The ACC tournament starts today at noon with Boston College taking on Georgia Tech at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina. The conference tournaments provide the world with one last chance to watch the premier teams on a neutral floor before March Madness starts. Filling out a solid bracket usually starts by understanding who is playing their best basketball to end the season, and there is no better place to ascertain this than, the conference tournaments.
For NBA fans the conference tournaments have an additional function. These tourneys allow players to begin a meteoric rise that could lift an athlete to the first round, or on the flip side show the holes in their game that prove they are not NBA material.
Since I am Boston College basketball fan, I make sure to watch as much ACC basketball as my time allows. With some knowledge of the Atlantic Coast draft prospects I give you the top five prospects to look out for in the ACC tournament (in no particular order)
NBA Comparable: Jason Terry
NBA Role: Bench Microwave Scorer
Green has had an outstanding season. Despite playing on an awful team he was able to capture the ACC player of the year trophy, which usually goes to the best player on the best team in the conference. Green is a superb scorer, with good straight line speed to the hoop. He also has a wide array of off the dribble moves that he uses to create space for his high releasing jump shot.
Being that he is already 22 years old he lacks the upside of some of his draft counterparts. What he lacks in upside he makes up for by being a professional scorer (even in the college ranks). If he is drafted by a team that allows him to provide bench scoring and doesn’t ask too much he should excel. If a team drafts him to be their point guard and asks him to get his teammates involved he will flounder in the league. Expect him to go in the second round due to the NBA’s recent phobia of college Seniors.
NBA Comparable: (a poor man’s) Pau Gasol
NBA Role: Skilled Finesse Big Man
Alex Len is a enormous prospect that doesn’t come around often. Standing at 7’1 and weighing 255 he looks every bit the part of an elite center in the NBA, that combined with his youth (19 years old) screams potential. On top of his physical make up, Len is an extremely skilled post player, possessing good touch around the basket, and the ability to score over both shoulders in the post.
Despite the glowing previous paragraph, Len has failed to live up to his elite potential in his two years at Maryland. There are two reasons for this, the Terapin guards have not been getting him the ball in good scoring position and his inability to get deep post position. The latter reason is extremely troubling. Game after game Len was pushed out of the paint by players who were smaller but stronger than him. If Len can get stronger so that he can receive the ball in a position to score, he will be a very good NBA player.
NBA Comparable: Taj Gibson
NBA Role: Uptempo Power Forward
Mason Plumlee is a perfect example of scouts having too much film on a four year player. As is often the case Seniors are viewed more harshly than younger players, after playing four seasons scouts have had the opportunity to see every fault of a player. As careers progress Seniors are viewed more on what they can’t do than what they can, where with freshman weaknesses can be dismissed due to inexperience.
Plumlee is one of the best players in the ACC. He leads an elite team in an elite conference. He has the length to finish at the rim on offense and bother shots on defense. He can finish with either hand, in the post and can occasionally knock down the mid range jumper. However, all of this is diminished because he has less upside the his younger counterparts in the draft.
Through his college career Plumlee has been a strong, steady force for the Blue Devils. Although, there were games where he was shut down, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Despite being a very good college player, his game is tailor made for the NBA. His length, athleticism and ability to run the floor will allow him to flourish in the wide open professional game.
NBA Comparable: Thaddeus Young
NBA Role: 3/4 Match Up Nightmare
McAdoo is exactly the type of player that scared teams to death 10 years ago, the dreaded tweener. Fortunarely for him, the NBA has changed in the last ten years. Before every team in the league had someone who could score from the low post, now those true post scorers are in the single digits. This lack of post scoring is a great thing for McAdoo, who could be exposed on the defensive end for his lack of height. The league today simply does not have the players to take advantage of this deficiency.
While McAdoo might not have the length to effectively defend in the post, he has the strength, athleticism and the motor to be an effective rebounder. Rebounding has replaced post defensive as the most essential skill for power forwards and McAdoo has this skill in spades. On offense he is relentless in attacking the glass, on defense he consistently boxes out which might not help his individual rebounding numbers, but it does help Carolina’s overall rebounding numbers.
At the four in the NBA, McAdoo will use his speed to get a plethora of baskets in transition. He will make it in the league as an energy player getting offensive rebounds and playing hard.
North Carolina State
A great athlete who can take over games by being active. Unfortunately his activity level wanes from time to time. In the NBA this inconsistent effort will get him a one way ticket to the bench. If he is able to bottle his athleticism and make sure his motor never stops he could be a very good player.
Despite playing power forward in college Leslie is of too slight build to play the same position in the pros. Everyone would back him down in the paint and get layups, just like they do to Hakim Warrick. The difference between their games to me is the quickness and strength of Leslie, which I believe will allow him to play defense in way Warrick has not been able to in the pros.
At this point and time his game is strictly about length and vertical, but with work he could develop a consistent face up game to go along with his god given talents. With his high upside he could easily get hot in the tournament, and his stock could skyrocket.