Posted by: Kingsguru21 | May 21, 2011

So…..you want a player from the draft?

Let me make this clear before I start. I’m not participating in Jimmer mania. (Although I don’t dislike Jimmer for the reasons stated here.) I do agree with Mr Ziller that this isn’t just about Marcus Thornton, but do you really want just a 4th G in your rotation from that 7th pick? (Honestly, I’ve made that argument about Kyrie Irving too. That’s how little confidence I have in him to be a 3rd rotation G next year. Unless I’m wrong of course. Since it won’t matter as Cleveland is likely to take Irving anyway, the point is ridiculously moot on a number of levels.)

What this is a list of players that are being talked about and how I feel about them. In order, it’ll go big guys, wings and guards.

The big guys

Enes Kanter

Kanter will likely be gone by the time the Kings pick at 7 (assuming they make the pick and don’t trade it), but, again, Kanter might be seen as a major league risk. There was workout video of Kanter at Attack Athletics in Chicago (and a written profile of him by SLAM).

There was also the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit performance where Kanter broke Dirk Nowitzki’s record of 33 points with his 34.

You might also wish to listen to this podcast with Jonathan Givony talking about the draft (and Kanter) quite a bit.

I’ll be honest. I’d pass on Kanter as he’s unknown, it’s unlikely there is any big (or any player better than Cousins at least) in this draft is better than Cousins or Dalembert by the start of next season. Kanter is certainly included in that despite his small sample size of success. Could Kanter go top 3-5-6-8? Good question. That said, I’m not fond of anyone who doesn’t have a body of work to go off of. Which is one reason I’m not fond of Kanter. I also wonder how effective Kanter will be finishing around the basket due to his lack of explosive athletic ability. At the end of the day, I can’t see Kanter doing much for the Kings if he ends up dropping that far.

Jonas Valanciunas

I think Valanciunas is a bit like Kanter in that he’s not supremely athletic. Unlike Kanter however Valanciunas has showed well and played games. So there is something to be said for that. I just don’t know if I think Valanciunas is the type of player that really merits getting rotation time in the Kings rotation assuming Dalembert is coming back to the Kings (an assumption that is certainly not a guarantee). I’m not fond of that myself.

Bisyack Biyombo

To be honest, despite talk about how old Biyombo is, I’m not incredibly concerned. I think the concern I have with Biyombo is how effective can he be at the NBA level when put on the floor and asked to do things other than finish at the rim offensively. If the Kings end up having a 1-2 punch similar to what the Thunder have with Durant and Westbrook, than it’s not nearly as big an issue. But what if they don’t? (Let’s not go there. Let’s just say yes for the point of this exercise.) The real problem is that I’m not sure Biyombo will ever be as good as Dalembert is offensively, and, keep that in mind when you’re talking about a guy who has never averaged more than 11 points per game in any season.

The thing about Biyombo is the Kings have a player similar to him (although probably not as good eventually) in Hassan Whiteside, and a better veteran version in Dalembert that they could simply resign if they get Daly to agree. I don’t see much of Biyombo’s value to the Kings, but because of the early nature of the draft at this stage, we won’t know much until about a week out. Keep it in mind with regards to any player.

Donatas Motiejunas

Not the biggest fan of Motiejunas, but he can score the ball. I don’t think he’ll end up in the top 10 (for instance Chad Ford had Motiejunas going 21 and Jonathan Givony had Motiejunas going 9 in their latest mock drafts), but I do think that Motiejunas could help a team that is in need of offense off the bench. A couple teams that comes to mind is Milwaukee or Indiana. Given that the Bucks have the 10th pick and the Pacers the 15th pick, don’t be shocked if Motiejunas lands anywhere from late lottery to late 1st round. He just has that kind of swing right now.

Morris twins

Don’t really know what to say about them other than I doubt the Kings will select either Morris or Markieff. Of the two, Morris is said to have higher talent, but I do wonder about that. In the end, I think both won’t make enough of an impact on either end to be much more than a backup big man. Either way, if either twin turns out better than Jason Thompson, I’d be shocked.

Wings

Alec Burks

There isn’t a lot of consensus about Burks or his time at Colorado. Some believe he’s a guy who doesn’t have any great strengths, others believe that his numbers can project good things for a team (like driving to the cup). My favorite video is the video breakdown Sebastian Pruiti did for DX. (You can also find these on a number of players. I suggest watching them if you’re interested in that particular player.)

Some things here that have caught my eye about Burks. When I judge a player, and I know this is not necessarily seen as a good thing, I try to judge a player by what he does well. If he does something really well, teams try to take it away. That was certainly the case with Burks as he’s not (if you watch the video breakdown by Pruiti) particularly adept at shooting off the dribble. He’s also not incredible defensively either, and that’s certainly an issue.

I got news for you: That’s true of a lot of slashers that come into the NBA. All young players need to improve defensively and learn how the NBA works. That’s one of the growth curves many young players automatically have coming into the NBA. But, at the same time, Burks is also a guy that got to the line nearly 8 times (7.9 to be exact) and had a TS% of 57.4%. That’s not bad for a guy carrying a lot of the offensive load (roughly 32.2% of the possessions). The other issue is where Burks can play defensively. Some see him as a wing, some see him as combo G and some see him as a G/F. Defensively, the more positions Burks can guard, and it’s unlikely he’d be effective guarding most SF’s at this point due to his skinny frame, the more valuable he’ll be.

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cavs end up thinking Burks is a nice tandem to work with Kyrie Irving as the two have talents (Irving more perimeter; Burks more towards the basket) that complement each other some and that all of the big men available (Kanter, Valanciunas, Biyombo, Motiejunas, Morris twins to name just a few) provide a greater risk and potentially not as much of the upside as their workouts could suggest. Additionally, the Cavs do have an energy hustle/defensive guy in Anderson Varejao that they may not wish to replace right away.

The one thing about Burks is that he’s similar to Paul George in that he came out of HS unheralded, did well at Colorado in two years, and decided to come out. There is something to a guy like Burks who came out and did well for a team that is traditionally not very successful in basketball. The biggest difference between George’s two years at Fresno State is the success of each team. It’s quite possible that George played with less talent than Burks did too. At the end of the day, where I think Burks did excel was not turning the ball over, getting to the basket relatively well, passing to teammates for scores, and keeping his team in games. I’m not comparing Burks to George or vice versa as the comparisons do not necessarily mean much. I am saying that Burks did things that George didn’t do at that level and there is something to be said for that. What precisely is clearly where the issue lay.

Right now, I’d put Burks on the top of my wing list for a couple reasons. One is Burks slashing ability and getting to the line. (Just for shits and giggles: Jared Sullinger got to the line 267 times on the season. Terrence Jones got to the line 243 times. Perry Jones got to the line 137 times. Kemba Walker, in 41 games, got to the line 315 times. Jimmer Fredette got to the line 282 times. Brandon Knight got to the line 171 times. Burks, in 38 games, got to the line 302 times.) Two, Burks finishes with a variety of moves around the basket when he gets there. You need that to be successful. Three, he’s not incredibly turnover prone. Four, he shoots free throws above 80% for the past season, and about 77% for his freshman season. (Paul George shot them at 90% and 67% his 2 seasons at Fresno State.) One of the things I look at is can the guy shoot FT’s at a reasonable clip, and given Burks ability to get there, and convert at a reasonable rate, I’d say that’s a strength. Five, Burks is a good rebounder for his position which suggests that he has more abilities as he grows as a player.

Because I think defense and outside shots are the 2 easiest things to improve at the NBA level due to the simple amount of attention and time a player can spend working on those things, I think Burks will have an easier transition to the NBA than some are projecting. Don’t take my word for it though. I’m the idiot that doesn’t like DeMarcus Cousins or Tyreke Evans.

Kawhi Leonard

In Ford’s latest mock Kawhi Leonard is slated to the Wizards at the 6th pick. If that happens, I’d be shocked that Washington made that decision unless Leonard has magically transformed himself into another player. I think Kawhi Leonard is similar to Trevor Ariza or Gerald Wallace that both were outstanding athletes that took some time to figure out their strides in the NBA. And, that, is likely to drop Leonard’s value a bit. He’s not a shooter, and recent workouts aren’t going to change that perception with several seasons of data contradicting it. At the end of the day, teams do not necessarily take body of work with a grain of salt. The body of work on the court is ultimately what matters, and if you’re on a team that wins games, there is a value teams look at. It’s one thing that led the Kings to believe that Tyreke Evans would be successful when getting to the NBA.

Leonard is a defensive guy who works hard at that end. He can guard a varying amount of positions, and, possibly, has the ability to guard small G’s in the NBA. That said, I don’t know where to project Kawhi Leonard in this draft. I can see Golden State, Utah, Houston and Indiana looking at him for precisely that reason. I think the team that drafts Leonard is going to have to pray that he can create enough offense to get a coach to believe he can stay on the floor for significant minutes. Given Kawhi Leonard’s history at SDSU (an impressive history given the historical nature of SDSU’s season), I don’t know how many coaches will think Leonard’s offense will keep him on the court for long stretches of minutes.

What I do think Kawhi Leonard brings is an energetic athletic raw specimen who is improving in his basketball skills and could be one of those guys who needs a year or two before blossoming at the NBA level. He’s not really a risk, but how he pans out depends on how effective he can shoot the ball at the next level. I don’t see the Kings taking him at 7 if Leonard is indeed there. For really, at the end of the day, the same reasons as Biyombo.

Jordan Hamilton

For awhile I’ve thought that Hamilton is a sleeper pick for the Kings at 7. Although some of his numbers don’t stand out to me (his TS% at 55, FT% at 77%, only 122 FTA) what does stick out that Hamilton isn’t especially turnover prone, shoots the 3 at 38% and is a pretty good defensive rebounder for his position (SF more or less). Plus, Texas, and Colorado, had good offenses and Hamilton, like Burks, was a big reason why.

By the same token, I can see many reasons why Hamilton wouldn’t be taken on 7. He’s not incredibly athletic, long or strong, and the main strength of his game is that he can score plus shoot. I don’t see him likely being taken by the Kings at 7.

Jan Vesely

I’ve talked about Vesely before so I’ll keep this brief. Vesley is a long athletic SF/PF out of the Czech Republic. He’s athletic, and can shoot (even though his 3pt % won’t wow you). The biggest thing about Vesley is that he can play in multiple kinds of lineups with certain players (like Omri Casspi or Donte Greene especially) if you need an extra shooter on the court.

I’m interested to see how Vesely’s workouts go as he could easily rise in the draft all the way to #6 (where Givony has Vesely at this point on DX’s mock).

The greatest problem for Vesely could be A) finishing inside due to lack of strength B) defense as it typically takes Euro’s awhile to adjust to the NBA defensively. To be honest, the greatest negative for Vesely numbers wise is his FT shooting as it’s never been above 70%. And that does concern me quite a bit. Vesely is not nearly as attractive as, say, Alec Burks. Then again, Vesely did lead Partizan to a surprise EuroLeague Final 4 showing (the EuroLeague is the European leagues–all of them–equivalent of the NCAA Final 4 essentially) in 2010. When Vesely decided to not jump to the NBA, it ended up possibly haunting Vesely at a poor time as he had a slow start to the season (in part due to Partizan’s issues internally).

Right now, I’d say Vesely will get a long look from the Kings because he’s A) supremely athletic B) can shoot the ball (and will likely have to shoot better than 48% at the FT line in the NBA–call it a hunch) and C) is still just 21 years old. I wouldn’t rule Vesely out at the 7th pick if he is still available.

Guards

Well, I don’t know where to go with this one so I’ll guess I’ll start with the “possible” guys who may drop to 7 (although I doubt it happens honestly).

Brandon Knight

When I see Knight, I see a guy who is similar to OJ Mayo. Which does not make me fond of Knight for precisely that reason. I doubt Knight will be a bust as he’s smart and has the ability to get his shot off on the perimeter. I just don’t see Knight being a great star, and, when you’re talking top 5 as most teams are, I doubt that is what they would prefer to see out of Knight.

You’re talking about a guy with a 55.3 TS%. That is not wow material even when you factor in competition and Knight’s inexperience at the NCAA level. Nothing really stands out to me about Brandon Knight other than some of his intangibles (he did take big shots for Kentucky) and the fact that his numbers do not scream to me star. I do think he’ll have a reasonably good career at the NBA level. Just won’t be a star. If you’re going to draft a guy like Knight at 7, he’d better be a star. Otherwise, I can’t argue he’s better than Beno Udrih let alone Marcus Thornton let alone Tyreke Evans. Knight hit 79% of his FT’s, 37% of his 3’s, had 4.2 assists, and had 4 boards a game. (That’s fairly good.)

Again, Knight doesn’t scream stiff or star. That’s my real issue. I don’t see how he helps the Kings outside of being able to shoot from the perimeter. If you’re talking about a 4th G, regardless of name, you’re not going to do much for me. The Kings badly need help at the SF position more than anywhere else.

Kemba Walker

I actually like Walker’s game but don’t think he’ll be a star due to his size. I’ve said it before at StR, but you need to be an athletic freak and an alien who can take abuse. I’m not sure Walker is either, and that’s not a knock. Allen Iverson is unique for a reason as he is literally a once in a lifetime player for his size. Iverson was long, athletic and incredibly tough given his slight and short frame.

Kemba Walker is not Allen Iverson.

Walker shoots 33% from 3 pt land. He got to the line 7.6 times, but I doubt he’ll even get half that at the NBA level. It’s just a very difficult aspect of the NBA game for small G’s to accomplish. Walker does shoot 81% from the line, had 23.5 PPG, 5.4 boards (great number), 4.5 assists, a high USG%, and a modest 54.3 TS%.

What Walker does do, and you see it alot if you’ve seen him play more than a few times I’m sure, is that he is cat like quick. And, while Walker is not Allen Iverson athletically, he’s not a chump in that department either. I do see Walker having a better career than Brandon Knight. But Jimmer Fredette? Don’t know about that one. We’ll have to see in 10 years.

Speaking of Jimmer mania….

For all the reasons I don’t want Kemba Walker, I don’t want Jimmer. I don’t know whose better as both provide something a bit different from each other that is extremely useful to a team off the bench. I’ll say this about Jimmer: He had a ridiculous 36.4 USG% while sporting a healthy 59.4 TS%.

The problem is I wonder how much of an effect Jimmer can have defensively due to his relative pedestrian athleticism. It’s not to say that he won’t be able to play, because he can, but I just wonder how much of an effect Jimmer mania will have at the NBA level. I see a solid player personally, but I’ve been wrong before. In Jimmer’s case, I’m certainly rooting for him as I’ll be rooting for Kemba Walker in the same vein. Good kids do deserve good careers in the NBA, and while life isn’t typically fair, perhaps both have the talent to make it. Neither will provide their teams (most likely) chemistry problems or be a coach killer. Physical limitations are physical limitations, and, unfortunately, or not perhaps, Walker & Fredette both have limitations. If either had Brandon Knight’s body, they’d be my lock for the #1 pick. (By the way, I’m aware Fredette is strong and Walker is quick.)

Summary

To be honest, my hope is that the Sixers want a player that will be available at the 7th pick and will be willing to trade Andre Iguodala for the 7th pick. Because the Kings have cap room, a talented young player in Omri Casspi, another pick in 2013 they could trade to seal the deal, I can see why Philly and Sacramento make a deal here. But, as in most things, it takes two to tango. And, unless a player drops to 7 that Philly really wants? It’s impossible to say what would happen. I wanted the Kings to be in the 3-5 range to make a trade more palatable for Philly. Life isn’t fair and demz da breakz as they say. So you gotta deal with the one’s who brung ya. Or some such.

If the Kings are picking a player? Yeah, I’m torn about that. From a production and development standpoint, I’d prefer Alec Burks. Even then, I wonder if Burks is really a guy whom you can ask to defend SF’s. Then again, he really does stand out to me when I look at alot of these guys. It’s quite possible that Burks is not there when the Kings come up at 7. I can be swayed by Kanter, Valanciunas or Biyombo. Of the 3, I’m not sure who I’d prefer. Kanter seems to have the best offensive repoirtoire, Biyombo might be the best athlete in the entire draft and Valanciunas might be the best combination of a 2 way player. In Valanciunas case, I worry about pairing him with Cousins and dealing with a more athletic front line. But that’s a minor concern at this point. You have to make the decision who you will draft first. Kanter is another guy I’m not convinced of for the same reasons I doubt Irving a bit: Body of work matters in my eyes.

Biyombo is an interesting case. Would I rather have Andre Iguodala than any player in this draft? Yes, and I’d probably feel that way even if Sullinger, both Jones and Barnes were in this draft. While I think Perry Jones has a future in the NBA that I like, I think Jones strengths & weaknesses would matter less to the Kings than Perry Jones’ particular weaknesses would for a team looking to draft an impact player in the top 7.

Not only that, I didn’t even profile some of the other names that I could have like Tobias Harris, Klay Thompson, or Tristan Thompson. To name 3.

At the end of the day, my hope is that while the draft is wider than deeper, it can help the Kings pull off an Iguodala trade on June 23rd.

After that, yikes! I’m not even sure I want to comment on a Kings draft pick until a final decision is made. Which, we won’t know (or even have a good idea until a few days before) until the day of. Welcome to the next month of posturing, rumor mongering and general media slash franchise ass-hattery. I sure do love the draft.

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