Come November 3, the PBA will hold its annual draft at the Robinsons Manila Midtown Mall. For the 2nd year in a row, the skill level in the draft should be able to alter the fates of PBA franchises for years to come. Compared to last year’s pool though, this year’s draft is projected to be deeper, with high potential rookies looking to be available even after the 2nd round.

We take a look at ten players who are projected to go in the 1st round, while offering a few notes on other notable players. Let’s start with the triumvirate of big men that will make up this year’s fist three picks.

1. Greg Slaugter

Strengths

It’s not every year that a seven footer with actual elite level skill applies for the draft. With Bobby Ray Parks ineligible for this year’s pool, Greg Slaughter has a chance (and will most probably be) this year’s number one pick. He’s got the strength to complement his big frame and his scoring range extends from the paint till the mid range with a pretty consistent jumper. On defense, he may not be an athletic above the rim presence, but even if he just raises his hands, he’ll already be a commanding defensive presence inside.

Weaknesses

It’s a trade-off between speed and size with Slaughter. Given his huge frame, Slaughter can be classified as slow footed. He already has a semi-polished  post game, but it will still need some work and he hasn’t really shown a mean-streak that’s needed to survive as a big man in the PBA.

Areas for Improvement

For most of his career, Slaughter has benefited most from his.. well.. height. Because of that, people aren’t really sure how wide his post game is. Chances are though, aside from his stints with Gilas, Slaughter hasn’t really played against defenses as physical and as good as what he’ll see in the PBA and he will have to improve on his post game to maximize his height.

Projected

1st or 2nd pick.

Team Fit

San Mig Coffee. As much as Ginebra needs the biggest guy available, Slaughter’s game isn’t really suited for Ginebra’s run and gun offense. The seven footer’s game will be a perfect fit in the Mixer’s triangle offense. He can use his height to facilitate the triangle from the high post, while also opening up a whole new world of possibilities by being SMC’s only real true back to the basket threat. Defensively, Slaughter and Pingris could be the most intimidating frontline in the PBA next season.

Is Greg Slaughter Ginebra’s savior? (Photo Credit: Nuki Sabio, PBA Images)

2. Ian Sangalang

Strengths

He can be the next Danny Ildefonso or Kerby Raymundo. He’s thin but very quick for a guy that’s 6’7. He can run with the small guys and isn’t afraid to bang with the bigger and wider guys. He has a ton of post moves and can hit the perimeter shots if given to him. His offensive repertoire is arguably the best in this year’s draft.

Weaknesses

The biggest question for Sangalang will be whether he can defend in the PBA. He still doesn’t have the requisite bulk and strength to successfully defend in the pros.

Areas for Improvement

He needs to bulk up a little bit more, but without sacrificing his mobility and athleticism.

Projected

1st or 2nd pick.

Team Fit

Ginebra. Sangalang can definitely run with the Ginebra guards, while also being the post player that the Gin Kings have been covetting for so long now. Imagine the combo of Sangalang-Aguilar in the middle. Blocked shots on defense and alley-oops on the other.

3. Raymond Almazan

Strengths

Almazan is a defensive beast. He’s currently averaging 13.5 points 16.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game this NCAA season. Almazan’s athleticism and agility allow him to impact the game on both ends even without plays being drawn up for him.

Weaknesses

Might he be another Nonoy Baclao? A very good defensive player in the collegiate ranks, but failed to impress in the pros. He still lacks a serviceable offensive game and that is why he has always been projected behind both Slaughter and Sangalang.

Areas for Improvement

Like Sangalang, Almazan needs to bulk up a little bit more, but without sacrificing his mobility and athleticism.

Projected

3rd overall

Team Fit

Rain or Shine. If there’s a team that needs someone who can make an impact without needing the ball, it’s the Elasto Painters. Almazan’s mobility should complement ROS’ pace and Coach Yeng should be able to consistently light a fire under the young rookie and push him to get better from the first day of practice.

Will Almazan’s shot blocking ways continue in the PBA? (Photo Credit: philstar.com)

4. RR Garcia

Strengths

RR Garcia might the the most PBA ready player in this year’s draft. He’s experienced and has a steady, patient game that should transition well to the pros. An explosive scorer while handling the ball, he has also shown a passable ability to play off the ball as well in his last season with FEU.

Weaknesses

He’s small for a two guard and a step slow for a point guard in the pros. He also doesn’t have much of a reputation to speak of in the defensive end of the court.

Areas for Improvement

Garcia needs to work on his defense if he wants to play meaninful minutes in his rookie year.

Projected

Early 1st round, Barako will probably take him with the 4th, 5th or 6th pick.

Team Fit

Barako Bull. Garcia, along with the other rookies that will be joining this team, has the perfect opportunity to be the franchise’s cornerstones for the future. IF Monfort does get shipped out, then it’s not impossible for Garcia to be given the keys to Coach Toroman’s offense in his rookie year.

5. Jeric Teng

Strengths

After a splendid collegiate career, Teng comes into the PBA draft touted as the next big scorer. His offensive arsenal is more mature than most as he can hit from almost anywhere in the court. The most impressive part of his game has got to be his ability to work the post, routinely scoring on smaller guards while beating bigger defenders off the dribble.

Weaknesses

Despite having a reputation as an elite scorer, Teng is far from efficient. In his five years with the Tigers, he didn’t average more than 38% from the field. With defenses tighter and more complex in the PBA, expect that clip to fall even further.

Areas for Improvement

Shot selection. If he wants his scoring to translate to the pros, Teng would have to learn how to pick his spots and play within his team’s offense.

Projected

5th of 6th pick

Team Fit

Global Port. They need to replace Gary David right? Well, it may still be years early, but the former King Tiger is definitely a good player to build around. With Sol Mercado playing point and demanding most of the possessions, Teng can work off the ball and learn to efficiently harness his scoringh while also possibly having an immediate impact for the Batang Pier.

jeric teng

After heartbreak in the UAAP, Jeric Teng now takes his talent to the pros.

6. Nico Salva

Strengths

Another player who can score from almost anywhere. Salva patterns his game to his idol Kobe Bryant and his offensive arsenal clearly reflects that.  He can hit jumper after jumper after jumper from the mid range and he can fake defenders out of their shoes with his variety of post moves. Despite this, Salva’s biggest strength may be his experience and winning attitude as he was a critical player in each of Ateneo’s five straight UAAP championships.

Weaknesses

It’s ironic how Salva never successfully extended his shooting range to the three point area despite modelling his game after the Black Mamba. Without the necessary range to extend defenses, coaches may have a hard time keeping Salva in games for extended periods since he also probably won’t be able to grab rebounds consistently in the pros.

Areas for Improvement

Individual defense, shooting range.

Projected

6th or 7th pick

Team Fit

Alaska. The Aces deperately need youth coming off the bench, with its current crop of role players composes of aging players (Hontiveros, Dela Cruz, Belasco, Laure). His game is also tailor-made for the triangle since Salva excels the most when placed in the high post.

7. Terrence Romeo

Strengths

Romeo can score. When he’s on, Romeo has the rare combination of skill, size and confidence to be an unstoppable scorer.  He’s a superstar in the making if he lives up to his potential.

Weaknesses

Consider it a consequence of confidence, but Romeo’s shot selection at this point of his career is questionable. In fact, we have abosolutely no idea how Romeo will fair if we take the ball out of his hands and deny him of the role as a team’s primary offensive threat.

Areas for Improvement

He needs to focus more on his decision making and how to create opportunities for himself off-the-ball.

Projected

4th, 5th, or 6th pick

Team Fit

Barako Bull. Bararko needs to insert some youth and scoring on their aging squad and the reigning UAAP MVP fits that bill. He could thrive in Toroman’s system as the team’s primary point guard while once again teaming up with RR Garcia.

Terrence Romeo. (Photo Credit: Marlon Bernabe, Burnsports)

Who knows how Terrence Romeo’s game will translate to the PBA. (Photo Credit: Marlon Bernabe, Burnsports)

8. Justin Chua

Strengths

Nico Baguio sums up Justin Chua perfectly when he said that the former Ateneo big man is a “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Chua can score in the post, shoot midrange jumpers, set screens and play defense at at a pretty respectable level (at least in college and in the D-League).

Weaknesses

Place Chua’s all-around game in the pros and you’re not really sure if it’ll be effective. He surely has the size, but to succeed in the pros, you really have to do at least one thing really, really well… something we haven’t seen from Chua yet.

Areas for Improvement

Chua must improve on the consistency of his jumpers. He can use that jumper as the foundation of his offensive game moving forward.

Projected

Late 1st round

Team Fit

Talk ‘N Text. After trading away Rabeh Al Hussani, TNT now finds itself with an offensive gap in the middle behind De Ocampo since both Baclao and Reyes are more known for their defensive prowess.It also doesn’t hurt that Coach Norman Black already knows how to get the most out of what Chua has to offer.

9. James Forrester

Strengths

Forrester has the size and athleticism to excel in the PBA. At 6’2, he can tower over most guards and he uses that height to get good looks for his decent three point shot.

Weaknesses

He still can still improve on how he uses his size advantage especially in the mid range. Being a big guard, developing a high post game could serve him pretty well.

Areas for Improvement

Forrester is a flashy dribbler in the mold of Mercado and Ross

Projected

Late first round to early second round, but don’t be surprised to see a team reach for him earlier.

Team Fit

Air 21. He can be a good combo guard for the Franz Pumaren-led squad. He can defend the perimeter well and should help solidify the Express’ bench.

Don’t be surprised if a team reaches for Forrester earlier than expected. (Photo Credit: sports.inquirer.net)

10. Isaac Holstein

Strengths

Bounce and blocks. Those are the things that Holstein will bring to the table.

Weaknesses

Holstein’s offensive ability is still very suspect. He doesn’t have any post moves to speak of since he mainly relies on his athleticism when trying to score.

Areas for Improvement

He needs to improve on his defensive awareness and positioning since he is often baited into some very wreckless fouls by opponents.

Projected

Late 1st round to early 2nd round.

Team Fit

Rain or Shine. The Elasto Painters could use an above the rim defensive presence and Coach Yeng Guiao looks like the type of coach that can get the most out of a prospect like Holstein

Below are other players you should keep an eye on come November 3

Jeric Fortuna: An undersized point guard with a serviceable outside shot. He’s steady, experienced and has a big heart. However, his defense is still shaky.

Alex Nuyles: He was projected as a first round pick before the other UAAP players decided to join the draft. Nuyless has the potential to be a 2nd round sleeper if he is able to return to his pre-injury form.

Ryan Buenafe: For all his basketball IQ and clutch performances, Buenafe remains inconsistent and the issues surrounding his physical condition could scare teams away.

Eric Camson: He can rebound and plays above average defense, but is coming into the draft a bit underrated.

Jett Vidal: Jettsanity can score and hit the outside shot. Like most, he struggles with his efficiency.

Mike Silungan: Oozing with potential, but hasn’t really shown much since his days with UP. Could be an intriguing prospect down the road for a team with patience and an open roster spot.

Chris Camus: See: Eric Camson, minus the underrated part.

LA Revilla:  A pocket rocket who can score the ball and a good leader. He’s a willing passer and can be compared to Emman Monfort.

JR Cawaling:  Comfortable out there on the wing with long arms and range till the three point line. He has a lot of potential and he could be a steal if he ends up in the right situation.

Chris Exciminiano:  Should be a solid 2nd round pick for a team looking for a player that will play hard nosed defense every time down the court.

Carlo Lastimosa: – A combo guard with basketball running thru his veins. Surprisingly deadly in the open court with a so-so offensive game, many consider him a lock in the 2nd round just because of who he played for in college.

Sam Marata: Mike Silungan 2.0?

Anjo Caram:  Simon Atkins 2.0?

Other Notable Names: Jens Knuttel and Paul Sanga of FEU, Dave Najorda of San Sebastian, Joshua Webb of DLSU, Gelo Montecastro and Alvin Padilla of UP, JP Erram of Ateneo.