I have gone back and forth in my head, regarding the upcoming 2011 NBA draft. Particularly regarding the possible draft pick for the Toronto Raptors. A little over two weeks ago, I wrote on here that the Raptors should stay away from European Big-Men and focus their attention on improving the point guard position; either Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker.
I am not one to put my foot down on an issue, without having the humility to change my stance or completely shift my position. In the time, since my last piece, I have watched a lot of footage and read a lot of articles covering a number of draft prospects that might be available when the Raptors pick fifth overall. For clarity’s sake, I am not changing my stance that the Raptors should take Brandon Knight, but several mock-draft boards have him going to the Utah Jazz with the 3rd pick. Since my initial opinion was that the Raptors need a point guard more than they need a big; if this scenario plays out, the only topnotch point guard available after Knight is Kemba Walker. My opinion on Walker was not very high to begin with and it has dropped some more in the past few weeks. Unlike most other critiques of Walker, pointing to his 6’1 height as huge disadvantage, I point to his defensive limitations and his shot volume.
In forty-one games with UConn – including the tournament run to winning the national championship – Walker averaged eighteen shot attempts per game. He connected at a clip of .428 per cent. From beyond the arc, he launched six attempts per game and connected at a clip of .330 percent. These stats are neither great nor entirely bad – they are okay numbers for a college point guard who was the primary focus on offense for his team. I took into consideration the fact that Walker had the ball in his hand almost all the time. In addition, I also factored in that Jim Calhoun – head coach at UConn – runs a pro-style offense, which puts the ball in the best scorer’s hands. My personal opinion is that Walker will go through an adjustment period as a pro. Anywhere from a full season, to a couple of years, before he learns to give up the ball to better athletes and scorers on his team at the next level. The Raptors have specific needs that require a point guard, with a pass first mentality and defensive acumen.
It is evident from last year, that the Raptors are statistically the worst defensive team in the league. A lot of their defensive woes came as a result of a lack of interior defense, team perimeter-help defense and bad shot selection that led to easy buckets for the opposing teams. Drafting Walker would not help this team at all. Matter of fact, I believe it would set them back a few steps defensively. I have never been a fan of point guards that are scorers first and passers second. Only a handful of dynamic guards in NBA history have been offensively gifted enough at the NBA level to score in bunches and effectively get their teammates involved. Allen Iverson is a perfect example here, but he was unique because his ability to score at will created a plethora of opportunities for his teammates.
Kemba Walker is no A.I! Heck, he is not even Nick Van Exel.
What would I do if I was Brian Colangelo? Since I have just stated my reason for not drafting Kemba Walker – on the premise that Brandon Knight has already been drafted? I would address another need. I would select the best defensive Big-Man left on the board. Bismark Biyombo!
Biyombo is an eighteen year old, 6’9 power forward from the Republic of Congo. He is offensively very raw, but not completely inept. He makes up for the limited offense with his defensive capabilities. I will go out on a limb right now and say Biyombo will win defensive player of the year honors at least twice in his NBA career. Get to know him here and here.