Blog Entry

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

Posted on: June 19, 2011 6:17 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2011 6:46 pm
Posted by Matt Moore

Let's face it. The NBA Draft is a crapshoot. There are obvious mistakes, which should be avoided. There are obvious reaches, which if they don't work out look terrible and if they do work out, earn management awards. You can have the top pick one year and net a Hall of Famer, and the next year you can have the top pick and net nothing more than a pick you're trying to unload a year later. "Always draft the big man" works, unless that big man is Hasheem Thabeet. "Best talent available" is a great ethos, unless you create a logjam on your team which frustrates all the players involved. And sometimes, there are just guys you need to be leery of before you say that name into the phone in Newark. 

Here's a brief list of guys who could wind up great but also could have higher odds at busting. Fear factor is on a scale of one to five, with one being "sure-fire lock" and five being "you may wind up burning jerseys or your favorite GM in effigy."

Jimmer Fredette

Fear Factor: 3

When the tournament ended and it came time to analyze The Jimmer's NBA prospects, the talk was mostly about Fredette's diminutive frame. Players of his prototype do not tend to translate well. The college game is great, it's just dramatically different than the NBA and players who succeed with the kind of gunning Fredette did in college don't necessarily make the leap. Then, the scrutiny was so high you had a backlash like a rubber band snapping back. "Jimmer's just a great basketball player." "Anyone who can play ball like that in college can play in the NBA." It went on and on. Fredette and his people helped out by taking a bold and aggressive approach, gunning for Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight in workouts and impressing based on expectations. The key being "based on expectations." By exceeding the poor showing people expected, Fredette has gained traction to rise up the ranks. It's not about getting higher than Knight or Walker, it's just about getting as high as he can.

But the same elements are there that have always been there. The limited size, length, athleticism, the unfamiliarity with running an offense, the inability to launch without a conscience, they're all still there as concerns for how he'll adapt. But Fredette has college star power and that can blind. Maybe Fredette will smoothly transition to a new role and never environment. But the concerns should still be there. Sometimes removing context is a good thing.

Bismack Biyombo

Fear Factor: 4

Super-athletic foreign big comes out of nowhere, ramps up a ton of hype, then goes to workouts and .... wah-wah. Biyombo has talked about leading the league in blocks and rebounds. Bravado is excellent. But it can also belie an effort to gain a foothold on something other than ability. Biyombo brings great length and athleticism but no polish or offensive repertoire. So he's kind of the anti-Jimmer. But players in Biyombo's mold can either be a revelation or a colossal bust. Just for comparison's sake, the last player similar to Biyombo in terms of physical nature was Thabeet.

Good luck with that.

Kemba Walker

Fear Factor: 3

Similar concerns as Fredette, only magically shorter.

When Walker measured in at 6-1 vs. the 5-11 many scouts had him pegged at, the phrase "See, he's not short at all!" was used. This despite the fact that he's still short, he just plays and seems shorter than he actually is. Walker has a tremendous scoring ability, but defensively there are going to be questions. There have been plenty of players of diminutive stature to make it in the NBA and even become borderline stars. But few of them have been drafted at Walker's projected position or with his expectations. Walker was the college player of the year for a reason. He was also kept out of the top ten for most of the year until the talent stampeded out at the end.

Josh Selby

Fear Factor: 5

Highly touted high school project clashes with established, respected coach which results in him not playing at all down the stretch, then somehow vaults up the rankings. We've seen this one before. Selby's performances at workouts early in the draft process at Impact in Las Vegas have helped land him back in the first round. But Selby showed little more than perimeter shooting during Kansas' season, and the fact he couldn't get along with Bill Self raises a number of flags. Selby could be the type of player who just landed in a bad situation for him, but he could also be a headcase without an all-around game. 

Donatas Motiejunas

Fear Factor: 5

Might not come over from Europe, questionable defensive ability, questionable rebounding effort, questionable basketball ability beyond size. Motiejunas has the whole bag of concerns in one Euro Center package. Stick away from this one. 


Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: June 20, 2011 4:00 am

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

*love* (with heavy sarcasm) the emphasis on defense re: Jimmer.  Yeah, you need defense to win at the higher levels in the NBA, but you can find a good, even a great defensive player in Round 2, or in the CBA.  You don't draft defense in Round 1, plain and simple.  In Round 1, you're looking for a difference maker most of the time, a guy who can put the ball in the hole come crunch time, against any defense.  Is Jimmer that guy?  If you look at last year's college performance, sure; but I think there's a better measure: how he played against the Olympic team as a scout player.  It was there, by his own admission, that he learned the "tricks of the trade" that allowed him to significantly elevate his game between 2009-10 and 2010-11.

To me, that speaks volumes.  One, he'll learn.  Two, he can play with those guys, even if not at such a high level as he did against the weak sisters of the WAC.  Three, by all accounts of the Olympians, he can pass and does so willingly.  Four, by all accounts everywhere, he has the work ethic that so many shooters/scorers do not--for example, Selby. 

Do I think Jimmer will be great?  No.  Do I think he should be a Top 5 pick?  No.  Probably not even top ten.  But the team that gets him mid-round is going to have a solid player, bordering on a star within a couple of years.  I see him as the kiind of player who, on a team like OKC, Orlando, or Chicago, will make the difference.  Each of those teams is missing a guy like Jimmer, who can make things happen offensively when Option 1 (Durant, Howard, Rose) is shut down.  He's Peja Stojkavich, Ben Gordon, perhaps even Ray Allen; none of them could defend my mother or would care to most of the time, but they made the difference in the clutch.

As for the rest of these guys:  the GM that drafts them had better have a good pension plan.  I know it's a weak draft, but there have to be better risks than Selby (who reminds me oh-so-much of Brandon Rush), or either of the unknown bigs.  I don't have enough time to look at all of the Darkos of the world and compare them, but the track record of Euro-bigs (or even International Bigs, if you like) is not, repeat not good.  Just ask Don Nelson.   The only one I'd be willing to take a risk on, late in Round 1, is Kemba, and that's because the guy plays with HEART.  Can't have too many guys with that.

Since: May 13, 2010
Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:55 am

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

Cougar382, the NBA is all about defense. Name me a team that has won a championship purely based on offense? Dallas had to go out and get defense players like, Tyson chandler, Deshawn Stevenson, Shawn Marion, before they could win one. The runner-up Heat were second in the league in defense. The Lakers have been up at the tops in defense the past 3 years. Teams that play no D, don't win. Phoenix, Dallas, Knicks, Utah, etc., I could go on forever. Look at the Spurs, they won when they had D. This year they were a high scoring team with no defense and lost to an eighth seeded Memphis team with nothing but defensive players on it, besides Randolph. Boston won their championship off of defense. Tom Thibideaux, great defensive mind, won coach of the year and got Chicago with no one except Derrick Rose on the team to the ECF. The NBA is all about defense, just because there are some superstars that can't play defense doesn't mean anything. Most of those guys have not won a championship.

I do like Jimmer Fredette though. There is something about him, he can shoot lights out. You telluing me there is nowhere in the league for a lights out shooter? The Lakers could use one, believe me. Whop cares about his size, and defense is taught, not natural, so he can improve upon those things. The coaching staff at BYU is not top notch so I understand he has holes in his game.The competition in the Mountain West is not great, no matter where the polls rank the teams, so I'd like to see him go up against some of the greats. I'll be rooting for Jimmer!

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:10 am

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

I'm a UCLA fan and I saw Jimmer play live at the Wooden Classic. I also watched him on TV a bunch of times. I disagree with a lot of the Jimmer criticism here for a couple of reasons. I think he'll make a solid and possibly very good pro. Firstly, BYU did not have a good team this year. He had very little around him and that accounted for some of his poor assist numbers and his seeming tendency to "launch without a conscience." Despite that limited supporting cast dude lit everyone up. He is a great scorer, not a good scorer. He was able to score at will against UCLA and Malcolm Lee, He was able to score at will against everyone. He doesn't just shoot jumpers either. Dude can drive, shoot mid range, has a floater. Kevin Durant called him the "Best scorer in the world." That said, I think he can run a team. If you look at his numbers in his soph and junior years, when he had a better supporting cast, he was much more willing to share the basketball and did it with success. As a junior he averaged 4.7 assists per game and turned the ball over 2.7 times per game. To put that in perspective, in his one year at Memphis Derek Rose averaged 4.7 assists and 2.7 turnovers per game, the exact same numbers. One can say what they want about stats being deceptive, but at their best BYU didn't have any CDR's walking through the door and both teams play in conferences below college basketball's elite so the comparison is not super ridiculous. As far as defense is concerned Rose averaged 1.2 steals in his one year. Fredette averaged 1.5 as a soph, 1.2 as a junior and 1.3 as a senior.

Look, I'm not trying to say that Jimmer's going to be Derrick Rose. Rose was special then (him and CDR ran Russell Westbrook and Collison out of the gym in the final four) and he is special now. However I don't think it's a stretch to say that Jimmer will play basketball for a long time and be a nice player.  

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: June 20, 2011 2:44 am

Josh Selby was not a problem player

Matt this article has a glaring error. Josh Selby did not have a falling out with coach Self, at least not one ever revealed by anyone at KU. By all accounts he was a model participant with the team. It is true that he played sparingly down the stretch. The reason for this is far less sinister - he stopped making his shots. He was playing increasinly better by the end of last year (he sat out the first 9 games) until he was injured in his foot. He returned and played the rest of the year with an appliance in his shoe to hold his foot from twisting (and nearly eliminating his mobility). Without the ability to drive (which he had demonstrated earlier in the year) teams could play up on him reducing his shooting space. To demean him as you have calls for source and even 2nd source. Coach Self has denied any problems with Josh except disappointment at the injury and its toll.

I cannot predict how Josh will do in the NBA. He has a terrific athletic body and a nice disposition. He is certainly a potential 6th man to bring in instant offense. He does drive very well but has not yet become a good finisher. His time training after the season in Las Vegas has likely addressed his weaknesses and his workouts will show the NBA his abilities.

Since: Jun 18, 2010
Posted on: June 20, 2011 2:18 am

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

Is there anyway you can go higher on Josh Selby's fear factor? The kid is a great athlete but what he did at KU was pathetic. If Bill Self can't coach him who can? If he cant perform in the NCAA, then he can not in the NBA. I think Jimmer's should be a little higher because of his profile he had in college of being a star. He is going to have to adjust to not being a star on a team and i really do not think he can do that. I really agree with the Adam Morrison comparison. There is way to many similarities between them. I think at best both of them are early second round picks.

Since: Apr 27, 2008
Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:53 am

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

Well mrrickers I would find your post more credible if you weren't a UNLV fan, but as you are it just seems to sound like bitter apples. Terrible passer? Never defends? Just way too cliche. I recognize that Jimmer has many legitmate concerns but those are not it. First of all Jimmer is a great passer, he was doubled and tripled almost all last year and time and again delivered great passes. He was given a green light by David Rose and thus did not display his passing game as much as he could've, which is one area that he can improve on, the shoot first mentality.

Defense is a concern because Jimmer lacks size, but the NBA is not a defensive game. Since the millenium it has been all about offense. And there are many superstars who flourish on the offensive side while struggling on defense, namely: Nowitzki, Nash, Anthony. And Jimmer did finish in the top 5 in conference history for steals in conference history, so he has some defensive ability. 


Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:31 am

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

      You can bring up Vince and Dominique as your examples (even if its relating to selfishness)... Jimmer would go #1 overall if any team knew he would be as good as either of those two players. Domonique is in the Hall of Fame and was a 9 time all-star... Vince is an 8 time all-star player.. really...Also, Dallas's best player is also their worst defender. Great player, I think he is one of the top 30 all-time players, but also the worst defender in my top 30... and has a championship thanks to the rest of his teams defense.

Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:19 am

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

     Is it possible that the fear of Jimmer being overated will make him underated?

Since: Mar 4, 2010
Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:08 am

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

Jimmer might not be that great of a pro but if he is either drafted by Sacramento where he can possibly save basketball there or utah where he will keep mormonism on a high note where I believe he can be basketball's version of Tim Tebow depending on some success where he goes. I think with this draft and for some teams marketing might not be that bad because this draft isnt littered with future allstars and even if he is just a backup PG in the NBA later on his marketing potential could be worth the risk to draft him high especially in sacramento and utah

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:05 am

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

Jimmer Fredette / Adam Morrison

nothing else need's to be said.

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