2011 NBA Mock Draft: Will the Cleveland Cavaliers Draft Kyrie Irving at No. 1?
Proving karma to be a very real entity (looking at you, LeBron), the Cleveland Cavaliers won the first and fourth picks in the 2011 NBA Draft. In a draft widely seen as two deep, the Cavaliers' front office is jostling with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Detroit Pistons to find a way to trade for the Timberwolves' pick at No. 2.
The Cavaliers would likely use the top two picks to select point guard Kyrie Irving from Duke and Arizona forward Derrick Williams. Neither is considered a sure thing; questions remain as to Irving's toe injury (which caused him to miss two-thirds of the season) and Williams' "tweener" status.
Assuming the Cavs don't get the deal done, they'll hope Minnesota and Utah look elsewhere (internationally, perhaps) for the second and third picks. In all likelihood though, Williams won't be available at No. 4.
With Kyrie Irving all but a sure thing to go first, how will the Cavaliers choose their next rebuilding piece at No. 4 with Derrick Williams unavailable? And where will other notable prospects like Enes Kanter, Jimmer Fredette, and Kemba Walker land?
All height, age, and NBA comparison figures credit to www.NBADraft.net.
No. 1: Cleveland Cavaliers: PG Kyrie Irving, Duke
Height: 6'3'' Weight: 191
NBA Comparison: Chris Paul/Mike Conley
Fast don't lie.
There's a reason Kyrie Irving, to me, is the one sure thing in this draft: his speed. He'll start from day one with the Cavaliers and will be able to match rival point guards step-for-step off the dribble.
The Chris Paul comparison might be a little much, but Irving has a knack for penetrating the paint and finding open shooters. I also think Irving is quicker and more explosive than Conley. He's more like Darren Collison in that you know about his speed, but he can also surprise you with his shooting.
Irving's assist to turnover ratio was just 1.74:1 at Duke, and he'll need to improve on that at the next level. But, his 17.5 points per game, 53 percent shooting, and 90 percent FT (and, of course, his quickness) make him the safest prospect in this weak draft.
No. 2: Minnesota Timberwolves: PF Derrick Williams, Arizona
Height: 6'8'' Weight: 248
NBA Comparison: David West/Michael Beasley
I like the Michael Beasley comparison for Derrick Williams. Beasley's a tweener who's been able to find his niche at the NBA level. Like Beasley, Williams is going to score most of his points on the pick and roll. He'll also be able to post up smaller small forwards in the NBA and face up on slower power forwards. Williams is an excellent finisher at the rim and knows how to take contact.
Let's not forget his ridiculous 57 percent three-point shooting during his sophomore season. That number will drop, but at the very least, Williams will be a reliable mid-range jump shooter in the NBA.
No. 3: Utah Jazz: PG Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Height: 6'3'' Weight: 177
NBA Comparison: Jason Terry/Jrue Holiday
With the departure of Deron Williams, the Jazz are rebuilding. I think it's a very real possibility that the Jazz trade down. Devin Harris certainly isn't the long-term answer at point guard, and I think they'll take a chance on Brandon Knight with the third pick.
I don't see one bit of Jason Terry in Knight. Terry, at this point in his career, is essentially a spot-up shooter. Knight is young, athletic and can get to the rim at will. He'll continue to do that at the next level as the point guard for the Utah Jazz. Whether or not he can finish over NBA forwards and centers remains to be seen.
Knight averaged 17 points per game in his one year at Kentucky, but he also committed more than three turnovers per game. He dribbles a lot, so his game is turnover prone, but three turnovers in college translates to around five in the NBA, so he'll have to work on that.
I think Knight will be the most successful first-year point guard in 2011-2012. He's already a strong defender (he averaged two charges taken per game in high school) and has the quickness, range, and shooters around him to help the Jazz right away.
No. 4: Cleveland Cavaliers: C Enes Kanter, Turkey
Height: 6'11'' Weight: 259
NBA Comparison: Al Horford
Ruled ineligible by the NCAA, Enes Kanter is a rare player who's being scouted based on, essentially, one game: his 34-point, 13-rebound performance at the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit. The 34 points were a record for the game, surpassing Dirk Nowitzki's 33 in 1998.
Kanter has an NBA-ready body and won't shy away from contact. He's big enough to bang with the top NBA centers and looks like he can defend.
He's not a typical European prospect either (he's no Andrea Bargnani). His physicality makes him an asset right away, but it looks like he has a good mid-range game as well.
Kanter's biggest upside is on the boards. If DeJuan Blair and Serge Ibaka have taught us anything, it's that rebounding in any setting can translate to the NBA. Kanter averaged 16.4 rebounds per game at the 2009 U-18 European Championships and pulled down 13 boards in the only game we've seen him play in the last two years.
No. 5: Toronto Raptors: PG Kemba Walker, Connecticut
Height: 6'1'' Weight: 184
NBA Comparison: Tim Hardaway/Bobby Jackson
Jose Calderon is 29 and useful trade bait. Jerryd Bayless is always going to be more of a two guard. Drafting Kemba Walker would be a smart move, as one of the team's biggest problems is with scoring.
The Raptors don't really have anyone who dominates the ball and, despite that phrase's negative connotation, every team needs a player who does. Kemba will be that guy on any team; filling that role for the Raptors will make his first few seasons more successful while the team rebuilds around him and Andrea Bargnani.
Kemba's slashing habits will be complimented nicely by the Raptors excellent shooters like Bargnani and Leandro Barbosa. Toronto might not be the sexiest destination for one of college basketball's most electrifying players (seriously, look at that step back jumper against Pitt for the win), but it'll put him in a position to succeed (if not win) immediately.
No. 6: Washington Wizards: C Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania
Height: 6'11'' Weight: 240
NBA Comparison: Nenad Krstic/Primoz Brezec
First things first: Washington, you have great, young, up-and-coming talent in John Wall, Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Andrey Blatche. You have fresh new uniforms. And unfortunately, you also have Rashard Lewis and his $21 million contract. So, get rid of that.
Like a lot of European prospects entering the NBA, Jonas Valanciunas needs to fill out his body. The center from Lithuania will probably top out around 7'1'', so he'll need to put on another 15-20 pounds.
He's got plenty of offensive game around the rim and soft hands. What troubles me are the questions about his defense and his ability to get his shot off against NBA centers, who will out-leap him. Still, his length will make him a valuable weak-side defender/shot-changer against slashing guards.
Valanciunas will need a few years to grow into his own body and develop the strength needed to compete at the elite level, but I think he'll eventually outperform Krstic (he's a better defender) and Brezec.
No. 7: Sacramento Kings: SF Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State
Height: 6'7'' Weight: 227
NBA Comparison:Luc Richard Mbah a Moute/Gerald Wallace
Kawhi Leonard, a relatively unheard of prospect out out San Diego State, actually has a game that translates well to the NBA. With his size and length, Leonard should be able to cover both shooting guards and smaller threes in the NBA.
He's got a smooth release on his jump shot, so his suspect shooting should improve over time. I can see the 19-year-old Leonard settling into the league as a serviceable starter for playoff contender.
No. 8: Detroit Pistons: PF Bismack Biyombo, Congo
Height: 6'9'' Weight: 243
NBA Comparison: Olumide Oyedeji/Larry Sanders
Strange that Bismack Biyombo wouldn't be immediately compared to the Thunder's Serge Ibaka. Both are athletic power forwards from the Congo, and both are very raw offensively. Believe it or not, Biyombo might be even more raw than Ibaka was when we came to the NBA. He has, effectively, no jump shot.
The precedent set by Ibaka and his success with Oklahoma City have made Biyombo a player to watch. His NBA-ready body has scouts questioning his true age, but his defensive skills and athleticism are obvious.
The Pistons would love to grab a center in this draft, but in this mock draft the only two top-10 centers have been chosen already. Detroit will settle for an explosive defensive stopper as they hope Biyombo morphs into Ben Wallace 2.0.
No. 9: Charlotte Bobcats: PF Tristan Thompson, Texas
Height: 6'9'' Weight: 227
NBA Comparison: Charles Smith
Seemingly every team is in desperate need of a center, but there just aren't many to go around. Detroit and Charlotte would both love for Jonas Valanciunas to drop this far, but I don't think he will. Both teams will settle for a work-in-progress power forward, with the Bobcats selecting Tristan Thompson with the ninth pick.
Thompson will add size to a team whose two best centers are Kwame Brown and Joel Pryzbilla. He'll be placed under Tyrus Thomas and expected to fill the same role: a high-energy rebounder. Expect Thompson to see limited playing time in his rookie season and settle into the NBA as nothing more than a role player. In case you haven't heard, this draft is pretty thin.
No. 10: Milwaukee Bucks: SG Alec Burks, Colorado
Height: 6'6'' Weight: 193
NBA Comparison: Eddie Jones/Evan Turner
The Milwaukee Bucks already have an established point guard in Brandon Jennings and experienced shooting guards in injury-prone Michael Redd and John Salmons. With his fluidity on the court and ability to create his own shot, Alec Burks could benefit from a season or two behind a couple of established NBA shooting guards.
Burks averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, three assists, and one steal per game in his sophomore season at Colorado. That kind of all-around game draws comparisons to Evan Turner, which I think is fitting. Turner might never be the nightly triple-double threat in the NBA that he was in college, but he'll start or be a productive sixth man for almost any team. I think Burks has a similar NBA career in him, especially if he can develop his outside shot.
No 11: Golden State Warriors: PF Marcus Morris, Kansas
Height: 6'9'' Weight: 230
NBA Comparison: Al Harrington
Marcus Morris had an excellent junior season at Kansas, averaging 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and helping carry the load along with his brother Markieff.
Marcus Morris is the consummate below-the-rim big man. He won't be able to elevate over NBA bigs, but he'll learn how to play solid, if unspectacular, defense and will knock down the mid-range jumper.
The Warriors need a center, but Morris (one of the oldest and most mature players in the draft) won't make the bad decisions on the court for which the Warriors are known.
No 12: Utah Jazz: SF Chris Singleton, Florida State
Height: 6'9'' Weight: 230
NBA Comparison: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Andrei Kirilenko is on his way out, probably to the delight of Jazz fans. Chris Singleton is one of the top perimeter defenders in the draft, averaging 1.5 blocks and two steals per game during his junior season.
Singleton's an athletic swingman, but he's not an offensive threat in the NBA just yet. He could settle into the league as a Shawn Marion/Tony Allen type who scores garbage buckets or a lot of fast-break points.
No. 13: Phoenix Suns: PG Jimmer Fredette, BYU
Height: 6'3'' Weight: 196
NBA Comparison: Mark Price/Eddie House
You know exactly what you're getting from Jimmer Fredette: a prolific scorer who might be a little too willing to shoot. That's not to say he won't evolve into a serviceable point guard, especially under the watch of Steve Nash, whose similar athletic shortcomings have forced him to rely on an arsenal of banks, twists, and fakes to create shots.
If the Suns draft the Jimmer, they'll be able to keep up their uptempo style of play past the Nash era, rebuilding around Jimmer, Hakim Warrick (yikes), and Josh Childress (double yikes).
I don't think I'm alone when I say I'm rooting for Jimmer. March Madness heroes hold a special place in our collective hearts, and Gordon Hayward just isn't getting it done. If this is any indication of things to come, Jimmer will do just fine.
No. 14: Houston Rockets: SF Jan Vesely, Czech Republic
Height: 6'11'' Weight: 240
NBA Comparison: Mike Dunleavy/Andrei Kirilenko
Probably the most explosive European prospect I've ever seen, Jan Vesely has the talent to go in the top 10, but teams will opt for the safe pick. Vesely will come into the league and immediately become one of the top fast-break threats in the NBA. His shooting needs some work, but athletes like Vesely have a way of making things work at the elite level.
No. 15: Indiana Pacers: SF Jordan Hamilton, Texas
Height: 6'9'' Weight: 229
NBA Comparison: Cedric Ceballos
Hamilton can score from anywhere on the court, hitting 2.5 threes per game. That number should translate well to the NBA once he adjusts his range. He's been impressive at the pre-draft workouts, and his stock is rising.
No. 16: Philadelphia 76ers: PF Markieff Morris, Kansas
Height: 6'9'' Weight: 241
NBA Comparison: Drew Gooden
Not surprisingly, there aren't a lot of Markieff Morris highlight videos on YouTube. He's always been a complimentary player to his brother, Marcus. But Markieff is a good inside presence and fills the defensive void for the 76ers. He also showed the ability to score from beyond the arc, making 42 percent of his three-pointers during his junior season.
No. 17: New York Knicks: PG Josh Selby, Kansas
Height: 6'3'' Weight: 195
NBA Comparison: Willie Warren/Jerryd Bayless
An explosive point guard with good size, Josh Selby could certainly be the next starting point guard for the New York Knicks. The Knicks saw the downside of having an old, slow point guard in Chauncey Billups this season, and Toney Douglas isn't the future. Selby will eventually be a great third scoring option for the Knicks, as he has the quickness and handles to create his own shot.
Or, he could be a great trade chip to throw into a deal for, say, Chris Paul.
No. 18: Washington Wizards: SG Klay Thompson, Washington State
Height: 6'7'' Weight: 206
NBA Comparison: Marco Belinelli
A shooter with a pure release, Klay Thompson notched a Pac-10 Conference Tournament record 43 points in 2011. His shooting motion is fluid, and he's smart enough with the dribble to create his own shot.
As expected with shooters, defense will always be a problem. But even JJ Redick has learned how to hassle wing players at the elite level, and with his good size, I don't see any reason Thompson can't.
Thompson should make an impact right away, waiting on the elbow or in the corner for John Wall's drive and dish.
No. 19: Charlotte Bobcats: SG Marshon Brooks, Providence
Height: 6'5'' Weight: 195
NBA Comparison: Jordan Crawford/Josh Howard
Marshon Brooks dropped a Big East record 52 on Notre Dame as a senior, which caught they eye of quite a few scouts at the next level. ESPN's analysts have had him rising for the last few weeks. When your best scoring option is Stephen Jackson, you need help. Brooks and his 24 points per game can help from all over the floor.
For a team decidedly in the rebuilding stage, a prolific, smart scorer is a great pickup this late in a weak draft.
No. 20: Minnesota Timberwolves: SG Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA
Height: 6'8'' Weight: 187
NBA Comparison: Josh Childress/Tayshaun Prince
Minnesota's current roster doesn't list a single shooting guard. So yeah, they'll probably want to address that.
Tyler Honeycutt reminds me a lot of Tayshaun Prince, but with better handles. His length will allow him to guard NBA shooting guards right away. He definitely needs to add a few pounds, but given his size that shouldn't be too difficult.
He might not be the best shooter, but I can see Honeycutt as a very effective NBA rotation player. He could probably run the point forward position, which can be tough for other teams to guard, a la Hedo Turkoglu.
No. 21: Portland Trailblazers: PF Kenneth Faried, Morehead State
Height: 6'8'' Weight: 225
NBA Comparison: Louis Amundson
LaMarcus Aldridge needs a body to rebound with him in the post, especially considering Greg Oden may never get healthy. Kenneth Faried's whopping 14.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game will help the Trailblazers immediately and keep them in the playoffs.
If there's one thing we've learned to not doubt, it's undersized players from smaller conferences: Ben Wallace, JJ Barea, Danny Woodhead in the NFL. Faried won't grab 15 boards per game at the NBA level (no one does), but his motor and instincts on the glass make him a nightly double-double threat a few years down the road.
No. 22: Denver Nuggets: SF Tobias Harris, Tennessee
Height: 6'8'' Weight: 223
NBA Comparison: Kris Humphries/Glen Rice
Tobias Harris, at just 18 years old, will probably be given the dreaded "tweener" status. He's not explosive enough to match up with small forwards and not tall enough to defend power forwards. But, Harris has has offensive game; he's a smart ball handler and has the outside game needed to succeed at the next level.
As young as he is, he's very well-rounded, and this late in the draft, grabbing a player this refined is a no-brainer.
No. 23: Houston Rockets: PG Darius Morris, Michigan
Height: 6'4'' Weight: 190
NBA Comparison: Andre Miller
With killer crossovers and spin moves and good size, Darius Morris will be a very effective point guard in the NBA once he gets his chance. The league is overloaded with point guards right now, but there's always room for a player who can create his own shot while still averaging almost seven assists per game at the college level.
No. 24: Oklahoma City Thunder: PF Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania
Height: 7'0'' Weight: 229
NBA Comparison: Andrea Bargnani
The left-handed big man from Lithuania is an incredible scorer with an array of post moves and the ability to shoot the three. If he falls this far, and that's a big if, the Thunder will gladly snatch him up as a nice compliment to Serge Ibaka in the post.
Donatas Motiejunas will need to beef up if he wants to defend the post. He reminds me of Troy Murphy, back when Troy Murphy was good.
No. 25: Boston Celtics: C Nikola Vucevic, USC
Height: 7'0'' Weight: 260
NBA Comparison: Ryan Anderson
With Shaquille O'Neal's Twitter retirement today, the Celtics are in even bigger need of a big man. Nikola Vucevic is a talented center out of USC who can step out to hit threes and bang in the post. At this point in the draft, a three-year project like Vucevic is a solid bet.
No. 26: Dallas Mavericks: SF Davis Bertans, Latvia
Height: 6'10'' Weight: 210
NBA Comparison: Austin Daye/Kyle Korver
Davis Bertans is a young shooter from Latvia with a quick release and great movement off the ball. He runs around screens very well, a la Richard Hamilton. He'll be a tough matchup for smaller small forwards, and if he's guarded by power forwards, he'll be able to run them off screens for open looks.
He's only 18, so he's a project, but a shooter with that kind of size is a great pick this late in the draft.
No. 27: New Jersey Nets: PF Justin Harper, Richmond
Height: 6'9'' Weight: 228
NBA Comparison: Channing Frye
Justin Harper shot nearly 50 percent on three-pointers during his senior season at Richmond. The Nets didn't have much luck with their last shooting big man, Yi Jianlian, but a guy who hit 50 percent of his threes has to get his shot, and the Nets could use some size to boot.
No. 28: Chicago Bulls: PG Shelvin Mack, Butler
Height: 6'2'' Weight: 205
NBA Comparison: Ben Gordon
The playmaker for Butler's back-to-back National runner-up teams is a good fit in Chicago. He's a smart player who can shoot the ball and play both guard positions. The Bulls will probably take another shooting guard at the No. 30 spot, so Mack will likely play backup or even third-string point guard. A very good value pick this late in the draft.
No. 29: San Antonio Spurs: C Jeremy Tyler, USA
Height: 6'11'' Weight: 263
NBA Comparison: Tyson Chandler
Jeremy Tyler, who originally committed to Louisville, played last season overseas in Japan. He's a huge leaper/dunker who likes to hang on the rim like Dwight Howard. He also fills the Spurs' need for an inside presence, as Matt Bonner lives on the perimeter. Tyler could be a few years in the making, but looks to have the body and skills of a legitimate NBA big man.
No. 30: Chicago Bulls: SG Travis Leslie, Georgia
Height: 6'4'' Weight: 205
NBA Comparison: Kelenna Azubuike
Look at that dunk. Man, Travis Leslie is fast. Sorry Keith Bogans, but I think Chicago's ready to part ways with you. Shooting guard was the only position that didn't produce for the Bulls this season, and that's why they'll try to get two scorers late in the first round. Leslie is a bit undersized, but has great athleticism to slash and finish at the rim.