Thursday, June 26, 2008

The DL on JJ

The Cleveland Cavaliers tonight passed on both "local hero" (as called him) Kosta Koufos, and sinking-fast-in-the-first-round forward Darrell Arthur, went with a freshman out of North Carolina State, whom (nearly) all media reports seem to think has tons of athleticism and tons of potential.

Some pre-draft rundown on the newest Cavalier, J.J. Hickson.


J.J. Hickson
Athletic big man with an NBA body. Explosive leaper. Physical.
Good finisher around the basket. Does most of his damage inside the key. Can hit the midrange jumper. Can put the ball on the floor and create his own shot. Excellent rebounder. Good shot-blocker.

Negatives: Still lacks some basketball IQ. Post moves are raw. Not especially quick.

Summary: A rising young player who has had a stellar freshman season for NC State. Teams love his body and athleticism. One of this year's draft sleepers. A mid-first-round pick if he stays in the draft. A potential lottery pick in 2009.


NBA Comparison: Chris Wilcox
Strengths: Very strong and mobile big man ... In addition to great upper and lower body strength, he has a very long wingspan, making his package that much more promising ... He has a nice first step that he utilizes effectively from the high-post, where he faces up and takes the ball to the hoop ... Shows nice patience and understanding of how to get open in the post, working from block to block to receive a pass in the best possible scoring position ... His repertoire in the post is decent and has shown some nice development; he can throw a variety of hook-shots, spin moves and up & unders at his defender from the block ... He has a fadeaway that is very difficult to defend because he gets it off with a mix of shoulder fakes ... Can be a difficult match up for bigger post players, because he has the body to mix it up inside, but also the speed and willingness to run the floor effectively ... Uses his length to block a number of shots and alter many others around the basket ... His broad shoulders allow him to clear space in the paint giving him a big advantage when it comes to rebounding ...

Weaknesses: Is still not ready for the next level, could use an extra year or so of college to mature further and develop his game ... Does not have the great leaping ability that so many other young 4 men in the league possess ... Although he shows a strong preference towards operating from the high post, his almost non-existent jump shot and subpar ballhandling will initially restrict him to the low blocks ... The limited range on his jumpshot can be attributed primarily to his flawed mechanics, as he does not square up to the basket and his elbow goes out too far on the release ... His touch around the hoop is very unrefined and he struggles to catch passes while on the move, which raises some questions about his hands ... He was able to get away with a lot offensively in college because he could always overpower the defender with his strength, but until he develops a dependable and consistent post up game he will struggle against the more athletic/aggressive players in the league ... Although he has been able to limit his fouls, his defensive game has shown minimal growth ... He is very undisciplined, leaving his feet to try and block every shot that is put up, he also gets out of position frequently, allowing his man to score with ease ...
Borko Popic - 5/26/2008

Strengths: Powerful, athletic forward with intriguing upside ... Has a great combination of agility and strength potential , appears as thought he'll be able to add another 20 pounds to his frame without losing much if any mobility ... Already has good strength with powerful legs and a solid upper body ... Has a very strong base with thick legs that make him tough to push around ... With his long wing span and strength/athleticism he has the potential to become a dominant rebounder ... Bouncy four-man who runs the court well, and finishes well above the rim ... Shows solid fundamentals shooting mid range jump shots ... Has soft hands and good touch ... Has above average ball handling ability and likes to face the basket and take opponents off the dribble ...

Weaknesses: Needs to develop his offensive post moves ... Must learn better footwork inside on both ends of the floor ... At times he appears to have mental lapses ... Needs to gain better focus for entire ball games ... Must learn how to use his great strength without drawing fouls. Improved footwork and concentration on fundamentals will help him. Not falling for ball fakes ... Can dominate opponents with sheer athleticism, but that won't be the case in the ACC next year, must gain better skill level ... Has a tendency to wander away from the basket for mid range jumpers, but is more effective using his strength inside ... His heavy legs give him great strength inside, but limit his lateral foot speed and may eventually slow him down some in transition ...
Aran Smith - 12/8/2006


Considering that he didn’t play in the three on three portion of the workouts in day two, there was really only so much we can say about what we saw here in the shooting drills. His bread and butter will always be the work he does with his back to the basket around the paint, so trying to judge him off his perimeter shooting doesn’t do him a lot of justice. Hickson is not at the same level conditioning wise as his workout partners Joe Alexander and Marreese Speights, but he looked extremely focused and resolute on executing everything he’s been taught by the people here. His length and athleticism are clearly terrific, and he looked very good using the glass to finish around the rim and even stepping out and knocking down shots out to 17 or 18 feet. He has a tendency to fade away excessively and sports an inconsistent release point, but his touch isn’t bad and it seems like he shouldn’t have a problem developing an effective mid-range game if he can clean up his shooting mechanics.

Joe Abunassar’s take: “Powerful and explosive with great size. Skilled both facing and on the block. Reminds me of a young Al Harrington the way he can take bigger players out on the floor and face up and out-quick them, then bury smaller players with his strength in the post. Also working really hard on his conditioning and body and has trimmed up quite a bit. “


An interesting high school recruiting video:


Scouting Report: A strong, athletic big man from a tough conference.

Strengths: Strong finisher – can absorb contact and still score. Nice hands. Long wingspan. Strong, thick frame. Nice post moves. Great shot-blocker. Great rebounder – had 10 double-digit rebounding games his freshman year. Very accurate from the field. Was “the man” on a team that plays in one of college’s best conferences. Athletic for a big man.

Weaknesses: Will be too small to play center in the NBA. Undersized – might only be 6’8”. Needs to develop range on his jumper. Relies too much on size/athleticism to score in college, but needs to diversify game to succeed at pro level. Very inexperienced. Needs to get in better shape. Is he quick enough to cover NBA power forwards?

Projected 2008 Draft Range: Late first round pick.

Consensus: There is no way Hickson should remain in this deep draft considering he is only a borderline first round choice. He needs to go back to school and develop more of his game and try again next draft.


An early entry candidate for the 2008 NBA Draft.

Career Highlights: Earned ACC All-Freshman Team honors after leading all conference freshmen in scoring, rebounding and double-doubles. Also named Honorable Mention All-Conference. Earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors three times.

Freshman (2007-08): Led the team in scoring (14.8 ppg, ranked 10th in the ACC) and rebounding (8.5 rpg, second). Paced the conference in field goal percentage (.591) and ranked sixth in blocked shots (1.5 bpg). Scored 20 or more points seven times. Posted 10 double-doubles. Registered career-high 33 points on 10-for-11 shooting and added 13 rebounds vs. Western Carolina. Recorded 31 points on perfect 12-for-12 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds in his collegiate debut vs. William & Mary. Notched 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots at Michigan State. Set an ACC single game freshman record by pulling down a career-high 23 rebounds, while adding 13 points and four blocked shots vs. Clemson. Posted a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds at Duke. Grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds vs. Wake Forest. Logged 14 points and eight rebounds at North Carolina. Registered 27 points and 14 rebounds vs. Miami in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

High School: Earned Second Team Parade All-American honors and was named to the McDonald’s All-American Team, scoring an East team-high 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting and grabbing six rebounds. Tallied a team-high 24 points and eight rebounds at the Roundball Classic in Chicago, earning co-MVP honors. Averaged 25.9 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots as a senior. Averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots as a junior and 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots as a sophomore.

Strengths: Athletic interior player who effectively uses his length and lower body strength to finish around the basket. Can face up and hit the mid-range jumper efficiently.

Personal: Favorite NBA player is Kevin Garnett. Favorite possession is his Ipod.


And...ouch! Not a pre-draft outlook, from the live draft blog on

19. Cleveland Cavaliers: J.J. Hickson, N.C. State, F, 6-9

DeCourcy's take: It's understandable why somebody would take him with a late pick. He's tall, athletic and reasonably skilled. But he did not dominate players whom he should have dominated. He did not make his college team better; it's not unfair to say he helped make it worse. There are more desirable players still on the board. A lot of people thought the Cavs would pick Kosta Koufos, which would have been the worst pick of the first round. Instead, they chose Hickson. Still the worst pick of the first round. If I'm LeBron James, I'm checking condo prices in Brooklyn right now. Is that Jay-Z on the phone?

Scout's take: I'm not jumping up and down about him. He looks good. He's a Tim Thomas-type. But there is nothing out of the ordinary about his game. He's one of these young players -- a freshman -- who declare for the NBA draft still living off their AAU reputations. He needs a lot of work.