NBA Mock Draft 2011: Team Needs Fit with College Basketball Studs, No. 1-14
Welcome all, as it's now 2011 NBA mock draft time, with both the college basketball and NBA regular seasons in full swing.
Thus far, there have been many surprises within the amateur ranks, causing preseason prospect rankings to be considerably shaken up.
Nevertheless, as the season progresses it will continue to become more and more apparent as to who is for real and who is not.
Furthermore, as we go on into the NBA season, teams' needs will keep on being exposed and a semi-fluid draft order will be established.
Consequently, the following is picks No. 1-14 of an early 2011 mock draft, matching up the promising college basketball and amateur prospects with their potential NBA suitors, based upon team needs and league standings as of Monday, December 13.
You can find picks No. 15-30 here.
(This mock draft was formulated under the premise that a new NBA collective bargaining agreement had been reached and a lockout had been avoided.)
No. 1, Los Angeles Clippers: Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
Kyrie Irving has been a dominant force for the No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils, putting up 17.4 points (team high), 4.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Furthermore, the 18-year-old freshman has been scoring at a blistering rate, shooting 53.2 percent from the field, 45.2 percent from three and 89.6 percent from the line.
So with his ability to do it all from the lead guard position, Irving could absolutely help to turn around an NBA team, while making a run at 2011 Rookie of the Year.
His recent toe injury and 6'2", 180-pound frame may concern some squads, but that's no reason why the Los Angeles Clippers should avoid this type of talent.
Furthermore, with Baron Davis appearing to be on his way out, 2010 rookie Eric Bledsoe would likely be his only competition at the point.
And a young and talented core of Irving, Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin should be too much for Clippers management to pass up, as it would finally give fans a legitimate hope for the future.
No. 2, Sacramento Kings: Perry Jones, F, Baylor
Perry Jones is a 6'11", 220-pound freak.
The freshman forward is having a rather impressive year at No. 9 Baylor, getting it done from everywhere except the free throw line.
But it's really his length, athleticism and, subsequently, his potential which really has NBA scouts drooling.
And with the Sacramento Kings roster only really set at one position—shooting guard Tyreke Evans—Jones could step in and contribute from day one.
No. 3, Minnesota Timberwolves: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Since being honored as the first freshman to be named an AP Preseason All-American, Harrison Barnes has done little to prove that he is worthy of that accolade.
Consequently, he has dropped from the top stop in many early mock drafts, although he is still rather highly regarded by scouts.
The 6'8", 210-pound 18 year old may still put it all together yet in 2010-11, as his 35 percent field goal shooting may illustrate that he is either just still adjusting to the college game or simply just going through a cold stretch.
Nevertheless, Barnes does have the tools to become a good NBA player, as he has size, athleticism, a strong work ethic and solid fundamentals.
Therefore, with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves would probably be overjoyed to have him fall into their laps.
And although the T-Wolves already have Wes Johnson and Corey Brewer at the wing, along with a more pressing team need at point guard, Barnes is too good to pass up at three.
No. 4, New Jersey Nets: Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky
Terrence Jones has been a force for the No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats so far this season.
The freshman forward has done it all, averaging a double-double, while also showing ability to defend and hit the three-ball.
As a result of his strong play, the 6'8", 244-pounder has shot up draft boards and gained the attention of NBA scouts league-wide.
And although his shooting mechanics are a bit off, his versatility and ability to score in a variety of ways should be enough to attract the attention of the New Jersey Nets.
Currently the Nets are locked in with Devin Harris at the point and Brook Lopez at center, so Williams could fit in smoothly at small forward, while also sharing time with 2010 No. 2 overall pick Derrick Favors at the other forward position.
This would give the team a solid young core to build upon and a very bright future.
No. 5, Washington Wizards: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Jared Sullinger's play has been instrumental to the Ohio State Buckeyes' strong start and No. 2 ranking in in 2010-11.
The 6'9", 280-pound freshman leads his team in both scoring (18) and rebounding (9.2), while shooting an impressive 59.5 percent from the field.
Additionally, he utilizes a traditional low-post style offense, with a powerful body, a solid arsenal of post moves and decent touch from close-to-mid range.
However, his size and power come with some drawbacks, namely agility and explosiveness.
Consequently he struggles on defense against quicker players and isn't much of a shot blocker.
But regardless of his shortcomings, Sullinger's effectiveness on offense and the glass cause him to be a solid enough prospect to be considered at the Washington Wizards' No. 5 pick.
With the Wizards, his raw-power game could nicely complement the unpolished, athletic style of JaVale McGee and the shooting, driving, athletic offense of Andray Blatche.
No. 6, Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
Brandon Knight has had a pretty solid season to far for the Kentucky Wildcats, averaging 17.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
However has struggled with his point guard play, turning the ball over four times a game and shooting only 43.4 percent from the field.
But being a freshman point, some early struggles aren't out of the ordinary.
The 6'3", 185-pound Knight has extraordinary quickness and a great jump shot, but his problems have primarily stemmed from trying to force both shots and passes.
If the former high school player of the year is able to work out those kinks, then the Detroit Pistons would certainly consider him at the No. 6 spot in the draft.
With out a pure point guard, Detroit would give him an opportunity to possibly start alongside either Rodney Stuckey of Ben Gordon, with the odd man out serving as the team's sixth man.
And with a legitimate point guard, the team should finally be able to recover from their trading of former point Chauncey Billups.
No. 7, Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
Jonas Valanciunas is a young center prospect who gained international attention when, while playing for the Lithuanian nation team at the U16 and U18 European Championships, he brought home two gold medals and two MVP trophies.
His offense consists primarily of an interior style—in stark contrast to many European big men—and he has good hands and touch, decent athleticism, solid shot-blocking and an effective short-range jumper.
His biggest knock is a lack of strength, but at 18 years old, his 6'11", 240-pound, broad-shouldered frame still has time to grow.
Consequently his upside is off the charts, so a pick at No. 7 by the Cleveland Cavaliers is a realistic possibility.
Furthermore, given that the Cavs are in rebuilding mode, and that the only sure-things on their roster are point Mo Williams, forward-center Anderson Varejao and maybe even power forward J.J. Hickson, a young, potential-laden center like Valanciunas is certainly a solid building block for the team's future.
No. 8, Golden State Warriors: Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
Derrick Williams has definitely come into his own during his sophomore campaign, performing as the most efficient player in the country.
Thus far, the 6'8", 240-pound forward has put up a stat line of 19.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and about a steal, block and assist per game.
However, what's been truly impressive have been his shooting percentages, as he's shot 65.3 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from beyond the arc.
And a player with this type of offensive prowess would certainly fit in with the offensively oriented Golden State Warriors at the No. 8 spot.
Moreover, he would fit in nicely at either forward slot, either moving Dorrell Wright to the bench or backing up David Lee at the four.
No. 9, Philadelphia 76ers: Enes Kanter, F-C, Kentucky
Enes Kanter was last seen obliterating international competition, before the NCAA ruled the Turkish Kentucky-commit ineligible.
So now, the 6'11", 260-pound 18 year old is left sitting out from any type of competition.
And while this certainly hurts his draft stock, he has way too much talent and upside to slip very far.
He is a nearly complete player, with strength, a feel for the game, good touch, a decent jumper and he's only lacking elite athleticism and a completely clean bill of health (previously suffered some knee injuries).
However, he should still be selected in the lottery, and the Philadelphia 76ers would likely scoop him up if he falls to them at No. 9.
With the Sixers, Kanter could help out at center, since neither Spencer Hawes nor Marreese Speights have really panned out thus far.
Additionally, he could be used as a potential replacement for Elton Brand, who Philadelphia is reported looking to trade.
No. 10, Charlotte Bobcats: Donatas Motiejunas, F-C, Lithuania
As the second Lithuanian taken in this mock, Donatas Motiejunas is definitely the more polished product.
Had he entered the draft in 2010, he may have been a lottery selection, but instead he returned to Europe and is currently excelling in the Italian league.
A 7'0", 220-pound forward-center, Motiejunas is a decent shot blocker and can use his length and athleticism to score in a variety of ways, whether it be in the post, from the mid-range, the perimeter or attacking the basket.
However, his lack of strength and occasional lapse in effort have hurt his overall game, causing his rebounding to suffer.
But at No. 10, he would fit very well with that Charlotte Bobcats.
Here Motiejunas could line up at either the four or five, and with Gerald Wallace grabbing boards, his rebounding deficiency could be easily covered up.
No. 11, Toronto Raptors: Jan Vesely, F, Czech Republic
Jan Vesely is another European prospect who nearly entered the 2010 NBA Draft, instead choosing to return to Europe and hone his game.
At the this point, Vesely is a pretty solid offensive player, who has shown the ability to both shoot and attack the basket.
Furthermore, his 6'11", 240-pound frame and decent athleticism have allowed him to develop into a decent shot-blocker.
However, he possesses little-to-no post game, and a lack of strength which occasionally allows bigger players to push him around.
Nevertheless, Vesely would be a great selection at No. 11 for the Toronto Raptors, where he would provide some much-needed frontcourt scoring from a source other than Andrei Bargnani.
No. 12, Houston Rockets: Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia
After leading the USA U19 in scoring over the summer, Trey Thompkins has witnessed his production at Georgia dip slightly.
However, with his size (6'9", 247 pounds) and inside-outside offensive game, Thompkins is a can't-miss prospect.
And even though he is somewhat limited athletically, the junior can still grab a high volume of rebounds and block a few shots.
Consequently, the Houston Rockets should definitely consider the 20 year old with their No. 12 overall pick.
Houston needs all the help it can get inside, with Yao Ming always seeming to miss time due to injury, so Thompkins would likely be able to step in alongside Luis Scola, stealing time away from the aging Brad Miller, the undersized Chuck Hayes and the unproven Jordan Hill.
No. 13, Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson, PF, North Carolina
John Henson is an elite-level athlete. Yet as of right now, he's not an elite-level basketball player.
However, his potential is undeniable, and when one considers the strides he has made since his freshman season at North Carolina, it's clear that the sky is the limit for the sophomore forward.
At 6'10", 210 pounds, Henson is both long and an extraordinarily athletic, allowing him to block shots, defend and grab boards with the best of them.
So if he is able to gain some strength and further develop on offense, he could become a dominant force.
Consequently, Henson would be a quality pick at No. 13 for the Milwaukee Bucks, as he could immediately contribute on the defensive end at the four, and possibly even have a chance to back up Andrew Bogut at the five.
No. 14, Memphis Grizzlies: C.J. Leslie, F, N.C. State
C.J. Leslie hasn't put up outstanding numbers for the N.C. State Wolfpack so far in 2010-11, but his upside is undeniable.
A physical specimen, the 6'9", 205-pound forward has unbelievable speed, quickness and explosiveness, allowing him to block shots at an outstanding clip and perform as a lock-down defender.
Furthermore, Leslie is a solid ball-handler, although his offensive game is rather raw.
His shot is nothing special at this point and he relies too much upon his athleticism for scoring, but as a freshman, he has plenty of room for improvement.
At No. 14, Leslie would provide the Memphis Grizzlies with a solid interior defender off the bench, with the potential to eventually develop into a star.