North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough will never be a star in the NBA. He’s got tough dimensions to work with. Listed at 6’9″ and 250 pounds, it frankly would not surprise me in the least if when he got into the pre-draft camps or the individual workouts he was found to be closer to 6’7-1/2″ or something like that. He was unable to effectively guard most of the high-quality pivot men he encountered in the college ranks, and will certainly have his hands full against any of the full-sized power forwards at the NBA level. At the same time, he is not quick enough to play defense against small forwards.
In some respects, his defensive deficiencies can be hidden in zone defense schemes, though his shortcomings will persist. Even with all this, my projection is that he is going to play 10-12 years in the NBA. That’s because he’s going to bring something to the table that is not often found in your front court people – intensity.
How many times do you see these big men drafted on the basis of pure potential, but they lack the right attitude or aren’t industrious enough? I’m just winging it, but a guy like Leon Smith comes to mind. Who’s Leon Smith, you may ask? Exactly. What I can tell you about this 6’10”, 235-pound former first-round draft pick is that he made his biggest impression for the Gary Steelheads. Enough said.
How about DeAndre Jordan, who at one point in time during his freshman season was projected as a surefire top ten draft pick? At Texas A&M, he was actually benched for lack of effort, but that didn’t stop him from declaring his NBA eligibility. The Clippers took him in the second round and it may take him a while to develop into the player they want him to be.
Hansbrough will never be flagged for lack of effort. You hear a lot of those NBA color commentators talking about how this guy or that guy is an “energy player.” Well, that’s going to be Hansbrough. Even if he’s physically limited, he’s going to get his hands dirty and give a lot of effort when he goes into the game, which is going to keep him in the league. He’ll crash the boards, get a lot of garbage points and get fouled a lot. In fact, he drew a foul on 20% of his possessions this past year with the national champion Tar Heels. He’s a damn good free throw shooter as well, so he won’t waste opportunities there. He’ll also be a solid “clubhouse guy.”
Superstars don’t usually come in picks 25-35 in the draft, and often a team will be engaging in pure speculation when making their selection. The presence of Hansbrough will give some team a chance to take a player in whom they know at least some of the things they’re getting. And there’s something to be said for that when you’re out of the lottery.
Charles Jay, a long-time sports columnist and handicapper, enjoys helping people pick sports winners at http://totalactionextra.com If you are in need of top-quality sports information, from an insider’s perspective, come and check out what’s available at http://totalactionextra.com