2011 NBA Draft: Could Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas Go No. 1 Overall?
Two of this years projected lottery picks of the NBA Draft are Turkish-bread Enes Kanter out of Kentucky, where he didn't play because he was ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA, and Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania. Both play the center position, and have gained a lot of attention from their play in school and in European leagues.
What are the chances either goes #1 though?
Here's an overview:
The Good on Kanter
Standing at about 6-11 and weighing 260, Kanter is a force around the rim. The combination of his superb strength, soft touch, and 7-1 wingspan is what makes him such a handful in the paint.
He owns a variety of scoring options from post moves and finishing at the basket, to knocking down mid-range shots. His aforementioned strength provides his ability to absorb and muscle through contact on finishes.
On top of all of his skills and high basketball IQ, he brings great energy and works hard.
His play during his lone season at Stoneridge Preparatory School in Simi Valley, California and in the 2010 Nike Hoops Summit is where his game has been based on for the most part. Despite his lack of playing time in the Euroleague and Turkish Basketball League in his native country of Turkey, and his ineligibility at Kentucky, his gained experience from practice with his scattered team mates and coaches is valuable for a prospect moving forward.
The Good on Valanciunas
Much like Kanter, Valanciunas has shown to be a force inside with his large frame and long arms.
He is a proven athlete who gets off the floor with ease. He runs the floor very well for someone of his stature. His nice shooting form adds value to his offensive gave. He has a soft touch around the basket, and his shooting range extends out to around 12 feet.
He has good court vision and has the ability to get the ball to an open team mate when double teamed.
Valanciunas has played for four leagues in Europe. In March he was named the LKL All-Star Game MVP after his 18 point, 10 rebound performance.
The Bad on Kanter
Kanter has battled knee problems in the past and they may not currently be in tip top condition. Injury history is always a little frightening for teams when they are deciding who to draft.
The quickness of his footwork is in question as well. It is feared that it might not be up to par with the speed of NBA post players. A slow-footed big man could face troubles as a pro player.
There is lack of material to judge Kanter on considering he only played one year of high school ball in the states, minimal time on the court as a pro in Turkey, and did not play at all at Kentucky. The times he has played, the talent level of his opponents may not have been high enough to truly assess his talent
The Bad on Valanciunas
Valanciunas' body does not have a great deal of muscle. Even though he is the same height as Kanter, he weighs 20 pounds less. He does seem to be improving in that in that aspect however.
He's not the most coordinated on the court. This results in frequent foul trouble.
His explosiveness is good not great. It won't overwhelm you.
He lacks diversity in his post game. More often than not, he goes to his left when making back-to-the-basket moves.
The Bottom Line
These two are very likely to get a lot of workouts with lottery teams over the next few weeks. They've earned them with the talent they have shown on the court the last few years. The Cavaliers own the first and fourth picks in the draft. They'll certainly evaluate both of the prospects, but they probably won't draft either with the top selection despite their skills potential.
With all of what they bring to the table, players from the US will probably seem to be a safer pick based on the higher amount of familiarity. Arizona's Derrick Williams and Duke's Kyrie Irving are the top two prospects this year. Outside of their seemingly superior talent, they will probably bb valued more because it is easier to get a feel for their talent and get information on them as opposed to Kanter and Valanciunas.
Another thing that hurts them is the level of competition they have faced. Majority of it may not have been high enough to fully understand how well they will translate into NBA players.
Both seem poised to have admirable careers. However, just not to the point to be taken over everyone else in the draft.