NBA Draft 2011: Jimmer Fredette and 5 Players with Most to Prove in Workouts
NBA draft workouts. Some people love them, others hate them. Have an outstanding workout and teams can fall in love. Just ask Penny Hardaway, whose workout was so incredible, it caused the Orlando Magic to trade their number one pick of Chris Webber just to snatch him up. Probably not the best decision for the Magic in the long run, but one of the best examples of how vital a great workout can be for a player's draft position.
With the NBA draft now less than one month away, teams are now bringing in potential draftees for their own personal viewing. Sometimes, it's a one-on-one workout, sometimes it's with players at the same position, and other times it's against a chair. Be careful of those chairs, they play some tough defense. Just ask Yi Jianlian.
Obviously, there are players who have more to prove than others. Kyrie Irving, on one hand, simply needs to show that his toe is still attached to his foot. On the opposite end of the spectrum, guys are trying to dispel misconceptions about their game.
My friend, Jimmer, here, is probably the best example, and we'll get to him in a minute. There are actually a handful of prospects coming into workouts with as much, if not more, to prove than Mr. Fredette.
1. Alec Burks
Alec Burks was the star player of a relatively unknown, but solid, Colorado team who got snubbed by the NCAA committee in favor of teams like VCU. Well, maybe not snubbed, but they were definitely in the discussion of getting an at-large bid.
Burks was a prolific scorer in the Big 12, averaging over 20 points per game. He's the prototypical shooting guard, standing at 6'6" and having the ability to get into the lane.
Burks is viewed as the top shooting guard in the draft, but it's unclear if he'll even make it into the lottery. In such a weak draft as this, that's a cause for concern.
In workouts, Burks will need to show that his jump shot, particularly from three point range (shot under 30 percent from there last year), is at least improving.
If he's able to show that he can knock down jumpers at a consistent clip, thereby making him multi-dimensional on the offensive end, he'll be a guaranteed lottery pick, and could sneak into the top-10.
2. Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is a pretty similar player to Burks. He played under the radar for a portion of the season (not nearly as long as Burks did), was by far the best player on a team that isn't a consistent powerhouse, and has a questionable jump shot.
Luckily for Leonard, being a projected small forward (6'7" 230 pounds) in the NBA, not having a consistent long-range jumper is not as vital as it is for Burks. Because of this, and the fact that he's a solid defender and rebounder for his size, Leonard is a guaranteed top 10 choice, and possibly top five.
Leonard will still have to prove to those top picking teams that his jumper has improved if he hopes to be in contention for a top five pick. At the Draft Combine a few weeks ago, Leonard made a point to take some long distance shots in front of scouts, even though he wasn't expected to participate in the drills.
Don't be surprised if the Cavs give him a long look at number four if both Derrick Williams and the next player on the list are gone.
3. Enes Kanter
Easily the biggest enigma coming into the draft is Enes Kanter. Before the combine, most scouts had only seen him play once in the Nike Hoops Summit or saw him practice at Kentucky before he was ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA due to playing professionally in Turkey.
At the combine, he proved to everyone that there was more than just hype to him. While he didn't put on a show per se, his performance was indicative of a prospect who should be a top five selection.
With his size (6'11" 260 pounds), solid athleticism, consistent rebounding and ability to score in the low post, Kanter could be the best big man in this class.
Yet, with his limited (that's being nice about it) body of work, Kanter will need to prove that his skills are consistent with each workout. Many teams are hesitant about drafting an international player, let alone one who hasn't seen a live game in over a year.
4. Marshon Brooks
If Kanter is the biggest international enigma of the draft, then Marshon Brooks is the biggest stateside enigma.
While playing at lowly Providence, Brooks went off in his senior year, averaging close to 25 points per game. For the majority of the regular season, it was believed that because the Friars were so terrible, Brooks was putting up these numbers simply because he was the only one who could actually score at a consistent rate against Big East competition.
By the time the season was over, Brooks was still viewed as a second round pick.
For the past few weeks, those sentiments have changed drastically. Now, Brooks is viewed as one of the top three shooting guards in the draft, and has been drawing comparisons to a guy by the name of Kobe Bryant because of his length (only 6'5", but has a 7'2" wingspan), speed and constant desire to score the basketball.
Brooks is now believed to be a lock for the first round, and could crack the lottery. In order to actually get into the lottery and pass Alec Burks as the best shooting guard in the draft, Brooks will need to do so in workouts with other players.
His biggest concerns are shot selection (something Kobe had problems with early in his career), and getting others involved. It's hard to show improvement in those areas in a one-on-one setting, but stick a few more guys in there, play some three-on-three and Brooks could see his stock continue to climb.
5. Jimmer Fredette
Once the regular season was over, there was probably no other prospect who had a wider range of supporters and critics. There were some people who saw Fredette as the next Stephen Curry, only not as quick. Others thought he was the smaller version of Adam Morrison.
Pretty big disparity, if you ask me.
For the past few weeks, Fredette has been on a mission to prove those mini-Adam Morrison comparisons wrong, and from all accounts, he's succeeded.
Most people around the league no longer buy the Adam Morrison comparison. They feel he can get his shot off, and will be a better distributor.
The fact is, Fredette is a fantastic shooter, which is no shock to anyone who saw him in college. Shooters like him always find a place in the NBA as bench players.
The big question is whether Fredette can be a consistent starter for a team. Defensively, it's no guarantee he can guard a chair, but he works hard, and because in college his team depended on him so much offensively, he didn't have much energy to burn on defense. Give him an opportunity to actually work on his defense, and Fredette could become functional.
The other problem is the lack of shoot-first point guards who start for NBA teams. There's Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and then arguably Deron Williams, Kyle Lowry, and Chauncey Billups. All of them are far superior athletes compared to Fredette, and his size (6'3") is too small for a shooting guard.
Regardless, Fredette is a first round pick, no doubt. He'll probably fall somewhere in the teens. If his workouts go well, and by all accounts, they have (especially in New York), then he could make the lottery.