NBA Draft Order 2011: What Each Team Should Do with the No. 1 Overall Pick
The 2011 NBA draft order will be reveled this week with the NBA Lottery Tuesday night. 12 teams have a chance to receive the No. 1 overall pick. Although Minnesota has the highest probability of receiving the pick, it is only a 25 percent shot.
Any team from Minnesota to the Houston Rockets (0.4 percent chance of receiving the first pick) has a chance.
Two players in this year's draft stand out above the rest: Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving. Unless extreme need dictates a big man should be selected, teams will be debating between these two choices.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams
The Minnesota Timberwolves have talented players on their roster; they just have not yet come together. Kevin Love and Michael Beasley provide stability inside and Luke Ridnour plays well at the point.
The Timberwolves biggest weakness is scoring. They don't have players who can create their own shots—Love and Beasley mostly benefit from quality post position or Ridnour passes. Derrick Williams is the best pure scorer in the draft. He can score from any place on the court, whether he is slashing or shooting, fading or dunking.
Although Williams has size that would seem to make him a fit for power forward and compete with Love and Beasley for playing time, his speed and versatility allow him to play small forward and stick with shorter, quicker players.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a broken team. They hope to improve with two lottery picks in this year's draft.
Cleveland had few bright spots last season and needs to start rebuilding. It is difficult to build a winning team around a small forward. For all of Derrick Williams' strengths, he is not LeBron James. Star point guards can turn around teams more quickly (think Jason Kidd's arrival on the New Jersey Nets in the early 2000s).
Although Irving doesn't have as much of a track record as other players (he only played a few games in his freshman season at Duke), he flashed special talent when he was on the court. Although he can will himself toward the basket or pull up for a jump shot, he is a pass-first point guard who can make Cleveland's eclectic blend of players look better with passes, both sensational and basic.
Toronto Raptors: Derrick Williams
The Toronto Raptors have a number of scorers on their roster, including their leading scorer, center Andrea Bargnani. They also have a point guard in Jose Calderon who distributes the ball as well as anyone in the NBA.
Linas Kleiza is serviceable at small forward, but the Raptors would benefit from Derrick Williams' style of play and additional scoring. With better than average players at these three positions, the Raptors could make an enormous jump in the Eastern Conference next season.
Williams would fit in with the Raptors' open style of play and have the opportunity to play alongside DeMar DeRozen—a similar player at shooting guard.
Washington Wizards: Derrick Williams
The Washington Wizards invested in John Wall with the first overall pick in the draft last year. If they again luck into the No. 1 overall pick, they will not be able to justify taking another point guard.
Derrick Williams should and will be the choice. Williams would provide the Wizards with much needed energy and scoring ability next season.
Williams and Wall could form one of the top tandems in the NBA for years to come.
Sacramento Kings: Derrick Williams
The Sacramento Kings struggled with shot selection all season long. Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins scored in bunches at a time, but neither truly dominated.
While the Kings might be able to use a pure point guard to supplement Beno Udrih and take the pressure to distribute off Evans, Williams has too much talent for the Kings to pass up with the first pick.
Williams offers the team versatility by position and his defense and athleticism could help the Kings' mentality shift into more of a winning one.
Utah Jazz: Derrick Williams
Andrei Kirilenko will likely be leaving the Jazz via free agency this summer. They will need a small forward to replace him. If they receive the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA draft, they need look no further than Derrick Williams.
The Jazz have Devin Harris manning the point and would have little use for Kyrie Irving (both guards have a similar style of play). They also have a potent combination in the paint of Al Jefferson and his creative post moves and Paul Millsap and his ridiculous rebounding instincts.
Williams would be just the scoring threat to group with these players, and he would give the Jazz a shot at contending again in the West.
Detroit Pistons: Kyrie Irving
The Detroit Pistons are an aging team in transition. Point guard Rodney Stuckey may not be returning next season and the Pistons will be in the market for a new court leader.
If they receive the No. 1 pick in the draft, they will try to do better than the last time they got a top pick, when they chose Darko Milicic at No. 2 over players like Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Kyrie Irving is the clear pick. A good point guard can make use out of aging, skilled players like Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Gordon. Irving could play the role of Rajon Rondo with the Celtics, the man responsible for keeping Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen involved in Boston's offense.
Charlotte Bobcats: Kyrie Irving
Although the Charlotte Bobcats have a more than serviceable point guard already in D.J. Augustin, they won't be able to pass up Kyrie Irving should they receive the No. 1 pick.
Irving has moves Augustin could never dream of and is more of an offensive threat. The Bobcats have some weapons already in Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas. A point guard with Irving's moves could have a field day penetrating and kicking to other players with moves of their own.
The Bobcats would have a tough decision to make as Williams would also be a fit with the team, but they wouldn't complain if they got the first pick.
Milwaukee Bucks: Derrick Williams
The Milwaukee Bucks already have a stellar young point guard in Brandon Jennings. If the Bucks were to get the No. 1 pick, they would have to consider the possibility of picking Kyrie Irving to move Jennings to shooting guard and take the pressure of the point off. Jennings had a poor field goal percentage last season, despite his high scoring numbers.
Even so, the Bucks won't be able to pass up Derrick Williams' explosiveness. The last two stars of the Bucks have been Michael Redd and Ray Allen—assuredly two of the best shooters in basketball, but not the most athletic.
Bucks fans would have the opportunity to witness two of the NBA's best young scorers in Jennings and Williams.
Golden State Warriors: Derrick Williams
The Golden State Warriors were not terrible last season. The play of the team's guards kept them on the fringes of the playoff picture throughout the season.
Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry would get too many minutes for Kyrie Irving to break in. Derrick Williams would be able to give the Warriors versatility at forward and bring size and a rebounding instinct that are all too often relied on in the stylings of David Lee.
Williams would add more scoring explosiveness to an already exciting team and make the Warriors a hot ticket in the NBA.
Phoenix Suns: Kyrie Irving
The entire Phoenix Suns' roster is aging—including Steve Nash, who is now 37 years old.
While Phoenix might not be Irving's ideal location, because he would get less playing time early in his career, who could be a better tutor for a player like Irving than Nash? Both guards have similar style and flair.
They combine passing and scoring, and in Nash's prime he could penetrate almost as well as Irving can now. Irving would have time to develop into a star in Phoenix and Nash would be offered much needed rest for this point in his career.
Houston Rockets: Derrick Williams
Houston has poor odds of actually receiving the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA draft. If the (nearly) impossible happens and the lottery balls fall in their favor, Houston will select Derrick Williams with the No. 1 pick.
Despite the success of Kevin Martin and Luis Scola last season at similar positions, Williams offers a unique scoring ability and drive neither player possesses. Williams can also score from the perimeter or inside—he might be able to play power forward at some points in games.
Yao Ming will be a free agent after this season, signaling a new era in Houston. If the lottery balls fall in Houston's favor, Williams can be the headliner leading the team into that era.