Now that the season is over for UCLA Basketball, players are looking to whats next. For most of the team, that is the 2014-15 season, but for Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine, the Wear twins, and possibly Jordan Adams, it’s the NBA draft. Already declared for the draft are Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine. Seniors David and Travis Wear are out of college eligibility, and Jordan Adams still faces a decision. Let’s break down each player by profiling their skill set, categorizing them as an athlete, scorer, defender, facilitator, or well rounded player, and finally determining their NBA equivalent.
Primary Role: Well Rounded Player
Secondary Role: Facilitator
NBA Equivalent(s): Chris Bosh or Michael Carter-Williams
Prospect Grade: A
Anderson is one of the most intriguing prospects in the nation as a point guard who stands 6’9 and has a wingspan well over 7′. Nobody from LA to NY and anywhere in between averaged closer to a triple double than Anderson, who contributed more than 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists per game with incomparable court-vision. Nonetheless it is unclear how his skill set will translate into the NBA, and that is the biggest worry about Anderson. Even though he will remain a mismatch nightmare at the highest level, it’s hard to see him having success against guards similar to Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. He isn’t blazing fast, as one might imagine of a 6’9 point guard; In fact, his slow style of play earned him the nickname “Slow-Mo”. On the flip side, Anderson has demonstrated his strength down low when he was needed there, but he also showed an inability to out-muscle larger defenders. It is likely that Anderson will find himself at a new position in the NBA, mostly due to his lack of speed. This brings us to his NBA equivalents, Chris Bosh and Michael Carter-Williams. Bosh, of the Miami Heat, is two inches taller than Anderson, but is capable of handling the ball and posting up. Though both have struggled against beefier opponents, they can hold their own and stretch the floor by shooting the three-ball. Anderson may not be as successful as Bosh — at least in terms of being a “big man” — but his success will be found as a rebounder who can lead the break and get out in transition. As far as the comparison to Michael Carter Williams goes, it is solely in the sense of big guard play. Carter-Williams is 6’5, but has proven that the large guard can make it in the league. Now its Anderson’s chance to show that an even larger guard can do the same.
Primary Role: Athlete
NBA Equivalent: Unknown
Prospect Grade: D
There is, indeed, a reason for both bolding and underlining “unknown” for Zach LaVine’s NBA equivalent. “What is that reason?”, you may ask. LaVine is likely the least developed, least prepared, and least proven player entering this year’s draft. LaVine propelled himself into position to be a top ten pick, but that was during the non-conference, early season. Following that, his game collapsed like a house of cards in a wind storm. When he’s not matched up against teams like Oakland or the like, and rather with the elite talent of power conferences like the Pac-12, LaVine resorts to a game of step-back contested threes and an inability to see the court. UCLA fans started the season eager to see the ball in LaVine’s hands, but by mid-season, they wanted quite the opposite. Nonetheless, this former high-school dunk contest champion is athletic and can develop — though this “one-and-done” would have been better suited doing so at UCLA, not in the NBA D-League.
David and Travis Wear:
Roles: Well Rounded Players
NBA Equivalent: Tyler Hansbrough
Prospect Grade: C
There is not much to be said about the Wear twins as far as speculation goes. They hustle, they play hard, they accept their role, and they stretch the floor with their range. Though different, they are grouped together here for two reasons. One being that they have never been on separate teams, and two being that they will probably develop into similar NBA players. Though each will be a wonderful addition to their respective locker rooms, their on court performance will be limited to a good role player off the bench. It isn’t far fetched that either or both of them will settle in and average around 4 points and 4 rebounds per game, like Hansbrough is doing this year.
Primary Role: Scorer
Secondary Role: Defender
NBA Equivalent: Brandon Jennings
Prospect Grade: B-
Jordan Adams fits the “NBA Image” better than any other player on the UCLA roster. As a junk yard dog who can score no matter who’s in his way, his grit has gotten him buckets. Other times, though, Adams plays to a different tune — one of impressive class. His clean ball handling and beautiful shot, in combination with the traits mentioned before, have made him UCLA’s leading scorer; He drops over 17 a game. Nonetheless, Adams would benefit from another year at the collegiate level. He has displayed his ability to see the court and track his teammates, but his passing could still use improvement. Though he knows exactly what to do, he can’t always do it. That is better than the reverse, though, as he already possesses the intangible and has time to practice the skill. His comparison to Brandon Jennings fits in that he is a dynamic scorer with range and an ability to get to the rack, but should Adams remain at UCLA and develop his passing, its easy to see him with “Jennings like” stats — 15 points and 7 assists per game. Mix all that in with Adam’s outstanding ball tracking ability and you’ll find yourself with a player who averages nearly three steals a night and brings a solid defensive mindset to any team he might join. Though undeclared, it seems as though Adams wants to test the NBA waters; maybe dip his toe in for a temperature check. Don’t be surprised whichever way he goes though, because both staying at and leaving UCLA have their respective perks.