2011 NBA Mock Draft: Is Kyrie Irving the New No. 1 Pick?
The 2011 NBA Draft is still months away (we haven't even had the opportunity to watch the Clippers win the lottery yet), but the mock boards are already up and running with projections, big boards and players to look out for.
Already it seems that this draft will be heavy in two things: freshmen and forwards. One-and-dones will probably dominate the lottery once again, with players like Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving at the top of the list. Enis Kanter is near the top of the list and there's a chance he might not play at all this season.
Kanter's leading the list of big men, a group that also includes Jared Sollinger, Mason Plumlee, Kyle Singler and Tristan Thompson.
Without going into specifics about which team will draft who, here's how the first round will play out in terms of order.
30. Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State
It's hard not to look past that ability.
Faried might hail from the school better known for producing Hall of Fame quarterback Phil Simms, but he just might be the second-biggest star to come out of Morehead State. He's averaging a double-double (18.5 ppg, 14.0 rpg) and throwing in almost three steals a game and two blocks per game to boot.
He has the potential to be a strong force down low.
29. Bojan Bogdanovic, SF, Serbia
Bogdanovic is a pure shooter, plain and simple. His range is fantastic and can hit shots from almost anywhere on the floor. He showed, at least in that clip, that he can create shots off the dribble and get to the basket, which makes him different from a catch-and-shoot player like J.J. Redick.
If he's around in the late first round, expect him to be gobbled up by San Antonio, who loves and thrives on developing European prospects.
28. Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas
Thompson's been impressive in his one season at Texas. The Canadian big man is averaging double digits in points and close to a double-double, plus more than two blocks per game.
The only drawback with him watching his highlights so far is that he's very similar to Dwight Howard in that he hasn't developed a perimeter game yet. Most of his highlights are him driving to the basket, like a small forward or guard.
27. Alec Burks, SG, Colorado
He's a scorer, pure and simple. He drives to create a shot, whether that's pulling up for a jumper or slashing to the hole for a finish. He has the range to knock down a mid-range shot and he also knows how to attack the defense off the dribble.
Burks is averaging almost 20 points a game in Colorado but a lot of his numbers are down, including shooting 27 percent from long range. It's a cause for concern.
26. Aaric Murray, C, La Salle
Big, tall, athletic and a high-flyer. If he was playing for a bigger school than La Salle, you'd probably be hearing more about him. As it is, he's put up some impressive numbers playing in North Philly.
He's averaging almost a double-double, but perhaps the two most impressive stats are his 3.3 blocks per game and his 40 percent shooting percentage...from three. He can shoot, which makes him extremely valuable as a big man.
25. Kyle Singler, SF, Duke
Singler is an interesting case. In the mock drafts I've looked at, I've seen him either be an end-of-the-first-round pick or a lottery pick in the low teens. He's a good player, but I don't see him as a lottery pick, so he'll fit in here.
He's a good shooter who's versatile and can play four of the five positions on the floor, though with his frame he's best suited as a 2 or a 3 in the NBA. Of course, there is kind of a gamble with Duke kids, but he should be a good pro.
24. Elias Harris, SF, Gonzaga
One year ago and entering this season, Harris was a very attractive first-round pick as a big wingman who can work down low and be a strong rebounder.
But as the Zags have struggled out of the gate, so has Harris. He's averaging less than 10 points per game and most of his other important stats are down as well.
He's still a solid prospect and someone will take a chance on him, but he's slipping.
23. Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
For his size (6'7", 210), Taylor is definitely one heck of an athlete. He moves very well up and down the floor and has hang time on some of these dunks.
He's an Andre Iguodala-type of player, in that he is very good at attacking the basket and being able to drive and penetrate. But Iguodala never developed a consistent jumpshot, and Taylor will have to do that if he wants to become a franchise player.
But he's very fun to watch.
22. Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State
When you watch Singleton's athletic ability, it's hard not to think of Darius Miles and what he was supposed to be. Singleton can be that kind of an electric player, though Singleton is a little more polished on the perimeter than Miles was, and a better shooter.
But the ability to score in transition and jump right out of the gym is almost a carbon copy.
21. Malcolm Lee, SG, UCLA
Lee is cut in the mold of two pretty recent UCLA point guards, Darren Collison and Jrue Holiday, in that he might be more of a scorer who looks to create first and then pass than be a pure distributing point guard.
There have been some who might think he's better as a shooting guard at the next level, but Holiday has seemed to found his way as a point guard. Lee will have to improve shooting the ball, however.
20. Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas
Hamilton is nothing short of a freak, and I mean that in a good way. He does everything. He can drive, dribble and shoot. His range is very strong for an athlete of his size, and he can rebound and pass. He can do anything.
Ford brought up that his shot selection can be questionable and he can be selfish. But I'm guessing teams will be willing to look past that for a kid who's averaging 20 points and shooting better than 40 percent on three-pointers.
19. Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA
It's not game film, but Honeycutt jumping over six people to make a dunk is still pretty impressive to show off the kind of athlete he is.
The rest of his game is pretty solid, too. He's a good passer, averaging 16 and eight per game at UCLA, and he makes good decisions with the basketball.
Whether he can create consistently off the dribble is still to be seen, but there's a lot to like.
18. Patric Young, C, Florida
Young is a pure upside and potential pick. The offensive game is raw and needs to be developed, and he doesn't get the playing time needs to be have big role in the offense.
But he's proven to be a strong rebounder, a strong shot-blocker and a big presence defensively down low, whether that's at the center or the power forward position.
17. Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse
Joseph is one of the better finishers in the draft, if not one of the most exciting. He gets to the basket with relative ease and makes sure to finish strong.
His big frame can help fend off defenders while moving towards the basket, and his leaping ability makes him extremely dangerous and hard to stop down low.
He can also add the occasional mid-range jumper and his three-point percentage is improving, though it's still under 30 percent.
16. Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia
Thompkins is a big, lean body that might be more suited for a SF-PF hybrid spot because of the way he plays, but has been effective as a power forward. His numbers are down a little this year from last, especially his three-point percentage (yes, he has the range to shoot threes) but he's still a solid player.
He's not a great athlete, which might make him better for the 4, but his ability for an outside game can make him a good 3 as well.
15. Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
It seems like it wouldn't be a draft without at least one top-flight John Calipari point guard.
Although his numbers are similar to John Wall, Knight is a little different. Knight's more of a scorer than Wall, who scored and was a distributor. Wall averaged about three more assists per game than Knight is right now.
But Knight is a better shooter, especially from long range, although scouts such as Chad Ford say his outside shot is very streaky.
14. Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
Like Singler, he's more of a Duke-type of player than a classic power forward because of his driving ability and the outside game that he shows. He's still a big body who can move and is strong down low as a shot blocker and rebounder on the defensive end.
His post game on the offensive side is still raw, mostly because he wasn't a huge part of the offensive game plan. His points per game are above double-digits this year.
13. Josh Selby, G, Kansas
Selby is officially listed as a point guard, although like a few others in the draft, is more of a scorer than a distributor. Yet he has the ability to beat you many different ways. He can get to the hole and slash for easy buckets, or he can step outside and knock down a jump shot.
He's extremely talented. He has also yet to suit up for Kansas, due to an NCAA violation that will keep him out until later this month.
12. Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona
Williams is one of the names who is shooting up the draft boards as the season goes on.
He might be a shooting guard-small forward combination that can be interchangeable, but wherever he is on the floor, he's scoring.
All of his key numbers are up, including an outstanding 81 percent from behind the arc. He can hit the outside jumper and has the ability to use his athleticism and length to get around defenders and drive. He's doing it all.
And doing it in fewer minutes, as well.
11. Kemba Walker, PG, UConn
In his three years at Connecticut, Walker was a guy you probably saw on the floor and recognized, but didn't know how good he was.
After his performance in Maui, I think people know now.
Walker lit up the Maui Invitational and has been lighting up the nation for the Huskies. His close to 30 ppg is double what he averaged last year, and he has been climbing up the draft boards all the while. He's improving as a shooter, though he's still streaky.
He's not an Allen Iverson, but he's that type of scorer from the point.
10. Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania
Motiejunas is the classic European big man. He's tall, has finesse and is mobile. He can move down the floor and open things up for his teammates, has the ability to score from the post or step out and hit a jumper, and can move down the floor.
He may be a project, but he's a solid scorer and all-around player that a young team looking for a post presence can fit in.
9. John Henson, PF, North Carolina
He has a bigger role this season than he did as a freshman, but perhaps a pick of Henson, which many mock drafts have as a top pick, is more about upside than about current production.
He's averaging a double-double, though his offensive attributes are still very raw. Like a lot of the power forwards in the draft, he's athletic, which would be a big help to a team looking to run. He's good down low, but he needs to develop outside the paint.
8. Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic
Think of Vesely as an Andrea Bargnani-type in the sense of a big man who can shoot, has range and can run the floor pretty well. There's not a lot of film on him, but there's a lot to like about Vesely. Big, mobile and a shooter.
He might not come over to the U.S. this year after the draft, but there's a lot of upside about the forward.
7. Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
He might be small as a power forward, but his wingspan and his reach say otherwise. Sullinger is a solid low-post player already who can score with his back to the basket and can face up as well.
The offense will come, but the low-post presence on defense is already there. He's a solid rebounder and a defensive presence in the low post. Another one-and-done who has big upside.
6. Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
Unlike some of the other big men from Europe on the draft board, Valanciunas makes a living off the post and down low. He's a dominant player in Europe and especially in the U-18 championships, when he went off against France.
He doesn't have a perimeter game but he's mobile, moves well and gets down the floor. He's also developing as a rebounder and a shot blocker.
5. Enes Kanter, C, Kentucky
Like Selby, he has yet to play a game for his school. Kanter may be kept out the entire year because of his eligibility.
He's a big man who can step out and hit a shot off the block and on the outside. The lack of playing time hasn't scared off anyone, however, as he's still a lottery pick in mock drafts.
4. Kyrie Irving, PG/SG, Duke
Irving might be the closest thing to a John Wall point guard in the draft. A guard who can play both guard positions and can score, but is also a distributor.
He's averaging 17 points and five assists a night, but what makes him special is the dangerous ability he has on offense. He can pass, drive and shoot to the tune of better than 45 percent from three.
He has the potential to be a star.
3. Terrence Jones, SF, Kentucky
A dynamic talent. Jones can do almost anything on the floor and that's why he's rocketed up the draft boards. He can penetrate, score inside and shoot, especially from outside (one of the negatives from ESPN's Chad Ford is that he shoots too much from three sometimes).
He's a big body, a solid passer and versatile. A great pickup in the top five.
2. Perry Jones, PF, Baylor
Perhaps has the most potential because of his size and body build. He's built at 6'11", 220 lbs., and can move extremely fast for his build.
He's a dangerous offensive threat and an aggressive player who can run the floor. He hasn't put up the numbers a physical specimen like him would be expected to, but he's got all the tools to be a great player.
1. Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Barnes was probably the best player in the country heading into this season out of high school and there was little to suggest otherwise. But as the Tar Heels have struggled, so has Barnes, and Ford was quick to point out in his latest big board that perhaps Barnes wasn't the best player in the draft anymore.
He still has all the physical tools on offense, and the ability to score from anywhere should carry over to the NBA. He's the No. 1 pick for now, but you have to wonder for how long.