2011 NBA Draft: Kyrie Irving, Jimmer Fredette and the 50 Best Prospects
The age-old question of whether a professional sports team should grab a player who fills a need or another who is the best available will stand the test of time. Both sides have their pitfalls.
In 1984, the Portland Trail Blazers drafted Kentucky center Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, as the Blazers already had Clyde Drexler at shooting guard and were looking for Bill Walton's replacement. Bowie played 139 games in Portland. Jordan did okay.
On the flip side, the Chicago Bulls drafted for what they deemed the best talent available in 2001, flipping power forward Elton Brand for Tyson Chandler and picking Eddy Curry two selections later. The Bulls already had Elton Brand and Brad Miller in the frontcourt and started players at guard such as Bryce Drew, Fred Hoiberg and Khalid El-Amin. Instead of drafting for a guard, the Bulls went for broke for something they didn't truly need. Eddy Curry is currently counting his millions at home, while Tyson Chandler is succeeding...in Dallas.
As NBA executives get ready to wipe away the identities of hundreds of individuals in favor of statistics, height/weight vitals and game tape, it's imperative to remember that the best way to gauge whether a player is a good fit for a franchise is to mix both need and overall skill level.
This can be done by assigning best- and worst-case scenarios to each player. Will Kyrie Irving be an All-Star or is his toe injury cause for future concern? Will Derrick Williams blossom as the next David West, or will he be struggle to find an NBA identity?
While it's hard to predict where each player will land, it's not hard to create best- and worst-case scenarios for the lottery picks in the NBA draft, just like all NBA war rooms will be doing come June.
Here are those scenarios, rankings for the top 50 players and more in-depth insight (articles and videos) about the projected lottery picks in particular.
I have not included the UNC Big Three, partially based on some reports and educated guesses that I've read insinuating that they may give it one more shot. Nothing is definite though. Patric Young is coming back, as he implied in postgame comments after Florida's Elite Eight loss to Butler. Jared Sullinger, Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton will also be back.
Well, at least we think Thompson will be back. There were reports saying that Thompson had signed with an agent, reports specifically refuted by Thompson's mother to the Zags Blog. She says, though, that no decision has been made.
50. Washington PG Isaiah Thomas (5'8", 185 Pounds)
Can't teach speed. Thomas can wreck havoc in the open court and is a clutch player, as Arizona saw in the Pac-10 tournament final (28 points). He has declared early for the draft, according to ESPN. He averaged 17 points and six assists for the Huskies last season.
49. Marquette SF Jimmy Butler (6'7", 220 Pounds)
Butler led 11-seed Marquette to the Sweet 16 during an inconsistent year for the Golden Eagles, as they defeated 6-seed Xavier and 3-seed Syracuse before a completely non-competitive loss to 2-seed North Carolina in the Sweet 16.
Butler averaged over 15 points and six rebounds in his senior season and shot over 50 percent for his career.
48. Washington SG Justin Holiday (6'6", 185 Pounds)
Averaged 10.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season. He had poor outings in the NCAA tournament, which hurt his draft stock. The younger brother of Jrue Holiday is a defensive maven and known for his effort on that side of the ball.
47. USC Nikola Vucevic (6'10", 240 Pounds)
Vucevic is headed to the draft, per the LA Times. He averaged 17.1 points and 10.3 assists last season in a breakout year. He will need to improve his defense on the next level, however.
46. WSU SG Klay Thompson (6'6", 186 Pounds)
Via the vibe I get from this Seattle Times article, it sounds like Thompson is itching to go to the NBA. Just my gut though. The son of former Laker great Mychal Thompson, Klay averaged 21.6 points and 5.2 rebounds last season.
45. UCLA SG Malcolm Lee (6'5", 190 Pounds)
Lee is very quick and is best suited in the transition game. He averaged 13 per game last year and shot 43.7 percent from the field, not great numbers. Still, he's a very good defender, and a fast-paced team may take a look in the second round. Keep in mind that other UCLA guards who didn't have the best numbers in college (Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison) have found starting jobs in the NBA.
44. Purdue SG E'Twaun Moore (6'4", 191 Pounds)
Moore averaged 18 points per game last season and picked up a lot of slack with Robbie Hummel out of the lineup. He is a good defender but doesn't have the best frame for an NBA shooting guard. Still, can't go wrong with taking power-conference seniors who averaged 18 PPG in the second round.
43. Notre Dame PG Ben Hansbrough (6'3", 203 Pounds)
Hansbrough outplayed Kemba Walker in their meeting in Storrs earlier this season and basically carried his team throughout the season alongside Tim Abromaitis. He's definitely worth a second-round pick.
42. Baylor SG LaceDarius Dunn (6'4", 200 Pounds)
Character concerns and shooting inconsistency abound for Dunn. On the flip side, he led Baylor to the Elite Eight in 2010 and averaged over 19.5 points per game in each of his last two years.
41. Syracuse PF Rick Jackson (6'9", 240 Pounds)
Jackson's 13 and 10 average his senior year boosted 'Cuse to a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament. Does he have the quickness to stick with stretch power forwards though? He'd be a defensive stopper primarily in the NBA.
40. Ohio State SG David Lighty (6'6", 220 Pounds)
One of Ohio State's glue guys will try and emulate his role in the NBA with a new team. Lighty was a fifth-year senior last season, averaging over 12 points a game and playing some of the best defense seen by an individual in the Big Ten.
39. Illinois PG Demetri McCamey (6'3", 205 Pounds)
Oh, brother. His stock dropped like Enron in 2001. Conflicts with coach Bruce Weber, combined with sloppy ball-handling and generally inconsistent play, drops the former first-rounder here. Was sixth in Division I in assists per 40 minutes.
38. Florida SF Chandler Parsons (6'8", 217 Pounds)
The SEC Player of the Year was not Brandon Knight, Jeff Taylor or Terrence Jones. It was this guy. Tell me he won't be on an NBA bench for a decade. He can score (11.3 PPG), rebound (7.8 RPG) and dish (3.8 APG) as well as shoot efficiently (48 percent).
37. International PF Jeremy Tyler (6'10", 245 Pounds)
Do yourself a favor and mute the music to this video if you want to check it out.
Tyler was the No. 1 player in his class when he was a junior in high school before deciding to skip his senior year. Tyler went to Israel, quit his first team and now plays in Japan. Would be shocked to see him fall out of the draft.
36. Oakland C Keith Benson (6'11", 225 Pounds)
Benson got outplayed by Tristan Thompson in Oakland's 85-81 loss to Texas in the NCAA tournament. He has a nice offensive game, but lacks the defensive repertoire to hang in the NBA right now. Benson would behoove sitting on the bench for a few years and learning from a seasoned NBA low-post veteran as well as bulking up.
35. Hofstra PG/SG Charles Jenkins (6'3", 220 Pounds)
Led the CAA—the conference with VCU, George Mason and Old Dominion—in points (22.6) and assists (4.8). He has excellent shooting numbers (51.7 percent overall, 42 percent from three-point range and 82.4 percent from the free-throw line), and his coach raves about his attitude. Jenkins is an unselfish player who could be a second-round steal.
34. VCU PF Jamie Skeen (6'9", 240 Pounds)
I originally had international power forward Bismack Biyombo (6'9", 240) here, and I have no idea why. Maybe I went all Jay Bilas and became enamored by his 7'7" wingspan. Special thanks to Steven Knight for pointing out someone much more deserving.
It's time to give credit where credit is due: Jamie Skeen was the co-MVP of VCU's NCAA tournament run along with Bradford Burgess and deserves a spot on the top 50. He outplayed both Morris twins, scoring 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds and two steals. The Wake Forest transfer averaged 16 points and seven rebounds to along with 52-percent shooting and 42-percent three-point numbers.
33. Kansas PF Thomas Robinson (6'9", 237 Pounds)
I hope he waits a year so he can showcase his raw talents as a starter once (if?) the Morris twins leave. No athlete in America dealt with more tragedy than Robinson this season. He lost both of his grandparents and his mother, and also sat two weeks with a torn meniscus. It says a lot about Robinson's character that he kept playing.
He is incredibly raw, having played only 15 minutes per game this year, but he has had some standout performances: 12 points and 14 rebounds in 16 minutes against Richmond and 15 points and 13 rebounds (seven offensive) in 17 minutes against Missouri.
32. Wisconsin PF Jon Leuer (6'10", 228)
A smart, experienced big who can shoot. To quote the wise Featured Columnist Kevin Roberts in my comments section, "Leuer is basically Matt Bonner, but more athletic and a little more versatile."
Leuer averaged over 18 points per game on 47 percent shooting. He also shot 37 percent from beyond the arc and 84 percent from the free-throw line. Leuer, who grabbed seven rebounds per contest as well, sprang for 47 points and 17 rebounds against JaJuan Johnson and Purdue this year in two games. He ended his career on a poor note against Butler, but a lot of players have that unfortunate distinction during this NCAA tournament.
31. International C Lucas Nogueira (6'11.5", 218 Pounds)
Nogueira has a standing reach of 9'3" and a wing span of 7'5.5". He doesn't have to do much to block shots or put up some easy layups and dunks. He runs the floor well for a man his size, too. On the flip side, Nogueira has very few offensive maneuvers in his repertoire.
He is 18 years old, and there are some questions about on-court immaturity (see above link), but how many 18-year-olds are mature anyway? However, NBADraft.net claims Nogueira is lazy and has a star's attitude. No second-rounder should ever feel entitled, if that's the case.
30. Providence SG Marshon Brooks (6'5", 190 Pounds)
Pardon my Big East bias, but any player who averages over 24 points per game in any power conference has to be looked at, especially one that put up 52 points against an eventual 2-seed in the tournament (Notre Dame).
Because of Brooks' length and 6'5" height, he will get his shot off at the next level, but will he function well in an offense not centered around him and will his game translate to the NBA? He's not going to be allowed to shoot six three-pointers per game if he's only making them at a 34-percent clip.
29. UGA SG/SF Travis Leslie (6'4", 202 Pounds)
Can't go wrong with a power-conference player with a great motor and freakish athleticism late in the first round of the NBA draft. Leslie has put in name into the draft ring, but has not hired an agent yet, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Leslie averaged over 14 points and seven rebounds per game, while shooting 49 percent from the field and over 80 percent from the free-throw line.
28. Boston College PG Reggie Jackson (6'3", 208 Pounds)
Not the former Yankee who hit three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, but the Boston College point guard who declared for the NBA draft one year early.
Jackson averaged over 18 points, four rebounds and four assists per game last season and is a quick point guard with good size. He also shot over 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from long range.
27. Richmond PF Justin Harper (6'10", 225 Pounds)
Harper broke out this season, averaging 18 points and seven rebounds per game after putting up 10.6 points and 5.4 rebounds the year prior. He shot 53.8 percent from the field this season (44.8 from three-point range), which may translate to a home as an NBA small forward, because some scouts may be worried about Harper's ability to bang down low with NBA power forwards.
26. Maryland PF Jordan Williams (6'10", 260 Pounds)
Say what you want about whether you think Williams' game will translate over into the NBA as a power forward on the next level, but the guy has an undeniable nose for the ball. You can't teach size, so at the end of the first round, maybe someone will take a flyer on Williams, who averaged roughly 17 and 12 last season. Here's a good interview Williams had with NBADraft.net.
25. Vanderbilt SF Jeff Taylor (6'6", 200 Pounds)
Jeff Taylor is a rising senior, and there is no official word in regards to his draft status just yet. He averaged over 14 points and five assists last year for a Vanderbilt team that garnered a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament. His best attribute that will translate over to the NBA is his defense, which Draft Express notes is sound because of his fundamentals and physical tools.
24. Cleveland State PG Norris Cole (6'1", 175 Pounds)
Norris Cole happens to be the person who destroyed my bracket in 2009, when he scored 22 points and dished four assists in 13-seed Cleveland State's 84-69 win over 4-seed Wake Forest. I, of course, went for the trendy pick and took the Demon Deacons to the Final Four.
Cole also outplayed Shelvin Mack twice this season, the same Shelvin Mack who just laid waste to everyone up until the championship. Cole averaged over 21 points, five rebounds and five assists this season and would be an interesting first-round pick if anyone is willing to take a chance on the Horizon League star.
23. Duke SF Kyle Singler (6'8", 230 Pounds)
Singler endured a horrible cold slump shooting the three-pointer in the latter half of last season, marring his campaign, but he is still a heady, versatile player who can help an NBA team off the bench. He's also one hell of a trick-shot artist.
22. Tennessee SF Tobias Harris (6'8", 225 Pounds)
According to Tobias Harris' father via this USA Today article, Harris will officially declare if he's projected to go in the top 15. Harris won't go there, but we'll keep him here anyway for now because of the change at UT after the Bruce Pearl era.
Harris projects as a small forward in the pros. He averaged 21.4 points per game over his last five freshman contests, and was the only Volunteer to show up in the Michigan-Tennessee NCAA tournament game this year, going for 19 points and five rebounds in an ugly 75-45 loss.
21. Purdue PF JaJuan Johnson (6'10", 221 Pounds)
JaJuan Johnson is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, and he had four double-doubles in his last six games, but he's probably best suited to be a small forward on the next level due to the lack of bulk on his 6'10" frame.
Johnson averaged over 20 points and eight rebounds a game last season.
20. Duke PG/SG Nolan Smith (6'3", 189 Pounds)
Nolan Smith is the reigning ACC Player of the Year and averaged over 20 points, four rebounds and four assists for the season. He may have ended his collegiate career on a sour note, going 3-for-14 for just eight points in the Sweet 16 against Arizona, but don't question Smith's heart, leadership and determination.
There's no question he has the intangibles to lead an offense, but does he have the quickness to stick with the current crop of NBA point guards and the shooting ability to play the 2?
Smith has questions, but at the end of the first round, he's a steal.
19. UCLA SG Tyler Honeycutt (6'8", 188 Pounds)
Tyler Honeycutt posted 33 points and nine rebounds at Kansas this year, so we know what he's capable of doing. The problem is his inconsistency. He scored in the single digits nine times this season, so it's fair to say that he's not ready to overwhelm NBA defenses yet. However, he'll offer superb rebounding and defense from the wing: He garnered 10 or more rebounds eight times this season, averaging 7.2 boards per game overall to go along with 2.1 blocks.
18. UGA PF Trey Thompkins (6'9", 245 Pounds)
Trey Thompkins scored 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds in Georgia's 68-65 loss to Washington in the second round of the NCAA tournament. He has averaged at least 7.4 rebounds per game in all three seasons in Athens. He has officially declared for the NBA draft and hired an agent, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
17. FSU SF/PF Chris Singleton (6'8", 210 Pounds)
Chris Singleton came within one basket of sending Florida State to the Elite Eight against Kansas instead of VCU. The key word being versatility in the middle part of the first-round talent pool, Singleton is no exception. He can guard point guards, wings and power forwards on the next level, but can he score against them?
Regardless, Singleton will make a living as a defensive stopper in the NBA. There are quite a few teams who can use someone like him.
16. Kansas PF Markieff Morris (6'10", 235 Pounds)
Markieff is the bigger twin and better rebounder of the two Morris', but he is less polished and versatile than his brother.
Still, what NBA team wouldn't want to sign up for a 6'10" power forward who can stick a three-pointer? Both Morris twins will have long NBA careers thanks to their ability to shoot from long-range and defend power forwards, a combination that isn't plentiful in the NBA.
15. Morehead State PF Kenneth Faried (6'8", 225 Pounds)
Sometimes, common sense prevails. Kenneth Faried is the best rebounder in college basketball history. Kenneth Faried is deceptively quick for a big man. Kenneth Faried plays very good defense. Kenneth Faried plays with an incredible amount of heart.
Kenneth Faried may not have an offensive repertoire, but he is going to be a pain in the ass for every opposing team.
14. BYU PG Jimmer Fredette (6'2", 195 Pounds)
The most polarizing college athlete not named Cam Newton squeaks into the lottery discussion. Why is he so polarizing again? I missed that part. Seems like a good guy.
Fredette can be a good NBA point guard. He'll get burned by the Russell Westbrooks but hang with the Darren Collisons and Jrue Holidays. His ceiling is being a good starting point guard who plays poor defense but can shoot from Mars.
Fredette should hope that Phoenix comes calling. If he learns under Steve Nash for a year and truly learns how to run an offense that doesn't revolve around him, like BYU's solar system offense did, it'll do him wonders.
The problem for Fredette is that he is entering the best point guard era in the history of professional basketball. Where is he going to go? If he doesn't stick with one team, I see him being an instant-offense scorer off the bench who can come in and play the point or spell the shooting guard for a bit.
In a league where teams still love to play matador defense, and in a league where slash-kick three-pointers are commonplace, you don't think Fredette is going to be able to put up at least 10 points a game? Trust me, he'll have plenty of open looks. I saw Carlos Delfino put up 30 without trying against the Knicks, a playoff team. Fredette can do the same.
Scouting Report on Fredette from the New York Times. You won't be too surprised by anything you read from it, but it's worth a minute of your time.
13. Kentucky SF Terrence Jones (6'8", 245 Pounds)
Where was Terrence Jones at times this NCAA tournament? I watched every Kentucky game, and it seemed like he would disappear at a moment's notice. I really think Jones needs to go back to school for another year, work on his range and enter the draft in 2012. If he leaves now, he has a great body for a small forward, but do you see him truly excelling and contributing on both ends of the floor? I don't. His best-case scenario is to stay in school. Jones has a world of potential and needs to invest in more time to truly tap it.
Jones washes off his first NBA team and goes from place to place.
Mum's the word for Jones about his NBA future, according to AOL FanHouse.
12. Kansas PF Marcus Morris (6'9", 225 Pounds)
Marcus Morris is a jack of all trades and will continue to be so in the NBA. A beefy power forward who can shoot three-pointers will create serious matchup issues. He will be a 4 in the NBA, but could probably play some 3 as well. I see Morris being a long-time starter in the NBA. Maybe he won't be an All-Star, but he'll be a solid glue guy who teams can depend on consistently throughout an 82-game season.
I can't see a situation where Morris completely bombs (though I can't see a situation where he will be a 20/10 monster either).
As reported by the Kansas City Star, there were rumors that the Morris twins met with agent Jason Martin in Los Angeles and were set with signing with him soon, but the Morris twins' mother denied that report, noting that a decision will come this week.
11. International PF Donatas Motiejunas (7'0", 215 Pounds)
Scoring won't be much of a problem for Motiejunas at the next level after some development, as he's a hell of a shooter for a seven-footer, but defense might be a long-term issue. He has a very slim frame for a seven-footer, and Draft Express lists commitment to defense and defensive awareness among his flaws right now. Still, and I know I sound like a broken record, but seven-footers do not grow on trees, especially seven-footers who are 20 years old and can be coached. Motijunas can be a serviceable NBA center.
Motiejunas doesn't adjust to the NBA and bounces around. Simple as that.
Heinnews.com had an interesting interview with Motiejunas on March 2.
10. San Diego State SF Kawhi Leonard (6'7", 225 Pounds)
Kawhi Leonard averaged a double-double in the Mountain West. Is he going to do that in the NBA from the small forward position? No, but he can certainly put up 10-12 points as a starter, grab five to seven boards and be a long pest to the opposing team's best outside scorer. I think he'd fit really well in Charlotte, where he can come off the bench and give 20 minutes at small forward, with Gerald Henderson or Stephen Jackson at the 2.
It also helps that Leonard is one of the mentally toughest players in college basketball.
Leonard's lack of an outside shot hinders his playing time, and he becomes a basketball nomad, traveling on benches throughout the league for teams in search of some toughness and depth on the wing.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Leonard's college roommate and teammate Malcolm Thomas says that he thinks Leonard is going to the NBA. If I'm Leonard, do I get ticked at my roommate for spilling the beans? Might be an awkward situation.
This New York Times article notes Leonard's strong will and perseverance to overcome adversity. Have to respect Leonard a lot for going through what he did.
9. Colorado SG Alec Burks (6'6", 200 Pounds)
How many shooting guards in the NBA can pull off the above dunk? Do you need two hands? Alec Burks is a 2-guard who has the capability of even manning the floor-general spot for a spell, and he's supremely athletic and took the Big 12 by storm. Averaging over 20 PPG for a team that got screwed out of the NCAA tournament, Burks led the Buffs to the NIT semifinals, where they lost to Alabama.
Burks can be a volume scorer in the NBA and would thrive in a fast-paced offense. He needs to improve on his 29 percent three-point shooting though, although his mid-range game and fast-break points led to 47 percent shooting last season.
He could be a sixth man for an NBA title team or a solid starter at the 2. Burks would be a nice complementary piece for any playoff team.
The NBA is largely a slash-and-kick league where hitting the three is paramount. If Burks finds himself on a team that is addicted to the three, and Burks' outside shot doesn't improve much, he'll find a place on the bench, even though he is quite versatile. However, Burks' versatility merits 20 minutes a night for a long time, even in the worst of situations.
Alec Burks' Twitter page implies that his decision to eventually enter the draft is still up in the air.
Good NBADraft.net interview with Burks. He models his game after Jamal Crawford. I would not have expected that.
8. International PF Jan Vesely (6'11", 240 Pounds)
According to the SLAM article that is cited below, Jan Vesely patterns his game after LeBron James, compares himself to Dirk Nowitzki, thinks he will play power forward in the NBA despite looking pretty thin for the position in the video and says he expects to be drafted within the top five of this year's draft.
He sure doesn't lack confidence.
Vesely can obviously run around the court all day and dunk like a mad man, a la Chris Andersen of the Denver Nuggets minus the tattoos. But can Vesely develop an outside shot (he notes that he need to work on it, and he has shot 43.8 percent from the line in 14 Euroleague games this season) in order to become just like Nowitzki?
Vesely's ceiling is a homeless man's Dirk Nowitzki. His floor is...
A better man's Chris Andersen. Neither are terrible to be, but I'm not really buying the Vesely hype right now even with the Euroleague experience.
The aforementioned SLAM article. Here is also a great profile on Vesely from Draft Express' Jonathan Givony, who wrote the piece for SI.com. In it, scouts note Vesely's positives as being a great hustler and having great size for a small forwards. His negatives include inconsistent shooting, ball-handling and a frame that may not hold up in the NBA as a power forward.
7. Kentucky PG Brandon Knight (6'3", 185 Pounds)
Have I fallen too much in love with Knight's tournament performance in placing him here at No. 7? Possibly, but you can't teach clutch. Michael Jordan had it, Chris Webber didn't. Tim Duncan has it, Karl Malone didn't. Knight has that "it" factor players need to come through when seasons are on the line, and that would suit him well in the NBA.
The problem is, will he develop into a good distributor in the NBA? We know he will have no problem putting up 15 on a given night, but that 1.33 assist-to-turnover ratio was pretty startling. Granted, Knight is a freshman, but there will be a growing period with him for any team that takes him. He won't be able to come in and run an offense right away. Ultimately, Knight's ceiling is becoming a third-tier point guard who will have a prolonged NBA career thanks to his clutch shooting.
Sadly easy. Knight can't take care of the ball and bounces around the NBA as a backup combo guard called upon for instant offense off the bench.
6. Jonas Valanciunas: International C (6'11", 240 Pounds)
In a center-starved NBA, Valanciunas could be picked in the top three. Watch the accompanied YouTube video, and you'll understand why Valanciunas does not deserve that praise...yet. He is incredible lengthy but lacks the weight to bang with power forwards, let alone centers. Valanciunas seems to be a good basketball IQ, which is a solid foundation for any further improvement. His best-case scenario would be to learn behind a solid NBA center before eventually taking over down the line after he bulks up, eventually becoming a 12-10-3 guy consistently and being a stopgap in the middle.
I personally think Irving and Valanciunas would make a great pair on the Cavs in a few years.
What we see now is what we get down the road. Valanciunas never bulks up or develops much of an offensive repertoire outside the occasional pick-and-roll and offensive tip-in, as he is unable to back his man into the paint. Still, guys like Valanciunas are a dime a dozen, and he enjoys 20-25 minutes per game as a decent NBA center, but nothing special.
From lithuaniabasketball.com, this article from March 31 is pretty telling as to where Valanciunas is in his development. The gist of the article is that his agent, Sarunas Broga, feels that Valanciunas is going to be a lottery pick because of the dearth of dependable big men in the NBA, but that a looming lockout would mean that "Jonas could spend an extra year in Europe and come to the NBA much stronger physically and with more experience."
OK, that could be said about any 18- or 19-year-old, but why the heck would you say that if you're a player's agent? Shouldn't he say something just a bit more positive to hype his client?
Jonas Valanciunas Stats: He's a 91.7 percent free-throw shooter!
5. Baylor SF Perry Jones (6'11", 235 Pounds)
You can't ignore 6'11" small forwards with unmatchable athleticism, even if they are unpolished. Perry Jones will take some time to develop on the NBA courts, and if he finds a team that is willing to be patient with him and isn't reliant on the three-pointer, he can be a supremely dominant force capable of putting up 30 on any given night.
But what is his ceiling? He isn't going to bang inside the post all game, but his outside shooting is not adept right now. It all depends on whether he can develop a consistent long-range jumper. If he does that, Jones can be a 20-plus point scorer on the right team. If not...
Then he will become a more athletic version of Anthony Randolph and be shuttled from team to team trying to tap Jones' potential. In a draft that just got a little weaker with Jared Sullinger and Jordan Hamilton announcing that they will go back to school, Jones moves up to the top five.
A PHENOMENAL (I never use caps, but this is an exception) New York Times profile on Perry Jones appeared in the March 8 issue. Jones played point guard during a practice the author watched. Wow. Maybe he could be the next T-Mac.
Perry Jones will be suspended five games if he returns to school and will be forced to pay $700 for receiving impermissible benefits last offseason. More than likely, Jones is coming out.
4. UConn PG Kemba Walker (6'0", 172 Pounds)
Ignore Jimmer Fredette's awards for being the player of the year. What Kemba Walker just did this season is unmatched by any player in NCAA postseason history. No player has ever led his team to 11 straight postseason tournament wins in one season. Walker's best-case scenario is leading an NBA team with the same heart and perseverance he did this season for a team whose rotation was largely underclassmen.
He may not be able to get his shot off as often, but his speed makes him deadly in the open court and his athleticism will easily translate over into the NBA. Walker can easily be a second-tier point guard in this league, partially thanks to deft defensive skills and a nose for the boards, but I don't expect him to be a perennial All-Star.
Walker has some trouble initially adapting to a particular NBA system and distributing the ball, and is forced to split time with another point guard. He is never given a true chance to shine and is shipped elsewhere.
Perhaps this is just another NCAA puff piece trying to force us to remember that it is an organization that promotes the academic well-being of students and not the voraciously greedy abomination that it is, but it's interesting to note that Kemba Walker is not only graduating in three academic years, but he also was on top of his teammates' studies as well.
Regardless, the story, and the Huskies' title, stand as proof that Walker may be gone.
3. International PF/C Enes Kanter (6'10", 260 Pounds)
Kanter, who was born in 1992, grows a bit more to 6'11" and becomes an absolute beast with a mid-range game to boot. In a small man's NBA, Kanter starts a center revolution and immediately becomes a double-double threat every night. He clogs up the paint with excellent defense and becomes a perennial All-Star. Kanter has a remarkable amount of polish for a kid who's going to be 19 years old at the beginning of next season, leading to a smooth transition in the NBA.
Rumors are rampant about Kanter dealing with knee problems. However, where is the article and/or Kanter quote confirming these notions or explaining how severe these problems are? Perhaps this is the case, but right now, no one knows the true story.
We'll find out soon enough, but this seems to be Kanter's biggest red flag. Obviously, then, Kanter's worst-case scenario is succumbing to knee injuries and never getting his NBA career on the right track.
The best piece of information I've read on Kanter comes from a kentucky.com article explaining how Josh Harrellson improved this season partially because of being able to face Kanter every day in practice. As we know by now, Kanter was set to play at Kentucky until he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for receiving extra benefits while playing club basketball in Turkey.
Anywho, read this excerpt. Are you sold yet? Keep in mind that Harrellson was one of the best players in the NCAA tournament this year.
"Harrellson put Kanter on a par with freshman All-American Jared Sullinger of Ohio State or North Carolina seven-footer Tyler Zeller. Or, more to the point looking ahead, Alex Oriakhi of Connecticut.
Harrellson noted Sullinger's knowledge about how to use his body, Zeller's height and ability to run the floor and Oriakhi's explosive strength.
"Enes is kind of like all three of those guys combined into one," Harrellson said. "He's not seven-foot, but he can run the floor. He's got a big body and knows how to use it. He can even step out and shoot the 15-footer like Zeller can..."
"Going against him just gives me a different advantage going into games."
2. Arizona PF Derrick Williams (6'8", 235 Pounds)
Derrick Williams laughs off the red flags about his size and becomes one of the most offensively-efficient combo forwards ever. Williams, who scored 32 points against Duke in a 93-77 Sweet 16 win and shot 59.5 percent from the field (56.8 percent from three-point range), continues to put up amazing shooting statistics in the NBA, as he proves to be too fast for bigger power forwards and too big for stretch 4's. Any small forwards who try and guard him are smothered by his size.
Williams succeeds as a combo forward and plays either position when called upon. He averages 20 and 10 through the prime of his career and makes numerous All-Star teams.
Williams succumbs to the black hole that many tweeners find themselves in. He doesn't establish a solid mid-range game to compensate for an inability to will his way around the hoop like he did in college. His defense and rebounding skills, which were very good in college thanks to a fantastic work ethic, translate to the next level. Still, Williams manages to average around 13 and eight and has a solid NBA career.
According to a Yahoo! article from Jeff Eisenberg, Williams sees himself more as a small forward than a power forward and likens himself to Michael Beasley, David West and Antawn Jamison.
No word yet on whether Derrick Williams is leaving yet, and can't find any reliable leads.
1. Duke PG Kyrie Irving, 6'2", 180 Pounds
Irving is taken at No. 1 and finds immediate success. He emerges as a 20-10 player throughout a long and prosperous career, and even garners mention as the second-best point guard of the 2010's behind Derrick Rose.
Relax about the toe. The injury was handled with kid gloves, so unless he suffers a similar injury in a fluke, that's not a worry. Irving's worst-case scenario is getting off to a slow NBA start after only playing 11 college games. Even so, his floor is falling into the second tier of NBA point guards, looking up at Rose, Russell Westbrook, etc.
about why Cleveland should take Irving with the first pick if he's there.
Latest update from Irving's Twitter account, saying he'll make decision on future in the next week or so.