- Scott Powers, Reporter
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CHICAGO -- Whether Mike Procopio is talking to Kobe Bryant about his game or preparing a college player for the NBA draft, he isn’t one to sugarcoat the truth.
Procopio , who is Tim Grover’s director of basketball operations at ATTACK Athletics and a former Boston Celtics scout, says what he thinks. As those around him would say, he’s probably too honest.
So when he was asked about Jereme Richmond, Procopio gave it as he saw it.
“There are four NBA talents,” Procopio said. “There’s the NBA talent that is ready today. The NBA talent where in 2-5 years you’ll be ready to go. You have all the athletic gifts, but you got to work on them and develop them. There’s the guys who aren’t very talented, but are hard-working and tough. The Adrian Griffins, the Tyler Hansbroughs, those guys are just tough. Then, there are the guys who never make it.
“In my opinion, Jereme’s that No. 2 guy. He’s that guy he’s not ready today, but if you have patience that guy will be close to a 20-point game scorer in the NBA or better. He’s got talent now.”
Procopio projected Richmond to go somewhere in the first round, possibly as high as No. 17. He just doesn’t believe Richmond will be a game-changer at first.
“I don’t want to set him up for failure and expect him to be a starter in the NBA right away,” said Procopio, who has been working with Richmond for two weeks. “It’s going to take time. A team with a good staff that develops players, the use of the D-League and things of that nature, getting him time in different places like that, I think he could develop into a very good NBA player, if he’s patient.
“If a team wants him right now score 20 points a game in the NBA, obviously that’s not going to happen. He’s definitely a value by the time his first contract is up. He will be a serviceable NBA player that could be a starter on a NBA team. He’s too big. He’s too athletic. He’s got too much talent not to be.”
Procopio broke down Richmond’s skills as a NBA scout would see them.
“As a wing player right now, he has the ability to make shots,” Procopio said. “You can’t just play him for the drive all the time. He’s got very good size. He’s got very long arms. He’s got a good frame that can put weight on. He can finish. He can post up. If you play him at the shooting guard or small forward, you can post him up, you can run him off screens, you can spot him up in the corner.
“I think he’ll become a better shooter. It’s not like he’s a non-shooter, but he’s a little mechanical. By year three, year four in the NBA, he’ll shoot a whole different way.”
Procopio has been working with Richmond a lot on seeing the floor and working without the ball. Procopio wants Richmond to get used to what his role will likely be as a rookie.
“They’re not going to take many 4-for-17 nights from Jereme Richmond,” said Procopio, who puts together scouting reports for Kobe Bryant. “In his rookie years if he’s lucky enough to be on a team where he’s going to get time, he’s going to have to be a guy who’s like 7 for 11, 5 for 8. He’s got to be an efficient player.
“He’s played with the ball in his hands so much in his career. Being able to adjust by probably not having the ball in his hands as much, having to deal with that. The psychological impact of probably expecting 15 shots in college, probably 30 times a night in high school, now having a situation for the most part where he’ll get 10 looks a night or eight looks a night and doing well on that.
“There’s too many kids who are highly ranked and the toast of the town these days. They get to a higher level and have to prove that every day against men, against guys that have been there for 10 years and understand. You’re going to get knocked down. You have to get up and learn from that.”