As we get closer to the beginning of the NBA draft, The Columns gives you the breakdown on the chances of former Tigers in the draft (hint: We don’t have Matt Lawrence being drafted).
You can go to any sports website right about now and find first round NBA mock drafts. After all, the draft takes place in just a matter of hours. So while the trade talks swirl and the speculation on the first round begins, second round prospects tend to get overlooked. This year, Mizzou has produced two such prospects in forwards Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll. Here’s a quick prediction on each player’s chances tonight.
Starting as early as last spring Lyons’ name began to appear on NBA mock drafts. It wasn’t exactly Lyons’ jaw-dropping numbers that caught scouts’ attention. In Lyons’ junior campaign he averaged only 13.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. However, it was Lyons’ silky jump shot, athletic ability and the fact that at times he could seemingly take over games that gained him professional attention.
Following a game late in the 2008 season when Lyons’ recorded career bests with a 27 point, 18 rebound performance against Oklahoma State, he was asked what happened that made him play so well. For the sake of journalistic integrity I cannot quote his answer exactly, but it was something along the lines of ‘I just tried harder this game.’ While Lyons never did try so hard as to reach those types of stats in a single game ever again, he steadily continued to improve throughout his senior season.
Fast-forward to summer of 2009 and Lyons still remains the enigmatic player he has always been. Brilliant at times and frustrating at others, it is obvious the talent is there. He has consistently improved, but still is streaky. Throughout the 2008-2009 season Lyons remained on most mock drafts list as a second rounder.
He projects currently as going anywhere from late 40’s to undrafted, depending on where you look. Many more sites have him going drafted than not. In a recent interview following a workout with the Indiana Pacers, Lyons spoke confidently of his chances in the draft.
“I’m expecting to [get drafted]. If people see the talent I have I expect to go high but it doesn’t really matter,” Lyons said.
At Missouri he was often the biggest player on the court. In his junior season, Lyons was the tallest player on the team. That will not be the case in the NBA. He projects as a power forward in the NBA with adequate size at 6’9’’. If he can extend that silky mid-range jump shot he displayed at Missouri, he could create matchup problems for slower and bigger defenders. As last season progressed, Lyons also displayed the ability to take the ball to the hoop.
When asked who he compares to at the professional level, Lyons said Trevor Ariza. I don’t know if that is exactly accurate as Ariza is more of a small forward, wing type player, but to Lyons’ credit, he isn’t a typical power forward either. He seems to be a shooting guard trapped in a big man’s body. He shies away from the physical low-post game and seems more comfortable finessing his way to baskets via a jump shot or dribble move.
Overall, Lyons offensive game is NBA ready. If he can bring his A-game on a nightly basis he will survive in the pros. If he can show some heart and determination on the defensive end and on the boards he could develop into a solid NBA contributor. For those reasons he is worth a chance in the second round. Love him or hate him, but the off-and-on Lyons should hear his name on draft night.
I see Lyons going 49th overall to the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta loves athleticism and lacks depth at forward. Lyons could fill both those needs. He would be a suitable guy to bring off the bench to spell Josh Smith for several minutes.
DeMarre Carroll is nearly Leo Lyons complete opposite when it comes to basketball. Lyons has natural talent but seemed to, at least initially in his college career, lack work ethic to develop into a star. On the other hand, no one will outwork Carroll. His game isn’t always the prettiest, but it is efficient.
While Lyons shies away from contact, Carroll lives for it. He loves to bang down low, scrap for loose balls and hustle all over the court. He was perfect for Mizzou’s full-court pressure defense.
His skill set projects perfectly to an NBA power forward. He is tough, a good rebounder and has developed a jump shot that is becoming more and more threatening.
Except Carroll has one small problem. Literally, a small problem: His height. Mizzou had him listed generously at 6’8’’. At the NBA combine however, Carroll was measured as small as 6’6’’. You might think this killed his chance in the NBA, however, that is far from true.
This off-season, Carroll has done nothing but raise his draft stock. He went from appearing on virtually no mock drafts four months ago to being slated as high as a first round pick by espn.com’s Chad Ford a few weeks ago. ESPN lists Carroll as the 23rd best prospect in the draft, directly ahead of some guy named Tyler Hansborough. On nearly every mock draft you will find, he is listed as being selected earlier than his former teammate Lyons.
It turns out Carroll has improved his jumper, and that improved J combined with his hustle and defensive skills is gaining the attention of most NBA scouts. Like Lyons, Carroll too sounds optimistic about his chances tonight.
“I’m improving my stock daily, so hopefully I can get on a good team,” Carroll said in an interview earlier this summer. “A lot of teams have told me I’m a second round lock, but I don’t want to stop there, I want to move into the first round.”
He cites the fact he has proven to NBA teams that he can ball handle and shoot better than they expected as the reason for his rising stock.
Carroll is the essential player for a contending team to pick up in the second round. He is a high-energy guy that would be perfect to bring off the bench, get the crowd going and contribute while he’s at it.
I could see Carroll going as high as 30th to the Cavaliers like Ford predicted on ESPN, or also falling down the second round a bit too. For Cleveland, Carroll would fit in nicely as that high-energy guy, especially since they just traded Ben Wallace and will be thin at forward. However, Carroll is very similar to Anderson Varejao. As a Mizzou fan I would love to see Carroll go in the first round, but realistically I see him going 37th overall to the San Antonio Spurs. They are an aging team who would really appreciate Carroll’s energy and tenacity.
The Columns will have full Mizzou/NBA draft breakdowns following the selections tonight.