With the draft only two days away, you're going to hear a lot of names get bounced around as players the Wizards could be looking at with their picks. Scouting reports and highlight reels can help you get a feel for some of the players, but nothing can replace the knowledge and insight that you get from watching a player on a night-in, night-out basis.
In order to get that kind of feel, you really need to talk to someone that's a true fan of the team. And if you want a more informed feeling for who you're looking at, it always helps if you can find a couple of bloggers who follow the university's athletic program. With that in mind, we're enlisting the help of some of the college hoops bloggers out there to get a better feel for some of the players the Wizards might end up drafting.
For this segment, we're turning to Rock Chalk Talk, the Kansas blog on SB Nation, to help us learn more about three players rumored to be in range of the Wizards' 18th selection. I have to say, after reading the answers, I'd love one of these guys to be wearing a Wizards uniform come Thursday.
How would you describe the role that each of those guys played on the National Championship team?
Rock Chalk Talk: There is little doubt that the threesome of Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur were the most talented players on our squad last year, and naturally were the primary scoring threats. However, because all three of them had only one ball to share (along with the four other primary members of our rotation, all of whom could score) none of them were ever depended on to carry the team. All three of them were vital to the offense we ran, but none of them were singled out above anyone else.
That being said, the three of them had a pretty defined role. Darrell Arthur was the primary low-post threat, the guy who we threw the ball into and let him work. He wasn't depended on to grab all that many rebounds, that mostly fell on more banger-types like Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson, but was certainly not shy of boards. Mario Chalmers was the primary three-point shooter, although Brandon Rush shot just as well (if not better) from beyond the arc. He was also (likely) our best defender, although in a different way than your traditional match-him-up-on-the-opponents-best-player. He was often matched up against the worst perimeter offensive player on the opposing team, allowing him more free-lancing opportunities to do what he does better than anything else; pick off passes. Honestly, I have never seen anyone better at reading and then jumping passing lanes. He is still a good on-ball defender, but he is absolutely spectacular at picking off passes.
Brandon Rush usually was matched up with the opposing team's best player, and he is a terrific defender. When he came to KU, he wasn't all that great, but he worked really hard and became a premier defender in the NCAAs. He was, if we had one, our primary offensive weapon and when things went south, he was usually the guy that would get us out of it.
What do you think are their biggest strengths? What do you think are their biggest weaknesses?
Rock Chalk Talk:
- Darrell Arthur :: Strengths -- Athleticism, Ability to Run the Floor (He can run the floor, IMO, better than anyone else in this Draft), Turnaround/Fadewaway Jumper ::: Weaknesses -- Rebounding
- Brandon Rush :: Strengths -- NBA-ready, Defense, Perimeter Shot ::: Weaknesses -- "Upside"
- Mario Chalmers :: Strengths -- Defense, Perimeter Shot, Intangibles ::: Weaknesses -- Size, Lack of PG Experience
Of the three, which do you think was most important to the team's success?
Rock Chalk Talk: This is an incredibly tough question to answer. Our whole team,who according to the media had zero First Team All-Big 12ers, was built upon teammwork and ball movement and making open shots and defense. Still, I would have to say (and this answer will likely differ from fan to fan) that it would have to be Brandon Rush. He was our best offensive player for most of the season, and our best on-ball perimeter defender.
From the stuff I've read, and my limited watching of Kansas, it seems Brandon Rush is NBA-ready, but settles too often for jump shots and struggles to take charge offensively. Do you agree with that assessment? Can he fix those problems? How much do you think that's going to affect him in the NBA?
Rock Chalk Talk: Eh. It was always, and still is, a topic of contention among Kansas fans. Sure, he could have taken over more games and gone all Kobe, driving all over the place and hoisting up shot after shot. Of course, he also could have done it more moderately, but whatever the case, I don't think it is a "mindset" thing. As I mentioned earlier, our whole team was based off of everybody contributing and ball movement, and Brandon Rush bought into it 100%. So, while he seemed to be passive at times (and he was), much of it was because he was simply trying to fit into the offense.
So, to answer your question, yes, I do think that he can fix the "problems", which really aren't "problems" IMO. He isn't afraid to shoot the ball, or drive it even, and he won't submit to simply firing up three-pointers. I really don't think it will affect him much at all in the NBA; if anything it should help him, as he learned some patience that could come in handy in the give-me-the-ball world of the NBA.
The questions surrounding Darrell Arthur mostly have to do with his relative lack of size and his ability to do the dirty work inside. How would you respond to those criticisms? Do you think those will affect him on the next level?
Rock Chalk Talk: As far as size goes, he should be OK. Height-wise, I haven't heard anything too negative, everyone seemed to measure out shorter than they were thought to be, and I don't think it will affect him much at all. Weight-wise, give him some time in a full-time, NBA weight program and he will get bigger.
Dirty work-wise, there might be a legitimate argument. Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun, two traditional 'bangers', did most of the dirty work for Kansas, and Darrell often simply used his insane athleticism to grab the rebounds he did get. Obviously, in the NBA where there are athletes all over the place he won't be able to do this, and he has never really 'proven' that he can wrestle for the ball down low with the big boys. I'm not questioning his heart or anything, just that he has never been forced to do the little dirty deeds that he will likely be called upon to do at the next level. So, sure, I think that could be an issue (possibly the largest issue) in the NBA.
I'll be straight up and say that I love Mario Chalmers as a prospect. That said, one criticism he's received is that he might not be a true point guard. Do you think that's a legitimate concern? If so, do you think it'll matter on the next level?
Rock Chalk Talk: I think he has all the tools to be a true point guard, but he was never forced to at Kansas. Russell Robinson almost always brought the ball up the court, and the past two years Sherron Collins has been his backup, giving Mario nearly zero opportunity to be the 'floor general', if you will. So, whether he is a 'true point guard' or not depends on the scout evaluating him, I guess.
If he proves he can't be a PG, then he will have a lot less value at the NBA level IMO. He just isn't tall enough to be a 2, and while he could be a end-of-bench reserve, the only real 'upside' he has in the NBA is as a PG. Still, I am very confident that he can be a PG at the next level, and if he is, he just might be the best NBA prospect of the three Jayhawks.
It's no secret that the Wizards struggle defensively, and you also probably know that Kansas had the best adjusted defensive efficiency in the nation this season? What role do you think each played in making Kansas such a defensive juggernaut?
Rock Chalk Talk: I touched on this earlier, but all three played a big role. Arthur was often matched up with the most athletic big on the opposing team, naturally, but Sasha Kaun was the real defensive stud down low. Rush and Chalmers, however, both were wildly important to our defense; Brandon was usually matched up with the other team's best perimeter player. When we played Kevin Durant last season, for example, he did the best at slowing him down. In the National Championship game, he played some good D on Chris Douglas-Roberts throughout the entire game. One of his biggest assets is his D, and he is an awesome on-ball defender. Chalmers is awesome in his own way; picking off passes. I talked about it earlier, and won't go in any further detail, but he is a really solid defender, although he did struggle at times when the opposing player was a bigger, physically stronger player (which could happen often in the NBA).
In what ways do you think each could contribute to an NBA team? What can a team expect if they draft each of these players?
Rock Chalk Talk: All three have their advantages and disadvantages. Darrell Arthur probably has the highest upside of the threesome, with his athleticism and all that. He could develop into a perennial All-Star player down the line, with a couple of years of bulking up and really good coaching. However, he also might simply end up being a body off the bench, which I guess isn't horrible, but isn't what you are looking for from a Lottery perspective.
Brandon Rush is plenty NBA-ready; he spent a year in post-grad school following HS, so is basically a college senior. Brandon, even if he doesn't improve any more from today, will be able to find his niche in the NBA as a defensive, three-point specialist. A nice, friendly, likable Bruce Bowen, if you will ;). However, he also has the potential to improve and become a legitimate NBA starter, possibly even an occasional All-Star, if he can start to dominate games offensively.
Mario Chalmers is an interesting case. As I touched on earlier, he has a bust potential in the fact that he isn't a proven PG, and if he can't play PG there isn't much of a place for him in the NBA. That being said, I think that he is an NBA PG, and if he proves that he is, he could become a star in the NBA. He is a solid defender, a leader, a great outside shooter and is still fairly raw and moldable. He will be an interesting pick, wherever he goes, and a lot of how he ends up will depend on the situation and coaching he comes into.
I hate to put you on the spot here, but if you had to pick one of the three who you think has the best chance of succeeding in the pros, who would it be and why?
Rock Chalk Talk: It depends on the definition of "succeeding." If you are only discussing NBA impact, then I would say Brandon Rush hands-down, considering he has almost zero bust potential because he could always stick as a nicer Bruce Bowen. If you are looking for a perennial All-Star, then you have to go Darrell Arthur because he has so much untapped ability it isn't even funny. So, there you go, a split answer.
That being said, my favorite prospect is Mario Chalmers. I'm hoping that a team like the Wizards take him; where he won't be depended on to do too much, but also has the opportunity for early PT depending on Gilbert Arenas' decision.