The excitement of watching this weekend's NCAA Final Four may have dwindled a bit for Arizona sports fans following the Wildcats' loss to the University of Connecticut last weekend, but the fact that the Phoenix Suns will have a lottery pick in the 2011 NBA Draft means that basketball fans should still pay attention this weekend.
As interesting as the VCU vs. Butler game may end up, however, the game of the weekend as far as NBA prospects are concerned should definitely be UConn vs. Kentucky as four likely first round prospects will take the court while trying to advance to the 2011 NCAA Championship game.
Suiting up for the Connecticut Huskies is Kemba Walker, likely to be drafted prior to the Suns' pick, and fast-rising freshman prospect Jeremy Lamb. For the Kentucky Wildcats, freshman point guard Brandon Knight and combo-forward Terrence Jones both seem to be in line to be drafted near the Suns' selection.
Drafting someone to begin his NBA career as a backup to the backup point guard in the lottery probably doesn't make sense unless the Suns are seriously entertaining the possibility of trading Steve Nash this summer which probably rules Walker out, but the remaining three prospects all represent intriguing possibilities for Phoenix's potential pick.
Knight, on the other hand, seems to be more of a natural scorer as opposed to a playmaker which has led many to wonder if his future in the NBA is as a shooting guard. At 6-foot-3, Knight not possess ideal size to play off-the-ball in the NBA, but his ability to hit clutch shots and defend has all but made him a guaranteed lottery pick.
Jones, a 6-foot-8 forward, was projected to be one of the top NBA Draft picks heading into the season but Draft Express's newest NBA mock draft has the Wildcat freshman slotted as the 11th overall pick -- right around where the Suns will be selecting.
"He has a bit of a Michael Beasley feel for me as an undersized '4.' He's a good athlete but not off the charts. His greatest asset is his ability to dribble when a '4' has to guard him, a Western Conference executive told Sports Illustrated. "He's pretty mobile with the ball, he will rebound and he can score some. He's not a good shooter, but he'll make just enough that you have to defend him, and that will enhance his ball-handling because he'll dribble-drive you."
That sounds a bit too much like Earl Clark, but Clark had some fans so maybe that would work!
The last, but not least, NBA prospect playing in this weekend's games is Connecticut freshman Jeremy Lamb. Lamb, a rail-thin 6-foot-5 wing, has played very impressive so far this tournament and could end up as a lottery pick if he's able to play as well this weekend.
As a bonus, he compares favorably to Nash in at least one category according to the Western Conference executive cited in the SI article.
"He scores easily, he's long, he's bouncy," the executive said. "He's in the top five right now of players I've ever seen make runners -- he's up there with Steve Nash and Juan [Carlos] Navarro. A pretty good shooter but not a great shooter. He looks like he weighs 130 pounds."
Lamb is actually listed at 185 pounds, but he does look rather frail.
The Suns don't have a second round pick in this year's draft after sending it to Chicago when they acquired Hakim Warrick, meaning those are -- as of this weekend -- the final four NBA prospects still playing that would be in consideration to be drafted by Phoenix this summer.