psychodrama.com Chicagorilla

    Drummond #1? The guy can’t even start at UConn, but you think he’ll start in the NBA? I’m not saying he’s a scrub, but he’s no more than Deandre Jordan right now (in every way). If Drummond can learn some moves in the post and learn to use his size, not just his hops, he’ll be dominant. He and many of the other kids on this list, will need two to three years of college ball to let themselves develope an actual game/skill set.

    Anthony Davis is all potential. He is no better than Darius Miles right now. The hype around him kinda boggles my mind. I do hope he eventually develops into a player. going to UK was a bad choice, seeing as how Calipari doesn’t develop talent or teach basketball. He is a lot like Coach K, in that he just puts the talent on the floor to run his system.

  • Stewart

    It’s way too early for some of these guys, we really won’t get a great look until later on in the season. I really want to see how Lamb’s game improves. He should really be “that guy” this year. If Drummond can get a move, he will be solid also. Chicagorilla, sad to say, but you are right about Drummond, he is only a Deandre Jordan, but he will be much better.

  • shaw32

    I can’t believe there’s not a terrence on this list jones or ross either one. Also I love duke and rivers seems to have Jamal Crawford written all over him. I just don’t see him being better then either terrance.