The Magic entered the 2011 draft with just one selection, the 53rd overall pick.
After trading for the rights to Justin Harper, the Magic used the selection on Kentucky shooting guard DeAndre Liggins.
Liggins was one of the top high school prospects in the country as a senior at Findlay Prep. The Harrison, Nevada product was considered the 28th best player in the country and the sixth best point guard. He chose Kentucky over the likes of Illinois, Kansas and Memphis. Liggins was considered the crown jewel of Billy Gillespie’s final recruiting class but was quickly pushed out of the foreground by returning players Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson. After the season, John Calipari took over and brought in the nation’s top recruiting class, featuring first round picks, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and current Magic center Daniel Orton. Wall and Bledsoe kept Liggins out of the lineup.
During the 2010-11 season, Liggins finally got his chance.
After the jump, we’ll take a look at Liggins’ numbers from his junior season at Kentucky.
Liggins isn’t exactly a big time offensive player. Many knew that about Liggins when he got to Kentucky, but most thought his playmaking skills as a point guard. Unfortunately, those skills didn’t translate like many eperts thought and the Wildcats wound up using Liggins as a wing, mostly a shooting guard.
After seeing Kentucky lose five first round draft picks (the four mentioned in the recruiting class above, plus Patrick Patterson), Liggins was expected to take on more of a scoring role.
Liggins has some moments scoring-wise, including a career-high 19 points in a December win against Indiana and another 19-point performance in a later game against Tennessee. Liggins also scored 15 points against Ohio State and 12 against North Carolina(plus he hit a game-clinching three-pointer giving Kentucky a four-point lead with just 35 seconds left) in the NCAA tournament before scoring just 4 in their Final 4 loss to the eventual champions, the Connecticut Huskies.
Liggins shot the ball pretty well from beyond the arc during the 2010-11 and has really improved in that department. If he can learn to hit the corner three with consistency, he could wind up having some value on the offensive end for the Magic. He’s a pretty good set shooter, so there’s at least a decent chance of that happening.
Defense is clearly the reason Liggins was drafted. He has good size at 6’6, and 210 lbs. and his wingspan (6’11) gives him the potential to be a good defender. I’m not sure if he has the athletic ability to be an elite defender, but his quickness certainly gives him somewhat of a chance to be. Liggins clearly gives the Magic an upgrade athletically as well as defensively.
If Liggins can continue to improve from beyond the three-point line and show real, NBA range, he should be able to find a spot in the league and has the chance to be a player for the Magic. With the Magic so far over the cap, he has a pretty good chance of making the team.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com) and is the co-host of the ESPN1080.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).