ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla discusses 2011 NBA Draft international prospects Enes Kanter (Turkey), Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania), Donatas Motiejunas (Lithuania) and Bismack Biyombo (Congo).
Kanter: To me he's the most intriguing. … I made the comment at the combine: 'He's like Bigfoot.' This is the dilemma for the top-three teams. The dilemma is, you're looking at a kid who whenever he has stepped on the court, has been easily one of the best players in his age group, whether it's in Europe, last year at the Hoops Summit, and even at Kentucky. I talked to John Calipari about this many times. He felt that Enes would've been one of the couple best big men in college basketball this year, along with a guy like Jared Sullinger. So Enes is unique in that he measures out taller than people thought: 6-11 1/2 in shoes, about 260 with low body fat. There's a knock on him — I think there are couple draft blog guys that don't particularly like him — that he didn't play hard in high school, and I think that's just totally bogus. The one thing about Enes Kanter is he is a competitor, he throws his weight around. I spent day with him in Chicago; he seems like a great kid. I think what's really happened with Enes is, what many NBA teams saw as a prototypical power forward may be able to play some center as well. And my comparison to him has always been an Al Horford type. Similar body type. Similar physicality. Enes is far more advanced from the perimeter than Al was coming out of Florida, but a similar type of ceiling. His best case-type scenario would be an Al Horford type. … The fact that Enes showed well in Chicago, even though it was pretty much a dog-and-pony show — running up and down the court, shooting some jump shots, drill work — the fact that he got out on the court and looked like a guy who could be a top-three pick, it answered some questions.
Vesely: You're looking at a high-level athlete. I hate to compare him to Tom Chambers, who is probably beloved in the state of Utah, but he's got that Tom Chambers flair about him. … This kid, what he is is, he's a very good athlete who plays with high energy. His skill level is not up to where his NBA athleticism is yet. And, at worst, he's like a Shawn Marion, Kirilenko-type, where you don't have to run plays for him, he'll just find plays to grab rebounds, get on the break and get some dunks, lobs behind the defense — he's what I call an energy guy. He's more of a power forward than he is a small forward. But quite frankly, in this draft, he might be among the big guys the best defensive prospect in the draft. The only guy I might say that would compare to him is Chris Singleton from Florida State. This kid can guard threes and fours in the NBA because of his athleticism. He's not going to give you a lot of offense early, but he's an energy player.
Valanciunas: I'd be surprised if [the buyout situation] is not answered by the 13th, when he has to make a decision, because the club is desperate for money. … I think it's going to get resolved. In Valanciunas, you have the most interesting guy of the international — well, maybe not the most. But what's interesting about him is, there are no pure centers in the top-20 picks in this draft. And he is a pure center at 7-feet. Very athletic, plays with a great motor, but he's weak. He would be a dominant college player. But a team that drafts him, the general manager better have a five-year deal. You're looking at a kid that is not going to reach his potential for three to four to five years. The upside, the climb up the mountain for this kid is not going to start until year three. The problem is it's going to be a high-risk, high-reward. You could be looking at another Pau Gasol. … Valanciunas is interesting. I think even if you draft him, he needs to be in a situation where he plays a lot, and I don't think that's going to happen on a team that's really trying to get to where they're going right away.
Motiejunas: He's the old-fashioned prototypical international player that we remember when he first started coming into the league. What we call the face-up four or five man. The guy that plays on the 3-point line, can stretch the defense with his shooting. He's crafty inside but he's not a physical player yet. He's really one of those pick-and-pop four or five man. A lot of international experience for a young player … very successful — actually may have been drafted higher if he were in the draft last year. There was a little bit more intrigue about him. Now, people are looking at him after another full year in the Euro League, and they're picking apart some of his flaws. Having said that, he's your classic pick-and-pop big buy. Kind of like a Bargnani-type. Does need to get more physical. And there's been some people that question whether he plays with a high enough motor, which has kind of been the argument with Andrea as well. Not nearly as good as shooter as Andrea Bargnani.
Biyombo: This kid is a beast. Physically, he should be playing defensive end for the Broncos. He's a man child. But the first question is, he's listed at 18. Is he really 18? Most people doubt that he is. Most people think it doesn't matter. … This is not a Danny Almonte situation. But this kid is very athletic, long wingspan, has all the attributes to be a great defensive player, like a Ben Wallace-type of guy. But he's got no offensive game, and he's got limited experience at a high level of basketball. He played just a handful games … and that's it. So you're looking at a guy that is an absolute blank canvas. He could be Ben Wallace, he could be [Mouhamed] Sene, who played himself out of the league after a couple futile seasons in Seattle. And these people are comparing him to Serge Ibaka; they're different type players. … I'm hearing he's going to go as high as eight. He could be — in my mind, he is absolutely the biggest risk of the top-five [international prospects]. … He could be there at 12
Brian T. Smith
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