2011 NBA Mock Draft: How Does Harrison Barnes Not Declaring Affect the Draft?
After declaring last week that he was going to remain at North Carolina for one more season, Harrison Barnes definitively changed the outlook of many teams in the draft who were looking at him.
In turn, teams that were looking for small forwards will be giving Kentucky's Terrence Jones or the Czech Republic's Jan Vesely, who are now the best threes in the draft, better looks.
How will it all go down?
Here is my mock prediction for the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
At this very moment you have to think the Minnesota Timberwolves are looking for a point guard as long as Ricky Rubio's talent stays in Spain.
Many will criticize this pick, but the fact of the matter is that the T'Wolves have made it known that they are not in search of a small forward as Michael Beasley seems like the logical long-term guy there.
And let's face it: Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn are not long-term saviors at the position.
Irving was the facilitator on a Duke team that featured Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, so there's no reason to think he can't lead the Wolves.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona
As the NCAA Tournament progressed, Arizona's Derrick Williams saw his draft stock rise dramatically as he picked apart opponents, namely the defending champion Duke Blue Devils.
He averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game this season for the Wildcats, and led them to the Elite Eight, a place where they lost to the eventual champions, the Connecticut Huskies.
The Cleveland Cavaliers could really use a small forward like the 6'8" Williams, since they don't have particularly fabulous depth at the position.
3. Toronto Raptors: Enes Kanter, C, Turkey
Enes Kanter heading to the Toronto Raptors would be an absolute perfect fit when you think about it.
Andrea Bargnani, the incumbent center, could in turn move to power forward and continue his career as a very poor man's Dirk Nowitzki.
Not much is speculated on how Kanter will play in the NBA, but his swift post moves should help take away from the fact that he didn't play in college this season.
This is right about when Barnes would have been taken, so his absence will help guys like Kanter to be selected higher.
4. Washington Wizards: Terrence Jones, SF, Kentucky
The Washington Wizards have a solid group of role players, sure, but if selected Terrence Jones would immediately contend for a starting position if selected.
The 6'8" small forward is like Derrick Williams in the fact that they both have tremendous potential and incredible athleticism.
Jones would work well in our nation's capital, and may soon team up with John Wall and Nick Young in their backcourt.
5. Sacramento Kings: Jonas Valanciunas, PF, Lithuania
At 6'10" and 230 pounds, Jonas Valanciunas is the second European big to be selected in this mock draft.
An 18-year-old Lithuanian, he will be expected to improve upon his maturity as well as his strength. He does, however, have the tools necessary to develop into a solid and lengthy NBA career.
The Sacramento Kings have some talented players in their frontcourt, and could add another in Valanciunas.
6. Utah Jazz: Alec Burks, SG, Colorado
Although this might be a little high, the fact of the matter is that the Utah Jazz are in desperate need of a shooting guard, as starting C.J. Miles isn't going to get you to the NBA Finals routinely.
Alec Burks is a complete offensive player, from his great finesse skills to his dead-on shot.
At 6'6" and weighing in at 195 pounds, Burks has the pure size to mesh with the biggest of the two guards.
Additionally, his basketball IQ is fairly high, and this will translate well (obviously) into the professional ranks.
7. Detroit Pistons: Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut
Although he didn't put up the biggest numbers ever in April, Kemba Walker's stock skyrocketed as he led his UConn Huskies to the national title, where he averaged 17 points and four assists per game. Despite the lack of exploding numbers, Walker's reputation as a winner helped him become an assured selection in the first round lottery.
At 6'1" and weighing 172 pounds, Walker seemed to have hucked up shots randomly in college since he shot 43 and 33 percent for field goals and threes, respectively. However, this is more so a testament to the fact that he was the leader of the Huskies.
The Pistons desperately need a point guard, so who better to go with for the seventh pick?
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Clippers): Jan Vesely, SF, Czech Republic
Jan Vesely, at 6'11" and 20 years of age (he will turn 21 on Sunday), is one of the more experienced players from the European pool.
He also has tremendous size for the small forward position, and right now the sky is the limit for the big. He has the knack from what I've seen to score over players who are good defenders.
One thing he can improve upon is his strength, which will in time help boost his intimidation level.
The Czech might be a good fit in Cleveland's frontcourt.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo
Bismack Biyombo was virtually a draft unknown at this time in the month of March.
He seems to be a top-10 consensus pick, but why?
He is great on the inside, spectacular defensively, and resembles a younger Tyrus Thomas.
A 6'10" power forward, Biyombo would be a great fit in Charlotte because he'd stand out among a bunch of mediocre frontcourt performers, outside of Tyrus himself.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jordan Hamilton, SG, Texas
The Milwaukee Bucks might have some solid players at the wing for now, but none of them compare to the talent that is Texas' Jordan Hamilton.
At 6'7", Hamilton has the height necessary to mesh with other big shooting guards. He also played a little small forward during his tenure as a Longhorn.
He averaged 19 points, eight rebounds, and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc this season.
If he is to be drafted by Milwaukee, he will automatically become a factor in their starting rotation.
11. Golden State Warriors: Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
Brandon Knight was a member of this year's Final Four Kentucky team that lost to eventual champion Connecticut.
Knight has an incredible upside to his game, and he excels at all the important assets of the point guard game. He's also a tremendous shooter whose skills were outdone by numbers in college. In other words—he was an underrated collegiate baller.
The Warriors will want to find insurance if they decide to deal Stephen Curry like it has been speculated, and Knight, who is similar to Steph himself, is a completely viable and legitimate replacement.
12. Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, PG, Brigham Young
As we have all known for months by now, Jimmer Fredette is the most intriguing prospect in this summer's draft.
I am a believer that he will succeed at the next level, as shown with his fantastic scoring ability and cloud-high basketball IQ.
Haters, on the other mind, mention defense which, yes, is a big aspect of the game, but it's not like he can't improve on it once he hits the professional rank.
That being said, I think the Utah Jazz are a great fit for Jimmer because he is familiar with playing in the state and if the team rids itself of the recently-acquired Devin Harris, he could be the man.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State
One of the greatest rebounders in the history of college basketball, Kenneth Faried will become the token "best guy at crashing the boards" that every draft possesses.
He put up freakish numbers for a college athlete, snagging almost 15 per game this season.
The craziest thing about is that he's just 6'8" and clearly undersized, even as a power forward!
The 21-year-old would be a cozy fit in Phoenix due to their need for a solid big, but it might be a little too early to select him here.
14. Houston Rockets: Donatas Motiejunas, C, Lithuania
Donatas Motiejunas might seem like an odd selection to go to the Houston Rockets this year, but without Yao Ming where is there height?
Houston had one player who was over 6'10" over the course of the season, so this move makes sense even if Yao is healthy come November.
His improved footwork, frame, and hands will help him become one of the last few lottery selections.
15. Indiana Pacers: Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State
The logical situation here would be to go with San Diego State small forward Kawhi Leonard, but in all honesty the Indiana Pacers aren't looking for a guy who plays the three.
The thing they need is a solid perimeter player, someone who you can dish the rock to on the wing and know that he'll do great things for them.
The best fit for the Pacers might be Washington State's Klay Thompson.
16. Philadelphia 76ers: Kahwi Leonard, SF, San Diego State
I don't care if your small forward position already has a few solid players in Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala! When Kahwi Leonard is available at 16, you take him!
Leonard finally goes off the board after the lottery picks conclude.
His biggest strength perhaps lies within the fact that he is a slasher, and already has developed better offensive inside skills than many superstars. He also is in the process of honing his already solid ball handling skills.
The 6'7" Aztec will become a factor, no matter where he goes, as soon as commissioner David Stern calls his name.
17. New York Knicks: Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia
Trey Thompkins of the University of Georgia is projected in most mocks to go late in the first round.
However, what the Knicks need (especially if they don't deal for a center in the offseason) is size, and with Thompkins' 6'10", 245-pound frame they are going to get just that.
Thompkins, a decent defender in college, could end up relieving the defensively-challenged Amar'e Stoudemire in order to log some key court time in the pros.
18. Washington Wizards (from Hawks): Nolan Smith, SG, Duke
When the Washington Wizards arrive at the 18th pick, they will have themselves a tough decision to make: select another small forward or the select the best player available.
Ultimately they go with the latter of the two, and Nolan Smith of Duke becomes the newest Wizard.
At 6'2" and 185 pounds, he is definitely smaller than your average two but proved with his 21 point per game scoring average last season that he is a phenomenal shooter and a fantastic finisher.
19. Charlotte Bobcats (from Hornets): Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas
The Charlotte Bobcats are desperate for a futuristic power forward, so Marcus Morris could be their man.
Marcus, the better-suited NBA player between him and his twin Markieff, has a very polished game that could see him succeed at the next level without doubt.
His biggest weakness will be keeping up to par defensively. That's not to say he's terrible on D, but at the same time he's no Ben Wallace either.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Grizzlies): Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State
As a Wolves fan, I recently wrote a column explaining why Chris Singleton of Florida State is the perfect fit for our second pick in the first round.
He was hands down the best defensive player in all of the nation last season, and proved that he even has some upside to his offensive game.
The T'Wolves, who are in desperate need for some perimeter D, could do great things with Singleton if they call out his name with their second pick.
21. Portland Trail Blazers: Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas
I'm trying to say this in the best possible way, but I just can't: Markieff Morris will be a worse baller than his brother in the NBA.
Perhaps the best thing about the 6'10", 235-pound Markieff's game is that he is a strong and explosive finisher.
The thing he needs to work on is his post play, and in Portland he would be mentored by LaMarcus Aldridge.
22. Denver Nuggets: Tobias Harris, PF, Tennessee
One of the best freshmen in the nation this season, Tobias Harris is a great rebounder who has great instincts around the hoop.
He also has a dead-on jump shot, an always solid trait to possess in the NBA.
The one main aspect he can improve upon in his game is his post play, something he probably needs as a pro more likely than not.
He'd be a good fit in Denver, where frontcourt depth will be necessary in continuing to rebuild the team post-Carmelo.
23. Houston Rockets (from Magic): C.J. Leslie, PF, NC State
After taking Donatas Motiejunas with their first pick, the Houston Rockets would like to have a solid complimentary guy like C.J. Leslie of North Carolina State.
He's got first-round athleticism and could be selected higher than this if any team falls in love with his game, and that's a complete possibility.
One of the most highly touted freshmen this season, Leslie failed to live up to expectations, but the Rockets will give him another shot.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Justin Harper, PF, Richmond
The Oklahoma City Thunder are all about the inside game with their power forwards and centers, so why not switch it up a bit here?
Harper has a solid perimeter game for a big, but ultimately needs to work on his inside game and his rebounding ability.
The 6'10" power forward's outside shooting will no doubt come in handy as a rookie, though.
25. Boston Celtics: Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
Jeff Taylor had himself a fine junior season (14 points, five rebounds per game) but it ultimately left him feeling unfulfilled. In turn, his draft stock took a hit.
He has excellent pace and speed. Additionally, he is one of the best defenders in this draft.
The thing he lacks in his game most is on the offensive side of things. The finesse and polish of this part of his game are completely absent.
The Celtics are a defensive-orientated team, so why not give Taylor a shot?
26. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Selby, SG, Kansas
The third Kansas Jayhawk selected in the first round of the draft, Josh Selby is an interesting case.
He had a decent freshman season, but do we really know all the aspects in his game yet and how he uses them?
Dallas will take a chance on him since they already have the deepest player on the team and he will not be a waste if his rookie season is mediocre.
27. New Jersey Nets (from Lakers): Reggie Jackson, PG, Boston College
Basketball's Reggie Jackson, not to be confused with "Mr. October" might be instead called "Mr. Passer" due to his excellent ability to find the open man.
He averaged 4.5 assists this season, not a telling number but perhaps a flawed statistic since collegiate players don't finish as well as the professionals.
Jackson improved his jump shot this last season as well, and it could be key to whether he gets selected in the first round.
28. Chicago Bulls: Jerome Richmond, SF, Illinois
If Jereme Richmond of Illinois is to take his talents 137 miles northeast to Chicago, he would become an integral part of the Bulls' future.
He would fit in just perfectly with the Bulls because he has a defensive-orientated mind, like half of the roster has developed over their respective tenures.
He does need to learn to improve his shot, though.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA
Tyler Honeycutt may not be the best scorer of all time, but he is aggressive when it comes to finishing and could develop to become a force to reckon with in the NBA.
He is as unselfish as they come, but he needs to work on his ball handling.
Aside from that, this guy should be higher but I don't think anyone will pull the trigger until the Spurs are on the clock. The small forward position is where they lack the most depth, and Honeycutt's inclusion would prove to be vital for the 2011-12 season.
30. Chicago Bulls: Kyle Singler, PF, Duke
Kyle Singler's draft stock may have fallen a little bit when he came back to try to repeat at Duke.
His 6'8" frame proves he has the size in the NBA to be a small or power forward.
His leadership was nearly unmatched at the collegiate level. This is something that can help him down the road in the professional ranks.
Chicago could use a guy like Singler for their bench, but they could end up trading his rights as they already have Carlos Boozer at the position.