17 June 2014

The 2014 Un-Drafted Prospects for Bolts

2014 PBA Draft Prospects
With the PBA Draft poised to become more competitive with the entry of three new exciting teams – Kia, Blackwater and NLEX – it would be prudent to finally start looking into possible prospects for the Meralco Bolts.

Unfortunately, in the next Rookie Draft, the Bolts first round pick, which is at Number 2, belongs to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

In 2012, the Bolts acquired Ronjay Buenafe from the Elasto Painters in a straight swap their 2014 first-round pick. As a result, the team has no first round draft pick and may also lose their second draft pick after it was recorded that this was acquired by the Alaska Aces.

But this does not mean that the Bolts should just close their options and give up. The current roster of players offers us a better look at who should be snagged from the table after the second round in case they were not yet picked by any of the teams.

There is definitely a certain type or style of player who will come out that will give the Bolts a better future, though that isn't always indicative of where he'll go or how he'll fare in the PBA. Hyper-athletic players will definitely look good running drills and going through various tests, as will gym-rat types who can hit shots blindfolded with nobody guarding them.

The prospective analysis is a very important preview for both the undrafted player and PBA teams but can't be taken with 100 percent legitimacy considering the competition level and lack of team-centric work provided.

For the Bolts, the current undrafted prospect is extremely important. They have drafted 15 players in total since acquiring the franchise from the Sta. Lucia Realty and only one player is currently in the 16-man roster – Cliff Hodge. It tells a lot about the way the management has handled a golden opportunities given to it by the league. While it is not a sure proof that fortunes can immediately turn around with possible undrafted players, it can definitely increase the chances.

Prospect analysis isn't an exact science, and it may not tell us who will best fit the Bolts to a tee. It could, however, help them avoid a Jason Ballesteros/Shawn Weinstein dud in the top ten. That would certainly set the franchise back and is reason enough to pay close attention to where the team’s eyes are in the future.

Kevin Alas

The player who will probably be eyed by all of the three MVP teams will be the 22-year old Letran star, Kevin Alas.

An incredibly intriguing athlete, there haven't been a lot of opportunities to gage Alas on the professional level against the style and type of competition he'll be facing in the PBA. In a lot of ways, the impression is just as important for him as it is for the teams scouting him.

His physical traits are already going to stand out on their own. At 6'0", Alas has added some muscle to his impressive frame over the past year. That is a good sign and bodes well for him to continue getting stronger. His length at the guard position will certainly be of service to him at the next level, but if smaller guys can still push you around, height won't mean much.

While bringing him to Meralco is definitely intriguing, it is unclear how hard he is willing to work on shooting guard skills. Alas seems to fancy himself at the point, but with a healthy Mike Cortez that may be hard to fill up.

The son of multi-titled coach Louie Alas still is committed to the Gilas cadet pool and the pro-bound NLEX team in the D-League, although he will no problem getting the blessing from both parties after being named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the recently concluded 2014 D-League Foundation Cup that NLEX won.

Jake Pascual

The former Red Lions has proven his game at the highest level possible after being named Best Player of the Conference in the 2013 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, leading the NLEX Road Warriors in sweeping the Blackwater Sports in the best-of-three finals.

PBA scouts however are not looking too kindly at him with his average measurements and strength at the forward position. He is measured at 6’4” but that is just average for measurement for any PBA frontliner and rim-protector. Coupling those with an over-matched athleticism, you could have real problems defending in the PBA.

Pascual may be averaging double-double at the D-League tournament, but those numbers won't turn heads at this year’s draft. The Bolts need an influx of youth, height and athleticism. Pascual do not bring all those assets to the table.

If the Bolts decide to go to Pascual, they may have to find a new roles for Cliff Hodge, Reynel Hugnatan, James Sena and Danny Ildefonso.

Arnold Van Opstal

After coming up with glorious campaign with De La Salle last year, which beat University of Sto. Tomas for the UAAP Championship, Van Opstal must now look at the PBA as his another opportunity to shine.

Fans and College basketball fans already had a chance to see him in high-pressure situations against top competition in the UAAP and they know that that he is ripe for the professional league given his size, 6’8”. This is an important factor for the Bolts to keep an eye on in particular. With a massive hole in the middle of their frontcourt, a body type like Van Opstal’s would appear to be a nice fit.

They will need to see more than just impressive athleticism and bench pressing, though. With a driving point guard like Jared Dillinger, they need to be sure a big they draft in the first round has capable hands on offense. In drills, it will be important to make sure Van Opstal is constantly aware of where the ball is and where he should be. Mike Cortez’s passes can come with a split second's notice, and the margin between easy layup and turnover is razor-thin.

Another part of Van Opstal’s game that should be showcased is his mid-range offense. If the Bolts is going to make a serious play for him in the draft, it needs to know how he works in an PBA pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop. Decision-making is a key aspect of that, and it is something we didn't see much of during his time at La Salle.

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