NBA Mock Draft 2011: Team Needs Fit with College Basketball Studs, No. 15-30
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. 15-30 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 the first 14 picks of this mock draft 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. 15, Phoenix Suns: Josh Selby, G, Kansas
After the much-hyped guard prospect committed to Kansas, Josh Selby has shown us little else.
Prior to ever suiting up in a Jayhawks uniform, the 6'2", 183-pound freshman was suspended nine games by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits and fined a few thousand dollars.
However, with a return date of December 18th, Selby will soon be able to make up the ground that he has already lost as an NBA prospect.
The young guard is a fantastic scorer, capable of both hitting jumpers with range past the three and attacking the basket with his blistering speed and an eye-popping ability to get off the floor.
Furthermore, he uses this exceptional athletic ability to be a solid defensive player.
His biggest shortcoming is the fact that, with his point guard size, he plays like more of a combo guard.
Yet if the 19 year old shows solid decision-making abilities from the point this season, the Phoenix Suns would be quick to select him at No. 15.
Here he would compete for time at both guard positions, and whenever the 36-year-old Steve Nash decides to move on from basketball, Selby could step in as the point guard of the future.
No. 16, Indiana Pacers: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
The interior play of Mason Plumlee has been instrumental to his Duke Blue Devils' No. 1 overall ranking this season.
Displaying both impressive athleticism and a solid, all-around game, the 6'10", 230 pound sophomore has certainly stepped up to fill the void left inside for Duke after both Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas graduated last season.
Leading the team in both rebounding and blocked shots, the 20 year old has also displayed an ability to score from the post and mid-range.
However, his offensive game could still use some polish and it wouldn't hurt for him to gain a bit more strength.
But if Plumlee is available at No. 16, expect the Indiana Pacers to scoop him right up.
With the Pacers, he would battle Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough for time at the four, while also being given an opportunity to back up center Roy Hibbert, who frequently finds himself in foul trouble.
No. 17, Portland Trail Blazers: Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas
In the 2010-11 season, Marcus Morris has continued his strong play for the No. 3 ranked Kansas Jayhawks.
Currently the 6'9", 225-pounder is using his solid post game, slashing abilities and impressive shot (added a three-point shot this year) to lead the team in scoring at 16.9 points per game while shooting 64 percent from the field.
And this well-developed and diverse offensive arsenal is precisely what has Morris on many NBA teams' radars for the draft.
The only real knocks on the junior forward are that he is not an out-of-this-world athlete and that, at 21 years old, his upside is limited.
Nevertheless, the Portland Trail Blazers would be intrigued by the possibility of Morris at No. 17.
He would have an opportunity to contribute right away, backing up LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward, or even being given an opportunity to start at the four should something happen to aging center Marcus Camby and Aldridge had to fill in for him.
No. 18, Portland Trailblazers (via New Orleans Hornets): Kemba Walker, PG, UConn
Without a doubt, Kemba Walker and his Connecticut Huskies have been the surprise of the 2010-11 college basketball season.
Among the leaders in the nation in scoring at 28.1 points per game, the 20 year old junior has carried his team to the No. 4 ranking in the country.
Additionally, he has used his explosive quickness to attack the basket and kick the ball out to open teammates.
And with Walker's improved jumper, he is virtually unstoppable on the offensive end.
The only concerns with the 6'1", 172 pound point guard are that he is on a bit on the small side and that his score first mentality might limit his success in running a team at the professional level.
But should he fall to the No. 18 spot in the draft, the Portland Trail Blazers would be more than happy to select him.
And with point guard Andre Miller aging, their trade of Jerryd Bayless and both Armon Johnson and Patty Mills unproven, Walker would be granted with the opportunity to compete for a backup spot as a point of the future for the Blazers.
No. 19, Denver Nuggets: Tyler Honeycutt, G-F, UCLA
In his sophomore season, UCLA wing Tyler Honeycutt has shown vast improvement since his injury-riddled freshman campaign.
The 6'8", 188 pounder has put his outstanding size, athleticism and length on full display, with impressive scoring (from inside and out), rebounding and defending.
However, he has a bit of trouble handling the ball, so he often needs help creating his shot and has turned the ball over too much.
And although the 20 year old could stand to put on some more weight, the Denver Nuggets would be happy to select him with the No. 19 pick.
With it looking like both Carmelo Anthony's and J.R. Smith's days are numbered with the Nuggets, Honeycutt would be given an excellent opportunity to step in right away at either the two or the three for a rebuilding squad.
No. 20, New York Knicks: Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State
Kenneth Faried returned to Morehead St. for his senior campaign and once again continued to display dominant athleticism inside.
Leading the nation in rebounding at 13.7 boards per contest, the long, explosive forward-center has also managed averages of 19 points, 2.0 blocks, 2.6 steals and a field goal percentage of 66.4.
And although his offensive game is somewhat raw and reliant upon athleticism, the 21 year old has put on impressive performances against some of the country's best teams and players, vastly outplaying both Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Florida's Chandler Parsons.
And while his 6'8", 228 pound frame will limit his effectiveness playing inside at the pro level, the New York Knicks could definitely use him at No. 20.
Faried would then be able to step in and contribute immediately for the Knicks, who are desperately in need of rebounding and defense inside at both the four and five spots.
No. 21, Atlanta Hawks: Jordan Hamilton, G-F, Texas
In his sophomore campaign, Jordan Hamilton has displayed significant improvement for the No. 22 ranked Texas Longhorns.
Averaging 18.9 points per game, the 20 year old wing has been a proficient scorer with a deadly jumper.
Furthermore, at 6'7", 220 pounds, Hamilton has great size and strength for his position, helping him on the boards and on D.
However, he lacks quickness and has a rather questionable shot selection, flaws which may substantially hinder his success in the NBA.
Nevertheless, his lights out scoring should attract the Atlanta Hawks at the No. 21 spot.
As a Hawk, Hamilton would challenge Marvin Williams for playing time at the three, or if the team loses free-agent-to-be Jamal Crawford, he could step in as a scoring sixth man.
No. 22, Chicago Bulls: Alec Burks, SG, Colorado
This season Alec Burks is continuing to showcase his impressive play for the Colorado Buffaloes.
The sophomore shooting guard is an elite-level athlete who can attack the rim with the best of them, while also displaying a decent jumper.
However, at 6'6", 185 pounds, he lacks the strength needed to dominate while slashing and defending.
And while the 19 year old, 20.5 points per game scorer has experienced some inconsistency with his jumper, his potential should draw the attention of the Chicago Bulls at No. 22.
Here, Burks would be able to compete for time at the two with Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer.
No. 23, Orlando Magic: Kyle Singler, F, Duke
After flirting with entering the 2010 NBA Draft, Kyle Singler returned to the defending National Champion Duke Blue Devils and has helped to propel them to a No. 1 ranking.
So far it has been much of the same from the 6'9", 235 pound forward, as he's been doing pretty much everything on offense.
And while his limited athleticism continues to hold him back to some extent, his size, length and shooting help to make up for his shortcomings.
Consequently, if he were available at No. 23, the Orlando Magic would likely not hesitate to select the 22 year old.
With Orlando, he would fit in nicely with the offense, as his frontcourt shooting would be valuable alongside center Dwight Howard.
Furthermore, with Rashard Lewis' output plummeting over the past few years, Singler could serve as his replacement, while also challenging Ryan Anderson for playing time.
No. 24, Oklahoma City Thunder: Chris Singleton, F, Florida State
Chris Singleton's play has been essential to Florida State so far this season, as he leads the team in points, rebounds, steals and blocks.
Relying heavily upon his length and jaw-dropping athleticism, the 6'9", 225 pound forward has been a lockdown defender and undoubtedly one of the nation's best.
Furthermore, he has parlayed his strengths into becoming a rather efficient rebounder.
And while the 21 year old has shown the ability to knock down jumpers from both the mid-range and three, his shot has been wildly inconsistent.
Nevertheless, the steady improvement by the junior, coupled with his phenomenal physical gifts and extraordinary upside, have him on many teams' radars for the 2011 Draft.
Consequently, the Oklahoma City Thunder would be wise to pick him at No. 23 should he be available.
As a member of the Thunder, Singleton would prove to be a great change of pace backup at either forward position behind Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, helping to improve the team's already impressive athleticism.
No. 25, Utah Jazz: Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse
Kris Joseph has steadily improved throughout his three seasons with the Syracuse Orange.
As an ultra-athletic forward, the 6'7", 207 pound junior has proven to be a reliable defender and strong finisher for the No. 5 team in the nation.
His offensive game is still a bit unpolished, but the 21 year old's progression thus far illustrates that he has the potential to develop.
And if his inconsistent shooting mechanics begin to work to work their way out, then the small forward would be a steal at the Utah Jazz's No. 25 spot.
With the Jazz, Joseph could challenge for playing time at the two and the three, and he would undoubtedly benefit from playing with a point guard of Deron Williams' caliber.
No. 26: Toronto Raptors (via Miami Heat): Kawhi Leonard, F, San Diego St.
Sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard has earned national acclaim this season, leading his San Diego State Aztecs to a No. 11 ranking.
Averaging 16.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game, Leonard has significantly improved his offense and added a solid three point shot to his arsenal.
The 6'7", 225 pounder still relies upon his length and athleticism in the paint to score points and grab boards, but his improving jumper and perimeter skills give him the potential to eventually shed the tweener label.
And should be available at No. 26, the 19 year old would be a great fit for the Toronto Raptors.
Leonard would be able to provide interior relief to center Andrei Bargnani, helping to fill the interior scoring void and serving as a much needed rebounding threat.
Consequently, he would have a chance to earn some time at both forward positions, battling Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, Linas Kleiza and Reggie Evans for time.
No. 27, Los Angeles Lakers: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
After thoroughly dominating the competition in the U18 Tournament of the Americas, Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira has been thrust into the spotlight.
An 18 year old, 7'0", 225 pound prospect, Nogueira possesses an unbelievable combination of size, length and athleticism.
However, he is still extremely raw, and he relies heavily upon his physical gifts to score and defend.
Currently playing in a low level Spanish league, the young center absolutely could use some time to develop strength and an effective offensive repertoire before entering the NBA.
Nevertheless, his shot blocking and rebounding are for real, and his potential upside is huge.
And with a selection at No. 27, the Los Angeles Lakers would probably store Nogueira away abroad for a few years before calling upon him when they have a greater need for his services.
No. 28, Dallas Mavericks: Demetri McCamey, PG, Illinois
Demetri McCamey's stellar play is finally showing some results, as his Illinois Fighting Illini have earned the No. 11 ranking in the nation.
The 21 year old senior is putting up another impressive showing from the lead guard position, with averages of 15.8 points (51.7 percent shooting), 7.3 assists (to 2.5 turnovers), 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
Furthermore, McCamey has added a deadly three point shot to his offense, making 2.3 per game at a 52.1 percent clip.
At 6'3", 203 pounds, the point guard has great size, but his athleticism still leaves something to be desired.
Nevertheless, his all around stellar play should warrant him a selection from a team like the Dallas Mavericks at No. 28 overall.
With the Mavs, McCamey could take on the role of 37 year old Jason Kidd's successor, while slowly being worked into the team's rotation.
No. 29, Boston Celtics: Tristan Thompson, F, Texas
Freshman Tristan Thompson has been a solid contributor to the No. 22 ranked Texas Longhorns so far this season.
With his phenomenal length and athleticism, the 19 year old power forward has become a defensive force (2.3 blocks, 1.3 steals per game) while also rebounding the ball at a reasonable clip.
The 6'9", 225 pounder is still raw and inconsistent on the offensive end, and he has no three point shot whatsoever.
However, his upside is great, so teams would certainly be willing to take a risk on this long, athletic forward.
At No. 29, the Boston Celtics are one of those teams, and they could definitely afford to select Thompson.
With the Celtics, he probably wouldn't be given much of an opportunity to play right away, but practicing with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal would absolutely accelerate his development.
And if he is able to crack the rotation, he would provide a nice, athletic compliment to the smooth, backup play of Glen Davis.
No. 30, San Antonio Spurs: Keith Benson, C, Oakland
In 2010-11, Keith Benson has picked up where he left off the previous season for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, putting up 18.1 points (51.2 percent shooting), 11.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 3.4 blocks and 0.9 steals per game.
The center relies heavily upon his outstanding size, length and athleticism to get it done on the court, but since he plays for a mid major, he's not challenged as regularly as many other prospects.
Furthermore, his wiry 6'11", 225 pound frame demonstrates a severe lack of strength—a flaw which could prevent him from succeeding at the next level.
But although he is 22 years old, Benson still has a good deal of upside should he add some muscle, and he would fit well in a situation similar to that of the San Antonio Spurs who have the No. 30 pick in the Draft.
With the Spurs, he wouldn't need to play immediately, rather he would be given time to develop behind aging forward-centers Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess.
And whenever he is ready, he could become an integral part of the San Antonio frontcourt along with DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter.