2011 NBA Mock Draft: Should the Cavaliers Take Derrick Williams First?
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick in June 23's NBA Draft, and all indications are that they will select Duke's Kyrie Irving.
However, because the Cavs also have the fourth pick, I think they should seriously consider taking Arizona small forward Derrick Williams at No. 1.
The reasons why, however, have less to do with Irving and Williams than with Enes Kanter and Brandon Knight. Read on to see what I'm talking about.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Derrick Williams
Derrick Williams played himself into the top two with a monster NCAA tournament.
If the Cavaliers pass on him, then the Timberwolves (or whomever they trade the second pick to) will almost surely take him second.
He can play either of the forward positions, is a good rebounder and can put the ball in the basket. Maybe he's not as sure of a thing to be a good pro as Kyrie Irving, but his ceiling might be higher.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Enes Kanter
The Timberwolves have more point guards than the rest of the Western Conference combined. All right, maybe that's not true, but general manager David Kahn did draft three point guards in the same draft, in the same offseason that he signed point guard Ramon Sessions.
With Ricky Rubio finally coming over from Spain, the Wolves are no longer in need of an impact point guard, so Kyrie Irving actually falls out of the top two.
Instead, the Timberwolves take the Turkish center Enes Kanter, who is probably a better fit for the team than Derrick Williams anyway. He can start on a front line with Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, whereas if Williams was the pick, one of those two would likely have to be traded.
3. Utah Jazz: Kyrie Irving
The Jazz are thanking their lucky stars that Kyrie Irving drops into their laps at No. 3.
With the departure of Deron Williams, Utah is going point guard hunting on draft night, either here or with the pick No. 12. When the draft's best player falls to the third pick, you have to pull the trigger.
Irving would then head up a rebuilding effort featuring Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. That's three quality big men for Irving to feed in his rookie season, and that's before you get to Gordon Hayward and whoever the Jazz take at 12.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Brandon Knight
If you're the Cleveland Cavaliers, would you rather build your future around: two players who will have played a combined 10 college games when they make their first NBA starts or two guys who dominated the NCAA tournament this past year?
Brandon Knight and Derrick Williams, although their teams came up short, had two of the best showings in this year's big dance.
Williams is considered the best forward in the draft, and Knight the consensus second best point guard.
With these two heading up a high octane attack, the Cavaliers will be set up for the future. Irving and Kanter spent much of last season injured and ineligible, respectively, and no matter how talented they are, there will be an adjustment to getting back to playing games.
5. Toronto Raptors: Jan Vesely
The Raptors made Italian forward Andrea Bargnani the first pick in the NBA draft a few years ago, and I think they will go with another European big man with Jan Vesely here.
Vesely is long, athletic and talented, just like Bargnani. He's a 6'11" small forward with smooth offensive moves and range on his jumper.
With Bargnani and Ed Davis, Vesely would give Toronto a huge front line.
6. Washington Wizards: Kawhi Leonard
This pick is nearly a perfect match and has been rumored for months. The Wizards need an athletic small forward who can run the floor and hit outside shots.
Kawhi Leonard is exactly that player and would be a great fit for the Wizards. He can get up and down the floor with John Wall and Javale McGee and defend the opposing team's best perimeter scorer.
Leonard is the kind of player who can make an impact immediately and be a building block for the future. The Wizards will be good in a few years thanks to a string of early first round picks in the last few seasons.
7. Sacramento Kings: Kemba Walker
The Kings thought they had their point guard of the future when they drafted Tyreke Evans a few years back, but they have since discovered that he's not really a point guard.
There have been concerns about Evans' me-first attitude, and last year's first-rounder DeMarcus Cousins' personality issues are well documented.
That's what makes UConn point guard Kemba Walker a perfect fit in Sacramento. He's a leader, and he's a positive influence on his teammates. The way Walker carried a Huskies team to one of the great runs in recent NCAA history was noticed by all, and he'll be rewarded on draft night as a lottery selection.
8. Detroit Pistons: Jonas Valanciunas
Joe Dumars celebrates the entrance of new owner Tom Gores with a throwback pick of an athletic European big man with strong defensive skills and some raw offensive talent.
This should make Pistons fans very nervous, but Valanciunas is supposedly a much more committed player than Milicic was when he came into the league.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Chris Singleton
Michael Jordan is not satisfied with mediocrity. He made that clear when he traded the franchise's best player, Gerald Wallace, to the Portland Trail Blazers for only salary cap space and draft picks in return.
He starts the rebuilding effort with the selection of Chris Singleton, who has many of the same qualities as a player that Wallace does.
Singleton is long, strong and athletic and can play great defense either on the perimeter as a small forward or on power forwards. He was the centerpiece of the defense for the best defensive team in the country this season as a Florida State Seminole.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Alec Burks
The Bucks badly need a perimeter scorer to ease the load on Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut, and Burks can provide scoring punch for the shooting guard position.
His athleticism is off the charts, which makes him a good fit with the energetic and entertaining Jennings.
Burks' ability to get to the rim will be a huge asset for a Bucks team that struggled to score last season. The signings of John Salmons and Corey Maggette didn't exactly work out last year, so they'll take another shot with Burks in the draft.
11. Golden State Warriors: Marcus Morris
The last year has seen a changing of the guard in the Warriors organization as they brought in a new owner in Joe Lacob, a new head coach in Mark Jackson and a new advisor in Jerry West.
They already have one of the most potent scoring duos in the NBA in their backcourt, and the selection of Morris gives him another offensive weapon to work with. Between Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Morris and David Lee, the Warriors will again have no trouble scoring the basketball.
The bigger question for the Warriors as always, will be whether they can defend well enough to win some more games.
12. Utah Jazz: Bismack Biyombo
The Jazz took their point guard of the future in Kyrie Irving earlier, and here they get themselves a center who can protect the rim next to their big man trio of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors.
Biyombo may not be as young as he says he is and he may not have much of an offensive game to speak of yet, but he can certainly D up. He's an impact player on that side of the floor, and the Jazz can use the help in that area.
Photo courtesy of nbadraft.net
13. Phoenix Suns: Jimmer Fredette
The Suns have the perfect mentor for Jimmer Fredette already on their roster. His name is Steve Nash.
With the range on his jumper and his crafty ball handling abilities, Jimmer could make a great apprentice for the aging point guard in his twilight years as a Sun.
The Suns, in spite of Fredette's defensive liabilities, can't pass up the chance to groom the BYU star into the next Nash.
14. Houston Rockets: Jordan Hamilton
The Rockets are lacking a small forward after last season's trade that sent Shane Battier to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Hasheem Thabeet and a draft pick. Hamilton may have the most natural scoring ability of any small forward in the draft save for Derrick Williams.
The concerns about Hamilton mostly stem from his tendency to get shot-happy, but in an offense that already features Kevin Martin and Luis Scola heavily, he'll likely be a third option on offense.
He's athletic, he can score the basketball, and the Rockets are a good fit.
15. Indiana Pacers: Klay Thompson
The Pacers badly need another player to provide a scoring punch along with Danny Granger. Enter Klay Thompson, who led the Pac-10 in scoring last season.
The Pac-10's leading scorer from a season ago, Landry Fields, was a surprise rookie and provided a lift to the New York Knicks. Thompson would be able to do the same for the Pacers, teaming with Darren Collison in the backcourt.
Mychal Thompson's son is a terrific range shooter, and he can get to the basket as well. At 6'6", he has good size and speed to defend shooting guards at the NBA level.
16. Philadelphia 76ers: Tristan Thompson
The 76ers are shopping Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand is getting old, and Thaddeus Young might not be back. All of that means that the 76ers are probably going to be looking for help at the forward spot on draft night.
Thompson already has a quality post game and can learn a thing or two from Brand over the next couple of years.
The Philadelphia backcourt of the future is already set with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, and now they need to turn their attention to the frontcourt.
17. New York Knicks: Josh Selby
The Knicks are dispapointed to see the top two players on their board get drafted in the last four picks, but they'll take a flyer on Josh Selby being a better NBA point guard than he was in college.
Selby would have a good mentor in Chauncey Billups, who himself struggled a bit to learn the point guard position when coming out of Colorado. Billups eventually figured it out though and became Mr. Big Shot.
The Knicks could also take Selby with an eye on making a trade for the league's premier point guard, Chris Paul. The Hornets will likely want to get a point guard of the future in any trade should they decide to move him, and taking Selby could aid the Knicks in those negotiations.
If they decide to keep him, he could excel in Mike D'Antoni's free-wheeling offense, which is vastly different from the type of slow-it-down, big-man oriented offense he played in for Bill Self's Kansas Jayhawks.
18. Washington Wizards: Marshon Brooks
The Wizards took Kawhi Leonard at No. 6 in order to shore up their perimeter defense, and now they bolster their perimeter scoring with Marshon Brooks, the leading scorer in the Big East last season.
Brooks has an explosive array of offensive moves, and point guard John Wall will be able to deliver him the ball in a position to score.
With a core of Wall, Leonard, Brooks and Javale McGee, the Wizards would be set at 4 of 5 positions in their starting lineup for the foreseeable future. Depending on whether or not they decide to hang onto Andray Blatche, they could be set at all five.
19. Charlotte Bobcats: Kenneth Faried
Michael Jordan takes his commitment to defense and rebounding even further by adding Kenneth Faried of Morehead State, also known as the best rebounder in the nation.
Between Faried and Chris Singleton, who the Bobcats took at pick nine, Jordan's team will be able to defend the perimeter and the post and put the ball in the basket as well.
The Bobcats are in full on rebuilding mode, and it's always a good idea to start with defense and rebounding as the foundation of your team.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Charles Jenkins
I know what you're thinking, I have the Timberwolves taking yet another point guard. But Ramon Sessions wants out, and Johnny Flynn looks to be nothing more than an end-of-the-rotation player, so Jenkins is the pick to both back up Ricky Rubio and play some shooting guard as well.
Jenkins played at Hofstra, where the competition was nothing like it will be in the NBA, but at least in Minnesota, he'd know that he's going into a team in progress, and his adjustment would come as the Wolves grew as a team.
Photo courtesy of gohofstra.com
21. Portland Trail Blazers: Reggie Jackson
Andre Miller, the Trail Blazers point guard, is getting up there in age. He's been thought of as a bad fit with shooting guard Brandon Roy since almost the day he got to Portland, because of his walk-it-up halfcourt style clashing with Roy's athletic, up-and-down-the-floor type of game.
Jackson would make for a much better fit with the previous version of Roy, who is not limited by knee injuries. But along with LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Mathews and Nicholas Batum, he could run the floor all day.
Miller's veteran savvy is one thing that he definitely can pass onto Jackson, and the young point guard from Boston College will be the better player for it.
22. Denver Nuggets: Tobias Harris
The Nuggets can use help at the small forward/power forward position due to the departure of Carmelo Anthony and the age of Kenyon Martin.
The Carmelo trade brought back Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, but Chandler could leave as a free agent this summer, and Gallo is more 3 than 4.
Harris is strong and versatile enough to play both positions, which will mesh well with George Karl's free-flowing style of play.
23. Houston Rockets: Darius Morris
A good fit with Kevin Martin in the backcourt because of his poise and passing ability, Morris could run the point for the Rockets as a starter or come off the bench behind Kyle Lowry, who broke out last year.
If Morris is able to build up chemistry with Martin and Luis Scola, he can be a starter in Houston for a long time.
The Rockets will have two first round picks again next year, when they own the Knicks selection due to the Tracy McGrady trade.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Nikola Vucevic
The Thunder can use a center to back up newly acquired Kendrick Perkins, and Vucevic is one of the few true centers in this draft.
Oklahoma City will likely return the entirety of its core next year, so they can give Vucevic some time to develop into a contributor behind Perkins, Nazr Mohammed and Serge Ibaka.
25. Boston Celtics: Jeremy Tyler
The Boston Celtics traded away nearly their entire stable of big men last year when they shipped Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City and Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland. The remaining big men— Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal and Nenad Kristic—didn't provide the kind of lift they needed in the playoffs.
The Celtics lack of size is the main reason they go with Tyler here, who decided to take his talents to Europe as a high school senior.
He spent his senior season abroad, as well as what would have been his first year of college, but now he's ready to come back to America. Because he's one of the few players in the draft with the size to play center in the NBA, he should come off the board in the first round.
Photo courtesy of nbadraft.net
26. Dallas Mavericks: Davis Bertans
Bertans has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki. No, seriously.
He's a bit of a project, but the big German isn't slowing down any time soon, so Bertans will have time to develop.
Who better to learn from than the player he is most often compared to? Mark Cuban would be ecstatic if Bertans turns out to be half as good as Nowitzki.
Photo courtesy of nbadraft.net
27. New Jersey Nets: Lucas Nogueira
The New Jersey Nets current center, Brook Lopez, struggled a bit in the rebounding department last year, to the tune of a 2.7 rebounds per game decrease from his average the previous season.
If Nogueira does one thing well, it is hustle for rebounds. He's very aggressive on the boards and has the size to defend Eastern Conference centers. The Nets could be caught in between plans this year because they do not know if point guard Deron Williams will be back for their first season in Brooklyn.
Photo courtesy of nbadraft.net
28. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Honeycutt
The Bulls are badly in need of a starting shooting guard, and Honeycutt is the best one available at this point in the draft.
I predict that like many players out of UCLA in the past few years, Honeycutt will be better in the NBA than he was in college. Playing alongside Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah wouldn't hurt his chances.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Nikola Mirotic
R.C. Buford loves to identify European players who will stay there for a few years and then come to the NBA and be big contributors on the road, and he finds another one late in the first round this year.
Mirotic has a huge buyout and almost definitely won't see the NBA for a few years, and that's perfectly fine with the Spurs.
Photo courtesy of nbadraft.net
30. Chicago Bulls: Justin Harper
Justin Harper gives the Bulls another dimension at the forward position that they don't really have right now. He can step outside and shoot it from deep.
Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson all do most of their work from inside the arc, and Harper can provide a different look.
Derrick Rose's ability to get in the lane and kick out to open shooters would help Harper's development as an NBA player as well.