Category: 2011 NBA Draft

Draft Prospects: Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker
450x362-alg_kemba_walker_net.jpg (450×362)

Basic Info:

College: Connecticut

Height: 6’0

Weight: 180

Scout’s Comparison: Allen Iverson, Aaron Brooks

Reasons to Howl:

(from Urban Dictionary)
1. Man crush. When a straight man has a crush on another man, of an idolizing nature. (See: how Tom feels about UConn point guard Kemba Walker)

Ok, so I made the second part up. But I must confess: I unabashedly love Kemba’s game. Kemba plays with a ferocious intensity, attacking the basket, creating shots for himself as well as for teammates. He has an excellent pull-up jumper and a developing three point shot. He moves quickly enough to induce seizures, both from side to side, and up and down the court, and his handle is outstanding. His crossover is especially deadly, in part because his whole body moves so deceptively, and in part because of how quickly he gets to his spot and into his shooting motion. Comparisons to Allen Iverson have surfaced not just because of his height and vast array of tricky dribbling moves, but also because of the fearless way he throws his body towards the basket to create contact, and his intense desire to win.

Reasons to Worry: There are several legitimate question marks surrounding Walker as we look towards the draft. The most pressing one: his height. Kemba is listed at 6’0, but is more likely hovering in the 5’10 range, which is especially concerning on the defensive end. How will he defend bigger NBA point guards like Westbrook, Rose, or even the likes of Devin Harris?

Also, because Kemba was forced to be a scorer for the Huskies for so much of the season, it’s hard to peg what kind of a ball distributor he will be in the NBA.

Benefits to the Wolves: While I absolutely understand the concerns from Timberwolves fans about drafting another undersized, flashy Big East point guard, I see much more potential in Kemba Walker than Jonny Flynn. Kemba’s big game mentality is unmatched by any player entering the draft. Equally desirable to the Timberwolves is the way he took a young, inexperienced team, helped them develop throughout the regular season, put them on his back when they needed it, and dragged them to a national championship, shattering every expectation for Connecticut’s season along the way. While his game and his body might be similar to Flynn’s, it’s this mindset that sets him apart, not just from Flynn, but from the rest of the draft class. NOBODY wants to win more than Kemba Walker.

The Howlin’ Verdict: The jury here at Howlin’ T-Wolf is split on Kemba. Jonah (understandably) sees visions of Jonny dancing in his head. I see an intense competitor who knows how to win, and could be instrumental in helping a young Timberwolves team develop.

Fortunately, I dibsed writing about Kemba, so my final verdict is this: if the Timberwolves win the lottery, Kyrie Irving is far and away the safer bet, and should be snapped up immediately. But if point guards are what David Kahn is searching for (seems likely, no?), with the 3rd or 4th pick, Kemba would be an excellent consolation prize.

Besides, if he bombs out, and we have to suffer through another terrible year, the likes of Harrison Barnes, Austin Rivers and Michael Gilchrist will be there to console us next summer!

Draft Prospects: Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter

Basic Info:

College: Kentucky

Height: 6’10

Weight: 250

Position: Center

Scout’s Comparison: Al Horford

Reasons to Howl: Kanter is a big, big man (Perhaps bigger than what Draft Express had him listed at). And he plays like it too. Normally when you’re challenged with gauging big men out of Europe you need to question whether their skilled in the post and have enough of a mean-streak to bang bodies under the hoop with the likes of strong, brute NBA superstars. Many, namely Darko Milicic, can’t. Kanter definitely can do that.

True centers waltz into the NBA few and far between. The last time we thought a center was ready to dominante the league was Greg Oden, but he fell hard thanks to knees comparable to a 80-year old man. Still a sweet, sweet man, nonetheless. Anyways, Kanter has the potential to step into this league and bolster a starting center spot, very similar to what Joakim Noah has done in Chicago, for a very long time. No flash, no pomposity, just straight toughness and consistency, things any GM drools over especially considering your franchise center.

Reasons to Worry: Who is he? Not many have heard of Kanter and his talents before because he was ruled ineligible to play for Kentucky this past season for receiving “impermissible benefits” during his days in Turkey. Now he’s entering the draft and forgoing any of his eligibility at Kentucky to reach for the lights and fame. Seems like a stretch to me. The only game experience he has on display was his performances at the 2010 Nike Hoops Summit, where a 34/13 game caught the eyes of many scouts. But outside of that and some lame stat lines from his time in Turkey, there really isn’t much statistical evidence to get a gauge on Kanter’s game or potential.

Benefits to the Wolves: They’re countless. Let me explain. Darko Milicic is our current starting center. A once abandoned and ostracized lottery pick, the Wolves took him in with caring hands, hoping to nurse him back to pre-draft form. It didn’t really work but he’s slowly gaining his confidence back to say the least. But there are still so many things wrong with Darko’s game that grabbing another center to spark some competition wouldn’t hurt. Nikola Pekovic? He needed to start in the D-League anyways, so leap-frogging him is no problem to me.

The benefit comes down to the result of some healthy competition at the top: Will Kanter’s presence light a fire under Darko and urge him to play up to his potential? Or will it flounder Darko and his confidence that much more, while Kanter leaps into the starting role and exceeds because of it? Only time will tell but either circumstance is fine with me.

The Howlin’ Verdict: Number 1 pick? No. But granted we’re all waiting in suspense for the lottery to screw us again, the Wolves could see Kanter sitting at 3 or 4, which would be a great spot to nab yet another foreign force at center. Hopefully this one works out.

Draft Prospects: Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams

Basic Info:

College: Arizona

Height: 6’9

Weight: 241

Position: SF/PF

Scout’s Comparison: David West, Michael Beasley

Reasons to Howl: Derrick Williams is as athletic as they come. Not to mention he’s got bulk, height and explosiveness, which turns his athleticism into fear for all those looking to stop him. We’ve all been witness to David Kahn and his non-stop search for athleticism and length and Williams fits that prototype almost better than anyone in the draft at his position. Wait, what position does he play again? That’s why Williams could very well be highly coveted. You see, Williams played a bulk of his minutes at the three in college, which allows other bigs to step in and solidify defense down low. But when coach feels the offense is lagging, they have the ability to slide Williams to the four, where he can bang with the best of them all while dominating them with his sheer speed advantage.

The most surprising dimension to Williams’ game is his high shooting percentage. He shot 59% from the field and showed how he thrives in isolation situations. Whether he strides to the rack or settles for a jumper, he gets his looks and hits them often. Even more impressive is his true shooting percentage of 69%, which ranked 4th for all the NCAA. The Wolves need shooters, and efficient ones at that. Can it get much better than that for a guy who only demanded 10 attempts a game? Don’t think so.

Reasons to Worry: We’ve heard this before, right? A strong, athletic stretch four who seems to have the talent to take over games, just as Williams did against Duke in the second half of their epic Sweet Sixteen matchup, and also has the talent to to be in, or near, the top of the league in scoring. With Michael Beasley already holding down his position, is there really a need for a similar player to back him up? Not exactly. Although the need for depth, and a potential replacement for Martell Webster, would be great, it’s not amongst the top needs for the Wolves with a top lottery pick when other weaknesses are painfully glaring.

Also, the Wolves are looking to upgrade their bottom-dwelling defense in terms of efficiency and Williams won’t help there. He’s a little undersized to guard the post as well as snag defensive boards and too slow laterally to stick to other small forwards.

Benefits to the Wolves: Drafting a player at a position that’s already filled never seems wise, but you don’t know David Kahn. Pending the Wolves’ position after the lottery, the Wolves could very well be picking 2nd or even 3rd, which leaves Williams staring Kahn and co. straight in the face. Beasley on the roster or not, they take him and look for competition come training camp time. Perhaps the threat of Williams vying for a starting job on a team with no solidified starters, except for Love, lights a fire under Beasley and he then evolves into the player we all thought he’d be coming into the league as a rookie. Worst comes to worst, they end up being the same type of player and we send one of them away for a veteran leader instead. There really doesn’t seem like a wrong answer in this one.

The Howlin’ Verdict: Say we lose on the lottery and pick at either 2 or 3, you still take Williams. No regrets, no sulking. Best. Player. Available. A team as bad as the Wolves have no right to draft for need at that point, especially in such a weak draft.

Draft Prospects: Kyrie Irving

Ahhh May. That magical time of year when the majority of the NBA world turns its attention to the playoffs, where legends and legacies are made and written on a daily basis. The best players and teams in the world do epic battle upon the Field of Hardwood from coast to coast. The pools of talent are wide and deep enough to drown a man, and the rivalries feature more bad blood than the entire Saw franchise.

Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, May annually means something else: we are that much closer to the NBA Draft! And the draft means…hope! And stuff! It’s like spring training all over again! Ehhhh….

Anyway, 2011′s NBA Draft is being wildly heralded as one of the worst in recent memory. With promising college stars like Harrison Barnes of North Carolina and Jared Sullinger of Ohio State both deciding to return to college for a year, the draft lottery at a glance appears to be low on future All-Star level talent.

Fortunately(ish), Minnesota’s chances of getting one of the top 3 draft picks are very high, and they can slip no lower than 4th, as they are the proud owners of the worst record in the NBA. We will leave unasked the question of how Minnesota managed to obtain the worst record in the NBA when the hapless Cavaliers are still in the league. (Actually…no, we won’t. How the hell did the Minnesota end up with the worst record in the league?!)

But! While this year features few (if any) surefire future All Stars, there are certainly some very nice players Minnesota could choose from, and we here at Howlin’ T-Wolf have you covered! Here’s our first in a series of prospect breakdowns, starting with a player many experts agree will be the number one pick on June 23.

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie-Irving.jpg (300×326)

Basic Info:
College: Duke University
Height: 6’2
Age: 19
Position: Point Guard
Scout’s Comparisons: Chris Paul, Mike Conley

Reasons to Howl: There are MANY. While the prototypical NBA point guard seems to be evolving into the Westbrook/Rose mold, incredible athletes without much of a jump shot, Irving is more old-school: smart, efficient, and confident; more than capable of taking over a game offensively, but wise enough to defer to his teammates the way great point guards should. Irving’s size, strength, and lateral quickness should translate well on the defensive end. He has NBA three point range, a nice pull up jumper, a variety of nasty crossovers and sneaky moves in the lane (including a GORGEOUS Euro-step), and, by all accounts, a hyper-competitive streak, and swagger that alerts everyone on the court to who the alpha dog is. Now read that paragraph again…and remember that the kid is 19 years old.

Reasons to Worry: (Resisting…the…urge…to…be…snarky…and…failing…) Does it count as a reason to worry that the Timberwolves are now known around the NBA for unnecessarily drafting point guards, and yet Luke freaking Ridnour still started almost every game this past year?

No? Ok. (Calming myself…) Then back to Irving. One possible concern is Irving’s raw speed. While he can change directions quickly, he’s not as explosively fast as many current All-Star NBA point guards. He just doesn’t possess that second gear like MVP Derrick Rose (Not many do). It remains to be seen whether Irving can stay with the likes of John Wall on defense, or even another prospect who will be analyzed in the next few days…UConn’s Kemba Walker. On a slightly pickier note, Irving also missed most of the regular season with a toe injury, robbing us of a more complete look at his game. Fortunately for Irving, he performed admirably in the tournament, dominating the offensive end for Duke, so this might be just picking nits.

Benefits to the Wolves: Looking at the Wolves roster, the biggest holes are pretty clearly at the 1 and 5 positions, and Irving, the #1 prospect in the draft, is a point guard. If Minnesota wins the lottery, Irving will presumably be chosen. In addition to his many talents, he is reportedly a high character guy, someone you absolutely want to have in your locker room throughout a long, grueling NBA season.While the question marks surrounding his athleticism are mildly worrisome, his confidence and savvy would be invaluable at such an important position for this Timberwolves team. Better yet: he’s a cool head, a good shooter, and excellent at finding the correct shot; the kind of player who is invaluable when you are trying to close out a close game. I don’t know if you noticed…but Minnesota can’t close out close games. Ever. Ever ever. Ugh.

Plus, any time you can draft a player scouts are comparing to Chris Paul…well…

The Howlin’ Verdict: Granted we get the top pick, we take him, despite the Rubio drama. If for some reason he slides to us, you still take him. No questions asked.