2011 NBA Mock Draft: Yearbook Edition
Many are calling this the worst draft class the NBA has seen in years...they might be right.
Regardless, I think there are enough players in this draft to make an impact in the league.
When you can draft solid, heady players like JaJuan Johnson, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith in the very late first round, that's not a bad draft. These players are risky, though, and it seems like many probable lottery picks are in the same boat: Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette, Bismack Biyombo, etc.
There have been hundreds, maybe even thousands, of mock drafts so far, and for the most part they're all fairly similar. I wanted to write something a little different.
Remember all the class favorites from high school? Didn't you love reading those?
Too bad. This is my Yearbook Edition of the 2011 NBA draft.
Most Likely to Succeed: Kyrie Irving
Harry How/Getty Images
At this point, it almost seems like Irving to the Cavs is a done deal. Does he deserve to be the No. 1 pick?
Personally, I think Derrick Williams is a much better fit on the Cavs than Irving. Williams can come in and contribute right away without having to shake up the lineup to much. Irving, on the other hand, provides a large steppingstone in the rebuilding process.
Also, if they take Williams with the No. 1 pick, they still have the No. 4 pick to draft a point guard if they so desire—either Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight, or both, will be available at No. 4.
With all that being said, I think that Irving is still the best or second-best player in the draft, and that's definitely a consensus thought. Irving is going to step in and be an immediate player whether he goes to Cleveland or Minnesota.
Conversely, if Williams gets drafted to Minnesota, its roster will be so loaded with combo forwards that he will have a harder time fitting in there as opposed to Cleveland.
Irving is primed to be the "Most Likely to Succeed" in the draft.
Best All-Around: Derrick Williams
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
I almost made Derrick Williams "Most Outspoken" due to his recent comments about why he should be the No. 1 draft pick. If you didn't hear what he said, let me inform you:
"I think I’m the No. 1 pick because I have more star quality I would think...I’m just a bigger person. Just trying to fill in for a big star like LeBron [James] like they’re missing. That missing piece. I think that’s me."
While I would love to completely rag on this guy for being the Cam Newton of the NBA's draft class, I just can't. I mean, I agree with him...much like I did Cam Newton.
This guy was a star at Arizona, and he's going to be a potential star in the NBA. He has explosive leaping ability—that I'm sure we all "witnessed" in the NCAA tournament—and he can step outside and hit a jumper.
While there's absolutely no way Williams can replace LeBron or be anywhere near the type of player LeBron is, I do think he's the best fit for the Cavs, and I do think he's the best all-around player in the draft.
Irving may be the most successful, especially in his rookie season, but if Williams is indeed the No. 1 pick, Cleveland may have a decently scary starting five next year.
Class Clown, or Most Likely to Be the Biggest Bust: Brandon Knight
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
As the leader of the Kentucky One-and-Dones—yeah, they aren't allowed to be called Wildcats anymore—Knight had a pretty solid year statistically: 17.3 PPG, 4.2 APG and 4.0 RPG.
What needs to be highlighted, though, is his turnover average: 3.2 per game. I suppose 3.2 isn't a terrible number for a first-year point guard who led his team to the Final Four, but his decision-making definitely needs to be refined. That will come with experience, though, and that's something he doesn't have much of yet.
There's no doubt Knight will be a top-10 pick. In fact, there's likely no doubt he'll be a top-five pick. Some even believe he can go as high as No. 3 to Utah, which may be the best fit for him.
At Utah, he'll be able to play behind Devin Harris, learn the offense, gain experience off the bench and hopefully pick up the necessary skill set he'll need to be a starting point guard in the league.
However, if he gets drafted by a team that needs a starter, there's no doubt in my mind his lack of experience and sometimes poor decision-making will lead to a very poor freshman season.
Knight could have used another year at Kentucky for sure, but I don't blame him for coming out. If you're a top-five pick this year, why wait until next year, when the draft class is bound to be much better?
Enes Kanter, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmer Fredette, any European player
Most Likely to Get Clotheslined by Andrew Bynum: Kemba Walker
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
This could have easily been "Most Creative," but I got tired of the "normal" yearbook entries. From here on out, no more!
Kemba Walker has been both undervalued and overvalued. His steady play all season and leadership throughout the NCAA tournament had people questioning whether or not he should be a top-five pick or if he's the best point guard prospect in the draft.
The answer to these questions is yes. Walker is going to be a really good pro, especially if he falls to the right team (hopefully the Kings).
If I had to compare him to any current pro, it would have to be Ty Lawson or, coincidentally, J.J. Barea. Both are small, speedy, shifty and other adjectives that start with "s," I'm sure.
I can definitely see Walker crossing over Bynum a few times next season.
Nobody is safe.
Most Likely to Wish He Would Have Stayed in School: Tyler Honeycutt
J. Meric/Getty Images
Let's not get confused: Brandon Knight could have easily been the winner of this award, but I wanted to be sure to mention that Knight won't absolutely regret leaving school, being that he's a definite top-five pick.
Honeycutt, on the other hand, is likely a mid-late first-round pick and will drop out of the lottery. With his unique skill set, he's definitely going to be an undervalued role player for any team that grabs him—likely Indiana, Charlotte, Portland or OKC.
After increasing his production during his sophomore year at UCLA, Honeycutt would have benefited from at least one more year in college. He would have gotten better and would have been almost a lock for a lottery pick next year.
Maybe he chose to come out knowing this, hoping to get on a contender. I doubt it, though. Lottery money is likely more important to a college kid than winning a championship in his first year.
Shelvin Mack, Josh Selby, Darius Morris
Most Likely to Have His Name Mispronounced on Draft Night: Donatas Motiejunas
Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
In a lottery that is sure to be European friendly, the most complicating name definitely belongs to Donatas Motiejunas.
Something that isn't so complicated about Motiejunas is his upside. At 7'0", Motiejunas may be the best PF prospect in the draft behind Enes Kanter.
I've seen Motiejunas listed in the top five, possibly being picked up with Cleveland's second pick at No. 4, but I've also seen Motiejunas fall out of the lottery completely. I really doubt that happens, but if it does, he'd be an excellent pickup for really anybody, especially Philadelphia at No. 16.
Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, Nikola Mirotic
Really, David Stern pronouncing all of these names may be worth tuning in for anyway.
Most Likely to Get Dunked on by Blake Griffin: Bismack Biyombo
There is a lot of speculation surrounding Bismack as he prepares to enter the draft. Many popular questions include, "How old is this guy, really?" ... "What kind of a name is Bismack, anyway?" ... "Is Bismack Biyombo going to try to steal 'Air Congo' from Serge Ibaka like Dwight Howard stole 'Superman' from Shaq?"
All these questions are legitimate, but regardless of their answers, there should be no speculation about this guy's upside, which he clearly showed at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit: 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Biyombo is going to be a project for anybody who drafts him, but a project as promising as this warrants a lottery pick.
The most potentially exciting aspect of his game is definitely his shot-blocking ability, and as a rookie who won't be developed, there's absolutely a 100 percent chance that he's going to try to use his shot-blocking talent ALL THE TIME. It will be his go-to move.
What's even more potentially exciting than Biyombo's shot-blocking ability, though, is that there's absolutely a 100 percent chance that he's going to get posterized by Blake Griffin while trying to use said shot-blocking ability.
GET OUT OF HIS WAY! HE'S BLAKE GRIFFIN!
Most Likely to Win a Ring in His First Year: Nolan Smith
Harry How/Getty Images
Possibly the most underrated player in this year's draft class, Smith is a proven winner, and with his draft stock the way it is, he may be drafted by a proven winner as well.
I've seen Smith taken in the mid-late 20s of the first round, and I've seen him drop all the way to the middle of the second round. While I'm hoping some teams wise up on this guy's potential, he may be in for a nice treat being drafted so late.
Some teams that Smith could go to are Oklahoma City at pick 24, Chicago at pick 28 or 30 and Miami at pick 31.
The best fits for Smith in this group are Chicago and Miami, but all three teams are set to make runs at titles for many of the upcoming years barring injuries to their superstars.
If Smith goes to Chicago, he would add much-needed depth at SG and would have the chance to start alongside its other young talent.
If Smith goes to Miami, he might be able to play his natural position, PG. Personally, I think Smith is an excellent point guard, and I would start him over a washed-up Mike Bibby and an underachieving Mario Chalmers any day.
Anybody drafted by Miami, Chicago or Oklahoma City