NBA Draft 2011: Enes Kanter and the 5 Best Post Defenders of the Draft
With 17 days remaining until the 2011 NBA Draft, many teams, including the Boston Celtics, the Charlotte Bobcats and the Philadelphia 76ers, are in need of a big man who can defend the paint.
Options are limited in what is one of the weakest drafts in a long while: only two prospects (Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams) are thought to be "sure things."
Enes Kanter, a 19-year-old from Turkey, is likely to be picked between No. 2 and No. 4. Kanter has long dominated international play on both sides of the ball, and he impressed NBA scouts at the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit with 34 points and 13 rebounds.
Kanter isn't an athletic defender like Serge Ibaka, nor will he be able to stop shots with his length like Yao Ming. What Kanter will do (and, by all accounts, is more than willing to do) is bang bodies down low. Think Kendrick Perkins with an offensive game or a smaller Shaquille O'Neal.
Kanter might not block two shots per game at the NBA level, but he certainly won't be afraid to mix it up with the league's best.
After Kanter, the talent pool drops off significantly and many teams will want to make a safe pick in such a weak draft. A strong post defender who can contribute right away is always a safe pick.
Here's the five best available post defenders in this year's draft.
PF Bismack Biyombo, Congo
Like Enes Kanter, Bismack Biyombo will be drafted based on, essentially, one game of scouting. His triple-double (12 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocks) at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit was a revelation.
Biyombo is listed at just 18 years old, but scouts believe him to be a few years older, either a victim or example of past prospects' mistakes. Still, his 7'7'' wingspan is excellent, and he's shown great shot blocking and rebounding ability.
It seems obvious to compare him to countryman Serge Ibaka, but both players boast the same athletic and physical attributes. So far, Ibaka has proven a fantastic weak-side defender and a capable post and face-up defender. His offensive game is still raw but rapidly improving.
I see Biyombo going to the Detroit Pistons with the eighth pick. He'll certainly benefit from a year or two under Ben Wallace, a fellow undersized, undervalued talent who carved himself into an elite NBA defender and won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times.
C Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania
The 6'11'' 19-year-old Jonas Valanciunas will enter the NBA this year with the label "soft" attached to his back. Like most European prospects, Valanciunas is more of a face-up big man rather than a banger.
However, with his size and length, Valanciunas should prove to be a serviceable NBA defender. He'll never make an all-defensive team, but I can see him settling into the league as a Darko Milicic with more offensive prowess.
Milicic averaged two blocks per game with the Minnesota Timberwolves this past year; there's no reason to believe Valanciunas can't eventually do the same.
My mock draft has Valanciunas drafted with the sixth pick by the Washington Wizards. The pick allows Andray Blatche to play a more natural power forward and provides the Wizards with a safe backup center for when JaVale McGee (inevitably) gets in foul trouble.
PF JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
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NBADraft.net currently has JaJuan Johnson going 31st to the Miami Heat, but if the lottery is big-man heavy, Johnson could certainly slide into the first round.
The 6'10'' 22-year-old registered two blocks per game with his seven-foot wingspan as a senior at Purdue. Johnson needs to add some weight to his 220 pound frame if he wants to defend power forwards in the NBA. Even if he doesn't, his shot blocking prowess will remain a threat.
Johnson would benefit from a big-man heavy lottery as he could move upward to a contending team with a solid foundation. He's a project, so being thrown into the Chicago Bulls' system behind Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson might actually be the best thing for him.
PF Markieff Morris, Kansas
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Often considered the lesser talent, many NBA scouts actually like Markieff Morris more than twin brother Marcus for his defensive skill.
At 6'9'', 241 pounds, Markieff should be able to match up with NBA power forwards. Unlike the previous prospects in this slideshow, Markieff isn't a shot-blocking threat due to his lack of elevation.
When I watched him play at Kansas, I likened him to the San Antonio Spurs' DeJuan Blair, who uses his big body and low center of gravity to force tough shots.
My mock draft has Markieff going at No. 16 to the Philadephia 76ers, where he'll back up and learn from Elton Brand, another big body without much elevation.
PF Kenneth Faried, Morehead State
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Draft scouts were high on Kenneth Faried before he withdrew his name from last year's draft. This year, Bismack Biyombo looks to be the premier athlete/rebounder, so Faried is likely to fall.
Faried is undersized for the power forward position at 6'7''. Of course, people said the same thing about Ben Wallace and DeJuan Blair, but both are successful rebounders in the league.
Faried's 14.5 college rebounds per game should translate to about 10 per game in the NBA, assuming he gets the playing time. He's relentless, so he'll go after everything despite his physical shortcomings.
My mock draft sees Faried picked at No. 21 to the Portland Trail Blazers, where he'll compliment the more offensive-minded LaMarcus Aldridge at the power forward spot.