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NBA Draft: Five big risks in the 2011 NBA Draft

Jun 21, 2011, 3:26 PM EDT

Josh Selby Getty Images

Right now, there are no busts in the 2011 NBA Draft.

By 2014 we will be calling a few of these guys busts, but right now they are just risks. In this draft, picking out what risks to gamble on is amazingly difficult, seemingly every player has some glaring flaws. We’d preach patience — wait at least wait a couple years before you decide to rip your GM for what was such an obvious decision (while forgetting how you told your friends you thought this was a great pick on draft night).

Some risks are bigger than others — and in this draft boom and bust are hand-in-hand. Particularly among the big men. Some of the most athletic players and the guys with the highest ceilings are the guys who may never pan out.

Which is why our “sleepers list” and “risk list” have some crossover this year. Here are five guys that are risks (if you want to call them potential busts, that’s your call).

Jeremy Tyler, 6’11” power forward, Japanese league: Big men move up the draft board at the end every year, and that is happening for Tyler because he comes with legit NBA big man size. And he has some skills, a face up game and he can board. Some teams like him. But the guy was unimpressive in Japan last year. There are real questions about his maturity and desire. He skipped his senior year of high school and the chance to go to a major college to go instead to Europe, a decision that backfired. Another flame out is possible, but some team may well take him in the first round anyway because of his size and potential.

Bismack Biyombo, 6’8” power forward, Congo: He gets portrayed as a Joel Anthony/Ben Wallace type — all offense and no defense. He is maybe the best athlete in this draft so it’s not likely he will out completely (he has looked good in the Spanish league, so there is some basis), but then again we all said these same things about Hasheem Thabeet a couple years ago. Biyombo was an offensive disaster at Eurocamp and that has to give you real pause.

Jonas Valanciunas, 6’11” center, Lithuania: Another real boom or bust guy. He has some nice offensive moves, he has shown he is willing to bang bodies and compete, he has soft hands. But he is sushi raw. He has to bulk up, improve his footwork, his defense, his shot, his ball handling… you get the idea. Lots of potential there and again not likely to be a bust, but there is a real risk there.

Josh Selby, 6’3” point guard, Kansas: He’s an explosive athlete coming out of high school who went on to be suspended for the first nine games at Kansas (and often sat in crunch time), was a ball-dominating guard who had poor shot selection and missed a lot. The Morris twins overshadowed him, but he struggled to try to fit in with that. He’ll be a point in the NBA but really has two guard skills — except for the whole good shooting thing. He hit just 37 percent of his shots last season. The guy has exceptional athletic skills but there are questions about if he knows how to use them at the NBA level.

Donatas Motiejunas, 7’0” Center, Lithuania: We hate to stereotype players around here, but Motiejunas fits the mold — he is a classic European big man. Which means he can shoot fairly well from the outside but don’t expect the seven footer to hang out in the paint and be productive. He is a stretch four and you should think poor man’s Andrea Bargnani. There could be value in that, but he has to be in the right situation. He could well flame out, once he gets to the USA (there are questions about his buyout).

  1. Justin - Jun 21, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    “Bismack Biyombo, 6’8” power forward, Congo: He gets portrayed as a Joel Anthony/Ben Wallace type — all offense and no defense”

    Kurt that was either some genius sarcasm or huge typo. I think you meant “all defense and no offense”

  2. louderthanwords1 - Jun 21, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    How can you say there is real risk in Valanciunas but he is not likely to be a bust? Your playing both sides. If he’s not likely to be a bust there is no risk and if that’s the case as far as your concerned this must be a star studded draft since you singled him out as one of the 5 biggest risks.

  3. ac0117 - Jun 21, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    Wow, no Enes Kanter? Riskiest pick in the draft.

    think you meant all defense no offense under biyambo

    • Kurt Helin - Jun 22, 2011 at 11:14 AM

      Kanter has size and a little offensive polish. He strikes me as less of a risk than some of the others.

      • ac0117 - Jun 22, 2011 at 1:10 PM

        Except for the fact that his last real game was a year ago

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