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Joe and Ramel's NBA Prospects: Part 2

Making a case for Ramel Bradley succeeding in the NBA is much easier than doing the same for Joe Crawford.  While I think Crawford has a fighting chance, Ramel possesses the skill set GMs are looking for in a point guard.  More on that later ...

In Portsmouth last week Bradley played in two games, going 11 for 25 from the field, for 32 total points.  In one game he scored 22 points to go along with 6 assists.  He impressed NBA scout Chris Eckstrand: "He was pretty much all over the floor.  It was like he was shot out of a cannon in that game.  His man couldn't breathe."

Sound familiar?  Our man Smooth showed 'em some of that Dentine Defense, and run 'em ragged offense.  Of course, that's only a couple of games in Portsmouth, in April.  He still has a long way to go to solidify his status with the appropriate decision-makers.  As Ramel goes forward, he faces some stiff competition from the likes of Sean Singletary, Derrick Low, Sundiata Gaines, Drew Lavender and Jonathan Wallace.

Ramel has several things working for him:

Quick hands.  While he isn't lightening quick ala Rajon Rondo, he gets his share of steals and deflections.  He averaged 1.6 steals per game last year, which is pretty solid by anyones standard.

Ramel's defense will be a tremendous asset in the NBA.  At 6'2" 191 lbs. Bradley will be considered by most to be average size for an NBA point.  Most of the better points in the NBA are in the 6'0" to 6'4" range.  Nash, Arenas, Kidd, Paul, Bibby, are all of average length(Deron Williams is a hoss though).  So he won't have to worry much about guarding some gangly, long-armed Magic Johnson wannabe on a nightly basis.

I think Ramel's most important defensive asset is his on-the-ball pressure.  He get's up in the face of his opponent without fear of being driven on because of his lateral quickness, and quick first-step. Another aspect of Bradley's defense that is impressive, is his release on the opponents break.  He gets back very quickly, and he isn't just back, he's back defending.  That will serve him well in the NBA.

Offensively, Bradley offers an array of weapons.  He made 38% of his 3's last year, which is pretty good.  Can he consistently make the NBA 3, which is 23'9"?  I'm not sure, to be honest.  He didn't often step out and bomb away from 24 to 25 feet, that doesn't mean he can't make that shot, it just means I haven't seen him make it.  Besides, a point on the right team doesn't have to make that shot often.  Just look at Rondo.  Rondo doesn't even present the defense with a reason to guard him beyond 18 feet, yet he still affectively runs the team, and scores a few points himself.  I understand Rondo is on a great team, but I think Bradley has a skill set similar to Rondo's.

Bradley's ability to create space between himself and his defender will, I think, carry over to the next level.  I don't have anything to support that argument ... except game film from the last 4 years.

Can Bradley run the offense?  Ramel has, as we all know, struggled with his decision-making from time to time.  Running an NBA offense requires solid decision-making, so therein lies the rub.  NBA coaches have too many options available to them to allow a point guard to throw away possessions.  Especially an unproven commodity, like Ramel.  Unless you're a 1st Round draft pick with a blue-chip future, coaches will not tolerate being less than exceptional in taking care of the ball, and being basketball intelligent.

Ramel has shown tremendous growth in this area, though. It was only in December that we UK fans were pining for the return of Jasper, so he could man the point.  By February, Ramel had left no doubt in most peoples minds who should be running the show.  If he can continue on that same growth arc, his chances of NBA succes will increase dramatically.

Finally, Ramel's intangibles are as impressive as any of his competition.  His leadership was outstanding this past year.  He is very vocal, and his teammates seem to respond to his style.  Will that translate into the NBA?  I think it will, if done in the right way.  He'll be dealing with pampered millionaires, not newbie sophomores.  Smooth is pretty smart though, he'll figure out the lines he shouldn't cross.

His desire is beyond question.  I think he wants to win more than anything, and I think he's willing to do everything within his power to lead his team to victory.  Rookie points aren't often asked to lead, they are usually spending considerable time on the bench, but if he's put in the right situation his leadership skills will be put to the test.

Overall, one can probably sense that I like Ramel's chances.  He reminds me of Sam Cassell, except that Ramel doesn't look like ET.  Both are of modest physical size (Cassell is 6'3" 185), quick, have decent jumpers, a nose for the ball, and a tendency to get under the opponents skin.  I think Bradley will be a better defender than Cassell, but probably not score as much (Cassell has averaged 15.7 ppg in a long career).  Cassell is also known as a clutch player, and Bradley was certainly clutch at Kentcuky, but of course the NBA is a whole other animal.

This Friday Ramel will be in San Antonio to play in the DiGiorno College All-Star Game.  He is one of 22 seniors invited.

Joe will be barnstorming throughout the state over the next few weeks.  Crawford twisted his ankle in Portsmouth, which is why he missed two games ... Joe, if it was easy, it just wouldn't seem right.

Thanks for reading, and Go Ramel!