Sixers 2011 Draft Primer Part 1: Perimeter players

Coming down the home stretch with the draft less than a week away, I'm going to take a look at most of the prospects projected to be first round picks.  These aren't meant to be full in-depth scouting reports, if you want those you can go to DraftExpress and read up (if you want my own in-depth take on some of the potential draftees, view my scouting report history on DraftExpress).  These are quick synopses of my thoughts on these players, both their projected effectiveness in the NBA and their potential fit on the Sixers.

I'm going to break this into three articles.  First will be perimeter players (point guards, combo guards, and swingmen), second will be big men (combo forwards, power forwards, and centers), and the final day will be devoted to the European prospects.

(Clarification: By European prospects I mean those that didn't play collegiate ball in the US this year)

(Further clarification: I'm including those who came over to play collegiate ball but never played a game)

(Final clarification: Enes Kanter will be in the European group)

This isn't in order of how I rank them, as we'll put up a big board with all of our rankings before the draft.  This is simply based on the order DraftExpress has them going in the draft (as of June 18th).  Check in after the jump.

Travis Leslie:
Intriguing from a physical standpoint, but not developed as a perimeter basketball player. Shooting is his main problem, as he's not a great catch and shoot player, and his range is an issue. Not a tremendous first step or touch around the hoop to compensate. His midrange game and pull-up game is showing signs of improvement, but it's hard to see him being significantly more than an opportunistic scorer off cuts and transition in the NBA until he gets more consistent as a catch and shoot player, and a bad fit for the Sixers current personnel.

Fit with Sixers: Bad

Charles Jenkins:
On the one hand, Jenkins role is going to change drastically, as he doesn't have the first step to do much to get separation in isolation situations, and his lack of explosion around the rim is going to relegate him an average finisher at best. On the other hand, unlike most high-usage guards in small conferences, Jenkins is more capable of changing roles in the NBA than most. He's an excellent catch and shoot player, and he puts in effort on the defensive end, although he'll never be an above average defender because of his size. On the Sixers, where he could defend PG's fairly often, he might fit in well as a scorer off the bench, but that clearly wouldn't be with the Sixers pick at #16.

Fit with Sixers: Good (off the bench)

Tyler Honeycutt:
Honeycutt has two main selling points that make him attractive to the Sixers: length on the perimeter defensively and ability to score off the ball, as he's showing continued development as a scorer coming off screens and in catch and shoot situations. None of that potential (on either end) has full materialized yet, but his situation last year (in Ben Howland's system, which has been tough on wings, and struggling through various injuries) could have his stock artificially low, and his skillset fits the Sixers well. Whether or not he's aggressive enough and tough enough is the key on whether he'll reach his potential.

Fit with Sixers: Very good

Iman Shumpert:
I like Iman Shumpert. I think he could end up being a sleeper, as his role change in the NBA should solve most of the decision making and efficiency problems he currently has, as he'll be asked to do a lot less for his team. I just don't like him for this team.

Most of my intrigue around Shumpert lies on the defensive side of the ball, as I think he has the tools to be a good defender in the NBA. Combine that with his athleticism and size to be a demon in the open court and I think he can turn out to be a contributor in the NBA, particularly if somebody can help him find consistency on his jumper and make him into a catch and shoot threat.

But in the half court Shumpert's still largely a work in progress, and his shot is still very inconsistent and he sruggles to create his own shot. It would be hard to envision him getting time with the wings we already currently have.

Fit with Sixers: Very bad

Jordan Hamilton:
Hamilton's perhaps as good of an offensive fit with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner as any wing in this draft, yet it's hard for me to really get excited about the prospects of him being a Sixer. Why? Two glaring weaknesses: defense and shot selection.

Hamilton is deadly in catch and shoot situations, making him an ideal fit with Holiday, Turner, Williams and (possibly) Iguodala. He even has a developing post game, which would be a nice addition to making him a more well rounded scorer. But his defensive instincts and discipline may prevent him from seeing major time in Doug Collins rotation. If he's a willing learner and improves his decision making on both ends of the court he could provide a lot of value.

Fit with Sixers: Very good

Alec Burks:
Going from one of the better (in theory) fits among wing players to the other end of the spectrum, Alec Burks is a smooth, crafty wing with solid but not elite athleticism and an unrefined jumper, the type of game that doesn't currently fit well with Holiday and (especially) Turner, but may be too valuable to pass up this late in the draft.

Right now Burks is primarily an isolation and pick and roll scorer, duplicating strengths (and weaknesses) of many of the core on the team. Can he develop into a solid shooter ? His form from midrange shows promise, but it breaks down the further he gets away from the hoop, and he struggles with consistency off the dribble and in pull-up jumpers. The question becomes whether Burks is too talented to pass up at this stage of the draft, and whether you think he can refine his jumper with time.

I'm of the belief that if Burks slides to 16, barring another similar slide, he may be too talented to pass up. I'll go with the hope that he can refine his shot over the risk of "wasting" the 16th pick of the draft.

Fit with Sixers: Bad

Marshon Brooks:
Moving futher down the side of bad fits is Marshon Brooks. There were few in college basketball who created more of their offense off the dribble than the senior from Providence. He's improved the past two years from beyond the arc and on catch and shoot situations, but his game is primarily dribble-drive based, usually settling for contested pull-up jump shots rather than getting all the way to the rim. To his credit, he's developed an advanced offensive arsenal capable of playing this game efficiencly at the collegiate level, but I have a hard time convincing myself he's going to be able to translate that efficiency to the NBA.

His tools (which are particularly intriguing defensively, if a coach is able to get his full commitment on that end) warrant a look here, and he may put up numbers, but his shot selection and poor passing skills worry me about his ability to be a focal point of a winning team. The fact that he'd be a poor fit with Holiday and Turner seal his Sixers fate in my eyes.

Fit with Sixers: Very bad

Klay Thompson:
Another wing who potentially could be a great fit with Turner, Holiday, Williams and Iguodala is Klay Thompson. A junior from Washington State, Thompson has done a good job expanding his offensive game, showing more ability to create for himself and others than he did when he first came in. That being said, it's still his ability to be a threat in catch and shoot situations and coming off of screens that makes him such an intriguing fit with the Sixers.

Much has been made Thompson's average athletic ability, and it's not without merit. That being said, as his role changes from the focal point of the Washington State offense to off the ball scorer that becomes less of a concern, and he has enough quickness to be effective coming off of screens, something that he's already accustomed to. This all should make his offensive transition fairly easy.

It's the defensive side of the ball where his athletic limitations become a greater concern, and if there's a reason to pass on him with the 16th pick, that's where it would be. That being said, if he's surrounded by strong defenders like Holiday and Turner (and possibly Iguodala), you can probably looked past this. Unlike Jordan Hamilton, his defensive concerns have less to do with lack of focus and technique and more to do with defensive limitations. That being said, Washington State did run a lot of zone, so it's hard to get a definitive feel for what he can do at the next level.

All this is probably moot, as Thompson has quickly risen up the draft boards during workouts and looks likely to be gone before the Sixers pick.

Fit with Sixers: Very good

Chris Singleton:
Singleton is a guy who may have been the victim of unrealistic expectations. Expected to carry a large offensive role on his Florida State team, his failure to do so may have affected his stock, despite the fact that it's a role he won't be asked to fill in the NBA.

The intrigue around Singleton, and why he may be a good fit on the perimeter with the Sixers, is his defensive potential. Unlike many other wings in this draft, Singleton's defense isn't mere potential, it's already fairly well realized in a tough ACC.

Combine the ability to be an impact defender with an improving catch and shoot game, and even signs of a little bit of a post game, and there's a lot to like about his potential fit with the Sixers. He's never going to be a potential top option, but he's a fairly safe bet to be a contributor, and I tend to have a soft spot in my heart for people I am confident can translate as defenders in the middle part of the first round.

Fit with Sixers: Good

Kawhi Leonard:
As a defender and rebounder, it's clear Kawhi Leonard has a role in the league. As an offensive player ? I'm just not sure what that is. This doesn't worry me so much as a Sixers fan, since he's likely to be gone well before the Sixers pick and if he falls to 16 he's a good value pick, even if he's not a sure thing to be a starter.

Fit with Sixers: Solid

Jimmer Fredette:
I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on "The Jimmer", since he won't be around at 16, and if the Sixers trade up, it's hard to imagine he'd be their target. Even if you believe his offense is going to translate well, it's hard to imagine him being anything other than a defensive sieve in the NBA. One of the few picks I would actually be upset with if his name was called as the Sixers pick on draft night.

Fit with Sixers: Good (but not worth price)

Kemba Walker:
Walker's one of the more polarizing figures at the top of the draft. I'm one of his supporters, and think he's a better point guard than most give him credit for. He'll always be a scoring point, but I don't think he's entirely ball dominant, and don't consider him an undersized 2. I also think he has the quickness and explosion to get separation in the NBA, and love his pull-up jumper. Measuring in bigger than expected cemented his status as a top 7 pick. All that being said, he'd be a poor fit with Jrue, and I don't think his talent is so great that if the Sixers traded up and were in a position to get him that they'd skip out on bigger needs.

Fit with Sixers: Bad

Brandon Knight:
On the one hand, I'm a Brandon Knight lover. Back when he was falling into the late teens and early 20's I clamored on Sixers Beat that he was being drastically undervalued. I think he's got a very good head on his shoulders, love his ability to come off screens and drill a jumper from deep, and think he has defensive tools that can make him a better defender than most combo guards. In a Jason Terry type combo guard role, I think he has a high probability of being a very useful member of a winning rotation. I loved him in the late lottery and beyond.

That being said, I would now be classified as a Brandon Knight hater. When he soared through the top 10 and potentially all the way up to 3, I think he became overrated. Not entirely surprising, considering the lack of a sure thing in the top third of this draft.

I just don't see the point guard instincts to be able to run a team, nor the size to be able to defend the 2 full time, regardless of matchup. As the season went on, Calipari moved him to less isolations and more pick and rolls and dribble handoffs, and that helped the young guard limit his mistakes, but he's not a particularly natural passer ouf of the pick and roll either.

The more I watched Knight, the more confident I became that he'd be a very valuable member of a winning team, and the less confident I became he'd be a starting point.

(Keep in mind, this is less about me saying he's not worth a top 5 pick in this draft, as that's a reflection of the top third of this draft, and more about me saying to temper your expectations, as I don't believe he's a star in the making).

He actually would be a good fit on the Sixers, either replacing Louis Williams' role as a first guard off the bench or in a backcourt starting alongside Evan Turner. But the Sixers aren't going to get rid of Jrue Holiday, and if they get a top 5 pick they aren't going to invest it in a 6th man, even if it is a very good one.

Fit with Sixers: Very good (but not worth price)

Kyrie Irving:
n/a. Sixers aren't getting the top pick.

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