NBA Draft 2011: Jimmer Fredette and the Top 5 Prospects at Each Position

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: Jimmer Fredette and the Top 5 Prospects at Each Position

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young Cougars handles the ball against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Do
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Well, it's here.  After months of speculation, rumors and wild ideas, the 2011 NBA draft is set to go down tonight in New York.

    Who's going to take Jimmer Fredette?  Kemba Walker?  Derrick Williams?

    Those are just a few of the big names that will be called this evening.  Of course, there are 57 more.

    As a bit of last-minute preparation for your viewing of tonight's event, here are the top five prospects at each position this year...

     

    You can follow Andy Bailey on Twitter     @Andy_Bailey

Center

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    DAYTON, OH - MARCH 16: Nikola Vucevic #5 of the USC Trojans walks off the court after being defeated by the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the first round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at UD Arena on March 16, 2011 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Pho
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Center is the weakest position in the NBA right now.  These guys have a chance to come in and contribute right away in a league devoid of talent at their position.

5: Jordan Williams

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    GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 10:  Jordan Williams #20 of the Maryland Terrapins looks on during the first half of the game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the first round of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on Mar
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Height: 6'9"

    Weight: 247 lbs.

    Age: 20

    Based on numbers alone, Williams had a fantastic year for Maryland.  He averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds a game.

    He's a little undersized for his listed position but may still be selected in the first round.  The Nuggets will really need some size if they lose Kenyon Martin and Nene to free agency.

4: Jeremy Tyler

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    Height: 6'11"

    Weight: 263 lbs.

    Age: 20

    Jeremy Tyler might embody "high-risk, high-reward" more than any other prospect this year (which is saying a lot because almost everyone fits into that category this year).

    If Tyler had followed the traditional route by finishing high school and playing at least a year in college, he may have developed into a lottery pick.

    Instead, he ditched his senior year of high school and struggled overseas for a couple years.  We'll find out soon if the experience was make or break.

3: Nikola Vucevic

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    DAYTON, OH - MARCH 16: Nikola Vucevic #5 of the USC Trojans runs onto the court as he is introduced before the game against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the first round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at UD Arena on March 16, 2011 in
    Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

    Height: 7'0"

    Weight: 260 lbs.

    Age: 20

    Vucevic may be the steal of the draft.  Some at the pre-draft camp even thought he might be better than Enes Kanter.

    He averaged a very impressive 17 points and 10 rebounds a game for USC this year.  He's a legitimate seven-footer and he has a well-rounded skill set.

2: Jonas Valanciunas

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    Height: 6'10"

    Weight: 230 lbs.

    Age: 19

    A lot of people actually think Valanciunas may end up being a better center than Enes Kanter.  

    He has a lot of upside as a 19-year-old, but there's always a chance he's just a tease (like so many overseas prospects).

1: Enes Kanter

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    Height: 6'11"

    Weight: 260 lbs.

    Age: 19

    Kanter is widely regarded as the best center in this year's draft class.

    The T'Wolves need a center much more than they need a forward like Derrick Williams (they already have Michael Beasley and Kevin Love).  If they keep the No. 2 pick, they should go with Kanter.

Power Forward

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 18:  Tristan Thompson #13 of the Texas Longhorns dunks the ball against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Rona
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Everyone says the NBA is becoming a point guard league.  I beg to differ.  How many championship teams in the last 20 years were built around a point guard?

    How many were built around a power forward?

5: Bismack Biyombo

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    Height: 6'9"

    Weight: 243 lbs.

    Age: 18

    Biyombo recently hurt his stock at the Adidas Eurocamp where he was anything but impressive in terms of offensive skill.

    Now, rumors are starting to swirl about an unhealthy back.

    However, his size (6'9" with a 7'7" wingspan) and attitude could still get him drafted in the lottery.

4: Marcus Morris

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 27:  Marcus Morris #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks goes to the basket against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the southwest regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Alamodome on March 27, 2011 in San Anto
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Height: 6'9"

    Weight: 230 lbs.

    Age: 21

    Morris is suggesting that he can transition to small forward in the NBA.  That would be a bold (and frankly, dumb) move.

    As a power forward, there's a chance he could be solid.  But like just about everyone in this year's draft class, he's basically boom or bust.

3: Tristan Thompson

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 20:  Tristan Thompson #13 of the Texas Longhorns walks off the court after their 70-69 loss to the Arizona Wildcats in the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 20, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Pho
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Height: 6'9"

    Weight: 227 lbs.

    Age: 20

    Thompson was fairly productive as a freshman (13 points and eight rebounds a game), but scouts like him because of his upside, athleticism and length (6'9" with a 7'2" wingspan).

    He has a lot of work to do in terms of actual skills (his offense is extremely raw). Defensively, he could potentially make an impact as early as next year. 

2: Kenneth Faried

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Kenneth Faried #35 of the Morehead State Eagles dunks reacts after a play against the Richmond Spiders during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Pho
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Height: 6'8"

    Weight: 225 lbs.

    Age: 21

    Faried may be undersized, but he has everything else that a great rebounder needs (work ethic, wingspan, explosiveness).  

    He led the nation in rebounding at nearly 15 a game (after averaging 13 in each of the last two years).

    He should follow the example of Paul Millsap and work hard on every aspect of his offensive game.

1: Derrick Williams

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 26:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after a dunk against of the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 26, 2011 in Anaheim, Cali
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Height: 6'9"

    Weight: 248 lbs.

    Age: 20

    Derrick Williams officially became a legitimate top overall pick possibility after he thrashed Duke.

    In that game, he scored 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting (including 5-of-6 threes) and grabbed 13 rebounds.

    That was his signature game, but he was nothing short of spectacular all season long.

    For the year, he averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds a game.  Plus, he shot 60 percent from the field and 57 percent from three-point range.

    He's athletic, smart, has a great attitude and is extremely versatile.

    Williams is the most NBA-ready player in this class.  He can be a major contributor as early as next season.

Small Forward

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Kawhi Leonard #15 of the San Diego State Aztecs dunks the ball against the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, Calif
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Small forward is a position that requires a wide variety of skills.  There are a few teams on the brink of being complete if they can land a good three man.

5: Tobias Harris

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    Height: 6'8"

    Weight: 223 lbs.

    Age: 18

    Harris does just about everything well, but nothing really well.

    He could be drafted in the first round but may have a hard time finding his way onto the court during his rookie season.


4: Chris Singleton

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    Height: 6'9"

    Weight: 230 lbs.

    Age: 21

    Singleton could become a great perimeter defender at the next level.  He's very long and athletic and could give some of the league's small forwards a few headaches.

    His offensive game needs a lot of work, but his defense could help him be an impact player early. In fact, he may be the best defensive player in this draft.

3: Jordan Hamilton

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    Height: 6'9"

    Weight: 228 lbs.

    Age: 20

    Hamilton has been a fantastic offensive player this year, averaging 19 points and eight rebounds a game. He shot 44 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range.

    His numbers are pretty similar to what Kyle Korver put up in college (plus they have similar builds), however, I think he might develop into a better all-around player.

2: Kawhi Leonard

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    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 228 lbs.

    Age: 19

    Kawhi Leonard is anything but polished on offense, but his athleticism (some say he wasn't warmed up for his combine testing), intensity and defensive prowess could get him drafted in the lottery.

    Plus, he's an elite rebounder for a 6'7" player (he averaged nearly 11 a game this year).

    If he plays with a great distributor like Shawn Marion did for much of his career, he could put up some solid numbers.

1: Jan Vesely

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    Height: 6'11"

    Weight: 240 lbs.

    Age: 21

    Vesely has great size and length for a small forward, but he's still very unpolished at this point. He needs a lot of work on his post offense.

    From the perimeter, he's actually pretty solid for a player his size.  He handles and shoots the ball well. 

    Right now, it's tough to see exactly what position he'll play in the NBA.  If he adds some strength, he could eventually even play center.

Shooting Guard

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    This draft class is pretty shallow at the shooting guard position.  So shallow in fact, I had to include two guys who many project to be point guards.

5: Malcolm Lee

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    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 198 lbs.

    Age: 21

    A lot of people are trying to peg Lee as a point guard right now, but his numbers in college don't support that idea.  

    The same could have been said of Russell Westbrook when he entered in the league.  We've seen how difficult the transition has been for him.

4: Iman Shumpert

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    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 222 lbs.

    Age: 20

    Physically, Iman Shumpert is one of the best prospects in the draft.  He's a 6'6" point guard and was tied for first at the pre-draft camp at the vertical jump and was third on the bench press.

    His actual game needs a lot of refinement, particularly his outside shooting (28 percent from three-point range).

3: Alec Burks

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    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 193 lbs.

    Age: 19

    Burks is a very solid scorer.  He has a prototypical NBA shooting guard's build.  He's long and athletic.  

    The problem with Burks?  He's a very inconsistent outside shooter and that will hurt him at the next level.  There's also no way he'll get to the line as much as he did in college.

    NBA rookies typically don't score 32 percent of their points from the free throw line (that's what Burks did as a sophomore at Colorado).

2: Klay Thompson

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    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 206 lbs.

    Age: 21

    Some feel Klay Thompson may be the best shooting guard in this draft, but he lacks the athleticism that most elite wings have.

    His ability to score will still be coveted on draft night.  For me, he's still more Martell Webster than Reggie Miller.

1: Marshon Brooks

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    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 195 lbs.

    Age: 22

    Marshon Brooks has a chance to be the best shooting guard from this year's draft.  He tested very well athletically at the pre-draft camp and measured a very impressive 7'1" wingspan.

    This past year, he averaged 24.6 points and seven rebounds a game while playing in the highly-touted Big East Conference.

Point Guard

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    Point guard is the hottest position in the NBA.  Several teams are going all in with young point guards, hoping the little guys can lead them to a title.

5: Norris Cole

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    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 175 lbs.

    Age: 22

    Norris Cole was one of the nation's most prolific scorers this past season but was a solid facilitator as well.  He averaged 21.7 points and 5.3 assists a game.

    He posted the best agility numbers at this year's pre-draft camp in Chicago and that quickness will come in handy against the NBA's super-athletic guards.

4: Kemba Walker

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 184 lbs.

    Age: 21

    Kemba Walker could come in and be an instant leader for a young team.  He led his Huskies on an insane run through the Big East and NCAA tournaments on his way to becoming a national champion.

    In the long run, I see him becoming more of a shooting guard in the mold of Jason Terry.  I'm not saying he can't become a true point guard, but he's not one right now.

3: Brandon Knight

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 177 lbs.

    Age: 19

    John Calipari has sent four freshmen point guards to the NBA in the last three years. Athletically, Knight is similar to those guys, but he's a better outside shooter than any of them.

    He really showed off that ability against North Carolina in the Elite Eight.

    Knight's stock has been rising steadily over the last several weeks, and some are starting to think he may end up being the best point guard from this draft.

2: Kyrie Irving

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 191 lbs.

    Age: 19

    I don't think it makes a ton of sense, but it looks like the Cavaliers are going to select Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick.

    I don't see Irving as the kind of can't-miss prospect that most No. 1s are, and he and his agent's refusals to work out or test only adds to my suspicion.

    There is definitely reason to believe he can develop into a star, though.

    He has great size for a point guard and averaged 17.5 points and 4.3 assists over 11 games with a veteran Duke squad.

    His shooting percentages are extremely impressive as well.  He hit 53 percent from the field, 46 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line.

    I think everyone needs to slow down on the Chris Paul comparison though.

1: Jimmer Fredette

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    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 196 lbs.

    Age: 22

    For those of you who have read more than an article or two from me on the draft, you already know my thoughts on Jimmer and the criticism he's received.

    I figure on draft day, I can finally put this guy at No. 1 (you know I've wanted to for a while). Deal with it.

    And instead of hating, let's all look forward together toward the opportunity to watch this Steve Nash/Deron Williams/Stephen Curry/Pete Maravich hybrid go to work.

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    You can follow Andy Bailey on Twitter    @_Andy_Bailey

     

    For more 2011 NBA draft coverage, stay tuned to Bleacher Report for updated NBA mock drafts, NBA draft rumors, NBA draft results and draft grades.