2011 NBA Mock Draft
The NBA Draft is just around the corner, so in preparation for the big day, here is the latest Internet offering of pre-draft prognostication.
This draft is tricky. It lacks overall depth and has no player good enough to be a consensus No. 1 pick, making predicting who will go where a crapshoot. But that lack of certainty also makes things more interesting for outside observers — if not for the people actually making the decisions. There will be a number of players picked based on potential, meaning that this draft could produce a bunch of Dirk Nowitzkis or a bunch of Nikoloz Tskitishvilis.
Anyway, here is the first round of the NBA draft, barring any pre-draft trades that would mix up which teams would be selecting where.
1. Cleveland: PG Kyrie Irving
The Cavaliers need talent pretty much everywhere; however, the team’s most pressing need actually is not at point guard. With Baron Davis already on the team, logic would suggest that Cleveland should take a player like Arizona’s Derrick Williams or Kentucky’s Enes Canter. But Irving is a player similar to John Wall — an athletic point guard — and with the way the league is shifting, having floor generals who can generate offense is on every team’s wish list. This pick may create a logjam at point guard, but if Davis is traded to a team for salary cap relief or Irving is drafted for another team as part of a draft-day trade, then this is a win all around.
2. Minnesota: F Derrick Williams
Minnesota desperately wants to trade this pick, but their asking price appears too stiff and the draft too weak for that to likely happen. The Timberwolves already have Kevin Love and Michael Beasley at the forward spots, but Williams is widely considered one of the top two prospects in this draft. Minnesota can draft him, stockpiling talent, and see what the trade market brings in veteran leadership down the road.
3. Utah: PG Brandon Knight
The Jazz really need a solid shooting guard or small forward, but with none really worthy of drafting this high, Utah settles for Knight. The Jazz have Devin Harris already playing point guard, but the feeling is that Knight can develop into a better option at the position — perhaps in the mold of a Russell Westbrook. Utah could also go big, but with Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, and Mehmet Okur all under contract still, the wiser pick would be Knight.
4. Cleveland: C Enes Canter
Big men, especially mobile big men, are at a premium in the NBA, and Kanter fits this description. He will fit in nicely in the middle for Cleveland, allowing Anderson Varejao to move to power forward or come off the bench. Antawn Jamison can slide over to the three or become a sixth man but will provide most of the frontcourt scoring punch. Either way, having a young core of Irving and Kanter would put Cleveland in good position going forward.
5. Toronto: C Jonas Valanciunas
The Raptors need size. Period. The days of trying to turn Andrea Bargnani into a center have to end if this team ever wants to contend. Toronto has Bargnani, Jose Calderon, and DeMar DeRozan to play the perimeter but few options inside. A player with his size (6-11, 240 lbs.) and toughness may be just what the Raptors need to become relevant again, allowing Bargnani to slide over to his natural power forward position and giving Toronto a good inside-outside threat.
6. Washington: SF Kawhi Leonard
With Wall, JaVale McGee, and Andray Blatche all returning, and free agent shooting guard Nick Young a possibility to return as well, the Wizards should focus on shoring up the small forward position. Rashard Lewis, Al Thornton, and Josh Howard all spent time there last season (among others), but with Lewis the only one under contract next season and his health questionable, it would be a good time to look to the future. Leonard is athletic and active, traits that will aid him as a defender in the NBA. His offense needs work for the small forward position, but he’ll have Wall there to set him up as he gets his feet wet.
7. Sacramento: PF Donatas Montiejunas
Scouts are all over the place on Montiejunas, but if he taps his impressive potential, he could team with DeMarcus Cousins to form a formidable front line in Sacramento. He still needs to put on some weight, but Cousins can take the stronger players on a nightly basis. Sacramento would also consider taking a point guard here in order to move Tyreke Evans to shooting guard, but seventh may be too high to take Kemba Walker.
8. Detroit: SF Jan Vesely
The Pistons have a number of tweeners on the roster, and barring a trade, the challenge of making the pieces fit will continue next season. But Tayshaun Prince is a free agent, and with Austin Daye still a ways away from being able to take that starter’s role and Jonas Jerebko a question mark after missing all of last season with an injury, Vesely may be the best bet. He has good size and athleticism but needs polish on his game before he can be a consistent NBA contributor.
9. Charlotte: PF Marcus Morris
The Bobcats need a frontcourt scoring threat. Tyrus Thomas is currently their biggest threat in the paint, and that just won’t get a team very far. Marcus Morris is one of the best offensive power forwards in the draft and would help the team improve inside. Charlotte could also take Kemba Walker here as a backup to D.J. Augustin, but may just wait to see who is available at No. 19.
10. Milwaukee: PF Tristan Thompson
The Bucks also need help on the inside. Andrew Bogut was the team’s best inside scorer and defender, but his future health status is up in the air. After Bogut, Milwaukee has little in the way of effective big men, so Thompson would be a welcome addition. He has more immediate upside than others at this position like Markieff Morris and Bismack Biyombo, and the Bucks need immediate results before Milwaukee becomes a no man’s land again.
11. Golden State: SF Jordan Hamilton
The Warriors need the most help at the center and small forward positions, but with the center talent dry at this point, Golden State would be best served choosing possibly the best small forward prospect in the draft in Hamilton. He is a good scorer, which fits well with Golden State’s system and could team with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry to form a very formidable offensive unit — if the team remains constituted as is.
12. Utah: SG Alec Burks
The option to go big presents itself yet again for Utah as does the option to take BYU standout Jimmer Fredette, but the Jazz could really use a solid shooting guard. Burks will add athleticism to the Jazz backcourt, giving them the potential to build around Brandon Knight, Burks, and Derrick Favors for the future.
13. Phoenix: PF Bismack Biyombo
Many have Phoenix falling into the old trap of picking a gunner like Fredette here, but coach Alvin Gentry and the Suns have placed a renewed emphasis on defense this summer — even interviewing candidates for a defensive coordinator position. That trend continues with the selection of Biyombo. His offensive game is as raw as a floor burn, but his ability to defend the basket and rebound are off the charts. Athletically and physically, he may be the best power forward in the draft. Markieff Morris is also an option here.
14. Houston: PG Jimmer Fredette
Kemba Walker continues to slide as Houston selects Fredette. He becomes an instant-offense guy off Houston’s bench that can space the floor for teammates. The Rockets’ real need is at center due to Yao Ming’s career-threatening injury history, but this draft is pretty weak on impact centers. Houston could also select either Fredette or Walker and then offer him in a trade to a team looking for a point guard in exchange for a big man in the middle.
15. Indiana: PG Kemba Walker
The Pacers only have Darren Collison and A.J. Price at point guard for next season and will jump at the chance to take the sliding Walker despite concerns about his size (6-1). He will be a solid backup to Collison in case of injury.
16. Philadelphia: PF Markieff Morris
Morris will provide solid backup minutes to Elton Brand and help anchor the frontcourt defense for the Sixers off the bench. With Philadelphia losing so many frontcourt players to free agency, this is a pretty easy call.
17. New York: SG Klay Thompson
If New York wants a shooter to help stretch defenses and take pressure off Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, then Thompson is a steal here. One of the top pure shooters in this draft (next to Fredette), he will fit right into coach Mike D’Antoni’s system — if D’Antoni decides to play the rookie, that is.
18. Washington: F Tobias Harris
Harris is a bit of a tweener at the forward spot, but hard work will earn him court time on this Wizards team. Washington desperately needs a big man to come in off the bench and make an impact; Harris will get the opportunity to do just that.
19. Charlotte: SF Chris Singleton
A Gerald Wallace-type player, Singleton has very good athleticism but limited offensive ability. He is still capable of developing an offensive game, but he can be a factor defensively on a team that could use a lockdown perimeter defender.
20. Minnesota: SG Marshon Brooks
The team is pretty stocked with big men, so at this point in the draft, the Timberwolves will be smart to round out the roster with a player like Brooks. He has big-time scoring ability and can be an instant-offense player off a Minnesota bench that’s thin at shooting guard.
21. Portland: C Nikola Vucevic
The Trail Blazers traded away Joel Przybilla and may never have Greg Oden healthy. With a front line that featured Marcus Camby and little else at center for most of last season, the Blazers will select Vucevic (7-0, 260 lbs.) to add size to the roster.
22. Denver: C Lucas Nogueira
The Brazilian center will be drafted more as a project than as an immediate impact-type player. He has good size at 7-0 and is just 18 years old, so taking him at No. 22 in the draft means risking little for a potentially huge gain. He has been compared to Marcus Camby, which is good for a Denver team in need of size.
23. Houston: PF Kenneth Faried
A prolific rebounded in college, Faried will try to translate that over to the pros. He is similar to Houston free agent Chuck Hayes, as both are undersized for their positions and both are limited offensively but both have a nose for rebounds.
24. Oklahoma City: SF Davis Bertans
The Thunder are a rare team with no glaring holes, allowing the franchise to take a chance on a European prospect and leave him overseas for a few years to develop. Bertans has terrific potential and is a knockdown shooter. Sure the Thunder already have a pretty good player in Kevin Durant playing small forward, but having too much talent is never a bad problem to have.
25. Boston: PG Darius Morris
Boston is getting older, and the team will have a number of holes to fill in the coming years. For now, they can settle for a backup point guard to take the pressure off Rajon Rondo. Morris has good point guard instincts and can provide quality minutes while Rondo gets a breather every now and then.
26. Dallas: SF Nikola Mirotic
Mirotic has the potential to develop into a very nice player in a few years, joining the Mavericks just as Shawn Marion, Caron Butler and others are ending their careers. Dallas doesn’t need any significant help at the moment, so adding a guaranteed contract from a weak draft just doesn’t make sense. He will be stashed.
27. New Jersey: PG Iman Shumpert
Shumpert is a combo guard with tremendous athleticism who tested at or near the top in all the combine measurements. Scouts wonder just where his ceiling could be, and that should be enough to get him drafted in the first round.
28. Chicago: PG Josh Selby
The Bulls’ offense was exposed by Miami in the playoffs this past season, and one reason was a lack of scoring off the bench. Selby can help address that as a backup for Derrick Rose.
29. Spurs: PG Isaiah Thomas
San Antonio has a knack for taking players with question marks who have been overlooked and making them fit (see: DeJuan Blair). Enter Isaiah Thomas. He is just 5-10, but the junior guard out of Washington has proven himself again and again in college. His athletic ability should help re-energize an aging Spurs roster.
30. Chicago: PF JaJuan Johnson
Johnson is a very good athlete, but at 6-10 and 220 lbs., he must put on some weight to be a legitimate defensive force. He could potentially team with Joakim Noah to create a very formidable defensive front line.
By: Eric Lorenz
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