NBA Draft 2011: 10 Players Facing Draft-Day Free Falls

Evan BarnesContributor IIIJune 20, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: 10 Players Facing Draft-Day Free Falls

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    Georgia's Trey Thompkins is one of several players who could hear his name called later than expected at Thursday's NBA Draft
    Georgia's Trey Thompkins is one of several players who could hear his name called later than expected at Thursday's NBA DraftKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Every NBA draft has its share of surprises. Some players go higher than expected while some fall further and have to wait it out despite all the information they've heard.

    This year will be no different, as this unpredictable draft class could see anything happen beyond Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams going Nos. 1 and 2. 

    Here are 10 players who may be surprised to fall further than expected on Thursday. 

Nolan Smith

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Nolan Smith #2 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on against the Arizona Wildcats during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Reason for fall: Staying in School.

    Last year, Smith’s stock was high as a middle of the first round. This year, despite being the ACC Player of the Year and an All-American, he was labeled a late first-round pick, falling behind even his own teammate, Irving, in projections.

    Now he might slip into the second round, as there are questions about which position he’d fit best despite being one of the most experienced, NBA-ready players in the draft. 

Travis Leslie

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  Travis Leslie #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs drives against the Auburn Tigers during the the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome on March 10, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty I
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Reason for fall: Attitude, underdeveloped skill set.

    The Georgia shooting guard was originally touted as the best athlete in the draft and a possible late first-round pick.

    Yet a combination of being mouthy (after being compared to Tony Allen, he stated he was better than Allen) plus an underdeveloped offensive arsenal will have Leslie possibly drafted in the second round, if at all. 

    Just a classic case of another great athlete who can't do much besides slash and perhaps should've stayed in school to work on his shooting and defense. 

Bismack Biyombo

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    Reason for fall: Lack of offense, poor combine showing.

    Biyombo is one of the most intriguing players in the draft, and there’s a great chance he’ll be taken in the lottery due to his size and passion for rebounding and shot blocking.

    If he’s not, it can be blamed on his subpar performance at the Eurodraft combine and that teams are perhaps scared off by his raw offensive arsenal.

    Biyombo was not invited to Thursday's draft ceremony, and while he appears to be a project who'll strengthen a team defensively, he may fall out of the top 10 if teams are having second thoughts about his readiness.

Jonas Valanciunas

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    Reason for fall: Questions about staying in Europe.

    The Lithuanian center has been in the top 10 of most draft projections, but he could fall based on questions over the remaining two years on his contract overseas.

    Despite his talent, it all depends if some team in a lockout year is willing to buyout Valanciunas’ contract or if they assume the season is lost and won’t have to worry about him.

    Don’t be surprised if he falls from top five to the end of the lottery.

Jan Vesely

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    Reason for fall: Lack of working out.

    Vesely is a bit more proven than Valanciunas (more athletic and a better defender), but his stock could also fall depending on where Valanciunas gets drafted. As hyped as he is, he didn’t work out for many teams and he could find himself falling to the back end of the lottery. 

    Chances are Vesely's upside will keep him in the lottery but depending on what happens at No. 3, his lottery position could either fall steeply or right where he's supposed to be.

Alec Burks

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10:  Alec Burks #10 of the Colorado Buffaloes stands on the court against the Kansas State Wildcats during their quarterfinal game in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2011 in Kan
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Reason for fall: Shooting troubles, lack of defense.

    Burks has been hailed as one of the best pure scorers in the draft despite questions over his outside shooting.

    Those questions plus his troubles on defense could see him slip from a possible late lottery pick to a late first-rounder. 

Darius Morris

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 12:  Darius Morris #4 of the Michigan Wolverines brings the ball up court against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the semifinals of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2011 in Indianapoli
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Reason for fall: Different needs ahead of him.

    Morris might be the best passer among this crop of point guards, as evidenced by his 6.7 assists per game last season.

    At 6'4'', he also has great size and a knack for making plays as he showed in the NCAA tournament. His free fall may be a combination of his lack of outside shooting or overwhelming athleticism as well as teams searching for different needs. 

    He could fall from a middle to a low first-round pick. 

Malcolm Lee

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 17:  Malcolm Lee #3 of the UCLA Bruins brings the ball up court against the Michigan State Spartans during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 17, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Reason for fall: Shooting inconsistencies, lack of strength.

    Lee was a steady leader on UCLA’s roster and the team’s best defender, but his lack of physicality, poor decision making (1.1 assist to turnover ratio) and inconsistent shooting could hold him back.

    Once seen as a possible late first-rounder, Lee could slide late into the second round and end UCLA’s streak of guards drafted in the first round.

Trey Thompkins

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  Trey Thompkins #33 of the Georgia Bulldogs dunks against the Auburn Tigers during the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome on March 10, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Imag
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Reason for fall: Lack of conditioning, weight issues.

    Thompkins has lottery-pick talent, but he’s got a bad combination of weaknesses.

    First, he’s a junior who has questions about his conditioning that he should’ve worked out two years ago. Second, he’s big at 6'10'', but far from athletic with poor footwork. Third, with 15.5 percent body fat, he’s going to be pushed around easily.

    Goodbye lottery, hello second round.

Josh Selby

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    LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 29:  Josh Selby #32 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots over Will Spradling #55 of the Kansas State Wildcats for a rebound during the game on January 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Reason for fall: Lack of a substantial body of work.

    While Kyrie Irving showed plenty with a small body of work before his injury, Selby, who had similar levels of hype, didn’t show enough consistency after coming back from his injury.

    He didn’t have stellar outside shooting numbers like fellow freshman Brandon Knight and his 1.06 assist to turnover ratio shows that he’s not ready to be a starting point guard.

    Don’t be surprised if Selby falls from the late first round to possibly early second round despite his talent and athletic build.


    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.