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A.J.'s Folly - Part Three - NBA Draft Big Man Rankings

The 2010 NBA Draft will be chock full of big men, and that list includes A.J. Ogilvy. As we've reviewed over the past week, the competition for a first round pick will be stiff, especially with the influx of talented underclassmen that have declared themselves eligible to be chosen in June. The past two entries broke down who will be vying for picks this summer, and today we'll try to properly rank Ogilvy amongst them.

To do this, we'll break the draft's best big men (power forwards and centers) down by tiers based on talent, potential, and NCAA resume. For this exercise, there are 36 players rated, of which 25 or so will probably be drafted. The first tier is made up of players that won't escape the Lottery, and includes players like Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins - young, beastly big men with top flight athletic capabilities and amazing potential for growth. Note that in all these Tiers, the players are listed in no particular order.

Tier 1 - Lottery Locks
Player School
DeMarcus Cousins Kentucky
Derrick Favors Georgia Tech
Al-Farouq Aminu Wake Forest
Cole Aldrich Kansas
Ed Davis North Carolina
Greg Monroe* Georgetown

These players represent the cream of the crop amongst interior players and will likely be snatched up in the first 14 picks of the 2010 draft. They will be expected to make a few All-Star appearances and to be full-time starters for the next decade and beyond. The next tier of players represents solid players with either athletic or experience issues. This group includes guys with little big game experience (Hassan Whiteside, Jan Vesely) and proven players whose skills may not transfer smoothly to the NBA (Patrick Patterson).

Tier 2 - Sure Fire First Rounders
Player School/Country
Hassan Whiteside Marshall
Jan Vesely Czech Republic
Ekpe Udoh* Baylor
Larry Sanders VCU
Solomon Alabi* Florida State
Patrick Patterson Kentucky
Donatas Motiejunas Lithuania

These players present mounds of potential, but offer more flaws than the players in Tier One. While they will all likely have solid professional careers, they lack the overall All-Star potential of players like Cousins and Davis.

Tier 3 - Bubble First Rounders
Player School/Country
Daniel Orton** Kentucky
Gani Lawal Georgia Tech
Jerome Jordan Tulsa
Craig Brackins Iowa State
Jarvis Varnado Mississippi State
Artisiom Parahkouski Radford

The players above represent some solid four year players and big-time projects. The four-year guys are likely rotation players in the NBA that have maxed out their potential over four years of college ball and can step in and handle some of the aspects of big league play. However, they are likely going to be limited in their growth, and may not develop into much beyond spot starters and specialists. Guys like Orton and Lawal, on the other hand, won't see much time in their rookie years, but could develop into dominant players down the road. Conversely, it's also possible that they turn into major league busts.

Tier 4 - Second Round Fliers
Player School/Country
Trevor Booker Clemson
Kenneth Faried Morehead State
Dexter Pittman Texas
Charles Garcia Seattle
Miroslav Raduljica Serbia
Brian Zoubek Duke
Kevin Seraphin France
Herb Pope Seton Hall
Derrick Caracter** UTEP
A.J. Ogilvy Vanderbilt
(best case)

The players in Tier Four are unlikely to sniff the first round, and either have major flaws, limited experience, or a combination of the two. In his best case scenario, A.J. Ogilvy falls in line with these players. While he's experienced, he still may have room to grow under a coach that can unlock his combination of talents. If he impresses in workouts and scouts believe that his regression was due to Vanderbilt's style of play and not the Australian's lack of growth, then Ogilvy could be considered a fourth tier big man in the 2010 draft. These players have the chance to make an NBA roster, but playing time may be slim. While there are occasional diamonds in the rough, these young men will likely have a better shot at playing time overseas or in the D-League.

Tier 5 - Fringe Draftees
Player School/Country
Omar Samhan St. Mary's
Wayne Chism Tennessee
Dwayne Collins Miami (FL)
Paulao Prestes Brazil
Luke Harangody Notre Dame
Brian Davis Texas A&M
Deon Thompson North Carolina
A.J. Ogilvy Vanderbilt
(Worst case)

Conversely, if these scouts feel that Ogilvy's college career appropriately showcased the best of his abilities, he'll drop to this fifth tier, which is filled with players that were notable college players, but whose games are unlikely to translate well to the NBA. Due to lack of size, athleticism, defense, or other flaws, these players don't have much of a shot come draft night, but will get their opportunities to impress NBA executives in Summer League games as free agent signees. Much like the Tier Four players, they'll have to work their tails off to earn a roster spot.

However, members of Tiers Four and Five may have an advantage when it comes to being drafted by frugal NBA teams. If these players are willing to play overseas while an American team held their draft rights, they would stand to save these teams hundreds of thousands of dollars. This would allow the players to get paid in Europe (or elsewhere) while their NBA teams hold the exclusive right to sign them (without a rookie contract scale) and watch over them to see if they can adjust to professional basketball. They could also use these rights to include in future trades - like the Lakers did with Marc Gasol in order to acquire his brother Pau.

As a result, despite being further down the list, Ogilvy might be able to find a taker who is willing to store him overseas for seasoning while saving a few dollars.

Overall, however, it appears that A.J. Ogilvy has got some serious climbing to do to even be in contention for a mid-second round pick, let alone a shot at the first round. Even in the best case scenario he'll find himself behind at least 20 other players with similar skillsets, better NCAA resumes, and a greater potential for growth. It's possible that A.J. and his agent know something that we don't, and it's likely that his leaving Vanderbilt has more to do with external factors than the draft, but it looks like - from a draft standpoint alone - that Ogilvy is making a bad decision by declaring after his junior year. He's essentially betting on a +1200 underdog at this point.

But, hell, if there's anything being at Vanderbilt has taught any of us, it's that underdogs are the best guys to bet on. Good luck, A.J.. We'll miss you on the court next year.

* Player has yet to officially announce his intentions for the 2010 Draft.
** I have no idea what to make of either Orton or Caracter. I believe that each will get a flier pick a round ahead of where they probably should, which makes Orton a first rounder and Caracter a second rounder.