My Draft Board, 2011

For the record, I think large draft boards are a ridiculous activity. Why rank your top 100 players when maybe five of those will make a significant impact and five more will be good role players. The rest will be journeymen or roster filler. This happens every year. I feel uncomfortable even making a top 30 because on some level I think that gives the impression I think there are thirty players that are draftable (it just depends on your teams circumstances which players works best for you). I don’t think this. I think the majority of players drafted, not just this year but any year, won’t have a career worth writing about.

With that said I’m going to rank the players that I would be at least moderately happy (some level above indifference, at least) having on my team if I were an NBA GM. I’m not sure on a specific number, I’ll just go until I can’t find players I’d draft regardless of the circumstances.

1. Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke

Kyrie Irving is the best player in this draft. What are his NBA comparisons? A lot of people have suggested Chris Paul. I’m not entirely sold on this for a couple of reasons. First, Chris Paul is all-world amazing. When healthy, I think he is easily the best point guard in the NBA. Irving could end up being very good but being the best in the game is probably not going to happen. Another thing is that his college resume is short. He played most of his games before in-conference competition, which inflates his numbers a bit. Though, when he played he was no doubt outstanding.

What we know about Irving is that he has no major flaws and is an elite shooter. Elite shooters who have an assortment of other skills are much harder to find than draft guru’s lead you to believe.

Comparison: If his foot is healthy I think Irving could be more like a Detroit Pistons era Chauncey Billups. While not Chris Paul, is still damn good.

2. Enes Kanter, PF/C, Turkey

As short as Kyrie Irving’s body of work is, Kanter’s is even shorter. The NCAA ruled him ineligible last season, as such he was not allowed to compete with the Kentucky Wildcats. He also didn’t really have an opportunity to play anywhere, so he has been twiddling his thumbs for a while now.

He does have some things we can look at though. He played for Turkey in the FIBA U18 championships in 2009 and 2008, dominating the competition both times. He averaged over 18 points and 14 rebounds during both tournaments. Along with the U18 games, Kanter also took part in the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit against the best high school players in America, including Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones, and Jared Sullinger. In that game he dominated, breaking Dirk Nowitzki’s points (33 points) record with 34 points (Video: HERE). So it’s not exactly conclusive but he has dominated when he has played.

Comparison: I’m comfortable saying he could end up being a Kevin Love type player (probably not as good, but similar styles).

3. Jonas Valanciunas, C, Latvia

Like Kanter, Valanciunas has performed very well in the FIBA U18 championships in 2009 and 2010. He has also played very well in the Euro league this past year. He is not as offensively skilled as Enes Kanter but is a very efficient finisher in the post. He is more known for his defense and rebounding, which has been compared to Joakim Noah. I like him because he is a legit center that produces in games. If he’s anything like Noah then he is worth selecting very high in this draft.

Comparison: Joakim Noah (possibly lesser version).

4. Derrick Williams, F, Arizona

I already made an entire post regarding my opinion on Derrick Williams, you can read it here.

Comparison: Rich man’s Antawn Jamison

5. Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State

Faried has an “elite” skill, that is his rebounding ability. In fact, Kenneth Faried ended his college career as the NCAA’s all time leading rebounder. I find it baffling to consider that he is by far the best in his class at an important basketball skill but he still is so underrated. Elite shooters like Klay Thompson, who has no other skills, are flying up draft boards. We need to consider other factors in the game other than scoring. When you consider how hard he plays, how good his character is, and how he projects to be at least good defender, you have to consider him as a very solid selection.

Comparison: A DeJuan Blair/Trevor Booker type but better. A defender/rebounder role player that all teams need.

There you have it, the five players I’m comfortable going out on a limb and writing paragraphs about how they should be good in the NBA. Here are five more players I’m intrigued by but am not yet comfortable completely backing them up yet. I still would be happy or at least content if they ended up on my Wizards…

6. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State (Comp: Poor man’s Gerald Wallace maybe?)

7. Alec Burks, SG, Colorado (Comp: Better version of John Salmons)

8. Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee (Comp: Shane Battier)

9. Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas (Comp: Rasheed Wallace)

10. Jordan Williams, PF, Maryland (Comp: Sean May if he hadn’t gotten injured so much.)

There you have it, ten guys I am at least intrigued by in this draft. I really stretched it too, I don’t think I could have gone longer than ten. If I didn’t list someone above it doesn’t mean I think they will be bad, just that the pluses of a certain player may not outweigh the negatives. I’m also considering their projected draft positions as well. Jordan Williams in the top 5 doesn’t interest me as much as late first.

Here are five guys I would really stay away from, especially when considering their projected draft position. I would be upset if any of these players became a Washington Wizard, regardless of how they were acquired.

1. Jan Vesely (Joe Alexander/Andrei Kirilenko with no skills)

2. Klay Thompson (Marco Belinelli, shooter and nothing else. Plays much worse against good competition.)

3. Donatas Motiejunas (Poor man’s Andrea Bargnani…ouch. Not interested)

4. Jordan Hamilton (Poor man’s Stephen Jackson. Head case who takes terrible shot after terrible shot.)

5. There is not actually five, but I really don’t like the four above at all.

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