Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Woodling: Mario goes out on top

June 18, 2008


Something unique appears about to happen : something that hasn't occurred in the storied history of Kansas University's men's basketball program.

Now that Mario Chalmers has pulled the ripcord and confirmed he won't be returning for his senior year, KU appears likely to produce its first hat trick. Never before have three Jayhawks been selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Thrice a pair of Jayhawks have been taken in the first round, starting with Scot Pollard and Jacque Vaughn in 1997. Two more - Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce - went the next year. And Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison were first-rounders in 2003.

It's been pretty much a given that Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush would go in next week's first round. Neither is projected as a lottery pick, but both are first-round locks.

Chalmers always has been the question mark and, with his announcement Sunday, it's seems evident the multi-talented guard has gleaned enough from pre-draft camps to believe he'll be tapped in the first round.

Maybe he will and maybe he won't. Who knows when it comes to professional meat markets? I've never seen a mock draft yet that struck every nail with precision.

Nevertheless, I do know that Chalmers' pro stock will never be higher than it is right now. In fact, I doubt he could improve his inherent skills with another college season, and I don't think he can possibly enhance the perception of his ability that grew out of his performance in the NCAA championship game.

When it comes to analyzing Chalmers, the first thing you have to consider is his height. He's listed at 6-foot-1, and guards that size are a dime a dozen. The NBADL is full of them.

If you stand 6-1 and want to play in the NBA, you must possess extraordinary skills, and Chalmers does have his strong points.

On the plus side, his wide wing span enables him to play taller than his listed height. Those long arms plus a quick first step enabled him to lead the Big 12 in steals last season. He can also shoot the rock. Chalmers hitting the most famous three-point goal in school history against Memphis wasn't a fluke.

So what's not to like? Not much, really. There is a problem, though. The pros like to categorize players, pigeon-hole them into roles, and Chalmers isn't a clearly defined fit into a five-man jigsaw puzzle.

Even though he plays above his size, Chalmers would be destroyed by NBA shooting guards, most of whom stand 6-5 or taller. That means he has to play point guard and, to be honest, Chalmers doesn't really possess the natural instincts for that position.

Chalmers is what they call a "tweener." He's a backcourt player who possesses off-guard and point-guard skills, but doesn't squeeze comfortably into either cubby-hole.

I sure hope, for his sake, that Chalmers goes in the first round and earns a guaranteed contract. If he winds up as a second-rounder, he may be playing somewhere in the NBADL next season.

Regardless of where Chalmers performs on a basketball court next year, he had absolutely nothing left to prove as a collegian. And, of course, he always will have the personal satisfaction of knowing he went out on top.


mrkuwick 10 years ago

CW makes good points but I would take Mario over Rajon Rondo anyday.

timkhoward 10 years ago

Woody is right. As much as I like Chalmers and appreciate everything he did, an objective review of his skills and size compared with those PGs in the league who don't play on the worst teams or have 3 HOFs surrounding them makes it a tough road to hoe. If he's very fortunate, he'll get selected with one of the last three picks of the first round and hopefully get a chance to carve out a long stay in the Show as a backup PG. Jacque's defense was as good as Mario's in college and, despite his lack of on-target shooting, his PG skills in running a team were light years ahead of Chalmers. In a backup PG, teams are generally looking for someone who can play tough D AND get the team into its offense, not really to shoot the perimeter J. If Chalmers can command a team (which, frankly, it's a bit hard to judge given the role he was asked to play at KU the past two years), then he'll have a shot. If not, it will either be 3 yrs and out, or straight to the NBADL, depending upon his luck on draft night. But to say he's going to be marvelous or is a can't-miss based on what we know to date is crazy. Wood's is a very level-headed, and I believe accurate, assessment of Chalmers' potential.

Confrontation 10 years ago

I hate to see Mario leave, but I'm still hoping he gets selected in the first round. It'd be great to see three go in the first round.

geniusmannumber1 10 years ago

"CW makes good points but I would take Mario over Rajon Rondo anyday."Then you would probably lose a lot of basketball games.

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