In an NBA draft defined by youthful stars, international talent and the mystery of late trades, there will be only a select few value picks. These are the players drafted for the intangibles they bring to the court.
Whether it's a point guard with perceptiveness at the top of the key or a power forward loaded with explosiveness to the hoop, there are a handful of athletes in this draft brimming with distinctive capacities to contribute to their teams.
Players like Kyrie Irving and Derek Williams have been nearly lionized in the overwhelming build-up to the 2011 NBA draft. But it's guys like Chris Singleton out of Florida State, Kenneth Faried from Morehead State and a prime batch of players that have flown under the radar, yet are packed with talent, touch and technique, who make up this list.
Take a look at this band of the best value picks from the 2011 NBA draft.
In just six months, Congolese center Bismack Biyombo went from a virtual nobody in the world of basketball to the forefront of the NBA draft.
Perhaps that’s because he has a gigantic wingspan of 7’2", or maybe it’s the fact that when Biyombo goes up for a rebound, he vaults into the air like an Olympian.
At 6’9", 240 pounds, Biyombo is just 18 years old and has endured a long, arduous journey to reach the NBA.
According to ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford:
He left home at 16 to play in several Middle Eastern countries. He flew to Spain less than a year later to embark on a pro career. He speaks six languages: English, Spanish, French, Arabic and two dialects of Congolese...But ask NBA scouts—any NBA scout—and they'll tell you he's closer to 22 than 18. They have no proof, mind you. He just looks, sounds, acts and plays older, they claim.
Biyombo's a rebounder and shot-blocker before all else. Although he's renowned for his ability to put back shots around the rim, the Bobcats will have to help him develop his skills in the paint and perhaps even a jump shot for him to become a force on both ends of the court.
What this 19-year-old lacks in experience he makes up for in his burst of speed to the hoop, presence of mind and reliable jump shot.
As a freshman at Kentucky, Knight had an exceptional year, averaging 17.4 points, alongside four rebounds and four assists.
At just about 6’3", Knight’s wiry frame, nearly untouchable speed, and big-time scoring abilities make him reminiscent of an Allen Iverson-esque player, but we can’t quite tell what his attitude is like just yet.
Klay Thompson has one of the most crucial intangibles in the game of basketball: the ability to adapt and progress.
In his sophomore year at Washington State, Thompson averaged 12.2 points, four rebounds, and just one assist. For a 6’7" shooting guard who was initially held in high regard for his jump shot, he underperformed and lost draft stock early.
But a season and countless hours in the gym later, Thompson averaged 21.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists as a senior.
Thompson soared among deep-range shooters in college basketball last season, especially posing a threat with his shot off the dribble.
Although he doesn’t have the explosiveness of Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, he’s a talented passer because of his perceptiveness, and he is a reliable ball-handler as well.
At 6’7", 204 pounds, Thompson will only bulk up as he develops his game, which will give a solid alternative to his jump shot and catch defenders off guard.
From his freshman year to his junior year, Markief Morris more than tripled his PPG from four to 13, and doubled his rebounds per game from four to eight.
That's not just a testament to his power, but to his resilience and relentless work ethic.
Those statistical leaps speak to how Morris immersed himself in improving.
He learned how to take advantage of his brute force, while also paying attention to the need to have touch in and around the paint.
Although he initially emerged on the college basketball scene as a powerful presence in the paint, primarily as a rebounder and shot-blocker, he’s become more versatile in the key and developed a perimeter shot.
He will have a plethora of experienced players in Phoenix to learn from and work with, and has huge potential in his rookie season.
The 6’10", 240-pound big man averaged a double-double last season for the USC Trojans, scoring 17.1 points per game and grabbing 10.3 rebounds per game.
Vucevic will provide the 76ers with a versatile big men who has displayed both touch outside of the key and terrific presence in the post.
According to DraftExpress.com: "Arriving on campus as a skinny, lanky freshman, Vucevic is now amongst the more imposing big men in the 2011 draft."
If Vucevic can utilize his bulk to become a dominant low-post player, he will play an essential role alongside his new team in Philadelphia.
At 6’9", 230 pounds, Chris Singleton epitomizes the lock-down defender.
Singleton earned the prestigious accolade of ACC Defensive Player of the Year and will bring that tenacity to the nation's capital.
He utilizes his gargantuan wingspan and impeccable sense of timing in the key to hone in on anyone willing to drive to the hole.
On the other side of the court, Singleton made substantial changes over the last two seasons.
As a sophomore, he averaged just eight points and four rebounds, but two seasons later he was a force to be reckoned with, averaging 14 points and six boards.
Also, for a big man, Singleton has shown promise with a perimeter shooting game that, while streaky at times, will only improve down the road.
Faried was undeniably one of the most talented power forwards in college basketball throughout his career. He averaged a double-double in his last three years at Morehead State, highlighted by a luminous senior year of 17 points per game and 14 rebounds per game.
His explosive movement in and around the key is what truly distinguishes him from other big men. He's shown a great deal of comfort in the post, exercising a dazzling drop-step move.
He's also demonstrated his ability to move without the ball on offense and create viable opportunities for both himself and his teammates.
On either side of the court, Faried will have an immediate impact because he gets everything he possibly can out of his enormous nine-foot reach.
It allowed him to finish around the rim better than anybody else in the league and it will be a strong point for him entering the NBA.
Jordan Hamilton is the prototypical small forward, and between this acquisition and Kenneth Faried, the Nuggets just got a huge advantage for next season.
Hamilton averaged 18.6 points and 7.7 rebounds in his last season at Texas. He is most well known for his long-range shooting.
Although he's been criticized for his shot selection, that is the kind of change that will gradually occur through experience in a professional setting.
One of the intangibles that Hamilton brings to the table is his agility, and ultimately athleticism. He’s both durable and speedy, which lends to his strong rebounding, tenacity and craftiness on both ends of the court.