Missouri was thought to be sending two players into the NBA tonight. DeMarre Carroll was selected higher than expected, while former teammate Leo Lyons wasn’t selected at all.
The NBA draft was no slam dunk for former Mizzou forward Leo Lyons.
As the dust continues to settle on the NBA draft and I continue to ponder why exactly my hometown Timberwolves selected four point guards in the same draft, I’ll pause for a moment to reflect on Leo Lyons’ and DeMarre Carroll’s draft outcomes.
As I wrote last night (see post below), I thought both former Tigers were talented enough to be worthy of a selection on draft night. Looking back at the draft results, one theme stands out to me loud and clear: surprise.
First of all, I was pleasantly surprised to see Carroll taken with the 27th overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies. I thought the first round was a possibility for Carroll, but not likely. Many draft experts had Carroll being selected by the Grizzlies…with the 36th pick. No one had him going 27th overall. If there is any player that it is easy to be a fan of, Carroll is it. His high-energy style of play will be a great addition in Memphis. ESPN seemed to be in full support of the Carroll selection. On their draft recap, Chad Ford wrote:
“I love this pick for the Grizzlies. He’s a great energy player who flies up and down the floor, can handle the ball and creates havoc on the defensive end. He’s a more skilled version of Renaldo Balkman.”
While being compared to Renaldo Balkman is never a good thing – What’s that? Oh wait, I think I can still hear Knicks fans booing New York’s Balkman selection– at least Ford called Carroll more talented.
DeMarre Carroll not only has the prestige of being a first round pick, but he also earns a guaranteed contract.
In Memphis, Carroll will be a good fit. The Grizz are young and athletic and Carroll certainly fits that description. Memphis recently traded Darko Milicic for Quentin Richardson, helping Carroll’s chances for playing time. Former kU standout Darrell Arthur, Darius Miles, and Hakim Warrick are the players against whom Carroll will compete for playing time. I think it’s safe to say that Carroll has more upside at this point than Miles, while Arthur and Warrick are longer and leaner forwards who don’t quite fill the role that Carroll does.
In 2009-2010 Memphis will have a talented young nucleus of recent draft picks. At point guard they are led by Mike Conley, they have talented scoring guards in O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, and Hasheem Thabeet could be the defensive presence they need up front. I see Carroll getting minutes off the bench for a Grizzlies team that at least on paper, doesn’t look too shabby anymore.
In addition, Carroll is guaranteed a two-year contract with a team option for the third and fourth years. Had he been selected just four picks later, which would have been the second round, there would have been no such guarantee.
Seeing Carroll taken so highly was a pleasant surprise on draft night.
Leo Lyons’ draft night was also surprising. Check that. It was shocking actually. Nearly anywhere you looked for the past six months Lyons was considered a lock for the second round.
Nbadraft.net had Leo going 52nd overall to Indiana. I thought that was a worse case scenario for Lyons. I thought he’d go somewhere in the 40’s. Nbadraft.net rated him as an 88 overall prospect. For comparison, Jermaine Taylor out of UCF who was taken 32nd by the Washington Wizards was also an 88. Sergio Llull, who went 34th to Denver was an 86. Jon Brockman who went 38th to Portland was also an 86. Goran Suton, taken by the Jazz was never even deemed worthy of being rated at all. Now I know nbadraft.net is not the ultimate guidebook to the NBA draft, but it just goes to show you that Lyons was considered a solid prospect.
I find it hard to imagine that every team in the draft passed on his offensive potential. Lyons is a 6’9’’ athletic forward who is money with the jump shot and has no problems putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. Put a smaller defender on Lyons and he will shoot over him. Put a bigger and slower defender on him and Lyons will beat him to the basket. Off the bench Lyons would make solid contributions.
Lyons size and mid-range ability remind me of Joe Smith. Only Lyons is more athletic. There were questions about his ability to defend along with his off court issues (he was suspended three times at Mizzou), but a little bit of homework should have proven those issues irrelevant (One suspension was for curfew violation in the Athena debacle, another for a traffic violation).
Certainly the journey is not over for the talented Lyons. He will probably end up in an NBA team’s camp and play for a summer league team. However, in a league where second round picks are often cut from team’s rosters, Lyons is certainly behind the eight ball at this point.
Carroll and Lyons’ situations were both surprises. Carroll was a pleasant surprise going at 27 overall. It is shocking that Lyons was not drafted. I would be surprised yet again if Lyons were to make an NBA roster come fall. He is talented enough, but unfortunately, it looks like NBA GM’s just don’t agree.