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Michael Szego: As of late, the top college basketball stars that have declared to enter the NBA draft have had to deal with constant ridicule and proposition that this may be one of the worst draft classes talent-wise that we have seen in a very long time. Whether it be because of unfamiliarity, biased opinion, or just good old dislike for some of the players, it seems as though that have obtained an unfair reputation before they have even gotten a chance to showcase their skills in a professional game.
Many of the players showed tremendous skill and personality at the recent NBA Draft Combine, and yet even before then, countless analysts were writing this class off. All of this talk is a bit early and unwarranted, and I truly believe that this class is going to surprise people in a big way.
Some players we have never heard of, or overlooked because they “couldn’t handle the transition to the pro game” (a phrase that is so horribly overused) will prove to have very productive careers in this league, and the 2011 draft class could instead go down as one of the most surprising classes of all time, rather than the worst.
Clodel Remy: As of right this moment, this draft is and should be considered one of the worst in recent history. We all know every incoming draft class will be scrutinized and compared to that of the 2003 class in which there are 2 future Hall of Famers for sure and several all star players… But this draft does nothing to stand up to that scrutiny and no player is really a game changer.
You’re absolutely right some of these players will have productive careers and some will have all star appearances on their resumes, but a draft without names is not a good draft; not memorable. There are many factors that plague this class which we will go into but that is not our fault as sports fans.
It is not my job to market these players and as far as the combine goes, it means absolutely nothing because what did it tell us that we don’t already know. It is hard to name 2 dynamic players in this draft that I would want to build a team around… this is a very bad year to have this number 1 pick and Cleveland will be right back in the lottery next year.
Michael: A big part of the problem stems exactly from what you just said. “A draft without names is not a good draft.” I can’t sit here and say that’s a false statement, but I can say that it stems from an altogether bigger cultural problem.
If a fan see’s a mock draft, and begins to decide which players would make the best fit on their favorite teams, majority of them immediately have more faith in an American player that went to a prominent university in the United States, than one from another country. Regardless of whether they have ever seen the international player play, or know where they are from, they often get discounted right off the bat. This season more than most, offers seven or eight foreign-born players that could be picked in round one.
Enes Kanter, a center from Turkey who was disqualified from playing at the University of Kentucky because of broken eligibility rules could be a top-five pick. Kanter stunned scouts at the combine showing that maybe some of these unfamiliar names are more valuable than we had previously thought. This unwarranted ignoring is part of what I like to call “The Darko Effect.”
Darko Milicic of course was the second overall pick in the incredibly 2003 draft you mentioned before, and is often referred to as the biggest draft bust in NBA history because of the eventual stars that were picked behind him. People now expect this to happen with international players, and refuse to believe that they could be just as productive as their American counterparts.
Look for players like Jan Vesely, Donatas Motiejunas, Bismark Biyembo, and Jonas Valanciunas to all be picked early, and have immediate impacts on their teams in their transition to the United States style of play.
Clodel: You see that’s exactly the problem with this year’s draft, not only the lack of names but also the amount of foreign players. I have nothing against players who were not schooled in the United States but how many of these players realistically you see making an impact year in and year out.
Dirk is the best European player in the league right now but we all knew what he would be capable of at an early age, so there was little left to discover. Excitement and expectation plays a large role in the overall perceived level of success a draft class has. The transition to the league is difficult and you can’t honestly expect these players to make that transition and actually contribute; not likely.
Aside from that, let’s not focus on what these players will do once in the league… let’s talk about what we know from watching college basketball this past season and what history has taught us. First off we know nothing about these players because they didn’t play in the U.S so the expectations are at ground level. History has shown us that big men take a while to develop in the league and all the guys you mentioned are big men so I see bust written all over them until they prove me wrong.
Michael: We could dispute talent levels all day long, but when it comes down to it, NBA teams want one thing and one thing only: championships. Owners and scouts look to draft proven winners that can show initiative and leadership as soon as they step on the hardwood with their new club.
I have four specific players in mind in this class that possess these valuable qualities, and yet for some reason are still being overlooked.
First we have Kemba Walker. I can’t say enough about this guy. Leading UConn to a Big East Championship and an NCAA Championship, rattling off countless pro-level performances in a row and bringing new meaning to the phrase “heart of a champion.” People are concerned about his size, but Allen Iverson seemed to do pretty well for himself at around the same height. Look for him to have a chip on his shoulder for not being drafted higher.
Next I look at two players from the 2010 National Champion Duke Blue Devils. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith have proved over their years in Durham that they are born leaders and can flat out ball. Teams will surely get value out of them late in the first-round.
Lastly, don’t overlook Naismith Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette. He undoubtedly has the range to shoot the basketball from anywhere, and thus could be a impact scorer off the bench in his rookie season.
I am very excited for this years draft, and will be attending in Newark, NJ at The Prudential Center to watch these future NBA stars prove everybody wrong on June 23rd..
Clodel: This draft is not worth the price of attendance and these players don’t bring out a high level of excitement as I stated before. The biggest name all year in college basketball was Jimmer Fredette and watching him get exposed as nothing more than an undersized gun slinging guard who doesn’t know what the word defense means changed my opinion of him.
Fredette was the great white hope and a poor man’s version of Stephen Curry. I like Brandon Knight and I think he has the potential to be a really good all star player in this league because of his shooting and his quickness but not a player to start my team around.
Now everyone has Duke freshmen point guard Kyrie Irving as the number one pick…I wouldn’t disagree with that rating but it is only by default. To be a number one pick, I would have liked to see more from Irving; he may be capable of being great but at the end of the day that dynamic playmaking is not present as of yet.
Players like Nolan Smith prove my point about this draft… He has been at Duke for a couple years and is very polished and I would love to have him on my team but only in the latter part of the draft. He like all these players will not be a star in this league. Kemba Walker has reached his ceiling and what he is now is what he will always be. He is a good player and at 6″1′, he is as tough as it gets as he proved during the tournament. But if he is the best the draft has to offer in terms of star power than I rest my case. He is no Iverson.