2011 NBA Draft: Kyrie Irving and 5 Players Able to Get Teams over the Hump

Tom DohertyCorrespondent IMay 31, 2011

2011 NBA Draft: Kyrie Irving and 5 Players Able to Get Teams over the Hump

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on against the Arizona Wildcats during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Owning a lottery pick in the NBA draft is the consolation for having a bad season. Teams will spend the next month picking apart every player’s game so they can draft their next star player.

    This draft class has been described as the riskiest draft in recent memory. There are few players who will make an impact right away, but I believe that with time, these five players will lead their teams back to playoff contention.

Kyrie Irving

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Kyrie Irving is a classic example of why potential is the only thing that matters in the NBA draft.

    Everyone knows the story. Irving only played in 11 games for Duke this season, averaging 17.5 PPG and 4.3 APG. He was Duke’s most explosive and dynamic player when he was healthy and earned the trust of Coach K during the NCAA tournament.

    He is the best pure point guard in this class with a well-rounded game and a very high basketball IQ. The Cavaliers will most likely take him with the first overall pick and he will start right away.

    Make no mistake: Irving is a good talent and a high-character individual. He is not as athletic as Derrick Rose or John Wall, but he has a very good skill set and the ability to lead a team well.

    The Cavaliers are going to add a lot of young talent in this draft and Irving will be the centerpiece of the team for the future.

Derrick Williams

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 26:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats dunks the ball against Roscoe Smith #22 and Charles Okwandu #35 of the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Cente
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Williams was a dominant force all year for the Arizona Wildcats and arguably the best scorer in college basketball.

    He has good size and versatility for the small forward position. His highlight-reel dunks and unique ability to get to the basket made him such a dangerous player at college. He will make an impact fairly early in the NBA.

    There is a lot of speculation and uncertainty around the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft involving the Timberwolves, Jazz and even the Cavaliers.

    If Minnesota keeps the pick they will add to their already loaded backcourt of Kevin Love and Michael Beasley. That would make them an awfully deep team at the position and add another scoring threat.

    Pairing him with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland would allow Williams to use his scoring talents in a larger role and give him room to develop as a dominant player.

    Either way, Derrick Williams will play a big role in bringing his team back to the playoffs.

Brandon Knight

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02:  Brandon Knight #12 of the Kentucky Wildcats moves the ball while taking on the Connecticut Huskies during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The top recruit coming out of high school, Brandon Knight followed an above average regular season with a spectacular NCAA tournament run. He continued the recent tradition of young freshman point guards who can take over a game and carry a team on their back.

    Knight was Kentucky’s best player down the stretch and performed in the clutch. It is because of this success and the combination of his 6'4'' frame that many NBA teams are rating him higher on their boards than every guard other than Irving.

    Knight is a very fast player who is equally as good as a defender as he is a scorer. He’s a product of John Calipari, who has cranked out some of the best guards in the NBA today.

    Scouts are projecting Knight to be drafted third overall to the Utah Jazz. The Jazz had a rough season, but only missed the playoffs by seven games. As a result of their trades, they acquired Derrick Favors, a very promising young power forward.

    The Jazz are in need of a franchise point guard with the trade of Deron Williams. Knight gives them that and a competitive motor at the end of big games. He has the tools to be a very good player in this league.

Enes Kanter

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 01:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats looks on during practice prior to the 2011 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Andy Lyon
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    You may be scratching your head as to why there's no picture of Enes Kanter on Getty Images and who this guy actually is.

    Enes Kanter was a star professional player as a teenager in Turkey before he committed to play at Kentucky this past season. He was ruled ineligible for the entire 2010-11 season because he received improper benefits and spent the season practicing with the team.

    Again, the NBA draft is all about potential and Kanter has plenty of it. At 6'11'', 260 pounds, he is a big body and an imposing presence in the paint.

    In a league starving for quality centers, Kanter has the talent and offensive skill set to be a tough matchup in the NBA. Scouts are pegging him to be a top-five pick despite not playing in any games in college.

    What does that tell you?

    He would be a welcome addition to the Raptors or Cavaliers in the top five. They are both teams that need to establish a presence in the middle to give breathing room for their talented guards to run freely. 

    Kanter is no doubt a risk, but if he is as good as advertised he will help a team out in no time.

Kemba Walker

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrates towards the end of the game against the Butler Bulldogs to win the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on Apr
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Kemba Walker was the leader of the national champion UConn Huskies. And what a job he did. Walker was an amazing college player with a full arsenal of scoring weapons and talent.

    He is a little undersized for an NBA point guard and scouts say he needs to learn how to share the basketball. But Walker has some intangibles that are hard to find in a basketball player.

    He is as clutch as it gets and he’s a very hard worker (he graduated a year early from UConn). He is a great athlete and an elite scorer for his size.

    He is being projected at the No. 7 spot to the Kings as of now. The Kings have two very talented young players already in Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. Walker brings them another threat to score and some heart and character the Kings desperately need.

    I believe he will overcome his supposed shortcomings to become a solid NBA player.