As the draft nears and players’ stock seems to rise and fall almost daily with the sudden ‘expert’ opinions of journalists and draft aficionados alike, it’s no surprise to see questions raised about every prospect by a variety of journalists. One such genius compiled a list of five players who GMs should be wary of drafting because of red flags and, of course, Kentucky’s prospects are featured prominently. Daniel Orton and, not surprisingly, DeMarcus Cousins are the subjects of this writers’s warnings. Here’s what he had to say about why it should be ‘Buyer Beware’ with the Wildcat big men:
DeMarcus Cousins (PF/C, Kentucky)
Many scouts have said that judging from purely a talent and potential standpoint, Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else. What raised more than a few red flags were recent fitness tests conducted at the combine that proved to be not all that flattering for Cousins. Cousins has the size and ability to be a force in the NBA, but in order to be the best you also have to work and train harder than everyone else. Take the Heat’s Udonis Haslem for example. Haslem ballooned to over 300 pounds after leaving the University of Florida and did not receive much NBA interest until he got serious about his fitness and dropped around 70 pounds. Maturity issues and whether Cousins can commit to staying in optimal shape are the biggest concerns dogging this talented young man.
Daniel Orton (PF/C, Kentucky)
Another freshman forward out of Kentucky with a bit of injury baggage is Daniel Orton. Although Orton held it together in limited minutes for the Wildcats last season, it is hard to ignore the knee and wrist problems he had in high school. Orton will likely get his ticket punched somewhere in the first round due to his size and potential, but NBA personnel would be smart to look closely at his history of injuries. Can Orton hold up for an entire 82-game season in the NBA? Only time will tell.
However, not everyone thinks Cousins’ attitude should lead teams to stay away. One Chicago-area writer thinks that it’s actually a good thing that Cousins is a little atypical, and that it will serve him well in the league:
So to think that he’s not worth the risk, you’re crazy. I never put stock into a 19-year-old’s issues off the court, especially after seeing what our past presidents indulged themselves in, but neither here or there, they still have good and bad reviews originating from the public. But what I think frustrates basketball fans about Cousins is his overt way of being indifferent. I actually like it. That’s his way of letting the veterans know that there’s a new kid on the block, so move over. And he’s unbelievably talented.
Not only does he like Boogie, but he even goes a step further in saying that the Bulls should move up (from #17) to try and get him, thus creating a froncourt with Joakim Noah for which the possibilities for ridiculousness are literally endless:
Bulls: Moving up should be the primary objective in mind because we all know how desperate Bulls need that low-post presence. I know fans get tired of hearing analysts say Bulls are a jump-shooting team, but it’s true. Last year we slowedly [sic] became remote to that way of playing as Taj Gibson gave us solid moves down-low, and Noah’s custom floor-game was more tuning with passes into the other big-man by taking his man off the dribble. So I would definitely say progression is being made in that faze [sic] of this team, especially since Gordon is gone. But still, that next jump eventually will have to be for someone like Cousins, as pairing him with Noah only cause for more validity. Both big-men have quick feet, testy personalities, dexterity with either hand, and ability to take it up the court. Now that’s a genuine half-court/fastbreak front-court no other team in the league can cover.
While it would be unbelievably difficult for me to cheer for a team that features Noah, I think I could find a way if Boogie found himself a Bull. Nevertheless, this is just another example of the continuing lesson we’re learning about people who evaluate the draft. Some of them get it about Boogie. Some of them don’t. Those that get it understand what a presence he can be, on and off the court. Those that don’t will let the questions cloud their judgment and pass on the big man. And those will be the teams that regret it when he dunks on whatever chump they drafted.