Props -- Howard is tall, strong and athletic. Few big men his age can compare to this Georgia big man when it comes to combining all three characteristics. He used to be a guard, so he still has the perimeter and transition skills, despite his awesome growth spurt in high school. He can handle the ball, pass on the move and run the floor very well for a big man. He goes after blocked shots on defense and is able to either alter or block lots of them with his bouncy legs, long arms and good timing. Big time player with a huge upside.
Knocks - Despite his appeal on the physical side, Howard still needs to get stronger in the lower body. He doesn't handle physical play underneath as well as he should and we think a shorter, stronger power player -- like a Al Jefferson or Glen Davis -- might give him lots of trouble in the post. We'd also like to see more from Howard with his post moves. Sometimes we think he relies on his athletic ability too much. Usually, he can get by on that alone, but the maturation of his post game would increase his scoring opportunities against similarly talented defenders.
J.R. SMITH -- 6-5 205lbs. WF-SG Tim Thomas Playaz
Props -- Smith is a deluxe athlete that is in prime physical condition. He nearly has a perfectly tuned body with broad shoulders, a developed chest and powerful legs. He thrives in transition and finishes his plays with acrobatic authority. He loves to get out on the break and has a passion for dunking the ball. Smith also has a good reputation for shooting the ball -- especially from the perimeter. His shot has plenty of backspin and he gets it off quickly. His athletic ability and strength alone are enough to make Smith a top 40 player in this class. Add in the fact that he has pretty good ball skills -- and he's a likely McDonalds All-American in 2004.
Knocks -- Smith needs to improve his mid-range game and improve his shooting ability off the dribble. He could use some work in the ball-handling department, which could make him unstoppable against a man-to-man defense. If he could add some spin moves, jump-stops or a better pull-up jump shot -- he'd be nearly unguardable. We'd like to see him use more energy on the defensive end as well. Few in his class can compare to Smith when it comes to transition play and his potential is endless -- JR Smith can be as good as JR Smith wants to be. So how bad does he want it?