Grading the 2011 NBA Draft
The 2011 NBA Draft took place June 23, and in a draft that was as unpredictable as this one, there is plenty of catching up to do. After Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams went Nos. 1 and 2 respectively, the field became a crapshoot. Some players landed much higher than projected (Tristan Thompson at No. 4, Nolan Smith at No. 21, and Cory Joseph at No. 29 for example). Others, like Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard, and Jordan Hamilton, slid farther down the chart than many thought they would.
The draft also saw seven international-born players taken in the first round — with four landing in the top seven picks. With so much uncertainty about the overall talent level of this draft class, many teams were inclined to take chances with picks in hopes of a big payoff down the road.
The draft also saw a number of trades go down, with names like Stephen Jackson, Andre Miller, Raymond Felton, Corey Maggette, and Jonny Flynn all changing addresses.
But as with any draft, there are both winners and losers. So here are the grades for each team in the draft, with grades being given on the basis of how well the team positioned itself for both now and the future.
Draft picks: No. 48 C Keith Benson
Analysis: The Hawks only had one second-round pick in this year’s draft, and they played it that way. Atlanta made more headlines for the rumored deals of Josh Smith and Joe Johnson than it did for anything it actually did. Drafting Benson, a player with questionable work habits, does little to address the team’s needs — specifically figuring out how to get out of the second round of the playoffs.
Draft picks: No. 25 G Marshon Brooks, No. 55 SG E’Twaun Moore
Trades: Traded G Marshon Brooks to New Jersey Nets for PF JaJuan Johnson and 2014 second-round pick.
Analysis: Solid picks but nothing spectacular. Johnson adds athleticism to an aging roster and Moore can possibly be a backup to Ray Allen next season. However, neither is really starter material going forward.
Draft picks: No. 9 PG Kemba Walker, No. 19 SF Tobias Harris, No. 39 C Jeremy Tyler
Trades: Charlotte received PF Bismack Biyombo from the Sacramento Kings and SF Corey Maggette from the Milwaukee Bucks as part of three-team trade while sending SG Stephen Jackson, SF Tobias Harris, and PG Shaun Livingston to Bucks. Bobcats trade C Jeremy Tyler to Golden State Warriors for cash.
Analysis: Charlotte definitely made a splash in the draft. Worried about the Detroit Pistons taking Biyombo with the No. 8 pick, Charlotte worked a deal to get Sacramento’s pick at No. 7. Biyombo will give Charlotte a solid paint defender in the mold of Ben Wallace. They then selected a solid point guard prospect in Walker who will challenge D.J. Augustin for the starter’s job. Maggette will be able to start at small forward for a Charlotte team that now has loads of potential going forward but still needs to do something about its center position.
Draft picks: No. 28 PG Norris Cole, No. 30 SF Jimmy Butler, No. 43 G Malcolm Lee
Trades: Traded PG Norris Cole and G Malcolm Lee to Minnesota Timberwolves for SF Nikola Mirotic.
Analysis: The Bulls did not do much to shore up any of its immediate problems but did make a solid move with an eye to the future. Mirotic will remain overseas for the next few years, but he would have been a lottery pick had his European contract situation not been such a mess. In the meantime, Chicago selected a solid wing player in Butler, whose story growing up is the basketball version of The Blind Side. It doesn’t hurt that Butler isn’t a bad player either.
Draft picks: No. 1 PG Kyrie Irving, No. 4 PF Tristan Thompson, No. 32 PF Justin Harper
Trades: Traded PF Justin Harper to Orlando Magic for two future second-round picks.
Analysis: Unable to secure the No. 2 pick leading up to the draft, the Cavaliers instead paired Irving with the power forward prospect who had the biggest upside of the bigs who would also be able to play immediately — Thompson. Cleveland clearly wanted help immediately and did not want to wait a year for Jonas Valanciunas to come over. Both Thompson and Irving will be able to help the Cavaliers immediately. Irving may not have the overall potential of a Derrick Rose or John Wall, but he is projected to be a solid point guard for many years. Thompson’s potential as an athletic, defensive big man is second to Bismack Biyombo among draftees, but he still needs seasoning on his game as a whole.
Draft picks: No. 26 SF Jordan Hamilton, No. 57 SF Tanguy Ngombo
Trades: Traded SF Jordan Hamilton and SF Tanguy Ngombo to the Portland Trail Blazers for SG Rudy Fernandez and PG Petteri Koponen.
Analysis: The Mavericks, coming off an NBA title, did not need much help with its roster. With that in mind, it parlayed its two draft picks into Fernandez, a player Dallas had coveted for years. Fernandez may end up as the starting shooting guard for the Mavericks next season. Dallas also got the rights to Finnish point guard Koponen, who had openly complained that he felt Portland was holding him hostage by not bringing him over.
Draft picks: No. 22 PF Kenneth Faried
Trades: Traded PG Raymond Felton to the Portland Trail Blazers for PG Andre Miller, SF Jordan Hamilton, and a future second-round pick. Acquired SF Chukwudiebere Maduabum from the Los Angeles Lakers for a future second-round pick.
Analysis: Denver ridded itself of a disgruntled player in Felton but added another starting-quality point guard in Miller. However, early indications are that Miller will be more receptive to coming off the bench behind Ty Lawson than Felton was. The Nuggets also acquired a quality scorer in Hamilton and a rebounding machine in Faried. Maduabum either has loads of untapped potential or is just a foreign player taken to avoid paying a second rounder.
Draft picks: No. 8 PG Brandon Knight, No. 33 SF Kyle Singler, No. 52 PF Vernon Macklin
Analysis: The Pistons really wanted a big man like Bismack Biyombo or Tristan Thompson, but with both off the board, they chose the best player available in Knight, who slid farther than many expected. However, Knight could come in handy if Detroit is unable to re-sign restricted free agent Rodney Stuckey. Singler is a solid player who will have to battle Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko for playing time. Macklin may be able to claim a roster spot deep on the bench.
Golden State Warriors
Draft picks: No. 11 SG Klay Thompson, No. 44 PG Charles Jenkins
Trades: Acquired C Jeremy Tyler from Charlotte Bobcats for cash.
Analysis: The Warriors may have found a replacement for Monta Ellis at shooting guard if he is eventually traded. Thompson has NBA range and should be a good player in Golden State’s system. Jenkins was a borderline first-round pick who slid to the Warriors at No. 44. Tyler, the player who skipped his senior year of high school to play basketball overseas, could also make the roster as a backup center but not much else.
Draft picks: No. 14 F Marcus Morris, No. 23 SF Nikola Mirotic, No. 38 SF Chandler Parsons
Trades: Traded C Brad Miller, SF Nikola Mirotic, SF Chandler Parsons and a future first-round pick to Minnesota Timberwolves for PG Jonny Flynn, PF Donatas Montiejunas, and a 2012 second-round pick. Reacquired SF Chandler Parsons from Minnesota for cash.
Analysis: Morris has been most frequently compared to Al Harrington. He’s not blessed with a power forward’s size, but he may have to play there in the NBA. Montiejunas has great range on his shot but also has a reputation for being soft and is not a very strong player. He will have to work to avoid gaining a label similar to that of Nikoloz Tskitishvili or Yi Jianlian. Flynn will be getting a shot at redemption in Houston after falling out of favor in Minnesota, but with Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic still on the team, someone may be on the move. Parsons will likely see a lot of time in the D-League.
Draft picks: No. 15 SF Kawhi Leonard, No. 42 SF Davis Bertans
Trades: Traded SF Kawhi Leonard, SF Davis Bertans, and F Erazem Lorbek to San Antonio Spurs for PG George Hill.
Analysis: So all Indiana came away with was Hill? Sure they already had Danny Granger at small forward and Paul George there as well, but trading Leonard, Bertans, and Lorbek did not seem necessary — especially to get a point guard, considering Darren Collison is still on the team. Hill is a nice player, but that price seemed a little steep.
Los Angeles Clippers
Draft picks: No. 37 PF Trey Thompkins, No. 47 SG Travis Leslie
Analysis: The Clippers did not have much to work with after trading their first-round pick to Cleveland last season. In the second round, Thompkins is a power forward with conditioning issues and Leslie will be deep on the depth chart if he makes the team.
Los Angeles Lakers
Draft picks: No. 41 PG Darius Morris, No. 46 SG Andrew Goudelock, No. 56 SF Chukwudiebere Maduabum, No. 58 PF Ater Majok
Trades: Traded SF Chukwudiebere Maduabum to the Denver Nuggets for a future second-round pick.
Analysis: Bracing for the possible departure of Shannon Brown and attempting to get more youthful in the backcourt, the Lakers took Morris, a player with good point guard skills, and Goudelock, a decent scorer. Majok likely will never be heard from again. Los Angeles definitely made some puzzling selections considering players like David Lighty and Ben Hansbrough were still available late.
Draft picks: No. 49 G Josh Selby
Analysis: All was quiet in Memphis after selecting Selby in the second round. Selby was a possible late first-round pick but various questions about him helped contribute to his fall. He will be behind Xavier Henry (and possibly others) on the bench. Memphis probably is more focused on keeping its core intact than adding players.
Draft picks: No. 31 PG Bojan Bogdanovic
Trades: Traded PG Bojan Bogdanovic to Minnesota Timberwolves for PG Norris Cole, a future second-round pick, and cash.
Analysis: Miami is probably hedging its bets with Cole. Considering Mike Bibby is aging quickly and Mario Chalmers is a restricted free agent, Cole at least gives them a young point guard. They didn’t have much to work with in the first place though.
Draft picks: No. 10 PG Jimmer Fredette, No. 40 PF Jon Leuer
Trades: In three-team trade, Bucks traded PG Jimmer Fredette and SG John Salmons to the Sacramento Kings and SF Corey Maggette to the Charlotte Bobcats and received SG Stephen Jackson, SF Tobias Harris, PG Beno Udrih, and PG Shaun Livingston.
Analysis: The reasoning behind this trade for Milwaukee is not immediately clear. They were able to rid themselves of two players who never really fit in with the Bucks and added a veteran shooting guard in Jackson; however, rumors have Jackson unhappy to be in Milwaukee, which could make him a buyout candidate. Meanwhile Udrih could cost the team $15 million over the next two seasons as a backup to Brandon Jennings and Livingston could be another $7 million. Other than shedding Maggette’s and Salmons’ deals, this trade does little to make Milwaukee better if Jackson wants out. Leuer is a stretch to make the squad.
Draft picks: No. 2 F Derrick Williams, No. 20 PF Donatas Montiejunas
Trades: Traded PF Donatas Montiejunas, PG Jonny Flynn, and a 2012 second-round pick to Houston Rockets for C Brad Miller, SF Nikola Mirotic, SF Chandler Parsons and future first-round pick. Traded SF Chandler Parsons back to Rockets for cash. T-Wolves traded SF Nikola Mirotic to Chicago Bulls for PG Norris Cole and G Malcolm Lee. T-Wolves traded PG Norris Cole, a future second-round pick, and cash to Miami Heat for PG Bojan Bogdanovic. T-Wolves traded PG Bojan Bogdanovic to New Jersey Nets for future second-round pick and cash.
Analysis: After Minnesota was unsuccessful in trading the No. 2 pick for a veteran player before the draft, they decided to suck it up and take Williams, choosing to deal with the glut of forwards at another time. Williams now joins Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, and Anthony Randolph at the forward positions. Then Minnesota got busy on the phones, working a number of trades and eventually coming away with a veteran center in Miller and a guard prospect in Lee. The biggest accomplishment from all the wheeling and dealing, however, was freeing up space for Ricky Rubio by trading Flynn to Houston.
New Jersey Nets
Draft picks: No. 27 PF JaJuan Johnson, No. 36 PF Jordan Williams
Trades: Traded PF JaJuan Johnson and 2014 second-round pick to Boston Celtics for No. 25 G Marshon Brooks. Traded a future second-round pick and cash to Minnesota Timberwolves for PG Bojan Bogdanovic.
Analysis: Brooks gives the Nets a scorer to bring off the bench. He probably won’t be a point guard in the NBA because he is not prone to involving his teammates much, but he is a gifted scorer and as long as he doesn’t make a lot of waves his rookie year, he should find a role for years to come. Bogdanovic will probably spend some time overseas but is a good prospect for the future.
New Orleans Hornets
Draft picks: No. 45 C Josh Harrellson
Trades: Traded C Josh Harrellson to New York Knicks for cash.
Analysis: New Orleans took a check instead of a player. Apparently they felt that no one in the second round was worth more than what they could sell the pick for, and considering Harrellson was not even projected to get drafted, maybe they were right.
New York Knicks
Draft picks: No. 17 PG Iman Shumpert
Trades: Acquired C Josh Harrellson from New Orleans Hornets for cash.
Analysis: The Knicks took Shumpert over defensive-stalwart Chris Singleton and rebounding fiend Kenneth Faried to the dismay of many of those in attendance at the draft. However, Shumpert is a top-flight athlete who may fit as a competent defensive point guard behind Chauncey Billups. Harrellson will get a chance to prove he can clog New York’s lane.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Draft picks: No. 24 G Reggie Jackson
Analysis: The Thunder were quiet on draft night, making their pick and going home. Jackson is a player who might step in for Eric Maynor next season and can score off the bench. The Thunder probably could have traded down to get him though.
Draft picks: No. 53 SG DeAndre Liggins
Trades: Traded two future second round picks to Cleveland Cavaliers for PF Justin Harper.
Analysis: Liggins and Harper help add some youth to an aging Magic team. Liggins can add athleticism at the shooting guard position and Harper is a stretch power forward. Neither will solve any of Orlando’s problems, but they shouldn’t create any more.
Draft picks: No. 16 C Nikola Vucevic, No. 50 PF Lavoy Allen
Analysis: The Sixers were looking for size, and Vucevic and Allen give them that. Vucevic will probably do no worse than backup center for Philly while Allen may not make the team depending on whether he shows a better work ethic than he did in college. Unfortunately for the Sixers, none of their power forward targets fell to them in the first round.
Draft picks: No. 13 PF Markieff Morris
Analysis: After Tristan Thompson, Bismack Biyombo, and Jimmer Fredette all came off the board before the Suns picked, this really was an easy pick. The older Morris twin will provide toughness around the rim and has a decent shot out to three-point range. He will fill one of Phoenix’s most glaring holes last season. Kawhi Leonard was also surprisingly available, but Phoenix did not need another wing player.
Portland Trail Blazers
Draft picks: No. 21 PG Nolan Smith, No. 51 SG Jon Diebler
Trades: Traded SG Rudy Fernandez and PG Petteri Koponen to Dallas Mavericks for SF Jordan Hamilton and SF Tanguy Ngombo. Traded PG Andre Miller, SF Jordan Hamilton, and a future second-round pick to Denver Nuggets for PG Raymond Felton.
Analysis: The Blazers were very active (as usual) on draft night. They acquired a point guard they feel will be able to run the offense at a higher pace than Miller, but they gave up a lot to get him. It remains to be seen what effect adding Felton will have on Portland’s stifling defense. Smith is another point guard who can also play shooting guard. He’ll likely be battling Armon Johnson for the backup point guard position. Diebler is a shooting specialist. As for Ngombo, well, at least his name is fun to say.
Draft picks: No. 7 PF Bismack Biyombo, No. 35 SF Tyler Honeycutt, No. 60 PG Isaiah Thomas
Trades: Traded PF Bismack Biyombo to the Charlotte Bobcats and Beno Udrih to the Milwaukee Bucks and acquired PG Jimmer Fredette and SG John Salmons from the Bucks in a three-team trade.
Analysis: The Kings got the point guard they wanted to run alongside Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. Now all Fredette has to do is pan out. There are concerns that he could end up like Adam Morrison, but he’s more likely to be a player somewhere between Mark Price and Steve Kerr. Salmons also returns to Sacramento and will likely come off the bench with Marcus Thornton to provide a formidable offensive-minded second unit. Thomas may very well end up as the backup point guard in Sacramento, while Honeycutt provides more versatility at the wings.
San Antonio Spurs
Draft picks: No. 29 PG Cory Joseph, No. 59 SG Adam Hanga
Trades: Traded PG George Hill to Indiana Pacers for SF Kawhi Leonard, SF Davis Bertans, and F Erazem Lorbek.
Analysis: The Spurs’ trade with Indiana may look extremely lopsided in favor of San Antonio in a few years, acquiring the multi-faceted Leonard and the talented Bertans for Hill. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Spurs may have had the most puzzling draft of all 30 teams. Joseph, who was taken in the first round, was not even projected to be drafted in some mock drafts. And few people outside of Hungary had even heard of Adam Hanga. But if any team deserves the benefit of the doubt, it would be the Spurs.
Draft picks: No. 5 C Jonas Valanciunas
Analysis: The Raptors were done pretty early in the afternoon on draft night. They did nothing after selecting Valanciunas fifth overall, but that was enough. He has the potential to be the best player from this draft, but he won’t join Toronto until the 2012-13 season.
Draft picks: No. 3 C Enes Kanter, No. 12 SG Alec Burks
Analysis: The Jazz selected a big man for the future and a shooting guard with big upside with its two lottery picks. Kanter will provide insurance if Mehmet Okur and Al Jefferson are never able to get completely healthy. Burks, meanwhile, will help shore up a position that was being manned by Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward for much of last season.
Draft picks: No. 6 SF Jan Vesely, No. 18 SF Chris Singleton, No. 34 PG Shelvin Mack
Analysis: The Wizards could have used a shooting guard but did not do too badly otherwise. Vesely is a terrific athlete who will likely get plenty of alley-oop passes from new teammate John Wall. He has been called the European Blake Griffin, or as Vesely likes to say, Griffin is the American Jan Vesely. Beyond Vesely, Singleton gives Washington a sticky wing defender, and Mack will be a reliable backup point guard.
By: Eric Lorenz
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