ESPN held a conference call Wednesday afternoon to discuss the upcoming NBA Draft. Fran Fraschilla and Chad Ford, both well in touch with the process, college coaches and NBA execs making the decisions took questions from members of the media on the call.
Below are their thoughts on IU’s Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller.
FRASCHILLA: Chad probably talked to the teams about both, so I’ll speak about them individually. To me, Victor is a great story because, first of all, there are certain programs in college basketball that have what I call an execution culture and a work culture, and Indiana certainly has that. I think we all know how much Indiana emphasizes player development.
So in Victor’s case, you’re looking at a guy that’s rapidly improved over three years. A ridiculous athlete, plays with high energy, high motor, low maintenance guy, wants to be not just in the NBA, but wants to be an NBA player.
My only concern or two concerns I have is size. Is he going to measure out at 6’5″, the second concern is although he made more jumpshots this year than he did in his first two years, he was 9 of 39, I think, down the stretch from behind the arc.
But I love him, he’s going to be a good, solid player. With Cody, the thing I’m concerned about with him is he’s a face up post player, who gets pushed off his spot. He only took 24 jumpshots all year, but he’s a great runner like his brother. And his brother was an all-rookie second team. So Cody’s size and his ability to run the floor with energy is I think his biggest strength.
FORD: I’m a little higher on Oladipo than Fran. Part of it is his work ethic, and part of it is the way he’s improved. I think that factors into NBA scouts’ decisions. Have you worked on your game? Are you improving every year? Are you going to be willing to put the work in the gym that’s necessary? And I think no one has those questions about Oladipo. When you see how much he’s improved from year to year, you can start to project that he’s going to keep working on that jumpshot. That he’s going to keep tightening that handle and become even better off the dribble. Then defensively, he’s already arrived. He’s a guy that can defend multiple positions in the NBA.
I’m a little bit worried about the size, but he’s going to have length, and he’s going to have explosive athletic ability as one of the three or four best athletes in this draft. He has a motor. I really feel like that’s an NBA skill, maybe one of the most underrated of NBA skills that he goes hard all of the time.
I was talking to Tim Hardaway Jr. yesterday at a workout, and I was asking him who he would take between McLemore and Oladipo because he played against both players this season and he praised both of them. He said Oladipo on both ends of the floor was a nightmare for him. He was a nightmare on one end because you couldn’t get what you wanted to do offensively done. You just couldn’t do that at the next level. And then on the other end, he was so difficult to guard offensively because it’s not like he’s going to shoot jumpshots or not that he’s going to try to create offense by dribbling and isolation. He is constantly moving without the ball. He’s going to be in there. You have to block him out for offensive rebounds. He’s everywhere. It’s just an exhausting experience for him, and I think that translates to the next level.
So maybe I’m a little bit higher on Oladipo for those sorts of intangibles that he brings to the table. With Zeller, I think the question is how he performs against lane. I think that brings serious questions about his ability to play center. And as Fran said he is being marketing now as a face the basket four at the next level, but you’re talking about a guy that took 24 jumpshots all season being marketed as a face the basket four. I think that’s an area that he’s going to have to improve on.
I think there are some question marks about why he didn’t go back to Indiana and work on that and show that to the NBA guys as opposed to coming to the draft and basically tell people, hey, trust us. I’m going to be able to make this transition at the next level.