UConn Point Guard Kemba Walker
The NBA Draft Lottery can make or break at team's draft. Started in 1985, the lottery added an element of chance to the NBA Draft process. For the most part, it has kept teams from tanking the regular season to assure themselves the first-overall pick in the draft (although it didn't stop the 1996-1997 San Antonio Spurs).
Amazingly enough, only one team, the Orlando Magic, has ever had the first-overall pick two-straight years since the lottery was implemented. With a 15.15% chance in 1992, they won the right to draft LSU's Shaquille O'Neal. Orlando just missed the playoffs that year, going 41-41, and they were back in the lottery. With just a 1.52% chance of winning the top pick, the Magic hit paydirt again, and won the right to select Michigan's Chris Webber. It's too bad those two never had the chance to play together . . .
The lottery has changed a little since those days, and it has become much easier for truly bad teams to cop the first slot. The team with the worst record has a 25% chance of winning the first pick, while the 14th team in the lottery has just a .5% chance. Over the years, a few teams have won the first pick with shockingly low odds.
Here's a look at this year's NBA Draft Lottery, the teams in it, and the players they will select.
PG Kyrie Irving, Duke
Kyrie Irving, Duke, PG, 6'2", 180 pounds
Point guard is the one position Cleveland has good depth at, with Barron Davis and Daniel Gibson. If Cleveland does pick in second position, there is little doubt they would take Irving. The question remains, though, will they keep him? Draft day trades happen every year, and this year will be no exception. The team responded to Davis very well after they traded for him, so there is a very good chance Irving could be traded almost right away.
As a freshman this year, Irving played in only 11 games. He averaged 17.5 PTS and 4.3 AST in just 27.5 MIN per game. He has ideal size and quickness for a point guard and has the ball handling skills to match. He shoots over 50 percent from the field and over 90 percent from the foul line.
Compares to: Chris Paul
PF Derrick Williams, Arizona
Derrick Williams, Arizona, PF, 6'9", 241 pounds
The Minnesota Timberwolves need an explosive big man to compliment C/F Kevin Love. Williams is the most NBA-ready player in the draft with his blend of size, athleticism and shooting touch. He'll be going to a team with solid young talent, and selecting him could put Minnesota into the playoff hunt next season.
Williams has a 7' wingspan, and he uses his body well. He gets to the foul line about eight times per game, and he has a nice assortment of refined low-post moves. He averaged 19.5 PTS and 8.3 REB for Arizona this year as a sophomore.
Compares to: Joe Smith
Enes Kanter, Kentucky, C, 6'11, 265 pounds
If Kanter hadn't been ruled ineligible by the NCAA going into the 2010 season, there is a very good chance he would have been the first-overall pick of the draft. Not yet 20 years old, the Turkish center has a good all-around game and is sound fundamentally. It isn't unfair to compare him to Tim Duncan at a similar age.
Kanter has a good post game, can face up to the basket and shoot and take other centers off the dribble. Unlike Duncan, he's not much of a shot-blocker and is just above-average defensively. Utah is already deep down low with Mehmet Okur, Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap and Derrick Favors, but Okur is returning from injury. Drafting Kanter could allow Utah to trade for a more productive small forward or shooting guard.
Compares to: Marc Gasol
Jan Vesely, Czech Republic, SF, 6'11", 215 pounds
Already a dunking mix tape superstar, Vesely attacks the rim like a young Kevin Garnett. He has a complete game, which has drawn comparisons to Mike Dunleavy from his Duke days. With Antawn Jamison in his mid-30's, Vesley will be the future of the Cavaliers at SF.
Vesley is a streaky shooter, but he has solid three-point range. His ball handling makes him a complete offensive player, and the Cavs are getting a steal with the eighth pick.
Compares to: Keith Van Horn
PG Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Alec Burks, Colorado, SG, 6'6", 200 pounds
Burks is the best shooting guard prospect in the draft, and the Raptors really need an explosive shooting guard. Blessed with exceptional athleticism and leaping ability, Burks is also a deft ball handler. It would be fair to compare him with Evan Turner, last year's second-overall pick.
In spite of being Missouri's Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior, Burks was flew under the radar of the traditional basketball powers. He averaged 20.5 PTS and 6.5 REB as a sophomore this year and would help Toronto immediately.
Compares to: Nick Anderson
C Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania
Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania, C, 7'0, 224 pounds
Washington will get deep up front when they draft Donatas Motiejunas. The 20-year-old Lithuanian grew up idolizing Arvydas Sabonis, and he's fashioned his game accordingly. Motiejunas isn't the physical specimen Sabonis was at a similar age, but his offensive game is very well-rounded. He has range out to 25', solid post skills, and all-star potential.
In just over 27 minutes of action per game in Eurocup play, Motiejunas averaged 10.9 PTS and 5.6 REB for Benetton Basket.
Compares to: Mehmet Okur
Bismack Biyombo has become something of a YouTube legend.
Brandon Knight, Kentucky, PG, 6'3", 185 pounds
Selecting Knight brings versatility to Sacramento's backcourt. He's a solid defender with few weaknesses in his game, and he possesses a lethal jump shot. He'll bring some much-needed intensity to the Kings.
Knight averaged 17.3 PTS and 4.2 AST as a freshman at Kentucky this year. His 3.2 TO are something he'll have to improve once he gets to the NBA.
Compares to: Mo Williams
Bismack Biyombo, Congo, PF, 6'9", 240 pounds
At 6'9", 240 pounds, the 18-year-old Biyombo has only been playing basketball for a few years. The Congo native has a 7'7" wingspan and is arguably the best shot-blocker to enter the draft since Dwight Howard. Offensively, though, he is very, very raw. and it consists largely of offensive put-backs and transition baskets.
There are questions about Biyombo's age, as there are some who hint he could be younger than 18, and there are some who feel he could be as old as 26. With Ben Wallace likely to retire this summer, the Pistons are in dire need of a shot-blocking, rebounding big man.
Compares to: Ben Wallace
Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania, C, 6'11, 240 pounds
Without much hope on the horizon at the center position, Charlotte will almost certainly draft Jonas Valanciunas if he's available. They 19-year old has a 7'6" wingspan, and he's coming off a very productive year in Europe's most competitive basketball league.
Valanciunas attacks the rim and tries to dunk with authority almost every time. He's also a solid and willing rebounder and is an above-average shot-blocker. His offensive game is still raw, but that is somethig the Bobcats will have to live with for a few years.
Compares to: Chris Anderson
SF Marcus Morris, Kansas
Marcus Morris, Kansas, SF, 6'9", 220 pounds
Marcus Morris is one of the most NBA-ready players in the 2011 NBA Draft. He is a bit of a tweener, but in his case, that isn't a bad thing. He's got three-point range, he rebounds and he plays good interior defense.
Milwaukee won't need Morris to come in and handle the ball right away, so he'll have some time to work on that aspect of his game. He'll fill a major need for Milwuakee, but they won't need him to be anything more than solid with the cast of scorers on that team.
Compares to: Harvey Grant
PF Tristan Thompson, PF
Tristan Thompson, Texas, PF, 6'9", 235 pounds
Thompson was wildly inconsistent this season as a freshman. While his game lacks polish, he's very active at both ends of the floor. His 7'2" wingspan allows him to defend other power forwards and centers, much like Epke Udoh, Golden State's first-round pick from 2010.
Thompson will go to a team who will need him to contribute immediately, and for someone who was so up and down his only year of college basketball, that could be a tall order (no pun intended). In spite of this, Thompson is a solid selection at the 11th pick in the draft.
Compares to: Jermaine O'Neal
PG Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young
Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young, PG, 6'2", 200
If there was ever a perfect team for Jimmer Fredette, it's the Utah Jazz. The Jazz need scoring and backcourt depth, and Fredette is one of the best scorers in the draft. Jimmer has range out to and beyond 25' and was a clutch performer in college. Utah also loves a native son, and this pick will be wildly popular with the fans.
Fredette doesn't project as an ideal point guard in the NBA, but he won't have to fit that mold. He will be more of a combo guard who has the green light to score at all times.
Compares to: Mark Price
PG Kemba Walker, UConn
Kemba Walker, UConn, PG, 6', 170 pounds
Phoenix is in a great position to draft and groom Kemba Walker. The UConn star will benefit greatly from being two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash's understudy for a year or two. What point guard wouldn't want to learn from the five-time assist champ?
At just 6'0", 170 pounds, Walker is a smaller version of Derek Rose. Walker, a junior, was thought by many to be the best player in all of college basketball in 2010. He won MVP of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this year after leading the Huskies to victory in the title game against Butler. Walker's leadership, playmaking and offense allowed him to carry his team all year.
Detractors will say Walker is selfish and tries to do too much. His averages are extraordinary for a little man: 23.5 PTS, 5.4 REB, 4.5 AST and 1.9 STL averaging 37.6 MIN in 2010. It is fair to say he was doing what was asked of him, and he led his team to a championship doing it.
Compares to: Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
SF Jordan Hamilton, Texas
Jordan Hamilton, Texas, SF, 6'7", 225 pounds
Given that Houston plans on signing franchise center Yao Ming to a contract in the offseason, the Rockets should draft a small forward in this year's draft. Jordan Hamilton, a sophomore from Texas, would provide them with a small forward they can insert into the starting lineup from the get-go.
Hamilton is a pure shooter with three-point range (38.5 percent in 2010) who has the ability and quickness to take defenders off the dribble. He also has a solid post-up game and solid athletic ability.
Compares to: Mark Aguirre
PF Markieff Morris, Kansas
Markieff Morris, Kansas, PF, 6'10, 240
The other half of the Morris twin combo is more Horace to Marcus' Harvey Grant. Markieff is a solid prospect at power forward who will be a solid double-double threat for the next decade. Indiana desperately needs depth at the power forward and center positions, and drafting the Kansas star will take care of one of those needs.
Morris developed a very effective jumper since arriving in Lawrence, and his 42.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc last season is a testament to that. Not being able to take his opponents off the dribble relegates him to being a power forward, but the Pacers will be more than happy if he replicates the 8.3 REB and 1.0 BLK he averaged this year as a rookie.
Compares to: Horace Grant
PF Trey Thompkins, Georgia
Trey Thompkins, Georgia, PF, 6'9", 250
Philadelphia is the perfect place to learn for Thompkins if Elton Brand sticks around for a season or two. Brand has been a top-notch NBA big man for a decade, and his skill set is very similar to the former Georgia star. Thompkins is blessed with broad shoulders and a great outside shot. The problem is, he falls in love with it.
Philadelphia would likely bring Thompkins off the bench as a rookie, which is perfect for this unfinished project. If and when Thompkins dedicates himself to a strength and conditioning program, he'll be a very dangerous player in the NBA.
Compares to: Terry Mills
PF Jordan Williams, Maryland
Jordan Williams, Maryland, PF, 6'10", 260 pounds
The Knicks are in need of a physical big man who can help with the dirty work down low. Not that Amar'e Stoudemire is above banging for offensive rebounds and setting picks, but the guy could use a little help.
Enter the wide-bodied Jordan Williams. Williams is a willing banger in the paint and a skilled rebounder on both ends of the floor. He's not a great shot-blocker for his height, but he does most other things at least above average.
Compares to: Bison Dele
SF Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State
Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State, SF, 6'7", 225 pounds
Washington will get a steal at pick 18 by picking up Leonard, a stat-filling front-line hustler. He's a great offensive rebounder, has a high motor and is a capable ball handler. Leonard isn't a great shooter yet, but he has a firm handle on all of the other parts of his game.
If Leonard were two inches taller, he would be a top-five pick. As it is, he'll be playing catch-up offensively with most of the rest of the small forwards in the NBA. For a Wizards team in need of solid, hungry basketball players, this is a great pickup.
Compares to: Quentin Richardson
SG Klay Thompson, Washington State
Klay Thompson, Washington State, SG, 6'6", 190 pounds
The Bobcats will go after scoring with their second first-round pick, and Thompson is the man for the job. The son of former first-overall pick Mychal Thompson, Klay has a good feel for the game because he's been around it at the highest level all of his life. He developed into a great all-around player last season, averaging 21.6 PTS, 5.2 REB, 3.7 AST and 1.6 STL.
Thompson's ceiling may be limited due to his lack of elite athletic ability. That said, he will be a solid pro, and maybe even better than that on the right team. His three-point shooting should make him a valuable piece to most any team.
Compares to: Hubert Davis
SF Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA
Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA, SF, 6'8", 200
Honeycutt is the latest in long line of talented wing bombers at UCLA. Like Reggie Miller, Tracy Murray, Lamond Murray, Jason Kapono and Matt Barnes, Tyler Honeycutt has a sweet three-point shot. Like Reggie Miller, he has a quick, high release point on his jumper. Unlike most of the aforementioned players, Honeycutt is very much an unfinished product.
A capable defender, Honeycutt has good footwork and leaping ability. His ball handling and mid-range offensive game is suspect, though. If he was average in these areas, he would likely be a lottery pick. Still, he's a good pickup for the Timberwolves.
Compares to: Tracy Murray
PG Darius Morris, Michigan
Darius Morris, Michigan, PG, 6'4", 190
Portland is going to make their first-round pick count by taking the best pure point guard in the draft. Morris guided a Michigan team which wasn't even supposed to make the NIT this year to the a second-round win in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this year. Only a sophomore, he averaged 15 PTS, 6.7 AST, and 4.0 REB.
Morris is a pass-first point guard who can take over a game when he needs to. While he lacks a good three-point shot, he is strong in most other aspects of the game. He excels in driving to the basket and finishes off drives well. Andre Miller is 35 and at the end of his career, and Portland will draft the younger version of him in Morris to eventually take his place at point guard.
Compares to: Andre Miller
Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira, Brazil, C, 7'0", 225 pounds
Just 18 years old, Nogueira has as much, or more, upside than any big man in this year's draft. He's a shot-blocking machine to the point where it evokes images of a young Akeem Olajuwon, well before he added the "H" to his first name. Nogueira's impossibly long arms allow him to dunk on and over other big men, and he positively attacks the offensive boards.
The young Brazilian is very raw at this point, and he'll need some strong mentoring. What better team than Denver, where he can learn from countryman Nene (if Denver re-signs him). Denver is in a position where they can reach a little bit if the reward is high enough.
Compares to: Joakim Noah
Jeremy Tyler, USA, C, 6'11, 245 pounds
Will Tyler go from cautionary tale to success story in under two years? Once considered the best prospect of the 2010 class, Tyler skipped his senior year of high school and played professionally in Europe. The result was disastrous, as he landed on an Israeli team with a coach who wouldn't play him. Tyler left before the end of the year.
He played in Japan last year, where he averaged 9.9 PTS and 6.4 REB in just 15.4 MIN. His last game of the year was his best, where he scored 24 PTS and grabbed 8 REB. Tyler is still a project, but there is a reason why he was the most coveted big man in his class. He sports a 7'3" wingspan and is very athletic. He has range out to about 20 feet on his jump shot, and he can put the ball on the floor and beat other power forwards and centers to the basket. This is a relatively low-risk/high-reward pick for Houston.
Compares to: Shawn Kemp
PF JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
JaJuan Johnson, Purdue, PF, 6'10, 225 pounds
Johnson was one of the most productive centers in the country last year, averaging 20.6 PTS, 8.6 REB and 2.3 BLK. The senior's productivity has improved every year, and he will step right into Oklahoma City's rotation nicely.
The main issue with Johnson has been his inability to gain weight throughout his career, which is the main reason why he'll last this long in the draft.
Compares to: Vin Baker
Willie Reed, St. Louis, PF, 6'9" 230
Boston's frontcourt depth is questionable going into the summer. If they don't trade up to get a big man, look for them to draft Reed, who can step right in and play 20 MIN per game.
Reed has good low-post moves and is active on defense. He could be a solid rotation guy for years to come.
Compares to: Stacey King
Davis Bertans, Latvia, SF, 6'9", 205 pounds
Bertans has one of the smoothest jump shots in the draft, and he is still growing into his long and lean body. There is some speculation he may not come to the NBA right away, but Dallas is certainly in a position to wait for him. Sharpshooter Peja Stojakovik turns 34 this summer, and Bertans would be a great replacement for him down the road.
Shot selection and strength keep Bertans from being in the same class as Yugoslavia's Jan Vesely. Bertans has a better all-around game than he gets credit for, but the 18-year-old needs to keep working to improve.
Compares to: Matt Bonner
PG/SG Nolan Smith, Duke
Nolan Smith, Duke, SG, 6'3", 185 pounds
While New Jersey certainly isn't looking to replace point guard Deron Williams, they sure could use a player to help out with the ball handling duties. Smith could be the best combo guard in the draft, but Kentucky's Brandon Knight will be drafted higher because his ceiling is thought to be higher.
Smith is a capable playmaker, a good shooter and a good all-around player. He averaged 20.6 PTS, 5.1 AST, 4.5 REB and 1.2 STL this year as a senior. Smith is also very capable of playing shooting guard, and will have to for the Nets.
Compares to: Joe Dumars
Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, PF, 6'8" 235
The Bulls will get a steal with the 28th pick of the draft in Faried. He's an NBA ready role player who will work into their rotation immediately. Faried is a solid shot-blocker and defender and he's explosive to the rim.
The downside to Faried is his lack of experience against other quality big men and his lack of length. He also depends on offensive rebounds and transition baskets to get his points.
Compares to: Udonis Haslem
Nikola Mirotic, Montenegro, PF, 6'10, 230 pounds
The Spurs have long been fans of international players, and Mirotic would give them another great team basketball player. He'll remind many of another international player, former Spur Hedo Turkoglu. He's crafty with the ball and is an excellent passer. Mirotic can put the ball on the floor and beat other power forwards off the dribble, or he can step back and shoot a three-pointer.
He isn't a traditional big man, and he won't block many shots. Mirotic may end up being a small forward in the NBA.
Compares to: Hedo Turkoglu
Reggie Jackson, Boston College, PG, 6'3, 205 pounds
Jackson is the perfect combo guard to fit into the backcourt for the Bulls and is another steal for them on draft day. The junior shot 42 percent from behind the arc this season and 50.3 percent from the field overall. He also averaged 18.2 PTS, 4.3 REB and 4.5 AST per game.
The Boston College star has an insane 7'0 wingspan and is a great all-around athlete.
Compares to: Gary Grant