Yes, the 2010 NBA Draft was held just over a month ago and the draftees have barely had a chance to even get their toes wet as professional athletes, but that doesn't mean that we can't start looking ahead to next year’s draft and start our speculating now. I mean, the 2011 class is so overwhelmed with talent that we need to start breaking it down now if we want to have any real chance of exploring every and all potential selections.
The 2011 Draft may be the most exciting and unpredictable one that we have seen in awhile. The majority of the names that are being thrown around are youngsters who have yet to prove their game at the collegiate level let alone in the professional ranks, as well as a number of highly touted international players. Don't let that fool you though; there are still a handful of college veterans in the mix that are also vying for a first round spot as well.
And rest assured, just as every year there is a number of Blue Devils who are at the top of many organization's lists as potential superstars as well as potential busts. Kyrie Irving, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are the most recognized Dookies who are looking to make an impact at the next level and more importantly prove that the supposed "Duke Curse" is just a myth.
From the 30th pick all the way to the number one selection, this mock draft will give you an idea of what the upcoming draft has in store and what incredible talent your favorite team might land.
Corey Fisher has the opportunity of a lifetime to prove his worth as the Wildcats lose their savior Scottie Reynolds. Despite his small stature, Fisher has the ability to put points on the board as well as distribute the rock with his exceptional court vision, similar to fellow Philly basketball phenom the Orlando Magic’s, Jameer Nelson (formerly of St. Joe’s). If he can fill the Reynolds void and bring ‘Nova back to the promise land after their shocking early exit from the tournament last year, he will be on a lot of NBA team’s radars, which could also propel his stock.
Let’s face it. Kris Joseph is one of those “freaks of nature” that were born to strike fear in opponents’ eyes by swatting shot after shot, dazzle crowds by throwing down huge dunks, and making defenders look silly with his uncanny quickness and athleticism for a big man as he takes them one on one to the rack. The only thing that may lower his status is his smaller 6’7”, 210 lbs. frame that may not hold up against the much taller and more robust bodies that dwell in the post at the next level. As he makes his way into the starting lineup for the Orange this year, the 2009-10 Big East Sixth Man of the Year has a lot riding on his shoulders.
Can you say Dynamic? If any player in the 2011 class can make it in the bright lights of LA it is Kemba Walker. He puts on a show every time he steps on the hardwood and with the combination of his speed, quickness and play-making abilities he will make an easy transition. But just as many PG’s who are entering the league; his outside shot is very inconsistent. If he can develop range he will be a vital component to the Lakers dynasty.
Jacob Pullen is the prototype court general. At 6’0” he understands his role as a distributor and does it seamlessly. Averaging about 3.2 assists per game, the young point guard appears to have eyes in the back of his head at times. He also is a 3-point threat, which forces defenders to play him, allowing his scorers to go to work.
For a bigman Elias Harris can flat out run. His stamina and energy is a rarity among posts, which can be very beneficial for him in the professional ranks. He is still a youngster and his game needs some fine tuning, but once he establishes a commitment to the fundamentals, he has the potential to replace the absence of Stoudemire.
Fab Melo is a pure 7-foot center with excellent foot work and a promising touch. One year under the guidance and direction of Jim Boeheim and he will be ready for the NBA. Also, shedding a little bit more weight and toning up, could possibly turn him into the second coming of Kareem.
Ok, here it is, the first Dookie on the board! And if it’s going to be any of them, Nolan Smith is a safe bet. He is a versatile scorer and a crafty passer as well as a lockdown defender (averaging 1.2 steals per game), basically an-all around ball player. With this much potential, it looks as if it is inevitable that the dreaded Duke curse will be broken.
Speaking of potential this likely “diaper dandy” has all the tools to do some serious damage in the paint. He has an excellent build and also possesses a decent mid-range shot and notable ball handling skills that will leave defenses scrambling to find ways to stop him. If he lives up to the hype, he will be a mainstay in the NBA.
Jordan Hamilton is the definition of versatile. He has the ability, the strength, and the brains to play at almost every position. Although this flexibility is definitely an advantage, it may also be a drawback in the NBA because he doesn’t seem to have a clear-cut position. Once he establishes his niche he will prosper at the next level.
With his ability to perform in the open court, his capability to defend and his exceptional rebounding skill for a guard, Durrell Summers is the mirror image of the budding Rajon Rondo. If he continues to improve his jumper he will be the ideal pick to compliment Durant.
Talk about consistency, Chandler Parsons has been performing at a high level in a Gator uniform for the past three years. He not only gets it done in the post, he also has an accurate trey ball that will give teams serious matchup problems.
Cory Joseph is arguably the top long-range marksman entering college. That combined with his defensive presence and court awareness is enough to make him an impactful point guard in the league this year, luckily for Rick Barnes he gets to keep him for a year first, which also allows Joseph to sharpen up and improve his status.
Not only is Robin Benzing a solid post player with size and length, but he is also extremely agile and boasts a pair of great hands. He has proven that he can bang with the best down low and if need be step out and hit a three ball. If he can develop his left hand and add on a little bit more weight he will be a force to be reckoned with.
And yet again we stumble across another Blue Devil, and just as before if any Duke Alumi has the ability to prove that they can handle the big league it is Kyle Singler. He has the skill to score just about anywhere on the court as well as a knack for rebounding as he led his team in that statistic in his first two years at Duke . He is a work horse that gives 110% at all times. With this work ethic and natural skill it will be almost impossible for him not to succeed as a pro.
If CJ Leslie can master the art of staying under control, he could potentially turn into a lottery pick. His long frame combined with his jumping ability and athleticism gives him an unfair advantage over many other power forwards.
If it wasn’t for William Buford’s supreme shooting proficiency, he would most likely drop to the second round. Both his build and stature are pretty standard and he isn’t wowing crowds with any fancy circus finishes up and under two defenders, but if his shot keeps falling and he continues to improve his passing and ball handling abilities he will find a permanent home in the NBA.
The smartest decision Trey Thompkins ever made was returning to UGA for his junior year. This gives him an extra year to really develop as a bigman and have a break out junior campaign. Averaging almost a double-double as a sophomore, Thompkins has the chance to really boost his draft status.
Even though Travis Leslie may be undersized he makes up for it with his unmatchable leaping ability and explosive moves to the basket. He is one of the purest athletes in this year’s draft and once he can establish his outside game he will be unstoppable.
Greg Smith is undeniably one of the most ideal post specimens of this draft. At 6’10”, 250 lbs. he is a man playing with boys. With a lot of work and repetition both in the post and at the free throw line he will make a significant impact.
If you think CP3’s game is smooth, you should check out his prospective teammate Alec Burks. He has complete control over his lanky 6’6” frame, and has the ability to get to the rim on request. If he develops a jumper he will be a matchup nightmare.
Don’t let Donatas Motiejunas’s boyish good looks fool you; he is a hard-nosed brute in the post. He has exceptional strength, but also has shown a finesse side as well. He has been known to be a bit lazy at times, which may hinder his status.
Jeff Taylor has the build and the athletic ability to be a solid contributor in the league, but with a shaky handle and little to no outside game it begs the question where exactly will he score from? If he can either develop his slashing game or an outside shot his future looks bright.
Josh Selby’s game seems to be limitless as he not only has the unbelievable skill set, but he also has the fire and enthusiasm that pushes him past many other point guards. A year experience at the collegiate level will allow his game to mature and develop.
If you’re looking for an old-school, traditional forward then look no further then Jared Sullinger. He has flourished under the hoop and knows how to use his size and does it artfully. Although he does at times appear to be unstoppable, he has shown to be prone to getting his shot blocked against longer defenders. Although his frame is a huge advantage on the offensive end, it has been a problem on defense due to his lack of lateral quickness.
A 6’11” point guard? Ok, I agree that does sound completely ridiculous, but Jan Vesley has shown that he is just as capable as many guards in the NBA of directing traffic and handling the rock in transition. He also has one of the purest strokes ever seen by a big man. With that said, for a post, he lacks the muscle strength and bulk to finish under the basket, which could be a major setback.
Perry Jones could possibly the most exciting and gifted players in the draft. Although he has the height and length of a forward, he has the shooting touch, ball handling abilities, and quickness of guard, which is a lethal combination. It seems that once he realizes his potential there is no limits to what he can do on the court.
The final Blue Devil has staked his claim in the first round of the 2011 Draft and landing in at number four, Kyrie Irving has some pretty high expectations to live up to, but I think it’s safe to say that no one doubts that this kid can surpass them.
Not only does he have the quickness and handle to take any defender one on one, but he can also pull up at any moment and drop dimes in his defender's face. He never seems to get rattled no matter what the circumstance and possesses a commanding confidence on the court that is rare at his age.
At the age of 18 Enes Kanter could be one of the most anticipated players in the draft. Despite being built like a horse, he still manages to have quick feet and excellent hands. It is obvious that his game is going to need a lot of maturing, but give him a few years and people will be asking Wilt who?
If Brandon Knight played baseball he would be your utility guy…he can do EVERYTHING! As a jack of all trades he can shoot with range, he has impeccable ball handling, and has lightning speed. He also as an extreme passion for the game. He is going to, without a doubt, be a fan favorite in this league.
At 6’8”, 210 lbs., Harrison Barnes can pretty much do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to. He dominates his defenders down low as well as taking them to the hoop and also has the ability to hit a mid-range jumper if needed. He lacks a consistent left hand, which might cause problems if teams overplay, but he has so much success going to his strong hand that it shouldn’t be that problematic.