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NBA Draft Preview: Bobcats projected at #9

Jan Vesely 6’11 240 lbs (Czech Republic): From a physical standpoint Vesely could be a  force in the league as he measures at 6’11 and has extremely rare athletic explosiveness for that  size. Vesely is 20 years old and currently plays professionally for KK Partizan Belgrade.

As a highly sought out prospect last summer and probable lottery pick Vesely decided to not enter  the 2010 NBA draft and stay in Europe to continue to develop his game which it seems as if he  has done at a quicker rate than some scouts may have expected.

Vesely is an extremely explosive specimen at his size and attacks the rim at a rate that many fans in Europe simply aren’t used to seeing. He is one of the closest things to Blake Griffin that people in Europe see with his ability to rise way above the rim and he certainly isn’t shy when it comes to trying to put a new player on one of his posters every night. Vesely has a much more aggressive game than most Europeans and that’s what attracts NBA scouts more than anything. At 6’11 and naturally a small forward he could draw all kinds of mis-matches offensively but would also struggle to defend smaller, quicker players at his position.

Vesely’s biggest flaw would have to be the fact that he, like most Europeans, could be a defensive liability with his lack of ability to stay in front of opposing players. Vesely is taken off the dribble very often in the European league so will have to work very hard on his footwork in the NBA as he will almost always be matched up with smaller players. Offensively, Vesely is not great at operating with his back to the basket and must develop a better post up game because of his length that he will have to learn to take advantage of.

Donatas Motiejunas 7’0 215 lbs (Lithuania):Donatas, who also surprisingly opted out of  last summer’s draft, is 20 years old and has been the second most efficient scorer per minute in  Italian Lega A for much of the season which makes him arguably the best scoring big man in all  of European basketball.

Offensively Donatas has continued to develop and evolve into a very reliable inside/outside  option which has helped him draw a few Pau Gasol comparisons. That is probably somewhat of  a stretch because of his youth and unproven ability to produce offensively against bigger and stronger defenders in the NBA but if there is one thing that scouts wanted to see more of from Donatas this season it was his ability to score with his back to the basket in the post and he has drastically improved in this area. He has great coordination at his size and has shown a very crafty/creative ability to score around the basket in higher percentage areas.

Defense will be the biggest question mark with Donatas on the next level as he will be defending much bigger and stronger players. Donatas is only 215 lbs. and will have to put on significant weight when he gets to the NBA or he will be a joke defensively to almost anyone he is defending. His willingness to play defense consistently will also be the big concern as he has shown signs in Europe of taking defensive possessions off, this will not be tolerated by any coach in the NBA with maybe the exception of Mike D’Antoni.

Terrence Jones 6’8 244 lbs (Kentucky): As a freshman at Kentucky last season Jones  showed signs of pure stardom with the ability to beat opponents from the outside and explosive  first step going to the rim. Jones is very creative with the basketball off the dribble and I believe  finishes at the rim much like Zach Randolph, not extremely explosive but more of a finesse game  that produces at a high rate.

Jones has a very large and wide frame that will help him on both ends of the court at the next  level. He is not afraid of contact as he made a habit of contesting many shots at the rim defensively and attacking the basket to draw contact when the ball was in his hands.

Jones is very left hand dominant and did not show near the effectiveness offensively when defenders sat on his left hand. Forcing Jones to go to his right was the obvious way to slow him down last season and that was very apparent as his stats continued to drop as the season went on and into the NCAA tournament where he averaged 10.4 ppg and 8.4 rpg opposed to 15.7 ppg and 8.8 rpg in the regular season.

Alec Burks 6’6 200 lbs (Colorado): Burks is probably one of the most underrated players on  the entire list of potential lottery picks this season because of his late arrival amongst this group  of players.

Burks ranked 4th in scoring per 40 minute basis last season amongst the top 100 prospects in  NCAA division 1. An incredible ability to create his own shot, very high basketball IQ and good  ball handling skills make Burks one of the most versatile players in this draft and one of the  safest picks. Burks can also be a very unselfish player on the offensive end of the court as he is never shy to make the extra pass when needed, this makes him a very attractive option as a half court player.

Burks still has a lot of improving to do with finishing around the rim as he struggles with contact around the basket. He also will have to improve his three point shot and jump shot off the dribble as he was forced to do a lot of both last season because of teams taking away the paint from him with help defense. Burks shot just 30% from behind the arc last season and 25% on jumpers off the dribble.

Defensively Burks should be solid throughout his NBA career. He has good size, lateral quickness and anticipation skills that suggests he will excel on the next level.

All of these players are falling right around the 6-14 pick range on most mock drafts and would most likely be around when the Bobcats picked if they did receive the number 9 pick as projected in the lottery. Of course there is no certainty that the Bobcats will draft any of these players but these are guys worth taking a look at and getting to know as there is a good chance one of these players could be wearing a Charlotte jersey next season.