NBA Mock Draft 2011: Has Jared Sullinger Become a Top 5 Lock?

BrendanContributor IJanuary 20, 2011

NBA Mock Draft 2011: Has Jared Sullinger Become a Top 5 Lock?

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    As the College Basketball season heats up, so too does the ability to rank NBA Draft Prospects. The draft is now roughly five months away and players are starting to showcase their ability.

    Many NBA teams have glaring holes to fill and rosters that need to get younger.

    The order was determined by current records. Also, many players are presumed to be leaving school early. The one and done rule certainly has affected college programs, as can be seen in the first handful of picks.

    More than ever, freshman are using college simply as a stepping stone to get them to the Association.

    Without further delay, here is an early look at a 2011 NBA Mock Draft with all the potential lottery choices.

No. 1, Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, Duke University

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    Many people do not think the Cavs will select Irving because point guard is one of the few spots they don't have a gaping hole. In fact, PG Mo Williams is one of just two former all-stars on the roster.

    But Irving's talent is just too good to pass up. Before he was injured, he was the point guard of the best team in the country and, arguably, playing as well as anyone in college basketball.

    At just 18 years young, Irving was averaging 17.4 points to go with 5.1 assists in just eight games. Some scouts have even begun to mention Chris Paul when discussing Irving's potential.

    The Cavs will consider other options, but Kyrie Irving's quickness and passing playmaking ability will make him too difficult to pass up.

No. 2, Sacramento Kings: Perry Jones, Baylor University

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    Perry Jones' train has lost some steam due to his struggles against Kansas in their recent meeting. Jones had 20 points, but struggled down low against the Morris twins.

    However, a 6'11" wing player with his kind of athleticism is something that any NBA team desires. For the season, Jones is averaging 13.5 PPG and 6.9 RPG.

    Jones may struggle to make a major impact immediately in the Association, but at just 19, he has plenty of time to fine tune his game and get stronger.

    Jones could form a nice trio with Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins for the Kings to build around.

No. 3, Minnesota Timberwolves: Terrence Jones, University of Kentucky

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    Jones marks the third straight freshman off the board to begin the 2011 Draft, but he has been all that was advertised in his time with the Wildcats this season.

    For the season, he leads Kentucky with 18.5 PPG and nine RPG.

    Recently, Jones made headlines for being the target of a profanity-laced tirade by head coach John Calipari. This likely occured because Calipari recognized his unique talent.

    Some question Jones' maturity, but it is important to keep in mind he is still 19. Expect Terrence Jones to be the first of several Wildcats to hear their named called early in next year's draft.

No. 4, New Jersey Nets: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State University

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    Perhaps no player has risen in the ranks as much as Sullinger this season. His physical nature in the post has led to big numbers from the Buckeye, as well as national media attention.

    Sullinger's 9.9 RPG rank him second in the Big Ten. He also leads the nation's new No. 1 with 17.6 PPG.

    There are very few negative things to say about him, other than he might not be a player to mesmerize any scouts with his athleticism.

    However, his ability to rebound and play in the post is something many teams will value early in the 2011 NBA Draft.

No. 5, Washington Wizards: Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania

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    Motiejunas is a name that many believed would be called in the 2010 draft, but instead he elected to return to his Italian League team. It appears to have been the correct decision, because this season he will likely hear his name called much earlier.

    Motiejunas has had an astounding impact this season as a 20 year old for the Benetton Treviso, averaging 13.1 PPG and 5.1 RPG in just 24 minutes per.

    His potential has never been an issue, but some scouts do see a player that may lack a true drive to be great.

    NBA coaches will take their chances on lighting a fire under a player with Donatas Motijunas' ability.

No. 6, Toronto Raptors: Kemba Walker, Univeristy Of Connecticut

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    Walker is one player who might be able to challenge Sullinger as the player who has helped his draft stock the most this season.

    Before this season, Walker was seen by scouts as a fast guard who did not do anything great. However, now he is the second leading scorer in the nation with 25.5 PPG, and the leader of the most surprising team in college basketball.

    Obviously, Walker's size is not ideal, as he stands at barely 6'0", and his ball handling does not appear ready for him to be a true NBA point guard.

    Walker has improved in every season at UCONN and his ability to hit the big shot and lead a team have certainly helped his name become more know in the war rooms.

No. 7, Detroit Pistons: Enes Kanter, University Of Kentucky

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    The Pistons have shown in the past that they are not a team to shy away from drafting foreign players. Kanter's numbers have been underwhelming in his European league, which means he will likely be more of a long term project.

    But with a few years of seasoning, this is one project that could pay huge dividends. Kanter could be paired with 2010 first round pick Greg Monroe to form a solid front court.

    Some have worried about Kanter's ability to stay healthy, as he has had a number of knee issues. However, his post game is somewhat developed for a player of his age and that, coupled with his size, provide endless potential.

No. 8, Milwaukee Bucks: Trey Thompkins, University of Georgia

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    The Bucks currently do not have a single player in the top 35 in terms of RPG, so they could definitely use some help on the glass.

    Thompkins could pair with Bogut to form a solid front court. He is not overly athletic, but his offensive game is extremely polished. He also can work in the post or step back and shoot from mid-range.

    For the season, Thompkins is averaging 17.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG for the Bulldogs.

No. 9, Los Angeles Clippers: Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania

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    It seems strange to say, but the Clippers actually are set at several positions moving forward. Obviously, Blake Griffin is star in the making. But Eric Gordon is likely their SG of the future, while Eric Bledsoe has shown promise filling in for Baron Davis at PG.

    However, the Clippers could use a little more size and Valanciunas projects as an NBA center.

    He has averaged 7.8 PPG to go with 5.2 RPG for Lietuvos Rytas this season.

    His body still needs to mature and he needs to get stronger but, at just 18 years old, that will come with time. Valanciunas' size and potential is enough to get him drafted as a lottery pick.

No. 10, Charlotte Bobcats: Alec Burks, Colorado University

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    Burks has had a tremendous freshman season in Boulder, averaging 19.8 PPG and 5.5 RPG. He projects as a SG and could replace the aging Stephen Jackson in a few years.

    Burks relies heavily on athleticism and, like many teenagers, lacks ideal strength. However, as his body fills out, he will gain strength, which will hopefully help his game.

    The Bobcats could use a scorer, as they rank 28th in the NBA in offensive points per game. Burks could be just the type of scorer to help spark their offense.

No. 11, Golden State Warriors: Jordan Hamilton, Univeristy of Texas

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    Hamilton has made monumental gains in his game from his freshman to his sophomore seasons, and it has rocketed him up many draft boards.

    For the season, he is averaging 19.1 PPG and 7.1 RPG for the Longhorns. Hamilton likely projects as a small forward and would fit nicely with David Lee and the Warriors' stellar backcourt.

    Some have worried about Hamilton because he lacks ideal speed and is in some ways caught between two positions.

    However, Hamilton has an NBA ready jump shot and does everything well across the board, particularly as a scorer.

No. 12, Houston Rockets: Derrick Williams, University of Arizona

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    The Rockets actually rank fourth in points per game in the NBA, but struggle on the glass. Only Luis Scola and Chuck Hayes average over five RPG.

    Williams has excellent athleticism and a 7'1" wingspan that makes him a force down low. He has followed up a solid freshman season with an excellent sophomore campaign for the WIldcats.

    His 19.7 PPG and 7.3 RPG lead the team currently ranked second in the Pac 10.

No. 13, Phoenix Suns: Marcus Morris, University of Kansas

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    The Suns could use some help in the frontcourt to replace Amar'e Stoudemire. With Steve Nash aging, they may want a player who can step in and play immediately.

    Morris is an NBA ready player who has proved to be a force down low for the undefeated Jawhawks. On the year, he is averaging 17.2 PPG and 6.9 RPG.

    At this point, Morris is what he is and likely will not see any drastic changes at the next level. That being said, Morris is a safe choice for a team in need of an impact player.

No. 14, Memphis Grizzlies: C.J. Leslie, North Carolina State

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    Leslie is a physical freak with great size and potential, but lacks true consistency. He projects as a small forward or power forward in the NBA.

    For the season, Leslie has averaged 11.2 PPG and eight RPG. He also has the ability to block shots to the tune of 1.7 BPG for the Wolfpack.

    Leslie struggles with certain areas of his game and needs some work before he is NBA ready. He is a shaky free throw shooter and struggles to find his own shot at times.

    However, he was highly recruited out of high school and has done enough in his freshman season to warrant NBA attention.

No. 15, Indiana Pacers: John Henson, University of North Carolina

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    Age: 20

    Height: 6'10"

    Weight: 200

    NBA Position: PF

    Stats: 10.6 PPG/ 8.2 RPG/ 2.0 BPG

    NBA Comparison: Amir Johnson

No. 16, Philadelphia 76ers: Jordan Williams, Maryland University

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    Age: 20

    Height:  6'10"

    Weight: 260

    NBA Position: PF/C

    Stats: 18.1 PPG/ 8.2 RPG/ 1.4 BPG

    NBA Comparison: Carlos Boozer

No. 17, Portland Trailblazers: Harrison Barnes, University of North Carolina

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    Age: 18

    Height: 6'8"

    Weight: 210

    NBA Position: SF

    Stats: 11.8 PPG/ 5.3 RPG

    NBA Comparison: Rudy Gay

No. 18, New York Knicks: Josh Selby, University of Kansas

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    Age: 19

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 180

    NBA Position: SG

    Stats: 12.1 PPG/ 2.9 RPG/ 3.0 APG

    NBA Comparison: Ty Lawson

No. 19, Denver Nuggets: Kyle Singler, Duke University

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    Age: 22

    Height: 6'9"

    Weight: 210

    NBA Position: SF/PF

    Stats: 17.7 PPG/ 6.3 RPG/ 1.2 SPG

    NBA Comparison: David West

No. 20, New Orleans Hornets: Jan Vesely, Czech Republic

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    Age: 20

    Height: 6'11"

    Weight: 240

    NBA Position: PF

    Stats: 7.9 PPG/ 2.9 RPG/ 1.2 SPG

    NBA Comparison: Hakim Warrick

No. 21, Orlando Magic: Nolan Smith, Duke University

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    Age: 22

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 185

    NBA Position: PG/SG

    Stats: 20.2 PPG/ 5.7 APG/ 4.7 RPG

    NBA Comparison: Jameer Nelson

No. 22, Atlanta Hawks: Brandon Knight, University of Kentucky

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    Age: 18

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 170

    NBA Position: PG

    Stats: 17.3 PPG/ 3.8 APG/ 3.8 RPG

    NBA Comparison: Jason Terry

No. 23, Dallas Mavericks: Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State University

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    Age: 19

    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 225

    NBA Position: SF/PF

    Stats: 15.7 PPG/ 10.3 RPG/ 1.5 SPG

    NBA Comparison: Luol Deng

No. 24, Oklahoma City Thunder: Markieff Morris, University of Kansas

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    Age: 21

    Height: 6'10"

    Weight: 235

    NBA Position: PF

    Stats: 13.2 PPG/ 8.7 RPG/ 1.1 BPG

    NBA Comparison: Taj Gibson

No. 25, Utah Jazz: Kris Joseph, Syracuse University

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    Age: 22

    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 207

    NBA Position: SF

    Stats: 14.6 PPG/ 5.2 RPG/ 1.3 SPG

    NBA Comparison: Richard Jefferson

No. 26, Chacago Bulls: Chris Singleton, Florida State University

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    Age: 21

    Height: 6'8"

    Weight: 210

    NBA Position: SF

    Stats: 15.1 PPG/ 7.7 RPG/ 2.1 SPG

    NBA Comparison: Tyrus Thomas

No. 27, Miami Heat: Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young University

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    Age: 21

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 195

    NBA Position: PG/SG

    Stats: 25.8 PPG/ 4.4 APG/ 2.6 RPG

    NBA Comparison: Eddie House

No. 28, Los Angeles Lakers: Ja'juan Johnson, Purdue University

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    Age: 21

    Height: 6'10"

    Weight: 215

    NBA Position: PF

    Stats: 20.5 PPG/ 8.1 RPG/ 2.3 BPG

    NBA Comparison: Patrick Patterson

No. 29, Boston Celtics: LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor University

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    Age: 23

    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 200

    NBA Position: SG

    Stats: 21.6 PPG/ 4.6 RPG/ 2.2 APG

    NBA Comparison: Jamal Crawford

No. 30, San Antonio Spurs: Tobias Harris, Tennessee University

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    Age: 18

    Height: 6'8"

    Weight: 210

    NBA Position: SF/PF

    Stats: 15.6 PPG/ 7.4 RPG/ 1.6 APG

    NBA Comparison: Jeff Green