2011 NBA Mock Draft: Breaking Down Picks 5-1
Check out picks 10-6 of this mock draft here.
In a particularly weak NBA draft, teams selecting in the top 5 will have unique opportunities to grab the few legitimate difference makers available. Given the relative weakness of the 2011 draft class, getting an impact player will give a few lucky teams an advantage heading into 2012.
And now, on with the fake draft!
#5. Sacramento Kings: SF/PF Jan Vesely, Czech Republic
The Kings would love Terrence Jones if he were available here. He fits all of their needs and would look great alongside Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins as franchise cornerstones for years to come.
Unfortunately, many other teams who will be competing for high lottery picks with the Kings have similar needs, and unless Sacramento manages to get a top 4 pick it is unlikely that Jones will be available to them.
It is also possible that the talents of Brandon Knight might ultimately win out over that of the less-known Vesely, but Knight’s skill set is remarkably similar to that of the more established Tyreke Evans, and therefore isn’t the fit that Vesely is.
With that in mind, Vesely could be a great complimentary piece for the Kings' young core. His post game is rapidly developing and at 6’11 he is capable of physically dominating the small forward position in the NBA. His game is unrefined, but he has shown a killer instinct and flair for the dramatic that is unusual in European players.
Vesely’s immediate main advantage will be his size. He will be able to shoot over almost any defender, though his jumper is still a question mark.
He projects to develop into an Andrei Kirilenko-type do-it-all combo forward. While there are certainly more glamorous players in this draft, the potentially versatile nature of Vasely’s game combined with his physical abilities and room for development may be too much for the Kings to pass up, especially considering the many needs he would fit for them.
#4. Washington Wizards: SF/PF Terrence Jones, University of Kentucky
For the Wizards, Jones would fit several needs. He is the best defender in the draft and has the size and bulk to physically defend both forward positions at the NBA level.
His offensive game is still raw, but he clearly got more comfortable from the perimeter throughout his freshman year at Kentucky, and is still just 18 years old.
Most importantly, he has the elite athleticism and quickness franchises look for when drafting a future franchise slasher/scorer type.
Immediately, it seems likely that Jones will get exposed in the post, both on offense and defense. But as I said, he is only 18 years old and projecting him to add a few inches and pounds to his frame will go a long way towards helping this aspect of his game develop.
With John Wall firmly in place at point guard for the foreseeable future, the Wizards have needs at 4 of 5 starting positions. Terrence Jones will bring them versatility, size, and offensive potency, which will help transition Washington in coming years.
#3. Toronto Raptors: PF/C Enes Kanter, University of Kentucky
Enes Kanter has all the hallmarks of a Raptors lottery pick. He doesn’t exactly have a defined position in the NBA. He is European, and is mostly unknown to American fans.
Somewhere in Toronto, Bryan Colangelo is reading Kanter’s scouting report and salivating.
Kanter is followed by the usual sense of intrigue and hyperbole that is common with foreign or unknown draft prospects, and his story is an interesting one.
He played intermittently for a Turkish team in 2008, but never signed a contract with the team saying he wanted to play college hoops in the United States. Before what would have been his freshman year at the University of Kentucky, he was declared ineligible to due to his past involvement in Turkish professional basketball.
Oh, sweet irony.
Before his ineligible ruling came down, Kanter had been tearing up summer leagues and was among the top recruits in the country. He is 6’11, and a workmanlike rebounder and scorer.
The other Raptor-ish option here is Jonas Valanciunis. Most NBA fans know very little about him either, making him an ideal fit for Toronto.
While Valanciunis’ scouting reports would lead you to believe that he is more along the lines of finesse players like Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu that the Rapors have proven to be so fond of, Kanter’s low post game and rebounding potential serve the needs of the team much better.
For Toronto, picking Kanter is basically re-doing the Rafael Araujo pick. They are a franchise in perpetual need of a big body/post presence. In an especially weak draft, Kanter is their best option.
#2. Cleveland Cavaliers: PG Kyrie Irving, Duke University
For the Cavs, 2011 is merely the first baby step of what is sure to be a long, laborious rebuilding process.
What better way to rebuild than with a franchise point guard?
Irving gives Cleveland a player they can sell to their fans. His image is that of a squeaky-clean, ego-less playmaker. In a post-LeBron world, the “ego-less” part is of chief importance.
Irving is molded in the form of a prototypical point guard — a player who excels at creating for others but has the range and scoring ability to keep defenses honest.
While it is likely that Irving's first step will translate to the NBA, it is far less likely that his below the rim slashing game will. Just ask Mike Conley how well that turns out.
Luckily, Irving is a better passer than Conley was when he was drafted, and is a more polished prospect overall. As long as he can adjust his offensive mindset, and focus more on creating he should be just fine.
The future of the Cavaliers still cannot be classified as bright, but with the arrival of Irving, the franchise will at least be in good hands.
#1. Minnesota Timberwolves: SF/PF Derrick Williams, University of Arizona
Williams is the pick for the Wolves because David Kahn simply cannot draft yet another point guard in the first round. He just can’t. The basketball universe might implode if he does. Just thinking about it is making my head hurt.
Two years ago, Minnesota took three point guards in the first, and somehow only wound up with one of the worst players in the draft to show for it. Ricky Rubio is still in Spain, not exactly chomping at the bit to leave his home country for the warm, inviting glow of winters in Minnesota.
Ty Lawson is leading the resurgent Nuggets in the playoffs at this very moment.
And in Minnesota, Jonny Flynn is absolutely terrible.
So they can’t take another point guard. Doing so will pre-emptively damage Kyrie Irving’s career. He might never get the stink off.
In Williams, the Wolves would draft talent over need. They need a shooting guard, but in a draft without Harrison Barnes, there isn’t an elite one to be had.
Derrick Williams will provide a more athletic offensive rebounding/shot blocking presence to go along with Kevin Love’s below-the-rim game. His offensive game needs development, but so does much of the Wolves roster.
The best-case comparison for Williams is a slightly less athletic Josh Smith with a better jumper. He was a remarkably good shooter at Arizona, hitting almost 57% of his threes, and posting a True Shooting Percentage of 69%.
Williams showed in the NCAA Tournament that he could dominate physically and athletically. The question is whether he can do the same in the NBA, where every opponent is more physical and athletic, and creating shots for oneself is far more difficult.