Wednesday, June 22, 2011

06/22 (Pre-Draft) Quickie

Some fun NBA draft speculation today: Spurs shopping Tony Parker to the Raptors or Kings? Nuggets shopping Raymond Felton to the Kings? Suns shopping Nash to the T'wolves?

But here is my favorite annual draft speculation: Projecting which players will thrive and which players will fizzle. Obviously, "fit" matters a lot. So do expectations: If Kyrie Irving is closer to the next Mike Conley than the next Derrick Rose, is that good enough? (Spoiler: Irving will be better than Conley but not nearly as good as Rose.)

I think Irving is solid, if not spectacular. I think Derrick Williams certainly looked the part of star last March, but I worry about his willingness (and fit) to be a full-time power forward. But he is obviously loaded with potential.

My favorite player in the draft is Bismack Biyombo, for a lot of reasons: I think he has the most potential, mostly owing to his insane physical measurements, but also due to his Garnett-level motor and willingness to work to get better. He played in a league last year that is so much better than college basketball that national champ UConn wouldn't win a single game, and he led that league in blocks despite limited minutes.

His offense is also very limited, yes, but the NBA is becoming a league where a player can be Top 5 in rebounds and blocks -- as Biyombo aspires to (and has the talent to) -- with limited offense and still be a huge contributor. (His offense will only get better, btw.) I think we'll look back and people will wonder how any team passed on him. (He is also a fascinating, thoughtful guy -- see this Q&A.)

I think the draftniks are totally underestimating where Biyombo might go, and I think he ends up in Toronto with the No. 5 pick. (I'm not going to mock the entire draft, don't worry.)

More players I like (Early- to mid-1st round): Chris Singleton, Tristan Thompson, Marshon Brooks, Nikola Vucevic, Kenneth Faried. Late-1st to 2nd-round steals/sleepers: Jimmy Butler, Charles Jenkins, Nolan Smith, Jeremy Tyler, Malcolm Lee, Norris Cole.

1st-round players I don't like: Jan Vesely (he can't shoot -- like, at all -- and he can't play D; what's not to love? undoubtedly, he will end up with my Wizards), Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, the Morris twins, Klay Thompson, Alec Burks, Iman Shumpert, Jordan Hamilton.

Five players I want to like but fear they won't end up being particularly good: Enes Kanter, Jimmer Fredette, Kawhi Leonard, Jonas Valanciunas, Tobias Harris.

More tomorrow -- maybe a few more draft predictions. In the meantime...

*NFL Lockout: Is there a glimmer of hope coming out of the owners' meeting yesterday? What we DID see was a nice little bit of p.r. judo by the league -- now, if the players balk, they will look like the ones who are getting in the way of a deal being done.

*CFB: UNC scandal-ish. How can anyone at the NCAA office buy that an assistant coach and a tutor with close ties to the head coach were acting as rogue agents within the program? What a joke.

*CWS: Heading for a Florida-South Carolina final? Both teams are undefeated in Omaha.

Pop by Quickish today for the latest NBA Draft scuttlebutt, the top analysis on the day's biggest stories and recommendations for great things to read.

-- D.S.

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