NBA Draft 2011: Predicting Rookie Player Stats for the Top 14 Prospects
The NBA Draft is a crap shoot for many General Managers.
Finding the right player that will fit into a team’s future is very difficult to do. Sometimes a player is over-hyped or is high on the draft board based on potential and not actual talent. With the rare exception, it is nearly impossible to determine if the player that is drafted will have success at the next level.
This is a first-look at the NBA Draft and a prediction of the rookie player stats for the top 14 picks.
14. Houston Rockets—Bismack Biyombo, Center, Congo—6’10″, 245 Pounds
The Rockets need to get a young big man and if Bismack Biyombo is still around with this pick, the Rockets won’t hesitate to scoop him up.
Biyombo is very strong and plays with tremendous energy. He is going to streak the floor and play physical defense. His scoring average in year one will be only around four points per game, but he has the ability to change shots with his ability to block shots.
13. Phoenix Suns—Tristan Thompson, Forward, Texas—6’9″, 230 pounds
Tristan Thompson is a player that will give the Suns depth and the flexibility to play at more than one position on the floor.
The Suns are in a transition as they are loaded with veterans, but attempting a youth movement. Thompson averaged 13 points and seven rebounds per game in his last season, but his numbers and playing time will drop significantly with the Suns. The numbers will most likely hover around two points and three boards per contest.
12. Utah Jazz—Jimmer Fredette, Guard, Brigham Young University—6’2″, 195 Pounds
This pick makes sense for the Utah Jazz because Jimmer Fredette is already a sensation in the state of Utah.
Fredette is a scoring machine but he needs plenty of work on the defense. He will be an instant fan favorite and should receive roars of applause whenever he is on the floor. The Jazz will give him some time to grow, but look for Jimmer to make the most of his playing time.
He won’t get the 28.9 points per game he averaged in his last season at BYU, but double digits is a possibility with 13 per game a more possible goal.
11. Golden State Warriors—Donatas Motiejunas, Center, Lithuania—7″, 230 pounds
The European big man barrage continues as the Golden State Warriors select Donatas Motiejunas.
He is a player that will contribute right away, but until he puts on weight his numbers could suffer. He should average about nine points a game during his rookie season, but that will eclipse double digits in the following seasons. He has a natural instinct to score the basketball and if he develops sooner that number will increase.
10. Milwaukee Bucks—Alec Burks, Guard, Colorado—6’6″, 195 pounds
The Milwaukee Bucks need a consistent scorer to play alongside Brandon Jennings and Alec Burks will fit the bill. He averaged 20 points a year ago with the Colorado Buffaloes and will be a fine addition for the Bucks.
His playing time will be a mystery but as a player that can produce with points, it won’t be long until he is on the floor on a regular basis. His first year would result in an average of about six points a game, but that will increase steadily over the next few years.
9. Charlotte Bobcats—Kemba Walker, Point Guard, Connecticut—6’1″, 185 pounds
Michael Jordan has D.J. Augustin at point guard, but he does not seem to be enthralled by the starter from a year ago.
Kemba Walker is available and will allow the Bobcats to add a point-guard that has play making ability. His playing time would depend on whether or not Jordan will be able to trade Augustin. Walker will not come close to the 23 points he averaged at UConn in his last year, and eight points per game is a more likely number.
8. Detroit Pistons—Jonas Valanciunas, Center, Lithuania—6’11″, 245 pounds
The Detroit Pistons were a mess a year ago, but all of that could change with a solid first-round draft pick. Jonas Valanciunas is a big body that could allow Greg Monroe to settle in at power forward.
Don’t look for impressive numbers in his first year as he will learn the game and need to put on some weight. An average of three points a game and seven rebounds is optimistic, and his buyout situation could be a distraction.
7. Sacramento Kings—Brandon Knight, Point Guard, Kentucky—6’3″, 180 pounds
The Kings have had some impressive drafts in recent history and they continue to succeed by grabbing Brandon Knight at the No. 7 spot.
Knight will get little completion from Beno Udrih and should easily support the starting point guard spot in his rookie year.
He will be surrounded by talented young players in Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins and that will allow his game to grow throughout the year. Knight will impress and average 14 points per game and six assists as he blossoms into a superstar with the Kings.
6. Washington Wizards—Marcus Morris, Forward, Kansas—6’8″, 235 pounds
Small forward seems to be the popular pick of late and Marcus Morris fits the bill. He improved on his scoring average in every year at Kansas and will now head to Washington to play with young point guard John Wall.
Wall will make him a better player and he will get some playing time with the potential to have a decent rookie year. Morris should average about seven points per game as he learns the game at the next level.
5. Toronto Raptors—Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward, San Diego State—6’7″, 225 pound
The Toronto Raptors need a player that can step in and play small forward and that player is Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard was a stud at San Diego State and averaged a double-double in his last year at school. The Raptors are in a rebuild mode and that will equate to plenty of minutes on the floor. This will allow Leonard to develop and in year one he will average 10 points per game and 7 rebounds.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers—Jan Vesely, Forward, Czech Republic—6’11″, 230 pounds
With the second pick in the draft, the Cavaliers will select Jan Vesely. This comes as bit of a surprise to many who believe that the Cavaliers will head in a different direction with this pick.
Small forward is a position that the Cavaliers need to fill and Vesely gives them a player that can start on day one. There is no reason to believe that Vesely would not start right away and that means the sky is the limit.
Vesely will not light up the scoreboard because he is still a work in progress. Expect modest numbers from the big guy in his rookie year, averaging eight points per game and five rebounds.
3. Utah Jazz—Derrick Williams, Forward, Arizona—6’9″, 248 pounds
This is a steal for the Utah Jazz. Williams will fit in well on this team as a small forward. The problem is the Jazz have depth at the small forward position.
He will go up against current players Andrei Kirilenko, C.J. Miles and Gordon Hayward for time on the court. Williams has a very bright future in this league but it will not happen in year one.
The 19.5 points he averaged in his last year at Arizona will be a distant memory, and six points per game is what fans should expect.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves—Enes Kanter, Center, Kentucky—6’11″, 260 pounds
David Kahn is a wild card in this draft because he is unpredictable and always seems to make a questionable move in the draft.
Derrick Williams may be the popular pick, but Enes Kanter is the way for the Wolves to go.
Michael Beasley already occupies the small forward position and Kanter has impressed at the combine. Kanter had a lot to prove since he did not see any playing time with the Wildcats, but he is worth a pick in this spot.
Predicting stats in the first season is a difficult task, but this kid is for real and is eager to play basketball again.
Depending on his playing time, his numbers could reach double digits, but in his first year a stat line of seven points per game and seven rebounds is more likely.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers—Kyrie Irving, Point Guard, Duke—6’3″, 190 pounds
Say what you will about Kyrie Irving, but he is destined to be a superstar in the NBA. Cleveland may benefit more by drafting someone else in this spot or trading the pick, but right now they need a player like Irving.
Irving can give the Cavaliers a new face of the franchise and that is something they are in desperately in search of after losing LeBron James.
The management will want to build excitement around this pick and barring injury, Irving will get some serious minutes in his rookie year.
At his short time at Duke he averaged 17.5 points a game, although he sat out 26 games. In his first year with Cleveland, Irving has the talent to put up 15 points and 5 assists per game.
Irving is the considered by many the best pick in the draft and with two picks, the Cavaliers have to make this pick.
Who Will Be the Best?
Only time will tell which players will emerge into the next crop of NBA All-Stars. Only a few players in this year’s draft look as though they will be legitimate NBA starters.
The remaining players will have to prove their worth when the season tips-off.
James Brown is a B/R Featured Columnist. Feel free to contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org.