Does Sullinger have a shot at being the top pick?
The lottery very likely isn’t going to be what it is now when the real show takes center stage next June. Some of the guys on this list will have seen their stock plummet, will have been injured, or might even take their names out of the hat before the 2011 NBA Draft.
With that said, it’s never too early to get a list of 30 guys who have a realistic chance (if they so choose) to be drafted by an NBA team come June 2011. Things are guaranteed to change, but as of now, this is where these young fellas and their proposed future NBA team stand:
1. Los Angeles Clippers–Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
They might have the point guard of the future in Eric Bledsoe, and appear to be set everywhere else but possibly small forward. With no point guards currently screaming “No. 1 pick,” the athletic and versatile Barnes looks to be the top pick.
2. Sacramento Kings–Perry Jones, SF, Baylor
Still very raw, but quite arguably the top talent that could enter the 2011 NBA Draft. Perry has excellent height and length for a wing, and could give the Kings another impact player to pair with Tyreke Evans.
3. New Jersey Nets–Donatas Moetijunas, PF, Lithuania
Has the fluidity and skill-set to excel at the next level with an inside/outside game. Has exceptional talent and potential, but needs to develop his skills on a higher level and be more disciplined. With Troy Murphy likely headed out of New Jersey, the Nets could use another big man with range and potential to pair with Derrick Favors and Brook Lopez.
Who should be the top pick?
4. Minnesota Timberwolves-Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Minnesota has their top guy in Kevin Love, but there’s no telling what will happen with Darko Milicic. Drafting an inside muscle man like Sullinger could allow Love to move to center, or vice versa. Regardless, the inside help coming off the bench in 2011 surely couldn’t hurt, while letting the rest work itself out down the road.
5. Washington Wizards–Terrence Jones, SF, Kentucky
Kentucky is loaded with talent, and Jones is just one of the many that could go in the first round. Washington is set at the point and might be okay at guard if Nick Young keeps progressing. However, small forward presents quite a log jam of talented, but stifling talent. If the Wizards want to move on from Al Thornton and Josh Howard, landing Jones could be the appropriate first step.
6. Detroit Pistons–Derrick Williams, PF, Arizona
Williams is a tad undersized, but size has never stopped the Pistons before (Jason Maxiell). Ben Wallace is aging and the rest of the inside talent is sub-par for the most part, so adding a potentially huge difference maker is a must. Williams fits the bill.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers–Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
The LeBron James era is over, which means it’s time to officially move on. Handing the keys to Cleveland to the electric Knight could put the wheels in motion towards starting over and getting competitive again. Mo Williams certainly isn’t the answer, so point guard is a good enough place to start the talent transition.
8. Golden State Warriors–Enes Kanter, F/C, Kentucky
Kanter may not even play this season at the NCAA level, yet he could still be a lottery pick in the 2011 draft. Golden State has solid help at center, but it’s time to look to the future. And if Kanter is the future, the Warriors could be sitting pretty.
9. Philadelphia 76ers–Alec Burks, G, Colorado
Burks has a ton of upside and hasn’t reached his full potential, but has already proved to be an outstanding player. He may have the versatility and skill set to man the point at the next level, but even if he doesn’t his size makes him an interesting pick at the second guard spot. With the Andre Iguadola era likely coming to an end, a versatile talent like Burks will be needed.
10. Charlotte Bobcats–C.J. Leslie, F, North Carolina State
Call it a homer pick all you want, but the Bobcats can use some inside help, as well as some overall versatility. Too many of their players on their current roster are too one-dimensional, while Leslie brings tons of potential in regards to many different things he could be able to do as he grows as a player.
11. Toronto Raptors–Tyler Honeycutt, G/F, UCLA
Not a gifted playmaker or penetrator, Honecutt will benefit from being the second or third option once he gets settled in as a Raptor. He has great size and athleticism, while possessing a silky smooth jumper and good range. He still has work to do, but he’d be a good fit in Toronto and would be warranted time to grow.
12. Houston Rockets–Jan Vesely, F/C, Czech Republic
Vesely is an ultra-talented big man with the shot and range of a guard, plus the versatility to play up to three positions at the next level. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands constantly to provide a spark, making him a great addition to a Houston team that plays “team” basketball. He finishes strong at the rim and can bring a growing inside/outside game to the table.
13. Memphis Grizzlies–Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia
Thompkins is a beast inside and also possesses great touch around the basket. Not a great athlete, but can fit in nicely with the Grizzlies as a reliable post presence that can outwork the opposition.
14. Phoenix Suns–Lucas Nogueira, F/C, Brazil
Phoenix could opt for a shooter, but it’s fairly arguable they have their future point guard in Goran Dragic, and they’re already littered with shooters (even having one at center). Defense is something they clearly need to keep upgrading on, however. The addition of Nogueira would give them a shot-blocking machine that also can finish strong and help on the fast break.
15. Milwaukee Bucks–Kyle Singler, G/F, Duke
Singler is the type of great player that plays four college seasons but probably only needed to play one or two. Milwaukee has been getting by on the scoring of Brandon Jennings and their lineup of malcontents, but it’s time to get a new go-to guy. If he’s surrounded with the right cast, and it looks like that would be the case in Milwaukee, Singler could be a true gamer at the next level.
16. Indiana Pacers–Kemba Walker, PG, UConn
Walker has been absolutely sick so far this season, and it’d be no surprise at all if he was way up in the top 10 or top five before the season is over. As it stands, however, he’s a small "2" guard that has potential as a point guard. He needs to improve as a passer and decision maker, but even if he hasn’t done that by draft time, the Pacers will (and should) still take him based on his scoring ability and potential alone.
17. Portland Trail Blazers–Maalik Wayns, PG, Villanova
Wayns still needs to show he’s completely comfortable at the point and as “the guy” on a team, but so far he’s displayed amazing athleticism and control, while leading Villanova to a hot start this season. With Andre Miller only getting older and Brandon Roy’s knee issues, drafting some help for the point only makes sense.
18. New Orleans Hornets–Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee
The Hornets need to keep surrounding Chris Paul with impact guys that can shoot, rebound, and play within the offense. Harris has already made a huge impact as a freshman, so he seems like he could be a good fit with a team that only needs a piece or two to contend.
19. Denver Nuggets–Jordan Hamilton, G/F, Texas
With Carmelo Anthony almost certainly headed elsewhere to start his won “big three,” Denver will have to begin looking for his replacement. While Hamilton is nowhere near what Anthony is, his skill set and potential is still solid enough to serve as a strong addition in the wake of a huge loss.
20. New York Knicks–Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU
He may hail from a small school, but Fredette can score and run with the best of them. Mike D’Antoni may not have to look much further for his new Steve Nash, as Fredette’s motor never stops, and he can shoot the lights out from anywhere on the court. His point guard skills should only improve over time in D’Antoni’s system.
21. Atlanta Hawks–
Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
At least for the moment, Atlanta has all the talent it needs at the guard positions. With Jimmer Fredette off the board and no other point guard prospects jumping out at them, the Hawks will choose the big Valanciunas to mold behind Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.
22. Chicago Bulls–Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas
Although Morris will need to get stronger and bulk up for the next level, he’s shown he has the talent to hang inside against premier big men, and would be a solid addition to Chicago’s already improving front line.
23. Orlando Magic–Demetri McCamey, PG, Illinois
The Magic have Gilbert Arenas and Jameer Nelson, but we’re about to find out if either can fully take the reigns of the point in Orlando. Even if one of them does, the odd man is likely out, and backups Chris Duhon and Jason Williams are no locks to stick around. McCamey is a true point guard with great vision and decision making who would be a great addition to Orlando’s guard depth.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder–Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse
Joseph gives the Thunder a physical forward who can stroke it from outside and hit the boards well. He won’t be asked to do a lot, so he can carve out a solid role off the bench and contribute instant offense.
25. Utah Jazz–Jon Leuer, F, Wisconsin
Leuer has the size to work inside, but the range and skill set to bring his man outside. His length, high IQ, and shot-blocking ability make him a solid defensive asset as well, something Jerry Sloan always looks for in his draft picks. He has an overall well-rounded game, and would fit in nicely with the Jazz.
26. Miami Heat–Josh Selby, G, Kansas
Selby is an elite scorer with a ton of room to grow. However, he’s undersized and doesn’t possess great control or vision as a point guard. If he progresses throughout the season, he could skyrocket up into the lottery, but there’s a good chance he waits and plays another season to hone his point guard skills.
27. Los Angeles Lakers–Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State
The Lakers rarely draft young guys that actually make sense or will get any minutes, so it only makes sense for this talented scorer to go wasted on their bench.
28. Dallas Mavericks–Nolan Smith, PG, Duke
It’d be a shame if Smith actually falls this far, but what’s even more of a shame is how many mock drafts have him going in the second round. Smith is a solid scorer with great decision-making skills and awareness. He’s not flashy, but he projects much better than fellow former Dukie, Chris Duhon, and Duhon has made a career out of the NBA. With Jason Kidd aging, the Mavericks would be wise to add a cerebral point guard with solid potential to their roster.
29. Boston Celtics–Corey Fisher, PG, Villanova
Remember that college guard who scored 100+ points in a summer league game? Supposedly? Either way, Fisher still has good skills and plays against top competition in the Big East. Boston does have Nate Robinson to back Rajon Rondo up, but you can never have too much talent at the guard position.
30. San Antonio Spurs–Anatoly Bose, G/F, Nicholls State
Bose is an exceptional scorer with great form and range, while he also possesses solid athleticism. His lack of exposure is almost solely due to the small school he plays for, and with that fact likely keeping him out of the lime light for much of his senior season, leave it to the crafty drafting Spurs to pluck him out of nowhere at the end of the first round.
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