Finch is really, really busy these days. He works late, gets up early, and sleeps very little in between. This is the most stressful week of Finch's year, but it's also the most exciting. All that traveling, all that work, all that analyzing will finally come to fruition on Thursday night. When it's over, Finch will exhale. Then he'll get up early Friday morning and get right back to work.
Finch is an NBA scout -- sort of. He's actually an amalgam of six NBA scouts, coaches and executives that I spoke with over the last two weeks to get their thoughts on the current crop of draftable collegians. I have culled together all their quotes into one smooth paragraph uttered by a character named "Finch," a nom de plume coined by my colleague Alex Wolff many years ago to describe an anonymous scout who was the subject of an SI story. (Alex chose the name "Finch" because it was Scout's surname in To Kill A Mockingbird. And NBA scouts like to remain anonymous so they can say what they really think.)
It wasn't always to derive a consensus on the prospects, because not all six of my guys felt the same about each one. But the paragraphs below are the closest you will find outlining the general feeling about 52 college players hoping to hear their names called at the NBA draft Thursday night. That will be a big moment for these players, but when David Stern hands each of them their hats, I suggest the players tip them in Finch's direction. He's the one who put in all those hours, flew all those miles, and stayed in all those crummy hotels to help make their dreams come true.
Draft night would be Finch's dream come true if he ever went to sleep. This week, all he can do is daydream. Here's what Finch had to say about ...
Quincy Acy, 6-7 forward, Baylor: "He's an undersized Kenneth Faried type. High character kid, not a great offensive player, but he's an energy guy off the bench."
Harrison Barnes, 6-8 forward, North Carolina: "I can't figure him out. I want him to be better than he is, yet what he is is pretty good. His biggest problem is he doesn't have enough toughness. This is a man's league and I don't know for sure if he's the type of guy who will step on you when you're down."
Will Barton, 6-6 forward, Memphis: "I'm a fan. Tough kid, high energy, he can dribble and pass, and he can rebound well for a little guy. I think he likes to win. He cares. His skinny body worries me a little bit, but he just figures out a way to compete out there."
Bradley Beal, 6-5 guard, Florida: "Phenomenal body, good shooter, not an over-the-top athlete but he's good enough. He's also a great kid, almost presidential. He's got a great stroke. Reminds you of Ray Allen, and he can really rebound. Strong kid."
J'Covan Brown, 6-2 guard, Texas: "He hurt himself as much as anybody [at the predraft combine] in Chicago. He came in heavy and slow. He makes baskets, but I don't know what he is. He's a non-athlete. He did a good job for Rick Barnes this year with all those freshmen, so I give him credit for that."
William Buford, 6-5 guard, Ohio State: "He looked a little heavy at the combine, didn't shoot it real well, so he probably hurt himself. I wouldn't draft him. I don't think he likes to play. I don't think he has enough toughness."
Jae Crowder, 6-6 guard, Marquette: "Size is an issue because he measured small in Chicago, but he just does enough things well. High motor, high energy, rebounds. For a mid-second-round guy, he's not bad. I don't know quite what his NBA skill is other than he plays hard."
Anthony Davis, 6-10 forward, Kentucky: "I have zero red flags. People say strength, but he's no weaker than Kevin Durant was. Whatever 'it' is, this kid's got it. He has a little bit of Duncan and a little bit of a Durant. The sky's the limit."
Andre Drummond, 7-foot center, UConn: "Physically, he's off the charts. I personally don't like him, but it scares me to death to not like him. He's so big, agile and athletic, and by all accounts he's a great, great guy. I don't think he's immature, he's just underdeveloped. The question is whether he loves to play and how hard will he work. People forget he made his decision to go to UConn late and he had some NCAA issues, so he didn't get a normal preseason."
Kim English, 6-6 guard, Missouri: "He's a one-dimensional player, but it's the right dimension. The guy can really shoot it. I could see someone pulling the trigger on him."
Festus Ezeli, 6-11 center, Vanderbilt: "I've watched that guy a lot. I don't know what he's doing sometimes, but he's got a great body. He's a big, big man. Thick and strong, and he uses his size. If you're picking at number 26, and you're looking for a big backup center, he's a good pick."
Drew Gordon, 6-9 forward, New Mexico: "Someone will take him in the second round. He can rebound and that's a skill that translates. Maybe a little undersized, but he could be a backup four somewhere."
Draymond Green, 6-7 forward, Michigan State: "I'm not feeling [him]. I think he's an average athlete. He has a high I.Q. and he's coachable, so he'll survive for a while. He has versatility, can really handle the ball, and his shot's not broken."
Moe Harkless, 6-9 forward, St. John's: "We interviewed him. Talk about a sharp kid. He was raised well. He still has to develop his skill set, but I think he goes in the middle of the first round. He doesn't dribble, but he has a soft touch and shoots it decently. Two years from now, we might be saying, 'Wow, that guy was picked 20th?'"
John Henson, 6-10 forward, North Carolina: "His body has gotten better, although he still needs to work on it. He's a solid rotation player. His shot is greatly improved from his freshman year. He's not Ray Allen or anything, but he's not Reggie Evans anymore, either. I worry about kids who have high centers of gravity, because that usually means they have poor balance."
Tu Holloway, 6-foot guard, Xavier: "He probably goes undrafted, maybe the end of the second round. I just don't know what he does."
Robbie Hummel, 6-8 forward, Purdue: "I like Robbie. I think he's finally getting healthy. He's the kind of guy you want to have. He's a better athlete than you think. His knees don't seem to be an issue."
John Jenkins, 6-4 guard, Vanderbilt: "Probably a late first-rounder because he has that elite skill as a shooter. But he's a little undersized. Strictly a catch-and-shoot guy. Kind of like the Jodie Meeks of the draft. He measured well in Chicago. What he did at Vanderbilt speaks for itself. He has really improved his body and his strength since the season ended."
Orlando Johnson, 6-5 guard UC Santa Barbara: "He's a fifth-year senior, so he's more mature than these other guys. Strong body, can shoot it pretty well, surprisingly vertical athlete. He can really shoot at the college line, but he's still adjusting to the NBA line."
Kris Joseph, 6-7 forward, Syracuse: "He tested pretty well in Chicago and shot it decent. He had a good body of work at Syracuse, but the sum of his parts is more than the whole. He has ability, but you're just waiting for him to do more."
Darius Johnson-Odom, 6-3 guard, Marquette: "He's a killer. I like him. He's going to will himself into our league. He can score, he can guard, and he'll make your practices better."
Perry Jones, 6-11 forward, Baylor: "He's such a neat kid and you root for him, but how do you have that skill set and be that inconsistent? Over 82 games, there will be 30 where you're going to wonder if he's even on your team. He is who he is. He makes plays that take your breath away, and then he disappears for a while. You see him get his ass kicked by Kevin Jones or Thomas Robinson or Jeff Withey and you wonder when things are going to click."
Terrence Jones, 6-9 forward, Kentucky: "I'm not as high on him as a lot of people are. I don't view him as a strong athlete, and yet I don't view him as a strong bull, either. He's kind of in between. He wants to be a three, but he's a four who can dribble. He'll make just enough shots that you have to go get him. Whoever drafts him is going to have to keep a thumb on him, because he's not a self-starter. That's a problem at this level."
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7 forward, Kentucky: "Your first reaction is how hard he plays. He's not crazy long, but he's long enough. He's not a great shooter, but when guys work that hard, they tend to get better. He's as athletic as Gerald Wallace, but he's a better shooter. He needs to work on his shooting and his ballhandling is just average."
Doron Lamb, 6-5 guard, Kentucky: "Very solid basketball player. Can shoot it, defend. He'd be a good combo guard coming off the bench."
Jeremy Lamb, 6-5 guard, UConn: "That kid can really play. His facial appearance and body language makes it appear that he doesn't care, but he does. His body is no worse than Rip Hamilton's was. When he played for the under-19 team in Lithuania, it was a tough final game, and he was the best player on the floor. It wasn't even close. He had a tough year at UConn, but it's not his fault."
Meyers Leonard, 7-1 center, Illinois: "Physically, he's Tyson Chandler. He has probably helped himself as much as anyone since the season ended. He's 255 pounds, but he can probably play at 265. He's intriguing, but he's very emotional. He's not a bad kid, not malicious at all, not a party guy. People don't want another Darko, but I think he likes the game more than Darko did."
Damian Lillard, 6-3 guard, Weber State: "He's the most unselfish scoring point guard I have ever seen. He's a great kid -- a great kid. He played more like a two in college, but he played on a team where if he didn't score 24 points, they wouldn't have won a game. Who was he supposed to pass to? He has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, like he's out to prove people wrong."
Scott Machado, 6-2 guard, Iona: "He's a second-round pick. The system he played in at Iona made him look pretty good."
Kendall Marshall, 6-4 guard, North Carolina: "I don't think he's going to make a poor team a lot better, but if you put him on a team like Oklahoma City or Philadelphia, where he's surrounded by a bunch of athletes, then he can really make them better. He's not a bad shooter. If someone leaves him open, he can knock down a few jumpers. My concern about him is the other side of the ball. Will he be capable of defending quick point guards? He doesn't have great speed, but he knows how to play fast."
Fab Melo, 7-foot center, Syracuse: "His body did not look good in Chicago. I worry about how committed he is. He's a backup somewhere. I give him credit for losing some weight, but he's got limits. I have a hard time with bigs who can't catch. His hands are average. He tries hard, but the game does not come easy to him."
Darius Miller, 6-7 forward, Kentucky: "I like this guy. He'll figure out a way. I could see him being a good rotation player, like a Danny Green or a James Jones. He'll know how to play his role."
Quincy Miller, 6-10 forward, Baylor: "He's intriguing but he's scary, and not in a good way. He still has a knee issue, and he's easily distracted. I haven't been a huge fan. I don't know what position he is. I guess he's a three, but he's really thin. He should have stayed in school. I don't think he's ready at all."
Arnett Moultrie, 6-11 forward, Mississippi State: "He's the same type of player as Taj Gibson, who's doing well. I don't know that he has a ton of improvement ahead of him, but he has a complete game and will rebound. He's a little slight. You think he's 250 and he's really 230. He doesn't have a motor, which is a problem."
Andrew Nicholson, 6-9 forward, St. Bonaventure: "He puts up decent numbers, but he's not a terrific athlete. Somebody is going to be really pleased with this kid. He's got a 7-3 wingspan. He just has a knack for putting the ball in the basket, and that's hard to teach. Reminds me of Paul Millsap."
Kyle O'Quinn, 6-10 forward, Norfolk State: "He has gotten a lot of buzz. He played really well at Portsmouth, and he did well at the big team workouts in New Jersey and Minnesota. He's a poor man's Kurt Thomas. He can play the four or the five and rebound a little bit, make a shot once in a while. He'll give you a nice presence."
Miles Plumlee, 7-foot center, Duke: "He's turned out to be a way better athlete than anybody knew. Duke is so guard-oriented, but he really helped himself in workouts in Minnesota and Chicago. I've never been a fan, but he's a physical freak. I would have said halfway through the season that he wouldn't even get drafted, but he has helped himself. His biggest problem is he thinks on the court too much."
Austin Rivers, 6-3 guard, Duke: "My biggest concern with him is size. He's never going to be a pure point because it's not in his personality. He's a capable passer, but he hasn't been a willing passer. He's hard to play with, frankly, because he dominates the ball. It depends on who the coach is. I did not like what I saw at Duke. I thought he was spoiled and selfish. He's a streaky outside shooter, not a great one."
Terrence Ross, 6-7 forward, Washington: "Maybe the biggest sleeper in the draft. He's athletic, he shoots it, he's competitive. His basketball I.Q. is a question, but that wouldn't concern me. One of the best shooters I've seen. He can really stroke it. He's far away physically, but he can put on strength. I like that he gets in his stance and tries to guard."
Thomas Robinson, 6-9 forward, Kansas: "Size was always a big deal with him, but he measured fine in Chicago. Playing away from the basket is a concern, but he works so hard, I don't see a risk with him. I don't know if he's an all-star, but he has some upside because his shot continues to improve."
Mike Scott, 6-9 forward, Virginia: "He's a little undersized, but he never misses. He doesn't have NBA three-point range, he doesn't even have college three-point range, but he never misses from 17 feet and in. Tony Bennett can really coach, so you know the kid knows rotations and how to hedge."
John Shurna, 6-9 forward, Northwestern: "He's a really, really, really good shooter, and he can really run. He'll duck it in on you, and he's a really good north-south runner. Plus, he's got legit size. If you play him with a good post player, you've got to guard him."
Renardo Sidney, 6-9 forward, Mississippi State: "He can't play more than three or four minutes at a time. No one will touch him. He has no chance. I'll let somebody else take that project on."
Henry Sims, 6-10 center, Georgetown: "He had a pretty good last season, but where was he the first three? I don't know if he likes to play or not. I don't think he gets drafted. I don't know how much of that body of work I can trust."
Jared Sullinger, 6-9 forward, Ohio State: "He's as good a basketball player as there is in the draft. The bottom line is he can score. Weight will always be an issue with him, and heavy guys historically end up having problems. I know he failed the NBA doctors' physicals, but our doctors did not fail him. You have to take all of that into account, but I still think he's talented."
Jeff Taylor, 6-7 forward, Vanderbilt: "He doesn't do anything off-the-charts well, but he does everything really well. He's a terrific athlete. He can almost guard four positions because he's so damn strong. His shot isn't great, but it's better than it was."
Tyshawn Taylor, 6-4 guard, Kansas: "Second-round pick. Gotta prove he can be consistent taking care of the ball, but he's very talented. His size and athleticism at that position is pretty good."
Marquis Teague, 6-2 guard, Kentucky: "The biggest thing with him is he got better as a point guard, but he should have gone back to school. He's not going to be playing against Mississippi State and Auburn up here. He's fast but he's not quick with the dribble. He doesn't get in the paint and create. He's an average ballhandler. One thing he does have going for him is he's a high-character kid."
Dion Waiters, 6-4 guard, Syracuse: "I'm a big fan. He's Dwyane Wade-ish. I don't know if he's pure enough to be a two, but he's just a baller. And he definitely has a little toughness in him. The only drawback is he's a little small, but he's thick, and he's a surly guy. He'll be an East Coast version of Rodney Stuckey. I would take him over Jeremy Lamb five times a day."
Royce White, 6-8 forward, Iowa State: "He's another guy I'd be scared to take and scared not to take. He has uncommon ballhandling skills for a guy with that body type. He's a poor free throw shooter, which is a huge concern. Huge, great hands. He holds the ball like it's a grapefruit. I know he has an issue with flying, but from what I hear that isn't that big a deal. He's making it to all his workouts."
Tony Wroten, 6-5 guard, Washington: "That shot is scary. I mean, he just does not make shots, and he's really turnover prone. Some of his turnovers are because he has a flair for the dramatic. But he measured 6-5 with length."
Tyler Zeller, 7-foot center, North Carolina: "Beast. I personally have him in the top seven. He's a 13- to 14-year NBA center. He can shoot, he's strong, he runs. Everybody complains they can never find a center. Well, here he is. There's absolutely no scenario where he's not going to succeed."