With the regular season winding down, it’s time to update the top 100 Big Board.
Our top two spots remain unchanged with Perry Jones and Kyrie Irving maintaining those positions. Arizona sophomore standout Derrick Williams has jumped up to #3 replacing Harrison Barnes who fell considerably (out of many team’s lottery) but has recently risen behind tremendous play to where scouts are beginning to entertain the idea of him climbing back into the top 5 once again. There is still a good chance he will opt to return to North Carolina and make a run at being the #1 pick next year.
The date Irving was scheduled to return passed 2 days ago, and still no word on when or if he will return to action. We have received word from a source close to Kyrie that (regardless if he returns to action this year) he will enter the 2011 draft if he’s projected by teams as the #1 overall pick, and possibly 2nd. Otherwise, he’ll look to return for his sophomore year.
This year’s draft class is facing such a difficult challenge with no Summer League and months of uncertainty. It’s a terrible year to be a draft "project", especially one taken outside of the lottery, as there won’t be nearly the incubation period with coaches and teams in place to help prospects make the transition. Players are sure to be able to take out lines of credit, but for many borderline picks and second rounders, without any guaranteed contracts and an upcoming labor dispute, there could be a rush to fill roles with teams in Europe.
With that in mind, for underclassmen without any certainty about being a first rounder or even a lottery pick, the best advice would be to return to school, continue to develop your game and enter the league at a time when your skills and future are in better position to develop. This is shaping up to be a year where many more players don’t realize their talent due to the labor circumstances.
And a good draft strategy will likely be to look for International players that can stay overseas, or seniors and polished players that can overcome an interrupted summer and start to their NBA careers.
10. Jimmer Fredette 6-2 195 PG BYU Sr. — (+14) Jimmer has become the runaway favorite for NPOY and has made more and more scouts believers in his potential for the next level. Does he have holes to his game? Yes. Will a team roll the dice on him in the top 10? There’s a good chance.
11. Kawhi Leonard 6-7 225 SF San Diego St. So. — (+15) Leonard has a unique skillset with tremendous rebounding ability as well as above average handles. He also owns some of the biggest hands ever seen on a non 7-footer. Scouts feel he has a good shot to be a lottery pick with a strong finish to the year.
21. Kenneth Faried 6-8 225 PF Morehead St. Sr. — (+18) Despite having little to no offensive skill, and being short for the PF position, scouts actually see a positive in both as he’s a (rebounding/defensive) role guy with freakish athleticism and a motor that doesn’t stop.
23. Chris Singleton 6-9 225 SF/PF Florida St. Jr. (+17) Suffered a foot injury that could put him on the shelf for the season. Regardless, Singleton showed surprising shooting ability this year. Combine that with lock down defensive ability in a weak draft class and he should hear his name called by David Stern (in the first round) on draft night.
29. William Buford 6-5 190 SG Ohio State Jr. (+25) Has been on a real tear of late and should benefit from a deep run in the tourney or title for the Buckeyes.
32. Thomas Robinson 6-8 237 PF Kansas So. — (+65) Robinson was the biggest riser climbing 65 spots to 32 on the big board. He’s out with an injury but should be back in time to help Kansas make a tourney run. Robinson is playing with a heavy heart having lost his mom mid-season.
33. Klay Thompson 6-6 186 SG Washington State Jr. — (+52) There aren’t many shooters as pure as Klay, who despite below average athleticism is considered by scouts as a real candidate for the first round this year.
34. John Henson 6-10 200 SF/PF North Carolina So. — (+22) Henson is possibly the most unusual prospect in college due to his lack of strength and incredible length. He’s a shot blocking machine but will need to add significant weight in order to bang inside at the next level. He’s a train wreck at the FT line or shooting from outside 5 feet, but has gained momentum as the season has progressed.
35. Nolan Smith 6-3 189 PG/SG Duke Sr. — (+20) Smith has benefited greatly from the absence of Kyrie Irving and has had some monster performances this year. He stands a great chance to sneak into the first round, despite scout’s lukewarm attitude towards his point guard skills.
36. Jordan Williams 6-10 260 PF Maryland Jr. — (+65) Maryland’s junior bigman worked hard on his body during the offseason. He’s become one of the most productive bigs in the country.
42. Keith Benson 6-11 225 C Oakland Sr. — (+28) Benson still needs strength but his length and shooting touch is intriguing. His ability to block shots also adds intrigue.
44. Norris Cole 6-2 175 PG Cleveland St. Sr. — (+57) Cole’s recent 41 pt, 20 rebound, and 9 assist game really opened some eyes. He’s a quick playmaker with some solid bounce. He’s more difficult to evaluate playing in a smaller conference but for now scouts see him in the second round.
46. Rick Jackson 6-9 235 PF Syracuse Sr. — (+55) One of the nation’s top rebounders. Jackson really helped his cause by shedding weight in the offseason.
48. Jeffery Taylor 6-7 224 SF Vanderbilt Jr. (+21) — Taylor can be passive and inconsistent at times, but he also shows a competitive streak and is one of the better wing forwards out there. He could sneak into the first round if he enters this year’s draft.
49. Malcolm Lee 6-5 175 PG/SG UCLA Jr. — (+52 ) Lee has begun to gain the consistency and show the talent many expected to see from him earlier in his UCLA career. Sources close to him say he’s unlikely to return to UCLA next year.
50. Trevor Mbakwe 6-8 240 PF Minnesota Jr. — (+23) An absolute beast on the boards. Mbakwe continues to impress with his relentless motor and freakish explosiveness.
51. David Lighty 6-5 220 SG Ohio State Sr. — (+23) Lighty is a solid athlete with a composed game. He may be taking advantage of his age, but there’s no disputing his efficiency.
52. Marshon Brooks 6-5 190 SG Providence Sr. — (+49) Brooks has been one of the most prolific scorers on the college level. He lacks size and strength and scouts feel he’s a likely early to mid-second rounder.
60. Darius Morris 6-4 190 PG Michigan So. — (+41 ) Morris is said to be leaning towards entering the draft. Scouts have him pegged as a mid second rounder. He lacks great foot speed but is a true point guard with excellent size. An additional year could allow him to develop into a first rounder.
64. Chandler Parsons 6-8 217 SF Florida Sr. — (+37 ) Parsons is a player that teammates love to play with because of his unselfishness and willingness to put the team first. Scouts feel he will make an NBA roster, despite lacking standout numbers.
65. Nikola Mirotic 6-10 225 SF/PF Real Madrid 1991 — (+36 ) If Jimmer isn’t this year’s top shooter it’s because Mirotic is. He put on an absolute shooting clinic last year in front of scouts at the Rose garden in the International practices for the Hoop Summit. He has a typical "soft Euro player" reputation but has been playing especially well of late.
69. Justin Harper 6-10 225 PF Richmond Sr. — (+32) Long, agile and a good shooter. Harper still needs to add strength and is a bit of a tweener, but he’s getting a lot of looks due to his upside.
70. Cam Long 6-4 187 PG/SG George Mason Sr. — (+31) Long has been flying under the radar all season. He’s a combo guard with a great feel for the game and one of the prettiest strokes on the college level. One scout mentioned if he were playing in the ACC, he could be making a push for the first round.
72. Joshua Smith 6-10 305 C UCLA Fr. — (+17) The UCLA bigman started slow but has begun to figure things out as the season has gone along. This kid has a lot of talent and just needs to gain intensity.
Here is an updated look at the top 100 (Big Board)