As part of Team Observer's comprehensive NBA draft coverage, I will have a Q and A with Charlotte resident and basketball analyst Jay Bilas in Thursday's newspaper and online. Bilas will be a key part of ESPN's coverage of Thursday night's draft. Here's a small preview that includes Bilas's take on several ACC players:
Q: Any chance someone other than Duke point guard Kyrie Irving will go No.1?
A: Not to me. I think he's clearly No.1, and I don't think it's a big head-scratcher at all. He's the best player and the best prospect available. He's a true point guard -- not as athletic or explosive as John Wall or Derrick Rose or the guys he is compared to. But he's a purer point guard than either one of the and a better shooter than both of them combined.
I would liken him a little bit to Chris Paul, although certainly he's not as good as Chris Paul right now.
Q: Where would Harrison Barnes have gone in this draft if he had not decided to return to North Carolina for his sophomore year?
A: Top five without question -- maybe No.3, maybe even No.2. He's really, really talented. I think he's a better fit for the NBA than Derrick Williams is, and Williams will probably be drafted No.2.
Q: Besides Irving, talk about some of the ACC's other draft prospects.
A: The guy I have ranked the highest from the ACC after Irving is Chris Singleton from Florida State. I like him a lot. He's got good size and length and is probably the best overall defender in the draft. He's not a high-volume rebounder, but he can make a face-up jumper. His form on the jumper is pretty good and it can get better. He's got an NBA-caliber game.
The No.3 prospect from the ACC is probably Iman Shumpert from Georgia Tech. I think he's the best perimeter defender in the draft. Ridiculously athletic. He lacked some maturity at Georgia Tech and is not a pure point guard. But he's good in transition and can get in the lane. He's just not really a shooter.
I've got [Duke guard] Nolan Smith ranked as a first-round pick, although some others have him as a second-rounder. He's about No.25 or No.26 for me. He competes, he's good in transition and can make challenged shots.
He's not a natural point guard, but he's an attack player and was one of the best five guards in the country last year. He will be valued somewhere in a winning culture.
The next guy after that from the ACC would probably be [Duke forward] Kyle Singler. He's difficult to evaluate because I like everything about him. He competes, defends and plays his tail off. It's just at the position he will play in the pros -- small forward -- you have to be able to make shots and he has not consistently made shots. That says maybe top of the second round to me. He's also not incredibly athletic.
More from Bilas in Thursday's paper, including why he thinks the NBA won't be able to play a full season in 2011-12.