Top Underrated 2011 NBA Draft Prospects

We already handed out our Top Overrated NBA Draft Prospects, so we felt it was only right to single out the guys who are either being completely over-looked, disrespected, or aren’t getting the proper hype they probably deserve.

Some of the guys in this list are obvious, but a few others may surprise you. Here’s our list of guys who have the talent and ability to shine at the next level, but the rest of the world may not be quite as sold as we are just yet:

1. Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU

Enough with the comparisons to J.J. Redick, Adam Morrison, Steve Kerr, and Mark Price. Yes, Fredette is white, but no, he’s not a regular white guy. This kid can score it better than anyone in this year’s draft class, and he’s shown the ability to lead a team and make the right pass when he needs to. He still needs to develop his point guard skills and prove he can play defense against elite point guards, but as long as he falls into the right hands, he should have a very productive NBA career.

2. Jordan Hamilton, G/F, Texas

It amazes me how Hamilton is not discussed more as a potential lottery pick. He may not have the hype or flash of some of the other top prospects, but there is no doubt that he has the talent, athleticism, and versatility to be a star at the next level. He will probably need the right situation to maximize his potential, but no matter where he goes, his versatility and scoring ability will have him making a solid impact.

3. Kyle Singler, G/F, Duke

What is all this talk about Singler in the secound round? Such whispers are almost depressing. After his freshman and sophomore seasons at Duke, and even before he arrived at college, Singler was “the next Larry Bird” and was poised to be a sure lottery pick. Now he’s barely making it into the first round? Experts balk at his lack of progression over his college career, but what is clearly visible is that with Singler, what you see is what you get. He’s a solid role player who brings versatility, shooting, leadership, and great court awareness to the table. He may not be a superstar, but he’s exactly the type of player winning teams need at the next level. Talk about below average athleticism just isn’t true, as Singler has proven time and time again that he can more than hold his own on both ends of the court.

4. JaJuan Johnson, F/C, Purdue

Johnson could stand to get thicker, stronger, and more consistent offensively, but he has the size and tools necessary to be successful at the next level. He has the athleticism and explosiveness to work the paint on offense, while his shot-blocking and timing allow him to be a major presence on defense. He still needs to develop new moves in the post and work on his jumper to become a more effective offensive threat, but he’s already good enough to be a first-round pick.

5. Nolan Smith, PG, Duke

What does a guy have to do to prove he belongs in the first round of the NBA Draft? While everyone was hyping up freshman Kyrie Irving, Smith was carrying Duke for much of the 2010 season with his timely offense and leadership on the court. In addition to his solid offense and developing point guard skills, he also has solid athleticism and a fiery presence that can’t be ignored. He’s easily one of the most underrated prospects in this year’s draft, and shouldn’t slip out of the first round. If he does, someone is getting a major steal in the second round.

6. Norris Cole, PG, Cleveland State

Norris Cole definitely has the talent and confidence to succeed at the next level. The main question is the low level of competition he faced at Cleveland State, along with whether or not he can man the point at the next level. Those two questions still need to be answered, but his excellent shooting and scoring ability can’t be denied. He belongs in the NBA, and could vie for a late first-round selection.

7. Jon Leuer, F, Wisconsin

Leuer could really shock some people. He’s a bit of a ‘tweener at the next level, but has good size and a body that can be built stronger for the next level. In addition, he already has an excellent jumper with good range, as well as a balanced offensive game that allows him to score in a variety of ways. While not an elite defender, he also has the size and length to be paired with solid coaching at the next level, giving him solid defensive potential.

8. Ben Hansbrough, PG, Notre Dame

In a solid scoring point guard class, no one is paying any attention to Hansbrough, who was the heart and soul of the Fighting Irish this past season. He doesn’t have ideal size or athleticism for the two spot, while there is some questionas two whether or not he’s a legit point guard at the next level. That’s up for debate, but his leadership, fundamentals, and scoring ability are not. At the very worst, he has the ability to be a solid back-up who can bring energy off the bench in the pros. It will be a true shame if a talented competitor like Hansbrough goes undrafted in this year’s draft.

9. Chandler Parsons, F, Florida

Parsons isn’t elite at any one thing, so he’ll never be a star at the next level. However, he’s a jack of all trades and is athletic and skilled enough to do just about anything at a moderate level. This doesn’t give him lottery value, but he easily has the ability to play up to a first round selection. Any team that plucks Parsons off the board near the end of the first is getting terrific value.

10. LaceDarius Dunn, SG, Baylor

Dunn is a great athlete and an elite scorer with great size for the two guard position in the NBA. The only problem is, he has zero court awareness when it comes to decision-making and getting his teammates involved. He belongs in the second round because of a lack of discipline and horrendous offensive awareness outside of his own individual game. However, in the right system with the right coaching, Dunn could turn into a star at the next level.


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Kevin Roberts heads the fantasy basketball section of NBASoup. Roberts also leads the yearly scouting and mock draft analysis for the NBA Draft.

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