Report Card Grades for Every 1st-Round Draft Pick at the NBA All-Star Break

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2012

Report Card Grades for Every 1st-Round Draft Pick at the NBA All-Star Break

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    Now that the NBA All-Star Weekend is quickly approaching, we've reached a good stopping point in the 2011-2012 season, giving us a perfect opportunity to evaluate the play of the 30 players who were drafted in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft. 

    Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio have emerged as front-runners in the Rookie of the Year race, although you won't see Rubio discussed here because he was drafted a few years ago and is not a member of the current draft class. 

    Included in each slide is the following information: my preseason predictions for the player's stats, their current stats, their current advanced stats (PER, win shares, offensive rating and defensive rating), what I wrote about the player before the season started, a brief analysis of their season thus far and a grade for their performance based on how they've played relative to their expectations. 

    Read on and enjoy! And please note that the rookie stats are current through Feb. 21, 2012. 

No. 30: Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)

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    Projected Stats: 3.1 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 2.6 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 17.8 PER, 0.7 WS, 128 ORtg, 97 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Getting consistent minutes is going to prove to be a huge problem for Jimmy Butler. As a shooting guard and small forward, the former Marquette standout is competing with Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer, Rasual Butler, Kyle Korver and Luol Deng for playing time. And that's before the Bulls bring in a better two-guard during free agency as many expect them to do. 

    Skill Set

    Butler, the owner of an inspiring and literal rags-to-riches story, is blessed with tremendous athleticism, but his actual basketball skills are still works in progress. 

    At Marquette, he was a dual threat, just as capable of hitting a big shot as he was crashing the boards and pulling down an important rebound. He has the size and hops to continue doing so in the NBA, but he'll need the minutes to come first. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Jimmy Butler has been absolutely terrific when he's on the court, but he hasn't found himself in that situation very often. Shooting over 50 percent from the field and exactly 50 percent from downtown, the rookie has been incredibly efficient. Plus, he's shut down whatever man he's been assigned. 

    Tom Thibodeau is a great evaluator of talent and likes to reward effort with credit where it's due. Expect for Butler's minutes to slowly increase as the season progresses. 

    Grade: B

No. 29: Cory Joseph (San Antonio Spurs)

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    Projected Stats: 3.7 points, 1.2 assists, 0.8 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 1.3 points, 1.1 assists, 0.6 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 6.7 PER, 0.0 WS, 84 ORtg, 105 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Cory Joseph would have been the backup point guard whether or not he went pro. If he had stayed with the Texas Longhorns, he would likely have been sitting behind stud freshman Myck Kabongo.

    But now, he'll be backup up Tony Parker with the San Antonio Spurs. 

    Skill Set

    Cory Joseph has an incredibly diverse set of skills. 

    Unfortunately, that sounds like a bit more of a compliment than Joseph deserves. He's good at everything a point guard needs to be good at, but he doesn't possess any one standout skill that will inspire the Spurs to think of him as a long-term solution once Parker is no longer with the team. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    Tony Parker has been absolutely sensational this season and deserves to be considered an MVP candidate thus far. That's resulted in even less minutes for this former Texas Longhorn who really should have spent one more year at the collegiate level. 

    Cory Joseph hasn't turned it over much, but he's shot poorly and has been rather uninvolved on the offensive end of the court on the rare occasions that he's not sitting on the bench. 

    Grade: B-

No. 28: Norris Cole (Traded to Miami Heat)

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    Projected Stats: 5.1 points, 1.6 assists, 1.2 rebounds per game 

    Actual Stats: 8.6 points, 2.4 assists, 1.7 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 10.7 PER, 0.6 WS, 94 ORtg, 103 DRtg 

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    It's slightly confusing to me why the Miami Heat seem so desperate to add a point guard to their roster when they have talented young Mario Chalmers currently running the show and a tantalizing prospect in Norris Cole waiting in the wings. 

    I'd like to see the Heat give Cole a shot at running the offense, but I don't really see that coming anytime this next season. 

    Skill Set

    One of the reasons that playing time may not be so forthcoming is that Cole's skill set does not mesh well with the Miami team's needs. 

    Cole is a scorer who needs to have the ball in his hands. With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both on the court most of the time, that simply isn't possible. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Norris Cole's exploits during his rookie season are always going to be overshadowed by his one great performance against the Boston Celtics. 

    Cole displays a lot of potential, and he's looked good on both offense and defense in short bursts, but he has a lot of developing left to do. 

    Grade: B+


No. 27: JaJuan Johnson (Traded to Boston Celtics)

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    Projected Stats: 4.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 4.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 16.5 PER, 0.4 WS, 101 ORtg, 99 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    During his first season with the Boston Celtics, I really can't see JaJuan Johnson getting much time on the court at all. After all, he's blocked by Kevin Garnett at the power forward spot, and Jeff Green is more likely to come on the court if Boston decides to go small. 

    Johnson may be used exclusively in mop-up duty during the first year of his professional career. 

     

    Skill Set

    Johnson is a very well-rounded player whose 6'10" frame will undoubtedly help him. He's the unique big man who possesses both a diverse set of low-post moves and the ability to drop jumpers from the outside. 


    All-Star Break Summary

    Basically, take everything that I said about JaJuan Johnson in the preseason scouting report. 

    It all still applies. 

    Grade: B


No. 26: Jordan Hamilton (Traded to Denver Nuggets)

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    Projected Stats: 6.7 points, 1.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 3.5 points, 0.3 assists, 1.8 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 16.3 PER, 0.0 WS, 93 ORtg, 104 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Since the Denver Nuggets players seem to have gone on a mass exodus overseas with no hope of returning, Jordan Hamilton is currently looking like the starting shooting guard for the Nuggets unless they sign a player in free agency. 

    That said, I'd bet on restricted free-agent Aaron Afflalo re-signing with the team and taking over that starting job. I'm going to assume that Hamilton winds up as the primary backup this season. 

    Skill Set

    Jordan Hamilton is a tremendous scorer, even if he doesn't have the speed or athleticism to play in the same manner that he did while a member of the Texas Longhorns. Against the bigger, faster and stronger defenders of the NBA, Hamilton is going to have to rely more on his jump shot, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

    Hamilton's only other elite skill is his rebounding ability, which should translate well from the college game to the professional level. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Well, Jordan Hamilton most assuredly has not been a primary backup this season as he's only received 49 minutes total over the eight games he's appeared in with the Denver Nuggets. 

    While the shooting guard has been efficient while on the court, the sample size is too small to make any sort of judgments this far. 

    Grade: C+

No. 25: MarShon Brooks (Traded to New Jersey Nets)

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    Projected Stats: 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 14.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 15.6 PER, 0.8 WS, 103 ORtg, 112 ORtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Personally, I'd like to see MarShon Brooks starting from the get-go for the New Jersey Nets. 

    With only Anthony Morrow in the way at the shooting guard position, there's a strong chance that the former Providence star finds his name announced more often than not during his rookie season. 

    Skill Set

    I almost feel as though I have a personal attachment to MarShon Brooks after calling him tremendously underrated going into his senior season and then watching as he shot up the draft boards. He's still underrated. 

    Why? Well, Brooks has an incredible knack for scoring, as he proved by averaging 24.6 points per game during his senior season. With his 6'5" frame, he also manages to pull down a whole lot of rebounds for someone his size. 

    There's a lot to love and not a lot to dislike about Brooks' game, especially now that he has Deron Williams feeding the ball to him. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    MarShon Brooks was having a great season before he went down for a brief time with ankle and Achilles tendon problems. Since then, he's been struggling to regain his pre-injury form. 

    But before the unfortunate happenings, Brooks was up there with Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio near the top of the rookie leaderboard. It's hard to watch him and not imagine a Kobe Bryant lite. 

    Grade: A

No. 24: Reggie Jackson (Traded to Oklahoma City Thunder)

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    Projected Stats: 1.6 points, 0.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 3.7 points, 1.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 10.7 PER, 0.2 WS, 92 ORtg, 103 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    I didn't understand this pick at all when it was made. The Oklahoma City Thunder are absolutely loaded at the guard position. 

    Russell Westbrook is an All-Star-caliber point guard while the defensive skills of Thabo Sefolosha and offensive talents of James Harden combine to form a great duo at shooting guard. With Nate Robinson and others already coming off the bench, there really isn't much of a place for Reggie Jackson to fit in. 

    Skill Set

    A very quick and athletic guard, Jackson has gotten by thus far based solely on his physical attributes. His ball-handling, shooting and passing skills are all sub-par. 

    Essentially, Jackson is a slightly worse clone of Westbrook when he was first coming out of UCLA. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    As excepted, Jackson has struggled immensely on the offensive end of the ball while performing admirably in limited action on defense. The guard is only shooting 34 percent from the field.

    His counting stats are boosted by the unexpected injury to backup guard Eric Maynor, but his rate stats are just about in line with expectations. 

    Grade:

No. 23: Nikola Mirotic (Traded to Chicago Bulls)

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    Projected Stats: N/A

    Actual Stats: N/A

    Advanced Stats: N/A

    Nikola Mirotic has been playing with Real Madrid during the 2011-2012 NBA season. 

    Grade: Incomplete

No. 22: Kenneth Faried (Traded to Denver Nuggets)

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    Projected Stats: 6.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 7.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 21.4 PER, 0.9 WS, 117 ORtg, 99 DRtg 

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    With Kenyon Martin playing in China, Kenneth Faried should be a member of a power forward rotation that includes Danilo Gallinari and Al Harrington. 

    While the former Morehead State superstar won't get starter's minutes, he'll be on the court quite a bit. 

    Skill Set

    Although he's not quite as much of a specialist as someone like Reggie Evans, Faried's calling card is definitely rebounding. There's no doubt about that for college basketball's all-time leading board-grabber. 

    Faried's offensive game is as raw as an uncooked steak. He scored primarily through put-back dunks and alley-oops. While that flew at Morehead State, it won't to the same extent in the NBA. 

    Fortunately for the undersized big man, rebounding is one skill that translates very well from one level to another. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    There's a solid chance that Kenneth Faried develops into a future star. After all, he's having a remarkably efficient season on offense, become a terrific defender in limited action and already helped to produce the fourth-best play of the still-young NBA season.

    Amazingly enough, Faried has put together the aforementioned numbers in only 16.2 minutes per contest. He's recently become the starter for the Denver Nuggets, and his stats are only going to climb.

    Grade:

No. 21: Nolan Smith (Portland Trail Blazers)

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    Projected Stats: 7.2 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 1.7 points, 0.9 assists, 0.7 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 3.3 PER, -0.3 WS, 71 ORtg, 101 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    The Portland Trail Blazers knew what they were doing when they drafted Nolan Smith, and I have to assume they are banking on him being a consistent player of the bench for the duration of his time with the team. 

    Smith should begin his days in Portland filling that exact role. He can play at either guard spot, as he proved when Kyrie Irving went down with an injured toe, and he'll likely back up both starting guards. 

    Skill Set

    Smith is more reliable than anything else. His build and lack of elite athleticism will prevent him from becoming a star, but he does too many things well to fail in the NBA. 

    His crossover borders on nasty, and he can create shots competently for both himself and his teammates. Smith, who I believe was the most impressive player in the nation during last year's regular season at the collegiate level, proved that he can play both on and off the ball. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Although Nolan Smith has been great on defense during limited action for the Portland Trail Blazers, he's arguably been one of the worst offensive players in the entire NBA. 

    Smith is shooting just 26 percent from the field and has only 17 assists to match up against his turnovers. To be fair, the first-year combo guard from Duke has only played 126 minutes over 19 games, but he's not exactly earning more playing time yet. 

    Grade: F

No. 20: Donatas Motiejunas (Traded to Houston Rockets)

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    Projected Stats: N/A

    Actual Stats: N/A

    Advanced Stats: N/A

    Donatas Motiejunas is not playing in the NBA during the 2011-2012 season. 

    Grade: Incomplete

No. 19: Tobias Harris (Traded to Milwaukee Bucks)

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    Projected Stats: 9.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.4 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 5.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.4 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 18.8 PER, 0.6 WS, 110 ORtg, 105 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Tobias Harris found himself in a great situation as the Milwaukee Bucks needed a forward and drafted one. I'd expect for him to log solid minutes from the start. 

    Skill Set

    A hard-working gym rat, Harris is going to listen to whatever his coach has to tell him and strive to become the best player he can possibly be. I know that's technically what we say about every NBA player, but I really and truly mean it with Harris. 

    The former Tennessee Volunteer is a very cerebral player with great versatility from the forward spot. I like his chances of succeeding at the next level. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    Tobias Harris has only played in 19 games and has received just 11 minutes of action in each one of those contests. That makes Harris' numbers a little bit more impressive. 

    He's been an efficient shooter in all three facets: from the field in general, from behind the three-point line and at the charity stripe. The former Tennessee Volunteer could stand to improve his defense a little bit, but I'm not going to beat him up too much there. 

    Grade: B

No. 18: Chris Singleton (Washington Wizards)

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    Projected Stats: 4.3 points, 0.3 assists, 2.1 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 3.9 points, 0.6 assists, 2.8 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 7.9 PER, 0.4 WS, 93 ORtg, 105 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Chris Singleton will serve as a backup forward and will see the court early and often thanks to his incredible defensive prowess.

    He won't start over Rashard Lewis and Jan Vesely will likely play before him, but Singleton will definitely find his way off the bench.

    Skill Set

    It's all about defense.

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Chris Singleton has been solid but by no means spectacular on the defensive end of the court. He's been a lockdown defender at times, but he still has a tendency to gamble for steals a little bit too often and that leaves an already porous Washington Wizards even more exposed. 

    The former Florida State Seminole has the ability to make up for his defensive lapses on the offensive end of the court, but so far, he's finding iron way more than net with a 37.7 percent mark from the field. 

    Grade: C

No. 17: Iman Shumpert (New York Knicks)

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    Projected Stats: 2.6 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.5 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 10.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 10.2 PER, 0.5 WS, 87 ORtg, 99 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Iman Shumpert was a very interesting selection for the New York Knicks. David Stern relished the opportunity to announce that Shumpert was not in attendance as the entire fanbase tried to decide whether or not this was a giant "Eff you" from Donnie Walsh, who was serving his last days as the president of the organization. 

    Now that he's on the team though, Shumpert is going to have to struggle for playing time. With Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Bill Walker and Roger Mason all already comprising the shooting guard rotation and Chauncey Billups entrenched as the starting point guard, Shumpert is going to have to make a huge impression to earn his minutes. 

    Skill Set

    Shumpert posted a 42" vertical leap at the NBA draft combine—a number that was unmatched in this year's draft class and only topped by Nate Robinson and Vince Carter in recent memory. 

    He's tremendously athletic, and his 6'5" frame helps him make his living on defense, but Shumpert is a poor shooter and quite prone to making bad decisions on the court. That's a problem for a point guard. 

    It wouldn't surprise me to see the former Georgia Tech guard to wind up in the D-League for at least part of the season. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Thanks to the departure of Chauncey Billups and Roger Mason, Iman Shumpert has received quite a bit of playing time during his rookie season, and he continues to improve on both ends of the ball.

    The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket is a terrible shooter at this point in his career, but he doesn't let that stop him from jacking up attempt after attempt, making him a bit of a liability on defense. But Shumpert has already blossomed into the New York Knicks' best perimeter defender and deserves a lot of credit for that.

    Grade:

No. 16: Nikola Vucevic (Philadelphia 76ers)

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    Projected Stats: 8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 6.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.6 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 18.1 PER, 1.5 WS, 108 ORtg, 93 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    When your starting center is the incredibly soft Spencer Hawes and you draft a legitimate seven-footer with talent, you should probably play the new guy. 

    Such is the case for the Philadelphia 76ers and Nikola Vucevic. 

    Skill Set

    Although he lacks athleticism and lateral speed, Vucevic has the size and skill necessary to be a standout center down the road. 

    He averaged a double-double at USC during his junior season and really doesn't do anything poorly. He's just not that great at anything either. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    Nikola Vucevic unfortunately missed a good bit of time due to a few various injuries, but he's finally getting some run as we head into the break. The seven-footer has played in 23 games and started five of them, playing an average of 16.7 minutes per contest.

    While on the court though, there's no doubt that this former USC Trojan has earned his minutes and proven that he belongs at the professional level.

    Grade: B+ 

No. 15: Kawhi Leonard (Traded to San Antonio Spurs)

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    Projected Stats: 6.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 6.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 14.2 PER, 1.9 WS, 107 ORtg, 100 DRtg 

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    I don't ever question anything that the San Antonio Spurs choose to do, so I have to assume that the team will find some way to use Kawhi Leonard in its rotation. 

    He'll likely be about the eighth man in the rotation when the season begins, possibly working his way slightly up in the order off the bench. 

    Skill Set

    I was quite sour on Leonard before the draft, but when the Spurs traded for him, I had to start reevaluating. Leonard's best feature is the size of his hands, but that may also come back to bite him as some think they're too big for him to ever develop a consistent shot. 

    With great athleticism and a versatile game, Leonard does everything well and nothing spectacularly. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    Thanks to his all-around offensive game and his skills in post defense, Kawhi Leonard has carved out a rather large role for himself on the second-best team in the Western Conference. He's played 23.4 minutes per contest, and that doesn't look likely to change any time in the near future. 

    Leonard still needs to improve his perimeter defense and passing abilities, but he's been remarkably careful with the ball and remained fairly efficient when he chooses to shoot. 

    Grade: A-

No. 14: Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets)

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    Projected Stats: 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 1.7 points, 0.7 rebounds, 0.0 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: -3.9 PER, -0.1 WS, 65 ORtg, 113 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Marcus Morris is NBA-ready enough that he should be able to log some quality minutes during his rookie season, despite the Houston Rockets' logjam in the frontcourt. 

    Morris can capably play either small forward or power forward, which will help him as he competes with Chase Budinger, Terrence Williams, Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson and fellow rookie Chandler Parsons for playing time. 

    Skill Set

    Morris is a very tough, physical player with an extremely well-rounded game that should translate well to the professional level. He needs to add some post moves, but his ability to shoot from mid-range and downtown should scare his opponents. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    As a lottery pick, getting sent down to the D-League after three games is not good. It's even worse when you don't make it back up by the All-Star break, and you're stuck with a sub-zero PER. 

    Grade: F

No. 13: Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns)

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    Projected Stats: 7.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 8.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 14.0 PER, 1.2 WS, 99 ORtg, 101 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    The Phoenix Suns need to find a way to get Channing Frye on the court, even if it means shifting him away from his natural spot at center to power forward. Other than that, no one really stands in the way of Markieff Morris, who is already ready to make an impact in the NBA. 

    Skill Set

    Morris was one of the safest picks in this year's draft because of that NBA-readiness and the fact that Phoenix knew exactly what they were getting when they selected him. 

    The forward from Kansas possesses skills in every single aspect of the game and should eventually settle in as either a mediocre starter or valuable bench contributor. 

    He's not someone you'll ever want on your fantasy team, but he's going to prove himself quite worthy of a spot in any lineup. 

    All-Star Break

    Markieff Morris got off to a hot start at the beginning of his NBA career, even becoming a starter for a brief period. He's cooled down as of late, but he's still proving that he's going to be a productive player for a long time. 

    And yes, I actually owned him on a fantasy team for a brief period. 

    Grade: A-

No. 12: Alec Burks (Utah Jazz)

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    Projected Stats:  7.8 points, 1.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 5.8 points, 0.6 assists, 1.7 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 14.6 PER, 0.5 WS, 103 ORtg, 110 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Alec Burks will most likely start the season as the primary backup to Raja Bell at the shooting guard position.

    That said, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see the former Colorado Buffalo take over for the 35-year-old shooting guard early on in the season. 

    Skill Set

    I wouldn't even bother trying to hide it. I absolutely love Alec Burks. 

    If there's any sleeper pick for Rookie of the Year not named MarShon Brooks, it's Burks. 

    While he's a notoriously poor jump shooter, Burks is 6'6" and athletic. Plus his ball-handling skills and passing abilities enable teams to play him at point guard and create gigantic mismatches. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Dear Utah Jazz, please play Alec Burks a lot more. Thank you. 

    Grade: B-

No. 11: Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)

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    Projected Stats: 4.3 points, 1.1 assists, 0.8 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 7.3 points, 1.3 assists, 1.5 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 12.2 PER, 0.4 WS, 101 ORtg, 111 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    I have no idea how Klay Thompson is going to make it onto the court regularly unless the Golden State Warriors make a trade prior to the start of the season. After all, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry have the starting guard spots on lockdown. 

    Thompson will probably serve as the backup shooting guard, but Ellis plays a whole lot of minutes on a nightly basis. In fact, his 40.3 minutes per game was tops in the league for a second straight season. 

    Skill Set

    Klay Thompson is a sharp-shooting big guard with limited athleticism. In other words, he's the prototypical Warrior. And that right there is exactly why they shouldn't have drafted him. 

    Not exactly known for his defensive prowess, Thompson may not even get a chance to fully utilize his skills. There just aren't enough shots to go around in Golden State. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Klay Thompson has quite possibly been the best spot-up shooter in the entire NBA as a rookie. That's how good his shooting ability is on the rare chances that he best to utilize it. 

    Although he's clearly a defensive liability, that isn't much of a problem for the Golden State Warriors. This young guard appears to be a keeper. 

    Grade: B+


No. 10: Jimmer Fredette (Traded to Sacramento Kings)

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    Projected Stats: 14.1 points, 3.1 assists, 2.4 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 8.0 points, 2.0 assists, 1.2 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 11.0 PER, 0.2 WS, 100 ORtg, 113 ORtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    He's Jimmer Fredette. 

    The Sacramento Kings will find time to see if his success in college can carry over to the professional level. He's too much of a cult hero to avoid doing so. 

    Skill Set

    I feel like everyone knows this by now, but here we go anyway. 

    Jimmer can shoot. And by that, I mean Jimmer can shoot as well as anyone we've seen come out of college in the last decade. 

    Questions remain about his defensive ability and athleticism, but no one denies that he's a talented scorer. No player is more divisive than Fredette in this year's draft class. Some expect him to completely flame out, and others expect him to become a superstar. 

    Because he'll be competing with Tyreke Evans, and, if he returns, Marcus Thornton (both basketball black holes) for shots and he won't be able to eat away at the shot clock like he did at BYU, I have to temper my expectations. But I still believe that Jimmer will succeed. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    Yeahhhh...I was wrong about this one. 

    Jimmer Fredette has been absolutely horrific so far this season, going from starter to the dreaded "Coach's Decision: Did Not Play" in almost no time at all. He's only shot 37 percent from the field, and his decision making hasn't been much better, if you could quantify it. 

    I still think that Jimmer is too talented to continue playing like this, but only time will tell. 

    Grade: F

No. 9: Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats)

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    Projected Stats: 15.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 13.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 15.4 PER, 0.4 WS, 96 ORtg, 110 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Even with D.J. Augustin serving as the established point guard for the Charlotte Bobcats, there's no way that Michael Jordan's team doesn't get this talented small guy out on the court as much as possible. With Augustin seeming to have worn out his welcome in Bobcat country, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Walker starting sooner rather than later. 

    Skill Set

    Walker simply knows how to put the ball in the hoop and will his team to victory. With tremendous speed and athleticism, Walker makes up for his lack of height with his agility and ease at getting to the basket. 

    But more than anything else, Walker has a huge heart. I bet against him during the Big East Conference tournament and again during the NCAA tournament. Both times he proved me wrong. 

    I don't want to make that mistake again. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Kemba Walker is getting more playing time lately, and he's been making his minutes count as he's scoring at a much higher level and finally shooting the basketball with efficiency. 

    The diminutive guard has struggled to control the ball in the transition game, and for some reason, the Charlotte Bobcats insist on exposing his weakness as the primary ball-handler in pick-and-roll situations. But besides those two areas, Walker has been explosive enough to average in double-figures as a rookie. 

    Grade: B-

No. 8: Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons)

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    Projected Stats: 11.8 points, 4.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 12.4 points, 3.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 11.2 PER, 0.1 WS, 94 ORtg, 110 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    I wouldn't be that surprised to see Brandon Knight starting for the Detroit Pistons on day one. A better question is what position he'll be lining up at.

    But most likely, he and fellow combo-guard Rodney Stuckey will comprise the Pistons' starting backcourt for the vast majority of the season. 

    Skill Set

    Knight is a talented scorer with a knack for knocking down shots in the clutch, as he proved during his breakout performance in this past edition of March Madness. While his decision making skills leave a little bit to be desired, the former Kentucky Wildcat has many of the skills that you look for in a successful guard. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    It's way too early to start calling Brandon Knight a bust, but he hasn't exactly been anything to write home about quite yet. 

    Knight is averaging 2.7 turnovers per game, has struggled from the field with a 40.4 field goal percentage and hasn't been anything special on the defensive end of the court. 

    Grade: C-

No. 7: Bismack Biyombo (Traded to Charlotte Bobcats)

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    Projected Stats: 5.0 points, 0.2 assists, 4.9 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 3.6 points, 0.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 11.3 PER, 0.2 WS, 90 ORtg, 104 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    DeSagana Diop will be the starter at center, but there's a chance that the Charlotte Bobcats could find themselves out of the playoff race early and want to see what they have in Bismack Biyombo. He'll start at least a handful of games this season.  

    Skill Set

    I'm going to quote exactly what I wrote when the Charlotte Bobcats drafted Biyombo here: 

    "A 6’9” Congolese center with a 7’7” wingspan, Bismack Biyombo has the size necessary to make an immediate impact as a shot-blocker in the NBA.

    Now, couple that size with ridiculous athleticism and great instincts plus incredible quickness for a player his size, and you’ll see why Biyombo has all the tools necessary to become one of the greatest low-post defenders this league has seen in quite some time.

    As for offense though, well, that’s an entirely different story. Biyombo may be one of the worst offensive prospects to ever be considered a first-round talent.

    Once he has played for longer and gains some basketball IQ, Biyombo could justify his draft position, but it will take some time. I still think that will happen though if his triple-double at the Nike Hoops Summit, the first ever at that game, is any indication. 

    When it was all said and done, Biyombo was drafted by the Sacramento Kings and then traded to the Charlotte Bobcats. 

    He is going to make an immediate impact on defense, but he won't be able to score yet. Without Stephen Jackson, I am no longer sure where the offense is going to come from in Charlotte."

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Bismack Biyombo is finally receiving some action, and it's paying dividends for the inept Charlotte Bobcats on one of the two sides of the ball they struggle with. Oh yeah, there are only two.

    The big man's 7.0 block percentage is fourth-best in the NBA, and his offensive game is slowly improving.  

    Grade: B


No. 6: Jan Vesely (Washington Wizards)

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    Projected Stats: 8.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 3.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 7.7 PER, 0.1 WS, 91 ORtg, 106 DRtg 

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Because of the fact that the Wizards seem to want to be the NBA's most exciting team, I expect Vesely to get a good portion of the available minutes. 

    Skill Set

    The Czech version of Blake Griffin according to some, Vesely has enough athleticism and dunking ability (and flair) to earn the moniker "The Dunking Ninja" before every playing on American soil. 

    He's well known for his fiery intensity but needs to add some strength so he can bang around with the NBA's big boys as much as he'd like to. With a smooth shooting stroke and a 6'11" frame, he could be a very successful small forward down the road. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    A thigh injury right before the preseason started kept Jan Vesely from earning a role with the Washington Wizards immediately. That, coupled with the dysfunction that runs amuck in the nation's capitol, has prevented him from ever developing much of a rhythm. 

    Even though Vesely is shooting 50 percent from the field, he's turned the ball over more than he's come up with assists and his offensive rating of 91 is extremely lacking. It doesn't help that he's been defenseless on the other side of the ball. 

    Grade: C-

No. 5: Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)

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    Projected Stats: N/A

    Actual Stats: N/A

    Advanced Stats: N/A

    Jonas Valanciunas will not be joining the Toronto Raptors until the 2012-2013 NBA season.   

    Grade: Incomplete

No. 4: Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers)

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    Projected Stats: 6.5 points, 0.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 7.2 points, 0.2 assists, 5.5 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 14.1 PER, 0.3 WS, 93 ORtg, 103 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    The Cleveland Cavaliers have nothing to lose (except for a lot of games) so they're probably going to put Tristan Thompson on the court quite a bit to see what they've got in him. 

    He'll serve as Antawn Jamison's primary backup, but expect to see him on the court a lot for the Cavs.

    Skill Set

    Honestly, I don't even think that Thompson should have been a lottery pick, much less go at No. 4.

    He's incredibly limited outside of the paint, can't shoot free throws (and even that is generous) and is kind of a project player.

    Thompson does have significant upside though with his incredible wingspan and athleticism. 

    All-Star Break Summary

    I was a bit of a downer when it came to Tristan Thompson before the season started and my opinion hasn't really swayed all that much. But to be fair, he has exceed my expectations thus far even if he hasn't lived up to the ones traditionally associated with No. 4 picks. 

    The power forward is still very offensively limited as he's hit 57.5 percent of his shots at the rim, 34 percent from three to nine feet, 23.5 percent from 10 to 15 feet and 33 percent from 16 to 23 feet. 

    Grade: B

No. 3: Enes Kanter (Utah Jazz)

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    Projected Stats: 7.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 5.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.1 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 16.3 PER, 0.9 WS, 104 ORtg, 104 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    The Utah Jazz didn't use the No. 3 pick on Enes Kanter to watch him rot on the bench. They will likely find multiple ways to insert him into the lineup by letting him serve as backup to Al Jefferson at the center position and co-backup to Paul Millsap at power forward along with Derrick Favors. 

    Skill Set

    We didn't get to see Kanter ply his trade at the collegiate level at all thanks to the NCAA ruling him ineligible and taking him off the Kentucky Wildcats roster. 

    But Kanter is a strong center with good footwork and quality moves and shooting skills. He doesn't have elite athleticism or any go-to moves in the post, so he'll struggle to score at times, but Kanter is still very talented. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Enes Kanter is finally starting to come into his own. 

    The first-year big-man's rebounding abilities have been off the charts, and he's been one of the best ball screen and pick-and-roll defenders in the league. His 5.3 rebounds per game may not be that impressive, but remember that he's playing only 14.7 minutes per game. 

    You'd be much better served looking at Kanter's 16.4 ORB% or 25.3 DRB%.

    Grade: A

No. 2: Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves)

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    Projected Stats: 13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists per game

    Actual Stats: 7.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists per game

    Advanced Stats: 13.4 PER, 1.1 WS, 100 ORtg, 102 DRtg 

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    The Minnesota Timberwolves found themselves in a very interesting position on draft day. They couldn't manage to trade down and were "stuck" taking the ultra-talented Arizona Wildcats forward, despite already having a lot of talent at the position already. 

    Derrick Williams is too good to keep on the bench, but he plays a very similar game to Michael Beasley and the glut of forwards on the roster will limit his minutes. 

    Skill Set

    Williams is a bit of a tweener, but his athleticism and shooting ability should allow him to succeed at the small forward position that he has made quite clear he wants to play. Efficiency is the word that I most associate with Williams after he shot 59.5 percent from the field and 56.8 percent from downtown during his sophomore season. 

    He's as NBA ready as they come. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    During the weeks leading up to the 2011 NBA draft, I kept insisting that Derrick Williams was a little bit overrated and would never develop into anything more than an upper-tier starter who averaged 15 points and seven rebounds per game. 

    Well, Williams hasn't even shown that much potential during his rookie season on the Minnesota Timberwolves. After an early highlight reverse slam on an alley-oop pass from Ricky Rubio, Williams has sort of fallen off the NBA map. 

    Grade: C


No. 1: Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)

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    Projected Stats: 12.3 points, 4.8 assists, 2.0 rebounds per game

    Actual Stats: 18.3 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game

    Advanced Stats: 21.2 PER, 2.4 WS, 110 ORtg, 108 DRtg

    Preseason Scouting Report

    Playing Time

    Do you really think that the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers are going to sit the No. 1 overall pick for too long each game? 

    Yeah, I didn't think so. 

    Skill Set

    Kyrie Irving may not have the explosiveness of Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook, but he's still a threat to score whenever he wants to because of his confidence, pure shooting ability and driving skills. Irving also has great court vision and should be able to hit open men on the court while squeezing the ball into the tight spaces that he needs to. 

    The only question is how many shots his teammates can hit for him. 

     

    All-Star Break Summary

    Although he's prone to the occasional defensive lapse, Kyrie Irving has been nothing short of sensational during his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

    Somehow, someway, Irving has performed well enough throughout the game with his dizzying array of offensive moves to actually have the Cavs on the brink of contention for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.   

    Grade: A+

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