By Cory Bernstein
Why we want him: I'm not normally a believer in things like bloodlines and "NBA ready" offensive systems, but UCLA players have been insanely successful in the league over the past few years under coach Ben Howland.
Aaron Afflalo (21st pick, 2007) is a solid shooting guard and ace three point shooter. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love (4th and 5th picks in 2008) are two budding NBA stars. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (37th, 2008) has been an excellent role player for Milwaukee and the steal of the 2008 draft. Darren Collison (21st, 2009) is a budding young point guard who played awesome for Indiana this year. Honeycutt is the next guy to come out of the UCLA goldmine, and has a ton of potential to be a very good player. Although he will never be Kevin Love or Russell Westbrook, there is a strong possibility he follows in the footsteps of all the previous Bruins.
Honeycutt's best skill is his great ability to pass from the small forward position. This is a great skill to have, as it's one of the most difficult (along with rebounding) skills to develop in the pros. Unlike many of the other forward prospects in this draft like Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, and Chandler Parsons, Honeycutt is a true small forward, not a tweener, or a stretch 4. The last thing the Nets want to do is draft the next Travis Outlaw.
Honeycutt can defend the small forward position well, as he averaging over two blocks a game this year. This is a very good number for a small forward. Finally, Honeycutt has shown his rebounding ability throughout his two year UCLA career, averaging 6.5 per game in his freshman year and 7.2 last year.
Why we don't: By no means is Honeycutt raw, but he certainly has to fill into his body. He's no Anthony Randolph, but at 6'8 and only 186 pounds, he needs to put on at least fifteen pounds of muscle if he doesn't want to be destroyed by guys like LeBron.
Clearly, I think his being from UCLA is a good thing, but he is different than the other UCLA players. Those UCLA teams that Afflalo, Mbah a Moute, Westbrook, and the rest of these guys were on were really good teams. They made the Final Four from 2006 to 2008 led by these guys, while Honeycutt had largely disappointing seasons at UCLA. He only averaged less than thirteen points per game in his two years with the Bruins, only leading them to a second round NCAA Tournament bid. His biggest strength, his excellent passing, can quickly become his largest weakness. He is so unselfish that it can be a fault, passing so much that he doesn't show his solid offensive game. This can become a big issue once he gets into the pros, as he can become a turnover machine if he passes to much.
Final Verdict: It's hard not to like Tyler Honeycutt's skill set. He plays good defense and is a solid offensive player. A true small forward, Honeycutt will be a good role player in the NBA. I don't think that he will ever be anything better than the fifth best player on a good team, but that can be a very valuable player for a late first round pick.
The Nets could use him as a role player who could immediately play on The Nets. If he could only bulk up a little bit, then he could be a really effective player fast for the Nets. Hopefully the power of Ben Howland strikes again with Tyler Honeycutt, and let’s hope he is in a Nets uniform.
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