Trey Burke, Branden Dawson among the top NBA prospects in the Big Ten according to DraftExpress

September 10, 2012 in Division I

By Patrick Hayes

DraftExpress, one of the most respected NBA draft sites in the business, has recently released its rankings of the Big Ten’s best NBA prospects, and two in-state college players were among the elite. Michigan point guard Trey Burke was rated No. 2 overall, right behind Indiana’s Cody Zeller:

As the primary ball-handler of the slowest tempo team in the Big Ten conference, with no real post presence and very few creators besides him, Burke is by nature a very ball-dominant point guard. A huge amount of his offensive possessions (nearly half) come in pick and roll situations, where he is pretty effective.

Extremely fast in the open floor, Burke is an excellent ball-handler, capable of playing at different speeds and showing a terrific burst blowing by opponents en-route to the rim. He does a good job of keeping his dribble alive and weaving his way around traffic, which allows him to draw the defense and find open shooters spotting up on the wing or cutters diving to the basket.

While much more of a scorer than a pure playmaker at this stage, Burke is capable of creating for others as well, doing a good job reading the floor and anticipating teammates getting open. He makes smart passes ahead in transition, and is very effective in particular on the drive and dish.

Michigan State‘s Branden Dawson, who is returning this season from a serious knee injury, came in at No. 5:

With his strong frame and quick first step, Dawson is capable of putting the ball on the floor a bit in a straight line, especially driving left, but he’s not what you would describe as a great ball-handler at this stage. He has a tough time changing speeds or directions with the ball after his initial drive is cut off, which makes it difficult for him to create his own shot in pick and roll or isolation situations like most NBA wing players are expected to. He does, however, show nice potential as a post-up threat, which will serve him well both next season and down the road.

Dawson’s biggest Achilles heel by far is his perimeter shot, as he didn’t make a single 3-pointer last season, and hit just 59% of his free throws. This is a major concern when projecting to the NBA, as there is virtually no such thing as a small forward that is not even remotely a threat to make a long-range jump-shot in today’s NBA. To his credit, his shooting mechanics, while fairly deliberate, aren’t terrible, and he did make a handful of mid-range jumpers as the year moved on, so there is certainly hope he can still develop this part of his game considering he’s only 19 years old.

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