The 2011 PBA Draft class must have been a breath of fresh air from the prior year’s rookie crop, where the top picks bounced from one team to another and failed to find their footing early in their careers.
Regarded as one of the best classes in the last 10 years, this group was headlined by standouts from Gilas 1.0 who declared for PBA eligibility after their stints with the national team ended.
All Smart-Gilas players who pitched their names for the draft were picked. Some of the top picks went on to win titles and become stars, while others carved out careers as serviceable role players.
But even with a heap of Philippine team talent crowding the top spots, a collegiate player stood out among the rest.
Today, we redrafted the top five picks.
5. Shopinas.com Clickers – Allein Maliksi
The former Growling Tiger didn’t come from Gilas 1.0, but his ceiling as a scorer was enough for him to be picked by the Barako Bull. He was traded a year later to Ginebra and then to the San Mig Coffee franchise, where Maliksi came off the bench behind James Yap and delivered a ton of timely baskets to sustain momentum whenever the main guns were resting. He won all four of his championships with them.
Shopinas.com originally picked Mark Barroca with the fifth pick. But in a redraft, he probably wouldn’t fall to that spot. The now-defunct franchise would have been wise to pick up Maliksi.
4. Powerade Tigers – JVee Casio
Casio slipping to the fourth pick wouldn’t be a surprise considering how the careers of those who would have been picked in front of him turned out. However, this isn’t a knock at his talents. This just speaks to the top-heavy nature of this class.
The former De La Salle University stalwart is a steady and smart point guard who revved up Powerade’s offense and even helped steer them into a Philippine Cup finals showdown with Talk ‘N Text before falling. He was then traded to Alaska, where he won his first title.
Alex Compton’s system never really revolves around a player and he usually doesn’t allow his players to log over 30 minutes game, so Casio’s numbers don’t really pop out as often as one would like nowadays. But his explosions from time-to-time (remember his triple-double last conference?) serve as a reminder that he’s still pretty much among the better guards in this league.
3. Barako Bull Energy – Mark Barroca
Barroca had to be bumped higher here since he’s already had quite the resume.
The FEU alumnus is an adept playmaker and a big-time shot maker who’s proven that he could step up on the biggest of stages. He is a former PBA Finals MVP, after all. And despite shooting just a tad worse than Casio for his career, Barroca could hold his ground better on defense against some of the best guards in the league. This is evidenced by numbers; save for his rookie year with B-Meg, he hasn’t averaged fewer than a steal per game for a whole season in his career.
He is playing in his seventh year with the same franchise, where he’s won all his five titles. Barroca is also a six-time PBA All-Star.
2. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters – Marcio Lassiter
The team was in a good spot at number two, and they definitely wouldn’t have gone wrong by picking Lassiter.
“Super Marcio” was a recruit from California State University Fullerton, a US NCAA Division I school. He was touted as a dead-eye shooter and a solid defender, and this translated to the pros. In his first year, he shot 36.7 percent from downtown and scored 17.1 points per game, to go along with 6.0 rebounds and almost four dimes per contest. When he was traded to Petron, Lassiter continued to light it up from beyond the arc. His scoring averages never dipped below 10 per game and he was a constant shooting threat, which opened up the floor for other teammates.
He won all six of his rings in the June Mar Fajardo era with San Miguel, and it looks like he could be adding more in the near future.
1. Powerade Tigers – Paul Lee
Other players below him might have won more in their careers, but I’m pretty sure you’d rather build a team around a healthy Lee.
Originally drafted by Rain or Shine with the number two pick, Lee started out strong by posting 14 points and 3.6 assists on 47.2 percent field goal shooting while hitting on 42.6 percent of his threes. His numbers dipped in the next seasons – he barely scraped 40 percent a couple of times – but he’s still as deadly as they come since “The Lethal Weapon” has a wide arsenal on offense and could still score on offense. Oh, and he’s also hella clutch.
Lee only has two titles to his name, but he’s got a Finals MVP and seven All-Star selections to boot. He was also a former Rookie of the Year awardee. He’s having quite a resurgence in the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup; as of writing, he’s averaging 15.5 points and 3.5 assists on 41-43-79 shooting splits. Here’s to hoping that he finds more success.
(photos from PBA.ph)