Draft Week: Josh Selby

Draft Week: Josh Selby

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.

Josh Selby, Kansas Jayhawks

College Stats: 26 GP, 20.4 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, 2.0 TOV/G, 0.8 SPG, .373 FG%, .362 3P%, .757 FT%

To say Josh Selby had an up-and-down freshman year at Kansas would be a massive understatement. While Selby entered Kansas as a highly touted prospect, he began the year by serving a nine-game suspension amidst allegations that he’d accepted improper benefits. Selby denies knowledge of any mistakes, but warns people in his situation to “just think twice.”

Selby’s actual time on the floor was no less tumultuous. He would routinely waver back and forth between solid performances and absolutely terrible ones. The good performances normally outweighed the bad; in his first 13 games, Selby scored 12 or more points in nine of them. (To highlight his inconsistency, he scored 2, 5, 3, and 4 points in the other four.) Unfortunately, Selby injured his foot in February and never returned to form.

Despite the injury issues, there’s no doubt that the athletic tools are all there. Selby sports a 42″ vertical leap (the best in the draft) to complement his impressive speed and quickness. If you have any doubts about his athleticism, this is highly suggested viewing:

Unfortunately, he doesn’t attack the basket nearly as much as he should, given this athleticism; Selby attempted 37 free throws all season, and just one in his final eight games.

Despite his timidness attacking the basket, Selby is a scoring guard in a point guard’s body. He’s a competent shooter from inside the arc and out, showing a nice consistent stroke when healthy. His shot struggled mightily after his injury, but returned to form in the combine.

He’s not much of a passer, but wants to highlight that part of his game in the pros; at 6’3″ he calls himself a “combo guard working on being a true point guard.” That quote should throw up red flags. His decision-making is highly questionable, at best. His atrocious -3.03 pure point rating places him at the very bottom of all point guard prospects, and he tallied nearly as many turnovers (53) as assists (56) in his 22 games.

Joseph Treutlein notes that Selby “shows very little in terms of point guard abilities, almost always looking for his own shot except for rare spurts where he’ll try to set up others off pick-and-rolls.” This seemingly contradicts his vocal nature; Selby is constantly communicating with coaches and other players alike, even though his game is much more suited to isolation.

Selby’s athleticism and commitment to basketball also show up on the defensive end. His biggest weakness on the defensive side of the ball is that he’s almost too aggressive, but his quickness and intensity help him make up for his tendency to overcommit. He’s constantly in the face of his defender and doesn’t allow many shots in the one-on-one game, but that tendency to “stick like glue” causes trouble when he should be in help position.

(An athletic, shoot-first player with trouble on help defense? Why the hell hasn’t he married a Kardashian yet?)

With the Nets, Selby would slot into the backup point guard role behind Deron Williams, and probably play additional minutes at the 2. He wouldn’t be a rotation player yet, although he’d be (at the very least) a more exciting backup than Jordan Farmar. Since Selby mentioned that one of his goals is to become more of a point guard, Deron’s not the worst guy he could play behind and learn from.

Quotable: On this year’s experience at Kansas:

Very humbling. Not being that guy, being the fourth, fifth option, it was hard for me at first, but you have to put the team ahead of yourself at times. That’s what I had to do. At the end of the day, it was fun while it lasted.

Final Thoughts: While Selby looks terrible by any statistical measure, he’s only just scratching the surface of his ceiling. He’s got many of the physical tools you want in a scorer. The problem is that he’s already far behind his peers, and at this rate he may never reach the apex of his potential. Between his suspension and his injury issues, one could argue that he essentially lost an entire year of development. His excuses hold less water when you consider that another top point guard prospect (Duke guard and likely #1 pick Kyrie Irving) suffered an even worse injury and still played with the poise and ability of a top pick.

I like Josh Selby a lot, and think that there’s a decent chance that he becomes a very good player in the NBA. Unfortunately, I think there’s an equally good chance that he never amounts to anything more than Mateen Cleaves. (I know, I reached back for that one.)

I’m also generally an advocate of the “draft young” strategy, as research has shown that college seniors are generally bigger busts than freshmen. That said, I think if the Nets are on the clock, and Justin Harper, Nolan Smith, and Josh Selby are sitting there, I think they make the right move by springing for one of the upperclassmen over Selby.

Let’s put it this way. With guys like Harper and Smith, you basically know what you’re getting: high-character role players who will likely never become stars. With Selby, you have no idea what you’re getting: he could develop into a fringe all-star, or be out of the league after one contract. While that’s something I could probably be talked into – I’m a sucker for hyperathletic, vocal combo guards – I think the Nets are probably going to go a more traditional route, and I can’t fault them for it.