NBA Draft Stock Risers and Fallers

West Virginia Men's College Basketball Kevin Jones

NBA Draft Stock Risers and Fallers



Kevin Jones, Senior, Forward, West Virginia

Coming into the season, the book on Kevin Jones was that he was a low-ceiling, what you see is what you get player. He made a leap between his freshman and sophomore seasons but regressed in his junior campaign. There was no evidence he could turn himself into a star player yet that is just what he has done in his senior year.

West Virginia’s tournament chances are alive thanks to Kevin Jones and his Conference POY-type season. Averaging a robust 20-10, Jones debunked two huge myths coming into the year. Could he score enough to carry an offense? Check. Taking more than 15 field goal attempts per game is only a recipe for an increased scoring load if his shots are falling. And this year, Jones has gotten his stroke back from his sophomore year, connecting on well over 50 percent of his attempts from the floor. He still does not shoot well from behind the arc yet his free throw numbers are much improved from any prior season of his career. Question number two: could he rebound at the level a top notch power forward is supposed to? Check. Snatching over 11 boards per game in the Big East is nothing to be taken lightly.

As far as peripherals, Jones still is not much of a passer but has kept his turnovers very low even with the increased playing time and importance to the offense. He has also increased his shot blocking from below average to serviceable manning the middle for the Mountaineers.

The doubts about Jones’ NBA future stemmed from him not producing at a level to be expected in his junior year. His measurements and athleticism would not get him drafted so he needed to improve year after year on the court and that hadn’t happened. Kevin’s senior year changed that picture. Proving he can rebound, a very translatable stat to the pro game and proving he can carry an offense on his back were two of the best things he could have done this season.


John Henson, Junior, Forward, North Carolina

Back in November, the problem was simple. John Henson could not shoot. His entire offensive repertoire consisted of put-back dunks and baby hooks over smaller defenders. That has all changed. Not only can Henson make some moves in the post, he has shown the ability to knock down mid-range jump shots all year long. Upping his field goal attempts and the difficultly level of said attempts has not decreased his shooting percentage one bit either. On the contrary, he is shooting better this season than either of his first two years. The free throws are still a huge problem but, overall, Henson’s jump in his offensive game can directly correlate to a potential draft stock jump. This is because his defensive prowess has been as good as advertised. Henson is a great, volume rebounder and one of the best shot blockers this side of Anthony Davis. Although still needing to add some girth to his frame and bulk up for the NBA, John Henson has rounded out the weakest part of his game.


Fab Melo, Sophomore, Center, Syracuse

Last year, Fab Melo played less than 10 minutes per game. He scored very little. He rebounded very little. He occasionally blocked a shot. He was an NBA prospect because he is a 7’0” giant with “potential.” Well, luckily for Syracuse fans, Melo has unleashed some of that potential in his sophomore season. Playing nearly 25 minutes a night now, his numbers are up across the board. Still prone to foul trouble and exhaustion, Melo is able to produce respectable numbers night in and night out, something that simply wasn’t the case a season ago.

Averaging right around 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks per game does not tell the entire story. He shoots very efficiently from the floor, as most of his shots are in the paint. And, more importantly, he is the defensive lynchpin to the Orange’s 2-3 zone. With Fab Melo protecting the rim, blocking a large number of shots and altering so many others, it allows for the players at the top of the zone to be aggressive. They have less fear of guards penetrating with Melo waiting in the wings. Syracuse has only lost once this season and it happened to be a game Fab Melo missed, which is not a coincidence. The big man has gone from all potential and no production to a very talented defensive center with much room for improvement.


Dorian Finney-Smith, Freshman, Forward, Virginia Tech

Coming out of high school, the reports on Finney-Smith were about his all-around game. He could score inside and outside, he could rebound, defend, and pass. He was the basketball equivalent of a five-tool player. After most of his freshman season has gone in the books, there is some editing to do on his report. He cannot score…from anywhere. Although it is hard to tell what is a product of being a freshman playing in his first college basketball season or playing in a slow-down offense at Virginia Tech, the fact remains that young Dorian has pretty much no offensive game. He is a poor outside shooter. He doesn’t have the body to score inside. And he has yet to display the confidence to score off the dribble, whether that skill exists or not.

On the plus side, he is indeed a good rebounder, especially for a small forward. He has shown the ability to pass and defend multiple positions yet the glaring black hole in his professional resume remains. If Finney-Smith has a desire to get drafted, he most certainly needs to return to school and prove he can score the basketball.


Alex Oriakhi, Junior, Center, Connecticut

A lot has gone wrong for the Connecticut Huskies this season. Much has also gone wrong for the big junior, Alex Oriakhi. After vast improvements from his freshman to his sophomore year, everyone was expecting another jump this season. Especially with the addition of freshman center Andre Drummond to play the 5 and allow Oriakhi to battle power forwards on occasion, big things were expected of the upperclassman. Instead, nearly every stat line has decreased for Oriakhi. His field goal percentage is down; he is scoring less, blocking fewer shots and, the biggest red flag, rebounding at a much smaller clip.

With the assumption that he was going to improve this year, Oriakhi’s NBA outlook was pretty good. He was not going to be a top pick but there is a place in the league for a big man who can rebound, defend and score inside. However, if his junior year is a better indicator, Oriakhi may need to come back for his senior year and have a monster season for his NBA stock to bounce back.