Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2011 NBA Draft Senior Rankings (#6-10)

A week ago, I started this series by ranking the top 5 seniors in the draft. A week later, this have changed for the better for this senior class. The top 5 guys all look like first round picks now that Barnes, Jeff Taylor, and others have announced that they are staying. This makes these senior rankings all that more important. In one of the weakest drafts ever, seniors offer a sense of security with a pick, and the second round could end up looking like one from 15 years ago when kids stayed in school. This senior crop isn't great, but many of these guys can get drafted and take advantage of the lack of underclassmen entering.

 Top 5 Seniors

6. Keith Benson - I wrote about Benson in March.

There is no doubt that Keith Benson will be taking his talents to the draft, as he has already turned in 4 productive years in college. He has put up great numbers and has all the measurables, but it may not be enough to get him in the first round. One may blame it on the small conference, but it is obvious from watching him play that he could for put up great scoring numbers anywhere in the country. He is that talented offensively. He can shoot it, put it on the floor, and moves wonderfully for a center. The problem, though, is his strength. At the age of 22, he still lacks the muscle to hang in the post at either end of the floor. That will surely effect both his gaudy rebounding and block shot statistics, and probably make him more of a liability on defense despite a great wingspan. It doesnt help that he doesnt have the best BBIQ. Offensively, his strength is going to make him mostly and jump shooter and driver.

His weakness makes him a strong candidate for the D-League where he will almost certainly spend his fair amount of time over the next year or two. In the right organization, he can eventually work his way into an NBA rotation, maybe even as a starter. More than likely, though, you will still find him as a fringe NBA player years down the road. He reminds me of Courtney Sims of the D-League, who puts up excellent numbers each year, but never gets more than a 10 day call-up. To avoid being like Sims, Benson needs to gain that strength and become more gritty. OKC would be an ideal fit for both parties. They have their own D-league team and do a good job of developing their own players, while the Thunder would benefit by having an athletic big with a face-up offensive game. The Thunder love athletic, super long centers so it could be the perfect match. Right now, he would be a stretch in the first round.

The first round is more of a possibility now, as there aren't many options at center, especially if you want a athlete like Keith Benson. Lucas Nogueira and Nikola Vucevic are his biggest competition for a team looking for a center late in the first round.

7. Chandler Parsons - I'm one of the biggest Chandler Parsons supporters around. I think a key reason that people are underrating him is the perception that he can't shoot. He looks like a stereotypical shooter, but that has been his weakness - up until conference play this year. He shot over 40% from three in conference play and his stroke is fine. With the rest of his game, he can be an excellent role player if his shooting keeps up. He has a great feel for the game, showing excellent passing instincts (and unselfishness), and solid ball handling. It is impressive the way he impacted the game in many ways, while Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton controlled the ball most of the time. He was clutch his juniors year, but Walker and Boynton stole his thunder this season. He needs to get stronger, but he would fare well in an up-tempo system. I honestly see some Mike Dunleavy in him (beyond skin color, people!) with point forward potential.

8. Jimmy Butler - Butler is a guy I've thought highly of for two years. He is yet another Marquette player to look appealing to NBA teams for their role playing abilities (Wes Matthews and Lazar Hayward). He plays very smart - filling up the stat sheet while making great decisions that put his team in better position to win. It is no surprise that his team won the Portsmouth Invitation Tournament with their teamwork and togetherness. Butler certainly had a big part in that and led by example. He is a bit of a tweener, but if you ask me, he is a basketball player. He can defend multiple positions (see the Xavier game where he helped shutdown Tu Holloway), pass the ball, make open shots, and crash the boards. He may not be a lockdown defender or a guy you can count on for buckets, but he will be a guy that will fill his role and do whatever it takes to win. He's looking like a lock to get drafted now.

9. Kyle Singler - In a Singler versus Parsons debate, I like Chandler but Singler could fit better into a halfcourt offense. His toughness is unrivaled and he sports great awareness and intelligence. Early on at Duke, he looked great playing at the power forward while capitalizing on mismatches, but he is definitely a small forward in the NBA. His time playing small forward his last two years exposed some of his weaknesses, but in the long run, it will help him. He struggled at SF, especially last year, until Coach K made it a point to run screens for him to get him open shots. That will not happen in the NBA and I don't see him creating many shots for himself. His footspeed is average as well and his athleticism doesn't help him finish inside. There are a lot of things going against Singler, but he is a winner who will lay his body on the line every game. Can that body survive an NBA season?

10. Andrew Goudelock - Goudelock helped his stock a lot at Portsmouth as I predicted. He's a fairly simple player to understand - a combo guard with deep range on his jumper who can run the point at times. I believe his jumper and fearless mentality on the court is strong enough that he can help a team. With Goudelock, its as simple as that - make shots. His shot making ability can get him into the league.

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