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Old 06-18-2011, 01:38 AM   #18
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Default Best Athlete in 2011 Draft?

According to this news article by SportingNews the toss up is between Washington's Isaiah Thomas and UGA's Travis Leslie

When looking to be drafted, it helps, of course, to have a feathery shooting touch, uncanny floor sight, dazzling ball skills, freakish size, high hoops IQ or some combination of all. But when it comes down to it, NBA types will settle for a pure, unadulterated athlete and hope they can build a quality pro from there. Sometimes it works (Josh Smith, Gerald Wallace), and sometimes it doesn’t (Gerald Green, Kedrick Brown).

In this draft, there are a handful of players who look like good bets to be selected on athleticism as much as basketball skill. Ask scouts who’s best and two names come up: Washington guard Isaiah Thomas (who is only 5-9 but has a vertical leap of 40 inches) and 6-4 Georgia guard Travis Leslie (40.5 inches).

Isaiah Thomas, who owns a 40-inch vertical leap, averaged 16.8 points and 6.1 assists in his final year at Washington. (AP Photo)
Thomas on why his athleticism can’t be overlooked: “I’m the best athlete in this draft. Back in the fifth or sixth grade, I started to realize that I was a lot better than the other players my age. I always played up against bigger guys, and they couldn’t stay with me, either. I was a running back until the ninth grade, and I had to make a decision between the sports. But everybody said I had everything to be a really good running back. The speed, quickness, vision, strength. I got a lot of confidence from football.

“At my height, I’m always going to be described as an athlete more than a basketball player. I have to deal with that. But I feel like after college, and what I’ve shown people, that I’m a basketball player more than I’m an athlete.”

Leslie makes his case: “I definitely think I am the best athlete this year. I would consider myself somewhat like Jason Richardson. He is very athletic, and early in his career, he didn’t really have a jumper, but he worked on it and now he is a good shooter. I hope I can wind up playing like him. He was a dunk champion, too, and that is something I would like to do. I am undefeated in dunk contests—I won three of them in high school. Trust me, I’ve got a lot of dunks up my sleeve.”

Scout’s take: “I would say that Leslie’s athleticism probably translates better to the NBA game. He has a lot to work on, but the kid has an NBA body, and he can jump out of the gym. If he can put in the work and smooth out those rough edges, he has a chance at being a solid NBA player. Thomas has some great athleticism, too, and you can see him being a Nate Robinson type. But that’s his ceiling.”


You can probably expect Travis Leslie to be an early entry in next year's Dunk Contest (if there is one)

Last edited by NBA4EVER : 06-18-2011 at 01:50 AM.
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