2011 NBA Mock Draft: Minnesota Taking Derrick Williams or Kyrie Irving First?
Now that the 2011 NFL Draft is over, mockers can now look forward to another hectic season covering the 2011 NBA Draft.
Hopefully, the NBA Draft in June will be just as exciting as this weekend's football draft. With a new CBA (or lockout) looming, just like the NFL, trades will be held to a minimum on draft day.
Teams will not have much wiggle room with the NBA's unexpected future. The one thing that they can look forward to though is their draft prospects.
This year's draft class is not loaded with a lot of top-tier talent, but it is a deep draft that will provide teams with plenty of value in the second round.
Which stud do the Timberwolves take No. 1 overall?
Minnesota, you're on the clock.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kyrie Irving, PG Duke
With Minnesota already having both Michael Beasley and Kevin Love, I see them passing on Derrick Williams.
Williams and Kyrie Irving will go back and forth between No. 1 and 2 over the course of pre-draft workouts. In the end, I see Williams being the better prospect, but Irving fits in better with what the Timberwolves are building in Minnesota.
Johnny Flynn looks like he is not the long-term answer for the T-Wolves, and who knows if Ricky Rubio will ever play a game for them in his career.
Irving provides the team with an immediate franchise player.
A very young combo of Irving, Beasley and Love could turn into something special down the road.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Derrick Williams, F Arizona
Derrick Williams is probably the top prospect if the draft were to begin tonight. That works in the favor of the Cavs here, as he falls to No. 2.
Williams was the most dominant player in the NCAA tournament. He led Arizona to the Elite Eight where they lost to the eventual-champion UConn Huskies.
Williams is probably the most NBA ready player in the draft. The only knock on him could be his "tweener" status. He doesn't have the bulk and size to play as a true four, and he doesn't have the quickness and outside game to be a true three.
His versatility and movement between both positions should create plenty of matchup problems, though.
3. Toronto Raptors: Enes Kanter, PF/C Kentucky
After Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving are taken off the board, the level of talent immediately starts to decline.
Williams and Irving are the only two studs in the draft. Enes Kanter is not bad, though, and has a chance to be great.
His size and his skills down low should be a good compliment to Andrea Bargnani. He never played at Kentucky because he was suspended by the NCAA, so that waves red flags. Since he cannot go back to school, the 18-year old decided to head straight for the NBA.
Another concern is that Kanter has already had multiple knee problems, and like I said, he is only 18 years old.
4. Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely, F Czech Republic
There should be four international prospects taken in the top 10. Jan Vesely should be the second one picked behind Enes Kanter.
Vesely is a versatile 6'11" forward who can play either the three or the four. The strength of Vesely's game is his athleticism. He loves to run in the open floor and loves to score in transition. He is a good finisher and can top off a few fast breaks with some jaw-dropping dunks.
If Vesely is going to be more of a three, he must improve his ball-handling skills. He is definitely a raw player who has plenty of potential.
5. Sacramento Kings: Brandon Knight, G Kentucky
Brandon Knight was one of the top recruits coming out of high school last year. Now he is one of the top prospects in the draft after having a superb freshman year.
Knight averaged over 17 points, four rebounds and four assists for Kentucky and led the Wildcats to the Final Four.
A Brandon Knight/Tyreke Evans backcourt would be a scary duo to defend against. Both can score the basketball and both can show off their excellent speed in an up-tempo offense.
6. Utah Jazz: Donatas Motiejunas, PF Lituania
Donatas Motiejunas should be the next of the top-tiered international prospects taken in the top 10.
He may have the most upside out of any of the international prospects in the draft.
Montiejunas possesses prototypical height for an NBA PF. He is 7'0" and has a great jumpshot and range. If he reaches his potential, he could turn into a Dirk Nowitzki or an Andrea Bargnani type of player at the next level.
Montiejunas knows he has the potential to be great, but it will ultimately be up to him to work on his game in order to reach his high ceiling.
7. Detroit Pistons: Kemba Walker, PG UConn
No player's stock rose more during the NCAA tournament than Kemba Walker's did. Walker capped a phenomenal year by leading his team to a Big East title and a national championship.
Walker was always one of the leading scorers in the nation. He ended the season averaging 23.5 points per game.
With Rodney Stuckey now in the doghouse in Detroit, the Pistons could use a new franchise PG.
Walker is someone you can build your team around. He gives you 100 percent every night and is an all-around great basketball player.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alec Burks, SG Colorado
Alec Burks is another West-Coast talent who did not get the national attention like some of the other great prospects in this draft. It did not help him, either, that Colorado got snubbed out of the NCAA tournament.
Like Walker, Burks was always a leading scorer in the country. He finished averaging over 20 points as well.
Burks is a very athletic guard who can become a good scorer in the NBA if he works on getting his shot to be more consistent. He has great vision and ball skills. Thus, he has the ability to handle the ball as the PG as well.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Jonas Valanciunas, PF/C Lithuania
The Charlotte Bobcats are desperate for frontcourt help. Kwame Brown and Dante Cunningham should not be starters in the NBA.
Jonas Valanciunas should be the last of the international prospects taken in the lottery. Some believe he may turn out to be the best prospect in this draft. He has a long way to go and develop, though, before we can find out.
The kid is only 18 years old and extremely raw. He has good moves around the rim, but is going to have to put some meat of those bones if he wants to battle down low with NBA players.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Terrence Jones, F Kentucky
The Bucks need someone who will be able to score the basketball, and Terrence Jones is the best player available who can provide that type of offense night in and night out.
Jones is another fab freshman to enter the draft after one year at Kentucky. He averaged over 15 points and almost nine rebounds in his only year in college.
Jones is a lefty tweener who can play either the three or the four. He'll most likely develop to more of a swingman if he can get down a more consistent shot from the perimeter.
11. Golden State Warriors: Marcus Morris, F Kansas
Marcus Morris will most likely be the first of the Morris twins taken on draft day. He is the more versatile of the two, playing either the SF or PF positions.
As of now, Morris fits in more of the PF role. That said, he will have to put some weight on and fill out his frame in order to battle bigs down low in the NBA.
If his team wants him to develop more into a three, they are going to have to develop his shot and ball skills.
12. Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, G Brigham Young
How far will the nation's top player fall in the draft? Jimmer Fredette should not fall out of the lottery because he should be given a chance in the NBA.
It is tough to say how beneficial his game would be at the next level, but you cannot argue his college production.
Fredette was the leading scorer in the country and single-handedly led his team all year long.
Utah could use a backup PG, and he could be groomed to start once Devin Harris' contract is up.
Fredette will fit right in at Utah nearby BYU.
13. Phoenix Suns: Klay Thompson, G Washington State
With half of their starting lineup possibly leaving in free agency, the Suns are going to have to reload at the two and the three positions.
Enter Klay Thompson. Who? Thompson is another West Coast product who many may not have heard of last season. He is perhaps one of the best pure shooters in this year's draft class and has good size to fit right in as an NBA SG.
Thompson is not the greatest athlete, though. However, he does show signs of his "hidden" athleticism when he wants to.
14. Houston Rockets: Markieff Morris, F Kansas
Houston rounds out the lottery by selecting Markieff Morris. The Rockets are in dire need of a big man down low.
Yao Ming's career is in doubt, and they cannot afford to take a chance on assuming he will be healthy ever again.
Markieff is the more stable and consistent of the Morris twins, meaning that he is more of a true big man.
He is ready to play right away in the NBA. He has good size already to battle down low and uses his soft touch around the rim to score.
15. Indiana Pacers: Tristan Thompson, F Texas
Tristan Thompson is another one-and-done player heading for the NBA.
He had a decent freshman year at Texas, but will be drafted high because of his potential.
Thompson has good size and has a great left-handed shot. He is very athletic and has quick-and-nimble feet for being his size and weight.
He loves to play on both ends of the floor. He averaged 13 points and over two blocks per game last season.
Add Thompson to an already under-sized Pacers frontcourt.
16. Philadelphia 76ers: Jordan Hamilton, G/F Texas
Back-to-back Texas products go off the board at 15 and 16.
I am not sure if Jordan Hamilton will be around this late, but if he is, the Sixers should consider themselves to be very lucky and should be ecstatic to get him.
Hamilton is exactly what the Sixers need to take the next step forward. He is a combo guard/forward who can play either the two or three and he can score the basketball. He can be the secondary scorer that the Sixers have been looking for.
17. New York Knicks: Trey Thompkins, PF Georgia
The New York Knicks need a true C to play with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in the frontcourt.
Thompkins is not a true C, but he is the closest thing to it. He has the size and strength to matchup with opposing centers.
He will fit New York's offense because Thompkins is more offensive-minded, just like the rest of the team.
Thompkins is not the best athlete on his feet, but he has great touch and his range extends all the way out to the three-point line. He also brings a true post presence to New York on the block.
18. Washington Wizards: Tyler Honeycutt, G/F UCLA
After already selecting Jan Vesely with their first pick, the Wizards decide to get an SG with their second pick in the first round.
Tyler Honeycutt had a good sophomore season and decided to turn pro early. Honeycutt is still a raw prospect, but he has the physical size and fundamental skill set to become a starter in the NBA.
Honeycutt has a huge wingspan, which almost immediately reminds you of Tayshaun Prince. Honeycutt is a versatile athlete who can stay on the perimeter as a two guard or post up inside as a three.
19. Charlotte Bobcats: Kawhi Leonard, SF San Diego State
Kawhi Leonard is rising up mocks since his performance in the NCAA tournament, but I do not have him rising quite as high as the others.
Leonard is a great player and a good prospect, but his limited offensive game is what concerns me as of now. I realize he can improve, but as of now, that is why he slips here.
Leonard was one of the hardest working players in college basketball. He never took plays off and always battled down low for extra rebounds.
If he improves his offensive game, the Bobcats could get a steal here and get a clone of Gerald Wallace back on their roster.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tobias Harris, F Tennessee
Tobias Harris should be a good project for the growing Timberwolves. After selecting Kyrie Irving with the first pick, Harris is a guy who can compliment his game.
Harris is a versatile player who can play either the three or four positions. With this selection, Minnesota keeps building one of the best young frontcourts in the league.
Harris' main strength is his basketball IQ. Coaches love when a player truly knows and understands how to play team basketball. Harris is a very young kid who could turn into something special if he continues to work hard at reaching his greatest potential.
21. Portland Trail Blazers: Kenneth Faried, PF Morehead St.
Most of the mock drafts I have seen have Kenneth Faried going here to Portland. I am in agreement with the majority.
Faried stepped onto the national stage in the NCAA tournament when his team upset Louisville in the first round.
Faried is a monster down low and on the glass. Even with him being under-sized, Faried led the nation in rebounding by averaging over 14 boards per contest.
He fits right into the tough, hard-nosed game that the Trail Blazers play.
22. Denver Nuggets: Chris Singleton, F Florida State
The transformation of the Denver Nuggets continues. Who would have thought that Denver would be better off without Carmelo Anthony?
What was once a one-man show has now turned into a dynamic team that actually plays defense.
Add Chris Singleton to this growing young squad. He is perhaps the best defender in college basketball and is definitely the top defender in this year's draft.
Singleton adds some depth to a frontcourt that may lose Kenyon Martin this offseason.
23. Houston Rockets: Shelvin Mack, G Butler
Houston is another team that has two selections in the first round. After already selecting a big man, I see them going in the backcourt to select a player like Shelvin Mack or Nolan Smith.
Both guards can play either guard position, but Mack is a little bigger. Mack's size and strength is what can separate him from defenders. Not many PGs like to post up and use their body.
Mack will battle Kyle Lowry for the starting gig in Houston after they traded away Aaron Brooks at the trade deadline. Interestingly, this is the pick they received from the Suns in that trade. Basically Houston traded Aaron Brooks for Mack.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Marshon Brooks, G Providence
Kemba Walker was the crown jewel of the Big East. However, Marshon Brooks was not far behind. Brooks was second in the country in averaging close to 25 points per game.
The Thunder need someone who can come off the bench and score from either of the guard positions. He will be a good change-of-pace player from Thabo Sefolosha.
Brooks might be seen as a ball-hog because he took so many shots in college. If I played for Providence College and I was this good, I'd take that many shots too.
25. Boston Celtics: Nolan Smith, G Duke
This is a tough decision for Danny Ainge and company. Do the Celtics rebuild their frontcourt considering Garnett's age and Glen Davis' possible departure, or do they go with a guard who can backup Rondo and also be groomed to take over for Ray Allen?
I'll take the latter. The Celtics have a deeper frontcourt now with Jeff Green on their roster. Their backcourt is where they need help. Ray Allen could possibly be thrown into trade talks this summer with his contract coming to an end.
Nolan Smith can play either the one or two, and that should be exactly what Boston is looking for.
26. Dallas Mavericks: Bismack Biyombo, C Congo
Dallas has had some minor success drafting international prospects in the past.
Bismack Biyombo is their next project. He is a 6'9" C from Congo. He is extremely raw and young but has the potential to be the replacement for a departing Tyson Chandler.
Even at 6'9", Biyombo is a shot-blocking C who is very athletic. His 7'7" wingspan is what makes up for his smaller stature.
Like I said, Biyombo is very raw, so he has to still work on the fundamentals of the game. His offensive game is non-existent except on the offensive boards.
27. New Jersey Nets: Jordan Williams, PF Maryland
Derrick Favors was supposed to be a solid rock in New Jersey for the future. With his departure, a new man must be selected to fill his role.
Jordan Williams is another big, powerful PF who can solidify the Nets frontcourt. If Kris Humphries also leaves in free agency, Williams is a perfect replacement for him. Williams is all over the glass and is a great hustle player.
He has to round into form, though. At times, he seems a little out of shape. He has improved in that area, though, and if he continues to do so, he has good potential to start for the Nets in Year 1.
28. Chicago Bulls: Josh Selby, G Kansas
The Bulls were looking to upgrade their SG position prior to the deadline, but they could not pull off anything. Now they can pick the top two-guard prospect left in the draft.
Josh Selby was a top recruit coming out of high school last year. He failed to live up to the hype surrounding him by only averaging eight points in about 20 minutes per game.
He can become a PG in the NBA, but he won't be taking that spot away from Derrick Rose anytime soon. If he improves his ball-handling and game-management skills, he could backup Rose when he needs a break.
29. San Antonio Spurs: JaJuan Johnson, PF Purdue
Tim Duncan's career is coming to an end sooner than later. The Spurs are going to have to groom his replacement, which may be JaJuan Johnson.
Johnson is a totally different player than Duncan, but he can become just as dominant if he improves in certain areas.
He is a very athletic 6'10" PF who could even play the three as well. He could create mismatches all over the court with his lean body and quick foot speed. Because of his lean figure, though, he may get pushed around a little bit. He is going to need to build some strength.
30. Chicago Bulls: Keith Benson, C Oakland
Right now, Keith Benson is projected to be a mid-second-round pick in the draft, but something tells me that will change.
Benson played well in 2010 and in the NCAA tournament. He has almost unlimited potential, and with his size (6'11"), he could turn into one of the best centers of this draft class.
Something tells me that he will have very good draft workouts and shoot up draft boards and possibly sneak into the first round. You cannot teach size.
If Benson can bulk up and put at least another 30 pounds on, he can become a good starting C in the NBA.
And if the Bulls get him and he develops into something special...watch out for the next Bulls dynasty.