NBA Draft 2011: Top 10 Early-Entry Prospects

Kevin ConnellyContributor IJune 22, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: Top 10 Early-Entry Prospects

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats goes up for the ball against Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 201
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    The 2011 NBA Draft has a number of intriguing prospects who decided to leave their respective schools early. There are also a good crop of international players, but this list focuses on the college players.

    The battle to be the top pick, and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to already be won by Kyrie Irving. However, is he the best early entry prospect in this years draft? 

10. Brandon Knight

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02:  Brandon Knight #12 of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts after a play against the Connecticut Huskies during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Ho
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Class: Freshman

    Brandon Knight played point guard at Kentucky during his freshman year, but at 6'3", he's really a shooting guard. The reason he's so far down on my list is because he really dosen't have a position in the NBA.

    He's a good shooter and an even better scorer, so if he can find a position, Knight has a higher ceiling than some other players on this list.

9. Tobias Harris

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  Tobias Harris #12 of the Tennessee Volunteers reacts in the first half while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 18, 2011 in
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Class: Freshman

    Tobias Harris is a teenager in a man's body. He can do a little bit of everything and really shined in Tennessee's offense last season. He can get rebounds on the defensive end, push the ball up the court and finish at the other end. Harris has a great touch around the basket and can spot up from downtown.

    Harris has one of the best basketball IQ's on this list, but his age keeps him from being near the top.

8. Tristan Thompson

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    Class: Freshman

    A little bit undersized to be a true power forward, Tristan Thompson has a huge upside. For one, he's left-handed, which can only help when he has the ball in his hands. He is great on the boards, but did get in foul trouble in Texas's big games.

    That shouldn't be a problem with the extra foul in the NBA, making Thomas a tremendous talent with a bright future. 

7. Jordan Hamilton

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    Class: Sophomore

    Jordan Hamilton, another Texas standout, is leaving school early and has a similar build to a former Longhorn. Like Kevin Durant, Hamilton is long and can score in a variety of ways. At 6'8", he can post up smaller defenders, but is very capable of stepping back into his jumper.

    Hamilton is known as a volume shooter, so if he can cut down on the bad shots, he has the ability to be a great player in the league.

6. Kawhi Leonard

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    Class: Sophomore

    Kawhi Leonard is very quick and plays with a lot of heart. That's what got him to be such a great college basketball player, but a questionable pro prospect. He doesn't have a go-to move on the offensive end, but can do a number of things effectively. Also, he plays extremely hard on defense sometimes to the point that he is out of control.

    With that said, he is a guy who can come in immediately and give a team quality minutes off the bench.

5. Kemba Walker

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    Class: Junior

    Kemba Walker is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft. He is 6'1", but not a true point guard if you ask me. His ball handling is suspect and his passing, at times, can be awful. Other than that, he is an absolute scorer. Walker can get his shot off basically anywhere on the court and can get to the rim whenever he wants. He also is the best leader of anybody on this list.

    If Walker can cut down on the turnovers, he has the ability to be a game-changer in the very near future.

4. Marcus Morris

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    Class: Junior

    Marcus Morris is a very efficient big man at 6'9". He is excellent with his back to the basket and has a smooth jumper for somebody his size. He didn't play a lot of small forward in college, so that could be a bit of a challenge if he's asked to play there. Morris also didn't grade particularly well on the defensive end, but that can be fixed.

    The bottom line is that this kid is NBA ready and he, along with everybody else in the league, knows it.

3. Markieff Morris

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    Class: Junior

    I actually like Markieff the most of the two Morris twins. He has a higher motor, and as a result is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker. He doesn't excel at anything on the offensive end, like his brother, but has a more well-rounded game than him.

    If he can polish his low-post game, then Markieff could end up being the better Morris twin.

2. Kyrie Irving

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    Class: Freshman

    Kyrie Irving has being drawing a lot of comparisons to Derrick Rose, or even John Wall. What he lacks in pure athleticism compared to those two, he makes up for it in his shooting ability. Irving is a true point that can spread the ball around, but isn't afraid to take an open look if its there.

    I look at him as more of a Chris Paul, which I'm sure the Cavs will gladly take. 

1. Derrick Williams

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    Class: Sophomore

    I absolutely love watching Derrick Williams play, which is why he tops my list of early entry prospects. He is an incredible athlete who can jump out of the gym. He will make and immediate impact on whatever team lands him. The only thing that's been questioned is his defense, which he will have to work on if he wants to become a complete player.

    I look for Williams to use his ability to finish at the rim, to make him the NBA Rookie of the Year next season, that is if there is one.


    For more 2011 NBA draft coverage, stay tuned to Bleacher Report for updated NBA mock drafts, B/R's Big Board of Recruits, NBA draft rumors, NBA draft results and draft grades.