The dust hasn’t even floated near the Mavs’ championship trophy and I’m already focusing on the next event in this year’s NBA calendar – the 2011 draft.
As I’ve discussed previously, this year’s class is not a very good one. There’s plenty of guys who come across as solid rotational types – but very few superstars. Kyrie Irving is the consensus top pick, but he doesn’t have the athletic ability or sheer star quality of a Derrick Rose/John Wall. Derrick Williams doesn’t have a real position in the NBA. Enes Kanter is a massive wild card.
Nevertheless, I’ve taken the time to compile my 1 round 2011 NBA mock draft for you all. I’m only going to bother providing analysis for the lottery picks because, well, I have a life. Trades included because I like projecting trades.
1) Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving (PG, Duke)
This seems to be the only gimme in the draft so far. Irving is without a doubt the best player in the draft and the only guy who seems a certainty to at least make a future all star team. Now we just have to hope that becomes more than a mere consideration. (Come on, Kyrie. There’s all those guys ahead of you for Team USA. Do it. You know you want to play international basketball.)
EDIT: Word is that Irving is applying to FIBA to be considered for the Boomers. Happy day.
2) Minnesota Timberwolves: TRADE (No. 2 and Jonny Flynn to Golden State for Monta Ellis
Golden State: Enes Kanter (C/PF, Turkey via Kentucky)
It wouldn’t be my mock draft without some irrational trade that gets the Warriors the best center prospect in the draft, would it? Word is that while this deal has been talked about (the Timberpups are shopping the #2 pick and like Monta) it’s not that likely. But I’d be willing to even take Jonny Flynn’s expiring trade tax to have a shot at Kanter. I’ve written about him previously – IMO he will have a very good NBA career and GSW needs a center like nobody’s business. Please, God, make this happen. You’ve been cruel enough to us over the years.
3) Utah Jazz: Brandon Knight (PG/SG, Kentucky)
This pick appears to become more and more certain by the day. I am not a huge Knight fan – although he may be from the Calipari school of point guards, he’s closer to Tyreke Evans than Derrick Rose or John Wall. Nevertheless, he has the length to play shooting guard in the NBA if he can learn to play off the ball and he has star potential in the right situation. Derrick Williams also is an obvious option, but the Jazz already have a logjam at the 3/4 slots they’re gonna have to do something about first.
4) Cleveland Cavaliers: Derrick Williams (SF/PF, Arizona)
And if this happens, the Cavs will be celebrating and Dan Gilbert will be breaking out the Comic Sans to get Cleveland fans to re-up for season tickets. Talk already is that Cleveland are trying to move up to the No.2 pick to get Irving and Williams together who they’re by all accounts sold upon – if he falls to them at 4, bit success. Williams is the second best talent in this draft pool who falls because of a combination of team needs and questions over his own game, specifically with regards as to his position at the NBA level. But the talent is there (particularly on offense, where he can both post up smaller guys and shoot all the way out to the 3pt line) along with the intangibles. And his Twitter account is funny.
5) Toronto Raptors: Kemba Walker (PG, Connecticut)
And…Kemba Walker becomes the latest schmuck to make the trip to Canada for the next 4-7 years of his basketball career before he eventually dogs his way out of Toronto.
As much as I like Kemba’s game in college, I’m not sold that a 5′10″ (listed at 6ft, yeah. So’s Puerto Rican Guy and by all accounts he’s barely 5′9″) point guard who’s better known as a scorer than a playmaker has a steady future in the NBA. The Raptors, however, need something at the position that’s an upgrade from Jose Calderon (fell off a cliff last year and couldn’t defend to start with) and Jerryd Bayless (talented but too selfish to be more than a 6th man).
6) Washington Wizards: Kawhi Leonard (SF, San Diego State)
Even though I created the GSW trade, in reality the team most likely to trade up to #2 with Minny and take Derrick Williams is Washington, who want him paired with John Wall badly. They could also make a play for Utah’s #3 or Cleveland’s #4 pick for Enes Kanter, who they’re apparently keen on as well. But since I couldn’t work out a trade, I’m giving them Leonard. He’s never going to be a star in the league and his offensive game (particularly as a spot-up shooter, which is where he’ll get most of his opportunities on that end) are a work in progress, but he has the defense, rebounding and energy levels of Shawn Marion at his prime (both pre-injury and the past Finals). The kind of role player you need to surround your franchise guy (Wall) with.
7) Sacramento Kings: Jimmer Fredette (PG/SG, BYU)
OK, lemme make myself clear here – #7 is too high for the Jimmer. Everyone has an opinion on him. I see him as, at best, a starting point guard on a good Triangle team (where he can just hit shots) and guys who can cover for him defensively.
Word is, however, the point guard starved Kings like him enough to not get cute and take him here. I can sort of see their thought process – not only do they need someone to take the reins of that offense, but Jimmer:
a) gives them someone who can draw attention away from Tyreke Evans off the dribble (kick-out potential) and DeMarcus Cousins on the low post).
b) gives the financially struggling Kings, who got scarily close to moving, the most popular college baller in America to sell tickets to short white kids.
Now Sactown just needs to get that arena sitch sorted and figure out how to hide Jimmer on D enough.
8 ) Detroit Pistons: Jonas Valanciunas (C/PF, Lithuania)
Valanciunas slips not because of any real questions over his talent, but I’m hearing he has a potentially messy buyout situation with his Lithuanian club which could scare some teams away. If there’s less to this than I’m hearing, he could go as high as Cleveland at #4. To sum him up: 6′11″ with a 7′6″ wingspan, quick and athletic, great finisher around the rim, rebounds well on both ends, high motor, tougher than your stereotypical Euro bigs, improving jump shot/back to basket game, never complained about a lack of playing time on struggling Lithuanian team even though he’s been touted as a future star for years. Oh, and he only turned 19 a month ago.
If he slips this far, Detroit won’t let him go. He and Greg Monroe could well form a very interesting frontcourt in a few years time.
9) Charlotte Bobcats: Jan Vesely (SF/PF, Czech Republic via Serbia)
The Bobcats could go any number of ways with this pick – but because I don’t like getting fancy, I’m giving them the best player available in Vesely, who’s been compared to Andrei Kirilenko so many times I will be very disappointed if I don’t see him on draft night with some hot Czech pop star by his side.
Not a finished product by any means, Vesely is athletic and can shoot the ball but has a slightly iffy BBIQ at times. The Bobcats will hope they can coach him up.
10) Milwaukee Bucks: Marcus Morris (PF/SF, Kansas)
Bucks could go in a few directions here, but they need some extra scoring up front. Morris is another guy who’s a bit of a tweener – he’s primarily suited to the 4 but has limited length at best – but Milwaukee will mostly use him as scoring punch off the bench. He can play both in the post and shoot out to the NBA 3pt line.
11) Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson (SG/SF, Washington State)
This isn’t my favourite pick, but word on the street is that Jerry West is a big fan of this kid (possibly because his dad once played for the Lakers in the 80s). Nonetheless, he’s a pure shooter who can play both wing positions, although I fail to see how he improves our defense. Guess we’ll have to trade for Iggy then.
12) Utah Jazz: TRADE (No. 12 and Memo Okur to Philadelphia for No. 16 and Andres Nocioni
Philadelphia: Alec Burks (SG, Colorado)
And this is why the Sixers would trade Iggy. Burks is another guy who I’m not at all high on – wings who can’t shoot rarely propser in the NBA unless they’re brilliant defenders and he isn’t there yet – but enough teams seem to like him around this area and believe they can coach up his flaws. And if nothing else, he’s a cheaper and more tantalising option for the Sixers, who also take on Okur’s expiring contract to give them another big body who can spread the floor.
13) Phoenix Suns: Bismack Biyombo (C/PF, Congo via Spain)
Biyombo is the other massive wild card in this draft along with Kanter and the Jimmer. He’s only recently come on the scene but has been the talk of the NBA draft community since his star turn at the Nike Hoop Summit and earned himself the “next Ibaka” tag. Questions, however, abound over his offensive game (rudimentary at best) and his age (18 by his claim, but word is that his supposedly conclusive bone x-rays could have been faked by his agent and he could be anything between 17 and 26). Nonetheless, he’s extremely athletic with an NBA body and will fit in as a defensive stopper from day 1. Get him working with Patrick Ewing or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on his offense, and the Suns could have a special talent on their hands.
14) Houston Rockets: Donatas Motiejunas (PF/C, Lithuania)
Houston are a team who need to blow things up and start the rebuilding process. They’re not good enough to win a title constructed as they are – but neither are they bad enough to get the high draft picks they need. Daryl Morey needs to look at trading Luis Scola and Kevin Martin in particular this off-season. Picking Motiejunas allows them to keep him in Europe for a few years as they go through struggles, then bring him over when they’re ready to contend and he’s a more rounded player. Right now he’s a poor man’s Bargnani, but with increased work on his defense and more hustle on his part and that could become a poor man’s Dirk.
15) Indiana Pacers: Chris Singleton (SF, Florida State)
17) New York Knicks: Markieff Morris (PF/C, Kansas)