Posted by: Andy-Larsen on June 14th, 2010The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Rafael Araujo is probably one of the 10 biggest busts of all time. He’s been named in many articles as such, and he simply added no value to Toronto after being picked #8 in 2004. He did get traded for Kris Humphries, who was slightly better in that he is still in the NBA. There’s the problem, though: If you got traded for Kris Humphries, and the team that got Kris Humphries won the trade, you are a sorry basketball player.
So, how did Toronto (and, to some extent, the prognosticators that had him as a high first round pick) make such a mistake? What did they see in Araujo that simply didn’t translate to the NBA level? And finally, what can we learn for this draft? Let’s investigate. We’ll do so by taking a look at some pre-draft scouting reports on Araujo’s talent, and then look at how they “missed”.
Collegehoopsnet.com Doug Enzler’s opinion on Araujo:
In addition to his size, Araujo certainly has the talent that NBA scouts love. A smart, skilled center, he is a dominating rebounder and can score with either power or finesse. The athletic Brazilian is also an excellent passer out of the post, runs the floor well and can even knock down the occasional three pointer. His game has often been compared to former Portland Trail Blazers star Arvydas Sabonis, which is perhaps why many NBA draft analysts predict that Araujo will be drafted in the mid- to late first round. Due to BYU’s lack of television exposure, Araujo is still a virtual unknown to many basketball fans, but as the word spreads, his rare combination of size and skill could propel him into the NBA Draft Lottery.
Here’s the interesting thing about that entirely positive scouting report: about 20% of it is true. Yes, Hoffa can pass it a little, and is large. However, he’s not a dominating rebounder (in fact, was one of the worst rebounding/minute centers in the NBA), can not score with either power or finesse (scored 3.3 PPG in his best and rookie season), cannot run the floor well, and made 1 three pointer in his career. So there’s that.
Raptors pre-draft scouting report:
Pros: Araujo has great strength. His upper body strength allows him to work on his opponents and he uses this to his advantage. He has some solid post moves including a baby hook shot. Is very strong on the boards. He is a very good rebounder and a very good passer. .
Cons: Despite his size he’s not the greatest of defenders. He isn’t known for his shotblocking so he will have to play better positional defence which may be hard because like most big men he isn’t very quick.
Araujo is strong, and did indeed have a baby hook in college. It’s just that he couldn’t get it off in the NBA, because he moves so slowly (as hinted about in the Cons section), that it would be stolen or blocked. He also had no ability to help defend whatsoever, for example, Memo is a much better help defender and well… let’s move on.
ESPN Insider’s scouting report:
Upside: Araujo has been one of the most dominant college centers on the offensive end in the country this year. Physically he’s huge and very, very strong. He uses his strength to bulldoze opponents in the paint. He’s an aggressive rebounder, sometimes a little too aggressive. His solid frame allows him to hold his position in the post. He runs pretty well for a big man. A pretty good free-throw shooter. Plays with a passion that we rarely see in big men.
Downside: He’s just an average athlete. His lateral quickness, leaping ability and overall agility leave something to be desired. His aggressiveness often gets him into early foul trouble. He’s not a great shot blocker for his size. Was destroyed by Okafor in the tournament last year, leading some to question how well he’d fare in the league.
This was another aspect of Araujo’s performance that was significantly overlooked: every time he went against another NBA big man, whether it be Okafor or Andrew Bogut, he got shut down. Teams need to look at the strength of schedule of NBA players, and determine if a player’s success is caused by feasting on low competition. Also, lateral quickness, leaping ability, and agility are pretty important in the NBA, to simply say they leave “something to be desired” isn’t really enough.
USAToday’s scouting report:
ROLE PROJECTION: Key reserve
POSITIVES: Araujo had a tremendous senior season at BYU. He is a skilled player who can use his size to impose his will on smaller players. Given the lack of big men with true low-post games in the league, Araujo certainly has something to offer. He has a mean streak that teams love, possesses a solid face-up jumper and baby hook and is a quality rebounder. If he is willing to learn and work hard, Araujo could develop into a decent NBA player.
SHORTCOMINGS: Speed is the biggest concern teams have regarding Araujo. He dominated in college partly because he was so much bigger than everyone else. Facing players his own size could prove difficult for Araujo, who lacks the lateral agility to go around or stay in front of his opponents. The other concern is Araujo’s age. He will be 24 by the time his rookie season starts, and one has to wonder how much room for growth as a player he has left.
This is the first scouting report that acknowledges Araujo’s age: at 24, if he’s not good immediately, there’s simply not a lot of room for improvement. 24 year old players are at the peak of their NBA talents, in many cases. Jazz players who are 23, 24, and 25 make up half the team (Fes, Gaines, Jeffers, Matthews, Miles, Millsap, and Williams are all in that range). The age makes “developing into a decent NBA player” difficult.
The other issue regarding Araujo, that I can’t find in any pre-draft scouting report, is his ridiculously short wingspan. Playing for the Raptors, he was often derided for having “T-Rex arms”. I can’t find his actual measured wingspan anywhere (he wasn’t measured at the 2004 NBA Draft combine), but the truth is that his wingspan and standing reach were simply not up to par for an NBA player, which made his transition more difficult. In my mind, the Araujo pick is the beginning of when everyone started to look at wingspan as a prerequisite for successful NBA draft picks: Araujo displayed the consequences of not looking at that part of a player’s profile.
And so, we’re at what Rafael Araujo is today: not at all an NBA player. Here is his current scouting report from ShamSports.com, which, by the way, is a fantastic NBA website. You should visit ShamSports if you want updated salary info, scouting reports, and most of all, if you want to know the whereabouts of anyone who ever considered playing in the NBA.
If it looks like a duck, runs like a duck, and sounds like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Or it might be Rafael Araujo.
Here’s the thing. I’m 6′3 tall with a short wingspan. Now, if I was 6′11 with a decent wingspan, I would imagine that it’s pretty easy to score a basketball from 2 feet away. Especially if I’ve been playing the sport for a high level – including internationally – for a number of years. To me, that’s conventional thinking. However, Rafael Araujo defies that wisdom, as to this day he is unable to make the simplest of layups if a defender does so much as look at him funny. He has absolutely no touch or finesse around the hoop at all. I mean, you’d think it isn’t that difficult. But Araujo makes it so. It’s alarming.
But it’s not just that and his waddling duck impression that sets Araujo apart. No no. He’s also quite rakishly bad at other aspects of the game. He is a really, really poor help defender, who does not know how or when to rotate. In fact, “help” is a good adjective to use to describe his defense. He just really doesn’t seem to know where to stand, and when to step up. He also blocks ridiculously few shots, despite all his size. Araujo’s rebounding rate is very poor, he looks like a deer in headlights a lot of the time at both ends, and he fouls way too often. And despite having a decent foul line set shot, he’s merely an average free throw shooter.
To redress the balance a bit, here’s some positives – Hoffa (as in Hoffayell, which is how to pronounce his first name) can shoot set shots fairly well out to about 16 feet, and he’s a good passer of the ball. He also has lots of tattoos and muscles. But that just makes him dreamy, and not necessarily any good at the game.
Rafael Araujo fact that is also actually true: The Hoffa was suspended from international basketball for two years for failing a steroids test. So even one of the things he’s good at – being big – didn’t come entirely naturally to him.
In conclusion, we should do whatever possible to avoid another Hoffa mistake. That includes strongly considering a player’s athleticism, wingspan, age, and level of competition before falling in love with his positive characteristics.
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