Well I've waited until after the NBA Draft Lottery to write my first mock draft, so that makes me about the 1,000,000th mock draft on the Internet. Nonetheless, here are my initials thoughts of what will happen in the upcoming 2011 NBA Draft.
This year's draft has a lot of talent and even more unknowns. Players like Enes Kanter, Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker are players that have enormous upside, but a lot of question marks. It will be exciting to see what teams take a risk on these high-upside players and more interesting to see what kind of pros these players turn out to be.
Even with Derrick Williams on the board, Irving is the best pick for Cleveland. The Cavs already have their big man of the future in J.J. Hickson, so while they might take a look at Enes Kanter, I think Irving will ultimately be their pick.
In the point guard-driven NBA, Irving will likely be the future for Cleveland. Irving offers true point guard skills; great ball handler, great passer and the ability to create his own shot and score. I think Irving's perimeter defense could be the strongest aspect to his game.
Irving's durability is a huge question mark. He battled a toe injury during his one-year career at Duke. It could have just been a one-time freak injury for Irving, but Irving's durability is still his biggest question mark.
This pick is likely a shocker to most people reading this. Most think that Minnesota will go with Derrick Williams but I see them going with Enes Kanter. Williams has drawn comparisons to Michael Beasley. Minnesota already has Michael Beasley on their roster.
Kanter would give the Timberwolves a very solid frontcourt. Kanter alongside Kevin Love would be a very dominant force.
Kanter is big and talented. He does have a history of knee problems and just sat out an entire year of basketball because he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. There is cause for concern.
But Kanter's abilities down low might be too much to pass up for Minnesota.
Derrick Williams is one of the most athletic players in the draft. At 6'9" Williams is a little small for a traditional power forward, but his length and athleticism make him a strong post player.
He has the talent and ability to score from the post and be a very good rebounder. Another very strong aspect to Williams game is his surprisingly good jump shot.
In my opinion, Williams is the the most NBA-ready player in this year's draft class. Like any player, however, he does have room for improvement. At times, Williams is slow when he makes a move to get to the basket; as he learns to use his moves more quickly, then he will become an even more dynamic scorer. Williams also needs to develop more consistency on his jump shot.
Williams reminds me of Michael Beasley coming out of college. No disrespect to Beasley, but I hope that Williams' career turns our a little better.
Williams will help any team get better. The Jazz have a bevy of big men and need a quick, athletic scorer. Williams would be just that. Utah lost D-Will to New Jersey last year and I think they get a new D-Will this year.
When you watch Jan Vesely play, it's hard not to think of Andrei Kirilenko. They have similar size, similar skill sets and similar styles of play. Vesely is very capable of filling up the stat sheet. He is very versatile and capable of guarding multiple positions.
He lacks the offensive skills necessary to become a prolific scorer, but he can develop those skills. But Vesely and Irving could be the future for Cleveland. The city is in desperate need of some basketball hope, and two picks in the top four is enough to do just that.
If Vesely turns out to be like Kirilenko then he is in for a long career and the Cavs will have made a very good pick with the fourth pick in the draft.
Even if the Raptors had the number one pick in the draft, they are still a few years out from being a contender in the East. That being said, Toronto can afford to draft a player that needs to develop a little bit.
Chris Bosh left and the Raptors need a big man that can replace him. Jonas Valanciunas could be the replacement that Toronto is looking for. He is a young big man with a lot of upside. He has great inside game and a good mid-range jump shot.
Valanciunas will need to put on some weight before he becomes a dominant post player in the NBA, but fortunately the Raptors have the time to wait.
Bismack Biyombo could very easily end up having one of the most successful careers from this year's draft class. He has ridiculous upside but is a raw talent. In a few years, he could be a dominant force for the Wizards.
His 7'7" wingspan makes him an absolute beast down low. He is a great rebounder and a great shot blocker. He needs some work on the offensive side of the ball but can be a force on defense.
Washington needs defense.
It might be a bit of a stretch, but I think Biyombo's stock continues to rise and he ultimately ends up in Washington.
At just 18 years old Brandon Knight led the Kentucky Wildcats to the Final Four. He has proven leadership and game-closing abilities. Yes, Sacramento already has Tyreke Evans, but I could see the Kings taking a page out of Golden State's playbook and running two point guards in the backcourt.
Knight can shoot the ball and is a true scorer. He can get to the basket and pull up from mid-range. He has excellent skills on defense and I think that will benefit him greatly with the Kings.
Knight is streaky and will need to work on his consistency if he is ever going to be the prolific point guard that he can become.
The Kings will have one of the best backcourts in the NBA in a few years with Knight and Evans.
The Pistons need help everywhere. They have a lot of options with this pick and as long as someone with talent comes to Detroit their team will be a lot better.
Kawhi Leonard helped lead San Diego State to their first Sweet 16 ever. Simply put, Leonard can ball.
Leonard has been drawing comparisons to Gerald Wallace and I think those comparisons are fair. I compare him to Ron Artest, without the rap CD and history of fighting fans. If Leonard can continue to improve his jump shot he could end up being a steal with the eighth pick for Detroit.
There is no question that his athleticism and defense are his most NBA-ready traits. He is a versatile player who can guard bigger guys in the post and can take on point guards if he needs to. Leonard's defense will help the Pistons immediately.
The Charlotte Bobcats need some size. Joel Pryzbilla, DeSagana Diop, Kwame Brown, Boris Diaw, Eduardo Najera and Tyrus Thomas—good players no doubt, but that list certainly doesn't make anyone tremble with fear when they play the Bobcats.
Tristan Thompson could bring some low post skills to Charlotte. At 6'9" he is a little small to play power forward, but he has put on some weight in college and his frame looks like it could put on even more weight. He needs that weight to be successful.
Thompson's post game is really good. He has a horrible shot. If he can develop any sort of jump shot then he could develop into a really good pro.
Alec Burks is a dynamic scorer. He can get to the basket seemingly at will. Paired alongside Brandon Jennings, the Bucks would have some serious scorers in their backcourt. I think that pair is a perfect match.
Burks needs to develop an outside jump shot. He struggles shooting from beyond the arc and he will need that skill to get to the basket in the NBA. As soon as Burks starts shooting the ball, he will be able to put up similar numbers in the NBA that he put up in college.
He has soft touch and a quick first step. He is very athletic and has good speed. He can also be a serviceable defender. He reminds me of Evan Turner but when Evan Turner was at Ohio State.
Steph Curry and Monta Ellis are great for the Warriors. They need some size to go along with those two dynamic players. Enter Marcus Morris.
Marcus is the more developed of the Morris twins. His skills are very similar to Al Harrington. He has a really, really good jump shot. He has good post skills and can play with his back to the basket. As far as offense goes, I think he's about as ready as anyone to transition to the NBA.
His defense is average. A lot of the reason he's not a great defender is because he is undersized. He doesn't have the length that a typical lock-down post defender has in the NBA. That will hurt him on both sides of the ball but especially on defense.
Golden State could have a diamond in the rough with Morris.
Xavier Henry, Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless, Julian Wright, Hilton Armstrong, Yaroslav Korolev, Robert Swift, Nick Collison, Marvin Ely and Vladimir Radmanovic. Those are the last 10 players that have been taken with the No. 12 pick in the NBA Draft.
If you're the Jazz, why not take Jimmer? History shows that players taken with the 12th pick don't usually amount to much in the NBA. (Some of the players listed are better than others.) If Jimmer turns out to be close to the player than he was in college, the Jazz made an incredible pick at 12. If he turns out to be a bust like many think he will, then he will just join the long list of No. 12 picks that didn't amount to much.
This pick seems obvious to me. The Jazz need a point guard and a shooter; Jimmer is both. The Jazz need to do something to help please a fanbase that was on an emotional roller coaster last season; Jimmer has more fans in Utah than anywhere else.
Jimmer has been compared to Steph Curry, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Adam Morrison, Kyle Korver and JJ Redick. Nobody really knows what he's going to end up being in the NBA. If you're the Jazz then why not take the gamble? Jimmer could be great in the NBA, and if he's not great then you sell some tickets and jerseys along the way.
If Kemba Walker does in fact fall to the 13th pick, then he will be undoubtedly be disappointed. If Kemba Walker does in fact fall to the 13th pick, then the Phoenix Suns will be ecstatic.
When I think of Kemba Walker being able to learn from Steve Nash and then take over the reins of the Phoenix Suns, I get chills. That seems all too perfect to me.
Everyone knows what kind of player Walker is. He's a great scorer, a leader, a good defender and a winner. Kemba Walker was outstanding in college.
Moving on to the NBA, there are questions surrounding Walker's size. If Walker can learn from Nash how to play undersized, then I see a long and successful career coming for Walker.
The Rockets traded away Shane Battier last season. Markieff Morris seems like the perfect player to replace Battier.
The other Morris twin is not quite as developed at his brother. He is good around the rim and a good spot-up shooter; he's lacking the in-between game though. I think he will develop that game over time and could be very good for the Rockets.
Markeiff is a little bigger than his brother and that will serve him well. I think Markeiff Morris is a very solid pick for the Rockets.
Kenneth Faried is one of the most exciting players in the entire country to watch. His energy and athleticism make him a beast on the boards and a force on the block. His offensive game is raw and needs some work, but his defense and rebounding are great.
Indiana has had some luck taking players like this. Tyler Hansbrough had all sorts of questions surrounding him when he came to the league but the Pacers took the gamble and have helped Hansbrough turn into a good NBA player. The same can be said about Jeff Foster. They seem like the team that will take the gamble on Faried.
Faried needs to work on his offensive skills in order to be successful, but his defense and rebounding are outstanding. The comparison to Dennis Rodman is almost too perfect.
For Faried, I see his career shaping out to be similar to Paul Millsap. When Millsap came out he didn't have much of an offensive game, but over a few years he developed into a very good forward. I see the same for Faried.
Some compare Donata Motiejunas to Kevin Durant. I think a better comparison is Andrea Bargnani, although both comparisons make sense. Motiejunas is a tall, lanky big man who has as much potential as anyone in the draft.
He has good size, good quickness and a pretty good jump shot. He will need to work on his defense in order to play a big role in the NBA.
Admittedly, I don't know as much about Motiejunas as I should.
Had Josh Selby been able to enter the draft right out of high school he would have likely been a top-10 pick. Unfortunately for Selby, he had to go to a year of school and he was disappointing at best. He was ruled ineligible to start the year and battled injuries to end the year so it wasn't completely his fault that he was disappointing.
Even though he had a disappointing season, the potential is still there. Selby has the potential to be a great point guard. I think the Knicks are a good fit for Selby. He could play alongside Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire for years to come.
Selby has a good jump shot, but he is streaky. He will need to become a better passer in order to be effective, especially with Anthony and Stoudemire.
The Knicks need a point guard and Knick fans always love a big name; Selby is both.
I had the Wizards taking Bismack Biyombo with the sixth pick in the draft because of defensive needs. I think they take Chris Singleton at 18 for the same reason.
Singleton is outstanding defender. He will be able to go to Washington and instantly make an impact on defense. At 18, can you ask for anything more than a player that can instantly make an impact?
Singleton reminds many of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. That's a fair comparison. I think he will be just as successful as Mbah a Moute.
He needs to develop more on the offensive side of the ball, but that will come with time. Singleton is a great fit for Washington.
Tobias Harris is one of the more well-rounded players in the draft. I will steal the words of B/R writer Andy Bailey: "Harris does just about everything well, but nothing really well."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
I think that a player like Harris could be similar to Kris Humphries. He will take some time to develop, but could be a very good player in the future.
Marshon Brooks can score with the best of them. Each year that he played at Providence he got better. He has proved that he is teachable and willing to work hard. That is Brooks' best trait heading into the NBA.
Brooks needs to become a better passer and work on getting his teammates involved. If he does that then he is a very good player. He reminds me of Josh Howard and I could see his career ending up very similar to Howard.
He could be a steal at 20, but he's not a lock by any means.
Jordan Hamilton is a really good player. He could be a great player given the right fit. I think that Portland is the right fit for Hamilton.
The problem with Hamilton is that he hasn't really developed any of his skills into his niche. He's a good scorer, but his jump shot is inconsistent. He can play defense and rebound, but he isn't a lock-down defender by any means.
Hamilton needs to develop some of his skills before he can be really good in the NBA.
This one is simple. Denver has a ton of young talent in their backcourt and around the perimeter. They need to get younger in the post.
Jordan Williams is a big and strong rebounder. He doesn't have offensive skills that will "wow" you, but he's good. He could learn from Nene and develop into a similar player.
Jordan Williams fits in Denver.
Reggie Jackson is 6'3" and has a ridiculous 7'0" wingspan. He is a very well-rounded player. He plays good defense but not great. He can shoot and pass the ball well, but not outstanding.
Houston needs a point guard. Goran Dragic is not the answer. Kyle Lowry is really good, but I'm not sure that he can be a starting point guard day in and day out.
Reggie Jackson might not be the answer either, but at 21 he's worth the gamble.
I will keep this one simple.
Many think that Tyler Honeycutt needs to go back to UCLA for another year. Many thought that Russell Westbrook needed to go back to UCLA for another year.
The Westbrook gamble worked for the Thunder so maybe the Honeycutt gamble will too. On a team that doesn't have any obvious needs, Honeycutt could be good fit for the future.
Justin Harper is so much like Channing Frye it's crazy. He's a big guy that has proven to be able to play outside a little bit. He has a good shot and could have similar impact to that of Frye or Mehmet Okur.
Harper needs some serious work on becoming a real big man, though. He needs to rebound better, defend better and develop better post skills.
He's got a similar frame to Kevin Garnett and could learn a lot from him in Boston.
It's completely unfair to compare anyone to Dirk Nowitzki but you can't ignore the similarities between Nowitzki and Davis Bertans. Bertans needs some meat on his bones and isn't quite as tall as Nowitzki, but he's got similar skills.
Bertans is a project for sure, but if any player can help develop the future Dirk Nowitzki, it's the present Dirk Nowitzki.
The New Jersey Nets acquired Deron Williams and have their point guard of the future. Having a solid backup point guard is never a bad thing. Currently the Nets have Jordan Farmar on the roster but Morris could be an upgrade at the backup point guard position.
Morris reminds me of a young Andre Miller. He could be a very serviceable backup to Williams. Morris is a true point guard. He can lead a team and do exactly what you want a point guard to do.
He is turnover-prone at times, but under Deron Williams' tutelage he could develop into a good player.
The Bulls don't have any immediate needs; they are solid all the way around. They certainly don't need a point guard because they have the NBA MVP. Nolan Smith could be a very good backup to Rose.
I have my doubts whether or not Smith could be an everyday starter in the NBA. He could be a very good backup for a long time.
His defense is a great and that will be very beneficial for his NBA career. He will struggle to get time with the Bulls, but Smith would struggle to get time with anyone.
The Spurs played great throughout the entire regular season. They got dominated by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol during the first round of the playoffs. Tim Duncan is getting older and the end of his career in sooner than most basketball fans would like to admit. They need to find his replacement.
JaJuan Johnson is a very good player and had a great career at Purdue. He's got good size and good athleticism. Johnson would learn a lot from Duncan and could develop into a really good player for the Spurs.
Like I said in the Bulls' earlier slide, they don't have any obvious needs. They can draft for the future with this pick.
Lucas Nogueira is a good pick. He's got size but needs muscle. He is an excellent shot blocker and shooter. A few years of development will benefit Nogueira and could benefit the Bulls as well.