Draft 2011: Top-10 Prospects
What on Earth is a Bismack Biyombo?! We’ve got the answer.
THE WORST DRAFT EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The pundits are already coming out with that bold proclamation about the 2011 NBA Draft. While it will be tough for any draft to end up worse than 2000′s edition, make no mistake about it – this year’s draft isn’t real strong. It already was considered a so-so pool of prospects before three players who at one time were projected to be the #1 overall pick—Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger—decided to forgo NBA riches and stay another year in school. What we’re left with is a draft that every team is clambering to try to get into the top two slots, because after that the pickings will be slim.
Don’t be mistaken – Kyrie Irving is not the top prospect in 2011 only due to default. This is no pity pick – Irving was already projected to go first overall whether Barnes, Jones, Sullinger or anyone else threw their hats into the ring. And with his successful return from his injured toe that kept him out most of his one and only season at Duke, a healthy Irving is heads and shoulders above the rest of this year’s crop.
If a team doesn’t get the top overall pick, they’ll get a decent consolation prize in Arizona’s Derrick Williams. A perfect example of the “hybrid forward” that roams the NBA courts of today, Williams has the size and ability to play the post, but with the outside game and dribbling skills to play the wing also. Able to knock down threes at a ridiculous rate (56.8%) or produce slams worthy of Dunk of the Year consideration, Williams should make his future NBA employer very happy.
3) (7) Jonas Valanciunas – Lietuvas Rytas – 1992 – PF/C
Just like last year, when John Wall and Evan Turner were considered the gems of the draft, projecting the 2011 NBA Draft gets muddy at pick number three. At this point, it looks like Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas will get the nod. The soon-to-be 19-year-old had a very successful debut season in the Euroleague, posting a line of 7.7 ppg and 5.8 rpg in 15 minutes of action per game. He was also the All-Star Game MVP in the Lithuanian league this season.
While he didn’t shoot the greatest during Kentucky’s Final Four run, Brandon Knight was still the team’s “Mr. Big Shot”, hitting clutch baskets seemingly every game. Knight’s well-rounded game, size, athleticism and potential make him the top point guard prospect in 2011 not named Kyrie Irving.
“The best point guard prospect not named Kyrie Irving”?! Kemba Walker probably has a thing or two to say about that. No college player helped his draft stock more than Walker did in leading his UConn Huskies to an improbable NCAA title. Walker showed, despite his size, he can score on anyone, is a terrific leader and has speed to burn.
6) (NR) Bismack Biyombo - Baloncesto Fuenlabrada - 1992 - PF/C
So what exactly is a Bismack Biyombo? It’s a top prospect in this year’s draft, that’s what. The Congo native, currently playing in the best domestic league outside of the NBA (Spain’s ACB) had his coming out party recently at the Nike Hoop Summit, where he posted the game’s first ever triple-double (12 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocks) while going up against the best American high schoolers. While there is rumors that he is a lot older than his listed age (currently 18), that is more speculation than fact. What is fact is Biyombo is 6-9 with an astonishing 7-7 wingspan, is a terrific athlete, a devastating shotblocker, has out of this world potential and shows great leadership skills. Serge Ibaka redux.
7) (NR) Enes Kanter – C
Not really much we can say about Enes Kanter since he hasn’t played anywhere in over a year due to being ruled ineligible at Kentucky. Scouts are still intrigued enough with his size and skill package that he looks to be a top 10 lock.
8 ) (NR) Jan Vesely - Partizan Belgrade – 1990 – PF
After another strong season in the Adriatic League and the Euroleague, Czech forward Jan Vesely finds himself projected in the same place he was expected to go in the 2010 NBA Draft until he pulled out – top 10.
9) (9) Donatas Motiejunas – Benetton Treviso – 1990 – PF/C
Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas had a stellar year for Benetton Treviso, helping them make it to the Final Four of the Eurocup, and in the process won the Eurocup Rising Star award.
Another hybrid forward in the mold of Derrick Williams is Terrence Jones, a player who can punish opponents in the post, as well as blow by them on the wing.