Okay, it’s true. This year’s NBA draft class doesn’t have a whole lot of star power.
It won’t be confused with 2003 (LeBron, Wade, Carmelo and Bosh. Just don’t mention Darko).
But it’s not 2000 either. That class has produced a whopping three all-star appearances in 11 years with Michael Redd (I guess?) as the crown jewel. (I just threw up in my mouth a little.)
The story from 2011 will be Kyrie Irving basically alone at the top, possibly Derrick Williams too, but there are plenty of quality starters and solid rotation players out there to be had. This is actually a year I’d prefer to be out of the lottery so I didn’t feel the need to reach for an “athlete” or a foreign prospect early to make a splash.
I’m a believer in production over potential. With that being said here are a few guys that I wouldn’t mind my favorite team landing in the 15-30 range. I would take these guys over a lot of projected lottery picks.
Kenneth Faried 6-8, 225 lb. PF Morehead State
Faried is one of my favorite guys in this entire draft. It might be because Dennis Rodman was my favorite player for a while in the 90s, and the similarities between the two are uncanny.
Both came from rough backgrounds and small schools and both play like their career is riding on every play. That’s an underappreciated trait in today’s NBA. It isn’t like Faried doesn’t have talent either. He’s strong and jumps like he’s on a pogo stick and just like Rodman the second and third jump happen before some guy’s first one is over.
He’s not going to be an offensive threat other than putbacks, but he didn’t pass Tim Duncan for the NCAA’s all-time rebound lead by accident. I think most would agree that Rodman had an OK career. He should be a lottery pick, but some team is going to get a steal just out of the lottery if the mock drafts are accurate (they usually aren’t).
Chris Singleton 6-9, 230 lb. SF Florida State
Singleton isn’t going to have many 25-point scoring outbursts, but he’s at least a serviceable offensive player with a huge defensive and leadership upside.
He has great size, explosiveness and plays with the edge that simply helps teams win games. He has strong all-around skills, rebounds, blocks and steals, and can probably defend any position from the 2 to the 5. He can easily be a solid starter on a good team.
Reggie Jackson 6-3, 208 lb. PG Boston College
Jackson quietly put ups some pretty impressive numbers the past two season for BC. Maybe it’s because the ACC is down, but Jackson’s 18 points, 4.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 42 percent shooting from behind the arc weren’t mentioned as much as they should have been.
Jackson has good size, athleticism and, while he can score, is an unselfish point guard that protects the ball. If he could have won more at BC, he’d be considered an elite prospect, but I think that more of an indictment on his supporting cast than him.
JaJuan Johnson, 6-10, 225 lb. F/C Purdue
Johnson was a consensus First-Team All-American in his senior season, but is still being overlooked by many “experts” because of a lack of strength.
While Johnson could stand to gain some mass, he’s gotten stronger (he put up 15 reps on the bench press at the combine, 5th best, and ran the floor at guard-like speeds) and better every year at Purdue. Last year, he averaged 20.5 points, 8.6 boards and 2.3 blocks to beat out Jared Sullinger for Big Ten Player of the Year.
He developed a 20-foot jumper his senior season and if he keeps improving could become an impact player at the next level. As it is, he should be a strong rotation player that can block shots and score for a number of years in the NBA.
Shelvin Mack 6-3, 215 lb. G Butler
Mack is a classic “show me results” type of player that is being underappreciated. Mack helped lead tiny Butler to an inconceivable two straight championship games.
He scored 16 points a game, but more importantly shown tremendous leadership and big-moment potential. He drained dozens of huge shots in the tourney, scoring 30 to upset Pitt, 27 to beat Florida and 24 to knock off VCU in this year’s tourney. He’s a proven winner that loves the big stage and won’t be overwhelmed. Those things translate well.
Josh Selby 6-3, 195 lb SG Kansas
This guys goes against my production versus potential model, but I think this was just a case of a bad fit at Kansas. Selby started the year on probation and never really developed a flow in the Jayhawks’ system.
He might turn out to be a headache, but he wasn’t the No. 1 rated recruit a year ago by accident. He’s strong, athletic, has a great first step and can shoot a little bit. When Selby is on and confident he can be a star as he showed in a couple spurts last year. I’d feel much better that he can figure it out than a typical “potential” guy.
Justin Harper 6-9, 230 lb. PF Richmond
Another power forward on a mid-major team that helped his team reach the Sweet 16 this year.
He probably needs to add a little strength to defend the 4, but the rangy Harper had a strong season averaging 18 points and seven boards while shooting 53 percent and will help an NBA team. Maybe more of a second-round guy.