I think what this really illustrates is the difference between the way the two sites scout players. The things that are emphasized in the process, talking about roles that guys will be expected to play, and the managing of expectations that plays a big role in what we do.
Read and judge for yourself:
Itâ€™s been almost a full year since the last time we saw Devon Hardin in real game action. 12 games into his junior season, Hardin broke his foot, being forced to sit out the rest of the season for Cal, but still allowing him to test the waters of the NBA draft. He supposedly had a guarantee in place from the Detroit Pistons at the end of the 1st round, but decided to return to Cal regardless, in order to get his degree and move himself further up the draft.
So far, Hardin looks a better prospect than the one we evaluated last season. Heâ€™s added quite a bit of strength to his frame, making him even more imposing physically, if that was at all possible. Heâ€™s now listed at a sculpted 250 pounds, up from 235 a year ago, and looks every bit the part of NBA center, with a massive wingspan and terrific athletic ability.
Offensively, Hardin looks better than we remember him as well. Heâ€™s finishing much better around the rim, going up and taking contact better, not rushing his shots as much as he did in the past, understanding his limitations more willingly, and doing a better job establishing position in the post. His free throw attempts are up considerably (8 per 40 minutes, compared with 5.5 last year), as is his field goal percentage (from 48% to 54%), all because of the reasons described above. Hardin is knocking down his right-handed jump-hook somewhat regularly with range out to about 8 feet, as well as his turnaround jumper, and is looking incredibly active hitting the offensive glass as well, where he can get his team a couple of easy baskets every game by just utilizing his outstanding physical tools to his advantage. When he finishes, the entire arena feels it, and thatâ€™s exactly what you want to see out of a player this size. We had concerns in the past about the tentative, uninspired manner in which he conducted himself on the court at times, but these are slowly starting to dry up the more weâ€™re evaluating him these days. He doesnâ€™t always make his presence felt offensively the way one might hope, but itâ€™s no longer because of a lack of effort on his part.
Thatâ€™s not to say that Hardin is any kind of offensive juggernaut. Far from it, actually. Heâ€™s not the type of player you throw the ball to and expect to be able to create offense for himself, as his footwork is noticeably unpolished and heâ€™s fairly limited outside of a few feet around the hoop. Heâ€™s somewhat mechanical with his post-moves, and really struggles when forced to finish with his left hand.
This year, Cal seems to be using their center in a role that more closely resembles the one he would play in the NBA. Hardinâ€™s usage is down from 15.4% of his teamâ€™s possessions to 12.2%, but heâ€™s doing a much better job with the possessions he is given, improving his points per possession from 1.01 to 1.17. His assist to turnover ratio up is by 150%, which a very encouraging sign for a player like him.
Defensively, Hardin looks excellent at times, but could still make some small adjustments that could make him even more dangerous on this end. He did an excellent job in a game against Michael Beasley by the way when the two were matched up, swatting his shot a number of times (even twice on the perimeter), and not giving him many opportunities at all to score inside the paint. Hardinâ€™s combination of size, length, strength and athleticism is virtually unrivaled at the collegiate level, and allows him to be quite an effective threat challenging shots around the rim. He also has quick enough feet to accurately hedge a pick and roll and recover in ample time, which is very rare from a player his size. His lateral quickness also comes in handy in the post, where he can step in and take a charge, which he looks quite willing to do. Hardin is fouling at a much lower rate than he did in years past (3.3 per 40 minutes this year, compared with 4.9 last year and 5.2 the year before). Heâ€™ll still bite on the occasional pump-fake, and will at times get called for a foolish foul far away from the basket, but heâ€™s obviously making solid progress in this area, which is very encouraging. His 2.6 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted is certainly solid, but still only ranks him 33rd amongst draft prospects in that category.
To continue to establish his value in the draft as a potential defensive anchor, Hardin must do a better job closing out on his man in the post. He gives up too much space here at times, letting his matchups get deep position in hopes that heâ€™ll be able to outquick them going up for the block when the shot finally goes up. He got scored on quite a bit by players like Kevin Love and Luke Nevill for this reason, from what we saw. Weâ€™d also like to see him do a better job protecting his basket making rotations to stop slashers on their way to the rim.
Another encouraging sign weâ€™re seeing has to do with Hardinâ€™s rebounding ability. His 14.9 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted ranks him 4th amongst all draft prospects in that category, and certainly is an important stat considering what his likely role will be at the next level. His hands look better, as does his timing and aggressivenessâ€”which will surely help his cause.
All in all, Hardin seems to be in great shape heading into the second half of his senior season from what we can tell. His team is winning at a pretty solid rate, heâ€™s done a solid job addressing many of the concerns scouts had about him, and heâ€™s producing very well in the areas he needs to most. Considering the lack of true centers in the NBA, especially those who can be considered outstanding athletes, Hardin should find himself in pretty high demand come draft day if he can keep it up. Heâ€™ll be under the microscope in this very difficult Pac-10 schedule, so making the NCAA tournament and continuing to play well will be imperative for him.
After shooting 80% from the free throw line in an injury shortened junior year, many expected Hardin's offensive game to show vast improvement this year.
Unfortunately that hasn't been the case, as Hardin continues to struggle to do much of anything offensively outside of put back dunks and ally oops. He's currently averaging 10.1 ppg, down .2 ppg from a year ago.
For a player that shows solid form and touch in warm ups and practice situations, it's bizarre how his shooting touch abandons him in game situations.
Hardin has a decent hook shot, but he lacks much of a back to the basket game for someone that only plays with his back to the basket. He really struggles to shoot on the move and is not a good finisher unless he has an opportunity for a dunk.
Granted playing alongside a prolific scorer such as Ryan Anderson limits Hardin's offensive responsibility and touches, but for a senior with such tremendous body structure and athleticism, he should be able to roll out of bed and average 15-18 points per game.
The lack of scoring does not bode well for him as anything more than a rebounder and shot blocker at the next level with single digit scoring numbers.
On the positive side, Harden certainly passes the "look test" as he's good for at least one jaw dropping dunk per game. His athleticism is on par with some of the game's elite bigmen and just a notch below the Dwight Howards and Amare Stoudemires. Unfortunately, Hardin's skill level pales in comparison.
There are very few players on the college level like Hardin, and despite extremely limited offensive skills, he's considered a likely first rounder.