I really like the Pelicans tonite. Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson are becoming a force. Jrue Holiday and Ish Smith can light up the scoreboard. Realistically too Pelicans is the better team at home or on the road.
Kemba Walker, PG, UConn, Jr.
Walker has been a one-man wrecking crew for Connecticut early this season. After dropping a career-high 42 points against Vermont last week, the junior blew up for 90 points in helping lead the Huskies to the Maui Invitational title. The Bronx native is so quick with his handles, and has great blow-by ability which gets him to the rack and then to the free throw line. Most importantly for Walker, he has cut down on his turnovers which has been an Achilles' heel of his the past two seasons and has improved on his outside shooting. There is a lot of hype surrounding freshman points Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knigh, and Josh Selby, but Walker will be right with those guys if he continues to play at this high level.
Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky, Fr.
When the season began, I was not sure if Jones was ready to be a one-and-done for Kentucky. He has been beastly and come out the gates like a bat out of hell. His inside/outside game makes him a very tough match-up defensively. He has the strength ready for the NBA and sure looks like a top-10 pick early in the season.
Kalin Lucas, PG, Michigan State, Sr.
The Spartan senior has always been known as a terrific floor general, but really showed his ability to score the basketball at the Maui Invite. I still do not see Lucas as anything more than a backup point guard at the next level, but he could be one of those great second-round values. Plus, we all know he is a proven winner which carries a lot of weight when you are a young point guard entering the NBA.
Derrick Williams, PF, Arizona, Soph.
Williams has been a man among boys so far this season. Despite only playing about 24 minutes per game, Williams is averaging 19.3 points and 8.3 boards. Most of his baskets have come on dunks and he still needs to show he has a face-up game ready for the NBA before he makes the jump. I also question whether he is a three or a four at the next level, but you cannot deny his incredible athleticism and explosiveness around the basket.
Jeffery Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt, Soph.
The knock on Taylor entering the season was his inability to shoot the ball from the outside as he connected on a woeful 9.1 percent from distance during his freshman season. So far, Taylor has looked much more comfortable with his three-point stroke, connecting on seven of his first 12 attempts. His athleticism and ability to rise above the rim is unquestioned, so if he can consistently keep up his outside shot, the Vandy sophomore should be a first-round pick.
2011 NFL Draft Stock: Selling
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina, Fr.
Look, Barnes is still the likely No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft but really struggled in the Heels' final two games at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. He did not shoot the ball well (4-24 versus Minnesota and Vandy) and showed that he does have weaknesses. Barnes will bounce back, but maybe all the preseason accolades put too much pressure on his shoulders.
Brandon Knight, G, Kentucky, Fr.
I am kind of torn. Knight was great in the semifinals of the Maui Invite in leading the Wildcats to a win against Washington, but was just outplayed by Kemba Walker in the title game. With a ton of NBA scouts on hand, that cannot be encouraging for his draft stock. Knight is also being stuck with the label of a shooting guard being disguised as a point guard as he is averaging just 2.8 assists and 4.6 turnovers per game. Like Barnes, Knight is an incredible talent and will be a major factor for Kentucky this season, but there sure seems to be a lot of areas in his game he needs to develop before being ready for the NBA; let alone being a top-10 pick.