The more college basketball I watch, the more I can’t help but wonder about the future careers of North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough and Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody. Both are elite college power forwards whose size doesn’t really translate to that position at the next level. Hansbrough is listed at 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds. Harangody is listed at 6-foot-8 and 251 pounds. Now, this doesn’t mean they can’t be NBA power forwards. Elton Brand is a damn good power forward and he is 6-foot-8 254 pounds. I think what will determine the better NBA player is the combination of skill and versatility, which I think both go to the less-publicized Harangody.
I don’t watch every game these players play, but in the ones I do watch and the highlights I catch, Harangody seems to be the one making the more “athletic” plays. I’ve always seen Hansbrough as a bruiser who doesn’t have very good post skills. He just kind of bulls over people to get to the rim. I would compare his post play to Shaquille O’Neal without the size, but Shaq has much more skill than Hansbrough and much more skill in the post than most people give him credit for. I just don’t think Hansbrough can do what he does in college in the NBA. Greg Oden bulled over people in college and he is struggling to score 10 points per game in the NBA. And Oden is 7-feet tall. I think Harangody’s post game translates better to the NBA game. He seems to be more about positioning on a player rather than brute strength.
Regardless, both players are going to have to shoot from the outside. If you are under 7-feet tall (and most of the time even if you are 7-foot or taller) you have to be able to shoot from the outside to have success in the NBA. I don’t mean 3-point range, but consistently knocking down a 15-20 foot jump shot. Take a look at Tyrus Thomas’ career numbers if you don’t believe me. He is far more athletic than either Hansbrough or Harangody, but he can’t make an outside shot – so he can’t score consistently. Hansbrough has been working on this part of his game, that is why he is still in Carolina blue and not Houston Rocket red (or some other NBA color), but I think Harangody has him beat in this sense of the game too. Harangody has a smoother shot than Hansbrough, and he looks a lot more comfortable shooting from outside the paint.
The final thing is rebounding. For all of the praise Hansbrough gets for his scoring, his rebounding numbers are not as good as I imagined. His best rebounding season came last year, when he grabbed 10.2 a game. Every other year he has averaged less than eight a contest (this year isn’t done yet, but he is only at 7.5 a game). Harangody pulled down 10.6 a game last year and this year is averaging 12.7. I’m not sure how this will translate because college rebounds are kind of funny. Kevin Durant averaged more rebounds than Greg Oden the one year they were in college, but Durant doesn’t rebound much in the pros because he basically plays shooting guard. It seems like another edge to Harangody.
I don’t think either player will be as big a star as they are in college, but I think Harangody will be the more productive pro. It will be interesting to see how these two careers pan out because I don’t think either player will be a super-high draft pick. Both I would say are first rounders barring a major injury or criminal act, but I don’t see them as top-5 picks. As a note, Harangody is a junior, Hansbrough a senior. So you will see Hansbrough in this summer’s draft, but Harangody could elect to return to Notre Dame for his final season.
I’m not saying my opinion is always right either. I once wrote that Philip Rivers was in a much better spot than Eli Manning – then Eli won a Super Bowl. Whoops.
Filed under: NCAA Basketball Tagged: | Eli Manning, Elton Brand, Greg Oden, Houston Rockets, Kevin Durant, Luke Harangody, NBA, NCAA Basketball, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Philip Rivers, Shaquille O'Neal, Tyler Hansbrough, Tyrus Thomas