The 2011 NBA draft is over, but instead of talking about draft grades that you can find anywhere on the Internet, I want to focus on historical patterns and why this past draft was a train wreck in terms of execution and scouting ideology.
The first 6 picks rolled through with a mild surprise in Tristan Thompson who surged to number 4, and Brandon Knight who dropped out of the top 5 despite several NBA Draft prognosticators labeling him the number 3 pick. Utah wisely chooses Enes Kanter while Knight's fall lasted until Detroit scooped him with the 8th pick. What happened next not only left me scratching my head, but made me question if scouting had really been done.
Bismack Biyombo has been glorified as a Ben Wallace clone since dominating 2011 Hoop Summit with a triple double showing. He also has some unique circumstances that almost mirror rising NBA player and Congo native, Serge Ibaka. Charlotte committed hard and drafted Biymombo early at 7. After all, how could they not be getting something similar to Ibaka? The big picture though has become clouded and even though both players have alarming similarities, they quickly stop after the heritage and Junior Spain basketball upbringing.
Unlike Biyombo, Ibaka at 16 had a much more refined game with solid perimeter shooting, ball handling and is a much more explosive player. In basic basketball Jargon, at 16-years-old, Ibaka's fundamentals were light years away from 18-year-old Biyombo's. Even when you look at their work in the LEB (Spain's second division Basketball League), Ibaka trumps Biyombo in every category.
It amazes me that the NBA doesn't draft high schoolers because they claim that extra year of school is good for them (maybe two, depending on how this year's Collective Bargaining Agreement shapes up), but upon seeing Biyombo's triple double assault on USA's Junior National team, NBA GM's decided he has the goods. Never mind that the US had no true center. Heck, I could even argue they had no true power forward, as UNC bound James McAdoo is a combo forward and Kentucky Bound Anthony Davis is a mere 195 pound forward who is still getting his body together after his astronomical 8-inch growth spurt after his sophomore year. These guys are hardly NBA bangers but yet some acted shocked on how Biyombo dominated them physically. The point is, he isn't a sure thing and has more questions surrounding him than any player drafted in the top 10.
Out of the 1st round there were picks that were questionable to me - Nikola Vucevic, Iman Shumpert, and Nolan Smith to name a few. But none is questionable than Jimmer Fredette. There may be no player this past season that has garnered as much praise and press acclaim than BYU's explosive scoring guard. Still, there are questions about his game that lead many to wonder if he and Tyreke Evans will be able to coexists as both player need the ball in their hands.
Now I know many will claim that Jimmer is being unfairly judged based on what was asked of him in college. Yes, there is merit to that idea but at the same time there is merit that he may not be athletic or quick enough to get his shot off in the NBA. My favorite line when any TV analyst talks about Fredette is that he's underrated athletically. No matter how underrated, he isn't beating John Wall or Derrick Rose in a footrace and those are the players he'll be guarding in the NBA. I made the same comments on Trajan Langdon in 1998. I kept getting told about his feel for the game, underrated athleticism, and perimeter shooting, but Landon lasted three years before becoming a tremendous European player in Russia. Is Fredette like Langdon? No. Not at all, but how people keep using the same buzz words is a little unsettling.
The last ten picks of the NBA draft were like a twilight zone moment. Only half of them made any sense. Let's start with Lavoy Allen. You're telling me he's more of a prospect than free agent rookies Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Greg Smith, Michael Dunigan or Willie Reed? No way. Lavoy has some basics with a good NBA body and motor, but he's got no upside.
The last ten spots should be used for mid to high risk/reward picks. Milan Macvan and Ater Majok were jokes as draft picks. The other players I've named should have been given true consideration over the others. Either these selections were born out of agent favors or the GM's fell asleep at the wheel and didn't give a damn if they crashed.
Chukwudiebere Maduabum was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers for the Denver Nuggets. In three games in the NBDL, Maduabum actually had a game where he put up an impressive "triple single" 1 rebound, 1 assit and 3 blocks. Sarcasm aside in those 3 games he averaged 0.7 Points, 0.3 Rebounds and 1 block. This guy isn't even a real project. He's a rough draft BEFORE you do a project. Masai Ujiri, GM for the Denver Nuggets, obviously believes that Maduabum, who Ujiri commented can "Jump out of the Gym!", will be a player they can mold. We'll see if he does what Ujiri claims, but if you really wanted someone that can jump out of the gym at 6-9 and can actually play somewhat fundamentally sound basketball right now, why not draft Malcolm Thomas out of San Diego State? But who wants to do that? It makes too much sense.
2 of these prospects belong together. 2 of these prospects are kind of the same. But 1 of these prospects is not the same . (Standing L to R Maduabum,Hamilton, Faried.)
Lastly, Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn strikes again with his selection of Tanguy Ngombo. What does a GM have to do to get fired these days? I've caught flack for talking ill of some NBA GM's, but you fanboys crawl out and defend this guy if you dare. Ngombo was drafted after a Kahn's scouting agent, Pete Philo, spotted him while assistant coach of the Chinese National team. Ngombo had a tremendous game putting up 24 points and 9 rebounds. And with that, Kahn pretty much drafted him without even as much as looking up anything on the player. Twenty-four hours later, Draft Express's Jonathan Givony tweeted several links which all but confirm that Ngombo isn't born in 1989, but 1984. So you went from drafting a 22 year old player with an emerging game with potential when in reality you have a 27 year old vet with little to no potential who has never received any real coaching. Now there is talk that the NBA may void the pick, which hasn't happened since Golden State accidentally drafted Sarunas Marciulionis in the 1987 NBA Draft in the 6th round. Difference was, the lack of information from eastern countries.
It was found later that Marciulionis was eligible in 1986 not 1987 while, Ngombo was last eligible in the 2006 NBA Draft. Five years ago! Congrats to this GM, who both figuratively and literally flushed a 2nd round pick right down the toilet. You're an NBA GM, Kahn. We live in a very tech-advanced time where a simply Googling a player can lead you to tons of information. And please don't give me these tired lines from apologists that mistakes happen. These guys are professionals, correct? People like David Kahn show time and time again that not all NBA GM's are equal. Kahn should not hold this position. I've got a guy he can draft; a devastating post player from Yugoslavia - Ivan Renko. You guys should draft him next year.
But in all seriousness, the 2011 NBA draft wasn't supposed to be a barnburner. We've done this song and dance with foreign draftees in 2003 and we didn't fare too well. Out of the 20 foreign players drafted in both rounds, less than 40% made an impact and lasted in the NBA longer than 3 seasons. And out of that 40%, only Leandrinho Barbosa became any sort of regular starter in the NBA.
My point is not that international players shouldn't be drafted, but with these players you have to be careful that you're not drafting someone simply because he's an foreigner. North American college players still dominant the NBA landscape as a whole for a very good reason. At the end of the day, on average, every draft year the NBA allows approximately 3 players to go undrafted that will make an impact in the league. By impact, I mean more than 250 career games with more than 5 NBA seasons under their belt. With careless drafting by desperate NBA teams trying to stake a claim on an unknown international prospect, the range of undrafted North American college-trained players will expand. And with that expansion a question must be raised over the lack of diligent scouting and gluttonous indulgence in frivolous international picks.