The 2011 NBA draft is almost upon us. This is the first of many mocks that will take place over the next month leading up to the draft at the end of June. As the conference finals begin, news is going to start to quickly trickle out about each prospect and where they could potentially begin their NBA careers.
As we impatiently wait for the NBA draft lottery to take place Tuesday night to see who will really receive the No. 1 overall selection, we debate back and forth on who should be the No. 1 selection in the draft. Right now, Minnesota holds the top spot and has a similarly difficult decision to make three years ago between Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley.
They made the right choice.
It all comes down to Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving this year. Who will go No. 1?
Everyone wants to peg Kyrie Irving to the Wolves No. 1. Yet if the Wolves do end up with the No. 1 selection, they need to select Derrick Williams to secure their front court. They would have one of the best young front courts in the Association with Williams, Michael Beasley and Kevin Love.
By drafting Williams, it shows they are still dedicated to Ricky Rubio. Rubio is the future of this league and Minnesota must do everything they can to give him a winning supporting cast. Throw Rubio on the squad when his contract is up and this will be one of the best young teams in the league.
Derrick is a highly athletic big man who can play both forward positions but should be able to create mismatches at the power forward spot with his athleticism.
Cleveland lands their newest franchise superstar in Duke’s Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 player in the draft. He can have a Derrick Rose-type of impact for these LeBron-less Cavaliers. Although the Cavs took on Baron Davis at the deadline, I would expect him to be moved by the 2012 deadline once again. Irving is too good of a playmaker and distributor with his ball-handling skills, court vision, intelligence and ability to attack the rim.
With a point guard of this caliber running the ship, Cleveland will get back to the playoffs quickly as he sets up J.J. Hickson for a breakout season. Now, the Cavs will have two cornerstone building blocks in Irving and Hickson.
The Toronto Raptors keep to their tradition of drafting foreign talent. Vesely has all of the talent in the world to become a superstar in this league. Toronto would boast two of the better international bigs in Andrea Bargnani and Vesely. Together, they would be matchup nightmares for opposing teams given their versatility.
This could be a risky pick, as it always is with international players since they have to adjust to the NBA and America, but at least Toronto would have Bargnani to help Vesely transition to the Association.
Washington already has two core pieces locked down in point guard John Wall and center JaVale McGee. Now, they need to solidify their front court with Enes Kanter from Turkey. He will bang in the paint and continue to improve the Wizards’ rebounding with McGee as they look to control the pace of the game.
Kanter has a very good flow for the game and unlike a majority of international players. He should transition well and would be a great fit for this Wizards team. Not only can he bang in the post and pull down rebounds, he has a solid mid-range game, as well to give Wall another option.
Kemba Walker is my favorite player in the draft after his Big East and NCAA Tournament performances. Sacramento is desperately looking for somebody with his maturity, confidence and winning mentality. With Tyreke Evans moving to shooting guard, the Kings will have two royal talents in the backcourt to create arguably the best young guard duo in the game.
Kemba can handle the rock, distribute and create his own shot. He is one of the premier playmakers in the class. The Kings net a steal with the No. 5 selection.
Brandon Knight has dynamic playmaking ability with his quickness and tendency to attack the hoop. Devin Harris, who the Jazz traded for at the deadline, is a similar player. The problem with Harris is that he has major durability issues and hasn’t been a reliable option since his days in Dallas.
The Jazz would have a viable trade chip come this year’s deadline with Devin, while being able to move forward knowing they are set with the explosive Kentucky product.
Leonard is my favorite player in the draft next to Kemba Walker. He is a supreme rebounder and defender, but also has solid offensive post skills. He is a strong, powerful force in the paint and will attack the rim and his defender. He showed the clutch gene at San Diego State.
In Detroit, Joe Dumars will have two amazing building blocks up front in last year’s first rounder Greg Monroe. Leonard and Monroe would complement each other very well down low and give the Pistons a destructive force to push them towards the playoffs.
The Cavaliers haven’t had a dominant big man since their former Lithuanian Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Cleveland will hope Valanciunas can follow in “Big Z’s” footsteps and become one of the most dominant centers in franchise history.
He does have a contract dispute ongoing in Europe, but Cleveland may not be able to pass up the potential best international player in this year’s class. They need a big man to go along with J.J. Hickson and now Kyrie Irving, and Jonas is the most talented at this point in the draft.
Michael Jordan has been desperately seeking a superstar for his Charlotte Bobcats. Tristan Thompson could very well develop into that talent with his natural abilities. He has raw offensive talent, but he is fantastic on the glass and is a very good defender. He would pair well with Tyrus Thomas to create a solid tough-nosed, defensive-minded power forward combination.
The Bucks need to get younger at the guard position and Burks is the prime candidate. He is a highly athletic slasher and will work well with Brandon Jennings in the backcourt. He lacks a great shot, but with Jennings’ ability to chuck it up, that won’t matter.
Marcus Morris is one of the more talented players in the draft. He was one of the best players in all of college ball last season and would be a steal for the Warriors as they need another big man who can score. The Warriors need athletic bigs who can stretch the floor and rebound; Marcus is a great fit.
There may not be a more perfect fit in the draft than Jimmer Fredette to Utah. The Jazz not only need a shooting guard, but they need a face for their franchise. The Utah fanbase will instantly embrace Jimmer. He has unlimited range and the toughness to attack the basket. He will become a fan favorite for the Jazz just like he was for the Cougars.
The Suns are going to continue playing their fast-paced offense, and Hamilton is a prime candidate to be a focal point of the offense. He is one of the most naturally gifted offensive talents in the class. He is not afraid to jack up a shot from anywhere with his range, which is just fine for this style of play.
The Rockets are looking for solid talent all around. They could use an upgrade at the point guard position after trading away Aaron Brooks, but Markieff Morris is a solid prospect who deserves to be taken this high. He has very good athleticism, which will allow the Rockets to stretch the floor. Although he is not the scorer his brother Marcus is, he is a very good rebounder.
Tyler Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts are solid bigs, but Kenneth Faried is the superior talent in all aspects, especially rebounding and defense. Like Hansbrough, he has a nonstop motor and great work ethic. This would give the Pacers a legitimate three-man rotation at the power forward position as they are all intense and quality rebounders and defenders.
Doug Collins is building himself a quality team that can go deep in the playoffs. He’ll hope that this ultra-athletic forward can quickly make the type of impact on the defensive side of the ball that Serge Ibaka is having in Oklahoma City. Collins needs more athleticism and defense up front and Biyombo could turn into one of the best role players in this draft.
The New York Knicks desperately need a point guard. Chauncey Billups is on contract for one more season and although the Knicks will hope Chris Paul comes their way, they still need a solid point guard to help guide the team. Nolan Smith is a high character, highly intelligent player.
He was excellent last year with Duke and is an ideal candidate to run this offense with his decision-making on the court. He will learn from one of the best point guards in Billups, and even if CP3 comes to New York, Smith would be an excellent backup for the often-injured superstar.
Washington still has Rashard Lewis and his ridiculous contract, but they need a shutdown defender with the amount of elite perimeter players in the league. The Wizards would have an extremely talented and diverse core group of players with John Wall, JaVale McGee, Enes Kanter and now Singleton. With these four, the Wizards would inch closer towards a postseason appearance.
Charlotte needs another scoring option and Reggie Jackson is somebody who is not afraid to unleash from anywhere on the court. D.J. Augustin started to come on late last year, but he was involved in almost every trade rumor, or so it seemed. Jackson can quickly become one of the most dynamic scorers in this draft with his ability to catch fire. He will inject life into this franchise.
After grabbing Derrick Williams No. 1 overall, Minnesota selects Klay Thompson to be their annual point guard selection. Thompson could shift to the shooting guard position with his size and shooting ability once Ricky Rubio comes to town. The Wolves would be just about set with Rubio, Thompson, Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams and Kevin Love as the starting lineup in a couple of seasons.
Portland has had its fair share of woes when it comes to centers (Greg Oden) and it seems every year their bigs suffer from injury. They need a point guard, but Andre Miller still has some left and could be a trade chip by the deadline. He will give the Blazers another scoring option in the paint and a fine rebounder. He will need to work on his defense, but Marcus Camby is the perfect mentor.
The Nuggets could be losing size quickly up front, so they grab a potentially great, versatile and well-rounded big in Tobias Harris. Harris will help the team up front on the glass and stretch the paint with a nice mid-range shot. He will work well with Ty Lawson and the rest of the young Nuggets.
The Rockets have had success recently with overseas players, and Davis Bertans resembles Dirk Nowitzki and Danilo Gallinari a bit with his offensive abilities. If the Rockets can catch lightning in a bottle with Bertans, they will jump back towards the top of the Western Conference in a handful of years. He is going to need to hit the weight room and develop his overall game, but the shooting touch is there.
Oklahoma City has one of the best teams in the league and are only improving by adding valuable pieces to the puzzle. Justin Harper can stretch the paint with his mid-range game, which should complement Kevin Durant’s unlimited range and Kendrick Perkins’ lack of offensive skills.
The Celtics missed Kendrick Perkins’ intensity, size and strength in the middle badly during the playoffs. They land Jordan Williams who is one of the top centers in the class. He is a big kid with great rebounding skills. He heads to a great team led by Kevin Garnett, who will teach him how to pick up the pace.
Dallas needs a backup point guard as Jason Kidd only has a couple of years left in the tank. Morris is of the similar prototype to Kidd, as he is a bigger, stronger point guard. He will be able to learn from Jason, who has been one of the top distributors since entering the league.
Now that the Nets have Deron Williams, for at least half the season, they need to bring in promising pieces to persuade him to stick around for the long haul. Honeycutt would be a solid addition to the squad, as he is an athletic slasher who will benefit greatly from Deron’s court vision and passing ability.
Travis Leslie is an extremely athletic and versatile player. He will attack the hoop and can be one of the more dynamic players in the class with his leaping ability. We can expect to see Derrick Rose throwing multiple lob passes for Leslie to grab at its highest point and throw down in transition. He is an exciting favorite and would be an explosive option off the bench.
Gregg Popovich and his international scouting crew always do a fantastic job throughout the draft and usually find a gem every few years. Mirotic is a versatile option, which the Spurs desperately need as their superstars are rapidly declining.
Richard Jefferson and Manu Ginobili are wearing down by the day, which will allow Mirotic to pick up valuable minutes early to transition to the NBA. Popovich will be able to save his superstars for the stretch run of the season.
Chicago needs an upgrade at the shooting guard position. They landed the athletic and versatile Travis Leslie a few picks earlier and now land an explosive scorer off the bench.
As Derrick Rose commands even more attention in 2011-12, Jenkins will be left wide open to find his touch early and often to enhance the Bulls’ offense.