2011 NBA Mock Draft: Jared Sullinger Returning to Ohio State Shakes Up the Draft
Freshman phenom Jared Sullinger and Ohio State lost in the Sweet 16 to Kentucky on a last second buzzer beater by Brandon Knight Friday.
Afterward, Sullinger emotionally declared that he would be returning to Ohio State next year to do more than just contend for a title.
"I'm going to be an Ohio State Buckeye next year," Sullinger said. "This isn't why I came here, to come in here and see my seniors in here crying. I came here to win a national championship."
The 2011 NBA draft is scheduled to take place June 23rd in Newark, NJ, and Sullinger was projected by many to be one of the top athletes taken. With him out of the picture, how will the NBA draft change from top to bottom?
No. 1: Derrick Williams (SF/PF)—Cleveland Cavaliers
The Arizona Wildcats would be nothing without Derrick Williams.
He secured victories against Memphis and Texas during the NCAA Tournament with amazing play in the final seconds of both games.
Williams' draft stock has shot up because of this and he is now most likely going to be the top pick in the NBA draft.
No. 2: Kyrie Irving (PG)—Minnesota Timberwolves
Although Minnesota seems to draft point guards every year, they won't be able to pass on Kyrie Irving in 2011.
Johnny Flynn and Ricky Rubio could have a long-term future in Minnesota, but neither player has guaranteed stardom in the NBA.
Irving has the potential to be great, and that may be enough for the Timberwolves to grab him with the second pick.
No. 3: Harrison Barnes (SF)—Washington Wizards
Harrison Barnes has done nothing but improve his draft stock over the past couple of weeks, leading North Carolina to a shot at the Final Four.
Washington could really use another forward to complement the play of John Wall. The tandem has the potential to be dangerous in the NBA if both can continue to improve.
No. 4: Enes Kanter (PF/C)—Sacramento Kings
Enes Kanter might be a good fit to play alongside DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento, Anaheim or wherever the current Kings end up.
Kanter currently plays overseas in Turkey after he was declared ineligible to play at Kentucky by the NCAA committee. He should be the first international player taken off the board in the NBA draft.
No. 5: Perry Jones (SF/PF)—Toronto Raptors
Toronto fans had their sights set on Jared Sullinger until he declared that he was going to return to Ohio State for his sophomore season.
Perry Jones is a viable option who the Raptors may end up targeting in the first round. The only problem is that he may not be ready to come in and make an immediate impact in the NBA.
No. 6: Jan Vesely (SF/PF)—Utah Jazz
Jan Vesely is another international player who has the potential to make a huge impact in the NBA.
Utah have decent forwards in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, but they could always use another versatile big man.
With two picks in the first round, the Jazz have room to take a risk, and Vesely may be a good player to take a risk on.
No. 7: Terrence Jones (SF)—Detroit Pistons
Tayshaun Prince will be a free agent in the offseason and Terrence Jones would be a good fit to replace him.
Jones has been a big part of the Wildcat's success in the NCAA Tournament and he may slip into the top 10 because of that.
No. 8: Kemba Walker (PG)—Cleveland Cavaliers
With their second pick in the first round, the Cavaliers need to target a guard.
Kemba Walker has performed at an outstanding level ever since the Big East Tournament and has shot up in the draft projections. He would be a great fit for the Cavs, especially if Derrick Williams goes to Cleveland, as well.
No. 9: Donatas Motiejunas (PF)—Miwaukee Bucks
As usual, there will be a string of international players taken in the first round, and Donatas Motiejunas will help contribute to that in 2011.
Motiejunas is one of the top players in the Italian Lega A and should provide the same spark in the NBA as he does overseas.
No. 10: Jimmer Fredette (PG)—Charlotte Bobcats
Jimmer Fredette didn't end his career at BYU in the way he'd hoped with a loss against Florida in the Sweet 16.
There have been questions surrounding both his defense and how his ability to get to the rim will be affected playing in the NBA. Regardless, Fredette is very talented and deserves to be drafted early on.
No. 11: Kawhi Leonard (SF)—Golden State Warriors
The Warriors desperately need a center, but there aren't any great options to take with the 11th overall pick.
Dorell Wright is the starting small forward for the Warriors, but he relies mostly on three-pointers, whereas Kawhi Leonard is a more well-rounded player. Golden State will be a lot better off if they can use both forwards effectively.
No. 12: Alec Burks (PG/SG)—Utah Jazz
With the loss of Deron Williams to New Jersey, Devin Harris is now the starting point guard for the Jazz.
Harris is a decent overall player, but he certainly can't take over a game all by himself. Alec Burks is a great shooter from Colorado, who could provide another threat with the ball in Utah.
No. 13: Brandon Knight (PG/SG)—Phoenix Suns
Brandon Knight has won not one, but two games in the NCAA Tournament on a last second shot.
Phoenix would be thrilled to take him with the 13th pick in the NBA draft. Who knows how many more years Steve Nash has left in him, and Knight could be the guard to take over his spot once Nash moves on.
No. 14: Marcus Morris (SF/PF)—Houston Rockets
The better half of the Morris twins, Marcus Morris would look great in red as a Houston Rocket.
Morris has really developed his all-around game after three seasons at Kansas and has turned into one of the best players in the country. He should be able to come into Houston and make an immediate impact.
No. 15: Markieff Morris (PF)—Indiana Pacers
The second Morris twin, Markieff Morris, may very well be taken directly after his brother at No. 15.
Danny Granger, Darren Collison and Roy Hibbert outline the future in Indiana, Morris would be a great addition to that threesome.
No. 16: Jonas Valanciunas (C)—New York Knicks
Ronny Turiaf, who usually provides good minutes wherever he plays, has been the starting center for New York lately.
Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire are clearly the big three for the Knicks, but Jonas Valanciunas could be the missing piece to a championship squad in New York.
No. 17: Kenneth Faried (PF)—Philadelphia 76ers
Kenneth Faried was a huge contribution to the performance that stunned Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Philadelphia lacks elite big men. Faried could provide a real boost on the glass because wrapping up rebounds and slamming them home is one of his strengths.
No. 18: Jordan Hamilton (SG/SF)—Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota should consider themselves lucky to get Jordan Hamilton with the 18th overall pick because he is an athlete who has top 10 potential.
Hamilton is very capable of getting to the rim, as well as knocking down jump shots. He can also bury the occasional three-pointer if you give him space, which could make him dangerous in the NBA.
No. 19: Tobias Harris (SF)—Washington Wizards
Washington has two first-round picks in this year's draft, and Tobias Harris would be a nice second selection for the Wizards to play behind Rashard Lewis.
Harris is capable of scoring in so many different ways that he should be able to make an impact right away if he gets the opportunity.
No. 20: William Buford (SG)—New Orleans Hornets
William Buford ended his career at Ohio State in tears with a stunning loss to Kentucky.
Buford has honed his skills after three years with the Buckeyes and should be ready to play in the NBA. New Orleans could use another scoring contribution to assist Chris Paul and Buford should be able to give the Hornets what they need.
No. 21: Nolan Smith (PG/SG)—Portland Trailblazers
Nolan Smith really excelled after taking over the full-time point guard duties when Kyrie Irving went down with an injury.
Portland could use another point guard because they don't really have any long-term options on their current roster. Andre Miller isn't going to lead the Blazers to a championship any time soon, so they might as well start looking for a younger leader for the future.
No. 22: Tyler Honeycutt (SG/SF)—Denver Nuggets
Denver has been playing well without the presence of Carmelo Anthony, but they won't be able to compete in the long run without a scorer to take his place.
Tyler Honeycutt has nights where he can be a dynamic scorer, and other nights where he struggles. He has potential to put up consistent numbers, but he will need a year or two in the NBA before he gets to that level.
No. 23: Trey Thompkins (PF)—Phoenix Suns
Besides getting a backup point guard, the Suns need a big man who can not only finish at the rim, but play strong defense as well.
Trey Thompkins led the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament berth but failed to get them past the first round. His size and strength boded well for him in college and should translate well in the NBA.
No. 24: Jon Leuer (PF)—Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City is pretty well-rounded, but could use an extra forward to replace the loss of Jeff Green.
Jon Leuer had a strong career at Wisconsin and should be ready to contribute in the NBA right away. The Thunder have Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka on their roster, so Leuer will have time to learn, even though he may not necessarily need it.
No. 25: Chris Singleton (SF/PF)—Chicago Bulls
Chris Singleton will be a very hard player to pass up on if he's still around for Chicago's first pick.
Singleton led Florida State to a Sweet 16 appearance and may be one of the most versatile players in the draft. He plays great defense and has the size and strength to match up well in the NBA.
No. 26: Kyle Singler (SF)—Dallas Mavericks
The third player to be drafted from Duke, Kyle Singler has grown tremendously since his freshman season.
He can provide depth for the Mavericks that they currently lack and can help push them ahead of rival teams in the West like the Spurs and Lakers.
No. 27: JaJuan Johnson (PF)—New Jersey Nets
Now that New Jersey has an elite point guard in Deron Williams and a pretty good center in Brook Lopez, they at least have something to build off of.
JaJuan Johnson could fit well alongside Williams and Lopez and may be the extra player the Nets need to get them back into a contending team.
No. 28: Norris Cole (PG)—Boston Celtics
Without Nate Robinson, the Celtics lack in guard depth behind Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.
Norris Cole may be a bit of a reach with the 28th pick, but he is the best guard available at this point and has enough college experience to warrant playing time in the NBA.
No. 29: Darius Morris (PG)—Chicago Bulls
If the Bulls don't draft a guard with their first pick, they will certainly look for one with their second.
Darius Morris might need some time before he is NBA ready, but he's shown a lot of potential at Michigan, and learning behind Derrick Rose might be exactly what he needs.
No. 30: Malcolm Lee (PG/SG)—San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are one of the most well-rounded in the NBA, so they can take a chance on pretty much whoever they want.
Malcolm Lee wouldn't see much playing time in his first season, but could be a big part of the future in San Antonio once the older players move on.