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Monday, April 25, 2011

For Comparisons Sake Part II (Jereme Richmond)

Due to the length of this article, I'll limit this to strictly one player. I feel strongly about this comparison so I have a lot to say.

The first time I saw Richmond play in an Illinois uniform, I thought of Devin Ebanks. As it turned out, they have a lot of similarities on and off the court.

The physical similarities stood out first. They both possess long and slender frames, while playing tougher than they appear. Their toughness benefits them on the offensive glass, where they each pulled down over 3 offensive boards per 40 minutes. Without great skill sets, both players make the most of the opportunities they get to crash the boards and get easy buckets.

As I said, their skill sets aren't great - neither can hit a three pointer and struggle driving all the way to the basket - but they still show good feel on offense. Even without great quickness and handles, they both surprise you with sneaky good passes and cuts around the basket. They both managed a positive assist to turnover ratio and in the process, averaged over 3 assists per 40 minutes (pace adjusted). That is rare to find for two guys with average ball handling abilities at best.

Offensively, their futures revolve around being a slasher. They both have good touch around the hoop and have shown signs of a mid-range game. Their jumpers inside the arc are way too inconsistent now, but both enjoy taking the shot and can learn to convert in the future. And even though I praised their feel for the game, their IQs on offense could use some work. Richmond didn't average 22 minutes a game because he had zero flaws and Ebanks made plenty of boneheaded plays at West Virginia (most notably his decision at the end of the Villanova game late in the year).

Note: Oddly enough, Ebanks and Richmond both averaged 13.9 points per 40 minutes (pace adjusted) their freshman seasons.

While their offense has a ways to go, both have all the physical tools to contribute immediately on defense at the next level. In college, they were forced to play the PF position more often than they would have liked, but they both showed they had the toughness to battle inside. They rebounded extremely well and floated around 1 steals and block per game. In the NBA, they will guard SFs for the most part, and despite great lateral quickness, they both have a shot at being successful in this venture.

If their on court style seems similar, dig further into their off the court track record. While being willing teammates on the court, both have reportedly been in altercations with teammates off the court (Ebanks got in a fight with Truck Bryant, Richmond fought Brandon Paul). Ebanks was also suspended at the beginning of his sophomore year for academic reasons (apparently).

Richmond was no stranger to fights back in high school either, which makes his character perhaps more suspect than Ebanks. Devin seems to be adjusting fine in the NBA. In high school, Richmond also got in a fight with a teammate and in a separate incident, he got kicked off the team after getting into an argument with his coach. His history sends up some major red flags.

Reaching for some more similarities, both of them were big time recruits in high school. Richmond was an All-American and Ebanks most likely would have been if not for his post-grad status.

The draft results may end up being similar as well. Richmond would be lucky to be drafted by a team with the Lakers, and since they have 4 second rounders, his odds aren't awful. Of course, going in the first round would be ideal, and I wouldn't count that out either. Nobody likes to give guaranteed contracts to players with major red flags though.

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