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Basketball philosophy

Trying to figure out the future of non-Kyrie Irving, 2011 lottery prospects

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English: Jimmer Fredette finger roll vs. Wyomi...

English: Jimmer Fredette finger roll vs. Wyoming, March 5, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Kyrie Irving, calling the 2011 draft a mess is an understatement. Nobody from 2 to 14 has established themselves as a true blue chip player and all-star candidate. But of course the gap between year 2 and year 3 is significant for players. Year 3 is when prospects shake off the sophomore slump and make the great leap forward, or when they prove it’s simply not happening for them. Thus it’s logical to say that a year from now, people will feel differently about many of these prospects. The logical guess would be that at least one player other than Irving in that lottery becomes a star or close to it. Thus it’s a fun game to guess which ones will be the standouts. Here are my talent grades for the 2011 lottery, including Irving:

PG Kyrie Irving: Physical impact talent grade: 9, Skill impact talent grade: 11, Feel for the Game impact talent grade: 11, Total talent grade: 31 (Superstar/Transcendent talent)

SG Jimmer Fredette: Physical impact talent grade: 3, Skill impact talent grade: 11, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7, Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

SG Klay Thompson: Physical impact talent grade: 5, Skill impact talent grade: 9, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5, Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

C Enes Kanter – Physical impact talent grade: 5, Skill impact talent grade: 7, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5, Total grade: 17 (Borderline starter talent grade)

PG Kemba Walker – Physical impact talent grade: 5, Skill impact talent grade: 5, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7, Total grade: 17 (Borderline starter talent grade)

PF Derrick Williams – Physical impact talent grade: 5, Skill impact talent grade: 7, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5, Total grade: 17 (Borderline starter talent grade)

PF Marcus Morris – Physical impact talent grade: 1, Skill impact talent grade: 9, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7, Total grade: 17 (Borderline starter talent grade)

SG Alec Burks – Physical impact talent grade: 9, Skill impact talent grade: 3, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5, Total grade: 17 (Borderline starter talent grade)

SG Brandon Knight – Physical impact talent grade: 5, Skill impact talent grade: 5, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5, Total grade: 15 (Borderline starter talent grade)

PF Tristan Thompson – Physical impact talent grade: 7, Skill impact talent grade: 5, Feel for the Game talent grade: 3, Total grade: 15 (Borderline starter talent grade)

C Jonas Valanciunas – Physical impact talent grade: 5, Skill impact talent grade: 7, Feel for the Game talent grade: 3, Total grade: 15 (Borderline starter talent grade)

C Bismack Biyombo – Physical impact talent grade: 9, Skill impact talent grade: 1, Feel for the Game talent grade: 5, Total grade: 15 (Borderline starter talent grade)

PF Markieff Morris – Physical impact talent grade: 1, Skill impact talent grade: 7, Feel for the Game talent grade: 7, Total grade: 15 (Borderline starter talent grade)

C Jan Vesely – Physical impact talent grade: 7, Skill impact talent grade: 1, Feel for the Game talent grade: 3, Total grade: 11 (Barely NBA caliber talent grade)

First of all, Kyrie Irving is an amazing talent. He’s as skilled a shooter and shot creator as anyone has been at his age, while his feel for the game is absolutely perfect, as one of the smoothest and most natural offensive players in the league. I’m also of the mind that his physical talent is underrated, while not a high flyer he’s one of the fastest PGs in the league and has terrific size for a 1, which when adding to league best ball-handling, makes him a dynamic threat slashing and physically impacting the game going to the basket. In my opinion Kyrie has a chance to be one of the best players of all time.

But moving onto the real point of this article, everyone else. Why is Jimmer so high? Let’s break down his game and the grades I gave him and whether they are believable:

Clearly his strength is his skill level, where I bullishly gave him a perfect 11 grade. While that seems presumptuous before he’s proven it over starting minutes, every sign I’ve seen is that Jimmer is as great a skill talent as you can get. He had one of the all time great skill careers in college, dominating from the outside with his 3pt range, both off the ball and more impressively, creating shots off the dribble. After the 1st season adjustment to the NBA 3pt line, in his sophomore year Jimmer is shooting an incredible 41.9% from 3 and 90.8% from the FT line. I consider FT shooting as a key indicator for elite shooters and the 90% is usually a special barrier for the all-time great shooters like Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, etc. While Jimmer’s FT mark is on a small sample size of 76 attempts, the fact that he shot over 89% from the line his last two years in college makes it a believable mark. As a shooter, Jimmer is a freak.

His feel for the game also impresses me. He often looks smooth offensively and crafty off the dribble, recognizing space and driving into the paint. He’s shown signs of good court vision and recognition of teammates, albeit his role and the Kings roster doesn’t favor high assist numbers per minute. Jimmer is a fairly natural offensive player. Enough for an above average but not elite feel for the game grade.

Jimmer’s physical impact talent is the biggest knock on him, as he is undersized for a SG at 6’2.5 which hurts his ability to finish in the paint. He’s also not known as an elite ballhandler. With that said, Jimmer’s first step is underrated as he shows ability to drive into the paint. He also has a strong body and knows how to use it as a finisher. If seen as a future PG, Jimmer’s size will be more respectable but his speed and ballhandling will be more of a weakness. At both positions he is a weak physical talent.

But as a whole, he grades out as a blue chip talent as he should be one of the best shooters and shot creators in the league, which when added to a solid feel and IQ, is a deadly combination. What’s more is if anything I wonder if I’m being conservative with Jimmer’s grade. I am impressed by Jimmer’s first step and strength enough that I could justify grading him average instead of poor as a physical impact and slashing talent and a case can be made for calling his feel for the game elite instead of very good. While I’m predicting he ends up with a very good career instead of a star one, I had to pick a player from the 2011 class to be make multiple all-star games not named Kyrie Irving, I would take The Jimmer.

The player who rivals him in my grades is Klay Thompson. Like Jimmer, he’s already one of the best shooters in the league from the 3pt line and FT line at 39.1% and 88.1% from the FT line. He works best playing off the ball and spotting up however, showing less shot creating than Jimmer. He should still be called an elite perimeter skill talent for a  2.

Klay also has a very decent, underrated first step, showing the ability to get to the basket. He has good height for a SG, but does not have a wide frame. He’s also an average ballhandler. Klay has enough speed and length to get to the basket and finish at the rim, but he’s not dynamic enough off the dribble to likely be known as a slashing first shooting guard.

Klay’s feel for the game was somewhat difficult to grade for me. At times he seems like an intelligent player moving off the ball and driving, but at others looks slow to react to situations. My grade of him is a 5 in feel for the game, but a case could be made for calling him above average and grading him a 7.

As a whole Klay looks like a long term starting SG in the league. He’s a dynamic 3pt shooter and has respectable tools driving to the rim, while playing well enough feel/IQ wise within an offense. To be a star shooting guard Klay will likely have to prove my grade of him as a physical impact talent wrong, by becoming a much more dynamic slasher and on the ball threat than he looks to be right now. I favor Jimmer to be the 2nd most talented player in this class, but Klay is not too far behind.

What about everyone else? Well to me right now, they look like a bunch of guys. That is not to say I’m necessarily right – I am complete confidence in my talent grading system, but not total confidence in the grades I give within that system, with the unpredictability of gauging a player’s skill talent in particular. Here’s the scenarios I could see players breaking out under

–  Enes Kanter: He gets a good grade in skill impact talent for his touch and range, if he wants to be a blue chip player it’d be by becoming one of the most skilled and best shooting Cs in the league. My reading on his feel for the game and instincts also isn’t great, it looks about average to me, but a case could be made I am underselling him. Finally the fact that the C position is in general more shallow, the grade I gave to Kanter can be argued as enough for him to start long term in the NBA at C.

–  Kemba Walker: I give him an average score in physical impact as despite elite speed and ballhandling, his lack of size prevents him from finishing strong at the basket. It’s not inconceivable he makes a big leap forward as a finisher, which would turn him into a great or elite slashing talent for a PG. I also give him an average skill score, due to average 3pt shooting and passing skills. A big leap forward in those areas could move him up talent wise to me.

–  Alec Burks: Burks to me is bizarro timeline Tyreke Evans. Both have an amazing combination of explosiveness and size for a SG, making them elite physical impact talents. Evans went to a team where he was given as many minutes as he could take immediately and didn’t face repercussion for his bad habits or lack of development. Burks in Utah on the other hand, has been buried until he developed his shooting and decision making game. Burks’ shooting game has continued to look very poor (a case could be made he deserves a “1” in skill impact grade, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt), if he can prove he has more natural ability in that area than he appears to, he would have athletic tools to be a long term starting 2 and blue chip player.

–   Derrick Williams: For Williams it all depends on his 3pt shooting which was elite his final year in college, but inconsistent in the NBA so far. Turning himself into a lockdown 3pt shooting PF, would make him an elite skill option for the PF position and likely make him a long term starting 4.

–   Marcus Morris: Is already one of the most skilled PFs in the league with his 3pt range, with a pretty smooth feel for the game and IQ going back to his college days. What he needs to prove is that he can be anything but brutal making plays with his physical tools, as an undersized, mediocre athlete who sticks to the perimeter. If he can learn how to face-up and attack the basket, he can be a standout offensive starter.

–  Brandon Knight, Tristan Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, Markieff Morris: Right now I have all these players as having the talent to stick in the league for a while, but at “just a guy” status. The name people may be surprised at this lukewarm ranking for is Tristan Thompson, who’s been playing excellently in 2013. This post explains my grading of Tristan, though he still has a chance to develop into a blue chip player if his perimeter jumpshooting game gets going, as he certainly has a skilled touch around the rim. Valanciunas has impressive touch and range for a young C, but looks stiff from a feel for the game/instincts perspective and despite his length, is skinny and without explosiveness for a C. To become a standout C, Valanciunas would do it by becoming one of the league’s most skilled Cs, instead of just very good. I believe in Bismack Biyombo a little more than most. He has elite physical tools due to his athleticism and shotblocking, while it’s his skill and not his feel for the game that looks dreadful from my perspective. Elite physical tools and average feel for the game, is enough to stick in the league, especially at C. Brandon Knight is about average across the board for a PG, or SG if he moves to that position permanently. He has impressive size/speed (or weak size, elite speed at the 2), but lacks polish on the perimeter aside from his 3pt shot and has average instincts and feel. Polishing his skill game to elite can make him a more impressive long term option. Finally, Markieff needs to develop his 3pt shot to stick as a starting caliber offensive option.

–  Jan Vesely is the clearcut bust. While athletic, his skinny frame prevents him from dominant physical impact at PF or C. And the rest looks bad. He’s one of the least skilled players in the league (or, ever) and is a robotic stiff feel for the game wise. His best chance of making it is if he turns himself into an awesome shotblocker, but the odds are this guy is out of the league in a few years.

 

 

 

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Written by jr.

February 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Basketball, NBA Draft

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