To “borrow” a concept from one of the best writers in the business, this installment of the Draft Blog is all about the truths. Sometimes we get too caught up in the positives and with being overly optimistic that reality escapes us.
A draft class is a lot like reality, or at least like a reality TV show. Each year we get a new cast, new scenarios and new potential for greatness. Most seasons start out the same, a cast of unknowns where a few start to really stand out and be the show. Other years we have hype about a character that leads us to expectations within their role. Same can be said about a draft class, every year we unleash a new cast with potential and hype, but it is not often the potential is reached. Some years we have an underwhelming cast that we talk ourselves into liking, when in reality we should have changed the channel. The 2011 Draft Class is trying to lull us into talking ourselves into it, but it is time to change the channel.
Every year during the draft process we talk positive and project All-Stars and greatness for every prospect. But in reality those are few and far between, not everyone gets to be great. It is nice to project the best-case-scenario for a prospect, but you can’t ignore the potential of the most-likely-scenario either. In the spirit of reality, here are five “truths” about the 2011 Draft:
1. Perry Jones = Anthony Randolph
When you look at Jones physical skills and athleticism, you think he has the tools to really be a factor at the next level. Sure he will struggle in college because the game is slower and more methodical, but man is this kid going to shine in the NBA. But isn’t Jones the same type of build, skill set and scout favorite as Brandon Wright, Julian Wright, Marvin Williams or Anthony Randolph? Have any of them done anything significant at the NBA level? When you are good at a lot of things, but not great at any one you become a “jack of all trades, master of none.” Is that worth a Top 3 pick?
2. Jared Sullinger = Glen Davis
Sometimes we get caught up in the numbers 20 PPG 10 RPG and forget the more important numbers like 6-9 261 LBS. Yeah Sullinger has the potential to be a beast and dominate the NBA paint as he has done in college. But it is more realistic that his lack of size and athleticism plays a bigger factor in Sullinger becoming another good big man plagued by weight issues. Not everyone can be Blake Griffin, but plenty of teams would love to have a Glen Davis.
3. Harrison Barnes = “is what he is”
A couple of months will not tell someone’s career, but it can show you who they are right now. Barnes could take this North Carolina team on his back these next three months and change all our minds, many have done this before. It is more likely that what Barnes is today is who he will be tomorrow. He can evolve his game, he can get stronger, and he can get smarter and become the offensive weapon we all pegged him as. But for whichever team that takes him in this year’s draft, know what you are getting. You are getting a player with more potential than anyone in this class, but an initial role player. He can start on a lot of NBA teams today and be a Richard Hamilton or a James Harden type who fits into an offense, but is not the whole offense. Don’t be blinded, Barnes is what he is.
4. The best player in this draft is likely selected outside of the Top 10
At this point we have maybe four candidates for the top pick, another three that could get there and then three European prospects that a lot of teams like. At this rate the best player in the draft may either slip through the cracks or maybe isn’t ranked as a Top 10 pick. This year we are littered with average, but simply do not have any extraordinary. Some players to keep an eye on who could be better than they are drafted are Maalik Wayns, Tobias Harris, Trey Thompkins or Kawhi Leonard.
5. This is the weakest draft since 2006
When there is nobody that stands out, someone head and shoulders above the rest you know you have a problem. Look at the past five drafts as an example of that:
2011 – N/A
2009 – Blake Griffin
2008 – Derrick Rose & Michael Beasley
2007 – Greg Oden & Kevin Durant
2006 – N/A
There is no Durant, Rose, Griffin or Wall in this draft class. The NCAA Tournament solidified Rose as a potential superstar and he punched his ticket in March. That could be the case this year with how open and weak the field is appearing to be. The power forward and small forward classes are very deep and rich with some talented NBA role players. Most of them could be in a rotation today and give 8-12 solid minutes. But when you draft in the lottery, you typically do not need role players you need impact players. Something that could make this draft even thinner in talent; the likes of Harrison Barnes, Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter, Derrick Williams and Kawhi Leonard are not locks to declare. Maybe the Kings or the Cavaliers can convince themselves on Perry Jones, Josh Selby or Jared Sullinger as a Top Pick. Or maybe Jonas Valanciunas, Donatas Motiejunas or Jan Vesely?
With that being said, we need to be optimistic about this draft class because the talent is there, they are still adjusting from the ranks of high school basketball. All these kids have yet to fully develop their bodies or games and have tons of potential. With the way things are going now, the No.1 pick could be decided in the Final Four or even on draft night.