In this week's edition of Sports Illustrated, there was a complete 2011 NBA Mock Draft. In this mock draft, Ian Thomsen had the Thunder picking Jeremy Tyler, giving the following reasoning:
Tyler set himself back by skipping his senior year then playing two seasons overseas. (He lasted 10 games in Israel and played 33 in Japan.) But at 6'11", 262 Pounds, with a 7'5" wingspan, he has size and upside.
Given that line of reasoning, it might sound like he's a viable draft prospect. But in my eyes, and the eyes of some others, he's a player with huge red flags all over him. Why?
You just have to take a look at who he plays for. The Tokyo Apache. If you're a veteran WTLC reader, you'll remember I column I wrote concerning the Apache, focusing on former Thunder player Robert Swift. Since the article, Swift developed solid numbers and averaged around a double-double until the season was canceled due to the Tsunami that hit Japan. But if you remember Robert Swift's time with the Thunder, you'll know that he was never a viable NBA center. When he wasn't spending time being injured, he would average incredibly pedestrian numbers, grabbing some garbage buckets and the occasional block or rebound, but never really being good enough to justify his inclusion on the roster.
That alone should be enough to convince you not to draft Jeremy Tyler. While Swift averaged 14 Points, 10 Rebounds, and 2 Blocks, Tyler was averaging 10 points, 6 Rebounds, 3 Fouls, and 2 Turnovers while playing only 10 less minutes. It's arguable that his point and rebound totals would be closer to Swifts had he gotten more minutes, but he's still not as good of a defender, and he would have probably fouled out before he completed those minutes.
Don't think that Swift has gotten that much better while player for the Apache, either. The BJ League (Japan's League) is not very stacked, and pales in comparison to the Euroleague, various European domestic leagues, China's league, and Australia's league.
If this evidence is not enough, one can remember the debacle he was in last year when playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv. While averaging 2 Points and 2 Rebounds in only 7 minutes of action, he got into various disagreements with the coaches there, eventually quitting the team and heading home to San Diego.
To be quite honest, I'd rather sign Robert Swift. You can't teach height and arm length, but physical capabilities alone don't make an NBA player. I don't hate the guy personally, but in order to be a viable draft pick, you've got to succeed elsewhere, and at least have a basic knowledge of where you want to go.