Playing on the high-profile Kentucky team, Booker didn’t get the shine of teammates like Karl Towns, Trey Lyles, and the Harrison twins but is as good as any two-guard prospect in the class thanks to his size and shooting ability. At 6-6, 205 pounds Booker has ideal size and already has NBA range. Booker is drawing early comparisons to Klay Thompson and at a quick glance, the two do share similar profiles.
Physically, Thompson left Washington State at 6-7, 206 pounds while Booker weighs in at 6-6, 206 pounds. Thompson was a little longer with a 6-9 wingspan while Booker’s is a shade over 6-6 but Booker has a higher vertical at 35.5 inches compared to Thompson’s 31.5. When looking at their per 40 statistics from their respective freshman seasons, the similarities continue.
Booker’s per 40 numbers were 18.7 points on 47% shooting (41.1% from three), 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists while shooting at an 82.8% clip from the stripe. Thompson’s freshman per 40 were 15.2 points on 42.1% (41.2% from three), 4.1 boards and 2.3 assists while shooting 90% from the free throw line.
Thompson’s stats continued to balloon over his final two seasons at Washington State and he is now an All-Star and one of the best two-way shooting guards in the League. Will Booker develop at the same rate? That’s a lot to ask but based on his Draft projection and potential, Booker may be one of the steals of this year’s class.
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A 6-10, 235-pound power forward, Portis is a strong player who can finish around the basket and hit a 15-foot jumper. The 2015 SEC Player of the Year averaged 17.5 points, 8.9 boards, and 1.4 blocks while shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 73.7 percent from the free throw line. Though he isn’t overly explosive as a jumper, Portis is end-to-end fast which not only helps on fast break opportunities but also on defense as he is able to get back and protect the rim.
His footwork under the rim needs improvement, which will become even more important now that he is going against some of the best athletes in the world instead of overmatched SEC big man. While he has range out to 15 feet, his release is slow and his form has a bit of a hitch. But all of these things can be fixed with proper coaching.
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As April turns to May and March Madness takes a bow to the NBA Playoffs, it’s time for fans of teams who didn’t finish as one of the top eight teams in their respective conference to look forward to the NBA Draft Lottery. For some teams (ahem, Knicks) this is the highlight of the season and where the ping pong ball lands may determine the next five years of the franchise. For others who just missed the playoffs, it’s a chance to add a player who can add depth and become a key piece in a season or two.
The first four picks of the draft will likely be, in some order, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, and point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who played this past season in China. After that, things get a little murkier. The 2015 class isn’t considered as strong as 2014’s but there is plenty of potential to be found after the top five picks.
At this point, just about everyone is familiar with the likely top picks thanks to heavy media coverage and a star-studded Final Four. No, we didn’t get to see what everyone wanted, which was an epic showdown in the finals pitting Okafor against Towns, but we did get to see Winslow take the next step for Duke, as well as some interesting mid-tier prospects on both Duke and Wisconsin.
For those who didn’t follow college basketball closely, study up on a few under-the-radar prospects who may be the next NBA All-Stars. Here are the NBA Draft’s Biggest Underclassmen Sleepers.
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