Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pre-Draft Thoughts: D.J. Augustin

I watch a lot of college hoops so I feel reasonably familiar with this draft class, but having been raised in Austin I am a huge University of Texas fan and therefore am very familiar with D.J. Augustin. Maybe its just increased media coverage, or Eamonn Brennan's insistence that every team from slots 9 to 15 should pick D.J., but in general I feel that his draft stock has risen since the end of the season.

He didn't finish the season on a high note, as the Horns got handled by a Memphis Tigers team that just came off as considerably more athletic. But throughout the season, he showed poise and flashes of brilliance which could signal a promising pro career.

D.J. is a little small for an NBA point guard, listed at 5'11", 175, but as we all know those numbers are oftentimes untrustworthy. That being said, he has a muscular build and may just have the toughness to bang with guys bigger than he is (ahh, toughness, a favorite "intangible" of mine).

If a team is concerned about minimizing off-court troubles, Augustin is your man. He's a mama's boy and a straight A student, but has that dirty coast swagger that I think still gives him star potential. To me, his whole demeanor screams "heart of a champion."

His ball handling and decision making are his greatest strengths. He's not a pure passer (the man has a nice outside jumper), but his assist-to-turnover ratio is outstanding. I'm surprised more people don't compare him to Deron Williams, even though he's a good bit smaller. Both have a strong build and neither are wizards with the ball, but both make excellent decisions and primarily take long range shots from the top of the arc. Augustin also thrives offensively when driving off the pick, another D-Will characteristic.

Draft Express lists his weaknesses as:

• Size
• Defensive potential
• Streak shooter
• Finishing potential at next level?
• Ball-dominant at times
• Shot-selection mildly questionable

Size is obvious and unavoidable, but as small point guards go, I've already said I think he's strong enough to make up for his height. I think he actually has excellent defensive potential, but has shown that potential selectively. Texas played inconsistent defense all-season: at points their defense was lazy and porous, at other times it was focused and smothering. His personal defensive prowess waxed and wained with the whole squad.

"Streak Shooter" is accurate, as is "ball-dominant at times," but this season he was both UT's best offensive weapon (he can create more for himself that A.J. Abrams can), while also being its primary distributor. In fact, Barnes moved Augustin to the 2 frequently so D.J. could catch the ball on the wing or while cutting, a clear signal he was the 1st option all along. Either way, my point is that in a situation where he is not the 1st option but rather the 3rd or 4th, I think he won't be seen as "ball-dominant."

His shot-selection is questionable only in the sense that he is willing to take a long-range jumper with a hand in his face. He will put the ball up while in traffic, but has shown himself to be a reasonably creative finisher in the lane, which is also why I am a little surprised they questioned his ability to finish at the next level. Again I think its too simplistic to let his height dictate his potential.

As far as where he'll fall, he could sneak into the top 10 if the Bobcats decide he is more reliable/smarter than Russell Westbrook, but realistically I think he will drop to the Pacers at 11. I would be surprised if he dropped any farther than that, but I would love it if the Trailblazers could nab him at 13. He would be an excellent compliment to a squad with endless potential, and as a UT fan I would be excited for two former Horns to be apart of the team that many, including myself, feel will win a ring in the next five years.

No comments: