NBA Draft 2011: Kenneth Faried and the 9 Prospects with the Most Upside
The NBA draft is a task that is attempted by many, and mastered by few. Who will find the next Dirk Nowitzki or Tony Parker? Which player will be that diamond in the rough?
The NBA draft's players based on their potential, more so than any other major professional sport. How many times have we seen a four-time All-American get overlooked in the draft because his skill sets do not project to the next level?
Here are nine players with the most upside in the 2011 NBA draft.
9. Derrick Williams
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Derrick Williams is a top-three pick on almost everyone's draft board. He is a strong, 6'8", 240-pound forward who has the perfect body type to be an effective player in the NBA for a long time.
He has a strong post-up game that will make teams pay for guarding him with a smaller player, and the quickness to go right around most NBA big men. Williams has good range and is close to unstoppable when he is consistently hitting his outside shot.
Williams was the Pac-10 Player of the Year, and he carried the Arizona Wildcats in the NCAA tournament. Some scouts are skeptical that he may be a one-hit wonder, but this is Williams just barely tapping into his huge potential.
8. Davis Bertans
Davis Bertans is a small forward from Latvia who is drawing a lot of attention. He can stroke the ball from well outside the arc and has drawn a myriad of comparisons to the great Dirk Nowitzki.
Bertans is only 18 years old, so this pick will largely be based on projections. Bertans has the ability to develop into a dominant scorer in the NBA for the next decade if he can fill out his 6'10" frame.
Bertans could be a steal in the latter stages of the first round.
7. Brandon Knight
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Brandon Knight has been darting up many draft boards in recent weeks for good reason. Knight will be a solid scorer in the NBA for years to come. He is a leader who wants the ball in his hands at the end of games.
He plays with a ton of confidence and has a lot of assets that cannot be taught. Knight is not afraid to take the last shot when the game is on the line, evidenced by his clutch game-winning shot with five seconds left in the Sweet 16.
Knight has the size at 6'3" and 180 pounds to back down other point guards, while also possessing the quickness to be an excellent defender.
6. Donatas Motiejunas
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I think the world of this 7'0", 225-pound power forward out of Lithuania, and a lot of scouts have taken notice of his unique skill set. Motiejunas is an excellent passer with great vision for a man his size, and he has an incredibly soft touch for a seven-footer.
Motiejunas can score in a lot of different ways and will be a very tough matchup for any team. Motiejunas needs to get bigger and stronger, but he will make an immediate impact off the bench for whichever team that drafts him.
5. Kyrie Irving
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In all likelihood, Kyrie Irving will be the first player selected in the 2011 NBA draft, and it is all based on his upside. He has the potential to be not only one of the best point guards in the NBA, but also one of the best players in the NBA.
Comparisons have been made to Derrick Rose and Chris Paul, which is reason alone to believe in Irving's ability. Had Irving not gotten injured, Nolan Smith would have been an afterthought to the Cameron Crazies.
Irving is lightning-quick with the ball in his hands and is an excellent distributor of the basketball. He has nice mechanics with his shot and can consistently knock down the three. He showed how brilliant he could be in Duke's loss to Arizona in the NCAA tournament, which was only his third game in three months.
Irving needs to be matched up with the right surrounding cast and coach, and he will be well on his way to an MVP award down the road.
4. Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter did not play in a single game for Kentucky last season after NCAA officials said he received paid benefits during his time playing pro ball in Turkey. He is 6'11" and has untapped potential to this point.
Kanter can score from anywhere on the floor and will be a matchup nightmare for the opposition. He can handle the ball really well, especially for his size, and is athletic enough to be an above-average rebounder.
Kanter can post-up defenders and score with his myriad of moves, and play face-up to the basket as well. He has a 7'1" wingspan and is only 19.
Kanter will be an All-Star before you know it.
3. Kawhi Leonard
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The national audience fell in love with Kawhi Leonard in the 2011 NCAA tournament and so did NBA scouts. Leonard is 6'7", 225 pounds and has the ability to be a shutdown defender for the next decade.
He has long arms and has a great motor. He has the quickness to defend the point and shooting guard positions, and wingspan and strength to hold his own against threes and fours. Leonard was a double-double machine in college, and look for that to transition into the NBA.
Leonard developed a pretty solid outside shot in his final year at San Diego State and was able to average 15.5 PPG. Leonard will make an instant impact on whichever team calls his name.
Kawhi Leonard has the potential to be an All-Defensive Team player for years to come.
2. Tristan Thompson
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Tristan Thompson decided to leave the University of Texas after his freshman year. At only 6'8" and 225 pounds, he is a bit small for a power forward in the NBA, but no one will outwork Thompson.
Thompson probably could have used one more year of polishing in college, but there may not be another player in this draft with more upside.
The southpaw from Canada averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds at Texas. He was an extremely efficient player, evidenced by his 55 percent shooting from the field. Thompson can really operate well down in the post and has a go-to move with his left-handed hook shot.
Thompson needs to be coached up a bit and find a secondary move, but he could be a steal if he falls to the middle of the first round.
1. Kenneth Faried
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Is there anyone out there who doesn't want Kenneth Faried to succeed in the NBA? He is only 6'7" (in shoes) but he does have a 7'0" wingspan.
Many scouts are wary of Faried because his skill-set is most likely limited to the four spot, but they shouldn't be. They should look no further than his NCAA modern-era record 1,673 rebounds.
Faried has unique, explosive jumping ability that will continue to allow him to dominate the boards in the NBA. He averaged over 17 PPG and 14.5 rebounds in 2010-2011. He even averaged over two blocks per game and 1.9 steals.
Faried has the potential to lead the league in rebounding for the next decade, and the athletic ability to be a key contributor offensively with the right coaching.
The sky is the limit for Kenneth Faried.