With the last of my individual player analysis draft previews, we take a look at the slinky but talented forward from Kansas, Darrell Arthur.
Arthur could be drafted almost anywhere in this crazy draft, from about #10 all the way down to the mid 20's. Like many of the big guys in this draft, he has a lot of potential, but it is unclear whether he will realize it in the NBA due to an inconsistent motor and thin frame.
The Kansas forward is considered somewhat of a player between positions by many, as he lacks a little bit of quickness to play the wing position, but also lacks the idea size and bulk to play the post. Like many of the players I have written about in this draft, where he ends up, which teammates he is surrounded with, and what system he plays in will be a big factor in how successful of an NBA career he may have.
He has more polish to his game than some of the other comparable bigs in this draft, perhaps somewhat an indication of being on a great team that was well coached at Kansas. He shows pretty good footwork with the ball with his back to the basket, particularly with "finesse" moves such as the turnaround jumper on the low block. He definitely doesnt play a power game inside, instead prefering to fade away from contact occasionally. What is impressive more than most kids in this draft I have watched was his balance I thought, which I feel is a major strength of his inside. Balance, soft touch, with really good hands, those are what I like about him the most.
I thought he really understood the overall game, his own role, and the Kansas system very well. He played offensively within the confines of what the Jayhawks wanted to do, rarely breaking their system and putting his teammates at a disadvantage by trying to do too much. This may seem like a lottle thing, but he was really good at flashing to the top of key area as a cutter in their scheme, on time and showing a good target. Having a "4" man who can do that is very critical in the Henry Iba based offensive system of the Jayhawks, and Arthur did it well. A thing I love about Arthur on the perimeter is that I think he will be able to get open to recieve a pass without the benefit of a screen, which is a difficult thing to find believe it or not.
At times, Arthur was the best player on the floor in college, often being the Jayhawks main go to guy for stretches of the game. He obviously was the man they wanted to go to in the low post in big spots. He just didnt bring the effort and desire needed from him to dominate every night, as he sometimes just drifted and disappeared among all the talent on the Kansas roster. "Cool" and "smooth" as words to describe him come to mind.
Arthur has a nice high post perimeter game. He was a nice post feeder, particularly from the top of the key area, which is something the Kansas system really emphasizes. He held the ball strongly, and seemed to have a pretty good idea of where to feed his post man from this area of the floor. He wasnt a particularly creative passer, but he was effective in getting the ball where it needed to be from this area. He also reversed the ball well from one side to the other, again seemingly understanding the scheme he was playing in. Often, it seemed to me that Arthur made the pass to the guy who made the pass to the guy who made the shot, if that makes any sense. He did have a high turnover rate, and some say he is a poorer passer than what I believe I saw on film. I did see turnovers he created when he tried to freelance or lost concentration, but I think he is a reasonably decent passer in particular situations. He can't improvise well, but he can make the simple pass, and he can feed the post.
As a perimeter shooter, he isnt spectacular but he is effective. I think he has a somewhat slow trigger on his shot on tape, but I can't tell yet how accurate that statement is. Arthur doesnt seem selfish at all to me, so he rarely will take a hurried shot anyway. He does have pretty decent form, and has range out to around 16-17 feet or so, with the possibility to extend that over time. I think he will project to be a guy who will score facing the basket just as much as he ever will with his back to it.
It seems like Arthur would be a better rebounder than he really is. I don't think it is a lack of tools or athleticism, I think it is more a lack of mental toughness and concentration that prevented his rebounding numbers from being better than they were. While definitely not a classic "power" player in the paint, I thought he should be better than what his stats indicate. When I watched tape on him to discover why he had lower numbers than I expected I saw that he looked like a player that had a few different rebounding flaws. Many times he failed to either "attack" the rebound or to do the classic "box out" instead he just kind of turned and watched the ball, staying in place. This caused his to be pushed underneath the rim by bigger and tougher players, with the result being the ball bouncing up over his head to players behind him. He also didnt go up strong with two hands to get the ball with authority, and about once or twice a game it would cost him a rebound he should've gotten, often times losing out to a teammate for the board, normally Sasha Kaun. Lastly, whe he was out of position and being blocked out, Arthur would often just concede the ground and head to the other end, instead of using a "swim" technique move or spin move to out fight the player boxing him out.
Basically, Arthur was not as good a rebounder as he could have been every night because of effort and concentration, although he obviously has the athleticism to be better in this area.
Defensively, he seemed reasonably solid. He seemed to move his feet pretty well side to side, and didnt have the problem on film of crossing them and losing balance, like I described in an earlier article on Joe Alexander. Because of his good quickness and balance, I think Arthur can guard "3" players at the next level, and in my mind projects as a bigger 3 man in time, rather than trying to gain weight and play the post area.
He has the ability to hedge the pick and roll, and turn the ballhandler back the way he came. He doesnt consistently do it on film, but more than many kids I studied he contests shots with a hand up pretty well. He did a good job of forcing his own man into help, again playing the scheme defensively Kansas was playing.
One thing that annoyed me a bit is that he didnt really hard deny his man the ball all that often. Instead, like a lot of mediocre defenders, he didnt really concentrate defensively until his man already had the ball. That will be too late in the NBA, the players he will be checking will be too good! Again, this is a matter of effort and concentration, not natural ability.
I think it is POSSIBLE( I wouldnt say likely, but possible) that Arthur eventually becomes a really good, long armed, big wing defender. I know most scouts and experts see him as more of a scorer now, but projecting ahead I see a potential really good defender with some decent scoring ability thrown in. I particularly see him developing and becoming a "3 man" more than I see him as a low post "4 man". What I mean by that is that I think his lack of rebounding prowess, skinniness, and overall game mean that you will have to play 2 players on the floor with Arthur who are bigger than he is to make his as effective as he can be. Any team with him as a post player will end up being too soft to consistently win, in my opinion. But as a wing player with size, I think you have something there.
As a wing, he will be able to post up smaller guys, he'll be able to feed the post well for you, he will be able to recieve the first pass in your offense, he will be able to make open shots, and he won't break plays that screw your teams plays up. He'll play good position defense for you, hopefully be able to bother some of the better players in the league with his length, and will play within your team defensive concept. By playing him as a "3" eventually, his lack of rebounding skill on a nightly basis won't kill you.
I think projecting a few years ahead, if he is asked to play the "4" for you in a conventional system that he will put up better scoring numbers for you, but your team won't really be better. I think he is a bigger 3 man, which I know is different than almost anyone sees him that I have read so far.
Arthur has a lot to like about his game now and in the future, and all the things I think he will develop into. If I am wrong and he ends up gaining strength and morphs more into a traditional power forward, then that isn't all bad either.......except that I just dont see him in that way. I can't see Arthur developing into Dale Davis or a true post up power forward that you have to double team to stop him (Elton Brand, for example).
What I do see Arthur becoming is a little bit bigger Teyshaun Prince, or perhaps a Derrick McKey type player. In fact, McKey is the player I think Arthur will most closely resemble 5 years from now, in terms of his effect on games and style of play. He may not be that in year one, and he won't be that if he ends up on the wrong team. Another good comparable I think for Arthur is Louis Orr.....remember him?
Whether or not the Pacers should select Arthur tomorrow is a tough call for me. I like alot about him, not so much for what he is now but for what I see him becoming, as Derrick McKey was one of the most important Pacer players ever in terms of his importance to winning big games. I think Arthur can be a player who can help you win.
On the other hand, I have doubts about selecting him based upon our current roster and configuration. I don't think the current system is a great fit for him either, although that isnt a huge concern for me, as JOB won't be here forever anyway. I guess if you could move Shawne Williams out of here for another pick or helpful piece, selecting Arthur makes more sense.
At the end of the day, I personally like Marresse Speights just a little better, as he has better size and strength, and I think he projects to be a harder to find true low post big man who can be a good enough scorer to command doubleteams. I think Speights can be your second biggest player on the floor, and occasionally can even be the biggest for you eventually. I dont think Arthur can help you win playing as the second biggest guy, so that means he automatically based on our current roster is a back up behind our 2 best players. Speights might bust, but Arthur could bust too...although I think he is safer. Tough call I guess, I'd go with Speights over him but reasonable minds can disagree.
I dont think it is clear cut, but I think I'd ponder taking Roy Hibbert over Arthur also. I think Roy Hibbert can play as your BIGGEST player on the floor, and that is a tough thing to find, so I might be tempted to reach and select him over Arthur too..........maybe. I think Arthur is a better overall player, but Hibbert is more rare.........tough call. Fortunately, it wont come down to that anyway, at least not at pick #11.
Regardless of what I may prefer, Arthur is a winning player with a pedigree and a game that says he will be a "glue" guy, and a player who will be a part of a team that plays the right way and is successful. I certainly won't be disappointed if the Pacers end up with him Thursday night. I think he will be a good pro for a long time. Not a superstar, but a winning player.
As always, the above is just my opinion.