2011 NBA Mock Draft: Breaking Down Picks 10-6
Although the NBA's 2011 draft class is weaker than it has been in recent years, there is still talent to be had.
Without talents like Blake Griffin or John Wall, clear cut number one selections who became immediate difference makers, the task for the holders of the top 10 picks is to unearth the players in this draft who will become capable professional players.
This may mean taking a chance on players with less refined talents, like Jordan Hamilton, or gambling on a lesser-known foreign player like Jonas Valanciunas.
This mock draft is based on projected draft order, which could (and most certainly will) change a number of times before the draft itself.
So the projections that follow are based on team need. In a draft far less rich in talent than we have seen recently, striking the right balance between team need and players skill could mean the difference between NBA relevance and many more years of rebuilding.
#10. Milwaukee Bucks: PF Marcus Morris, University of Kansas
Marcus Morris will likely end up as a Drew Gooden-type player. Good rebounder, good energy guy, but ultimately not skilled enough to be a consistent starter.
In a draft class as weak as this year’s, he will still be the best option for the Milwaukee Bucks, picking at No. 10 in this mock.
In college, Morris could score from the post, the wing and at the rim. However a skill set like this usually ends in NBA players without a position who don’t do any one thing well enough to have a specialty.
There is something to be said for the way that Morris led his Kansas team as a sort of jack-of-all-trades who was also the team’s best player. He is relentless in his energy and enthusiasm, but this won’t help him defend much larger forwards at the next level.
It is probable that Marcus Morris will enter the league almost fully developed. He won’t get any taller, bigger or stronger and his weaknesses are what they are.
But his skills are polished. He knows his limitations, and he has shown a great ability to hone the skills he does have. For the Bucks, this means drafting a rotation player who can contribute immediately if expectations are low.
Milwaukee will have enough veteran talent around Morris that he should be able to come in without much pressure and start contributing straight away.
No matter what happens, he will surely be better than Joe Alexander.
#9. Charlotte Bobcats: SF Jordan Hamilton, University of Texas
After a somewhat disappointing freshman year at Texas, Jordan Hamilton blew up in 2011. He proved himself to be a deadly shooter, making 43% of his threes last season despite shooting over six per game.
The Charlotte Bobcats have been in need of a dynamic scorer for years. By drafting Hamilton, Charlotte would be gambling that he will develop into his elite scoring potential.
With Hamilton, it’s all about consistency.
His off-the-dribble scoring ability is hit-or-miss at this point. At times he shows flashes of being a dangerous scorer and at other times he simply looks lost.
He is a mixed bag.
He is athletic enough to improvise, which can result in stunning offensive plays. But improvisation also leads to poor decisions and shot selection more often than coaches and fans like to see.
Hamilton is a roller-coaster ride on every level.
Offensively, he has all the ability you could ask for - but only in spurts.
Hamilton also makes sense for the Bobcats given that Michael Jordan's history of drafting marquee players from marquee schools. Hamilton fits this bill completely, having led Texas almost single-handedly last season despite his up-and-down performances.
#8. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania
Having already drafted a franchise point guard (spoiler alert) at No. 2 overall, the Cleveland Cavaliers could continue their rebuilding by grabbing a young big man.
And after taking a more surefire player earlier in the draft, Cleveland can afford to take a chance on upside here at No. 8.
In these ways, Jonas Valnaciunas would be an ideal pick for the Cavs.
In scouting circles, Valanciunas is best known for his epic battles with fellow prospect Enes Kanter.
While Kanter is considered the more physically mature prospect, Valanciunas’ continued development has grabbed scouts eye to the point that he has developed into one of the top prospects in all of basketball.
While his physical stature indicates that he will get pushed around early in his career, his 7’ 0" frame and well-regarded work ethic leave plenty of room for physical improvement.
Valanciunas’ sample size is very small. But the Cavaliers, headed into many years of rebuilding, can handle that. He has one of the biggest upsides in the draft, and for a franchise with nothing but time, that is all that really matters.
#7. Detroit Pistons: PG Kemba Walker, University of Connecticut
Kemba Walker’s exploits in the 2011 Big East Tournament and subsequent NCAA Championship Tournament are well documented.
He has clearly demonstrated the fire, competitiveness and scoring prowess that can make him not only a dynamic player, but an on-court leader as well.
For the Detroit Pistons, who have lacked offensive potency in recent years, Walker’s ability to score in a variety of ways is something that is sorely needed.
At somewhere around 6’ 0", Walker is undersized, but that doesn’t figure to stop him from scoring. His first step and quickness are guaranteed to translate to the NBA level, and even larger defenders will have a hard time keeping up with him.
The question for Walker is can he become more of a true point guard, and play with more control than he did at Connecticut?
Being drafted by a team like the Pistons would be perfect for Walker in this sense.
He will be able to slowly develop into a point guard while fully utilizing his considerable offensive talents. He will probably get broken down defensively but who are we kidding, Detroit isn’t stopping anyone anyways.
For the Pistons, scoring and leadership are such huge needs that Walker’s lack of size and pure point guard experience can be easily overlooked.
The 2011 Pistons were a disgrace. They quit on their coach and seemed to be the NBA’s most dysfunctional unit. Kemba Walker can help provide solutions to all these problems.
Although there are many more holes to be filled in Detroit, Kemba Walker is a huge step in the right direction.
#6. Utah Jazz: PG Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young University
This might be the most logical pick in NBA draft history. In Jimmer Fredette, the Jazz are not only getting a playmaking face of the franchise/Deron Williams replacement, they are getting a local legend.
Some people say that Fredette’s game doesn’t translate to the NBA. He doesn’t have enough point guard in him, they will argue, and will get exposed defensively.
These people are not giving Fredette enough credit. So what if he gets exposed on defense sometimes? That hasn’t stopped Chris Paul and Derek Rose from being two of the best players in the NBA.
Also, he’s named Jimmer! How can you not get behind a baller named Jimmer?
The other arguments that are made against Fredette remind me the arguments that were made against Stephon Curry when he was at Davidson. In both cases, the players carried inferior teammates further than they rightfully should have gone. They were catalysts and playmakers in addition to being shooters. Just because they were forced to score more to keep their teams competitive doesn’t mean that they lack playmaking ability.
Obviously I’m a Jimmer supporter. For the Utah Jazz, he is a natural choice.