NBA Draft: Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker and the 10 Most Explosive Prospects

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2011

NBA Draft: Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker and the 10 Most Explosive Prospects

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young Cougars sits in the locker room after defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    The 2011 NBA Draft class isn't considered great by many, but it does feature some extremely explosive prospects such as Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker.

    This class may not be quite as high-profile as others, but they'll almost certainly be better than the 2010 group.

    If some of these prospects fall into the right situations in the NBA, they could be very productive as rookies (and develop into solid, if not great players).

    Here are the 10 most explosive prospects who will be selected in the 2011 NBA Draft...

10: Ben Hansbrough

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 18:  Ben Hansbrough #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after scoring against the Akron Zips in the first half during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on March 18, 2011 in C
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Position: Point Guard

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 203 lbs

    Key Stats: 18.4 points, 4.3 assists, 44 percent from three-point range

    NBA Comparison: Chauncey Billups/Tyler Hansbrough

    Good Fit: Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks

    A lot of people felt Kemba Walker was snubbed when Ben Hansbrough won this season's Big East Player of the Year Award.

    Kemba received a lot more press throughout the year, but Hansbrough was the better all-around player (especially during conference play).

    He was much more efficient than Walker, shooting a significantly better percentage from the field and from three point range, with a slightly better percentage from the free-throw line.

    Plus, he led Notre Dame to a 14-4 Big East record, while Kemba Walker led Connecticut to a 9-9 mark in the conference.

    Hansbrough has showed his explosiveness in several games this year.  He went over 20 points in 15 games this year and topped 30 twice.

    His signature game came against Villanova and the supposedly more explosive Corey Fisher. Hansbrough went off for 30 points and 10 assists back on February 28.

    NBA Comparison: Hansbrough isn't an easy prospect to find a spot-on NBA comparison for.  In terms of size and game, he's a bit like New York's Chauncey Billups.  

    The wild card with Hansbrough is his attitude.  The only player in the league who compares to him in that way is his own brother.

    Good Fit: The Pacers are a perfect fit for him.  He'd be a very solid backup for Darren Collison, and the story of the Hansbrough brothers playing together would be bring great PR buzz.

9: Jared Sullinger

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    CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 20: Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts after a play in the first half against the George Mason Patriots during the third of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 20, 2011 in Cleve
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Position: Power Forward

    Height: 6'9"

    Weight: 280 lbs

    Key Stats: 17 points, 10.1 rebounds, 54 percent from the field

    NBA Comparison: Zach Randolph/Kevin Love

    Good Fit: Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards

    Explosive may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of a prospect that weighs nearly 300 pounds.

    In terms of production, the adjective suits Sullinger well.  He's had nine games in which he scored 20 and went off for forty in a game back in December.

    His great lower body strength helps him control the paint on offense and finish at the rim.

    NBA Comparison: Sullinger has a wide body and great strength, but he doesn't use those assets as a crutch.  He's very skilled around the rim.  

    At the next level, he could dominate in a way very similar to Zach Randolph in a couple years.

    Good Fit: Cleveland can upgrade at every position.  So if they land the top overall pick, they'll take whoever they think is the best all-around player.

    He would also be a great addition to the young core of John Wall and Nick Young in Washington.

8: Nolan Smith

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  Nolan Smith #2 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks the ball in the second half while taking on the Hampton Pirates during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 18, 2011 in Ch
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Position: Point Guard

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 185 lbs

    Key Stats: 20.9 points, 5.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds

    NBA Comparison: Rodney Stuckey

    Good Fit: Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat

    Coming into his senior season, we all expected Nolan Smith to have to share Duke's backcourt duties with one of the top freshman in the country in Kyrie Irving.

    When Irving went down with a toe injury, Nolan Smith became the clear leader of his team and led the Blue Devils to a one seed in the tournament.

    He showed the ability to score in a variety of ways, distribute the ball and defend.  

    He isn't often compared to guys like Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette in terms of explosiveness, but he's shown that he is on several occasions. Smith had 20 games with at least 20 points and topped 30 four times. 

    His skills on the court are extremely good, but his biggest asset is his leadership ability. He may be a rookie next year, but he'll come into the league as a more mature player than a bunch of guys who are already there.

    NBA Comparison: Smith is a fantastic scorer who can distribute when he needs to.  He has a great midrange game and can get to the rim as well.

    Good Fit: The Bulls already have a few Dukies on the roster and Nolan Smith would fit in perfectly as a backup point guard to Derrick Rose.  He could also play some shooting guard for them as well.

    Miami could use just about anything at point guard right now.  And Smith has the attitude and maturity to handle what would obviously be a difficult situation for a rookie in Miami.

    He can step in and start immediately for the Heat, which would mean he'd have to deal with three of the biggest egos in basketball for large stretches of the game.  He may be the only rookie capable of doing that.

7: Brandon Knight

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 19:  Brandon Knight #12 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 19, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J.
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Position: Point Guard

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 185 lbs

    Key Stats: 17.4 points, 4.2 assists, 38 percent from three-point range

    NBA Comparison: Jason Terry/Tyreke Evans

    Good Fit: New York Knicks, Portland Trailblazers

    John Calipari has recruited one standout freshman point guard after another. In fact, having a Calipari one-and-done point guard in the first round has become a staple of the NBA Draft.

    There was Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall. Now, Brandon Knight is continuing the tradition.

    Knight actually had more draft hype before he started his college career, but his stock has slipped a bit this year. However, he's resurrected some of that hype lately.

    He's extremely athletic and explosive; plushe's long for a point guard.

    NBA Comparison: Knight is a bit of a combo guard who uses his quickness and handle to help him get to the rim and score in a variety of ways.

    He's like Terry in terms of his size, handle and potential, but he's like Evans in terms of the fact that they're both new-school Calipari point guards.

    Good Fit: He'll likely be taken around the middle of the first round.  A couple teams in that area that need a point guard are the Knicks and Blazers.  

    They both have aging point guards who will need to be replaced in a couple years.  And it would help Knight to be tutored by someone like Chauncey Billups or Andre Miller.

6: Alec Burks

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 11:  Alec Burks #10 of the Colorado Buffaloes drives with the ball against the Kansas Jayhawks during their semifinal game in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 11, 2011 in Kansas City
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 185 lbs

    Key Stats: 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds

    NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy

    Good Fit: Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks

    Colorado may have been the biggest NCAA Tournament snub this year, which might motivate Burks to stay for one more season.

    However, I still expect him to declare for this June's draft and be a first round pick.  

    He can score in a variety of ways, but right now he's most effective as a slasher. He's long, athletic and plays smart.

    NBA Comparison: Burks is a great all-around college player, but will probably be lucky to crack the lottery in 2011.  Teams that pass on him may be sorry.

    He has the prototypical NBA wing's body, and he can score, rebound and handle the ball.  Don't be surprised if he steps in and produces right away in much the same way Brandon Roy did for Portland.

    Good Fit: Everyone knows the Bulls biggest need is at shooting guard, but they won't make a selection in this draft until the end of the first round.  

    That would be a bit of a fall for Burks, but if he's still available the Bulls should snag him.

    Dallas could also use a wing, whether or not they bring back Caron Butler.

5: Derrick Williams

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 20:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after defeating the Texas Longhorns 70-69 in the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 20, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Position: Small Forward

    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 210 lbs

    Key Stats: 19.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 61 percent from both the field and three-point range

    NBA Comparison: Michael Beasley

    Good Fit: Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz

    The biggest question regarding Williams is what position he'll play at the next level. His game would suggest power forward, but his size would suggest small forward.

    With perimeter skills and athleticism, he has the foundation needed to become a solid wing, but he still needs some work.

    He's an extremely efficient scorer, knows when to shoot and can explode at any moment.

    NBA Comparison: Williams is an incredible power forward at the college level, but simply doesn't have the body for that position in the NBA.

    He does possess the perimeter skills needed to make the switch to small forward.  Unfortunately for Michael Beasley, no one thought to permanently change his position until he arrived in Minnesota.

    NBA coaches won't make that same mistake with Williams.

    Good Fit: If Cleveland wants to try building around a small forward again, they could very well take Derrick Williams.

    Utah could also use a small forward as Andrei Kirilenko may not be back next season.

4: Kyrie Irving

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball in the second half while taking on the Hampton Pirates during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 18, 2011 in C
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Position: Point Guard

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 180 lbs

    Key Stats: 17 points, 4.7 assists, 49 percent from three-point range

    NBA Comparison: Chris Paul

    Good Fit: Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings

    Kyrie Irving may have well have been the best freshman in the country before he went down with a toe injury.

    He's explosive as both a scorer and a distributor and can get by just about any defender for a shot or the setup of a teammate.

    He's extremely quick and can shoot, pass and defend.

    NBA Comparison: A lightning-quick ACC point guard who can be an elite distributor and often plays close to the ground.  Sounds like Chris Paul to me.

    Good Fit: A lot of teams are building around point guards these days, and Cleveland may follow that trend with Irving.

    He could also join the young core of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento, and permanently move Evans to shooting guard (if that hasn't happened already).

3: Harrison Barnes

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts in the first half while taking on the Washington Huskies during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Position: Small Forward

    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 212 lbs

    Key Stats: 15.3 points, 5.9 rebounds

    NBA Comparison: Luol Deng

    Good Fit: Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz

    Prior to the start of this season, Barnes was most experts' No. 1 pick for 2011.  A few games into the season, he dropped out of the top 20 for most.

    Since ACC play began, Barnes has restored everyone's faith in his potential. He's pulled his scoring average up over 15 points per game and he has shown flashes of great range.

    The biggest boon to his draft stock was a 40-point explosion during an ACC Tournament game. He showed he could put up a ton of points in a hurry, and can do so in a variety of ways.

    NBA Comparison: Barnes is a very smooth scorer who can do a lot of things well on offense.  He can shoot and handle the ball, and his height makes him a difficult matchup for most wings.

    He could develop into a solid all-around forward like Luol Deng at the next level.

    Good Fit: Much like Derrick Williams, Harrison Barnes could be headed to a team with a need at small forward.

2: Kemba Walker

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    WASHINGTON - MARCH 19:  Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies goes in for a layup against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Verizon Center on March 19, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by N
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Position: Point Guard

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 172 lbs

    Key Stats: 23.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists

    NBA Comparison: Brandon Jennings

    Good Fit: Houston Rockets, New York Knicks

    He's undersized, has a score-first mentality and isn't very efficient. However, there is an "it" factor with Walker that has been huge in almost every Connecticut win this year.

    He's extremely confident, quick and has a knack for coming up big in important moments.

    He's had 10 games with at least 30 points and one game with 40. He can score from the outside, or by taking it to the rim.

    His explosiveness is evident in just about everything he does with the ball.

    NBA Comparison: Walker will be small in the NBA, even as a point guard, and he's a very streaky shooter.  But as long as he's in the game, he'll be shooting and scoring.

    His quickness, handle and swagger are all similar to what Jennings has.

    Good Fit: He would be an excellent backup for Kyle Lowry in Houston, and he could start in New York in a couple years (assuming they don't land Chris Paul or Deron Williams).

1: Jimmer Fredette

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young Cougars shoot against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmond
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Position: Point Guard

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 195 lbs

    Key Stats: 28.8 points, 4.3 assists, 46 percent from the field, 41 from three-point range

    NBA Comparison: Deron Williams/Stephen Curry

    Good Fit: Utah Jazz, New York Knicks

    It's hard to understand what else Jimmer Fredette must do to earn some real respect from NBA scouts and draft "experts." He continues to dominate individually and now has his team in the sweet sixteen.

    But somehow, his draft stock has been slowly slipping ever since BYU suspended Brandon Davies. If anything, the way Jimmer has carried the team since then should improve his prospects.

    Since they lost their only post threat, Fredette has averaged 34.7 points and 4.8 assists a game.  

    He was particularly impressive in a Mountain West Tournament game in which he scored 52 points while being sent to the line for just one free-throw attempt.

    And Saturday, during a round-of-32 blowout over Gonzaga, he scored 34 points, dished out six assists and hit seven of 12 three-point attempts.

    That's just his recent dominance. Obviously, he's been off the charts all year long. He's had 32 games with at least 20 points, 15 games with 30 points, and four games with 40 points.

    The only question about Fredette as an NBA player is whether or not he can play defense (and that has nothing to do with a lack of athleticism). To score 29 a game in the way he does requires elite athleticism.

    I'm not sure about his defense because he's simply not asked to play any at BYU. Coach Dave Rose seems willing to allow Jimmer to stand around at the top of a 3-2 zone all game.

    In terms of offense, Jimmer will be successful if he's given the chance.

    NBA Comparison: Fredette is a lot like Deron Williams in terms of his body and the way he handles and distributes the ball.  

    He'd easily average two or three more assists per game if he had more reliable scoring options around him.

    Plus, Jimmer himself has said that he patterns much of his game after D-Will.

    But that comparison doesn't say anything about his incredible range and general shooting ability. The only players in the league who are comparable in that regard are Stephen Curry or Eddie House.

    Good Fit: The Jazz is a team that almost makes too much sense for this player.  They need a point guard and he'd instantly be a fan favorite.

    He could also make a splash in Mike D'Antoni's system in New York.


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