NBA Draft 2011: Centers

The 2011 NCAA center class might be the worst I’ve ever seen. Usually I get at least one player like John Bryant, Herbert Hill or Alecks Marek who I’m convinced can be at least a semi-effective NBA center. This year such a guy isn’t there. There are a couple of raw, but promising foreign center who should probably both be drafted in the top 5 considering their potential. There’s another who might join them in Kanter.

I look for the following in centers:

  • On offense efficiency is most important. A 2-point pct. of .600 is a starting point and it should be higher than that. Younger players get some leeway here.
  • At least 10.0 R40 and preferably more.
  • At least 3 Blocks per 40 minutes. Again, the more the better.
  • An outside shot is a nice thing to have, especially if one or more of the other areas are lacking. Ditto for passing skills.

Players are listed in the order I would draft them, all other things being equal.

Bismark Biyombo, Baloncesto Fuenlabrada: I can see why teams would shy away from such a player. He’s raw and is a few years away from being a contributor. A lot can happen in a few years and there’s a decent chance any success will be with another team. But doesn’t a team have to take a chance on a player like Biyombo fairly early in the process, like possibly as high as #3? Is a guard who is certain to be a career reserve really a better option than a guy who has a decent chance of becoming a defensive force inside and possibly much more? I can’t imagine it would be. Biyombo is the best center prospect available, because he has shown great defensive potential. Very raw and seems a long way away, but in this draft he should be snapped up early.

Jonas Valanciunas, Lietvas Rytas: I feel the same way about him as I do about Biyombo, only Valanciunas’ potential is on the offensive side. Also very raw and very foul-prone. He is a long term project who won’t give a team much initial buzz, but makes more sense to me as an early selection than any of the career reserves available after the top pick. I prefer Biyombo, because Valanciunas seems like a weak defender.

Enes Kanter, Turkey: There is little in the way of stats for this guy, other than a pathetic 28 minutes from 2009, which had better not be indicative of his ability. I place him here because he’s considered to be in the top 3 centers and should also come off the board fairly early. But without stats, I can’t form an opinion.

Keith Benson, Oakland: He’s the best college center prospect, because of his ability to block shots. He has also hit on 11 of 29 3-pointers in his career, suggesting some stretch-the-defense ability. Inside scoring is weak, rebounding is OK. Basically he’s the college center who looks like he has the best chance of hanging around the league for a while.

Josh Harrellson, Kentucky: In a league starved for decent big men, Harrellson might find a niche. He was little-used until his senior year, when he became a regular. He doesn’t score much, but all his other numbers are OK. Plus he has some 3-point ability. He’s a long shot, but worth a look.

Greg Smith, Fresno State: Smith has some potential, but he isn’t there yet and I don’t hold out too much hope for a player who isn’t where he needs to be after two NCAA seasons playing in a mid-major conference.

Jordan Williams, Maryland: He’s a big time rebounder, but offers little else. I doubt that in itself is enough to get him drafted. I always wonder if teams will ever get specialized enough to utilize a designated rebounder like Williams in late game FT or final shot situations.

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