NBA Draft 2012: Jared Cunningham Can't Be Serious

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 08: Jared Cunningham #1 of the Oregon State Beavers goes up for a shot over Desmond Simmons #30 of the Washington Huskies in the first half during the quarterfinals of the 2012 Pacific Life Pac-12 basketball tournament at Staples Center on March 8, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

This can't be real, can it? Why?

According to a report by ESPN's Chad Ford, Oregon State's Jared Cunningham will not only test the NBA draft waters but "is likely to stay in the draft."

If you're a fan of spectacular putback dunks, then Jared Cunningham is your guy.

(via OSUBeaversAthletics)

As you can tell, Cunningham's an exceptional athlete, but he doesn't fit any particular basketball position and falls into the dreaded tweener spot. Cunningham has the size of a point guard, but lacks the skills of one--he's a decent enough passer, but not elite enough. Cunningham likes to create a lot in isolation. And he's not big enough to be a shooting guard and doesn't possess elite shooting skills. Cunningham has one elite skill--steals--but he's not a great one-on-one defender and relies mainly on his quickness rather than attention to detail to haul in the basketball.

There's definite potential with Cunningham, but he's not ready yet to handle the position, and certainly could fall through the cracks and out of the first round of the draft board, perhaps off the draft board altogether.

Here are the shooting/combo guards who are better than Cunningham right now: Jeremy Lamb, Bradley Beal, Austin Rivers, Terrence Ross, Doron Lamb, Dion Waters, John Jenkins, Tony Wroten. They're just as athletic as Cunningham, but also provide more offensive skill to the position.

All of them figure to be drafted in the first round. And we're not even getting into the prospects of guys like Wiliam Buford, Kim English, Jamaal Franklin, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Reggie Bullock, all of whom fit into the potential developing prospects category just like Cunningham. This isn't the right draft for Cunningham, not where there's so much senior-laden talent that it'll fill up the first two rounds and leave little room for players that need further development to be picked.

Oregon State basketball is desperately in need of Cunningham's senior season. The Beavers improved drastically on the offensive end between the last two seasons, and Cunningham (along with Devon Collier and Ahmad Starks) were the nucleus of that success.

Hopefully Cunningham reconsiders. For the sake of Oregon State and the Pac-12.

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