Fraschilla: Warren is legit; Cousins must improve
I always have fancied myself as something of a draft guru, and after 30 years of experience around the game of basketball, including 23 as a college coach and parts of two as an NBA advance scout, I'm positive I'm just as capable of being wrong as the next guy.
Evaluating is not an exact science, and even the best miss the mark from time to time. If every NBA general manager nailed every draft selection, every team would end up at .500. Even an educated eye makes mistakes.
The tough part of evaluating draft-eligible players is distinguishing a really effective college player from one with true NBA potential. The majority of the 60 players selected on draft night were household names during their college days. In the NBA, though, they may end up as mere journeymen, if they even make a roster. That's the reality of the process.
Although I focus on college basketball 90 percent of the time, my time in the NBA taught me that the transition to the pros is much harder than most fans realize. It's like comparing Portuguese to Spanish. They are similar languages, but there are key differences. Being able to speak one doesn't make you fluent in the other.
I have strong opinions because I cover college players for ESPN during the season and coach and evaluate some of the best high school and college players at various summer camps and tournaments. However, those opinions are likely to fluctuate as I gather more data. And keep in mind that my view of a player's ability in the college game sometimes contrasts greatly with his pro potential.
So, with that introduction, here are five players I evaluated during the summer who have confirmed my opinion about their draft status, changed my mind or will need to do something to make me believe they can reach their full potential.
I'm a believer
Willie Warren, 6-foot-3, So., Oklahoma
There is no doubt in my mind that Warren is a top-five selection who will be a very good NBA point guard. That's saying something for someone who once was considered a bigger gunner than Wyatt Earp.
I plead guilty to being president of the Willie Warren Fan Club, but I felt exactly the same way about Blake Griffin 12 months ago. Although Warren came to Oklahoma with as many accolades as Griffin, there were concerns he was not a team-oriented player based on his play on the summer circuit. That knock may have been deserved at the time, but in just one season, those concerns were dispelled.
Warren played sidekick to Griffin and had an outstanding freshman season, shooting 57 percent inside the arc and 37 percent behind it. More impressive was his efficient 15 points per game on only 10 shots a game. He also had a reasonably effective assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.4 to 1.
When he was counted on to score, he thrived. With Griffin out of commission with a concussion against Texas and Kansas last season, Warren averaged 25 points.
At 6-3, Warren has point guard size and strength, excellent quickness with the ball and outstanding vision. He's also a better-than-average shooter. In my opinion, Warren's attributes compare favorably to those of Deron Williams, another Dallas-Fort Worth native.
To see a player who has enhanced his draft status in Fraschilla's mind and why a hyped Kentucky freshman has much to prove, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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