Fab Five: Early Returns
How are the top-5 draft prospects faring?
Back in July we took our first stab at predicting the 2011 NBA Draft’s top picks. Now that the season has finally kicked off we can finally see how the guys we tabbed as top prospects are making us look as prognosticators. Here’s a quick look at the early returns from the top-5 prospects we identified almost five months ago.
12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 41.2% 3pt
At first glance, Harrison Barnes’ statline looks like he is off to a good start. In actuality, that is only partially true. He did get off to a strong start through North Carolina’s first two games, then, when the opposition got a little stiffer, he’s struggled mightily. 0-12 from the field versus Minnesota. 4-12 against Vanderbilt. It makes the naming of Barnes as a pre-season All-American look a little premature. But no need for alarm — Barnes is still considered the top prospect in this class, and once he gets used to the level of play in college he should get his game back on track.
12.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.0 bpg
Perry Jones III has been all that he was advertised to be, plus more, for the Bears in the early going. He had 12 points, 11 boards and 4 blocks versus LaSalle and followed that up with 20 points, 8 boards and 3 steals versus Jackson State. His strong play earned him Big 12 Co-Rookie of the Week honors for the week of November 15-21. But Baylor has played a soft schedule so far and won’t face its first tough test until Gonzaga comes to town on December 18.
14.2 ppg, 6.6 apg, 3.8 rpg, 42.1% 3pt
The biggest revelation of the NCAA season so far has been the play of Duke guard Kyrie Irving. Irving has by far been the top performing draft prospect this first month, as well as being the top player on the uber-talented Blue Devils’ roster. He’s played with poise, has shot the ball well, gotten to the hole, set up his team’s offense and has played outstanding defense, including shutting down Kansas State’s All-American Jacob Pullen. If Irving keeps this up, he could give Barnes a run for the money for the first overall pick next June.
4) Jan Vesely — Partizan Belgrade — 1990 — SF/PF
7.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.4 spg (Euroleague)
Czech big man Jan Vesely’s stats are all down a tad bit from last season in the early stages of Euroleague play this year. But as Brandon Jennings has shown to North Americans, European stats can be misleading. Nonetheless, there is still plenty to like about the big man’s game, as he’s a hard working, long and athletic player. In fact, he displayed some of that athleticism recently:
16.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 63.4% FG
The Buckeyes have gotten off to a tremendous start, and they have freshman Jared Sullinger to thank. The “bull-in-a-china-shop” power forward started off his collegiate career with back-to-back double-doubles, including 26 points (13-17 from the field) and 10 rebounds against highly ranked Florida in their house. Looks like Sullinger will fit in just fine in the rough and tumble Big Ten.