In the 2011 NBA Draft, the players drafted after the first round will be the ones to watch.
The draft is not as deep as it has been in the past and finding players in the later round may prove to be very difficult. The first round has plenty of players to choose from, but it may be the players in the middle of the draft that make the biggest difference in the NBA.
Here is a look 10 middle options for NBA teams.
Jeremy Tyler is one of the more intriguing players in the draft.
Tyler passed on a senior season at San Diego High School to go play professionally overseas. His path to the NBA was filled with many obstacles, but Tyler has grown as a person as a result of this experience.
Tyler was once listed as a top-five prospect in the country, but his stock has fallen after making his decision. Two years later, he will enter the NBA draft and could reward a team that is willing to take a chance.
Some mock drafts still have Tyler in the first round, but if he indeed slips to the middle, he could be the best option on the board.
David Lighty is a talented player, but there is a chance that he may not be drafted. Lighty is not a first-round talent, and if a team is willing to take a chance on him in the middle, they could be rewarded.
Lighty can shoot from beyond the arc and has some scoring punch, but it will be his willingness to work on defense that will get him to the next level.
JuJuan Johnson may be best described as a raw talent. If he is coached properly he could make an impact in the NBA. His biggest weakness is that he lacks size, and that will cause him to plummet down the draft board, but someone will take a chance on this promising youngster.
Johnson averaged double digits and worked very hard to be a good rebounder. He will undoubtedly start as a bench player, but with the right work, he could be a surprise in the future.
Malcolm Thomas is creeping up the draft board, but is still expected to get picked late in the second round. However, teams that are willing to make him a pick in the middle will be making a good move.
Thomas averaged 11 points per game in his last year, but teams will pay attention for his hard work on defense. Thomas is athletic and plays tenacious defense with a raw shot-blocking ability. Not a bad middle- to late-round option for a team looking for a hard working athlete.
Greg Smith may be relatively unknown but he is a potential NBA superstar. Smith has a huge frame and is not afraid to use his physical attributes in the paint. He is very athletic, which is unusual for a player with this type of size and has huge hands.
He needs to work on his post game moves, but with the right coaching, Smith is a steal in the middle.
For a freshman, he is getting plenty of looks from teams that are willing to take a chance. It was a bit of a surprise that Selby declared for the draft considering his average numbers from his first year at Kansas.
He has the potential and could thrive in the right offense in the NBA, but teams rarely draft a player that is not proven.
Selby may be worth the look.
He is very athletic and has the skill set to play at the next level. He is quick off the dribble and hard to defend. A team can snatch up Selby and laugh at the others who passed up on him.
Selby’s upside is tremendous, and he can turn out to be an excellent value pick in the middle of the draft.
Isaiah Thomas may be projected to go in the middle, but he has first-round potential on the floor.
The only problem with Thomas seems to be his height as he checks in at just under 5'9". Thomas may not be tall, but he plays with a never ending energy that can help any team.
Thomas is a big-game player and should be a welcome addition to any NBA team.
Shelvin Mack gained his popularity leading the Butler Bulldogs during March madness, and now he is headed to the NBA. If not for the tournament run, Mack may have been overlooked completely, but instead, he is being considered as a middle pick.
Mack will contribute off the bench with some points and a boat load of effort. Mack’s major strength is that he makes his team look better with great distribution and the ability to run the offense.
This will translate at the next level, and Mack is worth a pick.
Kyrie Irving is the Duke player that is getting all of the press, but Nolan Smith should not be overlooked.
Smith is a genuine scorer, but his lack of size will lower his stock in the draft. Just because he is not drafted in the first round does not mean he will not be able to help out a team in the NBA.
Smith averaged double digits as a senior and is the consummate professional. He has a mature attitude and will put the team first. There is room for Smith in the NBA as a bench scorer that can have an impact in games.
Cole may not be a household name, but he will be drafted by an NBA team. Cole is a senior that put up quality numbers in his last season at Cleveland State.
Cole averaged 21.6 points per game but lacks size which has hurt his draft stock.
He will most likely be drafted as a reserve player who will ride the bench, but if his raw talents can be molded, he could be one of the best options in the middle in the entire draft.
The draft is this week, and it will be interesting to see what players teams look to pick in the middle rounds.
James Brown is a B/R Featured Columnist. Feel free to contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org.