Draft Week: Jeremy Tyler

The 2011 NBA Draft will soon be upon us, and the Nets are starting to carve out a list of prospects. This week, Nets are Scorching takes a look at the players the Nets might select.

Israel Super League Stats: 10 GP, 7.6 MPG, 2.1 PPG
Basketball Japan League Stats: 33 GP, 15.4 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.7 BPG, 2.3 TOV/G, 0.5 SPG, .511 FG%, .454 FT%

In a draft liberally sprinkled with names like Jonas Valanciunas or Bismack Biyombo, perhaps the most intriguing international man of mystery is San Diego’s own Jeremy Tyler.  After establishing himself as one of the top prep players in the Class of 2010, the then 6’9” Tyler went Brandon Jennings one better and skipped his senior year of high school to play professionally in Israel. 

Shockingly, the 18 year old who had never before been overseas had difficulty adjusting to life in Israel and saw his maturity repeatedly called into question.  As a not-particularly-flattering New York Times profile put it, “the consensus is that he is so naïve and immature that he has no idea how naïve and immature he is.”  After just 10 games Tyler called it quits on his Israel experiment having logged less than 8 mpg and scoring 21 total points.

With his basketball future very much unsure, Tyler signed with the wonderfully-named Japanese team Tokyo Apache.  Besides boasting some of the most amazing websites in the sports world, the BJ League is also home to a nice mix of homegrown talent and imports against which Tyler could measure himself.  Playing on a roster with notables like former Oklahoma State PG Byron Eaton and 2004 lottery pick Robert Swift, Tyler averaged 9.9 points and 6.4 rebounds in his 33 games and put himself back on NBA scouts’ radar.

Over the past few months, Tyler’s stock has only continued to rise, which makes a lot of sense considering his natural physical attributes.  A combine-measured 6’10 ½ ” in shoes, Tyler’s athletic measurements nearly mirrored those of Derrick Williams with the exception of the bench press.  If he can cut his combine near-worst 13.4% body fat in half even by a third and add some muscle, he’ll really be a physical specimen and a handful in the post. 

 That’s Tyler in a nutshell; if he works hard and has his head straight, he has one of the highest ceilings in his draft, but with his lack of experience and the red flags shown during his time in Israel, he also has some of the highest potential to be a bust.  Besides the makeup questions, he also has the raw and limited offensive game typical of young post players.  But still, that potential…

 If I may climb on my soapbox for a moment, one thing that’s really gotten on my nerves about Jeremy Tyler is how universally his decision to go abroad has been panned.  The standard narrative seems to be that the only reason he’s not a top 10 pick this year is because of how badly he screwed that up.  What’s ignored is that while he did wash out, he did so during what would have been his senior year in high school, meaning he’s had more than a year to rebuild his image before the draft.  Could he have dominated the NCAA as a freshman and played himself into contention for #1 overall?  Sure.  But he could also have acted like the same immature, entitled kid who and damaged his reputation even further, and more visibly at that.  The line between Jared Sullinger and Derrick Caracter is a fine one indeed, and while Jeremy Tyler has some strikes against him he’s also seen how precarious athletic stardom is, wisdom that may prove beneficial for both him and his NBA team.

Quotable: Former NBA coach Bob Hill, who coached Tyler in Japan:

The staff that drafts him needs to stay on him and continue to teach him exactly what it is they want from him. If that is done on a consistent basis, he will be fine…Five years down the road, he could become an outstanding player, because he really wants this and has a very good motor.

Final Thoughts: Two months ago, Jeremy Tyler was considered a second round prospect.  He didn’t crack Chad Ford’s mock draft until its third iteration, and even then only at pick #29.  In the latest version Ford has him going to the Celtics at #25.  Tyler has been on the rise, and it’s very possible he’ll be gone by the time the Nets pick.

 If he is there, though, he may prove too tempting to pass up.  As has been pointed out on this very blog, Tyler’s character and experience don’t fit what the Nets seem to be looking for, and most recent mock drafts have had the Nets looking guard.  That said, Jeremy Tyler has as much potential as any big man in the draft, and it’s tough to pass on a top 10 talent at pick #27.  If the draft shakes out right and they have the guts to pull the trigger, Tyler may fall into their laps and the Nets may find themselves with a high-upside PF to replace Derrick Favors.