2011 NBA Draft: Kyrie Irving and 10 Players Who Can Have Impact Rookie Seasons
During college basketball season, fans always wonder many scenarios. One of the more common questions, among many, is who will be the next big thing in the NBA?
Since the NBA instituted the "one year removed from high school" rule, NBA scouts and fans get more time to watch the top talent.
The rule has benefited basketball fans in that we were able to watch greats like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Michael Beasley tear up the college landscape for one season.
Now that we are into the month of March, this years group of "one and done's" is on the horizon.
Four year seniors getting drafted in the lottery are almost unheard of these days. That is unless your last name is Curry or Fredette.
Besides the popular freshman Kyrie Irving, here are 10 guys that could make a serious impact in the NBA next year.
10. Brandon Knight
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Height/Weight: 6'3/185 pounds
College Statistics: 17.7 points, 4.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.2 turnovers per game
General Strengths: Has elite physical skills. Knight runs as fast as anyone on the court. Great at driving to the bucket. Big time competitor, and a high motor guy. Works very hard and always wants to get better and learn more.
General Weaknesses: Poor decision making at times. Turns the ball over too much. Not a big time jumper going to the rim. Can play reckless and get out of control when going down the lane. Streaky shooter at times.
Pro Readiness: Brandon Knight comes in a long line of John Calipari led elite point guards. Unfortunately, he won't be as good in his rookie year as Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, or John Wall.
He definitely has a chance to be a big time player. Knight has the top end speed and shooting ability to be a starting point guard for a long time.
Brandon Knight came into the season as a top three recruit in the country, which he hasn't lived up to like many anticipated.
Rookie Season Outlook: He will probably end up getting drafted towards the middle of the first round, meaning he could end up behind a stud point guard on the depth chart.
Brandon Knight will probably be a backup the first half of the year. After his team is out of the playoff race, Knight will start to get a serious run of minutes.
Expect Knight to have a slow first half, followed by a big second half where he shows how good of an NBA player he can be.
9. Marcus Morris
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Height/Weight: 6'9/220 pounds
College Statistics: 17.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.6 turnovers a game.
General Strengths: Extremely versatile for being 6'9. Can play the post or the wing. Solid all around game with no glaring weaknesses. Good scorer that gets it done in any way possible. Good decision maker that doesn't turn the ball over often. Solid hands when going for loose balls and rebounds.
General Weaknesses: Not very aggressive or strong. Has mental lapses and picks up dumb technicals at times. Can disappear from games and leave his team stranded. Has shorter arms which hurts him when playing post defense. Somewhat of a "tweener."
Pro Readiness: Marcus Morris can come in and play. He is polished enough across the board to be a solid role player right off the bat.
Will probably have to transition to small forward full time. Marcus could have difficulties guarding really fast and athletic small forwards.
The Kansas product could struggle finding a true position, but is good enough at everything he should be okay.
Rookie Season Outlook: There is little doubt that whoever takes Marcus is making a mistake. Marcus contributes in everything he is asked to do.
Marcus will likely be a role player all season, but will see minutes almost every game.
Morris would be a great addition to a veteran team looking for a "change of pace" player. Marcus will be one of the most consistent players in the 2011 NBA Draft
8. Enes Kanter
Height/Weight: 6'11/261 pounds
College Statistics: None. Declared ineligible
General Strengths: Uses his high motor to rebound like a mad man. Knows how to use his body to his advantage, and absorbs contact whenever he gets a chance. Kanter is a smart player like most foreigners tend to be. Very polished player all around for not even being 19 years old yet.
General Weaknesses: Durability is a big question, since Kanter has had knee problems in his past. Teams might be scared of him because he missed this entire year of basketball. Footwork is not top notch.
Pro Readiness: Kanter is a "boom or bust" guy for this years draft. Since he hasn't played basketball this whole year, teams don't really know what their getting.
Has the body and physical skills to be a beast right off the bat his rookie season. However, it will probably take Kanter a little bit to get used to the speed of the pro game.
Kanter will need to impress scouts in his individual work outs leading up to the draft.
Rookie Season Outlook: This guy is a mystery man. He could come out and start for a bad team, which would boost his confidence. Kanter is a well polished player, which will work to his advantage in the post.
On the other end, teams might be scared of his knee issues and choose to give him limited minutes to start.
Kanter will be a serious sleeper going into 2011, so keep an eye on the Turkish wonder.
7. Alec Burks
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Height/Weight: 6'6/191 pounds
College Statistics: 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.9 turnovers a game.
General Strengths: Great in the open floor. Went basically unknown before exploding onto the national scene as a freshman. Great at carrying his team and creating opportunities. Good blend of size and athleticism. His shot is developing quickly into a very lethal one. Quick first step to blow by defenders on his way to the bucket.
General Weaknesses: Needs to gain weight and strength. Takes a few too many bad shots just about every game. Colorado forces him to handle the ball which is not to his best advantage. Somewhat inconsistent with his jump shot.
Pro Readiness: Just 19 years old so Alec needs to mature physically and mentally on the court. While Alec is a pretty well rounded player, he won't peak for at least a few years.
Burks will be able to help provide depth off the bench. It's hard to believe he is ready to come in and start in the NBA.
Might be somewhat of a "project" strictly because of his age and body type.
Rookie Season Outlook: Alec will likely be a reserve player his rookie year. His body is not ready to take on the big physical wings in the NBA.
He is an overall solid player who will not hurt your team in anyway. Anticipate Burks being a stud down the road, by the time he reaches 22 or 23.
6. Perry Jones
Height/Weight: 6'11/235 pounds
College Statistics: 14.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 turnovers per game.
General Strengths: Freakishly amazing athleticism for 6'11. Will play small forward at 6'11, which is borderline unbelievable. Great ball handling, shooting, and foot speed for his height. Very aggressive and plays with a lot of heart.
General Weaknesses: Basketball IQ and awareness needs work. Inconsistent shooter from three point land. Lots of learning left to do.
Pro Readiness: Perry will easily be the biggest "project" of anyone drafted in the top 7. He definitely will be able to play with everyone in the NBA, but will have plenty of rookie moments.
Could develop into a hybrid Kevin Durant, which is a very scary thought.
Perry Jones won't be stellar this season, but will have his fair share of highlight reels without a doubt.
Should be seen as a high risk/high reward type of player.
Rookie Season Outlook: Jones will have plenty of "how did he do that?" moments to go along with the "what was he thinking?" remarks.
He definitely needs to play quality minutes to develop his full potential. Perry is just 19 so NBA fans will get to watch him grow into a man right in front of us.
5. Terrence Jones
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Height/Weight: 6'9/244 pounds
College Statistics: 17.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 2.2 turnovers per game
General Strengths: The epitome of versatile. Can play and guard any position from point guard to power forward. Solid player down low and is very good at finishing around the rim. Good at using his frame to draw fouls and get to the free throw line.
General Weaknesses: Really awkward shot that could use plenty of help. Tends to lose focus after struggling for most of the game. Can be seen as a "tweener," which is a hard label to embrace.
Pro Readiness: Terrence was generally an afterthought on Kentucky's team until the season started. He immediately emerged as the best player on the team.
He is so versatile that teams could use him in a variety of ways. With his versatility, it will be interesting to see exactly where teams will put him on the court.
Jones has a good knack for being in the right place at the right time. This intangible will help him garner rebounds and loose balls at the next level, a trait that scouts drool over.
Rookie Season Outlook: For Terrence it will all be about what position he plays and for what team. He could have immediate rookie success on several teams, but might suffer under slower half court offenses.
Expect Terrence to be in the rookie of the year conversation, since he simply does too much on the court not to be.
4. Jimmer Fredette
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Height/Weight: 6'2/195 pounds
College Statistics: 27.3 points, 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.4 turnovers per game.
General Strengths: Can literally drain threes from anywhere. Jimmer expanded his game every year and is now a good passer and decision maker. Opens up opportunities for everyone else because of his shooting prowess. Very high IQ player who rarely makes bad decisions or passes.
General Weaknesses: Lacks high end athleticism for an NBA point guard. Not a great dribbler of the ball. Lacks high end speed to guard elite NBA point guards.
Pro Readiness: If he were three inches taller and played shooting guard, Jimmer would be the most pro ready guy in the draft. He will get immediate playing time for his amazing shooting abilities.
Has improved significantly on his ball handling and point guard skills which will help him a lot. Jimmer is smart enough to see extended minutes on the court.
Rookie Season Outlook: Does anyone remember a pure shooter from a mid major changing into a point guard and becoming an instant stud? His name was Stephen Curry, and Jimmer Fredette has many similarities.
Stephen does possess more speed and athleticism than Jimmer, but they both have come down similar paths.
Expect Jimmer to keep growing at the point guard position, eventually becoming a Stephen Curry look a like.
With more work on his footwork and ball handling, Jimmer will be as "Pro Ready" as they come.
3. Kyrie Irving
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Height/Weight: 6'2/180 pounds
College Statistics: 17.4 points, 5.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.8 turnovers per game. Only played in eight games this year due to injury.
General Strengths: Everything you want in a point guard. Irving is a elite athlete, very quick on the court, plays with a high IQ, and is a solid floor general. Has a good shooting stroke, and got better just about every time he stepped on the court this year.
General Weaknesses: Like most young point guards, Irving turns the ball over too much. Shot release is somewhat awkward.
Pro Readiness: Kyrie Irving is a super quick point who should start from day one on. He may have to go through some growing pains, but he is worth it.
Irving has a chance to be the next great point guard in the NBA. He plays under control just like Chris Paul, and has quickness comparable to Mike Conley.
Irving is very ready for the NBA, and will be dropping dimes from day one.
Rookie Season Outlook: Irving will be one of the first picks in the draft this year, which means he will go to a bad team.
Expect him to play major minutes, unless he sustains another freak injury like the one he suffered this year.
Irving will be a premier point guard in the NBA, and whoever drafts him needs to keep him in town for as long as possible.
2. Derrick Williams
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Height/Weight: 6'9/241 pounds
College Statistics: 19.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 2.6 turnovers per game.
General Strengths: Extremely athletic for his build. Great player at drawing fouls and getting to the line. Can back people down or play face up with the ball. Has a good wingspan which helps him on the defensive end.
General Weaknesses: Bit of a "tweener" for now. Needs to improve his overall shooting game. A little bit slow with the ball. Doesn't possess great court vision.
Pro Readiness: Derrick Williams is very comparable to Michael Beasley in what they both did in college. Both played small forward/power forward, but both had to make the transition to small forward.
If Williams can solidify his dribble-and-drive abilities, he will be a good scorer right off the bat.
Williams will get drafted by a bad team, so minutes will be available to him if he can grasp them. Derrick will have to successfully transition into a small forward to maximize his potential.
Rookie Season Outlook: It's very possible Williams will go through a transition phase, as he tries to get used to playing small forward full time.
Anticipate Williams to get comfortable with his position by at least halfway through the year, making him a big time threat in the second half.
Derrick can score in bunches so expect him to have some big games for a rookie.
1. Jared Sullinger
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Height/Weight: 6'9/286 pounds
College Statistics: 17.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.6 turnovers per game
General Strengths: Absolute beast down low, who plays a physical and bruising style of game. Has good moves in the post and can finish in a variety of ways. His biggest asset might be his feet and hands, both of which are very good.
General Weaknesses: He doesn't stand out athletically. Overall quickness isn't elite. Somewhat short and will probably get his shot blocked often.
Pro Readiness: Sullinger is up for the College Basketball Player of the Year Award, and he deserves every bit of it. He has dominated college basketball this year and will more than hold his own at the next level.
Sullinger will be able to get rebounds and score from day one. Even though he is a little bit undersized, he will still use his big body to bully players around for rebounds and loose balls.
Jared will have to transition to the big boys of the NBA, but he will get used to it in no time.
Rookie Season Outlook: Will probably be overpowered by stud power forwards like Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and David West.
Power forward is tough position to come in and dominate at, but Sullinger has the abilities to do it.
Sullinger will be a big time pro, whether it comes immediately next year or takes a few months to do so.