NBA Mock Draft 2011: The Lottery
The NBA draft is quickly approaching, and with only a few short days left until the lottery it's time to start getting into the mock draft spirit.
Obviously the order of the lottery hasn't been decided yet, so this is more to spark interest and expose team needs rather than predict the order of the actual draft.
There is still scouting to do before the draft, but at least now we know for sure who's in and who's out.
This draft is considered to be a fairly weak one by most, and the talent gap is not as wide as it usually would be. Kyrie Irving is clearly No. 1, but after that people have many different interpretations of the rest of the top-10 talent wise.
A lot can happen between now and the draft, but I will try to examine what teams are thinking at this point. I will use the current order if there were no lottery.
14. Houston Rockets: Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania F
Motiejunas is a great international prospect with huge upside.
Most people project him as a forward, but it's possible he could log minutes at both forward spots next season for the Rockets who are already set at power forward.
What the Rockets could really use is a center, but at this point in the draft it will probably be hard to find one. Motiejunas is a legit seven-footer, and is obviously very tall for his position. He is only 20 years old.
Motiejunas is a guy that can come in and have an impact on the team right away. The problem is, he is way too thin to be a star right away.
He needs to add weight if he ever wants to be a starting power forward in the league however, he has all the physical tools to be successful.
Motiejunas has solid range, and athleticism and he is great around the basket. As soon as he gains muscle and his consistency he will be a good offensive player.
The Rockets will be pretty happy to get this kind of player with the 14th pick in this draft. He will likely come over right away but we can't be sure. Either way, his talent is worth it.
13. Pheonix Suns: Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania PF
Jonas Valanciunas is a prospect that opinions will vary greatly on as we get closer to the draft.
He is very talented and he is only 19 years old. He is 6'10" and weighs 230 pounds. He is a legit power forward with a big wing span.
He is good all-around the basket and he is a good rebounder. Like Motiejunas, Valanciunas will need to put on some muscle but he is a little bigger already.
Jonas Valanciunas can run the floor pretty well for a big man and that is important to the Suns with their up tempo offense. The Suns are aging at both guard positions, but Valanciunas is just too talented to pass up at No. 13.
The one drawback to drafting Valanciunas is a big one. He's probably not going to be coming to the NBA for a while. He has a binding contract with his European team, and it may be a few more years before we see him.
If he were to come over right away he would likely be a top-10 pick. We all know about the problem the Minnesota Timberwolves are having with Ricky Rubio right now, and Valanciunas could present a similar situation.
We'll see how it affects his stock on draft day.
12. Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, BYU PG
Jimmer Fredette is one of the most celebrated college basketball players of all time.
He is a legendary scorer who has plenty of moves and ways to score. He has unbelievable range on his jumper, but he can also take it to the rim.
He doesn't have great athleticism, but he can create his own shot and has a high basketball IQ.
The problem with Jimmer is his quickness, especially on defense. Scouts have no idea how he will guard quicker point guards in the NBA. The other issue is that he is definitely more of a scorer than a passer.
The question is whether or not he can adjust and be a successful point guard or if he will have to play off the ball in the NBA. If that's the case he is severely undersized.
Jimmer makes sense for Utah because he went to college there and he is loved by the fans there. There have been rumors that Devin Harris isn't the long term answer for the Jazz at point guard.
Either way, the Jazz could use another guard, and it this point there selection should be limited. Jimmer should be the pick.
11. Golden State: Jordan Hamilton, Texas SF
Jordan Hamilton is a very interesting prospect. At 6'7" 220 pounds he is the perfect size for an NBA small forward.
He is an elite scorer with great range. Not only can Hamilton score, but he is solid in almost all parts of the game.
He is good on defense, he is a good rebounder and he is a good ball-handler and passer. He should contribute right away.
Hamilton is still struggling with some maturity issues on the court.
He can be selfish at times and he displays poor shot selection, but these are issues that you can fix, and if he can successfully rid himself of these habits he will be a very good NBA player.
Jordan Hamilton made huge strides in his sophomore season last year which makes it easy to believe he will continue to develop.
Hamilton to the Warriors makes sense because not only do the Warriors need another small forward, but they need one that fits into their run and gun style. Hamilton certainly fits the bill.
They need someone that can come in and stretch the defense and play in transition while also not completely neglecting his defensive responsibilities.
Right now the Warriors have Curry and Ellis at guard and Lee and Udoh in the frontcourt. All they need is a future star at the three and they should be competitive in the near future.
Dorell Wright is solid, but he's not an essential piece. They need a young guy with more potential, Hamilton is capable of completing that lineup.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Bismack Biyombo, Congo PF
Bismack Biyombo is one of the most intriguing prospects in this years draft. To be honest, we really don't know all that much about him.
What we do know is that he has an absolutely ridiculous wingspan (7'7") and he has drawn many Ben Wallace comparisons.
Biyombo's agent claims he's just 18 years old, and there is evidence supporting that he is that young, but we can't necessarily be sure of his age at this point. Assuming he's only 18, he is a very good prospect.
He is very long, very athletic and he will be a very good shot blocker. He should have an impact right away when it comes to defense and rebounding. His scoring however, is a work in progress.
Biyombo will no doubt have his struggles on offense in the beginning, but hopefully he will develop given time. What teams are really interested in though, is his defensive skills.
If Biyombo lasts this long, the Bucks probably won't be able to pass him up. They drafted Larry Sanders in the first round last year, but whether or not he will develop into a starter is unclear.
If Biyombo is still available, the Bucks will take advantage of the opportunity to take him.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Alec Burks, Colorado SG
Alec Burks is the definition of an athlete. He is extremely athletic and he has a huge vertical.
He has all the necessary physical attributes to be a star at the next level, but he does have quite a bit to work on if he wants to succeed.
For starters, he needs a more reliable jumper. He shot just 29 percent from beyond the arc last season, and he isn't really a threat to knock down threes.
If Burks is going to play guard at the next level he has to be able to shoot the ball with consistency.
He also needs to hit the weight room which probably won't be that big of an issue. He may not have a huge impact in his first season, but he is a big time prospect.
The Bobcats need help at almost every position. At this point in the draft, Burks is probably the player with the most upside.
Alongside DJ Augustin, Burks could complete their backcourt of the future.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kemba Walker, Uconn G
Kemba Walker is probably the most recognizable name in this years draft.
He led the Huskies to a national championship and proved he is one of the best scorers this draft has to offer. However, there are a few issues with Kemba's game.
The first big problem is that he is definitely a tweener. There are guys that are considered tweeners that can legitimately play both positions, but Kemba is not really one of those guys.
He relies on scoring so heavily that he probably isn't a point guard, but he is way to small to be a shooting guard.
In the NBA, I think he projects as a shooting guard because he lacks the vision and handles to run an offense.
As a shooting guard I think he does bring a lot to the table. He is lightning quick and can score in a variety of different ways. Although he is a scorer, he is an overrated shooter.
He shot 43 percent from the field last season and doesn't really have NBA three point range.
Personally, I think Kemba is vastly overrated as an NBA prospect and that he will slip as we get closer to the draft.
Right now, he's being looked at in the five or six spot, but by the time of the draft I think he will be closer to eight.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will be happy with Kemba here. They started Anthony Parker and Manny Harris in the off guard spot last season and Kemba should be an improvement from either of those two.
Eventually he will get minutes at the point, but I see him mostly off the ball in his rookie year depending on who he's drafted by.
7. Detroit Pistons: Tristan Thompson, Texas PF
Tristan Thompson is an athletic power forward who will undoubtedly be a solid rebounder at the next level.
Right away, Thompson will be an energy guy that comes in and provides rebounding and shot blocking off the bench.
He is kind of Like Bismack Biyombo with two exceptions. He is better offensively, and he is more polished.
This pick for the Pistons comes down to these two guys and I believe it will be Thompson because he is a more finished product.
The Pistons already have their long-term center with Greg Monroe, and putting Thompson next to him will eventually be a solid frontcourt.
Thompson isn't ready to start yet, but with a year of development it's very possible he could be a dominant force in the paint.
6. Utah Jazz: Kawhi Leonard, SDSU F
Kawhi Leonard is a guy that has been shooting up draft boards lately. He is extremely athletic and has improved his jumper.
He is somewhat of a workout warrior, but he doesn't necessarily fare as well in action. He was good at SDSU, sometimes even great, but his play probably didn't warrant a top-six spot.
Leonard is a freak athlete with extremely good measurements. He is 6'7" and 225 pounds with a huge wingspan. He is highly regarded as an energy guy early on, but many scouts claim he has more skill than we think.
He is a good rebounder and is already solid on offense although he is developing. He can drive to the basket and take his defender off the dribble or pull up. His jumper is still in progress.
The big knock on Leonard is that he's a tweener, however I believe there is no way he can play power forward in the NBA. He reminds me a little bit of Gerald Wallace and also a little bit of Michael Beasley with better rebounding and defensive potential.
We'll see how well Kawhi Leonard's game translates to the NBA. I expect his transition to take a little longer than most, but he could be an excellent player some day.
Leonard makes sense for the Jazz because Andrei Kirilenko's future is uncertain and they could use a small forward either way and Leonard is a talented player.
5. Sacramento Kings: Brandon Knight, Kentucky PG
Brandon Knight is a player that scouts just weren't sure about this season.
During the tournament, he really played well and leading Kentucky to the Final Four certainly helped his draft stock. Knight is very quick and can run the point.
Some people feel as if Knight is a tweener, but I think he will be a point guard at the next level.
Knight is a solid shooter and he is also a good defender.
Knight is a player that has really helped his draft stock at the end of the season and showed consistent development throughout the season which makes me optimistic about his future.
Many scouts believe this pick will be Kemba Walker, but the Kings are looking for a true point guard and Kemba doesn't fit the bill.
Fellow John Calipari product Brandon Knight fits with the Kings much better.
4. Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely, Czech Republic F
Jan Vesely is an interesting international prospect who has a wide variety of skills.
He isn't great in the post right now, but he is a good scorer from the wing and his big frame makes him a threat on the boards. Vesely has three point range and can handle the ball a little bit too.
In a class of many good international prospects, Vesely ranks among the best. The Wizards could use an athlete to run alongside John Wall on the break and Vesely fits the bill.
At the beginning of his career it's definitely possible that Vesely could play both forward positions. He should be able to find plenty of minutes on the Wizards roster next year.
3. Toronto Raptors: Derrick Williams, Arizona F
I know, I know, Derrick Williams is supposed to be a consensus top-two pick. I realize that, but hear me out.
Williams has some serious problems when it comes to how his game will translate to the pros. He is definitely a power forward. His game is mostly big, although he does have a nice perimeter shot.
He is already a defensive liability, and against smaller, quicker small forwards he will definitely struggle. We simply don't know who he is going to guard when he's on the floor.
Williams is however, a very good prospect. He is very powerful and he can absolutely throw it down.
He is a very good shooter and a talented player to say the least. There is no doubt he is a good NBA prospect.
Toronto would be pleasantly shocked to have Williams fall to them, and no matter where they have needs, they would pretty much have to take Williams here.
I know it's hard to imagine Williams dropping out of his second spot, but stay with me here.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Enes Kanter, Turkey F/C
In my opinion, Enes Kanter is the second-best prospect in this draft. Kanter is a very skilled player who can do everything on the floor. He is a real hybrid center.
He can bang inside, but he also has range on his jumper. He can even step out behind the three point line and knock down jumpers. He is very physical and can really rebound.
Kanter might be a little small for a center, but he should be fine. At 6'10" he has adequate height and his is 255 pounds so he isn't a guy that really needs to put on weight.
The best part is he's turning 19 in a couple days and he will come to the NBA right away. He was held out of college last year by the NCAA, and he didn't play professionally, but that is really the only bad thing about him.
I think it makes sense for the Cavs to take Kanter because I don't think their current center Anderson Varejao will be around come draft day.
His big contract will probably have to be moved at some point this offseason, and with Varejao gone, there will be a huge hole at Center.
The Cavs have talented guys at every position except center. They do need help on the wing, but if they want to address their need at center they need to take Kanter.
They can get a wing with their other lottery pick, but chances are there won't be another opportunity to grab a center of this quality.
Derrick Williams is a very good player, and this is an extremely close call. It just comes down to personal preference.
I prefer Kanter, but we'll have to wait for draft day to see who is the second overall pick.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kyrie Irving, Duke PG
Kyrie Irving is an absolutely special player. There is really no one close to him in this draft.
Not even the legendary Kahn could screw this one up. It's really hard to find negatives with Irving's game. He didn't play much this year, but most think it was just a fluke.
Irving is a pure point guard, and he is one of the only ones in the draft. He can also score and shows a great balance between scoring and passing.
He has good range and can drive to the basket very well. He also has great potential as a defender.
He is a great athlete, and I really don't have many bad things to say about him. He's probably not Rose or Wall, but he's very close. He is a legitimate No. 1 in this weak draft overall.
Irving fits perfectly with the Wolves. The Wolves need a point guard or a center, so Irving is an outstanding choice. But with their luck, I don't think the Wolves win the lottery. As a true Twolves fan, I'd be happy with Kanter.
Nothing seems to go right for this team lately. We'll see how the lottery plays out, but regardless Irving will go No. 1.
This year's NBA draft is going to be different than most.
Players are so close together it's hard to tell the order. This is just a first look at what this years draft may look like before the lottery.
Things will change as we get closer, and the lottery will provide clarity.
Feel free to comment, I'm always looking for a good NBA debate.
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