Tag:2011 NBA Draft
Posted on: April 13, 2011 7:01 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 7:22 pm

Derrick Williams declares for 2011 NBA Draft

University of Arizona forward Derrick Williams will enter the NBA Draft. Posted by Ben Golliver. derrick-williams

Finally, an elite college prospect that actually wants to join the NBA immediately.

University of Arizona sophomore forward Derrick Williams, a projected top-5 pick on most mock drafts, has declared for the 2011 NBA Draft and will hire an agent. The decision doesn't come as a surprise given the buzz Williams generated with his athletic, above the rim play during the 2011 NCAA Tournament, but other topic prospects, such as Baylor's Perry Jones, have recently opted to return to school.

The Wildcats issued a statement on Williams' behalf. 
University of Arizona men's basketball player Derrick Williams has decided to make himself eligible for the 2011 NBA Draft. Williams intends to sign with an agent and will not return to the program in 2011-12.
A 6-foot-8, 241-pound sophomore forward from La Mirada, Calif., Williams led Arizona with per-game averages of 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds, to go with a .595 (226-of-380) field goal percentage in 38 appearances (all starts). He scored in double figures 37 times, posted 13 double-doubles and posted the two highest single-game rebounding totals in the Pac-10 this season (19 at Washington State on Jan. 22 and 18 at California on Feb. 5).
"After careful consideration and with the support of my family and Coach Miller, I have decided to declare for the 2011 NBA Draft," said Williams. "I have enjoyed my two years at Arizona both on and off the court. I want to thank my teammates, who are like brothers to me, my coaches and all Wildcat Fans for making my experience an unforgettable one."
This year's draft class is generally regarded as a weak group. Williams, one of the year's fastest risers up the boards, might have the greatest star potential of any of the players that have declared thanks to his combination of skill, range and explosiveness. An efficient scorer, Williams can fill it up in a variety of ways: creating his own shot, shooting from the perimeter, getting to the free throw line and finishing in traffic. 

If there are questions about Williams, the 2011 Pacific-10 Player of the Year, it's whether he is a three or a four at the NBA level and whether he has the tools to become an elite defender. Most likely, Williams will see time at both forward positions and will be allowed to focus most of his efforts on the offensive end of the court. That's how things tend to go for versatile scorers with his measurements.

In a recent CBSSports.com mock draft, Williams went No. 4 overall. DraftExpress.com's current 2011 mock draft has Williams being selected at No. 2.
Category: NBA
Posted on: April 11, 2011 8:18 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 9:00 pm

Draft Update: Kemba in, Jones out

Kemba Walker is in, Perry Jones is out of the 2011 Draft.
Posted by Matt Moore

Some interesting draft news today. One star from the NCAA tournament is in, one star that was assumed to go top-five is out as the 2011 class gets weaker by the day. 

First up, CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish reports that Kemba Walker will announce his decision to enter the draft on Tuesday. Walker is coming off a stellar college season and a magnficent tournament run that had him vault up the draft boards thanks to the most popular of all assessments: "He just knows how to score." With so many top picks dropping out of this class, Walker is a lock between 5 and 10, and may go higher if some GM gets to feeling like gambling on a reach. 

The problem is that Walker is badly in need of the combine's measurements. Some scouts have pegged him as short as 5-11. Walker's not a point guard, he's a shooting guard, but he'll have to play point guard in order not to get swallowed alive. It isn't that he doesn't have the quickness or scoring ability to make teams pay in the NBA, just that his size is going to be a huge concern. You can't pair him with a point guard under 6-3 unless you're fine with getting rolled in the post. Still, Walker does score, and teams fall in love with scorers with speed. His stock will never be higher than it is right now. 

Then there's the bizarre decision of Perry Jones. Our Eye on College Basketball's Jeff Borzello brings word that Jones will return for his sophomore season. Jones was a top-five lock. There is no question. Even if Jared Sullinger hadn't elected to return to Ohio State, he was going to go top-five. Jones' question marks were on bulk and defensive effort, along with rebounding. But he's a big man with a hook shot and nice touch around the basket, and those guys are a premium. By returning to school, it's hard to see him improving his stock. Especially considering he's serving a five-game suspension for improper benefits. You'd think that alone would push him to the draft. But Jones is out, meaning the best bigs in this draft are pretty much Derrick Williams and a bunch of guys whose names you can't spell. 
Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:25 pm

Friday 5 with KB 4.8.11: Balance and time

Posted by Matt Moore 

In this week's edition of the Friday 5 with KB, we see if the Celtics have time to get things right, if the Lakers should be concerned at all, and who needs Kyrie most?. All this and more in this week's Friday 5 with CBSSports.com's Ken Berger.  

1. Boston gets rolled by Chicago, and you write about how they're searching for an identity right now. Is the first round going to be easy enough for them to find it? Will the playoffs heal all wounds?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: I'm not so sure it's that simple with Boston this time. I do think if Doc can get the combinations right with the second unit, featuring Green, Krstic and Delonte, the Celtics can have a better second unit than they've had in the past. But without Perkins, they're going to struggle against bigger teams. It probably won't matter in the first round, and the value of gaining some confidence shouldn't be underestimated. But Boston has more flaws and uncertainty than they've had entering any other postseason with the Big Three.

2. The Lakers are stumbling backwards, and pretty much laughing it off. Is there any conceivable reason for the Lakers to try through these last four games, other than not messing with ticket holders?

KB: At this point, it's about finding the right balance of rest and sharpness -- especially where Kobe is concerned. Phil is a master at achieving this balance. Popovich is another coach who comes to mind who is great at it.

3. Knicks are a little banged up, and not deep at all to begin with, as we head towards the playoffs. What would be a reasonable result that would be considered a "good" end to the Knicks' season?

KB: The Knicks have many of the same flaws that they possessed before the trade -- lack of size and depth and no lockdown defender -- so a quick playoff exit shouldn't be considered a referendum on the Melo deal. I think stealing a game on the road in the first round would be a solid building block. Getting swept in four close games wouldn't be terribly disappointing or unexpected, especially against Boston or Miami. The fact is, whatever happens in the playoffs, the Knicks are ahead of where anyone could've reasonably expected them to be when Donnie Walsh took over for Isiah. They tore it down to the floorboards in two years, and have two superstars to build around going forward. If Anthony is engaged at both ends and Stoudemire is healthy/rested, they could create some real problems. But you have to take the long view.

4. Kyrie Irving came out in the draft this week. He's our No.1 overall pick. What lottery team needs him the most?

KB: Cleveland, for sure. The Cavs need to parlay one of the picks they've stockpiled into a superstar, and Irving fits the bill. They also have a good record of developing young players and a veteran point guard in place, so they don't have to rush Irving -- who clearly will need some seasoning. Minnesota, Toronto and Utah are the others. Sources say there's no way Irving slips past No. 4. Wolves GM David Kahn's confidence that Rubio is coming will be put to a serious test if Irving is on the board when Minnesota picks. With a lockout coming, it would be franchise suicide to pass on a talent like Irving and then have Rubio stay overseas.

5. NBA owners meeting next Friday. What are the hot points that could come out of that meeting?

KB: Depending on how long it takes for league execs to review all the documents associated with the Pistons sale, which was finalized Friday, that could come up for a vote -- but league sources say it there's no chance things will be ready in timen. If it can't be put to a vote next week, owners could always vote by other means at a later date. The other issue up in the air is the Kings' relocation. As of Friday, there was still nothing final to vote on. Much of the discussion figures to center around everyone's favorite topic, labor.
Posted on: April 4, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 7:11 pm

2011 NBA Mock Draft: Version 1.0

Here's an early look at the potential lottery picks in a 2011 NBA Mock Draft. Posted by Ben Golliver and Matt Moore.


With the NCAA Tournament wrapping up on Monday night, it's time to turn our attention to the upcoming 2011 NBA Draft. While many top players have still yet to declare their intentions, here's an early look at how the draft lottery could shake out. All vitals are courtesy of DraftExpress.com. Matt Moore and I take turns making picks for each team that isn't headed to the NBA playoffs.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers -- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke, 19 years old, 6-foot-2, 185 pounds

When you're as desperate as Cleveland is in the wake of LeBron James's departure, reliability is the surest route to a comeback. Kyrie Irving is the risk-free pick at the top: He clearly has an NBA position, he has his head on his shoulders, he displays all the leadership qualities and intangibles to build around, and he can shoot the rock. The Cavaliers have needs everywhere but they need to walk before they can run. A reasonable best-case scenario in the short term is that Irving blossoms to carry a lesser cast to big things, a la a young Chris Paul; The worst-case is that you have a solid floor general locked in for years to come. -- BG

2. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania, 18 years old, 6-11, 240 pounds

Valuncianas should not go 2 here. He just shouldn't, not with Derrick Williams and others still on this board. The problem is Williams is 3/4 combo forward. The Wolves spent multiple assets to acquire small forwards, to the point where drafting Williams or even Harrison Barnes would simply create a further logjam at the position. Considering David Kahn's comments in March about rebuilding being "over," they're not looking for that next piece. A shooting guard replacement would be ideal, but there's not a suitable fit on the board. Brandon Knight would be a slight reach, and projects better as a scoring point guard. Kemba Walker doesn't have the size. Point guard is out with Ricky Rubio notched as the franchise savior and the Wolves can't risk anything to push him away from coming over next year. Which leaves us with Valuncianas. A Euro center with great size and extreme upside. A project. Eventually the Wolves will want an upgrade over Darko Milicic and drafting Valuncianas as a project would allow for just that. Darko can mentor him! .. Please don't throw things, Wolves fans, we're trying to spin this nicely. -- MM

3. Washington Wizards -- Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina, 18 years old, 6-8, 210 pounds

The Wizards have been extremely active in overhauling their roster and they find themselves, finally, at the point where they can turn the corner and enter the upward arc of a rebuilding effort centered around point guard John Wall and promising (although sometimes perplexing) big man JaVale McGee. Barnes, a multi-dimensional scorer that can shoot, fills a huge need for a team whose offensive efficiency was third worst this season. He has the ability to play off of Wall but also create for himself, lessening the burden on Wall to be a one-man show. That was often the case this season, especially as injuries ripped apart the second half of Washington's season. Barnes has excellent size and his work ethic has drawn lots of praise, a huge plus for any young player entering a dysfunctional situation like Washington, a team that very well may have a new coach next season. -- BG

4. Toronto Raptors -- Derrick Williams, PF, Arizona, 19 years old, 6-8, 235 pounds

Bryan Colangelo can't believe his luck as Derrick Williams falls to the fourth spot here. Even with Ed Davis a promising young power forward, the Raptors go for Williams, the best overall prospect. A center with great rebounding abilities would be preferable, but there's just not one with talent to match Williams. Williams provides rebounding and scoring along with the ability to get to the line, the kind of tough attributes the Raptors desperately need. Brandon Knight and Perry Jones are other options here, but Williams allows for the Raptors to go with a big lineup of Bayless, DeRozan, Williams, Davis and Bargnani, which might cover some of Bargnani's defensive and rebounding issues. -- MM

5. Sacramento Kings – Perry Jones, PF, Baylor, 19 years old, 6-11, 220 pounds

The Maloofs are kicking themselves, wishing and praying that Williams would fall one more spot so that he could become the SoCal face of the new SoCal version of the franchise currently known as the Sacramento Kings. They pull it together and decide to swing for the moon, nabbing Perry Jones from Baylor after also giving consideration to Jan Vesely and Terrence Jones. The Kings ultimately talk themselves into Jones because his antipathy towards the paint and glass is manageable with DeMarcus Cousins in the middle and, should they relocate, they become, in effect, an expansion team. The risk and patience that Jones puts it together and reaches his potential as a long, dynamic scorer is worth it because expectations would be rock bottom in Anaheim. How will Jones play alongside Tyreke Evans? Who knows. But it's worth a shot. -- BG

6. Utah Jazz (from New Jersey Nets) -- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky, 18 years old, 6-3, 170 pounds

Knight serves two purposes for the rebuilding Jazz. One, he's the best talent available, a quick but not speedy point guard with something few point guards enter the league with: a jumper. Knight brings the ability to play either the 1 or 2, projecting as a combination game manager and spot-up shooter. Two, it gives the Jazz more options with their backcourt. They can move Devin Harris in trade (albeit with a remarkably lower trade value than he had months before) and start Knight at the point, or keep Harris and look to move the underwhelming combination of players at SG. Knight with Gordon Hayward is a frighteningly undersized 2-3 combo, but Millsap and Jefferson down low make a pretty decent combo to counter that. -- MM

7. Detroit Pistons -- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey, 18 years old, 6-10, 250 pounds

The Pistons were the most frustrating team to watch from afar this year, as professionalism evaporated on numerous occasions and management was unable to take the necessary steps to plot a future course with so much ownership uncertainty. Detroit really has terrible luck in this draft as they need a strong scoring two guard of the future but this year's crop is devoid of that kind of talent. While center Greg Monroe is their single best building block and it might seem strange to draft another big, Kanter is arguably the most talented player left on the board and his physical low-post nature would finally allow Detroit to move into the post-Ben Wallace era. Monroe has the mobility and passing skills to play the high pst in a solid high-low game and that could make for a nice partnership that allows the skinny Austin Daye to do his thing on the perimeter without putting the Pistons at a disadvantage on the glass, where they were a bottom five rebounding team this season. -- BG

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles Clippers) -- Terrence Jones, SF, Kentucky, 6-8, 244 pounds

The Cavs go SCREAMING to the podium to get Jones as fast as humanly possible. J.J. Hickson becomes a nice trade chip and Irving-Jones gives them an immediate 1-2 punch off the pick and roll. Get them a coach who can actually develop talent (Byron Scott ain't it) and the Cavs have something going here. Jones finishes with authority, can play wing or big, could wind up as a solid all-around power forward, or a versatile power three. Imagine Jeff Green if he wanted to rebound with inferior range. The Jeff Green invert, kind of. -- MM

9. Milwaukee Bucks -- Alec Burks, SG, Colorado, 6-6, 200 pounds

The Bucks -- the NBA's least potent offense this season -- need scoring, especially from the wings. While he might be a bit of a reach at nine, Burks would make for a dynamic backcourt pairing with Brandon Jennings, giving Milwaukee two guards that can create and attack the paint. His lack of three-point range is definitely a limiting factor but with an offensive need so glaring, beggars can't be choosers here. -- BG

10. Golden State Warriors -- Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania, 20 years old, 7-0, 215 pounds

The Warriors BADLY need to land in the top five to get a crack at Perry Jones, but since they're not, this is going to have to do. Basically, it's an Andreis Biedrins fill-in, only bigger and with better range. Montiejunas could be a Pau Gasol clone. He could be the Euro Yi. But the Warriors need size. He's there. Have we mentioned this is a shallow draft for bigs? -- MM

11. Charlotte Bobcats -- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut, 20 years old, 6-0, 180 pounds

It's a bit too obvious to guess that Michael Jordan and company will draft the best available Tar Heel -- John Henson -- but that's definitely a possibility. If Kemba Walker slips this far, though, I'm not sure how the Bobcats pass on him, even if D.J. Augustin stepped up in a fairly big way last season. Walker's ceiling is higher than Augustin's and he has that star power swag that could help put fans in the seats in Charlotte. Really, he could be groomed to be the point guard of the future, assuming the Bobcats ever get around to having a future. -- BG

12. Utah Jazz -- Jimmer Frede ... KIDDING ... Jan Vesely, SF, Czech Republic, 20 years old, 6-11, 240 pounds

The Jazz need a bigger 3 that Gordon Hayward. They already addressed their guard situation with Brandon Knight. They have bigs, and there's no standout center available (it's a theme, you see). So what happens here? The Jazz draft insurance in case they are unable to retain Andrei Kirilenko with Vesely, who's a 6-11 SF. Long, athletic, with some upside for range shooting and great physical tools. He also tries to dunk on everyone. The Jazz need some aggression. Again, it's predictable, but not as predictable as Jimmer. That's a win. -- MM

13. Phoenix Suns -- Jimmer Fredette (NOT KIDDING), PG, BYU, 22 years old, 6-2, 195 pounds

Call me crazy but I'm not sure Jimmer drops this far. If he does, Phoenix shouldn't hesitate. If they decide to roll the dice with Steve Nash for another year, Jimmer is the ultimate spot-up shooting specialist to free up the pick-and-roll. If the Suns move Nash this summer, they will be in desperate need of Jimmer's hype factor and offensive prowess, not to mention someone that can handle the ball for a fair number of minutes. Is he likely to wind up disappointing fans in the short-term if he's the face of a Nash-less Suns team? Sure. But that team is going to be terrible anyway. -- BG

14. Houston Rockets -- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State, 19 years old, 6-7, 225 pounds

Well, the Rockets have their point guard going forward (Lowry), a great shooting guard (Martin), and are chock full at power forward. Again, a center would do wonders here, but yet again, no reasonable options. Loading up with another tweener power forward like Marcus Morris does no good. So the Rockets take Leonard, and he's a good fit. A counter to the spot-up Chase Budinger, Leonard provides handle and explosiveness in a small forward. He's able to attack the rim and work in the paint. A good rebounder helps at the small forward since, again, the no center thing. Leonard is a bit of a reach but he and Patrick Patterson could be devastating as a one-two punch in certain situations. -- MM
Posted on: April 1, 2011 9:33 am

Report: Irving leaning towards entering draft

Kyrie Irving is reportedly leaning towards entering his name in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Posted by Matt Moore

Kyrie Irving had a great season for Duke. That you can say that considering he missed almost the entirety of the season with a foot injury shows you just how good he was. When Irving returned for the NCAA tournament, there was concerned he would be rusty. Instead, he was his usual brilliant self. Duke's early exit from the tournament thanks to Derrick Williams and company for Arizona was the only thing stopping a fairytale story. But having missed so much of the season, would Irving want to wait to assure himself the top pick? Would the likely lockout prevent him from making the jump to the pros this soon?

Apparently not. 

ESPN reports that Irving is "leaning strongly toward declaring for the NBA Draft."  With Jared Sullinger stating publicly and emphatically that he's returning to Ohio State, it would pretty much be down to a two-man race for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. From there it would really just end up as a question of need for the team in the top spot. 

The lockout complicates matters here. If Irving does declare, he'll be drafted before the current CBA expires, but will not have his contract negotiated until after the lockout. So the question of whether he'll be under current or new salary structures for rookies is unclear. An interesting note, however. NBA players are paid on various calendars, but in most cases, rookies don't receive their first check until November. So should a lockout extend for six months, say until the beginning of 2012, Irving would only really lose two paychecks in that scenario, as opposed to six. 

Irving has the complete package. Prior to the summer of 2010, Brandon Knight was considered the top freshman point guard and expected top overall pick. But Irving absolutely exploded in summer play, and then showed even more on the national stage at Duke. He's at an elite level in terms of touch, speed, agility, handle, and play-making ability. He doesn't have John Wall's vision, but he has a better jump shot to start. He's a total package, provided that his foot checks out after a physical. 

Should the Cavaliers land the top spot based off what will be the worst record in the league, it's easy to see them passing on Irving. Not only do they have salary tied into Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions, but going for a big is the more traditional route. The Kings, however, would likely love to find Irving available. That scenario could lead to Tyreke Evans moving to small forward, creating a devastating lineup of Irving, Marcus Thornton, and Evans, with DeMarcus Cousins down low. That's Thunder 2008 stuff. 

Irving could still decide to return next season, should his foot have issues, draft evaluations come back lower than expected, or Coach K pulls some Magic, again.  But with Austin Rivers as widely acclaimed entering the season, the logical choice is to make the jump, take the money now, and ensure a high pick. Irving looks every bit the next NBA star. 
Posted on: March 25, 2011 2:14 am
Edited on: March 25, 2011 2:27 am

Duke's Kyrie Irving still the right pick at No. 1

Duke University was bounced out of the NCAA tournament, but Blue Devils point guard Kyrie Irving should still be the 2011 NBA Draft's No. 1 pick. Posted by kyrie-irvingBen Golliver.

The Arizona Wildcats bounced the Duke Blue Devils from the NCAA tournament on Thursday with a resounding 93-77 victory. The blowout nature of the loss and the disappointment of not repeating will likely bring about a lot of questions for the Blue Devils. Would Duke have been better off leaving point guard Kyrie Irving, who had missed months with a toe injury, out of the rotation? Should Irving come back for another season to exact revenge after such a disappointing defeat? 

One thing that shouldn't be questioned: Irving, who finished with a team-high 28 points, three assists and a steal in 31 minutes off the bench, should be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft if he decides to declare. While he wasn't the best player on the court on Thursday night -- that honor goes to dominant Arizona forward Derrick Williams, who put up 32 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block, plus some insane highlight-reel dunks  -- he is the best pro prospect, the smart money pick at the top of the board. Here's three good reasons why.

1. He has a position and it's an impact position

Iriving -- listed at 6'2" and 180 or 185 -- has solid size for the point guard position but, more importantly, he is equipped with the mentality that separates the league's best young point guards from the pack. He's opportunistic, he understands the importance of an offensive system and he isn't afraid to call his own number -- all in one package. 

There's no concern here, as there is with countless other prospects, about whether he's a combo guard, a swing forward or a two-position/no-position post player. He is a point guard in size, skillset and temperament, at least by our modern definition which requires the floor general to be able to fill it up when necessary too. Ask the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Hornets how important that combination is to team success.

2. He can shoot and he exercises good shot selection

Efficiency is one of those late-developing traits, an ability that sometimes just never shows up. While Irving does need to clean up some issues with his turnovers, his 9-15 shooting from the field on Thursday was typically excellent, bolstered by his ability to get to the foul line nine times as well. Irving has an innate ability to understand what's a good shot and the restraint to lay off lower-percentage looks that you don't often find from a player his age. This will speed his transition into the NBA game and also, I think, make him a bigger impact player more quickly than some might give him credit for because he's not a jaw-dropping, freak athlete.

3. Defensive intangibles

Arizona's guards got off a little bit on Thursday, but there was plenty to like from Irving's defense. He's quick side-to-side, he's comfortable picking up ball pressure well outside the college three, he trusts his positioning and he doesn't succumb to "happy feet". Off the ball, he's an active participant in defensive schemes, calling out switches and talking regularly. He shows a commitment to leadership on both ends that you don't often see.  He's also just a generally "locked in" player who will have the ability to command respect. 

Final Thoughts

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey recently said that his team considers flaws as much as it does strengths in evaluating prospects. Irving is simply absent of the most common flaws that trip up prospects. As discussed, there are no questions about his position, his intelligence or basketball intelligence, his commitment, his body, or his work ethic. And then, on top of that clean package, he's a player that can shoot and seems to enjoy working hard on defense. There's too much to like.

Irving's flaws -- whether he lacks John Wall's open court ability or Derrick Rose's strength -- are relatively small, of the nitpicking variety. At the top of the draft board, a guaranteed home run is a better play than a potential grand slam. Irving is a guaranteed home run.
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 24, 2011 7:39 pm

Sweet 16 NBA Prospect Review: Thursday

The top prospects in Thursday's Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament action.
Posted by Matt Moore

By the end of the weekend, there will be four NCAA tournament teams left. For whatever reason, four teams remaining is a big deal in college basketball, and not in the NBA (how many Western Conference Finalists get remembered by the average NBA fan after four or five years?). And at the end of this weekend, some young men will have some interesting decisions to make regarding their futures with their tournament and possibly college careers over. 

With that, here's a look at the players to watch in Thursday night's Sweet 16 action. 

Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU: We've talked about Fredette at length, you should know the book on him by now. He's small. He's unathletic. He's not good defensively. But he's a scorer, and a brilliant one at that. Thursday night is a good opportunity to see how Fredette does against a defense that will gear specifically to stop him. The person across the floor from him will be Kenny Boynton, who's similarly sized. Florida coach Billy Donovan says that the Gators aren't just gameplanning for Fredette, but he has to be considering sending help at the superstar. If so, this gives us a good idea of how Fredette will handle more aggressive schemes from better defenses, which gets closer to what he'll see in the NBA.

Derrick Williams, F, Arizona: You no doubt have the book on the other gents on this list. But Derrick Williams is the guy who made the biggest impact the first weekend of the tournament. Those two huge blocks he made are the kind of defensive plays that get coaches, scouts, and GM's excited, far more than dropping 30-plus through 35-foot threes. Williams also has the ability to work in the post and his touch around the basket also wowed evaluators. Against Duke, Williams will be working against a formidable frontline of the Plumlees, and should he put up a similar performance on both sides of the ball, he could move from top-five to the top overall pick if things go right. But against Duke, that's a pretty tall order. 

Kemba Walker, G, UConn: Walker keeps putting up huge performances, and the questions remain about his ability to do so against NBA competition. Walker could go a long way to improving his stock by being more of a playmaker and less of a pure scorer against San Diego State. 

Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke: Irving looked like the same player who's topped draft lists for months before his injury.  He distributed well, saw the floor, hit from the perimeter, nailed the runner, the works. But against Arizona, he'll face a much stiffer test, and his conditioning will likely play a bigger impact in his third and fourth games back. If he continues to dazzle, his return to Duke will become less and less sure, despite comments this week that he intends to return next season.  
Posted on: March 23, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 2:37 pm

Jimmer Fredette is risky business for the draft

Jimmer Fredette has lit up the college basketball world all the way to the Sweet 16. But what do his pro prospects look like?
Posted by Matt Moore

Jimmer Fredette was easily the most recognizable player coming into the NCAA Tournament this year, and remains the most prolific player in the Sweet 16. He's the type of player who brings people's imaginations out to play. They're captivated by what he does. And what he does is score. As long as you have an incredible scoring ability at the college level, people will proclaim your greatness and defend you from the scrutiny of draft evaluations. Take for example, some of the comments from Ken Berger's latest discussion with NBA personnel on the BYU senior:
"The old saying is that hopefully you can teach people to defend at least to a certain point," one Eastern Conference GM said. "But you can't teach the offensive skill set that he has."

Or, as another GM put it:
"You start talking about elite shooters, which he's proven himself to be, how many of those guys have come into this league as elite shooters and failed? Not many."

It's really great to see NBA executives willing to take a chance on a player based on the results he's shown in college, not based on upside or potential or athleticism or defense or explosiveness or ability to guard any competent NBA player for a single possession. 
You see where I'm going with this, right?
Have the GM's learned nothing from Adam Morrison? Has the long and prolific history of draft busts who were awesome at shooting in college but had questionable athleticism, size, and defensive prowess completely whipped past their heads on the way to Jersey Sale Island? Fredette, as Berger repeatedly mentions, is terrific at creating off-balance shots from either foot. Which will be really helpful when he's getting swallowed alive by guards with more wingspan than three Jimmers put together with an Ammo. He really is a brilliant college scorer. But that's just it. The NBA isn't college. The game's rules and objectives may be the same, but how they operate is completely different. 

For starters, offensively, Jimmer's basically looking at a Kyle Korver type role. A spot-up shooter only, since his speed, leaping ability, and size will ensure that any mid-range floaters, leaners, or runners will wind up getting eclipsed by the long arms he'll find at the pro-level. Korver can't defend either, after all, and he really just needs to stick to the perimeter. But Korver's 6-7. He's got five inches and a bulkier frame on Fredette, which limits teams' ability to drive him into the post and abuse him. Fredette would have to play point guard due to his height, and from there, he's looking at guarding either the fastest players in the league at a time when the ability at that position is at an all-time high, or getting put into the post against players like Deron Williams who will bruise him into a pulp. 

The other obvious comparison for Fredette is J.J. Redick, as we mentioned. Redick was a pure shooter coming out of Duke and many questioned his ability to play in the NBA. But Redick spent two years bulking up on muscle and focusing on defense. Now he's one of the better defenders on the perimeter Orlando has and arguably the best defender of Ray Allen in the league, thanks to a near-pathological drive to bust through repeated screens by the Celtics.  Can Fredette copy that model? Tom Ziller of SBNation.com pointed out in January that Redick is stronger and bigger than Jimmer. In short: whatever limitations can be mitigated in regards to Jimmer's size are emboldened by his physical abilities and whatever shortfalls can be mitigated in regards to his abilities eventually overwhelm his stock due to his lack of size. 

But hey, lots of players can't play defense in this league. Many of them will be teammates for Fredette when he lands on a lottery squad. So what's the big deal on that front? The issue is that you have to find an offensive repertoire you can rely on to create open looks. Fredette's best option when faced with a capable defense at BYU is to simply step back and shoot from longer range. The first time Fredette launches a 40-foot J in the NBA will be the last time a teammate passes to him. Maybe he can adopt the leaning shots that Manu Ginobili routinely drains over more athletic opponents. Except Ginobili is four inches taller than Fredette and his speed is good enough to create havoc against a defense, even if he's not explosive like C-4. 

In reality, there's no real comparison to Fredette in the NBA, and that's a bad thing. It's one thing to have no comparable set of athletic talent because you're so superior in that regard. After all, there was no one to compare LeBron James to when he entered the league at 18, either. But with Fredette, it's difficult to find a comparison because most players of that mold have not lasted long enough to succeed. 

This isn't to say Fredette has no shot. There are always exceptions, and those are often times some of the greatest players. (One colleague suggested Larry Bird to me this week. After I was through cackling my way into choking on a sandwich, I pointed out that Bird was about as brutally big and tough as a forward comes and that Bird was 6-9, for crying out loud.) And as Berger notes, he could be a fine bench option. But who uses their first-round draft pick north of the 20th overall to draft a 15-minutes-per-game pure shooter who you can't leave in if you need stops?  No one drafts for reasonable value in the NBA, everyone tries to get that special player that's fallen to your spot. Ironically, it's that same idea that will draw GMs to draft Fredette, thinking he has something special to offer, based off how special he's been in college (and he is a wonder at that level). 

But before they do, they should check and see the measurements Fredette provides in his pre-draft workouts. Check his vertical leap, his shuttle time, his 40-time, his standing reach. See how they measure up not only against the more athletic members of his class, but against the players who have tried, and failed, before him to bring the pure skill game of college to the sharp and brutal athletic gauntlet of the NBA. Someone will be brave enough to take Jimmer high in the first round. In this instance however, fortune may not favor the bold
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