2011 NBA Mock Draft: First Round Picks, Analysis and Pro Comparisons
When the NBA regular season wrapped up last week, sixteen teams punched their tickets to postseason action while fourteen others were sent home for the summer while their team's front offices ponder what next steps to take in improving their teams.
One place team's will surely look will be the NBA Draft. College and International stars alike are preparing for the next step of their careers as they head to the Big Apple and find their fate under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
With the completion of the NCAA Tournament, players have had their final chance at impressing teams on a public scale. It's now up to the talent evaluators for each and every team to assess their needs and decipher who may be best suited to fill in.
When you take into account the uncertain labor situation in the NBA and the impacts that it may have on veteran free agency, the draft takes on a whole new meaning.
As the season winds down and teams are eliminated from contention one by one, more and more attention will turn towards the stars of the future.
Stay tuned as we analyze the top talent available and where they might just fit in on an NBA roster.
Drafting of Williams in 2011 NBA Draft displays Timberwolves commitment to athleticism
The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off of another terrible season in which the team finished with the worst record in the NBA. They’ll look to the future in acquiring athletic talent that can help accompany Ricky Rubio, the potential franchise point guard that may make his NBA debut this fall.
As this past season progressed and the Arizona Wildcats improved, people began more and more to notice Derrick Williams. The sophomore led his team to the NCAA tournament and impressed many along the way.
Averaging nearly 20 points and nine rebounds per game, he provided a spark on both ends of the floor. His 61 percent field goal percentage is in part an attribute to his dominance down low. On a team that loves athleticism and length, Williams will fit in well.
His ability to block shots and create second chance opportunities for teammates are a valuable part of his game. Additionally, Williams boasts a far better than average knowledge of the game on both ends of the court, best seen in his ability to stay away from turnovers and out of foul trouble.
He’ll become a far more dangerous player if he’s able to add some bulk to his 6’8’’ 240 pound frame rather than relying more on running the ball in transition as he posts up down low.
Pro Comparison: Carmelo Anthony
With both players showing the ability to play within the confines of their talents, they add value in the decisions that they don't make just as often as the decisions they do make.
Anthony shows great poise as he runs the court extremely well for a man of his size, an attribute that Williams will bring to the Wolves. Both players also show a tendency to get to the line on a regular basis thanks in part to their instincts for operating an offense.
Williams may not have quite the range that Anthony does, but with Kevin Love holding down the paint Williams may have more opportunities to step out and expand his arsenal.
Kyrie Irving's NBA Draft position allow him the opportunity to resurrect the Cavs
The Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to add some valuable pieces to their puzzle as they look to move past the disastrous offseason that the team saw in 2010.
Despite playing in only 11 games his freshman year, Kyrie Irving made enough of an impact to turn the heads of NBA scouts everywhere. Averaging better than 17 points, four assists and three rebounds per game he showed that he was the complete package and had all the tools necessary to thrive at the next level.
Offensively he is a threat all over the court. Superb ball handling skills allow him to maneuver all around the court and make shots from anywhere. With better than a 53 percent field goal percentage and nearly a 45 percent mark from three point range he’s clearly a scorer.
Durability is clearly a concern regarding Irving. After missing so many games this season there’s no real indicator to comprehend the long-term effects of such an absence.
Pro Comparison: Chris Paul
Anytime you’re in the same conversation with Chris Paul you’re in good shape. Both players are such dynamic offensive talents that have the ability to change a game on their own.
If Irving can stay healthy in the NBA there’s no reason to believe that he won’t be every bit as good as Paul.
Kemba Walker looks to make a splash in Toronto after being selected in 2011 NBA Draft
With the 2010-2011 season behind them, the Toronto Raptors will look to address scoring and ball control as they re-tool their roster for the upcoming season.
Kemba Walker will provide the most value in the NBA with his ball handling skills. His ability to run an offense and quickly carry the ball up the court in transition will provide a much needed spark for a Toronto Raptors team that has recently struggled with scoring.
His tendency to drive the lane allow him to make frequent trips to the charity stripe, where he shoots better than 81 percent.
Walker’s main weakness, much like so many other young players, is that he takes a number of ill-advised shots as he tries to be the hero in a tight situation. He’ll also have a tougher time adjusting to the style of play in theNBA given his slightly smaller stature, however many players have overcome that to be incredibly successful in the league.
Pro Comparison: Derek Fischer
Much like Walker, Fischer is an opportunist that seeks out every possible chance to score. A good free throw percentage make both players valuable assets given their ability control the ball while driving the lane.
Fischer takes more shots from the perimeter than Walker does, but with the offensive needs in Toronto there's a good chance that Walker's new role will contain a wider variety of tools on the offensive end.
Wizards add former Kentucky recruit to roster early in 2011 NBA Draft
Despite a fairly limited body of work, the Washington Wizards look to add some bulk in drafting one of the biggest college recruits to never have played in the NCAA.
Simply put, Enes Kanter is a physical freak. At 6’11’’ and weighing 263 pounds Kanter certainly has the size to be a legitimate center in the NBA. When you see just how solidly built he is it becomes even more apparent that he could dominate at the next level.
His frame allows him to effortlessly post up and dominate defenders in the paint as he knocks down easy lay-ups. If a double comes his way he has the capacity to move around the court without the ball and can knock down mid-range jumpers with ease.
Main concerns with Kanter from a basketball perspective are his ability to run the court in transition and his durability. While he hasn’t ever missed very significant time he has had some recurring knee issues that could cause some scouts to take extra caution when making their decision.
Pro Comparison: Alonzo Mourning
During his time in the NBA, Mourning was one of the toughest players to take the court. The combination of athleticism and pure muscle were too much for opposing post players to handle and Mourning took full advantage.
Kanter may move outside more often than Mourning did depending on the system that he ends up playing in but he could end up playing a very similar role to the one that Mourning did for so many successful seasons.
Sacramento makes a King out of a Knight with fifth overall selection in NBA Draft
Despite having one of the best rebounding teams in the league, the Sacramento Kings have a serious problem stopping their competition from scoring points. Since it appears that they’re not scoring on second chance points they’ll look to address deficiencies with open court defenders who have the offensive talent to make a difference.
Knight’s ability to push the ball up the court with ease make him a very dangerous player. He’s larger than a typical point guard and his ability to stop and start his engine at will will keep defenders guessing. His ability to regain defensive positioning on fast breaks should force opposition to set up their offense and hopefully create turnovers.
Averaging 18 points, four rebounds and four assists per game with Kentucky he showcased his value on every end of the court. He will need to work on shot selection as the bulk of his turnovers are a result of trying too hard to make something out of nothing.
Pro Comparison: John Wall
In virtually identical frames, the two players share more than just their Wildcat heritage. Most notably would be the quickness that both players possess. They are both slashing guards who dizzy defenders on a nightly basis with their in and out style as they run the court.
Wall gets more rebounds than Knight, however his numbers may increase depending on the system that he plays in. It may just be a product of youth, but both players do take the same ill-advised shots at times while attempting to break into ESPN top plays. It works at times, but can be costly at others.
Utah seeks out skilled big man in NBA Draft, finds Donatas Montejuna
The Utah Jazz have seen many opponents beat them with versatile big men that defenders don’t seem to have an answer for. With multiple first round selections, the Jazz have high hopes for a significant advancement.
Montejuna has dominated internationally and is making a wise move in bringing his talents to the NBA. The highly competitive seven footer has a wide skill set and will make an immediate impact in the next level.
His ability to run with the ball will keep defenders on edge, as he also has the tendency to drive the paint in transition. Despite being underweight he is strong enough to hold his own down low and will only improve as he matures.
Pro Comparison: Pau Gasol
Much like Montejuna, Gasol is an offensive threat that can run the basketball up the court surprisingly well for a man of his size. Both players have an intense competitive fire that motivates them in pressure situations.
Both players show the capacity to block shots, even though their wingspans are slightly less than a typical shot blocker. At times Montejuna will use the jump hook that he feels so comfortable with, but like Gasol will keep defenders guessing with his range.
Pistons take another chance on international player with 2011 NBA Draft Selection
Just a handful of years after the failed Darko Milicic experiment in Detroit, the Pistons look to give the international talent pool another shot as they seek out versatility and size in a combination player.
Playing overseas Vesely developed into a player that has the capacity to make an immediate impact. In all likelihood it seems like he’ll be most useful on the defensive perimeter. His footwork and general quickness should allow him to step out and defend, however he may encounter trouble with some of the NBA’s big men if he tries to defend the paint.
As is the knock on many tall European players, many feel that Vesely is too lean to be an impactful player under the basket. He does have the tendency to gain the proper positioning which works in his advantage, but may be less likely to work at the next level.
Pro Comparison: Kevin Love
Vesely is far leaner than Kevin Love, but from an offensive and defensive perspective there are a number of similarities.
Both players have the range to step outside and hit the three from time to time, however rely more on posting up and gaining points from the inside. Love is slightly shorter and Vesely is slightly leaner, so both players rely on their instincts to gain positioning in order to grab boards.
Cleveland takes the first of two Morris’, drafts Marcus to rebuild ailing franchise
After struggling to find themselves after losing LeBron James, the Cavs need to add young threats to get the team back on the right track as they move on to a new phase of their franchise.
Marcus Morris may be identical to his brother in looks, but the style of play on the court is far different. His leaner frame makes him more of an outside player, and while he can drive the lane at times he’ll grab less rebounds than his brother.
With the ability to work with or without the ball he’ll be inserted immediately into the Cavs lineup to add offensive pop to a team that lacked it after losing LeBron James to Miami. The team has the
Pro Comparison: Stephen Jackson
Like Jackson, Morris possesses a high amount of talent that make him a valuable asset on the court. His height is an advantage on the perimeter, but much like Jackson he lacks the physical build that would make him more of an interior presence.
Morris’ court leadership in pressure situations should make him a staple in the Cavs’ artillery for years to come.
Kentucky standout finds new home in Charlotte after being selected ninth in NBA Draft
The Charlotte Bobcats had struggles with both scoring and rebounding this past season. They’ll look to improve on that as they build a roster better suited to create opportunities for the offense to produce the way they’re capable of.
His ability to play from anywhere on the court make him a potential fit on any NBA roster. The ability to fill in where a void exists will certainly be needed on a Bobcat team that is struggling to find it’s identity. He’ll use his extensive wingspan and strong (yet still developing) body to post up and provide the team with second chance opportunities.
Jones clearly has things to work on before becoming a true NBA star. While his size and athleticism make him a very attractive prospect, his decision making on the court is lacking. Ill-advised shots are a common part of his game and he does show some rust in displaying overall fundamentals.
Pro Comparison: Carlos Boozer
Overall package and body of work make Jones a very similar player to Boozer. While Jones’ range with the ball may have been more wide at the college level, his game will almost certainly transition to a mostly inside game.
Jones is capable of pulling down 10 boards a game and get his points on a nightly basis, much like Boozer who averaged over 16 points and nine rebounds per game this season.
Bucks use NBA Draft to add interior presence by drafting Markieff Morris
The Milwaukee Bucks will look to improve on their inside presence and overall defense this year. In a season which they showed signs of improvement, rebounding and scoring were both concerns. Adding a multi-threat tool will help send the team in the right direction.
Coming off of a breakout season, Markieff Morris decided that it was time to mount up with his brother and head to the NBA. Morris averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game this past season, a significant improvement from previous seasons with the Jayhawks.
His above average (at least for a big guy) range allow him to post up for an inside basket or set up for a three if left open. Ball handling is a concern for Morris, who is far better posting up than running with the rock.
Pro Comparison: Drew Gooden
The makeup of Morris is strikingly similar to that of former Jayhawk Drew Gooden. Both players are tall, dominant figures that boast a muscular build fit for post play.
Much like Gooden currently is, Morris will probably end up being a 14 point, 6 rebound type player with average range and a decent free throw percentage for a big guy. The key is to whether or not Morris will live up to the billing of a top 10 pick, a task that is oftentimes too much for a rookie to handle.
Burks heads west to California as Golden State selects him No. 11 overall in NBA Draft
The Golden State Warriors have an immense amount of talent on their roster, but still appear to be a few pieces away from completing the puzzle. In adding a versatile scorer who can run the floor they’ll be one step closer to contending for postseason play.
While his tenacity on the court is what helped him bloom into a player high on most scouts’ lists, he’ll need to develop a more complete game in order to succeed at the professional level.
Burks is a combination of length and athleticism that is seen so much in the game today, meaning that his development into more of a multi-tool player is that much more important.
Averaging better than 20 points and six rebounds per game in his only season at Colorado, he carried the Buffaloes to a 24-14 record and an NIT semifinal appearance.
Pro Comparison: Evan Turner
Much like Turner, Burks is an underweight figure who will need to finish his growth as an adult before realizing his full potential. The level of physicality in the NBA is something that cannot be prepared for, but must rather be compensated for by matching size and athleticism. Both Turner boast the athleticism, and the muscle will continue to develop over time.
Jazz take BYU standout Fredette in first round of 2011 NBA Draft in an effort to bolster offense
With the departure of Deron Williams from Utah, the Jazz are left with Devon Harris as the top option at the point. In a move that will bolster play on the offensive end, drafting a point guard high in the first round should provide depth and explosiveness.
After a spectacular senior season, Jimmer Fredette’s draft stock was at an all time high. Fredette averaged 29 points and four assists per game this season, enough to give him the 2011 Naismith Award for most outstanding College Basketball player.
His jumpshot and ability to score at will from virtually anywhere on the court make him a very unique talent. As explosive as hit talents are, he does appear to be at somewhat of an athletic disadvantage.
His ability to make acrobatic shots and release the ball quickly helped him overcome his shortcomings at the collegiate level, but only time will tell as to whether or not it translates to success in the NBA.
Pro Comparison: Luke Ridnour
Ridnour certainly didn’t exit college with the same fanfare that Fredette has, but from a body of work perspective they both have a very similar style.
Both players do have great jumpshots and have the propensity to take on scoring opportunities that they’re creating themselves. The shortcomings on the defensive end are similar from both players, as both are more heralded for ball-handling and shooting.
Phoenix Suns use 2011 NBA Draft to recruit help from the longhorn state.
Having what is statistically one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA, the Suns will need to address their shortcomings in an attempt to create second chance points.
The Suns’ increased presence in the paint will work to halt charging offensive threats on the defensive end.
After just one season with the Texas Longhorns, Tristan Thompson has decided to take his talents to the next level. Thompson had at one time told reporters that he’d be sticking around for a second stint with the Longhorns during his sophomore season but ultimately decided that his stock was high enough to test the NBA waters.
The freshman averaged over 13 points and seven rebounds this season, leading his team to a No. 4 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. His wingspan is far longer than his height, allowing for better than two blocks per game.
Pro Comparison: Kevin Garnett
With very similar frames, Thompson and Garnett also share a similar style of play on the court. Both have the ability to post up below but also have the capacity to knock down a mid-range jumper.
Thompson’s skills are obviously rawer than Garnett’s, as evidenced by his sub-50 percent free throw percentage. However as he works at it he certainly has the potential to develop into the same caliber of player.
Rockets make a splash in the NBA Draft in signing rising star from the Congo
After having trouble keeping Yao Ming healthy for the better part of the last few years, the Houston Rockets will look to rebuild their inside presence in this year’s draft.
Put simply, Biyombo is a defensive basketball player. His blocking ability and presence in the paint will allow him to register double-doubles without scoring a basket.
On the topic of scoring baskets, that’s where Biyombo will need the most work. His shooting ability is somewhat minimal and he’ll definitely need to gain a certain sense of range outside of the paint if he plans on becoming a multi-threat player.
Pro Comparison: Dikembe Mutombo
It’s possible that comparing Biyombo to Mutombo is taking the easy way out. After all Biyombo is the biggest thing to come out of the Congo since Mutombo came into the NBA in 1991.
But in all reality their styles of play are quite similar. Both possess shot blocking ability, and while Biyombo registers close to five inches shorter than Dikembe he makes up for it with his 7’7’’ wingspan.
Pacers look overseas in first round of 2011 NBA Draft, sign Jeremy Tyler
After an early exit in the 2011 playoffs, the Indiana Pacers will look to add additional size in an effort to create an even more dominant presence in the paint.
Despite having a top-five rebounding squad, the Pacers can still improve on second chance points and rebounds on the offensive side.
For being under 20 years old, Jeremy Tyler has gained more life experience than many players that have been in the league for years. After committing to Louisville, Tyler opted to play professional basketball in Israel instead.
His tenure there was less than successful, so he moved on to Japan where he has grown and developed to become a top fifteen talent in this year’s draft.
Pro Comparison: Trevor Ariza
While Tyler’s wingspan will allow him to have a slightly more impactful presence in the paint, their offensive skill sets are relatively similar.
Both players have the ability to move their jump shots inside and out and have the tendency to drive the paint on occasion. What remains to be seen is whether or not Tyler will have the tenacity when faced with the increased opponent size he’ll face in the next level.