To get draft week started, let's take a look at a few Big Ten prospects who have a great chance of not getting drafted. While it's true that you never really know who an NBA team will take a chance on in the second round, the guys we are profiling today aren't appearing on many mock drafts. That said, there's no reason these players can't find an NBA team to latch onto and possibly make an impact in the future. OK, the pending lockout is a pretty good reason why, but we're going to be optimistic today.
Kalin Lucas, Michigan State Point Guard
The senior point guard from Michigan State has all sorts of intangible value thanks to his extensive postseason experience, but NBA scouts find him lacking in the athleticism department. Here's what DraftExpress has to say about Lucas' offensive abilities:
As a creator off the dribble, Lucas may be somewhat limited at the NBA level due to his lack of elite explosiveness. While he does have a good top speed with the ball in his hands, he doesn't possess a lightning-quick first step. He does however display a sense of craftiness and an understanding of how to use change of pace dribbles. He's also comfortable as the ball-handler in pick-and roll situations, often making the correct reads, whether it's a drive to the basket, a jumpshot for himself, or a pass to a teammate. When attacking the basket, Lucas does a good job of initiating contact and drawing fouls, but his lack of size and elevation often prevents him from finishing at the rim.
Lucas has been a perfectly capable Big Ten point guard for the past four years, but there's nothing about him that really makes the NBA scouts excited. He's a decent shooter (43% FG and 39% on threes last season), a good passer (1.31 assist to turnover ratio) and sometimes he can get to the rim (37% FT/FG rate). That doesn't make for a great NBA point guard, but being the star point guard for a premier NCAA program does have its perks. NBADraft.net lists among Lucas' best qualities: "Quintessential lead guard with winner's mentality ... Shows maturity and composure under pressure well beyond his years."
While Lucas isn't likely near the top on any draft boards, I could see an NBA team that's ready to win now take Lucas with a second round pick and hoping he can quickly develop into a capable backup point guard. As a college senior, Lucas has limited upside, but his big game experience will make him attractive to playoff contenders.
Durrell Summers, Michigan State Shooting Guard
Unlike Spartan teammate Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers will need to rely almost completely on his athleticism in order to make an impact in the NBA. That's because Summers' offensive game hasn't evolved very far past his role as a spot-up jump shooter. DraftExpress has more:
A player with a highly defined role on the offensive end, that being spot-up perimeter shooting, Summers is prone to falling off the map when his shot isn't falling, as he just doesn't contribute much consistently in any other areas on this end of the floor. According to Synergy Sports Technology, an amazing 186 of Summers' 234 (79.4%) half-court shot attempts were of the jump shot variety, with him taking just 48 around the basket. Further hurting his anemic inside game is the fact that his two-point field goal percentage has plummeted to a four-year low of just 40.2% this season, and is getting to the free throw line at a career-low rate of 3.2 times per-40 minutes pace-adjusted.
Just like with Kalin Lucas, Battle will probably need to depend on his leadership and toughness to get noticed. Unfortunately, Penn State doesn't have the kind of national reputation of Michigan State, but what Battle does have going for him is the success of diminutive guards in recent years. With his fearlessness and ridiculous shooting range, is there any reason Battle can't be a poor man's Nate Robinson? OK, there's a huge difference there in leaping ability, but remember, we're being optimistic. And besides, look what J.J. Barea did in the Finals this year, and he's went to Northeastern of all places. The odds may be stocked against Battle, but at least he picked a good time to start his pro career.
Mike Davis, Illinois Power Forward
Although he can score a bit inside and has developed a nice 15-foot jump shot, Mike Davis just isn't the most exciting offensive player in the world. The man is going to need to fight his way onto an NBA roster with rebounding and defense. That might be a problem according to DraftExpress:
Defensively, Davis had some nice moments contesting shots and getting in the passing lanes with his length, but also gave up a few easy baskets by leaving his feet and giving up position to stronger players. His motor and toughness often leave something to be desired, which is a big knock against him considering the role he'd be destined to play in the NBA.