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NBA Draft Order 2011: Why Kemba Walker Is Destined for the Toronto Raptors

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NBA Draft Order 2011: Why Kemba Walker Is Destined for the Toronto Raptors
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After a surprising draft lottery which saw two teams jump into the top 3 picks with selections they acquired at the trading deadline, the top of the 2011 NBA Draft is wide open.

For Kemba Walker, one of the top point guards available and the MVP of the Final Four, the results of the lottery point to a selection at No. 5 by the Toronto Raptors.

With two of the top four picks, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the biggest winners, and their choices will dictate how the rest of the draft plays out.

They are likely to take Kyrie Irving, the Duke point guard seen by most draft experts as the best player available, with the first pick.

Neither of the next two teams picking, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Utah Jazz, have much need for a point guard at the top of the draft.

Minnesota is still waiting for Ricky Rubio, the Spanish point guard they drafted in the lottery two years ago, to come play in the NBA.

The Timberwolves, a young team in a small market, have not yet given Rubio much incentive to leave his home country. 

And after taking Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn in the same draft as Rubio, using another lottery pick on a point guard might dissuade Rubio from ever coming to play for Minnesota.

The Timberwolves are likely to look for help up front, be it Arizona forward Derrick Williams or one of the many international big men, from Jonas Valancianus to Enes Kanter or even Bismack Biyombo.

At No. 3, Utah is in a similar situation. They have Devin Harris, still only 28, at the point guard position and a serious need for young big men to pair with Derrick Favors in the front-court. 

Cleveland at No. 4 will likely take whichever big man falls to them, which leaves Walker for the Raptors at No. 5. 

Toronto was one of the two teams, along with the Sacramento Kings, hurt most by the lottery's results, as both teams fell out of the top 3. And with Williams, Irving and Kanter almost assured to be selected before they are on the board, there's no clear-cut player for them to take.

With a 22-60 record last season, Toronto is still recovering from the departure of Chris Bosh in free agency.

They are now in the midst of a full-fledged rebuilding program with several interesting young pieces to build around, but they desperately needed an All-NBA caliber player as a centerpiece, one they are unlikely to find with the No. 5 selection.

Up-front, the team has former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, an athletic 23-year old in they gave $34 million last off-season, and Ed Davis, last year's lottery pick out of North Carolina who came on strong at the end of the season.

In the back-court, they have DeMar DeRozan and Jerryd Bayless, two athletic young perimeter players interested primarily in looking for their own shot.

None of their young core is particularly adept at setting up other players, and all could use help getting open shots, which is why a point guard would be a good choice for them.

Jose Calderon is a good passer, but he's inept defensively and Toronto doesn't have a particularly imposing shot-blocker in the front-court to make up for it.

An athletic young point guard could get them out on the open court, where their young players could use their athleticism to get easy points.

And while neither of the next two point guards after Kyrie Irving, Walker and Kentucky's Brandon Knight, are "true" point guards, Walker is much more comfortable running a team than Knight, who would mostly replicate what Bayless does.

Walker had an assist: turnover ratio of 1.98, while Knight's was a woeful 1.33, a number Walker easily surpassed in all three of his years at UConn. 

Perhaps more importantly, Walker is used to a leadership role after carrying a Husky team full of underclassmen to a national championship, something Toronto desperately needs after last year's collapse.

If he can run the team and get easier shots for DeRozan, Davis and Bargnani, than Toronto would consider next season a success, even if they aren't likely to improve too much in the standings.

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