Personally, I think this is a bit pr..."/>
Personally, I think this is a bit pr..."/>

2011 NBA Draft: Kanter, Knight lead the way in an early look at the 2011 NBA Draft


by Andrew Hardison

Personally, I think this is a bit premature mainly because the NBA standings won’t be the same next year as they are this year. The New Jersey Nets are slated as the No. 1 team next year according to, but with all the speculation surrounding what will happen with the team during the off-season, they could be a playoff team for all we know. With that said, we’ll take a look at some prospects and players that could make their way into next year’s draft, players that could greatly affect the upcoming Kentucky season. We’re crazy like that at WildcatBlueBlog. Let’s take a look:

2nd – Minnesota Timberwolves: Enes Kanter (6’10”, 245 lbs.)
Kanter could probably be a lottery pick this season if he was eligible, that’s just how good the big man from Turkey will be for Kentucky. He set the all-time scoring mark—34 points—to go along with 13 rebounds and a dominant performance during the Nike Summit game that took place last weekend. He was clearly the best player on the court and will bring his game to Kentucky next season. There are some hurdles to jump over before he suits up for the ‘Cats, but the NCAA clearinghouse has already cleared Kanter to play, a good sign moving forward.

Kanter brings an array of skills to the court. What makes him so special is his ability to step out and hit the mid-range jump shot, something DeMarcus Cousins struggled with for much of this year. That’s the European style in Kanter’s game and will be on display throughout the 2010-2011 seasons. He’s very physical and isn’t afraid to bang down low with the big boys, evident by his play against Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger in the Nike Summit game. As said in the introduction, a look at the 2011 NBA Draft is extremely premature, but there is no doubt that Kanter will make his case to get drafted after only one year in Lexington.

4th – Golden State Warriors: Brandon Knight (6’3”, 185 lbs.)
Knight is expected to fill the shoes of John Wall who is departing after only a year under the tutelage of John Calipari at Kentucky. I doubt Knight will be able to do what Wall did this year, but Knight is the point guard that Calipari and the ‘Cats desperately needed. He’s got tremendous skills, a great mind (4.0 + GPA), and will make an instant impact for Kentucky next season.

Knight played in the McDonald’s All-American game where he hit the game winning shot for his team, but struggled throughout the full forty minutes, unable to showcase his skills. He played in the Nike Summit game along with Kanter and will play in this Saturday’s Jordan Brand All-Star game. There is no doubt that Knight possesses some tremendous skills, but don’t expect him to jump on the scene like Wall did this past year. Knight is more of a shooting guard, evident by his superb outside shooting skills. He can get into the lane much like Wall, but doesn’t possess the same acrobatics and will rely more on his outside shooting game more than anything else. He’s got some size to him at 6’3” and could be as good a rebounder as Wall, but don’t expect the same assist numbers.

7th – C.J. Leslie (6’8”, 205 lbs.)Leslie isn’t projected to be in the 2011 NBA Draft according to, but does make DraftExpress’ list at the No. 7 overall selection. They don’t take teams into account because like I said above, the selection order has yet to be figured out. Leslie is a high-end prospect and will likely make an impact right away once he decides where he’ll take his game. It looks as if Kentucky and N.C. State are the leaders, as Leslie weighs his options. He played with Wall in high-school and was thought to be a bona fide Kentucky commit not long ago, but things aren’t playing out the way many of us thought they would.

The Word of God forward is a wiz in the transition game and has a ton of athleticism, which has college and NBA personnel salivating at what he could do at the next level. Leslie is a great fit for Calipari’s dribble-drive offense because the North Carolina native loves to attack defenders off the dribble. He’s a tremendous shot blocker, but needs a lot of work on his shot. When he does make good decisions, he looks like an All-American. When he doesn’t, Leslie looks like another college athlete hell-bent on taking poor shot selections, evident by his in-game performance during the McDonald’s All-American game. His recruitment is still going on and it will be interesting to see where he winds up.

Josh Selby, Doron Lamb, Terrance Jones: I’d include these guys, but as stated throughout, there are far too many variables to actually predict where they will end up. Selby looks to be a Kansas commit and has mentioned that Kentucky isn’t really in the picutre anymore as Calipari and the Selby camp haven’t conversed for over a month. Things could cleary change though, as well all know how Calipari pulls rabbits out of his black top hat far too often. He comes in as the fifth overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft. Doron Lamb doesn’t appear in any initial 2011 NBA mock drafts, most likely because he isn’t in college yet and isn’t the ‘top’ high-school prospect in the nation. Doesn’t mean that he won’t end up in the NBA at some point. Terrance Jones doesn’t make any lists either, but with so many high-school and college prospects still out there, it really isn’t surprising.

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