NBA Draft 2011: Jimmer Fredette and 10 Players Who Will Be Picked Too High
It happens every year. A team gets drunk on a certain player, or a guy gets hot at the right time and rides the wave. Either way, the resulting hangover is felt for years to come.
We all can remember the Adam Morrisons, the Kwame Browns and the (gulp) Darko Milicics. Those teams have yet to fully recover from those draft selections.
So which players will tempt an NBA team or two into mortgaging their future on their tantalizing talent?
Here are the 10 players that will be drafted too high in this year's draft.
1. Perry Jones, F Baylor
Every year a team falls in love with an unproven big man with loads of that "p" word...potential. Nevermind that they looked overwhelmed at times, lost at others. They have potential and they are gifted athletically.
Perry Jones is that type of player. Like Kwame Brown before him, Jones shows glimpses of otherwordly athleticism that could make him a beast at the next level.
Unfortunately, he was unimpressive at times this year at Baylor, preferring to spend too much time on the perimeter impersonating a guard.
Personally, I think Jones smacks of Darius Miles. Miles showed a boat load of potential, but never developed other aspects of his game. He turned into a subpar defender, rebounder and scorer. However, some team is going to take a flier on him and shoot themselves in their foot. Look for him to go top three, which is about 10 spots too early.
2. Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky
Early in the season, the country realized what we here in Portland already knew about Terrence Jones: the kid is a wicked athlete.
Jones started out the season on fire, leading Kentucky to some impressive early season victories.
However, as the season wore on, Jones found ways to struggle, and when the going got tough, he showed his age.
Some people will look at him and think Josh Smith has good range. Personally, I think his immaturity will make him a little more like Stromile Swift. He is a better shooter and shot blocker, but this kid could be combustible...in a bad way.
He will go in the top 10, but he should go off the board around 20.
3. Enes Kanter, C, Turkey
Enes Kanter (not pictured) has been the talk of many draft gurus for about a year. With his true center height and bulk, he could immediately man the post for an NBA team.
However, we are hearing all sorts of great things about this Turkish product, but what exactly do we know about him? He has yet to play against top flight talent on a day in, day out basis.
Darko Milicic (pictured). For over a year in 2002-03, we heard myriad reports about how great this kid was. He dazzled the gurus in individual workouts, he had highlight reels on the internet, and everyone knew he was a sure thing NBA great. Mock drafts all had him in the top three, some even suggesting Cleveland should take him over some LeBron kid.
Kanter may be good, but until we see him on the court with top notch talent, he will garner some Darko comparisons. He will go in the top 10, but I wouldn't draft him before 20.
4. Harrison Barnes, F, UNC
Barnes has bared the burden of potential for over a year now. He was the first ever preseason All-American that had never played a college game. Since that moment he was named, Barnes was on everyone's radar and his status in mock drafts began to take shape.
While he struggled early, he found his nitch by the end of the year, developing into North Carolina's go to guy in the clutch.
The past decade has had a ton of swingmen that did not pan out, and it would be tempting to compare Barnes to another UNC product like Rashad McCants. But Barnes has a better head on his shoulders. Instead, I would compare him to Rodney White.
General managers were in love with White's athleticism and length. Unfortunately, he never developed any other part of his game and was out of the league inside of five years. Barnes likely will escape this fate, but I am always apprehensive of players that are too hyped too long.
In most drafts, Barnes would be a late lottery pick. However, this draft is thin, and Barnes could go top three.
5. Jonas Valanciunas, F, Lithuania
Jonas, like Kanter, is receiving way too much publicity way too early. People have been talking about this kid for nearly a year, and he is a presumptive lottery selection.
But what exactly do we know about this kid? He is big, athletic and apparently a pretty polished offensive player.
So was Nikoloz Tskitishvili (pictured) about a decade ago. What did Tskitishvili do in the pros? Not much. Will Valanciunas be a bust like him? Nobody will know for sure, but he will be a lottery pick, and that is way too early for a guy that is unproven.
6. Kemba Walker, G, UConn
Kemba Walker comes from a long line of NCAA tournament heroes. He basically took an underperforming and untested Connecticut team on his back and led them to glory.
He has a lot of scoring ability, is an underrated distributor and has the quickness to be a solid defender at the next level.
Unfortunately, the annals of college basketball history are also littered with NBA busts that did the same thing he did. From Tyus Edney to Juan Dixon to Khalid El Amin, there are plenty of examples. Personally, however, I put him somewhere between Mateen Cleaves and Acie Law.
Don't get me wrong, I like the kid and I think he has the leadership ability to be a very good pro. But for a player that was projected as a late first-rounder just a month ago, his rise has been almost too far, too quick. He may go top five, but he should be a late first-rounder.
7. Kawhi Leonard, G, San Diego State
Leonard became the flavor of the month before the NCAA tournament. He is athletic, can score in a multitude of ways and played for an up and coming team.
But during the tournament, Leonard looked overmatched and lost at times, leading to costly turnovers and missed opportunities for his team.
While I think Leonard will end up being a solid pro, I could easily see him teetering towards Thaddeus Young territory. He is an athletic scorer, but I question his basketball intelligence.
Leonard should be a 10-15 pick, but somebody will draft him around six or seven.
8. Brandon Knight, G, Kentucky
John Calipari has had quite the run with point guards lately. He had Derrick Rose, then John Wall, two top picks that are either stars in the NBA or well on their way. When he recruited Knight last year, fans were already seeing the next in the great line of pgs.
But don't believe the hype. Knight is good, and arguably a better shooter than Rose or Wall, but he is not nearly as athletic and he lacks the ability to take over games at the next level.
Knight is unfairly compared to Wall when in actuality he is closer to Jerryd Bayless. He is a smart player that should carve out a nice career, but he is probably little more than a serviceable backup or maybe a starter on a weak team.
Someone will make him a top 10, or maybe even a top-five pick. Talent-wise, he should be closer to 20-25.
9. Jan Vesely, F, Belgrade
One of the reasons you can tell that this year's draft is relatively low on talent is how much hype the foreign players are garnering. Of the past 10 years, how many times have three or more foreign born players made the top 10 picks of the NBA Draft? Just once, in 2002.
Now of the past 10 drafts, how many of the foreign-born lottery picks were busts? If we start with 2007 and go backwards (four years is long enough to determine a bust), we count 10 unequivocal busts (from Darko to Saer Sene) a couple fringe players (Thabo Sefalosha), and only about three or four good players (Yao Ming, Nene, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut).
So for all the clamoring for the next Dirk or Yao, we need to remember we are much more likely to get the next Fran Vazquez or Yaroslav Korolev.
We are hearing that Vesely is athletic, can run the court and has surprising shooting touch. I remember hearing the same about Yi Jianlian (pictured) a few years ago. Vesely could surprise, but for a guy with late first-round talent, the lottery is just too rich for my blood.
10. Jimmer Fredette, G, Brigham Young
Jimmer-mania swept the nation this year, and with good reason. Fredette put on a scoring clinic, leading the nation and his BYU team to the NCAA tournament.
Fredette is the consummate teammate, can penetrate seemingly at will, and has a very high basketball intelligence.
Besides that, he is charismatic and has the look of a cherub.
Sadly, there is a lot to be desired with Fredette despite his strengths.
He is a below average athlete and this will be a glaring weakness in the NBA. He also is not a natural point guard despite his lack of size. He is more like a shooting guard in a point guard's body.
Furthermore, his defense is without question the worst in the nation. He doesn't even attempt to guard his man, and NBA teams cannot play four-on-five on defense if they want to win ball games.
It would be tempting to compare him to Luke Ridnour because they are both equally terrible defenders.
However, I think a more apt comparison would be J.J. Redick. Both are capable of deep range shooting and neither fit into the classic NBA mold position-wise. If Fredette can continue to nail jumpers, there will be a spot for him in the NBA. But for a guy that could go as high as eight or nine, that might not be enough.