NBA Draft 2011 Stock Watch: Risers and Fallers of the Potential Lottery Picks
As the NBA and college basketball seasons progress, we learn more about teams and players.
There are always those who are better then we expected, and also disappointments.
While many are interested in which college teams will ultimately end up in the Final Four, from an NBA perspective, the most important part of the amateur season is getting a look at the potential pros.
Throughout the year, players rise up and fall down on draft boards—sometimes doing each multiple times.
Of course, more and more international players joining the league every year, but let's just focus on the collegiate ranks for now.
A number of ballers have gone from being lottery locks to, uh, well—scouts aren't so sure anymore.
For the most part, this article will stick with players that were expected to be high draft picks coming into the season, and how their performance has affected their standing. There are, however, some notable exceptions: players who were thought to possibly need one more year in college, but are now surefire lottery picks.
Let's take a look at these two groups—the five biggest risers and five biggest fallers of the potential 2011 top selections.
No. 5 Faller: Kyrie Irving, Duke
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Irving's play did not cause him to slip at all. Rather, it was a toe injury that Duke's staff is still unable to really define.
In limited action (eight games), Irving averaged 17.4 PPG and 5.1 APG to go along with a 53 percent field-goal percentage.
The fact that he might not play another college game should cause him to be selected a bit lower than he would have had he been able to play the entire season.
It's hard to invest a top pick on a guy who hasn't give you much game film.
He'll still likely be a lottery pick, but his injury has made him a little less desirable.
No. 5 Riser: John Henson, North Carolina
It can easily be argued that Henson has been a disappointment this year and that he would have been better off entering the 2010 Draft.
His overall numbers (9.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG and 53 percent field-goal percentage) are up from last season, but they still leave something to be desired.
Some around the league are reportedly enthused about his defensive potential though, due to his length.
He's being compared to Joakim Noah and Kevin Durant in that regard—guys who needed to put on weight coming out of college and have gone on to make significant contributions in the pros.
Henson was a fringe lottery pick entering the year and, although some would like him to be playing better, he has likely moved into definite lottery-pick status.
No. 4 Faller: C.J. Leslie, North Carolina State
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Leslie was viewed as a top-10 pick prior to the season but has not lived up to that billing so far.
He's averaging 10.9 PPG and has not topped 20 points since the first game of the season.
His 7.9 RPG will help his cause, but you must also consider that his 19 rebounds against mighty Youngstown State boosts that average.
There's still plenty of time for Leslie to get himself back up there. He'll need to turn it on soon, though.
No. 4 Riser: Chris Singleton, Florida State
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Singleton is probably the best defensive player in college basketball. That is where he has the most value.
His offense has been inconsistent this year, but in his last four games he's gone over 20 PPG and has nearly 10 RPG.
His shooting has gotten much, much better this year, evidenced by increases in field-goal, three-point and free-throw percentage.
He is quickly moving up draft boards after falling down a bit at points this season.
No. 3 Faller: Patric Young, Florida
Young's body is NBA-ready, but his game is not even close.
Young is averaging a measly 2.8 PPG and 3.1 RPG. He was viewed as a late lottery pick, so his fall is not quite as precipitous as others, although he might not even get drafted at all.
If he keeps up the the level of production he's shown so far, he'll need at least another year in college before going pro.
No. 3 Riser: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
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People were a bit torn on Sullinger before the season. Some viewed him as an easy early first-round pick, while others thought he would need another year in college.
Well, that debate's over.
Sullinger is averaging 17.9 PPG and 10.3 RPG while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field. He's proving to be a force in the paint, and looks to be selected very early in the draft.
No. 2 Faller: Josh Selby, Kansas
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Selby got himself in some trouble when the NCAA determined he had accepted illegal benefits while in high school.
In a controversial decision, the NCAA allowed him to pay back the money he received and suspended him for the team's first nine games. This caused problems for Selby, as Kansas established a rotation for its players.
He's shown some ability to score in his six games, while also throwing some complete stinkers out there against some not exactly top-notch opponents.
He'll have to pick it up to climb back up the boards.
No. 2 Riser: Derrick Williams, Arizona
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Williams has skyrocketed up draft boards this season. His PPG average is up only about four points from last year and his RPG remain the same, but you have to take note of how efficient he has become.
He has a 66 percent field-goal percentage and is shooting over 70 percent on threes, all while taking more shot attempts than he did a season ago.
He's the highest rated player in terms of PER (player efficiency rating), making it even harder for teams to pass on him come draft day.
No. 1 Faller: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
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Many, many scouts believed Barnes would be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Even more are now wondering what happened to the guy.
A lot of people still think that Barnes will have a better second half of the season and get himself back into the lottery, but there's no getting around the fact that he's been the biggest disappointment in college basketball this year.
After all the hype surrounding him prior to the season, he's not even shooting 40 percent from the field and has already had five games where he's been held under 10 points.
He'll still likely be selected high due to his potential, but, unless he gets a lot better, will not go nearly as early as most thought he would.
No. 1 Riser: Kemba Walker, Connecticut
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Walker will be graduating this spring, but he still has another year of eligibility to play college ball, and most scouts thought he would need the seasoning.
Walker exploded in the Maui Invitational at the beginning of the year and is now averaging 26 PPG on 46 percent shooting.
He's also improved his three-point shooting, free throw percentage and rebounding.
He's clearly emerged as a great leader on a young UConn team, and credits his experience with Team USA this summer as a major reason for his improvement.
Walker is still seen as undersized and a bit too score-first for a point guard, but no one can deny what he's done this year.
If he can lead the Huskies on a deep tourney run, he could even move into the top five and maybe even go No. 1 overall.