John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Evan Turner

The fun thing about these conference tournaments is that you get to see guys playing a few days in a row - oftentimes at the same time.  With the SEC semifinal of Kentucky vs Tennessee starting at 1pm and the Big Ten semifinal of Ohio State vs Illinois starting at 1.40pm - it was the perfect spacing to go back and forth and see the majority of both games (disclaimer - I have spent more time watching Kentucky than Ohio State).  Regardless the simultaneous conference tournaments lets you compare guys at the same time.

The biggest thing that stood out to me about John Wall today was that he is much more of a pure PG than I ever realized.  He truly looks to set the table first and then look for his offense second.  Kentucky's game plan is to always get Cousins involved first and then get Wall involved (as he has the ability to turn if on when needed).  He is a much better passer and possesses better court vision than many give him credit for.  I think this makes him a better pure point guard than Derrick Rose.  He also has a very developed basketball IQ and can truly sense when its time for him to take over on the offensive end or when he needs to get a particular teammate an easy look - and this is not strictly a guy with positioning in the paint, but also a guy spotting up for an open look from 3.

Next year in the NBA he wll be top 3 or 4 in end to end speed with the ball with Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and Devin Harris.  What makes him truly effective with this however, is that he has a fantastic handle and can dribble through traffic without needing to look down for the ball or break stride.  This allows him to constantly survey the court up ahead and identify where guys are "going to be" or "should be" which enables him to find the open man in transition and makes him a true threat in the open court.  He also is a very strong rebounder for a point guard - and thanks to his size and athleticism projects to average around 5-6 boards per game next season.   He is also a much better defender than people realize - and always takes the right angle when trying to cut off a player in transition or on a drive.  He also is tremendously gifted at getting the ball down low into the post which would bode well with being teamed with Brook Lopez.  I also like that he has thrived in the Kentucky backcourt where Bledsoe is also a pure point.  This gives a nice indication of how he can thrive with Devin on the court at the same time.

Turner is definitely not an NBA PG but a pure NBA SG.  He does not have the handle or the court vision of John Wall but is able to do everything well.  His length and athleticism translate very well to the SG position in the NBA - and his leadership abilities are probably underrated.  He truly carries that Ohio State team on his back - and every defender knows the ball will end up in Turner's hands - yet he is still able to deliver.  He is an apt passer but does not have the passing ability of Wall nor is he as skilled at dumping the ball into the low post.  He has a good jumper and can be lethal when putting the ball on the floor and is able to finish with both hands. 

I admit that I have been in the Turner camp for quite some time - and would not be upset if we walked away with either Wall or Turner....however I think that Wall actually gives the Nets coaching staff a lot more versatility in the lineups and rotations that they use. 

At the NBA level - Turner is a pure SG, with the ability to handle the ball in some lineups or situations.  Yet he is currently not the guy that you want initiating the offense on a consistent basis.  On the Nets this means that  Devin would primarily play PG, while Turner would become the starting SG.  Barring a major SF signing in free agency, TWill would probably step in as the starting SF and would share point duties with Devin - sometimes setting up the offense and allowing both Devin and Turner to look to score off the wing.  This would leave Courtney Lee as the backup SG off the bench with CDR (dependent on the new coaching regime) to play more of a 2/3 role off the bench.  Drafting Turner also means that the Nets likely will need to use either the Dallas pick or the 31st pick to select a true PG to provide added depth off the bench - likely meaning that we target Sherron Collins, Eric Bledsoe (if he drops) or Willie Warren (this is questionable as not sure he is a pure PG nor that he would be available at 27).

At the NBA level - John Wall is a pure PG with the ability under some situations to step in and play SG, but I think to take the ball out of his hands would be to strip him of some of his weapons.  John and Brook could easily develop into the next Stockton-Malone on the pick and roll - and Brook can be sure that when he establishes position - Wall will find him for an easy bucket.  I think due to Wall's defensive prowess - the Nets coaching staff could easily play Wall and Harris in the backcourt together - with Harris sliding into a traditional SG role.  Honestly, I think that Harris is better suited to being an NBA SG where he can look to score but has the PG skills to kick out to the open man or find the big man under the basket on penetration.  Using same SF assumption of TWill as the starting SF - the Nets truly create a 3 headed monster on the perimeter with 3 guys adept at passing and penetrating.  The Nets will continue to lack a reliable outside jump shooter however - but the threat of 3 premier penetrators who can make the remarkable pass will keep defenders on alert.  The primary benefit in taking Wall from a draft perspective is that it really frees the Nets up to target a big man or best player available with their next 2 picks.  The Nets would have no need to draft a PG - as they would have both Wall and Harris along with TWill to share in ball handling duties.  Yet if a pure PG does drop to 31 - it could make sense for the Nets to bolster their backcourt. 

Cousins was really really impressive today.  His athleticism was much better than it has looked lately and he truly can dominante in the paint.  He was impressive on the defensive end of the floor - taking charges, back tapping loose balls, getting steals (at one point he ripped the ball out of the hands of a Tenn player) and blocking shots.  Offensively he is dominant in the paint but really lacks a reliable jump shot to contribute in the pick and pop type game.  His conditioning was impressive as well.  Yet he always seemed on the verge of blowing up - and at one point had a heated altercation with Caliapri on the bench.  The Nets would NEED a very stern veteran coach who commands respect from his players to keep Cousins in line.  Background checks and interviews with team officials will be extremely important when evaluating Cousins. 

I don't see Cousins really being an NBA PF however.  He really is a true center and will have better success staying in the low post.  This could work with Lopez however, because as good as Brook is as a low post center he does have the ability to hit the 18 foot jumper and be active in pick and rolls and pick and pops - allowing the Nets to play Brook as a PF.  This worked well in college at Stanford when Brook played more of a PF role at Stanford while his brother was more of the center in that offense.  Defensively however, not sure Brook has the speed or agility to guard the perimeter 4s that are currently en vogue. 

Yet with Cousins - the biggest thing will always be his mental stability and ability to stay focused and buy into the coaching staff and conditioning program to ensure NBA success.  The Nets are probably better to stay away from Cousins unless they end up with the 4th pick in the draft.    

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