Dogs gone? Rating the NBA stock of Thompkins and Leslie

Travis to Trey: Will this tandem remain intact next season? (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Travis to Trey: Will this tandem remain intact next season? (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

We enter the college basketball season pretty much assuming this would be the last season of college basketball for Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, two Georgia juniors who’d been projected as NBA lottery picks. But there’s a chance neither will wind up in the lottery, which could mean one or both might decide to stick around.

Check the 2011 mock draft on the excellent site NBAdraft.net and you’ll note that Thompkins is projected to go 16th overall, or one spot out of the lottery. Keep checking and you’ll find Leslie …

Well, that’s the point. You won’t find Leslie on this year’s mock. You’ll find him on next year’s — as the second pick in Round 2. Which makes you go, “Whoa.”

For comparative purposes: Chad Ford of ESPN Insider has Thompkins rated the 30th-best prospect (link requires registration) and projects him in the mid to late first round; Ford ranks Leslie the 34th-best prospect and projects him in the late first to early second round.

I spoke recently with an NBA scout who prefers Leslie to Thompkins, which frankly surprised me. I’ve regarded Thompkins as the better NBA bet because he has a true position — power forward — and some nicely developed skills. (For a big man, he can really shoot.)  Leslie is, in my view, a hugely gifted wing who will be asked to play shooting guard as a pro, and the thing Leslie does least well is shoot. (Although he has, under Mark Fox, progressed as both a shooter and ballhandler.)

Thompkins thought seriously about leaving for the NBA after his sophomore season but decided against it. It’s not often a guy who has decided to come back for another year chooses to return for yet another. (Gani Lawal removed his name from draft consideration in 2009 to remain at Georgia Tech but left in 2010 after his junior season even though he wasn’t a Round 1 lock. Indeed, he wound up going in Round 2.)

My guess is that Thompkins, who hasn’t had quite the season we all expected, will leave this time. Leslie could go either way. If he stays, he’s next year’s Bulldog star. (Unless Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the incoming McDonald’s All-American from Greenville High, is even better than advertised.) If he leaves, there’s a chance he might not be taken in Round 1. But it only takes one team to fall in love with him — and Leslie is a major talent — to make him a lottery pick.

As for Iman Shumpert, the splendid Tech junior guard: The scout with whom I spoke believes he can play in the NBA. (I do, too.) But Ford has him ranked 71st among this year’s prospects, and only 60 players get drafted. NBAdraft.net has Shumpert being taken with the 15th pick of Round 2 in the 2012 draft, which would seem to mean: He can only help himself by staying. I’m guessing he will.

By Mark Bradley

120 comments Add your comment

headley lamar

March 1st, 2011
6:04 pm

Can you imagine if the Tech baseball player who got a DUI a few days ago had been a UGA football player?

Oh the indignation !!!

Instead we got a short story with no place to comment.

Double standard. You betcha.

Richard Simmons

March 1st, 2011
6:11 pm

I wish I could get a Kudos from Mark Bradley…Im always too late to the blog :(

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
6:12 pm

Kudos, Richard.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

Jim

March 1st, 2011
6:16 pm

Mark,

Caldwell-Pope is from Greenville H.S. in Greenville, Ga., which is in Meriwether County.

Richard Simmons

March 1st, 2011
6:18 pm

Thanks Mark! If Leslie and Thompkins both leave, who do you think is going to have the most pressure to step up for the Dawgs next year?

Billy Jack

March 1st, 2011
6:23 pm

Mark Bradley has never been to Lake Oconee which is in Green County….

Billy Jack

March 1st, 2011
6:26 pm

Mark…did Thompkins “lose $$” by sticking around THIS year..?? I say maybe..??

KBP

March 1st, 2011
6:29 pm

They both should stay. Right now, Trey is a poor man’s David (17 foot Assassin) West. Neither can defend agile power forwards and neither can create off the dribble. Right now, Travis is Jermario Moon- gifted leaper whose basketball skill is inferior to athleticism. Both guys should stay and improve their games or end up in D-League and get paid to improve their games. I am a Dawg fan by the way. Your take on this, Mr. Bradley?

dawgfan0711

March 1st, 2011
6:30 pm

i could see both of them coming back. I thought before the season that this would be Thompkins last year but i don’t think he has had the season that he wanted to have and will return. Only time will tell, GO DAWGS!!

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
6:36 pm

Thompkins might indeed have cost himself a few draft spots, Billy Jack. It happens.

Remember James Forrest? Stayed four years at Tech, the last two after being named MVP of the ACC tournament. And didn’t get drafted.

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
6:37 pm

Richard, I’d say Kentavious Caldwell-Pope becomes the go-to guy even as a freshman if Thompkins and Leslie are gone.

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
6:37 pm

Sorry, Jim. I’ll correct it.

Is there even a Green County in Georgia?

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
6:39 pm

I know there’s a Green County in Kentucky. (Kentucky has 120 counties, you might be interested in knowing.)

RC in the ATL

March 1st, 2011
6:43 pm

Mark, there is a Greene County in Georgia, in the east central part of the state. Greensboro is the county seat, I believe.

RC in the ATL

March 1st, 2011
6:45 pm

Any early (and I do mean early) thoughts on next year’s team…with or without these guys???

fan

March 1st, 2011
6:46 pm

Neither look ready for the NBA. Leslie doesn’t shoot enough and Thompkins doesn’t play good d or puts all of his heart into it.

imadawg24

March 1st, 2011
6:52 pm

Neither Thompkins or Leslie can play defense well enough to make it in the NBA. They bothe need to stay to work on their defense.

D A DoubleU G

March 1st, 2011
6:52 pm

Travis Leslie will win 6th man awards throughout his career in the NBA. He will go early, deservedly.

Thompkins will unfortunately leave early because he thinks he is ready. All it takes is watching tape against him trying to defend Florida’s Vernon Macklin to see he is FAR from ready. There are players in the NBA who make Vernon Macklin look like a High Schooler….. much like Macklin made Thompkins look like.

Congrats and good luck to Leslie after this season. Thompkins……. well…… unless you live in a small town in eastern Spain, don’t expect to ever hear his name again. Maybe Ricky Rubio will make him look good, however.

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
6:57 pm

Pretty hard to say until we know who’s back, RC. If Thompkins goes and Leslie stays, that’s a really guard-heavy team without much inside.

RC in the ATL

March 1st, 2011
6:58 pm

True enough, Mark, but I am still remembering the MOJO of your calling the Falcons 12-4 season back in August. Figure magic could maybe strike again…of course, you did know who the personnel was at that time.

IlliniDawg

March 1st, 2011
6:59 pm

Can you please tell me what these NBA scouts are seeing in Thompkins and Leslie that is more than the mediocre, half-hearted, inconsistent, style-but-little-substance play that we have seen from these two this year? I must be missing something, but I’d take a Chandler Parsons (projected 10-15 spots lower) over a Trey Thompkins any day.

RC in the ATL

March 1st, 2011
6:59 pm

Of course, we all know the Falcons ended up going 13-4…which I think we have to admit, probably surprised all of us a bit!

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
7:03 pm

I think you’re being a little hard on Thompkins and Leslie, Illini. I think both play hard, but Thompkins seems to tire under the workload.

And, as for what NBA scouts are seeing: The NBA is concerned mainly with body type. Thompkins is a big, strong guy. Leslie is a strong, fast wing.

441North

March 1st, 2011
7:03 pm

Thomkins is spoiled, immature, and doesn’t appear to be a leader. Can’t hit the big 10 footer when we REALLY need it. If he had the heart of Ware or Robinson, we would be first in the East and a top 25 team.

Gordon

March 1st, 2011
7:03 pm

It’s March and the UGA people are talking about basketball and not the spring game. What is the world coming to?

Paul in RDU

March 1st, 2011
7:06 pm

Lots of one and dones as lottery picks on the NBAdraft.net site – that’s the nature of the game these days though.

Hewitt Fan

March 1st, 2011
7:09 pm

Enter your comments here

IlliniDawg

March 1st, 2011
7:10 pm

MB: Not sure I agree, but I’ll trust your judgment. At least your statements about body type would explain the phenomenon known as Jon Koncak. How in the hell did the Hawks get schooled on that deal?

DAWG ONE

March 1st, 2011
7:10 pm

I am sure Thompkins is disappointed with his season. Let’s remember he has had ankle problems, but as for his shooting ability, it seems to have disappeared compared to what it was. He is a fine young man with great character, but unless he can get guaranteed money, I think he should wait. I understand, it does not matter what I think!
Leslie is just a pure athlete. He is fun to watch and his shooting seems to be much better. I would like to see him go against some of the pros to see if he could still rely on his athletic ability as well as he does against college players. He too, is a fine young man.
I wish both of them well in making a most important decision. Relying on advice from other than agents would serve them well. GO DAWGS!

St. Clarkston

March 1st, 2011
7:10 pm

Mark Fox has done a remarkable job in reviving a dead program. This paper spends too much time talking about a hockey team that almost no one cares about rather than a great story.

Sloan

March 1st, 2011
7:12 pm

Neither of them are ready. But I am pretty sure Thompkins is gone. If Leslie is smart, he’ll stay and develop an outside shot and a willingness to shoot it. If he does, he’ll be a better pro than Thompkins in the long run.

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
7:12 pm

He was tall, Illini. That’s a selling point in basketball.

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
7:14 pm

I have to say Travis Leslie is already better than I thought he’d be. He seemed like just another guy as a freshman, but he flourished midway through last season.

And he did dunk over DeMarcus Cousins in Rupp Arena, which is still one of the greatest moments in college history.

Hewitt Fan

March 1st, 2011
7:14 pm

Shumpert will turn pro regardless, just like Gani and Derrick, no room for player development in the ACC due to bad refs..they let the kids play in the SEC no matter who’s the coach, so..Trey(ATL CELTIC ALUM) should stay one more year, Leslie should stay also, UGA would be a final four team next year easily with the kid off the GA dream coming in..Caldwell-Pope..dude can flat out shoot the rock!

Vinny D

March 1st, 2011
7:19 pm

There is a Greene County, it has some wonderful features which partially include Lake Oconee. A lake that is also shared by Morgan (Madison GA), Putnam and Hancock County. Great place to be. Personally, I think Leslie needs to defintely stick around.

merbertmoover

March 1st, 2011
7:28 pm

hey mark, my main man! how far you think the dogs will go in the sec tourney? im thinking they go all the way! hey hey hey! i think they be cuttin down those nets like a mouse cuts garlic, you know what im sayin?

Paul in RDU

March 1st, 2011
7:30 pm

NBAdraft.net has 5 SEC players in the 1st round, 4 FRs, 1 JR (Thompkins)
6 ACC players in the 1st round, 2 FRs, 1 SO, 1 JR, 2 SRs
Yep – players don’t develop in the ACC whereas they do in the SEC.

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
7:35 pm

I think Georgia has a decent shot in the SEC tournament. Florida probably won’t win because Florida doesn’t need to win it. Vandy probably won’t because Vandy never has. Kentucky isn’t real deep — neither is Georgia — and Tennessee isn’t good enough.

The team that really needs to win the SEC tournament is Alabama.

UGA REALLY STANDS FOR JOE DIRT

March 1st, 2011
7:35 pm

Headly,

3 GT players arrested in the last several years and 2 of those had charges dropped! Now, how many UGA players have been arrested in the same time span? More than 30!! It’s not impossible for any program to have a kid make a bad decision here and there…however at uga, you guys make them at a FULMER CUP pace!!!!! lmao on you’re stupid post.

GR82BAG8R

March 1st, 2011
7:42 pm

I don’t know about a Green County, but I keep reading about a Ham County that people insist on cursing. At least they don’t use the word, but a made up word that accentuates the first letter.

Billy Jack

March 1st, 2011
7:43 pm

Bama should get in without winning the SEC tournament….those guys can play…I wish the dawgs had Senario Hillman… (and McPhee from last year)

GTBob

March 1st, 2011
7:43 pm

I would be pretty shocked if Thompkins stays. UGA will be in a bit of a rebuilding year next year and I don’t really see the benefit of Thompkins sticking through that in hopes of improving his draft slot a few numbers. As for Leslie, I can’t really figure out why any NBA team would want him. They are really going to ask him to play shooting guard? He wouldn’t be nearly comparable to any shooting guards in the league. His shooting would have to improve tremendously.

Retired HS bball coach

March 1st, 2011
8:01 pm

First, I am a retired 30+yr HS coach and a Dawgs bball fan. I am sure both Leslie and Thompkins are fine young men, but neither is ready for NBA now. If Thompkins is projected as PF as MB suggests, then he is going to have get much more physical quickly. He has some special skills for a big man, but he is not a physical presence in the SEC much less the NBA. He gets rebounds that come in his area, but he does not “fetch” rebounds on either end. Leslie has improved his shooting mechanics significantly this year. Compliments to him and the coaching staff on that. His ball handling is still suspect, but will get better if he commits to it. I would not blame either young man for going to “the league”, but my evaluation is both would better off staying to improve another year. Certainly, they can improve in practice against NBA players, but neither will play significant minutes if they go. Selah.

TampaDAWG

March 1st, 2011
8:06 pm

I only think UGA is in rebuilding mode if Thompkins and Leslie do leave. If they stay with Caldwell coming in and the 7″0 college transfer who is in my neck of the woods now will be playing Center. Thornton and Williams can both play and will be in season two, also Robinson will be back. If this team has Thompkins, Leslie, Robinson, Caldwell-Pope, Florveus, thats a very solid starting 5 and with with Ware, Thornton, and Williams coming off the bench, not to mention Brantley too. The only two players on the team that are seniors are Barnes and Price. If Thomkins stays it is not rebuilding mode at all!

TampaDAWG

March 1st, 2011
8:09 pm

oops, I menat JC transfer, I believe the rest is right.

Hewitt Fan

March 1st, 2011
8:09 pm

@Paul in RDU the ACC has the most busts in the last 5 years..i would name them if you want me to..
Ok lets look at the 6 you said our projected 1st round picks…
Irving..maybe a decent pg in the pros..nothing special..if a team takes him #2, they have messed up
Singleton(ATL Celtic)..He should be ok, solid defender, needs to work on shot though to play sf
Singler…this guy will be a complete bust in the NBA..He is protected by the refs at Duke, in the NBA he wont be..
Nolan Smith…same as Singler..Not a pg, too small to play sg..will be a complete bust, protected by refs
Barnes..we will see, he has talent though, maybe a little overrated coming out of high school..50/50
Jordan Williams…big men in the ACC are not allowed to play big in the ACC he gets a lot of cheap ACC fouls so he is a mystery, they compare him to Sean May who was a complete bust in the NBA..

Billy Jack @ TampaDAWG

March 1st, 2011
8:12 pm

What is a center..??

@ Retired…best post on the blog..I think you are right…but I could see Leslie being a scoring freak 2yrs down the road..”in the league”…he has that “it” factor…Thompkins..no clue..I wish I had a $1 for every 3pt basket I’ve seen him miss…I need some groceries….

TampaDAWG

March 1st, 2011
8:17 pm

@ Billy Jack

What is a Center?

I’m not sure how to describe that one except a big man thats normally 6″9 or taller depending on what level of competition we are talking about. Do I need to describe PG, SG, SF, or PF too??

Mark Bradley

March 1st, 2011
8:17 pm

Alabama has a lousy RPI — like 87th.

Billy Jack @ TampaDAWG

March 1st, 2011
8:19 pm

Centers are a dying breed…that’s all I was saying…getting a good one is like winning the lottery….