ESPN Insider - NBA Draft Blog Sneak Peek - Beal, Marshall, Barnes
They profiled a ton of players, here's three of interest:
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Beal came into the season ranked No. 5 on our Big Board and after a rocky start to the season, he came on as Florida's best player in the tournament. He had one of his best games of the year against Marquette, scoring 21 points, shooting 8-for-10 from the field, grabbing six boards, handing out four assists and getting two blocks and two steals. He showed off that all-around game that has some scouts comparing him to Eric Gordon with a higher ceiling. Florida lost a heartbreaker versus Louisville in the Elite Eight, but Beal played well there, too. If he declares, he remains a virtual lock for the Top 5. We've moved him up to No. 3 overall on our Big Board.
Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Marshall didn't play one minute this weekend and his draft stock still took another major jump. Why? Because without him orchestrating things from the point, North Carolina's other six high school All-Americans struggled to get any semblance of an offense going. Marshall's unselfishness can sometimes get lost when he's on the court. But when you saw players like Barnes and John Henson try to create without him, they looked very ordinary. It's not inconceivable that if Marshall declares and his broken wrist is healed, he could be the first or second point guard off the board and go somewhere in the 9-to-14 range.
Harrison Barnes, F, UNC
At this stage in the game, it's pretty hard for a top prospect to really do much damage to his stock. These are high-pressure games and no NBA scout is going to base an overall performance evaluation on one or two contests. With that said, Barnes' struggles this weekend without Marshall on the floor were alarming. He struggled to create any offense for himself, was often left taking off-balance jump shots and, with the exception of a hot streak toward the end of the first half versus Kansas, didn't look anything like the special player we all believed he could become. Barnes ended up going 8-for-30 from the field and, for the most part, it looked worse than the box score suggests. We've known for a while that Barnes struggles as a ball handler and can be one-dimensional, but without Marshall setting him up in the spots he wants to get to, he just isn't able to do too much.
With all of that said, a number of GMs still believe he can be a very effective weapon at the NBA level. His size and shooting ability for his position are good. Put him on the right team, with the right point guard, and don't ask him to be a superstar, and Barnes could still have a very effective NBA career. I don't think he's a franchise-changer, but if he continues to develop, Danny Granger or Luol Deng might be his upside. If he doesn't live up to his potential? Maybe he is the second coming of Martell Webster.