2011 NBA Mock Draft, Lottery Edition: Jimmer Fredette Not Amongst Top 14 Picks
UFC 132 is set to take place on July 2, and this is shaping up to be one of the better cards in recent memory.
It is so good, that four of the cards on the preliminary card could very easily be main card fights.
The main event of the evening pits bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in the first defense of his UFC title against the only man who holds a victory over him, former WEC Featherweight Champion, Urijah Faber.
The co-main event of the evening is a fight that has been in the making for nearly a year, as a legend of the sport, Wanderlei Silva, takes on hard hitting and iron-chinned Chris Leben.
In addition, Tito Ortiz fights for his job against an Ultimate Fighter winner, Ryan Bader, Carlos Condit takes on Dong Hyun Kim in what could very well become a No. 1 contender match, and Dennis Siver, fresh off an upset over George Sotiropoulos, takes on "Handsome" Matt Wiman.
So here is the breakdown and predictions for the main card.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers Select Kyrie Irving (Duke)
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The Cavaliers almost have no choice but to take Kyrie Irving. As in many drafts, there seems to be one player that has a much higher ceiling than anyone else.
In this case, that player is Irving.
The only knock on him is he only played 11 collegiate games, which is no fault of his own. He has been likened to Chris Paul, but that's just a comparison and not a predicted career path.
Irving's best skill is his quickness and an unbelievable crossover that enables him to get to the rim. He's also a tremendous three-point shooter, hitting 46 percent of his attempts from downtown. His ability to defend and pass are also way above average, giving the Cavaliers an all-around player.
The Cavs already have Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions, but neither provides quite the talent at the position as Irving does. The only other likely pick for the Cavs is Derrick Williams.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves Select Derrick Williams (Arizona)
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The Timberwolves do not get to make the decision they thought they would.
Either Irving or Derrick Williams will probably be off the board when the Wolves get to pick at No. 2. They will take whichever player is left, and in this scenario, that player is Williams. Williams stepped into the national spotlight during the NCAA Tournament, when he pushed his Arizona Wildcats past Irving's Duke Blue Devils.
Williams was a power forward in college, but will likely be a small forward in the NBA. He's got the speed to make the transition, and the shooting ability to make NBA threes. His power will be elite for a small forward in the NBA, making him tough to guard for many players at the three spot.
Williams is a powerful dunker, which will excite the crowd in Minnesota. He will take the spot of Wesley Johnson, who was on and off in his rookie season. Williams, Michael Beasley and Kevin Love will be one of the most talked about young frontcourts in the entire league.
If Ricky Rubio comes to the U.S., watch out for the Timberwolves to make some serious strides in 2011-12.
3. Utah Jazz Select Kemba Walker (Connecticut)
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Here's my surprise pick of the first round.
The Utah Jazz have to see something they like in Kemba Walker. When Deron Williams was a member of the Jazz, his ability to score was an essential part of what made the Jazz work. Yes, Williams was a better passer than Walker is, but the Jazz were used to getting some points from the primary ball-handler.
If Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams go one-two, the Jazz will likely be looking at picking a new point guard. The best choices are Walker and Brandon Knight, which will be a tough call for the Jazz. Kemba is the more proven player, and that will give him the edge for this pick.
Walker is the ultimate competitor. He won't give up on any game, and loves to be under pressure. He's not a true point guard, but has the court vision to learn the tricks of the trade.
Utah needs someone that can produce immediately. Kemba Walker is the most NBA-ready player in the draft.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers Select Enes Kanter (Turkey)
The Cavaliers have some talent inside already, but they won't pass on Enes Kanter two times in a row. If Kanter is still on the board at No. 4, the Cavs won't hesitate in taking the 6'10" center from Turkey.
The NCAA banned Kanter from playing at Kentucky, but Kanter stayed at Kentucky for the year. Kanter is a do-it-all player in the paint. He's a crafty scorer, with the ability to pass the ball if the defense tries to trap him. Kanter is also an excellent rebounder on both ends of the floor.
Kanter has three-point range, which is rare for players of his size and strength. Unlike many foreign players, Kanter doesn't need to bulk up to be ready to play in the league. He turns 19 years old today, giving him all the time in the world to mature in the NBA.
Kanter will pair up with Irving in this case, making them a can't-miss rookie combo in the upcoming season.
5. Toronto Raptors Select Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State)
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When the Toronto Raptors were projected to select at No. 3, I had them choosing Kawhi Leonard. Now that the Raptors are picking at No. 5, I see no reason to change my mind.
Kawhi Leonard is not getting much buzz in the national media, but he's an incredible athlete with a developing offensive game. Leonard's game is similar to Gerald Wallace in that he has an endless energy source. He's the type of player who's contributions don't always show up on the stat sheet.
Leonard is a fantastic rebounder with long arms and unbelievable leaping ability. He'll be able to log a ton of minutes, and will replace James Johnson in the starting lineup, which seems to be the Raptors biggest weakness.
If my previous picks are correct, the Raptors could also look at Brandon Knight and Jonas Valanciunas with this pick.
Leonard may not get the recognition before the draft, but people will know his name just a few games into the 2011-12 season.
6. Washington Wizards Select Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania)
The best player on the board at this point is Brandon Knight, but the Washington Wizards have no need for another point guard.
The Wizards will choose Jonas Valanciunas with the No. 6 pick in the draft. Valanciunas has been referred to by some as the best international player in the draft. The 6'10" power forward knows what to do around the rim, where's he made a living for himself.
However, Valanciunas needs to improve his strength and his perimeter game if he wants to become a complete player in the league. He's athletic enough to be a complete player, but at 19 years old, Valanciunas has a long time to make the changes necessary.
The Wizards already have a formidable frontline, but there's nothing wrong with adding another piece.
7. Sacramento Kings Select Brandon Knight (Kentucky)
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The Sacramento Kings could go many different ways with this pick.
The best choice would be to go with the best player on the board, which is Kentucky's Brandon Knight. Knight declared for the draft after just one year with the Wildcats, a year in which he played a huge part in a Final Four run by Kentucky. Knight quietly played some incredible minutes during the NCAA Tournament.
There's nothing that Knight can't do as a point guard, with his knack for defense being the biggest surprise. Knight will pair up with Tyreke Evans in the backcourt to give the Kings one of the best young duos in the league. The emergence of Marcus Thornton at the end of the year is another promising aspect for Sacramento.
Knight, like Walker, is more of a two-guard than a pure point guard, but Knight is the type of player I can see averaging around 10 assists a game.
The Kings could be a team to fear in the not-too-distant future.
8. Detroit Pistons Select Bismack Biyombo (Congo)
Bismack Biyombo is the player in the draft that scouts probably know the least about.
What they do know is that Biyombo is an absurbly athletic big man with an insane wingspan. Thanks to that, Biyombo is a great rebounder and shot-blocker at only 6'9" tall. Biyombo plays for Ayuda En Accion Fuenlabrada in the Spanish ACB, where he averages almost two blocks a game in roughly 16 minutes on the floor.
The Detroit Pistons need a power forward to team up with Greg Monroe, who has been a nice addition out of Georgetown University. Biyombo and Monroe would make an enticing defensive duo in the paint for the Pistons, who allowed over 100 points a game in 2010-11.
If it's a power forward Detroit is looking for, there are more than just one or two options for the Pistons. Biyombo, Tristan Thompson, Jan Vesely and Marcus Morris could all go at No. 8 without anyone being surprised.
If Biyombo develops a respectable offensive game, the Pistons will not regret their selection for a second.
9. Charlotte Bobcats Select Tristan Thompson (Texas)
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The Charlotte Bobcats really need a center on their team—but with Kanter already off the board—they will probably go with a power forward at No. 9.
Tristan Thompson is the type of player that the Bobcats would take. He's not the most athletic forward in the draft, but he's quite the shot-blocker. At 6'8", he has a 7'2" wingspan. He can score in many different ways, but he never became an elite scorer at Texas.
Thompson was nowhere to be found in the Longhorns loss to the Arizona Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament. That's the type of performance that can scare many scouts in the league. Thompson also doesn't have an existent perimeter game, which means he'll spend most of his time around the rim.
The Bobcats have tons of options with this pick—but if they need interior defense—Thompson would be a great addition.
10. Milwaukee Bucks Select Alec Burks (Colorado)
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The Milwaukee Bucks don't have all that much to work with, and could be considered as one of the teams that's the furthest away from being a legitimate contender.
The most dire need for the Bucks seems to be at shooting guard. Michael Redd has virtually deserted the position with all of the injury troubles he's faced. Because of that, the Bucks will take the best shooting guard in the draft: Alec Burks.
Burks almost led Colorado to a NCAA Tournament appearance with his scoring ability as a slasher. If Burks can extend his range to the three-point line, he'll be a deadly offensive player. His natural athleticism makes him capable of being a good defender. Milwaukee's strength is definitely their team defense, as they were third in the league in points against.
Burks won't put the Bucks into the playoffs next year, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.
11. Golden State Warriors Select Jan Vesely (Czech Republic)
The Golden State Warriors would probably pick Jan Vesely as high as No. 7, so they'll be lucky if he falls to them at No. 11.
Vesely is a superbly athletic power forward that can run the floor with the up-tempo pace of the Warriors. The 6'11" big man from the Czech Republic has deep range on his shot, and the ability to finish strong at the rim. He can handle the ball, although it won't be displayed much in Golden State.
Vesely can still use a little work in the weight room, but he's no toothpick at 240 pounds. It may take some time for him to mature to his highest level, but it could be worth the wait. Vesely may have the highest ceiling of all the international players in this year's draft class, including Kanter.
Depending on what the Warriors do in the offseason, Vesely could be a huge part of the roster next season.
12. Utah Jazz Select Klay Thompson (Washington State)
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Would the Utah Jazz be stretching by taking Klay Thompson at No. 12? Probably, but shooting guard is their biggest need.
If the Jazz took Thompson, they would have used the 2011 lottery to completely retool their backcourt. Pairing up two rookies could either be an awesome or terrible thing for the Jazz. Devin Harris will likely start over Thompson or Walker, but that may not last all season.
Thompson may be the best shooter in this draft—and that's saying something because Jimmer Fredette can really shoot the ball. Thompson has deep range, and solid passing ability. Thompson isn't at the athletic level of many players in the draft, but he makes up for it with fundamentals.
He topped 20 points per game as a junior, a year after falling just short of the benchmark.
No one expects Thompson to be a lottery pick, but the Jazz will value their needs above overall ability.
13. Phoenix Suns Select Chris Singleton (Florida State)
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The Phoenix Suns don't have a pressing need at any position, but they've seemingly always had a need for defense.
The Suns should take a serious look at Chris Singleton of Florida State. Singleton is exactly No. 13 on Chad Ford's big board. He is widely considered the best perimeter defender in the draft, and could learn some things from Grant Hill. The thing that truly makes him a fit in Phoenix is his love of the transition game.
Singleton gets up and down the floor quickly, and is a marvelous finisher at the rim. Singleton will need some work with his jump shot, which doesn't quite extend to the three-point line yet. As a member of the Suns, one has to be able to shoot from distance.
The Suns could also be looking at Jimmer Fredette with this pick, but I see them leaning toward someone that can actually play defense.
14. Houston Rockets Select Marcus Morris (Kansas)
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Marcus Morris will just barely make it into the lottery when he's picked at No. 14 by the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets also don't have a position where they absolutely need a replacement, but are weakest at point guard since the departure of Aaron Brooks. They will use their second pick in the first round—No. 23— to address the need for a backup point guard.
Morris showed his elite scoring ability in his junior season at Kansas, leading the Jayhawks to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. His athleticism won't blow anyone away, but Morris still gets a good chunk of rebounds each game. At 6'9", some think that Morris might be a bit of a tweener, but he has the build to be a solid power forward.
The most underrated aspect of Morris' game is his perimeter shooting. He shot better than 34 percent from beyond the arc in all three seasons of his collegiate career.
By adding Morris, the Rockets get the best player left on the board.