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2011 Liberty Ballers Big Board

It's that time of the year again, where Jordan, Mike, Tanner and I release our combined big board.  Similar to last year, we've ranked all of our prospects 1-20 and sorted the prospects based on their average position, with players who didn't get a vote in all of our boards getting a value of 21 (just outside the 20) as a placeholder.

Note, this is in the context of where they would be on our (hypothetical, Thorn's not asking for any of our input, although I'll make myself available to him) Sixers focused big board, not necessarily where we have them ranked as prospects.

Here's our big board.  After the jump we'll provide some rationale for our insanity.

Composite Player Jordan Mike Tanner


1 Kyrie Irving 5 1 1 1
2 Jonas Valanciunas 4 3 3 2
3 Bismack Biyombo 1 6 2 4
4 Enes Kanter 3 2 4 5
5 Derrick Williams 2 4 6 3
6 Jan Vesely 9 5 5 6
7 Chris Singleton 12 10 7 13
8 Alec Burks 11 9 11 11
9 Markieff Morris 6 15 10 18
10 Tristan Thompson 15 18 8 9
11 Jordan Hamilton 10 14 12 14
12 Kemba Walker 20 7 16 8
13 Brandon Knight 19 8 17 7
14 Kenneth Faried 7 16 13 n/a
15 Donatas Motiejunas 13 12 n/a 15
16 Kawhi Leonard 18 11 n/a 12
17 Klay Thompson 14 19 19 10
18 Marcus Morris n/a 13 15 16
19 Nikola Vucevic 16 20 9 20
20 Jimmer Fredette 8 n/a n/a n/a


Others receiving votes: Tyler Honeycutt (17th from Mike, 17th from Jordan, 17th from Derek), Tobias Harris (14th from Tanner, 19th from Derek), Justin Harper (18th from Tanner), JaJuan Johnson (20th from Tanner).

Comments from the peanut gallery:


Before anyone gets hot and bothered over the unusually low rankings of point guards like Irving, Knight, and Walker let me explain myself. Unlike most prospect rankings you'll see on the internets, my top 20 was compiled strictly in regards to the Sixers - how the prospect fits both short and long term - along with the typical criteria: talent, potential, intangibles, etc. With the Sixers in mind I focused mainly on their biggest needs - interior defense, rebounding, and shooting - and shied away from point guards and ball-dominating players since the Sixers already have a crowded young backcourt littered with guys who need the ball in Jrue Holiday, Louis Williams, Jodie Meeks, Evan Turner, and Andre Iguodala.

Probably my two most controversial rankings are Bismack Biyombo at number one and Jimmer Fredette number eight. I'm fully aware of the risk involved with Bismack. First, some say he could be as old as 26, instead of his listed age of 18. That would change everything. Secondly, his offensive game is beyond raw. Lastly, he's flown up draft boards in recent months mostly based on one impressive performance at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit. Before he burst onto the scene in Portland and all but guaranteed his spot in the draft lottery, the man was on hardly anyone's radar.

However; with all the question marks and uncertainty surrounding Bismack his raw athleticism and defensive instincts, combined with his highly-touted work ethic, passion and character make for a guy who has the chance to truly be a special player in the NBA, even if his offensive game never pans out.

Big men with Bismack's defensive upside don't come along very often, and if the Sixers were able to get their hands on him he'd immediately fill the massive void of a defensive anchor, and form a potentially lethal defensive combo with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner in the future.

I ranked Jimmer at eight, despite the fact that he's a small guard with an underwhelming defensive reputation, who dominated the ball in college, because of his shooting ability. Jimmer is one of, if not the best shooters in this draft class. Although he dominated the ball at BYU to a tune of a nation-leading 854 possessions used, I believe he can be effective without the ball as a shooter and a scorer. Pair his ability to shoot with his overall scoring ability and Jimmer could potentially fill the both the roles of Sixers' Jodie Meeks and Lou Williams simultaneously.

Given his history and success as a go-to scorer Jimmer could provide the Sixers with stretches where he carries the team offensively ala Lou Williams, and remain effective as a catch-and-shoot, stretch-the-defense type player the rest of the time. He's extremely undersized for the shooting guard position in the NBA, but luckily the Sixers have guys in Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala to lock down the opposing teams' best perimeter scorers. Jimmer's defensive liabilities would be much less magnified on a team like the Sixers, and he can't be any worse defensively than the Boss.


The first inconsistency here is Kanter and Valanciunas over Williams. I simply don't think Williams will translate as well to the pros as much as your average draftnik but have him relatively high because I think he'll be a solid role player. I probably have Vesely and Biyombo higher than most as well, because I think their upside is worlds higher than Brandon Knight and Jimmer Fredette. Speaking of The Jimmer, he's unranked. That wasn't an accident. If he somehow fell to the Sixers at 16, I'll be attacking the stage if Stern announces their marriage. I'm officially not interested in him as a pro.

Same goes for the Thompsons (allegedly unrelated), who give way to Tyler Honeycutt and Jordan Hamilton up my draft list. Faried and Markieff land around the Sixers spot based on their high floors, and I'm not buying into the recent Vucevic surge because of how lumbering he'll be around NBA bodies. There's a whole bunch of average in the middle of this pack and who I want for the Sixers is pretty fluid, but the ideal situation would be to move up to either 2 or 4 and steal Kanter or Valanciunas from the top.


I guess there's no other place better to star than at the beginning huh? Like in all years past, I will always find it hard to pass on the best talent in that draft no matter the personnel already established on the team. Jrue Holiday is a rising talent in this league (and a sweetheart), but having a chance at Kyrie Irving is way too much to pass up. Having said that (thanks Larry David), he's not an option even if the Sixers magically move up in the draft so let's end that talk right there.

Disclaimer: this draft is very wacky (like the races). Jordan and I were telling each other about how many times we changed rankings and how we could easily switch anybody from around number 6 all the way down to number 20. And since we're putting together these rankings with no knowledge of each others' feelings, I'm not exactly sure which selections would be considered "reaches" or "bold picks" like in previous years (I believe I had Paul George at 6 last year?). So that being said, here's a couple justifications.

Chris Singleton has been on my radar ever since the beginning of the 09-10 collegiate season. When I witnessed him play in person at Maryland two seasons ago, I was floored by his defensive ability in the post and also the wing. That ability he had in college in the post may not end up translating into the NBA though, considering the players are bigger and stronger than in the struggling ACC. The big question with him this season was whether he'd end up being a 3 or 4 once he moved on to the league. I personally think he can adapt to the 4. His defensive instincts down low are too impressive to just send him to a wing position. I've been a believer in Singleton since two seasons ago and my love for him (sentimental right?) only grows as time goes on.

Another difference you might see in my rankings is the swapping of the Morris twins from Kansas. Most mock drafts have Marcus being the most heralded of the borthers, but I'd prefer Markieff out of the both of them. As Derek pointed out earlier, Marcus projects to more of a perimeter player than down low. Seeing as the Sixers are currently searching from a presence in the paint, Markieff's added height and weight would better serve the purposes of this team.

Jordan Hamilton's name has certainly been an interesting one throughout this past season, as well as the past couple days after the CBS report that the Sixers are set on taking him with the 16th overall pick. I wouldn't mind this pick at if an Iguodala swap were imminent but if Dre sticks around for another year (or more), I wouldn't want to see Hamilton be the selection. Evan Turner already was left out of the loop his rookie season and seeing his improvement in the playoffs, his added minutes plus Dre's standard 38-40 would leave Hamilton way out in the cold. I like what Hamilton brings to the table offensively and despite his defensive lapses at Texas, believe Collins could get a decent result form him. If Dre ends up leaving town, I wouldn't mind this kid at all.

We've been hearing more than a few times over the last couple days about the likelihood that Nikolas Vucevic will be the Sixers first round pick barring an unexpected slip. I wasn't a huge follower of his in college as it's tough for me to catch many Pac-10 games considering they don't really start until after I'm in bed anyway. But the more I read about this kid, the more I like. The Sixers desperately need somebody in the post that is willing to bang around for some rebounds, which Vucevic can do. Unlike a lot of other "hustle" players though, Vucevic has a nice mid-range game as well, which management seems to value (they did get Spencer Hawes remember) when it comes to big men. If he can compensate for his lack of athleticism by finding spots and establishing good rebounding position, I'd think Vucevic would be a nice addition to the team, which is why I have him at #9.

So there's some justifications for where I have various draft prospects slotted for Thursday. I haven't seen Mike, Jordan, or Derek's so it should be extremely interesting to see the disparities between them. I'm certainly expecting more than last year and even expect Mike to throw Anatoly Bose in his top 20.

Am I crazy for these rankings? Probably. But enjoy nonetheless. The draft is a mere day away!

At the top, I'm not passing on Irving, regardless of a duplication of  Holiday.  I take Valanciunas #2 because, if he works out, he fits exactly what the Sixers need.  Derrick Williams being at #3 is a testament to how much I don't like the top of the draft as much as his ability, because I've been critical of him in the past.  But he'd be a good fit with Turner and Holiday, even with his shortcomings.
Walker and Knight are too talented to let fall down too much, even if they may not be optimal fits.  In a draft filled with role players they could be much more, and I can't take Markieff Morris over them.  Particularly Knight, who fits in well with the current group, and could possibly start alongside Holiday.
Taking Motiejunas over Markieff is pure upside, as I think Moti has some legitimate skills that if he pans out could be very valuable offensively.  Markieff I just don't see being more than solid at anything.  As you can see, I tended to opt for talented wings before trying to force myself into an under-talented big just for the sake of drafting someone tall.

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