30 Bold Predictions
How will the ’11 Draft class turn out?
Bismack Biyombo | PF | Ayuda En Accion Fuenlabrada
Is he the next Saer Sene or could he be the second coming of Serge Ibaka? N-O-B-O-D-Y knows. After hearing about his triple-double at the Nike Hoop Summit, reading his inspiring and impressive story, and likewise hearing about the struggles he underwent in a personal workout during the adidas Eurocamp, I hope the scouts have a better idea than everybody else. All I can say is that people in the business can learn that scouting can, at points, be a guessing game—as one can see through the lens of Biyombo’s meteoric rise.
Marcus Morris | 6-9 | 230 | Junior | Kansas
Morris was one of the most versatile players in the country this year on the offensive end, and I expect him to be the most versatile offensive player out of this whole group as the years wear on. Here’s what Marcus believes he could and should be like.
Markieff Morris | 6-10 | 240 | Junior | Kansas
Markieff played his niche at Kansas—he didn’t try to do to much and took over when the team needed him to. While Marcus, his twin brother, was often regarded as the more polished prospect, Markieff is the one that has “more upside.” In my opinion, Markieff will take on a similar role in the NBA as he did at Kansas—situation pending—and that will be to fit in, do the dirty work, and do him whenever the opportunity is right. Being a role player is a strength, and Markieff could thrive in the right situation.
Jonas Valanciunas | 7-0 | C | Lietuvos Rytas
It will take the talented center from Lithuania an Rubio-esque amount of time before he ever steps foot in the NBA. As a result of contract issues abroad, Valanciunas probably won’t step foot on to the American hardwood anytime soon.
Tobias Harris | 6-9 | SF | Freshman | Tennessee
Tobias Harris will be in the NBA for 10+ years. I can’t explain it, but this kid just seems more mature than most of his peers and I that should will bode well for him in the long run. Maturity goes a long way at the highest level.
Kenneth Faried | 6-8 | PF | Senior | Morehead State
The NCAA all-time leading rebounder. The easy out here is to say that he will lead rookies in rebounding. Let’s go a step further; Faried will lead all rookies in offensive rebound rate—that is, offensive rebounds per minutes played.
Donatas Motiejunas | 7-0 | PF/C | Benneton Treviso
Motiejunas will grow older and remind everybody of a lefty (and better post scoring) Andrea Bargnani. As you may recall, Bargnani was chosen first in the (quite weak) 2006 NBA Draft ahead of players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo. In the 2011 Draft, Motiejunas will hop off the board in a spot where his expectations will be more mild compared to those of Bargnani.
Klay Thompson | 6-6 | SG | Junior | Washington State
As was the case in college, often played very well before the start of conference play and then his numbers slipped once PAC-10 play began. In the NBA, he won’t be shouldering the load like he did in college, where he shot 39 percent on 7.2 threes a game. Just like Jimmer, expect Thompson’s effectiveness from distance to sprout up. With Klay, I’ll make the prediction of 43 percent, though.
Marshon Brooks | 6-5 | SG | Senior | Providence
A very talented volume scorer, Brooks models his offensive repertoire after Kobe Bryant. At some point in his career, Brooks will average over 15 points per game for a whole season. He simply has a knack for scoring, so this bold prediction has to revolve around him putting the ball in the basket.
Tristan Thompson | 6-9 | PF | Freshman | Texas
At some point in his career—say, around the time he gets re-upped after his rookie contract—expect Thompson to average a double-double in the L. The lefty is a gifted offensive rebounder and as he gains the polish, skill, and strength necessary to compete at the highest level of basketball that there is, the numbers will come. It will, however, take time.
Iman Shumpert | 6-6 | PG | Junior | Georgia Tech
When the dust settles, Shumpert could be one of the best value picks in this draft. With his size, 6-9.5 wingspan, and above average athleticism and playmaking skills, he has most of the tools to be successful at the next level. My bold prediction is that he will use them and become the player who everybody thought he could become when he got to Georgia Tech out of high school.
Jeremy Tyler | 6-11 | PF | Tokyo Apache
If he hadn’t gone overseas to begin with, he would probably be in the discussion of being a Lottery pick. The former number one rated player in his class, Tyler has the athleticism, physique and strength that teams generally look for in the top half of the first round. I truly expect Tyler to be the one guy who 10+ teams will look back on and say “How in the world did we pass him up?”
STICKY PLAYERS—Players who will stick around for one reason or another and find some form of success (their niche) at the highest level.
Vernon Macklin | 6-10 | Power Forward | Senior | Florida
Regardless of who picks Macklin and at what point he gets lifted off the board, he’s he is too talented not to make an NBA roster. He is skilled in the post, fights for the ball at both ends, and has the necessary physical traits to play at the next level. Without much upside, he likely won’t be taken in the first round but you can expect him to stick with an NBA team that needs a big man on its roster.
Norris Cole | 6-4 | PG | Senior | Cleveland State
Just like Macklin, this is one of my sleepers. Anybody else watch him light up a very solid Old Dominion team for 35 (8-15 from deep) in the middle of the season? Even though he played for a mid-major he was flat out dominant: Cole brought the ball up against pressure while shooting a respectable percentage and shouldering the scoring load at the same time. Tough to do—look for him to bring his game to an NBA city near you.
Jamine Peterson | 6-6 | SF | New Mexico Thunderbirds (D-League)
After coming into Providence and beasting for a few seasons, he was then dismissed from the team (a story worth reading about). But he has played solid ball in Greece and in the D-League since then and, with his grit, determination, and improved skill level—whether he is taken in the first or second round—he will find a spot in the L.
Jimmy Butler | 6-8 | SF | Senior | Marquette
Forget about the versatility, nose for the ball, 15 PPG, and consistent 50 percent shooting while it Marquette. Really, all you have to do is read this story about Butler from ESPN.com to know why this kid will stick in the NBA. He’s had a hell of a life and can take the challenges that NBA teams will put before him—shit, he’ll welcome them with open arms.
Gilbert Brown | 6-6 | SF | Senior | Pittsburgh
An improved shooter year-in and year-out for the Panthers, Brown also has tantalizing athleticism, solid strength, and works his tail off on the defensive end. He doesn’t have to have the ball on offense to be effective because he moves well without the ball. I’m not saying he will get consistent burn in the L, but do believe that there will be a spot for him somewhere.
Damian Saunders | 6-7 | SF | Senior | Duquesne
As raw as he is offensively, he is the opposite defensively. There should always—always—be a chance for somebody who averaged 2.7 blocks and 2.3 steals in college. Saunders’ D may be light years ahead of his offense, but a team that needs to shore up their perimeter defense might want to call Saunders name on draft night.