NBA Draft Stock Tracker: Week Four - The Sophomores
Much has been written about the great freshman class this year, and rightly so; it should be one of the best in years. However, some of the sophomores in the 2014 class are very talented and are already poised to make an immediate impact at the next level.
Marcus Smart was considered one of the best players in the 2013 Draft and it was a surprise to some that he decided to go back to school. Smart is very big for a point guard, listed at 6-foot-4, 220 lbs, and knows how to use his size to his advantage. The sophomore has awesome hands and is already a great defender. However, Smart displayed plenty of room for improvement and appeared to make the correct choice returning. Oklahoma State was very happy to get back their leader and point guard, but it turned out to be a good decision for both parties.
One of Smart’s weaknesses is his ability to shoot. The Oklahoma State point guard only shot 28% from the three-point range his freshman year. Many scouts questioned his range and Smart has certainly answered his critics this year. Smart is shooting 38% from three this season, while taking two more triples per game. The sophomore will improve his jump shot with more practice and it does not seem like an issue anymore.
Smart is a scoring point guard, with his big body allowing him to get into the lane and finish over defenders. The sophomore gets to the rim often, and averages almost nine free throws per game. Smart must improve his shot from the line, which currently sits at a pedestrian 65%.
Although Smart can score with such ease, he must learn how to find the open man better throughout the game. Smart is averaging 3.6 assists to 2.9 turnovers, which is not a good number and must improve for him to succeed at the next level. Turnovers can ruin any player, especially when that player is a point guard. The sophomore has to become a better decision maker by learning when to assert himself, and when to get his teammates involved.
The Duke forward is having a stellar year for the Blue Devils, and impressing scouts with his “in the gym” range. Rodney Hood is a transfer from Mississippi State, and Coach K seems to have turned him into a legitimate pro prospect. Hood is shooting an incredible 59% from three, and while this is only a small sample size, he seems perfect for today’s NBA game. Hood lives in the corners, just waiting for a feed to nail the easiest three-point shot in the game.
The sophomore can also shoot from the top of the key and loves to drive to the rim. Hood is a pure scorer and has greatly improved his game from freshman year. The Duke forward is averaging five more free throws this year and 10 more points. Hood is shooting a probably unsustainable 62% from the field, but the fast start has moved him up team’s draft boards.
Timothy Alvarez is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.