Is Irving ready for the next level?
The 2011 NBA Draft Order is set for the moment, although we would be very surprised if no trades took place before the draft or very early in it. With the Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves already reportedly discussing trade options, we're about to get dealt a major dose of offseason NBA action.
What exactly will go down remains to be seen. We're not dancing with hypotheticals right now, and we're not grinding out a complete two-round mock. We like to do our research before we go out on a limb like that. For now, lets take a look at the Lottery picks in this year's draft.
Here's a mock of how the 2011 NBA Draft's 14 lottery picks should shape out:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
Irving is a superstar waiting to happen. There are questions about experience and readiness, but he's the complete package and can help turn the Cavaliers around quickly. With Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions currently at the point, the team could use a young upgrade with immense potential. Irving more that fits the label.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves - Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
Who goes after Irving and Williams?
Williams has elite versatility as a big man, as he can be very effective inside, and also has the range and athleticism to evolve into a consistent perimeter option. If he can play at the three, Michael Beasley could become expendable and bring some picks or player value back in return. Either way you look at it, if Williams is here at two, Minnesota (or whoever has this pick) can't pass on him.
3. Utah Jazz - Enes Kanter, F/C, Kentucky
Everyone has the Jazz reaching for Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker here, but I say they go big. Mehmet Okur is done as an impact player, and Al Jefferson would probably be better suited starting at the four position. Kanter has the tools to be an absolute beast if he puts the work in and Utah could find themselves with the league's next great big man.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jan Vesely, F, Czech Republic
Oops. Cleveland could have landed stud big man Derrick Williams and then gone after Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker, but they blew their chance on getting a stud guard/forward combo. Or did they? Vesely isn't going to be banging inside much, but he's extremely versatile and an elite athlete that could develop into a star. He's raw, but with a stud point guard like Irving leading the way, he could be productive early.
I'm not saying Valanciunas is necessarily the answer at center, but we have to know by now that Andrea Bargnani certainly isn't. Bargnani isn't a good rebounder and is too soft and jumper-oriented to be taken seriously as a center inside. Valanciunas needs a ton of work, but he has great size, fluidity, and potential for the position. This is a move Toronto needs to make to get more competitive.
6. Washington Wizards - Alec Burks, G, Colorado
Burks is a great athlete and brings tons of versatility to the table. He can play three positions and has the potential to be a very solid defender and reliable role player on offense at the next level. Nick Young dealt with injuries in 2010 and Jordan Crawford shot poorly from the field. Getting a little help and versatility to throw on the wings is a move Washington should be considering.
7. Sacramento Kings - Kawhi Leonard, F, San Diego State
Leonard is a bit stiff and doesn't have the ideal size for banging around inside, but he has solid athleticism and versatility. He has the tools to be an impact defender and energy player. He's never going to demand a ton of touches or try to be an offensive star, but will simply find his niche and perform it as best as possible. That works perfectly for the Kings, who have their offense and need to get more assertive on defense.
8. Detroit Pistons - Kemba Walker, G, UConn
Rodney Stuckey was benched in 2010 for a reason. He's inconsistent at times, and not always the best leader. Detroit needs to get young and more explosive on offense, as Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva have been monumental free agent busts. Walker brings instant offense at the very least and he offers the potential to take over the starting point guard slot down the road.
Charlotte ends Knight's mini-fall here with the ninth selection, and fills a major need. D.J. Augustin is a solid scoring point guard and Shaun Livingston is a nice story, but neither are at former point guard Raymond Felton's level. Knight is a quick and athletic guard who has the potential to be a balanced, decisive leader for Charlotte.
Motiejunas is an extremely talented big man with the potential to be a force on both ends of the court. He has the body to get bigger and play at center, but also has the fluidity and range to be a very solid threat as a four. Milwaukee can afford to get bigger and more talented offensively, and while Motiejunas is a bit of a project, he's a nice step in the right direction.
Extremely raw but insanely athletic, Biyombo is a project that could be an instant defensive stopper. He has minimal potential offensively, but his ability to change a game on defense gives him very solid value. Golden State could use some size and another defensive presence, so Biyombo makes sense here.
12. Utah Jazz - Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU
If he's here and it makes as much sense as it clearly does, why fight it? Unless the Jazz pick a point guard at three and someone else falls in love with Fredette's explosive offense, he's going to the Jazz with this pick. Devin Harris isn't the most reliable starting point guard, the Jazz need three-point shooting help, and their offense as a whole is in a rut. The hometown hero Fredette could be the cure.
Thompson doesn't look like the best fit on paper, but the Suns could make a decision to switch up their style of play and/or their focus as a team. They definitely could stand to get bigger and more consistent on offense with their inside game. Thompson offers versatility and some interesting potential.
Marcus is a little more versatile than his brother, but both can play tall and mean and that's something the Rockets will fall in love with. Yao Ming is probably done as a Rocket, so the team needs to start taking steps toward solidifying their inside game. Morris is a great pick here.
For more 2011 NBA Draft coverage and NBA Playoff Picks, head over to NBASoup.com!