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NBA Draft 2016: In search of a third round

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Espn draft guru Chad Ford has the two Boiler Big Men outside of the top sixty in his first big board for the 2016 draft.

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It's never too early for Chad Ford to start speculating about future drafts and how the top college players in the country will fare in the eyes of the NBA overlords.

The Boilers for the first time since Hummel have a couple legitimate prospects on their roster in the twin powers: Senior A. J. Hammons and freshman Caleb Swanigan.

However, according to Ford's projections they would be taken in succession with the 64th pick and the 65th with the senior getting the nod above the youngster in the third round of the draft which doesn't exist.

Of course, there's a myriad of caveats that come with any projections this early on. I'm not even going to name them here. There's really no importance to the number they have on the board right now. It's a catch-all ranking of players, a lot who have never played even a minute of college ball, that will change dramatically over the season.

What we can take away from Chad Ford's analysis is what NBA teams see in these two in terms of pros and cons.

According to Chad Ford's Player Evaluations:

A. J. Hammons, 22, 7-0", 280lbs

Positives

  • Big, physical center
  • Soft touch around the basket
  • Mobile for his size
Negatives
  • Has struggled with conditioning issues
  • Still very raw
  • Old for his class

I think we'll find the narrative on Hammons to be 'He is what he is'. He's not an upside pick. A rangy athlete with a ton of upside and unrealized potential. He's a solid, big body that will provide some rim protection that's shown some competency towards a mid range game. I'm not worried about his conditioning. He was in much better shape last year and from all indications has worked hard two straight off seasons to improve his body.

I find the raw label to be a bit lazy, a label stuck on him from his early years and one that he's unfairly still wearing. I was impressed with A. J.'s footwork last year in the post. I thought he had some really good post moves in a world where there just aren't many coordinated enough seven footers capable of dribbling twice without traveling. He's still a bit predictable with his moves, but at his size and with his touch, I felt confident with him having the ball in the post.

If there's anything he needs to work on, it's his offensive awareness and his ability to pass. I'll keep ringing this bell, but if our big men can learn to pass out of doubles, our offense will be unrecognizable and very very good.

According to Chad Ford's Player Evaluation:

Caleb Swanigan, 18, 6-8", 271lbs

Positives
  • Strong, physical low-post player
  • Soft hands around the basket
  • Good rebounder
  • Very long
Negatives
  • Needs to improve conditioning
  • Lacks elite athleticism
We know Hammons is gone after the year. That makes Caleb's NBA profile far more intriguing - and selfishly - encouraging to look at. If he remains a second round or worse projection, it's hard to imagine him leaving West Lafayette after only one year. It's too much of a risk with no guarantee to your contracts in the second round.

And it mostly comes down to athleticism. Can Swanigan keep up with athletic 4's? Stretch bigs who provide some play making ability? That's what the NBA game values more than anything now, and if Swanigan struggles to guard them, his value will take a big hit. Watching him in Greece, I'm concerned with his lateral quickness, but it's early. He's just now getting to campus and getting to work with the coaches and getting in D1 shape. He'll look better in Mackey than he did for U19, and the kid is long. (7' 4" inch wing span long) He looked like a monster compared to the rest of the national team and that arm span will help to clog up passing lanes and protect the rim.

Offensively, the kid is polished, powerful, and equipped with soft hands. He'll be able to take advantage of those same athletic wings trying to play the four against him. There's a lot to like, but there's enough pause with his fit in today's NBA that will probably lend us at least a sophomore year of the Fort Wayne native.