Sheridan Hoops Rookie Rankings: Week 21

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MagicEarly next week, Rookies of the Month for March will be handed out. It is possible that Anthony Davis could end Damian Lillard’s stranglehold on the Western Conference honor, while the East will be a toss-up between Moe Harkless and Jonas Valanciunas.

Davis, Harkless and Valanciunas have yet to win the award. But as we approach the season’s final month, it is the time where many previously unheralded rookies make a name for themselves.

Last year, Atlanta’s Ivan Johnson broke through in the East as Kyrie Irving spent most of April on the sidelines. Ditto Denver’s Kenneth Faried after Ricky Rubio and Isaiah Thomas shared the first three West awards.

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Sheridan Hoops Rookie Rankings: Week 18

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MotiejūnasPower forward for the Houston Rockets has been a revolving door.

The Rockets have had seven different power forwards on their roster this season. At last month’s trading deadline, they took a bit of a risk and moved the two men who had manned the position for most of the season – Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris – in separate deals.

That shuffling brought back Thomas Robinson in a deal that most believed was a fleecing of the Sacramento Kings, who gave up on the struggling fifth overall pick in last year’s draft way too early and did so simply to save a couple million dollars.

But the deals left the Rockets without an established power forward. Second-year man Greg Smith, with 53 games under his NBA belt, was their most experienced 4-man.

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Sheridan Hoops Rookie Rankings: Week 15

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Last week, rookie big men Tyler Zeller and Andrew Nicholson weren’t even in these rankings.

This week, they are in the Rising Stars contest that kicks off All-Star Weekend on Friday night.

Zeller, the center of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was among the original field of nine rookies chosen for the game. Nicholson, a power forward for the Orlando Magic, was added this week to replace injured Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond. 

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Trade Reaction: Miami Heat Will Send Moultrie To Sixers

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Word is that some members of the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat are still a bit hung over—literally—after defeating the Oklahoma City for the NBA’s crown just one week ago today.

The Heat selected Arnett Moultrie, a 6’11″ Power Forward from Mississippi State with their 27th overall pick in the draft, but they traded his rights to the Philadelphia 76ers for the 45th overall pick, Justin Hamilton, and a future first round pick.

Moultrie is a long, athletic big that could probably help the Heat up front, but it seems as though they are cognizant of their luxury tax situation moving forward. What most fail to consider is that a first round selection has two guaranteed years of salary, even if the player rarely plays. And the salary in the third and fourth year of a first round draft pick’s contract are pre-set based on the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. Meanwhile, a player selected in the second round usually gets an unguaranteed deal and will only make the minimum salary for each of their first two years in the league.

The league is moving toward a much more oppressive luxury tax, so it makes perfect sense that the Miami Heat, who already have about $80 million, $78 million, and $76 million respectively committed over the next three years, would defer a pick that will help keep their cap situation in check, at least for now. If the Heat keep adding to their payroll, they’ll routinely find themselves writing luxury tax checks in excess of $30 million, and we don’t know if Micky Arison is willing to shell out that type of money to keep his team intact.

For the 76ers, Moultrie should be able to provide them with some athleticism around the basket. Incumbent starting center Spencer Hawes is an unrestricted free-agent, and the Sixers aren’t expected to break the bank to retain him. With rumors continually swirling around Andre Iguodala’s availability, the Sixers may look to continue their youth movement, notwithstanding their success this postseason.

Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Predicting the Top 10 Picks in the 2012 NBA Draft

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By Tommy Dee
Special to SheridanHoops.com

As college basketball surges towards March Madness, let’s take a scouting look at how the top 10 prospects are performing.

1.  Harrison Barnes  6’8, 223, SF, North Carolina

Lost in the hysteria of the Tar Heels’ loss to Duke at the buzzer thanks to an Austin Rivers 3 was the performance of Barnes, who was the best player on the floor all night. No, he didn’t close the game, but the UNC forward continues to show the take-over ability that scouts have been expecting. He needs to improve his rebounding numbers, which are down this year slightly, but offensively he’s the most complete player in the country right now.

2. Anthony Davis 6’10, 220, PF, Kentucky

Hmmm, 127 blocks in 26 games? Davis draws comparisons to Marcus Camby because of his wingspan and defensive ability, but he isn’t the offensive impact player that Camby was at this stage. But he’s still a pup. Davis is slight, but he’s an impact player defensively at the NBA level right now and is by far and away the best defensive player in college basketball. His defensive timing and instincts haven’t been seen in a college prospect in years and absolutely puts Kentucky on a different level as they plan their march a national championship. If Davis stays out of foul trouble, the Wildcats are an impossible out come tournament time.

3. Andre  Drummond, 6’11, 270, C, Connecticut

Drummond is struggling mightily in Big East action and the timing of this has scouts questioning if he needs more development at this level. He was shut out against Louisville then got severely outplayed by Syracuse’s front line in an 18-point loss. What I like about Drummond is his hands and footwork combined with his size. What puzzles me is his energy level and consistent ability to get outworked for position and inability to establish himself on the block.

4. John Henson, 6’11, 223, C, North Carolina

To me, there isn’t a more improved big man in the nation than Henson, whose career has morphed from defensive stopper to now a more complete post player and defender. He still needs to get stronger at his base, because on one-on-one post situations he can be moved, but he’s almost at Anthony Davis’ level from a timing perspective on blocks and rebounds. I’m most impressed with the array of post moves and ability to finish with both hands around the basket. If he can improve his FT shooting come crunch time of the season, Henson’s stock could be rising as high as anyone in the country.

5. Jared Sullinger, 6’9, 280, PF, Ohio State

Sullinger is the best pure, post up big man in the country. He often is a man among boys in a conference that is the most physical in the country. That’s what’s so incredibly impressive. Equally impressive as his polished post moves is the fact that Sullinger is a tremendous mid-range shooter and is a fit for any pick and pop point guard. I compare him to Kurt Thomas as it relates to his touch from 10-15 feet. Sullinger will never be the best athlete on the floor, or the 9th best, but he has NBA savvy and that counts for a lot.

6. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist , 6’7, 230, SF, Kentucky

Talent-wise, Gilchrist is right up there with the best in the nation, but there are lapses of freshman immaturity. Thankfully, these mistakes get covered up by Kentucky’s overwhelming talent on its roster. He’s a fantastic athlete with an NBA ready body physically and always fills up the stat sheet evident by his recent performance against #11 Kansas. Gilchrist can vault himself to the top of the draft if he can show he’s the best player on the floor, more often than not, come tournament time. Not an easy task on the Wildcats’ college all-star team.

7. Thomas Robinson, 6’9, 240, PF, Kansas

I always considered Robinson to have a higher ceiling than both Morris twins, who were first round picks in last year’s draft and played with Robinson last year for the Jayhawks. Robinson is a tremendous athlete with great finishing ability, but his shooting form could be extended to 18 feet in my opinion with reps and confidence. If this continues to develop he can pull bigger forwards away from the basket at the next level and be an instant rotation player on any NBA roster.

8. Arnett Moultrie, 6’10, 240, PF, Mississippi State

Perhaps no one in college basketball has the combination of  motor and the physical nature to the game that Moultrie possesses. He’s ready right now physically and has the ability to dominate a game on both ends averaging a double-double while playing in the SEC. There isn’t much this player doesn’t do, and it will be interesting to see him develop more come tournament time.

9. Bradley Beal,  6’3, 220, SG, Florida

Just a freshman, Beal plays beyond his years and is the most talented shooting guard in the country. What scouts appreciate most is his ability to be a low volume/high-efficiency scorer who can also rebound very well from the backcourt position. He’s only 6’3, which is undersized in the NBA for a 2 guard, but his ability to come off screens and off cuts reminds many of a young Ray Allen. Definitely a player to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

10. Mike Moser, 6’8, 210, PF, UNLV

Moser cracks my top 10 because he is as gifted a scorer-athlete as any player in the nation at this point. He’s flown under the radar, but having led the Running-Rebels to 22 wins to date, Moser will be a focal point should UNLV make it far in the tournament. The ex-UCLA Bruin can flat out take over a game from the stretch-4 position, a spot that every scout is looking for at the NBA level. He can shoot threes and guard the SF and PF position in an up tempo style. Keep an eye on Moser, his stock is soaring.

Tommy Dee is the founder of theknicksblog.com, the editor of CHARGED Magazine and is a regional scout for Marty Blake and Associates. Follow him on Twitter.