2011 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions and Analysis for Each First-Round Pick
The NBA Draft is now only 52 days away.
While this year's draft may not have the talent of the 2003 draft (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony) or the depth of 2007 (Marc Gasol was selected with the No. 48 pick that year) there is still plenty of talent on the board.
Here's a look at my mock draft for the entire first round.
In recent years, the worst team has not always ended up with the No. 1 pick.
For the sake of this slideshow, my draft order will be based on the records and trades in place.
In reality, a team like the Houston Rockets, who played really well at the end of the season and have plenty of quality pieces in place, will probably end up with the top pick just to piss off the rest of the better odds teams in the lottery.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Derrick WIlliams Is Still on Top
If you have read my other mock drafts, first of all, thank you, and you are probably not at all surprised to see Williams still at the top of my list.
I think Williams is an absolute stud.
Williams has the size, 6'8'' and 240 pounds, and the ability to get to the rim, as we saw in the NCAA tournament.
Unlike LeBron James, Williams will not always be the most physically dominant player every time he steps onto the floor.
Also, Williams will not be able to run the entire offense by himself and he will probably never have a season where he averages 29.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 7 apg (James 2009-10).
The one positive difference for Williams over LeBron James, is Williams can consistently hit the three far more than LeBron James ever could.
I think Williams will end up somewhere in between Richard Jefferson and Carmelo Anthony, probably more on the Jefferson side.
With JJ Hickson at power forward, Anderson Varejao coming back at the center spot and another Top 10 pick, the Cavaliers will be able to make considerable progress on rebuilding their starting five.
Click here if you want to read more on why Williams deserves the No. 1 pick
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
This year's NBA Playoffs have affirmed the importance of having a top-level point guard on your team.
Chris Paul single-handedly pushed the undermanned New Orleans Hornets to a six-game series against Kobe Bryant. Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo have been major parts of their teams' first-round success and Derrick Rose has carried the Chicago Bulls thus far.
The biggest hole for the Timberwolves is at the point guard position. Luke Ridnour is a good guy to have as your backup, but as the starter, he doesn't work well for this team. Jonny Flynn has been a disappointment, and Ricky Rubio may not actually exist.
What Kyrie Irving would do for the Timberwolves is similar to what Derrick Rose does for Chicago and Russell Westbrook does for Oklahoma City. This may seem like a bold claim right now, but look at this stat line below from the three players' freshman (for Westbrook, his sophomore) years of college:
Player A: 6'3'', 14.9 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 spg
Player B: 6'2'', 17.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.4 rpg, 1.5 spg
Player C: 6'3, 12.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.9 rpg, 1.6 spg
Which player would you build your team around? By the way, Kyrie Irving is Player B.
Granted, Irving only played 11 games at Duke this season, but there's more of an argument that his numbers would have improved with more game experience than dropped, because of more opportunities to have bad games.
When you insert a score-first point guard into Minnesota's offense, you can afford to have a shooting guard who isn't an offensive threat.
Look at Chicago with Keith Bogans or Oklahoma City with Thabo Sefolosha. Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook provide the scoring in the back court and distribute the ball to their front court.
For Minnesota, Irving and Love become your No. 1 and 2 options, Beasley is your third and you hope to get something from your shooting guard. Now, all that's left is to find a starting center so you can bring Darko off the bench.
3. Toronto Raptors
Still going with the European pick for the semi-European team.
The 6'11'' Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic can probably shoot the three, use both hands around the rim and will most certainly be victim to unspeakable insults by Kevin Garnett next season.
4. Washington Wizards
Not sure why I seem to be the only one putting Terrence Jones this high. I think Jones is built perfectly in the NBA and would be a great fit in this offense running alongside fellow Kentucky alum (don't tell Bobby Knight this), John Wall.
I know statistically speaking, Nick Young had a big year, but the offense stops when it gets in his hands. He often fires up bad shots and is not a superior enough talent to do this.
A lineup of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Terrence Jones, Andray Blatche and JeVale McGee has the makings of a more competitive starting five that would flow better offensively than the one they have in place.
Most mock drafts have the Wizards taking one of the Euros here, but is the prospect of Enes Kanter or Donatas Motiejunas that much more appealing than what they have in Blatche and McGee?
Jones is more of a sure thing in the NBA than the European big men. Therefore, the Wizards should go after him.
5. Sacramento Kings
We know the Sacramento Kings are going to play one more season in Sacramento.
We know Tyreke Evans will be the point guard.
We know they should re-sign Marcus Thornton.
I think they should draft Enes Kanter. Pair Kanter and DeMarcus Cousins together in the frontcourt, and the Kings have young size that can mature together while helping Sacramento compete with the West's big men.
6. Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz will be in the best position on draft day. The result of the Deron Williams trade means the Jazz will grab the Nets' No. 6 pick along with their own pick, which should fall around No. 12.
Here's what we know about the Jazz:
-Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are locks to start in the frontcourt, and keep the Jazz competitive with any tandem of big men in the league
-Devin Harris is a solid point guard
-Andrei Kirilenko will be a free agent, but will be at a far less than $17.8 million price tag
-Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward are proving to be solid backups and will continue to get better
A month ago, I thought the Jazz should use this pick to add a backup center. Now, I think the Jazz need to use the No. 6 pick on Brandon Knight.
Dating back to the John Stockton era, the Jazz have never really had a scoring threat at the shooting guard position. They would finally have one in Brandon Knight.
Knight also gives them point guard skills and depending on their offensive philosophy, he could end up taking the point guard role away from Harris.
There are enough big men that will still be on the board when they reach pick No. 12.
7. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons will pray for Brandon Knight to fall to this spot.
When he doesn't, here's what the Pistons should do.
I think Joe Dumars needs to enter into the salary cap clearing, Donnie Walsh mode that we saw in New York pre-Amare and Carmelo acquisitions.
He needs to both start clearing cap space for free agency summers to come, and also begin to acquire valuable trade pieces for potential All-Star break deals.
Hate to say it, but Pistons fans, this will be a long process that will not see results until the 2013/14 offseason.
It starts with not re-signing Tayshaun Prince. I'm not sure why Dumars did not deal Prince away at the deadline, but the answer now is not to re-sign Prince for three or four more years at seven or eight million a year. Let Prince go, and move on with a new small forward.
I think the Pistons should roll the dice here with Marcus Morris. He developed tremendously this year in both his low post moves and his outside game.
The Pistons would look to develop Morris as a small forward, but also could think about putting him with Richard Hamilton in a deal with a contender.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Like the Jazz, the Cavaliers will have two very early picks (the No. 8 pick is from the Baron Davis trade with Los Angeles Clippers).
Since they selected Derrick Williams with the No. 1 selection in this mock draft, I think the Cavaliers should actually go after a big man here.
JJ Hickson is solid at power forward and Anderson Varejao is a productive center, but they need another big man in their rotation.
The Lithuanian, Donatas Motiejunas, will provide security for the Cavaliers if Varejao goes down again, and will add depth to one of the worst frontcourts in the league.
9. Charlotte Bobcats
Not quite Harrison Barnes, but Michael Jordan will still fall in love with Tristan Thompson's potential.
This would be a great pick for the Charlotte Bobcats.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Markieff Morris was starting to show more pro potential than his highly touted twin brother at the end of the season.
I think Drew Gooden can provide some mentorship to his fellow Kansas Jayhawk. Morris is a talented rebounder and has a great outside shot.
He will fit in well with Scott Skiles, a coach who expects defense out of his players the same way Bill Self did throughout Morris' college years.
11. Golden State Warriors
Why not load up with more guard talent in San Francisco?
Alec Burks is 6'6'' and scored 20.5 ppg in his sophomore year for the Buffaloes.
He will give Golden State a weapon to bring off the bench for Steph Curry or Monta Ellis.
Burks will also give the Warriors some security in case Ellis leaves for another team a few years down the line.
12. Utah Jazz
Utah should go after a backup center here, but I see the Jazz almost guilt tripping themselves into picking Jimmer Fredette.
For a team that may be on the outside looking in at the playoffs, Fredette will help sell tickets and could give the Jazz a boost off the bench.
At the end of the day, a team that plays in Salt Lake City cannot pass up on one of the greatest Mormon college basketball players of all time.
13. Phoenix Suns
Steve Nash's years are running out. Grant Hill's years may be out.
Insert Klay Thompson from Washington State to run with Nash and hit plenty or outside shots. Thompson may be the best pure shooter in the entire draft.
14. Houston Rockets
Houston has built themselves a very solid team that has played some of the best basketball in the league since the All-Star break.
At point guard, they are set with Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic.
At shooting guard, they are set with Kevin Martin, and Courtney Lee coming off the bench only makes them stronger.
At power forward, Luis Scola is a star, and Patrick Patterson is a solid bench guy.
At center, they have Chuck Hayes and Brad Miller.
The small forward is their area of concern. In a perfect world for the Rockets, Terrence Jones is waiting for them at the No. 14 spot. If he is not, I think the Rockets should go with Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State.
Leonard has the body of an NBA small forward and plays the game with tons of intensity. If you got a chance to watch him this season, you saw a guy who doesn't take plays off and will commit to defense.
He's not a polished offensive player, but the Rockets don't need him to be. They need a guy to get after Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki, and Leonard will do a good job at this.
15. Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers showed in the Chicago Bulls series that they are much more than "just an eight seed."
They may have only won once, but they were competitive in all of the contests and will only get better at closing out games in the future.
Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough are proving to be a handful down low.
Darren Collison is a good enough point guard to build a contending team around.
After you get past LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce, Danny Granger is waiting right there with Andre Iguodola and Luol Deng as the next best small forwards in the league.
The jury is still out on Paul George and Brandon Rush.
I think the Pacers need to add another big man to their roster. Georgia's Trey Thompkins would fit in nicely coming off the bench for Hansbrough or Hibbert.
16. New York Knicks
The Knicks have decided to keep Chauncey Billups as their starting point guard for next season. I think they need to secure a true backup point guard behind him.
Enter Nolan Smith.
I think Nolan Smith of Duke would be the ideal fit. If Billups gets injured, which he will for stretches of the season, Smith could come in and be a true point guard for the Knicks, with Toney Douglass splitting the minutes as the scoring threat.
If they land Chris Paul, Smith would be a good backup for him, too.
17. Philadelphia 76ers
The surprisingly good Philadelphia 76ers have plenty of guards on their roster. They need to add some depth in the front court.
What better than to go with a surprisingly good pick here in Keith Benson?
I think Benson could be the steal of this year's draft. More than likely he will fall into the second round, but I think the 76ers should snatch him right here.
Benson is around seven feet tall, and was second in the country in blocked shots. He also averaged 17 ppg and 10 rpg.
He has advanced moves around the basket and could really help boost the 76ers interior defense.
Negative about Benson, is he really needs to bulk up. This can be fixed. The height, shot-blocking ability and post moves are already there, the extra 15-20 pounds will eventually come.
18. Washington Wizards
Kenneth Faried is another steal of this year's draft.
The guy rebounds the basketball the way Dennis Rodman used to. He may be a little undersized at 6'8'', but he knows how to get to the right spots near the basket for rebounds.
I think this would be an exciting pickup for the Wizards. Andray Blatche can score, but Faried can get in there and do the dirty work.
With a lot of offensive power around John Wall, they need a glue guy like Faried to win tight basketball games.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves
At this point of the draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves can add some depth behind Michael Beasley at the small forward position.
I like Jordan Hamilton with this selection over other available small forwards, such as UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt or Tobias Harris of Tennessee, because he seems to be more NBA-ready.
Hamilton will be able to physically get to the rim and he already possesses an accurate jump shot.
20. New Orleans Hornets
I think the New Orleans Hornets should begin to plan for the inevitable departure of Chris Paul. Yes, the Hornets can make the argument that he pushed the Lakers six games without David West, and if he stays, they can get him pieces.
However, Paul should find a way to team up with Dwight Howard or end up in New York with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. He could be a part of quality New Orleans teams or championship contenders elsewhere.
One way to do this, is bring in the exciting, somewhat risky, Kemba Walker, who could surprisingly fall this far in the draft.
I think Walker will be able to score in the NBA, but he will put teams in a tough position as to where to play him.
I see him becoming like Toney Douglass of New York, where you can sub him in for your point guard and he might score 20, but do you really feel confident with him running your offense?
Either way, if Walker falls this far, it would be hard to pass up on him, knowing your point guard may be on his way out.
21. Charlotte Bobcats
Tyler Honeycutt has a lot of potential. The Bobcats hope to get the next Tayshaun Prince out of this pick.
22. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets should trade this pick to a team like the Detroit Pistons or Sacramento Kings, for a future first-round pick.
At this point, the Nuggets have so much talent, they really don't have any room to add another player.
If they trade this pick for a future pick, from a bad team, they may end up with a top-level talent who can close out games for them after fans grow upset with 50+ win seasons followed by first-round exits.
23. Tobias Harris
Think Boris Diaw for the Suns a few years ago.
Tobias Harris has the right mix of small forward ball-handling skills and power forward size to fit in well with Phoenix.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder
Like the Denver Nuggets, the Oklahoma City Thunder really don't need to add much.
With the addition of Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder are set with Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed to battle the Lakers' set of big men (but apparently not ready to battle Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol).
At point guard, they have Russell Westbrook and a solid Eric Maynor to fill in the few minutes a night that Westbrook heads to the bench.
Shooting guard, they have the defensive guy in Thabo Sefolosha, and the offense guy in James Harden.
At small forward, they have Kevin Durant.
I think the best bet for the Thunder is to add a backup for Durant. The best player left on the board for this role would be Chris Singleton out of Florida State.
He wouldn't be asked to do much, but insert this incredibly long and athletic swingman for 10 to 15 minutes a night, and the Thunder would be an even better team.
25. Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks could use some more size to help Dirk Nowitzki get deeper into the playoffs.
They should go with Bismack Biyombo from the Congo.
He's a shot blocker with a 7'7'' wingspan who can develop while Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood share the big-man responsibilities.
26. Chicago Bulls
Shooting guard is a weird situation for the Chicago Bulls.
Like I said earlier, with the Kyrie Irving slide, when you have a guy like Derrick Rose who is such a lethal scorer as your point guard, you can afford to have the shooting guard position be more defensively focused.
This is why the Bulls trust Keith Bogans as their starter and hope to get something from either Kyle Korver or Ronnie Brewer off the bench.
The Bulls have enough presence down low with Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and the vastly improving Omerk Asik, that they shouldn't use this pick on a big man.
They also have a solid C.J. Watson to come in for the 10-12 minutes a night that Derrick Rose takes off.
The Chicago Bulls should draft Butler's Shelvin Mack. He is a proven winner, taking his improbable Butler teams to the final game two years in a row.
He has a great outside shot and has the right team-first attitude to mold into the Bulls locker room.
27. Boston Celtics
Time to load up on defensive-first guys to come off the bench and guard Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
I thought Jeff Green did a pretty good job in his minutes on James, so the issue is finding a shooting guard to help back up Ray Allen on Wade.
Throw in Malcolm Lee for 15-20 minutes a night to go out and bother Dwyane Wade and I think the Celtics will like what they get in return. Lee has good length paired with quick feet.
The Celtics do not need a scorer with this pick: defense first on their bench.
28. New Jersey Nets
The New Jersey Nets will be attracted to Marshon Brooks' 24.5 ppg average from his last season at Providence.
They will forget to see the number of shot attempts and ball-hog moments he had each game.
Brooks can flat-out score, he played college basketball on the East Coast and Deron Williams will be able to set him up with easy shot attempts. This is not a bad draft pick.
*The Nets have this pick from the Los Angeles Lakers as a part of the Sasha Vujacic trade.
29. Chicago Bulls
This may be another pick that should be traded, but I think the Bulls will find some talent still on the board that they can put to use.
These two late first-round picks will work out well for the Chicago Bulls. I look for them to select JaJuan Johnson of Purdue.
Johnson would have to fight his way into some minutes in the Bulls' front court, but if the Bulls have the same amount of injuries as they did this year, an extra big body will surely help out.
30. San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs went from an old team putting up their last great fight as a No. 1 seed to an old team who were bounced out of the playoffs by a No. 8.
It's time for the Spurs to consider strategically rebuilding.
Antonio McDyess will most likely retire after this season. They need to find a new power forward for the future.
I think the Spurs should go with VCU's Jamie Skeen. He may be undersized, but he is extremely tough and proved to be a talented scorer against top competition in the tournament.