Friday, August 6, 2010
One of the things I like to do in my free time is watch game film and highlights. A lot of it. I can watch the same game 2-3 times some days. Thanks to that NBA rule change a few years back that forced kids to wait a year post graduating HS to enter the NBA, we have seen a slew of players attend college for one season with full intent to jump ship for NBA riches after one season. Sometimes successful (see Derrick Rose) and sometimes not so much (Joe Alexander, anyone?). Some argue that this is bad for the NBA & college hoops, and I'll get into that later. Here's a list highlighting 5 incoming freshman that have a good chance of hearing their names called in the first round of 2011's NBA Draft:
Harrison Barnes 6'8 215, SF - North Carolina
Barnes has a smooth and calm demeanor to his game, ala Grant Hill (with a better jumper). He has the handle and range of a 2-guard, and with his 6'8 frame and 7'0 wingspan he is a perfect fit for the wing in the Tar Heels fast break offense. He should start immediately and is a lock for the top 5.
Kyrie Irving 6'2 170, PG - Duke
Irving has already drawn comparisons to the likes of Chris Paul, and they may not be too far off. He's not the passer or ball handler Paul is, but not many players are. Irving can fall in love with his handle too much at times, but playing a season for Coach K should keep that in check. Look what it did for Jay Williams.
Brandon Knight 6'3 185, PG - Kentucky
Hoping to be next in line of Calipari PG's to get drafted #1 overall is Brandon Knight, and he's more than capable of filling the huge vacancy left by John Wall. He's not on Wall's level athletically, but he's a much better shooter at this point and his handle is superb. Let's not forget that he hung 48 on top HS Sr. Austin Rivers live on ESPN2 last season. He already has an NBA size for a PG, so don't expect him to hang around long Wildcats fans.
Jared Sullinger 6'9 285, PF - Ohio St.
This kid is a beast. Sullinger plays with a bruising style that is perfectly suited for the Big 10, and he was the east's MVP of the McDonald's All-American game. He can easily finish around the basket and does a solid job on the boards. Sullinger has also shown the ability to knock down a 15 foot jump shot, which is a necessity in today's game. One thing he'll have to watch is his weight as he looks like he could blow up without proper conditioning.
CJ Leslie 6'9 207, SF - North Carolina St.
Leslie is a long and athletic wing with a decent handle and insane leaping ability. He works best when facing his man up off the dribble. Reminds me of a younger, right-handed version of Anthony Randolph. Leslie can stand to add another 20 lbs to his frame and work on his shooting, but his potential is evident.
Ian Miller 6'3 170, PG - Florida St.
Miller was not heavily recruited out of HS, but from what I've seen the kid can really play. Reminds me of Russell Westbrook with a better J. He has superior jumping ability and a nice handle. He may stick around more than one season, but I wouldn't be surprised if he stock improved over the course of the season.
Many will argue of whether or not the NBA should again change their eligibility rules to force kids to stay in school longer, but I think it's perfect the way it currently is. Some say the NBA should adopt rules similar to the NFL, which forces a player to stay in school until after their junior season. My argument is that the NFL is physically more demanding and the extra years are necessary for the player's body to mature to be able to handle the NFL's physical nature. NBA players on the other hand are naturally leaner and the style of play isn't as physically demanding. Also let's look at this; the point of college is to mentally prepare the student to be successful in life (more so financially). If you can gain this type of security without taking up a scholarship from someone who can better benefit from it, then who is to say that the players shouldn't be allowed to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them?
Anyway, be sure to keep an eye out for the players mentioned above once the college basketball season kicks off. They'll be coming to a draft board near you real soon...