2011 NBA Mock Draft: Will North Carolina's Harrison Barnes Go No. 1?
The 2011 NBA Draft will be one many remember for a long time.
That's because a record number of one-and-done players are expected to be in the pool and some of the top talent around. As many as nine players who just graduated from high school only months ago could be selected in the first 10 picks.
Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), Perry Jones (Baylor), Kyrie Irving (Duke) and Enes Kanter (Kentucky) lead the way, but the group is still looking for an all-out No. 1 pick. That top selection will all depend on how the freshman season plays out for all these guys.
Meanwhile, college veterans Kyle Singler (Duke), Jimmer Fredette (BYU) and JaJuan Johnson are hoping a final lap around the gym helps cement their standing in the first round.
Here's a look inside the 2011 NBA Draft and how all the young pieces will fit together.
No. 30 Cleveland Cavaliers: Chris Singleton (Florida State)
At 6-9, Chris Singleton will need to improve his offensive game to crack this first round, but as a maturing combo forward he can do that. He averaged only 10.2 points a game as a sophomore and will have to improve shooting percentages that fell after his freshman year.
If he keeps his name in the draft, there's no doubt teams will salivate over his defensive skills, especially because of his length. Singleton was the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year in 2009-10 while leading the conference in steals and blocking the fifth-most shots.
No. 29 Orlando Magic: Chris Wright (Dayton)
This could be a bit high for Chris Wright, who will be a senior this fall at Dayton, but the glimpses of promise he showed during Dayton's postseason NIT run were bright.
Wright averaged 13.7 point a game and displayed his high-flying abilities throughout the season with highlight-reel dunks.
No. 28 Los Angeles Lakers: JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
JaJuan Johnson flirted with the draft after his junior season, but decided against it after NBA people told him to put on some more weight.
So far, so good for Johnson. He's already added 15 pounds since the Boilers lost in the Sweet Sixteen and hoping for another five before the start of 2010-11.
A more physical Johnson coupled with his shooting touch and shot-blocking ability, he should be able to crack the first round.
No. 27 Dallas Mavericks: Wesley Witherspoon (Memphis)
Wesley Witherspoon came on strong to end last season with 19 starts in Memphis' final 20 games and his averages only got better. In that stretch, he scored 12.5 points a game and pulled down 4.6 boards.
If Witherspoon continues to make the improvement Tiger fans saw at the end of last year, his length will be hard to pass over late in the first round.
No. 26 Phoenix Suns: Kalin Lucas (Michigan State)
It's all about rebounding from a late-season injury for Kalin Lucas. He likely could have been drafted after his junior season, but a torn Achilles tendon ruined that possibility.
Lucas and Michigan State are stacked again this season, so a deep run into the NCAA Tournament would continue to bolster this guard's stock.
No. 25 Denver Nuggets: Jordan Hamilton (Texas)
It's all about consistency for this sophomore out of Texas.
If Jordan Hamilton can steady his game, he will average more than 20 minutes a game and his scoring average (10) and rebounding mark (3.7) will get better. That's likely to happen considering the shooting ability Hamilton gave Longhorn fans a taste of at times as a freshman.
No. 24 Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Taylor (Vanderbilt)
Yet another underclassmen who talked about entering the draft, Jeff Taylor thought better of it and returned to Vandy for his junior year.
Ideally, Taylor's shooting becomes more consistent otherwise teams may shy away from him earlier in the first round. As a sophomore, 13.3 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. With a shooting percentage above 50, Taylor could be a 15 and 8 guy in the SEC.
No. 23 Utah Jazz: Demetri McCamey (Illinois)
The last time a host of NBA teams past over a quality-passing guard from Illinois, they missed out on Deron Williams. Now, Demetri McCamey isn't quite Williams, but he's drastically improved his distribution skills throughout his career with the Illini.
McCamey set a school record with 7.1 assists per game, which was second-best in the nation, and still led Illinois in scoring at 15.1 points a game. Another year of school will add to his maturity and help him become a more consistent shooter.
No. 22 Portland Trail Blazers: Elias Harris (Gonzaga)
In his first season at Gonzaga, Elias Harris displayed his athleticism by hurting teams inside and out.
His basketball background from Germany shows through in his shooting ability, but don't categorize him as your traditional European big. He had plenty of aggressiveness as a freshman with plenty of dunks on defenders and crashing the glass.
No. 21 Oklahoma City Thunder: Greg Smith (Fresno State)
During his freshman season at Fresno State, Greg Smith proved why he's a legit first-round pick. Smith put his 6-10, 249-pound frame to work over powering defenders in the paint and challenging just about anything.
His averages of 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks will only go up with increased playing time for the Bulldogs this season.
No. 20 San Antonio Spurs: Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
BYU's Jimmer Fredette is easily one of the best shooters in the country. If teams can overlook his lack of size (only 6-2), he will be taken in the first round.
Some scouts compare him to Cavs great Mark Price, which is well deserved. As a senior for the Cougars, he averaged more than 22 points a game thanks to a 46 percent mark on field goals. He made 44 percent of the 3-pointers he shot.
No. 19 Boston Celtics: Derrick Williams (Arizona)
At 6-8, Derrick Williams established himself in the Pac-10 as a freshman.
He averaged 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game as one of the most productive freshman in Arizona history. In fact, outside of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, no other freshman helped his team more than Williams.
A big reason why was his aggressiveness at getting to the hoop and finishing plays.
No. 18 Miami Heat: Aaric Murray (LaSalle)
Don't let Aaric Murray being from LaSalle fool you. He's a legit player who was simply a late bloomer.
As a freshman, Murray played about 28 minutes a game, while averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds a game. Given the amount of ground he's made up physically in the past couple of years, GMs are excited about what could be next for this 6-foot-10, 245-pound center.
No. 17 Milwaukee Bucks: Patric Young (Florida)
There aren't many more polished big men in this draft class than Patric Young.
Young, who's headed to Florida, sports a chiseled frame and doesn't hesitate to use it. Despite being only 6-foot-9, Young is a relentless beast in the paint. He's also shown more of his offensive game of late with an improve jump shot.
No. 16 Charlotte Bobcats: Kyle Singler (Duke)
Seasoned college veterans who have proven their worth just don't come around much these days. Kyle Singler of Duke is just that.
Singler surprised some with his decision to return to Duke after the Blue Devils won the national title. He played more than 35 minutes a game, while averaging 17.7 points and 7 rebounds a game.
But just like a lot of traditional Duke players, the concern is that his skill won't transfer to the NBA. Given the amount of college success, similar to the Pacers' Tyler Hansbrough, someone will take Singler in the first round.
No. 15 Chicago Bulls: Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
Terrence Jones spent plenty of time making his decision to attend Kentucky and with that he will likely be part of a trio of Wildcats going in the first round next spring.
Jones, a 6-9 wing player, is starting to round into his game after soaring up the scout rankings with amazing play during last summer. He likes to play facing the basket and that serves him well because he can take defenders off the bounce with his quick first step. His shooting stroke is also a big plus for Kentucky coach John Calipari.
But Calipari may have some work cut out for him in getting Jones to tap into all the energy he has for every play on the floor.
No. 14 Houston Rockets: John Henson (North Carolina)
John Henson lands this high because of GMs' obsession with long, athletic 6-10 players who have an incredibly high ceiling. All of that is true with Henson.
He got pushed around at times during his freshman year at North Carolina, but Henson pushed back, too. He has plenty of speed to run the floor and can snatch just about anything out of the air and slam it home.
Very similar to Purdue's JaJuan Johnson with the need to build his body up with some strength so he can hold his own in the NBA.
No. 13 Toronto Raptors: Donatas Motiejunas (Lithuania)
Donatas Motiejunas is one of only a couple 7-footers in the draft. He is also one of two stars from Lithuania expected to be taken in the top half next spring.
Motiejunas' greatest attribute is his potential. He's shown flashes of brilliance with his ability to drive to the basket and score despite being the tallest man on the floor. He can also body up most guys and give a more physical presence under the hoop.
Of course, some GMs might worry about him not reaching his potential, but that can be said about handfuls of first-round picks every year.
No. 12 Memphis Grizzlies: Mason Plumlee (Duke)
Duke's Mason Plumlee has a great chance to be the highest picked player with two or more years of college experience.
Why? Because at 6-11 Plumlee has proven his versatility. Throughout the NCAA Tournament against some of the country's best talent, he was able to rebound at a high level, attack the rim and be a post presence. In only 14 minutes a game, Plumlee averaged 4 points and 3 rebound a game.
No. 11 New Orleans Hornets: Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania)
Jonas Valanciunas is the better of two Lithuania prospects likely to be in the draft, but not quite the best international pick.
But Valanciunas still possesses an enticing game for a 6-11 player. He's got a great wingspan, can run the floor well and moves with fluidity. As the picture shows, he still needs to put on some weight to become a consistent scorer in the paint.
No. 10 Indiana Pacers: C.J. Leslie (North Carolina State)
C.J. Leslie is very similar to a lot of the players who went high in 2010's draft. He's a long, athletic wing who can do a lot of things well.
Leslie's been known to turn heads with his leaping ability and quickness, which translates into a lethal transition game that fellow ACC teams will learn to hate. At times, Leslie can try to do too much, but college is a good place to fill into the player he knows he can be in the NBA.
No. 9 New York Knicks: Brandon Knight (Kentucky)
Brandon Knight, the 2010 Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year, will help Kentucky continue its first-round dominance in 2011. He is likely to be one of three players taken next spring.
Knight is one of the premier athletes in the entire draft. He's a great guard with ball-handling skills, passing ability and a sweet shot. Just like John Wall last year under John Calipari, Knight's speed will fit right in with the Wildcats' fast break.
No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers: Fab Melo (Syracuse)
A new Melo is arriving at Syracuse for coach Jim Boeheim in the fall. This time it's a 7-footer.
Fab Melo possesses great footwork for a 7-footer and that shows in the rest of his game. He can pass out of double teams, as well as hit a jumper consistently. Of course, with his huge frame he gets his hands on a lot of shots.
There's no doubt in one year under Boeheim, Melo will develop his still raw overall game.
No. 7 Detroit Pistons: Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
Ohio State coach Thad Matta is ecstatic that Jared Sullinger followed his brother J.J. to Columbus.
Jared is a completely different player than J.J. and is likely to be the Buckeyes' next great big man. At 6-9, Sullinger still has great length with a wingspan just short of 7 feet and plays more like a big man from decades ago. He uses his size (290 pounds) to bruise opponents in the paint and won't back down from a challenge under the hoop.
His size does give opponents the opportunity to block his shot, but with experience he will develop crafty ways to score.
No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Selby (Kansas)
The 6-foot-3 guard who projects to be a point in the NBA has a host of traits that will dazzle for Kansas coach Bill Self as a freshman. He's got quality ball handling and can score at will thanks to a strong upper body that allows him to finish at the hoop with contact.
Perhaps the only knock on Selby is his experience running the show. He didn't dominate the ball for his AAU team, which shows he wasn't the best option even on that team.
No. 5 Washington Wizards: Enes Kanter (Kentucky)
Enes Kanter is easily the best center on the board and teams will struggle to keep him there this early in the draft. The 6-11 player dominated the U18 European Championships last year on his way to 18+ points and 16+ rebound averages.
Kanter will also be yet another one-and-done off the board in the early stages of the draft.
No. 4 Golden State Warriors: Kyrie Irving (Duke)
As the third one-and-done player off the board, Kyrie Irving is hands down the best guard in this class.
At 6-2, Irving is built solidly and will bolt from Durham after just one season, something Blue Devil fans aren't used too.
Something Irving will benefit greatly from is the guidance of coach Mike Krzyzewski. He has proven his ability to break down defenses and pour in points, but coach K will help mold Irving into an all-around talent for NBA scouts to get excited about.
No. 3 Sacramento Kings: Jan Vesely (Czech Republic)
Everyone was shocked when Jan Vesely pulled out of the 2010 draft because he was a consensus top 10 pick. He won't be doing that this time around.
At 6-11, Vesely is another guy who can handle the ball and even get out in transition despite his size. His high motor keeps him in just about every play, which is why he works well pushing the ball.
He does struggle a bit with his half-court game because his set shot isn't brilliant, but given all that Vesely does at just under 7 feet, he's going to be tough to pass up early in this draft.
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
No. 2 Minnesota Timberwolves: Perry Jones (Baylor)
Soon-to-be Baylor freshman Perry Jones will help the one-and-done movement in the spring of 2011.
Jones' wingspan (more than 7 feet) gives him incredible length as a wing player who possesses great foot speed, ball handling and lateral quickness. He can shoot, too. The only weakness in Jones' game is he likes to do it all and people know there will be better players than him at the next level.
But considering all the upside, that's a good problem to have with the 6-11 player.
No. 1 New Jersey Nets: Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)
Chapel Hill can't wait to welcome the 6-8 freshman to campus. Harrison Barnes will cure a lot of the Tar Heels problems, but for only a year.
The high-flying McDonalds All-American will no doubt be the top of the class in one filled with more than a handful of one-and-done freshman.
Barnes and his 7-foot wingspan give him the length of get to the hoop and his shooting touch baffles opponents. Barnes will make a huge splash in the ACC and continue his young career as the No. 1 pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.