By Cory Bernstein
Why we want him: Jeremy Tyler is one of the most interesting players in this year’s NBA Draft. He was one of the best high school players in the USA in 2009, and then decided to skip his senior year of high school and play basketball in Israel. After a year in Israel (where he probably stuck out like a sore thumb) and Japan, Tyler went from a potential top-5 pick to a bubble first rounder.
There is no doubting Tyler’s ability, namely his great athleticism for a big man. For a team with Brook Lopez, who probably could not out-jump or run the average ten year old, Tyler would be a welcome change. For all the heat that Tyler got for playing in Israel, he played very well in Japan, he averaged 9.9 points and 6.4 rebounds in just over fifteen minutes of play per game. The Israel league is a very good one by European standards, and there is a chance that he was overwhelmed by the talent.
Fran Fraschilla, ESPN’s international basketball expert, always talks about comparing basketball to minor league baseball. High school hoops is Single A, where young stars dominate inferior pitching. Double A is like the NCAA, where the talent level is much better and many of the young stars in the MLB go from Double A right to the majors. He compares Triple A to the European leagues. His point is that in the Euro leagues, the players have much less potential than NCAA players, but are much better. So, Tyler playing in Israel is like if the Washington Nationals moved Bryce Harper to Triple A right after being drafted. He would probably bat terribly and struggle, as he has not developed yet into the MLB star he is sure to become. Tyler has the chance to also be a really good player, and may be similar to Brandon Jennings. Tyler has a lot more upside.
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Why we don’t: It still has to be accounted for that Tyler played awfully in Israel only two years ago. He was barely averaging two points a game, and eventually quit the team. Quitting Maccabbi Haifa, his Israeli team, is the best example of his immaturity. He certainly is not like Anthony Randolph. Guys like Randolph and Tyler can have all of potential in the world, but they need to grow up and be a man if they want to crack rotations. Tyler is twenty years old, and he needs to begin to show the maturity that most twenty year old NBA players have. If he's going to be a baby and complain about minutes like he did in Israel, Tyler can kiss his NBA dreams goodbye. He also is not the most refined offensive player, and this is something that he definitely needs to work on. Although his can play with his back to the basket, he will not be able to rely on his superior athleticism to dominate in the pros. Dunks can only be your main move in the NBA if you are a physical specimen like Dwight Howard or Blake Griffin.
Final Verdict: Tyler is one of the best athletes in this class. He’s got a 7'5 wingspan and had an incredible Draft Combine. This may have made it so he will not be available at the 27th pick, but I have a feeling he will still be there for the Nets pick. His immaturity will scare teams off, but he has too much natural talent and ability not be picked in the first round of such a weak draft. It would not shock me at all if Tyler became like Brandon Jennings, struggling in Europe and coming to the NBA only to play extremely well. At the power forward position, Tyler compliments what the Nets already have in Brook Lopez. Jeremy Tyler has the talent of a top 10 pick, and he may slip all the way to the second round.
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