NBA Draft 2011: 10 Teams That Could Surprise on Draft Night
Every year, the NBA Draft brings out a handful of surprises. Whether it's by trading picks/players (i.e. the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers trading Tyrus Thomas and LeMarcus Aldridge in the 2006 draft), or by teams taking players no one believed they would (i.e. the Timberwolves drafting consecutive point guards with Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn in the 2009 draft), there's usually a moment no one sees coming.
With the draft being the final event before what looks to be a lengthy NBA lockout, GM's may be more willing to take risks due to the uncertainty of current contracts.
It's widely known that this draft class has two elite players, then a massive log jam in the top 20 or so. This could also cause some teams to be less concerned with their exact pick because of such similar talent, while others may fall in love with a player and will be looking to do whatever it takes to grab them.
Here's a look at 10 teams that may cause a stir on draft day.
10. San Antonio Spurs
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The Spurs only have one pick in the first round (No. 29) but I wouldn't be shocked if they make an attempt at either moving up or grabbing another first-rounder.
The reasoning? I think after getting dominated by the Memphis Grizzlies as the top seed out of the West, that sent the message that the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili era was coming to an end.
I don't expect any of the three to get dealt on draft day, but I could definitely see the Spurs drafting a successor to either Duncan or Ginobili to slowly begin their rebuilding mode.
9. Washington Wizards
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Poor John Wall. He would've been the Rookie of the Year had it not been for a guy named Blake Griffin.
Wall's numbers were pretty impressive (16 PPG, 8 APG, 5 RPG), but he needs help.
Nick Young was solid, but I think he's better coming off the bench in a Jamal Crawford-type role. Andray Blatche took far too many shots, averaging more than two shot attempts per game than anyone else, and JaVale McGee still has a ways to go.
The Wizards have two first-round picks (No. 6 and No. 18), and I could see them swapping one of them if it means taking one of their terrible contracts (Rashard Lewis) off their hands. This class is littered with point guards in the top 10, so there may be a team desperate enough to trade up.
Not likely to happen, but crazier trades have been made.
8. Charlotte Bobcats
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It's always interesting whenever Michael Jordan is running a team's draft because he hasn't exactly had the best track record—just ask Kwame Brown, Sean May and Adam Morrison.
Word is Jordan is determined to make safe picks, but he hasn't had a history of doing so.
The Bobcats need to rebuild about as bad as any team in the league. They own No. 9 and No. 19 picks, so one would think they could start the process with those picks.
ESPN's Chad Ford's latest mock draft has them taking both Morris brothers, which would be pretty awesome. Probably not the best idea in the world, but it would raise more than a couple eyebrows if it happened.
7. Houston Rockets
A new coach arrives in Houston with Kevin McHale. GM Daryl Morey has a ton of good players, but no great one. With two picks in the first round at No. 14 and No. 23, it doesn't seem likely for Morey to stand pat.
Houston has plenty of players other teams want, but they need a star if they expect to contend in the West. It's doubtful these two picks would produce such a player.
With a handful of star players reportedly on the trading block for various reasons (Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, maybe even Pau Gasol or Chris Bosh), the Rockets may be the team to snatch one of them up in exchange for a couple of their players and one of their picks.
6. Golden State Warriors
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Jerry West has recently come on to the Warriors staff as a consultant, and Golden State hired ESPN analyst Marc Jackson as their head coach despite Jackson having no head coaching experience.
With a change in coaching, along with a guy who constructed a Lakers dynasty in the 2000's, expect the Warriors' style to change as well.
One name that has popped up in trade rumors recently has been Monta Ellis, seen here.
Should this be true, then it appears the Warriors may be leaving their entertaining (yet unsuccessful) run-and-gun style. Don't be shocked if Golden State goes with a more defensively-oriented player in the draft or trades Ellis to take his replacement (Alec Burks would be a likely candidate) with their No. 11 pick.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
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The Thunder made the leap everyone thought they would this season by reaching the Western Conference finals before losing to the Dallas Mavericks.
One would think this team wouldn't make too much noise in the draft with such a young, talented team, but GM Sam Presti has been notorious for taking advantage of other GM's and improving his team on draft day.
Last year, he did just that. With two picks in the mid-20's, Presti dealt both to move up to No. 11 and selected Cole Aldrich. Aldrich didn't see much action this season, but he is a project.
Then, taking advantage of the Heat's desire to gain cap room (I wonder why), Presti bought No. 18 pick Daequan Cook—who turned into a solid rotation player—for their 32nd pick. Presti then sent that 18th pick to the Clippers for a future first-rounder.
Tally it up, and Presti traded three non-lottery picks in exchange for a potentially good big man, a solid rotation player and a future first-round pick from a team that's been in the lottery annually.
The Thunder only possess one first-round pick (No. 24), but that may not stop Presti from working his magic.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
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The Cavs struck gold in the lottery, winning the first overall pick that was originally the Clippers', then also getting the fourth overall pick due to their poor record.
With two of the first four picks, Cleveland will be the focus the first part of the draft.
Owner Dan Gilbert has made no secret that he still wants to move up in an attempt to obtain the top two picks, so he can draft the two elite players: Duke's Kyrie Irving and Arizona's Derrick Williams. There's even been a rumor of a trade that would allow him to do so involving Detroit and Minnesota.
If the Cavs do not move up, the fourth pick, along with the huge trade exception from LeBron's departure to the Heat, would be quite enticing for teams looking to either move up or unload a poor contract.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
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The 76ers have been one of the most popular teams in the trade rumors because of their openness to deal swingman Andre Iguodala. According to ESPN, Iguodala has been rumored to be traded to the Cavaliers, Warriors or Clippers, among others.
The Sixers have the 16th overall selection, so dealing AI with that pick could bring in some high-level talent.
Considering Philadelphia has been seemingly shopping Iguodala at various times for years, it's beginning to look as if his tenure with the Sixers is coming to an end.
Teams interested in him may look to wait until after the lockout ends because of his large contract, but they may also elect to take on his contract and hope that the result of the lockout proves to be beneficial for them.
2. Detroit Pistons
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If the Bobcats aren't the team in most need of rebuilding, then it's the Pistons; the team has been in disarray ever since they acquired Allen Iverson. It's a team that's filled with overpriced veterans and not much young talent.
The Pistons are also looking at hiring a new coach; some of the candidates include Mike Woodson, Bill Laimbeer and Isaiah Thomas.
I hope they bring in Thomas.
The Pistons own the eighth overall selection and have been looking to shop it along with either Richard Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince to free up some cap space.
The rumored trade between the Cavs, T'Wolves and Pistons was that the Pistons would trade the eighth pick and Hamilton to the Cavs, who can absorb Hamilton's contract and subsequently buy him out. The Cavs would then send the fourth and eighth picks to the T'Wolves for the second pick.
For the Pistons, it gets rid of a high-priced veteran and a lottery pick in a draft that probably wouldn't give them a franchise player at that spot.
If they elect to keep the pick, GM Joe Dumars could grab one of the European prospects to start the rebuilding process.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
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Their present roster is filled with recent first-round picks who have yet to live up to their hype in Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Darko Milicic, Jonny Flynn and Anthony Randolph. Their only lottery pick that has panned out has been Kevin Love, and he's reportedly looking to leave when his contract ends.
Knowing this, GM David Kahn needs to bring in some high-level talent in hopes of improving the team, giving Love hope that things may be turning around and he should stay.
I've already discussed the rumored trade that would see them give up their second pick in exchange for the fourth and eighth selection. The T'Wolves also have the 20th pick as well.
Drafting Derrick Williams would probably be best, but they have a log jam at the forward spot with Love, Beasley, Johnson and Randolph, meaning Kahn would have to move at least one of them to make room for Williams.
For those reasons, I think once the draft concludes, many analysts and experts will be discussing the decisions made in Minnesota. Whether those decisions will be good or bad, we''ll have to wait and find out.