Blog Entry

The misfit toys of the 2011 NBA Draft

Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:39 pm
 
By Matt Norlander

Regrets.

Plenty of players, even if they can't admit it to themselves, have them today. There's inevitable, predictable rhetoric about eventually proving people wrong, when in reality, the guys who declared early yet weren't chosen proved themselves wrong. A horde of college players could have returned for another year of school, another year of basketball in the second-most public American hoops landscape, and improved their skill and draft stock. But they didn't.

Now the price will be paid. Team tryouts for the first time, perhaps ever, in their basketball lives, no guaranteed money and the likelihood that an overlooked overseas career is coming pretty fast down the pike. The fact the NBA doesn't have a summer league this year is also a huge hindrance.

Let's get into who made the wrong decisions. But before I get into the dress-down, I preface the remainder of this post by saying: I don't get joy out of this. I'm not happy a cluster of college ballers inflated their egos and blew up the rest of their undergraduate careers. Us college hoops writers and fans suffer, too. Teams usually aren't as good because unfinished-yet-talented specimens pull the trigger a year or two early, and the college landscape has a little less glaze to it.

The undrafted:

-- We begin with Jereme Richmond. This is what you get. He didn't jibe with Bruce Weber. Many players don't. Instead of seeking a transfer, Richmond got the wrong information in his ear and chased NBA dollars. Those who saw Richmond's May workout in Chicago said he was barely there.

-- The flip side to the former two would be the Vols' Scotty Hopson. He doesn't have the potential or the body or the length of former teammate Tobias Harris (selected 19th by Milwaukee), but he had flashes of really solid play the past two seasons. Good attitude, just a bad barometer. Maybe he didn't want to play one year under Cuonzo Martin? Fringe players bolt more often than not.

-- Stanford's Jeremy Green is a poster kid for how easily an NBA contract can never materialize for a player. I don't want to bury the guy before he gets his chance in the coming months, but Green was nowhere close to being ready for the NBA. His name probably didn't come up once in most teams' war rooms last night.

-- Terrence Jennings left Louisville because he didn't fit in the offense. But he is too raw. I know Rick Pitino produces a lot of pros, but he also coaches up a lot of guys to successful, memorable college careers. Jennings was a squeeze between both of those. Wanted too much of the former before benefiting from the latter.

-- An under-the-radar dumb decision was Fresno State's Greg Smith. The ordinary name had a game that wasn't so run-of-the-mill in college. But at the next level? Just another Greg Smith. Like Hopson, Smith was likely most dissuaded from coming back to school because his team brings in a new coach. Some believed Smith would have been the best player in the WAC next season. Now he'll look for overseas work, wondering if another year would've meant hearing his name in the second round of the 2012 Draft.

Drafted, but significant slippage:

-- Josh Selby (above) is the other easy target. Sometimes -- most times, in fact -- you can't outrun or outplay your attitude and the reputation that's attached to it. Selby wasn't a difference-maker at Kansas. He wasn't the top-ranked player Rivals.com pegged him to be coming out of Baltimore. He frustrated Bill Self to no end, though Self won't publicly admit that. He had to leave Kansas; it was never the right fit. So Selby ditched on school in April, meaning transferring to another team was never in the cards. His first-round talent couldn't overcome all the other question marks on his profile. He fell all the way to Memphis at No. 49.

-- Darius Morris left Michigan, and when it happened, most seemed to lament, "Why, Darius?" Morris would have been a First Team Big Ten player next year, I think with ease. For the betterment of his game, he should have stayed and ensured himself of a guaranteed contract in the first round. College basketball was cheated from seeing a player truly develop his game and make Michigan a bit more relavent, an uphill battle the school's been diligently working through for a decade. Morris was taken 41st by the Lakers. If he makes the roster, it will be the greatest accomplishment of his career.

-- Jeremy Tyler. Don't know the name? The kid never went to college, opting instead to take the Brandon Jennings route and do one year overseas. He played in Japan and went to the Bobcats 39th last night. That's decent, yes? Well, he was an elite, top-of-the-crop player in the 2010 class. Like Selby, his stock was attached to a stone in the sea.

-- Tyler Honeycutt (left). I can't hear the name and not think soft. He believed he was a first-round guy. He was taken 35th by the Kings -- and even that was too high for my tastes. Honeycutt couldn't cut it under Ben Howland. Didn't like the system, and I think he wanted the ball a lot more. I have to include this anecdote from Newark last night, by the way. So Honeycutt's name gets called, and as you can see, he was on hand to step up to the stage and shake Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver's hand. Honeycutt was about 10 rows up in the stands and just strolled out of his seat onto the stage like he was the next contestant on the "Price is Right." Hilarious moment.

-- Malcolm Lee getting picked is one of the top five mysteries of this year's Draft to me. He's another UCLA player that got out when he could. He was taken 43rd overall. Hey, you know what? I'm going to turn heel on this, actually. Kudos to Lee for getting his while he could. He's probably not going to make an NBA roster, but I can't see how he would've done any better next year, when the Draft will be stockpiled.

-- We finish up emptying out the toy chest with a pair of Georgia Bulldogs who will remain teammates next year, provided they make the squad. Trey Thompkins (37th) and Travis Leslie were chosen because of God-given athletic ability. Had Thompkins displayed any type of work ethic, he would have been a no-brainer first-rounder. And if he had true drive, he was a shoo-in for the lottery. But he squeaks into getting picked on potential and body type alone. And Leslie's just a freak athlete. He can't shoot and is overmatched on a lot of levels in the pro game. Both could have honed their craft and made Georgia a threat in the SEC next season. Instead, hello, Clippers. It's poetic in that way.

Photos: AP
Category: NCAAB
Comments

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: June 25, 2011 3:03 pm
 

Josh Selby and the 2011 NBA Draft

It becomes apparent that many boys dream about playing professional sports when they grow up. I did and likely you did as well, if only in the privacy of shooting baskets by yourself. This dream usually gets tempered by the losses that inevitably come in the game. The realities of our physical limitations. For a boy growing up like Josh Selby that dream gets injected with steroids (figuratively) by the ease that he plays the game and dominated his contemporaries. He is sure out of high school that he is already able to play in the NBA.

Of course, the expiring NBA CBA requires a year beyond high school graduating age and Josh chose to attend the University of Kansas. At that time he was Rivals.com's #1 rated player in his class. This was an opportunity for Josh to play against top-quality players three and even four years his senior. Josh arrived on campus only to be injured the first month with a broken hand. The NCAA determined in November that Josh had received improper benefits from the help provided by an old family friend in high school. He was suspended for the first 9 games and denied practice time with the team in a critical period in the fall of 2010.

Josh was cleared to play in December against USC in the fabled Allen Field House. He was dynamite as Kansas won the game on a three point by Josh with 20 seconds remaining. Josh scored 21 points in the game. Josh, as befits a freshman, was inconsistent over the next month but was learning rapidly. Then came a foot injury (stress reaction in the a foot bone) sidelining him for an additional three games and then required him to wear a painful appliance in his shoe that kept his foot from flexing. His play when he returned was nothing like what it had been and he was unable to hit shots from outside as he formerly had done and unable to drive the lane. Lots of people assumed that Josh would return for his second season at Kansas. even though he was a determined one and done recruit. He left school (in good standing) after Kansas lost in the Elite Eight of the tournament to attend a pro training facility in Las Vegas. There he was able to heal his foot and workout daily doing drills and regaining his form. He declared for the NBA 2011 draft.

Now, as many have been told, Josh has been drafted by Memphis with the 49th pick in the draft, a far cry from contemporary Kyrie Irving who was drafted with the 1st pick in the same draft. Ah, Josh, what might have been. What we do not know is how the financial needs of Josh's family played into his decision to stay in the 2011 draft. In any case Josh is with a young dynamic team that made it to the second round of the NBA Western Conference playoffs this year. In Memphis he will be under a very fine coach, himself a former championship point guard in the NBA, in Lionel Hollins. Josh will not be under the pressure in Memphis as they already have good depth. In addition he joins two former Kansas Jayhawks there in Xavier Henry and Darrell Arthur. Josh's story is likely not finished and I expect he can flourish there if he bides his time and works hard.


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