NBA Predictions: Guaranteed 1st-Year Studs and Duds of 2011 NBA Draft Class
The start of the NBA season is right around the corner, and that means we finally get to see how the 2011 rookie class will transition in the NBA.
Some players will make the transition into the NBA look like a cake walk, but for most rookies it will be a long and arduous road.
Experienced college players like Jimmer Fredette and Kenneth Faried will transition into the NBA with ease, whereas younger and more inexperienced players like Tristan Thompson and Brandon Knight will find out that they aren't quite ready to take their game to the next level in the NBA.
Ahead is a list of rookies who are guaranteed to either be studs or duds in their first year in the NBA.
Remember, the dud players aren't necessarily going to be bad NBA players. Their development is just going to take longer.
Borderline Stud: Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving has shown lots of potential in his first few preseason games with the Cavaliers.
One thing is clear though, he isn't ready to make the transition to the NBA quite yet.
He's the kind of player who will put up 18 points a game, but he will do so with an atrocious shooting percentage, in turn hurting his team.
If Irving wants to become an elite NBA player, he will have to bulk up in the weight room, from his measly 180 pounds, and do some serious work on his perimeter game.
In his preseason games, Irving shot a weak 34.6 percent, and that is exactly what will keep him from being a stud in his first year.
Borderline Dud: Pistons PG Brandon Knight
Brandon Knight is a solid player, he's quick, athletic and he has a high basketball I.Q.
The same thing that will keep Kyrie Irving from being a stud in his first year is also the same thing that will make Knight a dud in his first year in the NBA, an inability to shoot against NBA defenders.
In his first two preseason games, Knight shot an atrocious 27.8 percent from the field, mainly because his lack of strength keeps him from being able to create separation from defenders like he did at Kentucky.
Knight is going to struggle in the NBA until he bulks up, which will allow him to create the separation from defenders that his game needs. Until then, he will be a dud.
Borderline Stud: Nets SG MarShon Brooks
The New Jersey Nets got one of the most offensively-minded and offensively-talented players in the 2011 NBA draft when they got MarShon Brooks from the Boston Celtics.
There's no doubting the fact that MarShon Brooks knows how to score, but his shoot-first mentality might hold him back in the NBA and that is what will keeps him as a borderline stud instead of a guaranteed stud in his first season.
What's impressive about Brooks is that in his first preseason game, he showed something he didn't exhibit in college: patience for smart shots.
Brooks scored a total of 10 points in 15 minutes in his first preseason game, and he did so with a solid 66.7 percent field goal percentage.
If Brooks can have that kind of patience throughout the 2011-12 season, he will be a solid player, but I'm betting he won't, which is why he finds himself on this spot on the list.
Stud: Kings SG Jimmer Fredette
If I had to put my money on one player in the 2011 NBA draft becoming a stud in his first year, I would undoubtedly put it on Jimmer Fredette.
The one thing that transitions easily into the NBA, no matter who the player is, is a silky smooth jump shot, and that is exactly what Jimmer Fredette brings to the court.
In his first two preseason games, Jimmer averaged 16.5 points per game on a ridiculous 66.7 percent shooting percentage behind the arc and a 55.5 percent field goal percentage overall.
I know it's just preseason games, but still the fact that Jimmer put up that kind of production shows how nicely his game will transition into the NBA.
Jimmer will be a stud in his first NBA season, you can count on that.
Dud: Cavaliers PF Tristan Thompson
Tristan Thompson was an athletic an average-sized power forward in college. In the NBA, he is an undersized and outmatched at the power forward position.
Thompson has all the potential in the world with his athleticism and his ability to hit mid-range jumpers, but to reach that potential, he will need a year or two to develop the strength he needs for the NBA.
Thompson would have benefited from staying in college for at least another year, but instead, his growing pains are going to be put on display with the young Cleveland Cavaliers.
Thompson's first season will be plagued with turnovers and single digits in both the points and rebounds stat columns.
Thompson will be a solid NBA player, but it will take time, with his first NBA season being a dud.
Stud: Nuggets PF Kenneth Faried
Kenneth Faried is a popular pick to be one of the bright spots of the 2011 NBA draft, and for good reason.
Sure, Faried played at Morehead State and played against weaker competition than players from major conferences, but Faried has the strength and basketball I.Q that other players in the draft lack.
In his only preseason game, Faried put up 14 points and six rebounds with a solid 66.7 shooting percentage.
While my prediction isn't based on his only preseason game, his stats prove that his powerful game will transition nicely into the NBA, even in his first year.
Kenneth Faried will draw Karl Malone comparisons all season, mainly because he is guaranteed to be a stud in his first season with the Denver Nuggets.
Dud: Bobcats PF Bismack Biyombo
Bismack Biyombo is going to have a rough first year in the NBA, you can count on that.
Biyombo is the epitome of a player who benefits greatly from something I like to call the "hype train."
Sure, Biyombo put up a triple-double at the 2011 Nike Hoops Summit against the USA "select" team, but that is really the only game that scouts based his NBA potential on.
Let me remind you, the best players on the USA team at the hoops summit were Austin Rivers, Marcus Teague and Rakeem Christmas.
Yea, all of those players are headed to college, whereas Biyombo is headed to the NBA.
Biyombo might be able to turn into a solid NBA player, but there's no way it happens in his first year.
Biyombo hasn't played against NBA level and when he does this season, we will see just how far he has to go to become a good NBA player.
Stud: Celtics PF JaJuan Johnson
JaJuan Johnson is a solid talent.
Weighing in at 6'10'' and 220 pounds, Johnson is a unique combination of size and speed at the power forward position.
While he undoubtedly needs to put on some weight, if he wants to become an elite player like fellow Celtic's power forward Kevin Garnett, he still has the offensive polish to make an impact immediately.
What is special about Johnson's game is that he can step out and hit perimeter shots when needed.
Johnson averaged 20.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in his final season at Purdue. While he won't put up that production, he will easily average 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
With the Celtic's losing PF Jeff Green for the year, look for JaJuan Johnson to step in and make an immediate impact, helping him become a stud in his first NBA season.
Dud: Bucks PF Tobias Harris
I was amazed when Tobias Harris declared for the NBA draft.
I was even more amazed when the Bobcats, who later saved themselves by trading him to the Milwaukee Bucks, selected him with the 19th overall pick.
Sure, Harris had solid college production, with an average of 15 points and seven rebounds, but he's one of those players who doesn't look physically ready to carry that production into the NBA.
In his first preseason game, Tobias Harris had seven points on 25.0 percent shooting and only one rebound.
I don't think Tobias Harris will ever turn into a legitimate NBA player, but if he somehow does, it certainly won't be in his first year.
Look for Harris to spend most of the year on the bench, and when he does get minutes, look for him to struggle mightily against more physical defenders than he faced in college.
Tobias Harris is in for a long rookie year, which easily earns him a spot on the dud part of this list.
Stud: Bobcats PG Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker is a proven winner.
He took a young and inexperienced UConn Huskies team to the NCAA championship game and won, and he came very close to winning the Naismith College Player of the Year trophy.
Kemba is a solid leader who leads not with his words but with the way he plays basketball, and the Bobcats will benefit greatly from that.
By the end of the 2011-12 season, Kemba Walker will be in the starting lineup and he will be the clear winner of the Rookie of the Year trophy.
Kemba will have no problem putting up an average of 14.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.
There's no doubt that Kemba has a bright future ahead of him, evidence by putting up 18 points in his first preseason game.
Kemba's ability and leadership will be put on display in his first season in the NBA, earning him a spot on the stud portion of this list.
Dud: Jazz C Enes Kanter
I see no reason why Enes Kanter can't become a solid NBA center, but he won't be that kind of player in his first year.
Kanter will struggle in his first year mainly because he hasn't ever played against talent, especially defensively speaking, like he will see day in and day out in the NBA.
In his first preseason game, Kanter put up a solid 10 rebounds, but more importantly he put up only six points on a terrible 14.7 shooting percentage.
Kanter's offensive woes will continue throughout the entirety of his first NBA season, having a lot to learn from fellow Turkish center Mehmet Okur, in the 2012 offseason.
Kanter will be a good NBA player, mainly because of his physicality, but developing polish to his offensive game will take time, and that's why his first year will undoubtedly be a dud.