Having personally spent the past year closely watching, researching, evaluating and setting up over 65 detailed scouting reports of the 2011 NBA Draft class, some players are noticeably going to distinguish themselves from the crowd more than others. In this case, it’s the players that we are absolutely torn and on the fence on as far as their potential NBA impact and future in the league. These are the guys who have potential and do some things very well, but also present pressing issues in their game for one reason or another.
To us, these are the biggest mysteries of the draft no matter how hard you try to analyze or pick apart their games, there are still a lot of looming questions and you can’t say with certainty how good they will be unless they are answered. This is the last of a three part series in which we will break down the players that we really ‘like’, are ‘not high’ on, and are ‘torn’ on.
That said, SwishScout.com presents “The 2011 NBA Draft Prospects We Are Torn On.”
Note: On every player, you can click their name or country to take you to a more detailed profile for an extensive scouting report and highlights on the respective prospect.
Burks is a great player and a nice NBA prospect, but any other year he would probably be a late first rounder in the draft. He has poor shooting range with his shot being mostly upper body, and its going to be tough to expand that depth and accuracy unless he spends significant time on his stroke. Most of his game is predicated on attacking the basket and drawing contact, and unless your name is Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, or that of another NBA star, then your going to have a tough time getting calls attacking the basket every possession. Even if he can get to the rack, he could have a tough time finishing with his wire thin build. Burks will be a fine NBA player, but will take his knocks early on in the league.
Being a 6’9” center isn’t a glaring problem as long as you can make up for the height discrepancy in some way, and fortunately Jordan can with his length (7’0” wingspan), strength, physicality, and motor. I have no doubts that he can be an effective rebounder in the league in the mold of Kevin Love, but other than that I’m not sure what he brings. He’s a limited offensive player who gets all his points off put backs and post feeds. His post game is very raw, his face up jumper is nonexistent at this point, and his post savvy is lagging. Defensively he’s alright, but he’s not going to shut any one down in the post or turn away many shots. I think he will be just fine in the NBA, but don’t see him being more than a career backup who gets some starting action due to other’s injuries during his career.
The Texas combo guard had a decent freshman campaign, but nowhere near what you would expect from a ‘one and done’ player who is probably going to be a second rounder. He’s quick player who has some NBA skills offensively, noteably his deadly three-point shooting stroke, but has a ways to go as a distributor and team leader. If you take him at this point, its for his solid defensive play and hope that he develops into a decent player, but likely never becomes more than a sixth man or backup. He’s a player who left based on upside, probably never reaches that full potential after inhibiting his growth from the NCAA, and spends a fair amount of time in the D-League.
Leuer had a solid four-year NCAA career for the Badgers, but his NBA impact is questionable at best. He measured well as a seven footer in shoes, but length and defensive instincts are very average for a player of his size. He’s only a decent athlete and he can’t really create his own shot with his limited post play. His greatest asset will be as a pick and pop player who can knock down the NBA three, but that’s really about it. Not a standout rebounder either despite his talents and I think at best he’s another Matt Bonner, which really isn't that bad.
Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech)
He will tempt you with that tantalizing 6’6” size, crazy athleticism, and deep shooting range for a ‘point guard.’ While Iman has incredible gifts, he’s a player who doesn’t have the best grasp of how to use them when looking ahead to playing the point in the NBA. He’s a ‘shoot first’ player who is more of a combo guard, only averaging 3.5 assists as a junior in the ACC.
The majority of his offensive game morphed into him jacking up deep threes, which at 27.8 percent from distance is really abysmal. He’s a lackadaisical offensive player when he doesn’t have the ball, struggles to create his own shot, settles for jumpers, and turns the ball over a lot for someone who doesn’t try to set up his teammates all that often. I think he’s ‘fool's gold’ at this point if a team thinks he can be a starting PG in the league as is. He has a lot to learn and needs a better understanding of the team game before he gets there. If you take him, its for the solid pressure D he brings you and that potential you hope pans out, which isn’t bad if he falls to the mid-late second round.
While he’s considered a guard with great size at 6’6”, you have to really wonder what position Lee will play at the next level. He’s not a great distributor who looks to raise the game of his teammates, but rather a pure scorer who wants to get his shot, and even at that, never averaged more than 13 points during his NCAA career in a season. He has the UCLA system precedent that produced underachieving statistical NCAA guards with great NBA talent like Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison, and Jrue Holiday. However, Lee doesn’t have quite the natural talent, athleticism, or shooting ability that all of those players had. He’s a good talent, but doesn’t really fit into either guard slot comfortably when looking at his role in the league.
Smith really does not belong in this draft, and the one thing he has going for him (potential) really isn’t even that great. He’s a little undersized for a center at 6’9”, not very athletic, super inconsistent, lacks aggressiveness, can’t shoot the ball that well from the perimeter, his post game is a project, and isn’t very imposing on defense. He’s a big body with the biggest hands in the draft and does okay on the boards by holding his position, but he just looks like a D-Leaguer or guy who gets sparse minutes at best.
Harper looks intriguing as a virtual 6’9” guard who can play at forward, but his game is overly finesse and it’s not terribly impressive. He has a good feel for the team game and understanding of what his role is playing in a Princeton system at Richmond, but isn’t going to be able to capitalize on any one particular advantage to be effective in the league. He’s a one-year wonder at Richmond and made his living mostly as a jump shooter. Harper wasn’t that great at crashing the boards in the NCAA and will struggle rebounding in the NBA due to a lack of strength, toughness, and athleticism. He needs to find the right system to really thrive like Channing Frye did with the Suns, and that’s not to say Harper can’t be a good pro, but his fit is going to be essential to his success.
He was Mr. Versatility at Florida, but what position does he play in the NBA? He does have great size at 6’10”, but doesn’t outstanding athleticism, length, defensive instincts, or lateral quickness to defend the perimeter. So if he can’t defend the perimeter, than what can you expect him to do in the post with his slender build, lack of strength, or really anything you look for from a post player. He has decent all-around game, but nothing that’s going to help him standout in the league or earn a spot on a roster.
For a guy who’s supposed to be a ‘shooter’, he only hit 33.7 percent of his NCAA three-pointers and can’t imagine that getting much better from three feet further in the league. In addition, he struggled from the free throw line, making only 55.7 of his freebies as a senior. He also averaged 2.3 turnovers per game, or gave the ball away on one of every five possessions. There are a lot of issues surrounding his game at the next level and just too many questions surrounding his game from our perspective to make it in the league as a relevant rotation guy on a roster.
Jereme has plenty of talent and upside for an NBA player, making him worthy of a second round selection if a team wants to take a chance on him. However, he’s another guy who doesn’t strike you as a player worth making the jump as a ‘one and done’ because of how many holes are in his game and how much time it will take him to be ready.
He was a dreadful perimeter shooter as a freshman and has a great deal of work to refine his accuracy, depth to extend out to NBA three-point range, and shot selection by minimizing contested looks. He has to mature and fill out his body with probably a good 10-15 lbs of muscle in order to be able to handle physical contact in the league. Richmond struggles to create his own shot off the dribble as well, and as a result ended up setting for a lot of jumpers.
His feel for the game isn’t the greatest quite yet and naturally has a ways to go to develop that basketball IQ as a youngster. He can make it in the league with his raw athleticism and effort on the defensive end, but his offense has a ways to go before he can ever start in the league. He’s a great athlete and was measured as the fastest straight-line player in the NBA draft combine, but he’s a project player that will have to earn is way and work a lot harder than a good deal of the players in the draft to get where he wants to.