NBA Draft Analysis With ESPN’s Experts
The Worldwide Leader’s Jay Bilas, Chad Ford and Fran Fraschilla break it down.
Question: Bob Diven of the News Herald inquired whether the Cavaliers would choose Kanter or Valanciunas with their fourth overall pick.
Answer: It looks like Kanter. Bilas said he’s bigger, stronger and more physically mature than Valanciunas by a wide margin. Fraschila had the same thought with a reference to Valanciunas. “The one thing that bothered me, and again he was only 18 when he played this year in Euroleague, is he was very manhandled by strong, physical European centers,” Fraschilla said, referring to Valanciunas’ role on Lietuvos Rytas in the Lithuanian league. Ford had a nugget; he said NBA scouts told him Valanciunas could be the best player in this 2011 Draft five years from now. Ford noted that if the Cavs choose Irving with their first pick, the security that Irving provides might embolden them to take more risk by selecting Valanciunas.
Valanciunas is under contract with his Lithuanian team for two more seasons, and there is no buyout written into his contract. NBA teams can offer only $500,000 towards a buyout of any international player, which means Valanciunas’ agent would have to organize a way for him to buy his way out of a team, if necessary. Ford pointed out the Lithuanian team needs money. “As we get closer to the Draft, it’s more likely some sort of buyout will be worked out,” Ford said.
Question: The Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins asked the ESPN crew which undervalued players might be available late in the second round.
Answer: While Ford conceded any prediction of which players could be available that late in the draft is difficult—the noted this Draft is deep from the 15th through 35th picks before dropping off in talent—he listed Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore (does everything well yet unspectacular) and San Diego State’s Malcolm Thomas (the 6-9 forward has good athleticism). Marquette’s Jimmy Butler also got a shoutout from Ford for his do-everything nature on the court.
Bilas echoed Moore and Butler before mentioning Ohio State’s David Lighty. An understanding of how to play the game, a willingness to do dirty work and an acceptable amount of athleticism are Lighty’s strengths, according to Bilas. Fraschilla likes Diante Garrett from Iowa State, who improved considerably during his collegiate career and who handled himself well in team workouts because of his size and quickness.
Question: Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald wanted to know what teams rely on to make their judgements on Kanter.
Answer: Fraschilla’s thought was that Kanter hasn’t come from nowhere. He began playing in Euroleague when he was 16 years old; scouts identified him from a young age and have tracked him. Kanter also got to work out with Kentucky’s assistant coaches, including former NBA players Kenny Payne and Rod Strickland.
Ford offered the other side of the equation. While emphasizing Kanter’s intelligence and willingness to improve, he pointed out the obvious concern: most information on how Kanter has played in games comes from an under-18 tournament he played in when he was 17, and then one game at the Nike Hoop Summit when he was 18. (Kanter was deemed ineligible to play at the University of Kentucky because the NCAA ruled he received benefits above his necessary expenses from when he played on a Turkish club team.) “You wonder with a player that age, who has missed that much gametime development, what it does to a player,” Ford said.
Bilas stated that more players than usual in the lottery have a lack of game experience. So, if a team opts to pass on Kanter, then who’s the next option, Bilas said.
Question: I asked for the top perimeter and post defenders in this Draft, regardless of where they’re picked.
Answer: Bilas said Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State (can guard multiple positions, has good length, good on the perimeter) and Chris Singleton of Florida State. Tristan Thompson from Texas was mentioned by Bilas as a guy who can be good down the line.
Fraschilla likes Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert, who he said can create a spot for himself on an NBA roster simply because of his defense. He has long arms and good size for someone who’s listed at 6-6 and 220 pounds. Kenneth Faried of Morehead State also got love from Fraschilla due to his “prolific” rebounding. Faried averaged 13 boards per game in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons and 14.5 during 2010-11.
Ford said UCLA’s Malcom Lee has been brought in by NBA teams specifically to guard the better offensive players. He revealed that Lee was brought in by the Utah Jazz to take on Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette. Also mentioned was Bismack Biyombo. The 6-9 18-year-old from The Congo has great shot blocking ability to the point that Ford projected he could become Ben Wallace-like. “Unlike Kanter, where we really don’t have game film of him, we do have about 14 games in the ACB [Spanish basketball league] to watch Bismack Biyombo play against some of the most well-known players in Europe,” Ford said.