2011 STR Draft Board - Aykis Edition

Now that we know where we're picking, its time to get some opinions out there on who we'd like to see the Kings take.  What follows is my Top 15 picks, in order (as well as a few people I'd look at with 35th and even 60th pick), with comparisons, analysis, and video that you may or may not take seriously.  Feel free to agree or disagree with me.  I do not claim to be a genius, or even smart, and can prove this by showing you my Draft Board from last year around this time (where I said that Evan Turner would be better than John Wall).

Now that you're thoroughly disenchanted...

1. Kyrie Irving, PG, 6'3, 190 lbs, 19 years, Freshman, Duke

Comparisons: Poor Man's Chris Paul / Mike Conley / What Jay Williams might've been without Injuries

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 0%. Kyrie will be drafted either 1 or 2 in all likelihood.

Potential Nickname:  "Swirving"

The Good:  To me, Kyrie is the best player/prospect in this draft despite only playing in 11 college games this season.  In those 11 games he showed a great knowledge of the game, and more than that, great skill.  He can shoot, pass and defend.  His ball-handling is great and while he isn't super-quick or athletic, he is an expert at changing speeds and directions.  He's also not afraid of taking it inside and getting to the line, as evidenced by his 6.5 attempts per game (on 90% shooting).  His shooting overall is great (but not elite) as he's excellent around the rim, in the mid-range, or from three.

The Bad:  Perhaps the only bad thing about Kyrie is that we haven't seen him play as much as we'd like.  Those 11 games were tantalizing, but were they enough?

Highlights:

2. Derrick Williams, SF/PF, 6'9, 250 lbs, 19 years, Junior, Arizona

Comparisons: Michael Beasley with his head on straight / Poor Man's Carmelo / Danny Granger without elite Three-Point stroke / Antawn Jamison

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 0%. Like Kyrie, he'll be one of the top two picks.

Potential Nickname: "Tenacious D" (Since it hasn't caught on for Favors yet)

The Good:  Offensively, there is not much this guy can't do.  He can post you up and score inside, attack the basket and score or get to the line (which he did a lot at Arizona), and also face up and hit his open jumpers.  He even shot 56.1% from the College Three Point line on 2 attempts a game (to the amazement of his coach and teammates, as he was routinely terrible at them in practice).  Basically, if you need to score, put the ball in his hands and he'll find a way to do so.  He's very athletic, which helps him a bunch around the basket getting offensive rebounds or throwing down lobs from teammates.

The Bad:  The hard decision (or not so hard depending on the roster) for the NBA team drafting Williams will be what position should he play?  Is he quick enough to guard NBA SFs and can he hit an outside shot consistently enough?  At the PF position, is he big and strong enough to guard the NBA guys?  He's a little stuck on both fronts defensively and I don't see him being a great defender for a while, if ever.  For what it's worth, Williams was adamant at last week's combine that he was a Small Forward.

Highlights :

Video Here

3. Enes Kanter, PF/C, 6'11, 260 lbs, 19 years, Turkey

Comparisons: Al Horford / Luis Scola / Less Athletic Nene / Chris Kaman

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 40%. I only say this because while he's probably the best big man in the draft, his knee history might cause him to drop a lot farther than normal.  

Potential Nicknames: "Anatolian Colossus" , "The Bull from Istanbul", "The Undertaker" (His Favorite Pro-Wrestler apparently)

The Good: This guy has a very advanced offensive game for someone so young.  He has a lot of post-moves, and a very solid jumper to boot.  He's got good hands for the ball and good awareness on where to be to grab rebounds on both ends of the court.  Defensively he's got good size and strength to defend either the PF or C spot, although he's probably more suited at the PF.  

The Bad:  Kanter is not especially athletic, and there are already worries about his knees as he's already had some problems with them.  If his physicals from the Combine check out, I see him being a top 5 pick... If not, well we saw what happened to projected-lotto pick DeJuan Blair, although I don't see Kanter taking nearly as big a fall.  He'll also have to kill at workouts because he hasn't played competitive basketball in about two years now, thanks to said knee problems and NCAA sanctions.

Highlights:

4. Brandon Knight, PG/SG, 6'3, 180 lbs, 19 years, Freshman, Kentucky

Comparisons: Jrue Holiday / Lou Williams / Worse Passing Brandon Jennings

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 30%. Next to Kyrie, he's probably the guard with the most potential in this draft, and Cleveland, Utah and Toronto all could use solid guards and are drafting ahead of us.

Potential Nicknames: "Sir Brandon", "The Dark Knight"

The Good:  Knight had to carry most of the scoring load for Kentucky last year despite playing the Point Guard position, and he did a pretty good job.  He's excellent at attacking the basket and shooting from mid-range, and also possesses a good, although not elite, three point shot.  He's got great size for a PG and uses it and his length on the defensive end well.  He's also a very smart (4.0 GPA through High School and College) kid on and off the court, with a great work ethic, as evidenced by his improvement from the beginning of the year at Kentucky.

The Bad:  He's definitely more comfortable as a scorer than distributor, averaging 4.2 assists but with 3.2 turnovers, not always making the best decisions with the ball and forcing the issue instead.  This also goes for his shot-selection, which isn't the best, making him a streaky shooter, perhaps the biggest reason I see a bit of Jennings in him.  Ideally, I think you want Knight paired up with another ball-handler and not running the offense by himself.

Highlights:

Video Here

5. Jonas Valanciunas, C, 6'11, 240 lbs, 19 years, Lithuania

Comparisons: Andris Biedrins before he got his money and quit playing / Super skinny Joakim Noah / Rich Man's Omer Asik / Marcin Gortat

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 60%.  This is where the draft operates a bit on guesswork for some people.  A lot of teams don't scout Europe as well as they should.

Potential Nicknames: "Baltic Hammer", "Tasmanian Lithuanian"

The Good:  Out of all the Euros in the draft, Valanciunas might be the one with the highest ceiling.  He's 6'11 now but probably will reach 7'0 by the time he's done growing, and he's got a Joakim Noah-like motor.  Most of his points come off of offensive put-backs or in the paint somehow, but he has a nice mid-range jumper as well and room to improve, as evidenced by his very nice 91.7% from the FT line last year.

The Bad:  While he might have the most potential, he also might be the biggest project.  He'll need to really fill out his frame and work on his defensive and offensive game skill wise instead of simply relying on hustle and size to do it for him.  It might work now in Europe, but in the NBA, players are bigger and stronger and not so easily pushed around.  He also has a buyout issue with his contract and might not be able to come out for at least one more year, so this could possibly be another Rubio situation, or worse, it could force him to pull out of the draft completely.  Luckily, recent reports suggest that his team is willing to be flexible and work with him and the team who picks him on the issue.

Highlights:

6. Kemba Walker, PG, 6'1, 185 lbs, 21 years, Junior, Connecticut

Comparisons: Tim Hardaway / Bobby Jackson / Ty Lawson / Aaron Brooks / Will Bynum

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 50%. He could go anywhere from #3 to #10.

Potential Nicknames: "Skywalker", "Dagger", "Walker: Texas Ranger"

The Good:  Kemba is probably the best scorer in this entire draft despite his size.  He can beat almost anyone off the dribble with his quickness, isn't afraid of contact in the lane (a reason he was one of the NCAA leaders in FTA), and can shoot from the mid-range to the three point line with some consistency.  He's also improved dramatically since coming to UConn, showing a great work ethic and resolve to get better.  He's got better court vision than given credit for as well, averaging 4.5 assists to 2.5 turnovers, a better ratio than the other top PG prospects in Irving and Knight.  Also, as a 6'0 guard, he averaged 5.4 rebounds.  He doesn't have Nate Robinson explosiveness, but he can probably out-jump most other 6'0 point guards in the NBA.  Leadership is also another quality Kemba has in spades.

The Bad:  Kemba needs the ball in his hands to be effective.  He hasn't played off the ball much.  There's also the issue of his size, which becomes a problem on the defensive end.  He's quick enough to stay in front of his man, but he's not tall enough to stop players from just shooting over him, or strong enough to stop them from getting inside. 

Highlights (some NSFW lyrics in the background song):

7. Kawhi Leonard, SF, 6'7, 225 lbs, 19 years, Sophomore, San Diego State

Comparisons: Luc Mbah a Moute / Gerald Wallace / Wilson Chandler / Shawn Marion

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 70%.  Chad Ford is a lot higher on him than I am, but he's still one of the best wings in the draft.  Washington at 6 could really use him.

Potential Nicknames: "Kawhi Not?" , "Paws"

The Good:  If you're not looking for a go-to scorer, but want someone that can come in and still contribute in other ways from Day 1, Kawhi is your man.  He's a phenomenal athlete and uses his athleticism and huge hands to great success on the defensive end and with rebounding, where he's elite on both ends.  He's also got a decent handle and can run the offense or a fast-break in a pinch, although thats probably not Plan A.

The Bad:  Kawhi doesn't really have a jump shot yet.  Most of his points come from attacking the basket or from 2nd chance points.  He can hit from outside and mid-range, don't get me wrong, but its just not consistent enough.  He's also not very good at finishing around the basket when he's contested.  He'll need to do a better job of either finishing or drawing contact and getting to the line in the NBA.

Highlights:

Video Here

8. Jimmer Fredette, PG, 6'2, 195 lbs, 22 years, Senior, BYU

Comparisons: Mike Bibby / Mark Price / J.J. Redick / Stephen Curry

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 100%.  I don't feel like any team ahead of us would take Jimmer over everyone else available.

Potential Nickname: Jimmer is already technically a nickname since his legal name is James.

The Good: Do you want your PG to be a liable three point threat from anywhere between the line and half court?  Then Jimmer is your man.  The guy has unbelievable range and a very consistent shot as well, shooting an astounding 8.5 threes a game this last year and hitting 39.6% (That's quite good).  It's not just three-point shooting though, as Fredette can basically shoot from anywhere, even with contact (he got to the line 7.6 times last year).  Jimmer's also a much better passer than his statistics show, considering he was the focus of the BYU offense.  In the NBA he should be able to play the facilitator more.  Jimmer could end up being sensational on the offensive end with his shooting and passing abilities combined.  I was most impressed by the fact that he was putting up such big numbers while being essentially the entire focus of the other team's defense.

The Bad:  It's defensively where you have to worry about Jimmer.  He's strong, but he's not particularly quick or even inclined to guard quicker guards, which in the NBA will be all the ones not named Derek Fisher or Steve Blake.  Think Beno, defensively, but without the ability to summon Yetis.  To justify a lot of playing time, at least from the get-go, he'll either have to have little competition for the spot (which isn't the case in Sacramento), his offense will have to be good enough to make up for his defense, or he'll have to show during workouts and such that he's a better defender than people think.

Highlights:

Video Here

9. Bismack Biyombo, PF/C, 6'9, 240 lbs, 18 years (probably), Congo

Comparisons: Raw Serge Ibaka / Mohammed Saer Sene / Ben Wallace / Quicker D.J. Mbenga / Chris Andersen

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 40%  I think Bismack's stock will rise for good or bad.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Kahn draft him at #2 to play him at Center as the athletic, defensive counterpart to Love.

Potential Nickname: A guy named Bismack Biyombo does not need a nickname. That's like putting bumper stickers and a spoiler on a Ferrari.

The Good: Athleticism. Defense. Shot blocking. Rebounding.  Effort.  An awesome name. These are the things you get from Biyombo.  He's also very quick running up and down the floor and already has an NBA body.  Killer on the offensive boards.  

The Bad: Do you want offense? Too bad.  At least for now the only offense Bismack has is offensive putbacks or finishing off lobs by teammates.  He has no jumper to speak of, nor a post-game.  He's also not a good passer or FT shooter.  I'm wary of drafting Biyombo because I don't know if he can ever develop a semblance of an offensive game, but we wouldn't be drafting him for offense.  If Petrie picks him, I approve.  Until then, I remain wary.

Highlights:

10. Jan Vesely, SF/PF, 6'11, 240 lbs, 21 years, Czech Republic

Comparisons: Andrei Kirilenko / Joe Alexander / Josh Smith / Longer, worse shooting Josh McRoberts

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 60%.  There are two teams ahead of us that I think could be real interested in Vesely: Washington and Toronto.  

Potential Nicknames: "The Dunking Ninja" (already a nickname for him), "The Iron Curtain"

The Good:  Vesely is extremely athletic, long and explosive.  He can defend either the 3 or the 4 position and his size makes him a mismatch for most 3s while his quickness makes him a mismatch for most 4s.  His explosiveness and size are assets around the basket, where he can usually act before the defender can react.

The Bad:  Offensively, Vesely still needs a lot of work.  His jumper is not nearly consistent, and he only shot 54.2% from the FT line last year.  He's also not that great of a rebounder on the defensive end despite his size and ability.  Don't ask him to handle the ball for more than one or two dribbles either as he's very turnover prone.  A year or two ago, I would have had Vesely as the Top Euro in the draft.  He's failed to make sufficient enough improvements in his game over that time to me, particularly offensively.

Highlights:

11. Alec Burks, SG, 6'6, 195 lbs, 19 years, Sophomore, Colorado

Comparisons:  Less skilled but more athletic Evan Turner / Josh Childress / Marquis Daniels / Less Explosive (but still athletic) DeMar Derozan / Terrence Williams with his head on straight

Likelihood of Being Available at 7:  90%.  I think this is the year that people are finally wary of trying to get the next "Brandon Roy" after Turner had a bit of a craptastic season last year. 

Potential Nickname: "Burkle"

The Good:  Might end up being the best SG, if not one of the best players from this draft after all is said and done.  He's very good at creating scoring opportunities for himself by attacking the basket and utilizing his impressive athleticism and ball-handling skills.  He gets to the Free Throw line a lot thanks to his aggressiveness.  He's also a darn good rebounder for a guard, and can run the point in a pinch.  He has good defensive instincts to go with his physical gifts.

The Bad:  Right now, Tyreke probably has a better outside and mid-range shot than Burks does.  Offensively, he has to have the ball in his hands to be effective, and how quickly he learns to play off-the-ball will determine how soon he can make an immediate impact on a team that already has ball-dominant players like the Kings.

Highlights:

Video Here

12. Tristan Thompson, PF, 6'9, 230 lbs, 20 years, Freshman, Texas

Comparisons:  Amir Johnson / Tyrus Thomas with his head on straight / Ed Davis

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 95%.  I could see his stock rising due to workouts but I don't think any team ahead of us would take him.

Potential Nicknames: "Tri-tip", "NaJT"

The Good:  Thompson is very good at making an impact without needing the ball.  He fights for good position in the post, and crashes the offensive boards extremely well.  He's very effective in the Pick and Roll when rolling to the basket.  Thompson is an excellent defender and shot-blocker as well, utilizing his quickness and length to stay in front of his man.

The Bad:  Offensively, he doesn't have much going on outside of putbacks and finishing around the rim.  While he gets to the line a lot, he's horrendous from there at sub-50%.  He's also a bad defensive rebounder for his size and position.

Highlights:

Video Here

13. Jordan Hamilton, SF, 6'9, 230 lbs, 20 years, Sophomore, Texas

Comparisons:  Jason Richardson / Dorell Wright / Jeff Green

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 100%. 

Potential Nicknames: "Shots", "The Hangover (if he takes too many shots)"

The Good:  Hamilton is a scorer, plain and simple.  He has an excellent jump-shot from both mid-range and outside.  He's got good athleticism as well, which combined with his scorer's mentality, lead to some crazy shots going in that probably shouldn't.  Hamilton is also an excellent rebounder for his size.

The Bad:  Defensively Hamilton is a sieve, although he has all the physical tools to become a good defender if he puts his mind to it.  He also shies away from contact, opting to bail out the defense with a crazy shot instead of simply trying to get to the line.  That's just the beginning of his poor shot selection because while he's a good shooter, he'll take shots that he has no business taking.  His ball-handling is mediocre at best, which hurts him when he attacks the basket.

Highlights (From High School, but you'll get the gist of it. He's a scorer):

14. Donatas Motiejunas, PF/C, 7'0, 215 lbs, 20 years, Lithuania

Comparisons: Andrea Bargnani / Channing Frye / Spencer Hawes if he weighed 220 lbs. / Yi Jianlian

Likelihood of Being Available at 7:  95%.  Toronto really likes those international guys (Raptors fans might revolt though)

Potential Nicknames: "Donuts", "Why?", "How?", "Scourge d'Aykis"

The Good:  Motiejunas is a very skilled player, able to score inside with either hand (he's a lefty primarily though), and also to hit shots from outside.  Offensively he's probably the most skilled big man in the draft outside of maybe Kanter.  He's a decent passer for his size as well, not amazing, but better than most big men.

The Bad:  He doesn't do any of the things you want a big man to do well in other than scoring, and he doesn't exactly set the world on fire there either.  He's a terrible rebounder and defender, and that's against inferior competition (In 26 minutes a game over 30 games last season in Italy, he only averaged 4.4 rebounds).  He doesn't like contact at all and he also lacks intensity.  He gets called soft by Kleenex.  He also really needs to fill out his frame if he's going to be a proper NBA big man, currently not weighing even as much as Tyreke Evans.  At this point in the draft though, he's probably worth the risk.  But not at the 7th pick.

Highlights:

15. Kenneth Faried, PF, 6'8, 220 lbs, Senior, Morehead St.

Comparisons: Lou Amundson / Dennis Rodman / Michael Smith / Joakim Noah in a shorter, thinner, less-crazy package 

Likelihood of Being Available at 7: 100%.  Faried could go anywhere from late lotto to late first round I think.

Potential Nicknames: "No, ma, that's not Mikki Moore", "Garbage Man", "Special K"

The Good:  At this point in a weak draft, I want to grab someone who has an elite skill.  Faried is an elite rebounder, one of the best the country has ever seen (He is the NCAA's career leader in Rebounding).  He's also an excellent shotblocker and defender, averaging 2.3 blocks and 1.9 steals (the steals being unique and impressive for a big man).  He has a high motor and is an excellent leaper, and while he's not a scorer, he's efficient with the shots he does take, and gets to the line a bit thanks to his activity level around the basket.

The Bad:  He's a bit undersized both in height and strength for the PF spot at the NBA level.  He'll need to bulk up some.  He also really has no offensive game outside of cleaning up putbacks or throwing down dunks.  While he gets to the line a bit, he doesn't convert very well (58%).  His college numbers also might be a little inflated thanks to him playing at a smaller school in a weak conference (although Dennis Rodman himself played at a small school and he turned out alright).

Highlights: 

Video Here

***

Players I'd consider at Pick 35:

Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA - Probably not going to be available, but if he slips, I'd bite.  He has great potential as a scorer.

Josh Selby, SG, Kansas - Like Honeycutt, he probably won't be available.  He's super athletic and can shoot though.

Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington - He's only 5'10, but really quick and athletic, can shoot from outside or take it in and draw contact, and also has great court vision (He was 12th in the nation in APG at 6.1 and had an A:TO ratio of 2:1). If we don't take a guard at #7 this is my pick at 35, a much better Pooh Jeter.

Nikola Vucevic, PF/C, USC - If we go small at 7, this is the guy I'd be most interested in at 35.  He's a skilled big man and drew some praise at the combine this past week for his good physical measurements as well as showcasing his skill, holding himself up very well against the likes of Kanter.  It's possible he won't be available at 35.

Nolan Smith, PG, Duke - He took over the PG spot for Duke when Kyrie went down with injury and filled in admirably, averaging 20+ points.  He's a solid shooter, and he's aggressive as well, getting to the line at a high rate.  He reminds me a bit of Darren Collison.

Shelvin Mack, PG, Butler - He's not spectacular in any one area, but he's tough and reliable.

Bojan Bogdanovic, G/F, Croatia - Scored 17 points against Team USA last summer at FIBA.  An aggressive scorer and not much else, at least now.  We could stash him in Europe a year or two if we wanted.

***

Players I'd consider at Pick 60:

Cory Joseph, PG, Texas (This is who DraftExpress has us taking at 60 right now.  He can shoot and he can defend.  Looks good to me.)

Jeremy Tyler, F/C, Israel via United States (The 2nd guy to try the Brandon Jennings "Go to Europe instead of College" experiment, but failed miserably.  He's a bit of a headcase, but does have a lot of potential.  Worth the risk at 60, maybe even 35.)

Greg Smith, C, Fresno St. (Solely because his nickname is... The Juice Man.  Also he has the largest hands of everyone in the draft to go with a decent skill-set on both ends of the floor)

Nate Hughart, PG, Seattle (High Bball-IQ, but might alienate entire team as he is very opinionated.  In fact he'd probably tell Geoff Petrie that taking him at 60 was a waste of a pick.  At 60 though, anything goes.)

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