With the NBA Final’s behind us it is now time to look ahead to next Thursday’s NBA Draft. If you haven’t been following the Draft thus far you might not know that this is fixing to be one of the weakest drafts in terms of superstar power, but one of the deeper drafts in terms of long term role players. The combination of these two things will make this Draft one of the most unpredictable in recent years; In light of its unpredictability here are seven(or so) of the most compelling draft prospect stories to look for on Thursday night.
Bismack Biyombo is probably the most interesting player in this draft. He came essentially out of nowhere this year with his triple double performance at the Nike Hoops Summit, and then promptly returned to Spain where not much was heard from him until recently. Unfortunately for him, his most recent performance in front of scouts and NBA GM’s was rather underwhelming; one scout even went so far as to say that Biyombo went one on one with himself, and lost. Despite the poor workout, anybody who has seen Biyombo play knows that workouts are not his strength. In order to properly evaluate his talent you need to see him play five on five and see the way he changes the game with his elite athleticism and defensive abilities. Now that has proven to be a a challenge as Biyombo has opted not to workout with other prospects.
Despite the small sample size Biyombo has obvious strengths– his athleticism and defensive abilities—and weaknesses—offensive polish and jump shooting abilities—and the decision to pick him will depend on whether or not a team decides that he fits their team needs, and his strengths outweigh his weaknesses. No matter what team picks Biyombo he will be sure to deliver some dynamic blocks, and electrifying dunks that we keep fans all over the NBA searching his name on Youtube.
Williams is a particularly intriguing prospect for a number of reasons. He is generally held as the second best player in this draft behind Kyrie Irving because of his unique combination of post skills and three point shot. His skill set makes him an ideal four at the NBA level given the evolution of the position to a more face up oriented position, think Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer. Where things get complicated is when asked what position he sees himself at; Williams is adamant that he is a Small Forward at the NBA level. However, playing small forward makes him a little larger and a little slower compared to most NBA threes, and should also make it easier for the opposing team to guard him by allowing them to put their quicker more perimeter oriented three on him. What position Williams plays at the next level will very much determine how effective he is.
In addition to the position uncertainty the word is that the TimberWolves are looking to deal the number 2 pick, this also makes for a very uncertain future for Derrick Williams.
Jimmer Fredette is another player with a big question mark surrounding him heading into the NBA Draft. Fredette was a lights out shooter for BYU this season, not unlike J.J Reddick during his tenure at Duke. However, Jimmer has proven to be a defensive liability at the point guard spot. Making the transition to the pro level this problem will likely be magnified given the superiority of NBA athletes. There is also some concern as to whether Jimmer’s game will translate to the next level, with bigger stronger athletes guarding him it might prove difficult for him to get his shot off.
On the other hand Jimmer is a proven college player and he has an elite skill in his shooting that should translate to the next level; in the right system with the right coach Jimmer Fredette could be a very solid pro, however it will be very interesting to see exactly which team takes the gamble on him.
Kanter is another player that had a coming out party at the Nike Hoops Summit (2010) but the rest of his body of work remains largely a mystery. He was supposed to play at Kentucky this year however given his previous employment as a professional player in Turkey he was deemed ineligible.
Although the sample size is small in terms of games that scouts can watch has been small, he has been active in workouts and interviews for NBA teams and has shown his strengths and weaknesses. He has great size at 6’10 260 and has a polished game around the basket; he should be a solid rebounder and a big body upfront. On the other hand he isn’t a great athlete and is only an average defender, but all that information is based on a very limited amount of scouting.
Kanter is another player, like Biyombo, that will be picked based on basically one good game and the promises of potential, and thus will be an interesting player to watch moving forward.
He entered the college season as one of the most highly touted high school prospects; he finished the season as one of the biggest disappointments for a Kansas team that failed to make the final four despite being one of the best teams during the regular season.
Selby started the season with a couple solid games; however he sustained an injury and never quite lived up to expectations. After the season ended Selby left school and began working out in Vegas, putting a premature end to his disastrous year at Kansas.
Poor season aside, Selby has reportedly looked very good in workouts and could prove to be a very pleasant surprise for a team that gets him either late in the first round, or early on in the second round. At this point Selby could either be a big time steal, or play himself out of the league before his rookie contract is up.
From a Canadian perspective Thompson will be a player to watch as he has the opportunity to become the highest picked Canadian player in NBA Draft history. Steve Nash currently has that distinction after being picked 15th by the Phoenix Suns in 1996.
Reggie Jackson was impressive late in the season and early on during his workouts however he has since completely shut it down; this has fueled speculation that he either has an injury or a promise from a certain team that they will draft him. Jackson could be a very dynamic guard for the team that ends up taking the gamble on it, the one team that is being bounced around as a possible destination for Jackson is the Miami Heat.