“With the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select….”
We all know the answer to that one. Unless by some miracle workout displayed by Arizona forward Derrick Williams, that sentence will be finished with, “Kyrie Irving, Duke University.” Outside of Irving and Williams, however, is a very questionable field. One boasting of a big Turk who hasn’t played a meaningful minute of basketball in over a year, two undersized-but-overachieving scorers, and numerous other prospects with question marks up and down their resume. I’m going to take a look at these particular players. Guys who could be booms, busts, or anywhere in between.
Before I go any further, I’d like to state that I do not believe this draft class is as pitiful as most are making it out to be. It’s a two-man show at the top, but the rest of the class is filled with some players who could contribute fairly well at the NBA level. For comparison’s sake, I believe it will turn out much like the 2006 class that produced the likes of Brandon Roy, Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay, and LaMarcus Aldridge. You have a couple All-Star caliber players, maybe one franchise player (before injuries cut him off at the knees, err…), and overall a decent amount of role players. This isn’t the draft that produces a Dwight Howard, a CP3 and Deron Williams, or a future Miami Heat team. This is, however, a draft that will produce a couple of very good basketball players, and a very solid crop of role players.
Now obviously I feel that Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams have the best shot of turning into very good basketball players. I believe Kyrie Irving could even become a franchise player one day if the cards are dealt accordingly. Many feel the same way about Williams. I think we have all heard and seen enough of these two guys. Well maybe we haven’t seen enough of Irving, but we’ve seen enough… you know? Let’s take a look at some of the guys who could help fill out this draft class.
Enes Kanter. He stands at 6’11″ in shoes and weighs 260 pounds. A very good looking 260 pounds at that. He is also just 19 years old. If you follow basketball, the draft, and college hoops closely, you know a player with Kanter’s build at his age is extremely rare. It comes around… not so often. To add to his size, Kanter also possesses a very nice skill-set for a big man. He can bang in the low post, knock down the mid-range jumper, and is fairly nimble for a guy his size.
Now with all that said, you may be wondering where the question marks come in. In essence, Kanter has all the tools to be a number one pick. He could live up to that billing. However, the Cavaliers aren’t going to take him over a player in Kyrie Irving who played just 8 games as a freshman last year at Duke because Kanter played even less at Kentucky. He played zero. The Swedish-Turk’s eligibility was barred by the NCAA and he hasn’t played a competitive minute of real team basketball since high school. On top of that, Kanter spent his senior year of high school ball playing for Stoneridge Prep. Not the greatest school and definitely not the best competition. So here’s a guy who you could say has lost a year of development albeit at a very crucial age in the process of becoming a better basketball player.
A couple more red flags arise when you take a look at some of the film from Enes Kanter’s high school career. Though as mentioned earlier he does have a nice skill-set, Kanter is plagued by a low basketball IQ and what seems to be an even lower drive. It is common for high school studs to take a lot of plays off, but they still dominate with relative ease. Not in the case of Kanter. Sure, he dominated as much as any 6’11″ 260 pound brute with a nice jumper would going up against frail 6’6″ “centers”, but he didn’t dominate the way he should. Against the competition he faced, you’d expect the Turk to look like the second-coming of Shaq. Instead, he looked more like the second-coming of well… not Shaq. The second-coming of someone far from Shaq. Kanter showed his low basketball IQ over and over again with poor shot selection, terrible decisions with the ball in his hands, and no desire to simply bull his way inside and take over the game. He was playing players so unequipped to guard him that he should have looked like The Diesel and Larry Legend’s love child out there, but he didn’t.
Now if you watched the Nike Hoops Summit, you saw a different Enes Kanter. You saw the one who attacked the rim every time he touched the ball. You saw the guy who was unstoppable. The guy who outplayed Jared Sullinger and everyone else on the court. The guy who broke Dirk Nowitzki’s Summit record of 33 points in a game and set the bar just a little higher.
So you may be thinking Kanter just took it easy during high school, but has the talent to dominate on a much-higher level. That may very well be the case. Actually, that is the case. He does have the talent. However, does he have the motivation? The Nike Hoops Summit is a big stage for high school kids. That’s how they get their name out there to a wider audience. An audience of fans, but more importantly an audience of NBA scouts. So who’s to say Enes Kanter’s drive to give everything and be the best player he can be hasn’t been left on that court? That’s a question you could ask about most of the guys in this draft and not have a real definitive answer for, but it becomes a bigger issue in Kanter’s case because of his lack of game-time, motivation in high school, and his low basketball IQ.
Simply put, if he doesn’t give the NBA everything he’s got, the NBA will quickly leave him in the dust. Maybe not as quick as most players because of his size, but we’ve seen the careers of Darko Milicic and Rafael Araujo. Both were as highly touted as Kanter is now. We can’t say either of their careers turned out anything like they potentially could have.
In the end, I believe Enes Kanter will be a productive NBA player. How productive depends entirely on him and how hard he’s willing to work. He has the potential to be great, but potential does not always equal success.
I know I said I would talk about players as in plural and I promise I will. This is just part one of my draft preview giving everyone a little more info, or maybe just something else to think about, of some of the highly coveted prospects in this draft. I’ll be back tomorrow with another as I provide my take on two “point” guards who have been criticized for their physical talents, but have shown that they have the heart and confidence to be the best player on any court they step on to this point in their respective careers.