Wednesday, May 18, 2011
With the ping pong balls having revealed where each team will pick in the 2011 draft, it's now safe to predict where players may land. The first mock draft is always the most innocent, as we don't know who's two inches shorter than listed, which team promised to pick whom (but just might not), and which teams are interested in moving up for whichever picks. If the draft was to take place tomorrow night, without any of the aforementioned variables, here's how I think it would go down:
1. Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving (6-2/180; PG; Freshman; Duke)
He isn't as distinct a top overall prospect as some scouts are making him seem, but he is the perfect fit for the Cavs. Despite still being a teenager, Irving is NBA-ready, and as a very dynamic point guard he's the best player to start the rebuilding process with.
2. Timberwolves - Enes Kanter (6-11/270; PF/C; 18 years old)
What the Wolves will do with this pick is anybody's guess. Derrick Williams might be the second best prospect in the draft, but he's practically a melding of Beasley and Love, both of whom averaged at least 19 points per game last year and are both just 22. So why take another forward just like them, especially when your starting center is a joke? Kanter has all the tools to eventually be an elite center in the league, and would be a great piece next to Love in the low post. The Timberwolves are also very open to trading the pick, and in a league with so few decent centers, you can bet that Kanter will be the most valuable trade chip.
3. Jazz - Brandon Knight (6-3/185; PG/SG; PG/SG; Kentucky)
If Williams does indeed slip past the second pick, the Jazz will be in quite a pickle. Williams is the best on the board and would fill a need at SF, but he isn't exactly what the Jazz need. Utah is in a position to select a point guard to replace Deron Williams and continue their lineage of elite floor generals, and Knight has terrific upside. Utah's biggest need is shooting, and Knight has shown the ability to knock down multiple threes in a row and confidently take the fadeaway with seconds remaining.
4. Cavaliers - Derrick Williams (6-8/245; PF/SF; Sophomore; Arizona)
If the Cavs should land Irving, the top prospect, and Williams, who satisfies their greatest need, the basketball-loving world should just be happy for them.
5. Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (6-7/225; SF; Sophomore; San Diego State)
The lowly Cavs were the only team with a worse crop of small forwards than the Raptors, with their remarkably inefficient tandem of Linas Kleiza, Julian Wright and James Johnson. Enter Kawhi Leonard, a tough, well-rounded and long swingman with the potential to guard three positions. Leonard will at the very least be a good pro for 10 years, and if he continues to improve his jumper, he could be a star.
6. Wizards - Jan Vesely (6-11/240; SF/PF; 21 years old)
The Wizards would have loved to pair either Williams or Kanter with JaVale McGee down low, giving Wall a big man he can confidently throw the ball to near the basket. Luckily they still covet Vesely, an extremely versatile wing with huge upside.
7. Kings - Kemba Walker (6-0/180; PG; Junior; Connecticut)
The Kings likely had the worst luck in the lottery, but if they could scoop up Kemba, you'll hear no complaints from the organization. The best player in college last season, Walker would allow Tyreke to move to his natural position and would bring a much-needed winning attitude.
8. Pistons - Bismack Biyombo (6-9/243; PF/C; 18 years old)
With Greg Monroe firmly in place at power forward (or center), the Pistons will look for another young big man to complement him on the low block. Biyombo, who's been compared to Ben Wallace, would be a perfect fit with his toughness, length, and massive potential.
9. Bobcats - Jonas Valanciunas (6-11/240; C/PF; 19 years old)
Charlotte is dying for another big man, and Valanciunas could be the perfect center to grow alongside Tyrus Thomas.
10. Bucks - Alec Burks (6-6/195; SG; Sophomore; Colorado)
John Salmons was a major disappointment in the first year of his contract as the Bucks finished last in the league in scoring. Burks has one of the most mature skill sets of anyone in the draft and would be a great running mate for Jennings in the backcourt.
11. Warriors - Marcus Morris (6-9/235; PF; Junior; Kansas)
Loaded with talent at every position, the Warriors will likely look for a versatile role player, and Morris is one of the few players in who's ready to handle and produce in big minutes right away.
12. Jazz - Jordan Hamilton (6-7/220; SF/SG; Sophomore; Texas)
In dire need of shooters (C.J. Miles is the only shooter on the team) and loaded with big men, expect the Jazz to target another wing. Oklahoma Coach Jeff Capel said of Hamilton, who made 2.5 threes per game, "You could put him in a phone booth, and he'd figure out how to score."
13. Suns - Jimmer Fredette (6-2/195; PG; Senior; Brigham Young)
Whether or not he's worthy of being Nash's heir apparent, there's no doubting that Jimmer would be an extremely efficient, even explosive scorer in the Suns' offense.
14. Rockets - Chris Singleton (6-9/225; SF; Junior; Florida State)
Houston finished first in the league scoring last year and near the bottom in points allowed, so why not take the best perimeter defender to come along in years? Singleton could be their Shane Battier, only with greater potential on the offensive end.
15. Pacers - Klay Thompson (6-6/207; SG; Junior; Washington State)
They've been hunting for a starting shooting guard for years, and the position is still a major question mark. Thompson was one of the best scorers in college last year, averaging 21.6 points and 2.9 threes, and at 6-6, he has great size for the position.
16. 76ers - Donatas Motiejunas (7-0/220; PF/C; 20 years old)
The Sixers need to get bigger and are in the market for some shooters. Not only is Motiejunas huge, but he's an excellent shooter in the Andrea Bargnani mold.
17. Knicks - Markieff Morris (6-10/245; PF; Junior; Kansas)
Having hopefully at last realized that they will not be able to draft the franchise center that they need, the Knicks would be wise to go with the best player available. Morris can play inside (62.5% from inside the arc) and out (42.4% from range), is very physical (8.3 boards in just 24.4 minutes), and yes, has the size to slide in and play center now and then.
18. Wizards - Tristan Thompson (6-8/225; PF; Freshman; Texas)
A high energy rebounder/defender with a rapidly improving offensive game and mature style of play, Thompson would be a great fit in a frontcourt that's perpetually disorganized.
19. Bobcats - Darius Morris (6-4/190; PG; Sophomore; Michigan)
Jordan's club has had a love/hate relationship with D.J. Augustin for the past three years, and with the team now heading in a new direction, look for them to take a point man with one of their first round picks. A 6-4 point guard who's proven to be a great distributor (6.7 assists, fifth in the nation), Morris is also an adept scorer and could be a huge sleeper for any team picking in the second half of the first round.
20. Timberwolves - Marshon Brooks (6-5/190; SG; Senior; Providence)
With seemingly all of their scoring coming from forwards, the Wolves could use a shooting guard who can create for himself. Brooks, who finished second in the nation in scoring and dropped 52 in one game, has the potential to be a special scorer in whatever capacity he's set in.
21. Trailblazers - Kenneth Faried (6-8/225; PF; Senior; Morehead State)
Morehead State standout Faried is the type of guy any team would be lucky to have. The Blazers' big men are seemingly always banged up, and their future is a bit uncertain with Oden entering free agency and Marcus Camby having just turned 37. The Blazers, as much as any other club, would love to nab Faried.
22. Nuggets -Lucas Nogueira (7-0/218; C; 18 years old)
No team is deeper than the Nuggets, whose bench (Felton/J.R. Smith/Chandler/Harrington/Andersen) would be a playoff team in the East. They took a risk on a relatively unknown Brazilian center with their first round pick nine years ago; why not try their luck again with Nogueira, the 7-foot 18-year old from Rio de Janeiro?
23. Rockets - Davis Bertrans (6-10/210; SF/PF; 18 years old)
With a great deal of young talent (Patterson, Budinger, Thabeet, Terrence Williams) vying for playing time, it might make sense to take a young foreigner to develop overseas. Bertrans is probably the best shooter of any forward in the draft.
24. Thunder - Tobias Harris (6-8/230; SF/PF; Freshman; Tennessee)
If there's anything negative to point out about the Thunder's makeup, it's their lack of players who can and want to create offense for themselves. Harris was one of the most impressive freshman in the country from a scoring standpoint, with his big frame, soft touch and nose for the goal. A rugged small forward in a power forward's body, Harris would be a great foil to Durant off the bench.
25. Celtics - Trey Thompkins (6-10/245; PF; Junior; Georgia)
Few entering big men are more polished than Thompkins, who has a top-notch jumper to pair with a nice array of post moves. Garnett and the O'Neals aren't getting any younger, and Thompkins is ready to produce right now.
26. Mavericks - Tyler Honeycutt (6-8/200; SF; Sophomore; UCLA)
Considering how effectively Ben Howland's offense tends to hide his player's potential, Honeycutt could be a major sleeper. The Mavs wings are almost as old as the Celtics' bigs, qualifying Dallas as the perfect late first round landing spot for Honeycutt.
27. Nets - JaJuan Johnson (6-10/220; PF; Senior; Purdue)
Ask just about anyone who the Big 10 player of the year was this past season, and they (yours truly included) would likely say Jared Sullinger. The actual Big 10 POY, JaJuan Johnson, would be a great scorer off the bench for a team that has no such players.
28. Bulls - Charles Jenkins (6-3/220; PG/SG; Senior; Hofstra)
They look borderline perfect, but the Bulls are still looking for shooters, new starting shooting guard and another backup for Rose. Jenkins fits at least two of those needs. The NYC public school product averaged 22.6 points (2 threes as a sophomore) and despite being just 6-3, has the strength and length to move to the wing on occasion.
29. Spurs - Kyle Singler (6-8/215; SF; Senior; Duke)
Don't mistake Singler's failure to improve as a sign of regression. Singler has great size for the three, a picture perfect stroke, and competes as hard as anyone.
30. Bulls - Iman Shumpert (6-4/210; PG/SG; Sophomore; Georgia Tech)
Flying under the radar at Georgia Tech, Shumpert is a beguiling prospect and a perfect fit in Chicago. The 6-4 combo guard improved his scoring immensely (10 to 17.3) as a junior and pulled down 6 boards while playing point guard for much of the time. He's also an elite defender (2.7 steals), making him a perfect fit on Thibodeau's squad.