2011 NBA Mock Draft: Ricky Rubio to Minnesota Timberwolves Shakes Up the Draft
However, with Kevin Love as a legitimate building block and a top-five talent (Rubio) already in his pocket, David Kahn needs to start boosting his team with right-now talent, and that means dealing the second pick for a veteran contributor.
Several teams, including the Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Washington Wizards have expressed interest in trading up to select Williams, who put on an absolute clinic in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
With that in mind, here's my updated projected first round. With the lottery shaken up, the top 10 picks are scrambled from my last mock draft (refer to this link for further explanation on picks; I'll try not to repeat myself), while much of the later first round remains the same.
No. 1: Cleveland Cavaliers: PG Kyrie Irving, Duke
Comparisons to Chris Paul (quite simply, the best point guard in the league when healthy) may be a little bit premature, but there's no reason Kyrie Irving can't develop into an all-star.
At 6'3'', Irving has great size for the point guard position, and in every college game he played, he was the fastest player on the court.
What is often underrated about Irving's game is his shooting ability. Very rarely does one find an NBA-ready guard like Irving. Take Rajon Rondo, who has dominated the league with his quickness and court vision, and Jimmer Fredette, who looks to make an immediate impact with his shooting ability. Irving doesn't run like Rondo or shoot like Jimmer, but that neither is a weakness shows that there are no glaring holes in his game, and he'll only be a rookie.
No. 2: Cleveland Cavaliers: PF Derrick Williams, Arizona
That's right. The Cleveland Cavaliers make a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, sending Anderson Varejao and the fourth pick to Minnesota in exchange for Jonny Flynn and the second pick.
Cleveland uses the second pick to draft the only other sure thing in the draft: Derrick Williams, the high-scoring forward from Arizona.
The Cavaliers still have Baron Davis and his albatross of a contract, but if they're able to find a way to deal him for a serviceable big man, Cleveland could have a strong core group in place for years to come.
No. 3: Utah Jazz: PG Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Nothing changes for the Utah Jazz in the third slot. They still need a "point guard for the future" (it's not Devin Harris) after the departure of Deron Williams. Kentucky's Brandon Knight is the best option.
Knight has the same type of game-changing quickness as Kyrie Irving and can score the ball as well, averaging 17 points in his lone season at Kentucky. He should also have an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball, as his quickness and length will give smaller and slower point guards trouble.
No. 4: Minnesota Timberwolves: C Enes Kanter, Turkey
The best part about trading down from the second pick is that the Minnesota Timberwolves get to select Enes Kanter, the draft's premier center.
Derrick Williams can make an immediate impact for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Timberwolves already have established forwards in Michael Beasley and Kevin Love. The team improves right away by drafting Kanter, setting up a starting five of Ricky Rubio (distributor), Wesley Johnson (shooter), Beasley (slasher), Love (rebounder / shooter), and Kanter (banger). That sounds like a team I like, and you better believe Bill Simmons is counting down the minutes to opening night.
No. 5: Toronto Raptors: PG Kemba Walker, Connecticut
As I said last time, the Toronto Raptors need a point guard who isn't afraid to dominate the ball. Enter Kemba Walker, 2011 National Champion.
Drafting Walker allows the Raptors to trade Jose Calderon and move Jerryd Bayless to his more natural position as an off guard.
Walker's ability to slash will add a new dimension to the offense, opening up more three-point opportunities for Andrea Bargnani and Leandro Barbosa.
No. 6: Washington Wizards: C Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania
It could be a while before Jonas Valanciunas sees time in the NBA, as he still may return to Europe (a la Ricky Rubio). Even if he plays for the Washington Wizards next season, he'll be stuck in line behind JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche.
When he plays, however, he'll allow Blatche to play his more natural power forward position while preventing the Wizards from losing any size, though toughness will always be an issue for the skinny 19-year-old.
No. 7: Sacramento Kings: PG Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young
Raise your hand if you thought Jimmer Fredette would start in the NBA during his rookie season. Anyone? Bueller?
In my last mock draft, I severely underestimated the Sacramento King's desire to draft a point guard. With Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, and Kemba Walker gone, the Kings will take the next best, Jimmer Fredette.
It seems a little high to take such a risk, even in a weak draft. But the Kings need someone to handle the ball so that Tyreke Evans can assume his more natural shooting guard position. Evans will still do much of the slashing, and the Kings will benefit from having a sharpshooter like Jimmer catching kick-outs.
No. 8: Detroit Pistons: PF Bismack Biyombo, Congo
Listed at just 18 years old (scouts question his true age), Bismack Biyombo of Congo appears to be an NBA-ready defender and rebounder: Ben Wallace's incumbent.
He's undersized, but his leaping ability and tremendous timing will be assets to whichever team chooses Biyombo. I'm looking forward to seeing Biyombo matched up with Serge Ibaka in the paint: ain't no party like a Congo party 'cause a Congo party don't stop.
No. 9: Charlotte Bobcats: SF Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State
San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard actually reminds me of the Charlotte Bobcats' 2011 trade casualty: Gerald Wallace.
Leonard is a lengthy perimeter defender, but for now is an offensive work in progress. His shooting motion looks fluid, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him develop into a reliable if unimpressive shooter like Wallace.
Leonard's real asset, though, is his size. At 6'7'', 227 pounds, he should be able to guard both shooting guards and smaller small forwards in the NBA.
No. 10: Milwaukee Bucks: SG Alec Burks, Colorado
The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the few lottery teams already set at point guard (Brandon Jennings) and center (Andrew Bogut): the two most important positions on the floor. Now it's time to fill out the roster.
Alec Burks can play both guard positions. Ultimately, he'll settle into the league as a shooting guard, but backing up Jennings as a rookie would help him learn how to manage a game before he takes on a scoring role.
No 11: Golden State Warriors: PF Tristan Thompson, Texas
No 12: Utah Jazz: SF Chris Singleton, Florida State
Florida State's Chris Singleton is the best perimeter defender in the draft. The 6'9'' forward averaged 1.5 blocks per game during his junior campaign.
With Andrei Kirilenko headed to free agency, the Jazz will need a small forward who can defend twos and threes as well as run the floor.
Singleton's not a great offensive threat yet, but he will score a good amount of points off of fast breaks and steals.
No. 13: Phoenix Suns: PF Marcus Morris, Kansas
Marcus Morris, who averaged 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as a junior at Kansas, is a below-the-rim type power forward (think Glen Davis, but better).
With Hakim Warrick manning the four right now, Morris will compliment the high-riser's aggressive style of play with a more balanced game. Morris can play in the post or the perimeter on both offense and defense.
Sidenote: major bummer that the Jimmer won't be around for the Suns. It would have been fun to watch Steve Nash and Jimmer play horse.
No. 14: Houston Rockets: SF Jan Vesely, Czech Republic
But the Rockets actually have a very solid core in place: Goran Dragic / Kyle Lowry (both better than you think), Kevin Martin (best ugly shot in the league), Luis Scola, and Yao, when healthy.
The only piece missing is a small forward; Chase Budinger and Terrence Williams currently fill that role.
Jan Vesely, if he falls this far, would be a great pickup as an athletic slasher who could run the floor with Dragic (one of the fastest players with the ball in the NBA, who knew?).
No. 15: Indiana Pacers: SG Klay Thompson, Washington State
ESPN's Chad Ford reports that Klay Thompson's, the sharpshooting guard from Washington State, stock is rising.
Thompson could go as high as No. 11 to the Golden State Warriors. On the Indiana Pacers, Thompson will benefit from playing with two slashing point guards in TJ Ford and Darren Collison.
No. 16: Philadelphia 76ers: PF Markieff Morris, Kansas
The 76ers">Philadelphia 76ers need a backup for Elton Brand. By picking up Markieff Morris, the 76ers can pick and choose their second unit based on matchups. Morris matches up with backup power forwards similar to Glen Davis, while Thaddeus Young would cover the more athletic fours.
No. 17: New York Knicks: PG Josh Selby, Kansas
Basically any player the New York Knicks pick up, especially a point guard, is going to be future trade bait for Chris Paul. For now though, Josh Selby works nicely as a backup for Chauncey Billups due to his explosive nature. It's important to give opposing teams different looks, and that's what Selby offers the Knicks.
No. 18: Washington Wizards: SF Jordan Hamilton, Texas
The Washington Wizards could use another kickout option for John Wall to go along with Rashard Lewis and Nick Young. Jordan Hamilton nailed 2.5 threes per game during his sophomore campaign.
No. 19: Charlotte Bobcats: SG Marshon Brooks, Providence
The Charlotte Bobcats need another scorer to ease the load on Stephen Jackson, who averaged a team-leading 18.5 points per game last season. Marshon Brooks, who scored a Big East record 52 points against Notre Dame this past season, offers just that.
No. 20: Minnesota Timberwolves: SG Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA
If the Minnesota Timberwolves can land Tyler Honeycutt, it'll cap a fantastic day for David Kahn, the type of day that keeps one from being fired.
Honeycutt's length reminds me of Tayshaun Prince, whose similarly slim build has managed to hold up for an NBA career.
Honeycutt's a great defender and handles the ball very well for his size. At this point in a weak draft, he's a steal.
No. 21: Portland Trailblazers: PF Kenneth Faried, Morehead State
LaMarcus Aldridge needs a rebounder to compliment his offensive style of play. Morehead State's Kenneth Faried and his 14.5 rebounds per game fit the mold perfectly.
He's undersized, at 6'7'', to guard the four position. But scouts rave about his motor, and rebounding statistics typically translate well from college to the NBA (i.e. Kevin Love, Ben Wallace).
No. 22: Denver Nuggets: SF Tobias Harris, Tennessee
Per ESPN's Chad Ford:
Harris may be one of the more underrated players in the draft. He can play both the 3 and 4, and he has a very high basketball IQ and an NBA body. Harris doesn't do any one thing at an elite level, but he is one of the most well-rounded players in the draft.
Couldn't have said it any better myself, Chad.
No. 23: Houston Rockets: PG Darius Morris, Michigan
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.
Couldn't have said it any better myself, self.
No. 24: Oklahoma City Thunder: PF Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania
The Oklahoma City Thunder missed Nenad Krstic's scoring ability in the post, as Kendrick Perkins averaged just 4.2 points per game in the Dallas Mavericks playoff series. Donatas Motiejunas, the seven-footer from Lithuania, is a vastly skilled scorer from all over the floor. If he falls this far, the Thunder will need to bring him in despite his defensive shortcomings.
No. 25: Boston Celtics: C Nikola Vucevic, USC
Nikola Vucevic worked out for the Celtics in Waltham, MA yesterday. He's a solid rebounder with range out to the three-point line, a player-type the Celtics haven't seen since Rasheed Wallace (Troy Murphy doesn't count).
No. 26: Dallas Mavericks: SF Davis Bertans, Latvia
Davis Bertans is the skinny, Latvian, 18-year-old with in-the-gym range and a quick release who is often being compared to Dirk Nowitzki.
Bertans didn't have a great game at the Nike Hoop Summit, and he averages just over four points in less than 10 minutes per game playing for Union Olimpija Ljubljana, so he's unproven. But, at just 18, an elite shooter who's not afraid to miss is a good pickup this late in the first round.
No. 27: New Jersey Nets: PF Justin Harper, Richmond
Richmond's Justin Harper scored 18 points per game as a senior, shooting 53 percent from the field, 80 percent from the line, and 45 percent from three.
Harper's finesse style compliments fellow power forward Kris Humphries' post presence well. But against Morehead State in the NCAA Tournament, Harper didn't want any part of Kenneth Faried. He'll need to shake that fear of the post to succeed in the NBA.
No. 28: Chicago Bulls: PG Norris Cole, Cleveland State
Norris Cole averaged 21.7 points, six rebounds, and five assists per game as a senior at Cleveland State. His Player Efficiency Rating was a fantastic 29.53.
No. 29: San Antonio Spurs: C Jeremy Tyler, USA
Jeremy Tyler, who averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game for Tokyo Apache in Japan, is an elite athlete. The 19-year-old skipped college and some of high school and had a terrible season in Israel, so he'll have to deal with that as he enters the NBA.
Tyler's defensive ability will provide a low-post presence at center to bang with Tim Duncan, something Matt Bonner never could do.
No. 30: Chicago Bulls: SG Travis Leslie, Georgia
Georgia's Travis Leslie is a superb athlete (and if you're as big of a video game nerd as me, eventually a fantastic shooting guard in NBA 2K11) who struggles with his shot. The Chicago Bulls were missing one piece this past season: a shooting guard. Leslie could take a few years to develop into a starter, but he's great value at this point in the draft.