2011 NBA Mock Draft: It's Never Too Early
Yes, the 2010 NBA Draft ended mere hours ago. There is plenty to talk about regarding who was a steal (Hassan Whiteside at 33) and who was a reach (Craig Brackins at 21). However, the teams are already looking to the future and what they'll be doing one year from now.
There are a lot of players on this list who haven't played a single college game yet, so take all of this with a grain of salt. This is our best guess as to which players will go in the first round of next year's draft. The order was based on record this year, but no team need is factored in as free agency and a million other things will happen before next June.
For complete coverage of the NBA Draft and the class of 2010's rookie seasons please visit TheRookieWall.com!
1. New Jersey Nets - Perry Jones (Baylor)
Again, this isn't taking into account team need, as the Nets locked up their power forward of the future with Derrick Favors last night. However, we think Perry Jones from Duncanville High School in Texas will be the first name called a year from now.
Jones has great size (6'11") and length (approximately 7'3" wingspan), and will be playing under the same coaches at Baylor that turned Ekpe Udoh into the sixth overall pick. When you couple that size with his ball handling skills you're looking at an Anthony Randolph/Tyrus Thomas hybrid. While neither of those players have proven their value in the NBA (mainly because of lack of playing time), their tools had them picked in the lottery.
If Jones is productive this year, he could just be the number one overall pick.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jan Vesely (Partizan)
Most people believe that Vesely would have been a top 10 pick if he would have stayed in the draft this year, but he withdrew, leaving Kevin Seraphin to be the first international player off the board. He'll likely be leaving his name in next year.
Vesely is another combo forward playing both small forward and power forward, and could likely play both positions at the NBA level. He has good physical measurements standing just under 7'0". For a player his size, Vesely runs the floor very well and relies on his open court game to get easy baskets currently.
In the half court set he struggles, but has time to develop and with a strong showing this year overseas should find himself in the top five.
3. Sacramento Kings - Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)
North Carolina had one of its worst seasons ever last year, but it still recruits the best talent in the country. Harrison Barnes adds to the long list of elite high school players who have chosen Chapel Hill. Barnes was the most coveted recruit this season, so obviously the expectations at UNC will be very high. Barnes has the game to be truly special.
Early word out of the Chris Paul camp earlier this summer was that Barnes looked incredible. People speculated that the Ames, Iowa native would be the smoothest freshman since Kevin Durant. As a 6'8" wing he may not have the impact that Durant does, and isn't as great an athlete, but he has a complete game that should translate to the college game quickly. He scores attacking the rim and from deep, and when committed can hit the glass.
No one is expecting more than a year from Barnes with the Tar Heels, and the only question seems to be where in the top five he'll go in 2011.
4. Washington Wizards - Donatas Motiejunas (Benetton)
Motiejunas had said through his agent that if he wasn't a lock for the lottery he’d return to Italy for another season. Even though he didn't get that guarantee in 2010, expect him to get it in 2011.
Donatas has good size and athleticism, but we just don’t know how he’ll do against the elite talent in the NBA. His big games in Italy have come against what one agent called, “a team of villagers.” Hopefully he can show us a little more this season with Benetton.
His skill set is similar to that of a more aggressive Andrea Bargnani. He isn't afraid to mix it up inside, which is a change from most European bigs who have come into the league. He does possess a silky outside shot, which we've come to expect from the power forwards and centers from Europe due to the style of play overseas.
5. Golden State Warriors - Kyrie Irving (Duke)
Duke isn't known for its one and done players, but Kyrie Irving likely won't be in Durham beyond his freshman year. He's not a jaw dropping athlete, but shows a good feel for the game, using change of speed to get to places instead of raw athleticism.
At the high school level he was ball dominant, looking for his offense frequently. A year under Coach K and he could really blossom as a passer and become the most complete point guard in the draft. Reminds us a little of Eric Bledsoe, as he played primarily point guard and will do so in the NBA, but will see minutes at off guard for the Blue Devils.
6. Philadelphia 76ers - Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
The Naismith High School Player of the Year was Jared Sullinger. He played in Ohio, and opted to go play his college ball at Ohio state (hence the sweater vest). A big body, with soft hands and great touch, Sullinger is a more highly touted and more well-rounded Glen Davis.
While Sullinger seems a lock for the top 10, he needs to work on a few things, mainly his physique. Going to a big time college program will give him an opportunity to work on that very quickly. If he can get his frame in shape, he could play himself into the top of the draft, maybe all the way to number one.
7. Detroit Pistons - Josh Selby (Kansas)
Those scoring instincts are coupled with incredible athleticism, giving Selby the ability to attack the rim as well as any player in this class. He doesn't possess ideal size at only 6'1", but teams may have a hard time ignoring his ability to put the ball in the basket.
8. LA Clippers - John Henson (North Carolina)
John Henson probably could have left for the NBA this year, but opted to return to North Carolina to work on his game. With a good season, he should be a lock to go in the lottery, much like Ed Davis. The season was a bit of a roller coaster where Henson got inconsistent playing time and often looked lost on the floor. However, late in the season he turned it around posting good games for the Tar Heels down the stretch.
Henson really needs to add weight to his frame as his skill set is more suited for the power forward position than the small forward. If he can show the ability to rebound and hold his own in the block there's little doubt we'll hear his name called early in the 2011 NBA Draft.
9. New York Knicks - Kemba Walker (UConn)
Kemba Walker will be a candidate for Player of the Year in both the Big East and in all of college basketball. He is a true point guard who has shown great leadership for the Huskies.
He has great tools for an NBA point guard, possessing great speed, an improving jumper, and the ability to finish at the rim. He's getting some new talent at UConn with freshman Roscoe Smith coming, so hopefully the Huskies can return to form after a rough season last year.
10. Indiana Pacers - Jonas Valanciunas (Lietuvos Rytas)
Jona Valanciunas is still not ready to contribute and has a lot of room to grow as a player. He will only be 19 years old on draft day, but will have a few years of professional experience under his belt.
Currently he projects as an interior scoring presence, but needs to learn to put the ball on the floor and shoot from out to at least 15 feet to reach his potential. Currently a project, another strong year in Europe and he should see himself in the lottery.
11. New Orleans Hornets - Jeff Taylor (Vanderbilt)
Jeff Taylor thought about entering the draft after his sophomore year, but didn't feel that he was ready. Staying in school is a risky proposition, but seeing a player comfortable enough in his game to return is refreshing.
Taylor is the prototype for an NBA small forward with good height, length, and a thin frame that allows him to knife through the lane without the ball and finish at the rim. His jumper is suspect and his handle could use some work, but with another year at Vanderbilt we expect to see both those areas improve. Defensively he could be a lock down player, which is why we project him so high.
12. Memphis Grizzlies - Elias Harris (Gonzaga)
Elias Harris is a high energy combo forward that brings his all on every single possession. He can finish at the rim, and knock down open shots on the perimeter, but what he does the best is rebound the basketball.
His ability to rebound is a combination of his desire and his physical tools, and we all know that rebounding well in college is likely to translate to the NBA. Because he is an elite rebounder, and has a fair amount of upside (he'll be 21 on draft night) we expect his name called in the lottery next year.
13. Toronto Raptors - Kyle Singler (Duke)
Kyle Singler led Duke to a National Championship, but apparently one wasn't enough for the returning senior. Singler must feel that with most of the team returning, and the addition of Kyrie Irving, the Blue Devils have a shot at repeating.
At this point we all know Singler is a solid scorer, knocking down shots from deep and in the mid-range. We also know he rebounds effectively, but not spectacularly, and that he lacks the athleticism to be a game changer at the next level. With all that said, he's very productive and reminds us a little of Luke Babbitt and Gordon Hayward, both who heard their names called fairly early on draft night.
14. Chicago Bulls - Malcolm Lee (UCLA)
Malcolm Lee came to UCLA at an odd time, forced to play behind Jrue Holiday and Darren Collison. However, this year Lee should be the man for the Bruins giving him the opportunity to really make a name for himself.
With the height (6'5") to play both guard positions Lee is an intriguing prospect. He can handle the ball for long stretches, but is projected primarily as a shooting guard. His outside game is a bit inconsistent, but his ball handling and speed always make him a threat to get to the rim.
We have faith that Lee will put it all together this season making him an intriguing prospect.
15. Houston Rockets - Aaric Murray (La Salle)
There were some notions that Aaric Murray, a freshman out of La Salle, would be leaving Philadelphia for the NBA this year, but he opted to keep his name out. We'd expect the power forward to at least test the waters this year, and with positive feedback he'll probably remain in the draft.
Murray has good size and a frame that can put on weight. He is still raw on offense, but shows a knack for scoring. On the defensive end he is long and changes a lot of shots. He reminds us of Larry Sanders, who ended up at 15th overall with Milwaukee last night.
16. Charlotte Bobcats - Mason Plumlee (Duke)
The more NBA ready of the Plumlee twins from Duke is Mason. After winning the National Championship last year, he opted to return to school without testing the waters.
He has great size and athleticism for the power forward and center positions. He projects as a face-up power forward with the ability to blow by slower defenders. His leaping ability allows him to be active on the boards, on defense, and in transition. Watching him this year will be interesting because if he doesn't feel he's a lock for a high selection there is a good chance he'll return to Durham.
17. Milwaukee Bucks - CJ Leslie (NC State)
C.J. Leslie could have played for any college in the country, and left us waiting for awhile before opting to go to North Carolina State. The decision seems odd, but since Leslie is a one and done player, it makes sense for him to stay close to home. In fact he played at Word of God Academy with a player you may have heard a little more about, John Wall.
Leslie is between the three and the four, but prefers to play on the wing. This can be problematic as he forces shots at times, which could be a real problem at NC State where he'll be the best player on the floor. If Leslie can pick his spots and show discipline on both ends, he could hear his name called much higher than this, but until we see it he's a mid-first rounder.
18. Miami Heat - Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
Jimmer Fredette captured people's attention last year for the Cougars when he went off against Arizona. The Wildcats' head coach called him the best player that Arizona had seen, and there wasn't much argument. After such a strong season he tested the waters before ultimately deciding to return for his senior year.
Fredette handles the ball constantly for BYU, but is really a shooting guard. His ability to penetrate is solid and his outside jumper is a consistent weapon. Next year he can hopefully show more ability to distribute, but even if he takes on the same scoring burden he's a mid-first round pick.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder - Kris Joseph (Syracuse)
Kris Joseph was overshadowed by the Timberwolves' newest member, Wesley Johnson, this season at Syracuse. He played 28 minutes a game where he contributed 10 points and six rebounds per game.
Joseph is a great athlete that is a combo forward, but currently lacks the bulk to bang with the power forwards in the Big East. As his frame continues to fill out, we could see him become one of the best players in the conference. For now he's a work in progress, but we'd be surprised if he didn't at least test the waters this season.
20. San Antonio Spurs - Wesley Witherspoon (Memphis)
Wesley Witherspoon could have easily packed his bags and left Memphis for the NBA like his teammate Elliot Williams. Instead he opted to return to Memphis and attempt to improve his stock from late first round selection to lottery contender.
Witherspoon does a lot of things well, especially score the basketball. Through last season he developed a consistent long range shot, which makes him dangerous because he is so fluid when attacking the basket. The ability to keep his man off balance with such a versatile offensive game has served him well. His long arms and above average quickness have made him a very good defender as well.
21. Portland Trailblazers - Travis Leslie (Georgia)
Travis Leslie made the right decision returning to school to develop his game for another year. For the Georgia Bulldogs he's asked to do just about everything, so his focus this season should be on transitioning from a combo forward to more of a true wing.
He rebounds the ball very well for his size, but to make it at the next level he'll have to show the ability to shoot from the outside. Currently he takes less than one attempt from behind the arc per game, and for a player listed at only 6'4", that won't fly in the NBA.
22. Boston Celtics - JaMychal Green (Alabama)
JaMychal Green likely could have declared and been drafted this year, but with such a crowded crop at power forward he may have made a great decision to return to Alabama.
He can play down in the block, despite the fact that he has less than ideal size. However, we are learning that instinct and strength may be more important than size for power forwards at this point and Green has more than enough of each of those. He could be a Paul Millsap-like player going forward.
23. Utah Jazz - Enes Kanter (Kentucky?)
Enes Kanter is a unique prospect, and no the question mark is not an error. Kanter is attempting to play for the Wildcats next year, despite the fact that he was under contract and played for Fenerbache in the EuroLeague.
This is basically the European equivalent of Brandon Jennings, only with infinitely more legal complications.
24. Atlanta Hawks - Chris Singleton (FSU)
Chris Singleton is yet another combo forward in this draft. With so many going in the 2010 draft and the number likely to declare for the 2011 draft, not all of these names will remain in; but if he does, we like Singleton somewhere in the late first round.
Playing for the Florida State Seminoles he was efficient, but not spectacular averaging 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 31 minutes per game. That productivity could go up this season as we think this could be the year the switch gets flipped for Singleton and he uses his physical gifts at the small forward spot.
25. Denver Nuggets - Derrick Williams (Arizona)
Derrick Williams was originally going to play at USC, but opted for Arizona instead. In his freshman year he definitely made an impact, despite the fact that the Wildcats struggled.
Williams is playing in the post currently, which is OK given his strength, but to reach his fullest potential he'll have to play more facing the basket and creating for himself. If he can turn himself into a threat on the perimeter, he could hear his name called in the lottery, but even if he just replicates last year he'll be a first round pick.
26. Phoenix Suns - JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
JaJuan Johnson may have made a mistake in returning to Purdue for his senior season. The fact is his shortcomings likely won't be fixed with another year in college. However, if he can add to his frame he should still be selected in the first round.
Johnson has the ability to face up, but often settles too much for jumpers when he should be playing on the inside. He does block a ton of shots and has the ability to run the floor, so a pick in the late first is well worth the risk.
27. Dallas Mavericks - Kalin Lucas (Michigan State)
Kalin Lucas probably would have been picked this year, but due to an injury he was forced to return to Michigan State. He has a great ability to score the ball and has been the leader for the Spartans the last two seasons.
If he has a similar season to last year he's worth a first round pick. If he's lost a step from the injury he may see himself fall into the second round. Whenever his name is called he'll likely be able to contribute right away.
28. Los Angeles Lakers - Jeremy Tyler (Macabi Haifa)
Jeremy Tyler didn't have a great year overseas. He was attempting to follow the Brandon Jennings model, but instead really hurt his value by being suspended and overall just being told he isn't mature enough.
Now Tyler, the big man with great physical tools, may take his game to the D-League. With Latavious Williams setting the bar for players going from the D-League to the NBA, maybe Tyler would be better served playing there than stumbling through another season overseas.
29. Orlando Magic - Kenneth Faried (Morehead State)
Kenneth Faried could be the second coming of Paul Millsap, a player from a small school that rebounds the ball at an incredibly high rate. There were rumors he could have been a first round pick this year, but opted to return to Morehead State for his senior season.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jordan Hamilton (Texas)
Jordan Hamilton could move up the board quickly with a good sophomore year at Texas. He was very up and down in his freshman season, and learning how to play the game should be on the top of his priority list.
Currently he's getting by just on skill, but if he can put that skill together with understanding of the game he can really be impressive. He has the ability to knock down open jumpers, but needs to work on letting the game come to him instead of forcing his offense.
Complete Draft Coverage
For more on the 2011 NBA Draft and coverage of all the players picked last night in the 2010 NBA Draft please visit: TheRookieWall.com!