Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On 'Dre and the Draft

For most of the year, the working assumption had been that Andre Roberson was going to turn pro.  It was seen as such a foregone conclusion, that Coach Boyle went ahead and spent a 3rd scholarship on the 2013 recruiting class, even when there was only two known to be available (all indication is that Shane Harris-Tunks' graduation and departure were known well in advance of the announcement last month).

Recently, however, there has been a hitch in that plan, with many draft experts predicting that Roberson will land as a second round draft pick at best, with a decent chance that he'd see draft day roll by without hearing his name called.

The problem isn't his defense and rebounding.  The reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player-of-the-Year has lead the program in rebounds, steals and blocks each of the last three seasons, and has cemented his status as one of the nation's premier defensive forces.  NBA scouts recognize these skills, and they are unquestioned (and even earn him the heralded 'high-motor' designation). 

No, the problem is that his offensive performance in his junior season slipped from the numbers he put up as a sophomore.
He stopped getting to both the line (where he also slipped to 55% shooting) and the rim (a career-low 51% of attempts), shot the ball at career low rates, and posted a declining O-Rating for the second consecutive year.  Part of the decline may be attributed to Josh Scott 'stealing' interior touches, continuing to play out of position, and a team-wide move away from the rim on offense, but the statistical decline shrieks 'look at me,' and NBA GMs are listening.

Given this shaky offensive track record, the conventional wisdom becomes, 'Roberson needs another year in college to improve his draft stock.'  I, however, remain unconvinced that another year at CU would do anything to move the draft needle, and may in fact be harmful to his overall NBA prospects.

For me it comes down to this: even assuming he reverses the trends and improves offensively, NBA GMs are still going to look at him as offensively deficient.  He just doesn't have the game for the small forward role that CU continues to play him in, and it's highlighting the weaker aspects of his game, rather than emphasizing what he does best at.  Barring some ridiculousness where he breaks out a la Derrick Williams, that narrative can't change. 

Further, how is he going to show offensive improvement on next season's deeper, more balanced roster?  Who will he be stealing points from, since the majority of the roster that put points on the board will be returning?  Scott is only going to improve, Spencer Dinwiddie, assuming he returns, is only going to improve, and Askia Booker probably (*cough*) won't be in a season-long slump.  The scoring situation only becomes more crowded when you consider incoming freshmen like Chris Jenkins, Tre'Shaun Fletcher, and Jaron Hopkins, in addition to the front-line touches that Wes Gordon will be pushing for.  There's just not enough water left in the stone for 'Dre to squeeze out eye-popping numbers.

Sure, 'Dre coming back makes a lot of sense from a non-NBA point-of-view.  Not only would it make the team better - possibly Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight better - but he'd also get another year as the BMOC, a final dose of accolades and awards, the opportunity to pursue a league title with a special grouping of talent, a chance to ascend to the Mt Rushmore of CU basketball, and, last but not least, a degree... but I just don't see how all of that would improve his draft standing.

Talk about the benefits of staying in school if you must, but don't tell me it'll make him better in the eyes of the NBA.  From my perspective, it won't.

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