Wednesday, May 18, 2011

2011 NBA Draft ends after Pick #15

By Jason Jones (posted by Rick Morris)

There is always some pessimism with any professional sports draft. This year's NFL draft was such that the reaches would outnumber the amount of adequate picks. This year's NBA Draft will be such that the talent pool falls off considerably after the fifteenth pick. Now I know, you're probably saying to yourself, "that is always the case.” What I am suggesting is that there is no Gilbert Arenas, no Carlos Boozer, no Manu Ginobili, and no Michael Redd in this draft. In almost every draft, there are at least one or two "diamonds in the rough.” Fat chance in this draft. The good news is that there is a reason for this. All of those "traditional" fans will enjoy this. Players like Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes are staying in school. Yeah, soak it in. No matter how you cut it, I see this as a bad thing. Sorry, NCAA diehards.
Not only should the draft end at pick 16, but you can take
ALL of the Euros that the prognosticators are heralding as first round grades and keep them. When it comes to Euros in the NBA draft, how many were truly worth the risk? Don't believe me? Enjoy the following...Ricky Rubio (2009), Danilo Galinari (2008), Yi Jianlian (2007), Andrea Bargnani (2006), Ike Diogu (2005) Andris Biedrins (2004), Darko Milicic (2003), Yao Ming (2002), Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002), and Pau Gasol (2001). Now, I'm not saying that none of those players were worth it; however, if you would take more than three of those ten, you're out of your mind. In any job, if the decision makers made their decisions on a 30% success rate (and that’s assuming that Bargnani is truly worth a top five pick) even once, they'd be fired. So why is it acceptable for NBA GMs to continue to take such huge gambles? Like any other sport, if there is that level of risk, take them later or let someone else pick them. So, of my top 15 players on the board, NONE OF THEM are Euros. I reiterate, if the prospect is not realistically considered to be the next Dirk Nowitzki...DON'T PICK THEM IN THE FIRST ROUND!!!

The final travesty of this equation of terror for NBA GMs is that, like in the NFL this year, the reaches and value picks will be absurd. Is the appropriate pick such a terrible concept? Everyone still believes that they will outthink all of the other guys picking. This has single-handedly ruined an aspect of the draft. In the last 20 years or so, there is no secret that betting on upside has been a critical factor for these drafts. At some level, there is a happy medium between upside and everything else. Upside is one part of a ten-part equation. There will be guys taken late in the first round (and God forbid if they let these guys fall to the second round) who are contributors. Are they All-Stars? Hell no. However, they will bring something to an NBA franchise where no less than a third and probably more likely half of the first-rounders will be complete non-factors. A few names to look out for in 2011 that are worth carrying on a roster while not being star-caliber players might be Shelvin Mack (PG-Butler), Jordan Williams (PF/C-Maryland), Kyle Singler (SG/SF-Duke), David Lighty (SG-Ohio St), Matt Howard (PF-Butler), Vernon Macklin (PF-Florida), and Jon Diebler (SG-Ohio St). Again, not star players, but worthwhile pieces.

Now for the final result. I only have 27 players who I think are worth the time. So the following is not a Mock Draft or a Top 32 Regardless of Position. It is quite frankly, my "Top 27 Worth a Damn". Keep in mind I reserve the right to alter the order at any point between now and draft night (I really don't see the top 6 changing).





Derrick Williams




Kyrie Irving




Kemba Walker




Marcus Morris




Brandon Knight




Alec Burks




Jimmer Fredette




Markieff Morris




Nolan Smith




Kawhi Leonard


San Diego St


Tristan Thompson




Chris Singleton


Florida St


Shelvin Mack




Jordan Williams




JuJuan Johnson




Tobias Harris




Jordan Hamilton




Tyler Honeycutt




Josh Shelby




Trey Thompkins




Kyle Singler




David Lighty


Ohio St


DeAndre Liggins




Gilbert Brown




Matt Howard




Vernon Macklin




Jon Deibler


Ohio St

Here are some highlights for anyone who needs some clarification.

1. Derrick Williams is the best player in the draft, period. In an era where teams want a dominant, powerful, slashing SF, he is the pick. Put it this way. With the exception of teams like the Heat, Knicks, Pacers, or the Hawks, I believe Derrick Williams is the number 1 pick for any other team.

2. Kyrie Irving, let the run on PGs begin. Irving is the best prototypical PG in this draft class. If the #2 team even flirts with trying to fill a long-term solution at PG, Irving is the guy. The other perspective would be that there are potentially six PGs in this draft who could start at some point in their career. The Jazz would be a prime example of a team who could trade down and still get their Deron Williams replacement. Question is, who would be willing to move up to three and why?

3. Kemba Walker. Call it tourney hype if you want to, Kemba is the balls. Ever since the offseason of 2004, we've all been searching for the next Dwayne Wade. Kemba may be that guy. This guy flat out gets after it. Take Williams and Irving out of the draft and Kemba Walker is on a tier all by himself. Consider that he can play the 1 or the 2 equally as well. Naturally, if a team is trying to put together a roster that is prototypical, then Kemba is not your ideal "pass first" point guard. But he will be a certifiable beast. He could be the face of the franchise or a major piece in a Celtics or Heat-like three headed monster.

4. Marcus Morris is the only big in my opinion who is worth a an early lottery look. I like the versatility and size. Make no mistake about it, the 2003 draft changed things forever. The next evolution is not a Lebron-like SF, its a Lebron like PF. Physical, athletic, and dominant without being a back-to-the-basket presence. Now, Morris is not Lebron. Morris is not even Blake Griffin. However, no question, Marcus Morris is the best big-man prospect.

5. Brandon Knight: last of the top 10 PGs who could be categorized as a pass-first PG. Court General. Now do not underestimate him. He can score at will. However, his place at the next level is not to carry the offense but to control it. Think Chauncey Billups (Detroit Chauncey) in the stat line, yet much more athletic.

6. Alec Burks is intriguing. He is big enough to be a prototype SG with some PG skills. At Colorado, he did whatever was required of him positionally. At the next level, he will have to pick a position. There is a relative Catch-22. He is a very good scorer and size for SG with significant fundamental inadequacies and has the mind, athleticism, and room to grow into a very nice PG with mismatch potential. Which way he goes depends on what team drafts him.

7. Jimmer Ferdette, yeah, I went there. In any sport it doesn't become acceptable until it works. I did not accept the idea of Stephan Curry because of guys like JJ Redick. However, an undersized shooting guard with point guard skills can indeed get it done night in and night out. Even though, human interest normally should not play into the equation, in this case it should. Jimmer is a worker. There is no reason Jimmer should be in this position. His will and determination is a once-in-a-generation type attribute for an NBA player. Take the all-time comparisons. Michael had all-time talent and all-time will. Lebron has all time talent, will not so much. Kobe has both. (I'll spare you the remainder of this sidebar). Jimmer may not have the physical tools of a Kobe or Lebron, but he does have the will and determination, the rest can be taught. Dare I say, the Tim Tebow of the 2011 NBA Draft?

8. Markieff Morris may not be Robin Lopez, but he is also not his brother Marcus. He is still very much a lottery pick. The difference is, Marcus has the potential to be a the face of the franchise (on a bad franchise) whereas the ceiling on Markieff is just a potential "cornerstone". I like Markieff's game and style of play. He has the size to compete, at one inch and 10 pounds heavier than his brother. With all of that being said, he should not last beyond Sacramento at 7 or worst-case Golden State at 11.

9. Nolan Smith is the big upside pick of the lottery. Most mocks have Nolan Smith in the 20s. I am fine with that, and hopefully some smart GM will also appreciate the oversight. Nolan Smith has the upside to be the steal of the draft, as all-around offensive talent. He has the ability to GO OFF on offense and develop into a tenacious defender. Just go back to the tournament. On a team like Duke, the entire sporting world said the chances for Duke to win or lose came down to whether or not Smith could play. Like it or not, that says something.

10. Kawhi Leonard is where the value of this draft starts a downhill trend. I love his athleticism, but where do you place him? Is he Melo? Lebron? Rashard Lewis? I don't know if he's even in any of those conversations. Is he Rudy Gay? Josh Smith? Danny Granger? To be honest I don't think he's anywhere near any of those six. He may grow into a more prominent player, but for now, its going to take time.

I always advocate watching and getting submersed in the draft. I find it to be one of the greatest nights in sports (any draft regardless of sport), but let’s be realistic and go into this particular draft with our heads on straight. Jan Vesely is not the next Dirk and most of these players outside the top 10-15 are not the next anything. Euros may go early and at a great frequency. Guards may inhabit the top 20. There may be more trades that we think there should be. But make no mistake about it, this draft will not be truly judged for another 5+ years. And don't be surprised if the result is extremely underwhelming.

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