The 2011 NBA Draft is proving to be the most difficult to predict in years. Without a consensus number one pick, several teams looking to move, and a lot of foreign talent, it is quite quickly proving to be a headache for mock drafters. Here is a quick look at how the top five may break down as things stand now.
1) Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, PG
It seems Cleveland will continue the current NBA trend of making a point guard the number one overall pick. In Irving's short career at Duke, he showed he can put the ball in the basket, which Cleveland desperately needs at this juncture.
Irving has a good stroke, and looks to be a natural shooter, as evidenced by shooting 53% from the field and 46% from three-point land. He has a lot of Derrick Rose in him with his super-quick crossover, combined with the ability to take a bump and finish a drive.
He will need to add muscle to do it at the next level, however and certainly doesn't have Rose's hops. Coming from Duke should give him a good defensive pedigree, and high basketball IQ, as well.
2) Minnesota Timberwolves: Enes Kanter, C
If Minnesota really is intent on staying put, and for now they are claiming they will, then Kanter has to be the pick. If they trade it, Williams is a near lock at #2, but he doesn't make sense for a team that holds his closest NBA comparison, in Michael Beasley (unless, of course, they opt to trade Beasley).
If Ricky Rubio is what the Timberwolves think he will be then Minnesota is set for the future at every position but center. Kanter dominated at Nike Hoops Summit, breaking Dirk Nowitzki's scoring record with 34 points against the top American prospects.
Kanter has exceptional strength and footwork, as well as a nice touch form the free throw line. At 6'11" and 240 lbs., Kanter has ideal size to play center in the NBA, and will immediately split time with incumbent Darko Milicic.
3) Utah Jazz: Derrick Williams, F
Utah just might be receiving the steal of the draft here, and kick-start their post-Deron Williams rebuilding process. Critics question where he fits in the NBA game, claiming he may be a 'tweener. On the flip side, Williams is 6'9" 250 lbs., shot 60% from the field, and 56% from the three-point line.
A man that size with a touch that soft has to find a home in the NBA, and he should fit right in at small forward for the Jazz. His passing abilities are a concern, as he only averaged one assist per game, and defense could be an issue as well.
However, Williams grew by leaps and bounds from his freshman to sophomore seasons at Arizona. He honestly believes he should be the top pick and slipping to third will make him play with a chip on his shoulder for the rest of his career that will help him improve any weaknesses.
4) Cleveland Cavaliers: Jan Vesely F/C
There is a lot of debate over what Cleveland will do with this pick. A lot of scouts have them taking Jonas Valuncianas. Vesely has two superior NBA attributes over Valuncianas: Size and athletic ability.
Valuncianas may have better footwork, but Vesely is the better athlete, and that should initially translate better to the NBA game. Cleveland needs to give fans reason to hope now. Vesely will give the crowd some highlights dunks right off the bat.
5) Toronto Raptors: Brandon Knight PG
Toronto needs a player to build around, and will snatch up Knight in a heartbeat. Incumbent Jose Calderon is a leading assist man and a solid stopgap as Knight adjusts to the NBA game. Former Pheonix GM Bryan Colangelo needs a stud point guard to run his offense, and Toronto will hope they have their man.
Knight really took off in the second half of last season for Kentucky, as the Wildcats hit their stride and made a strong run in the NCAA Tournament. With former John Calipari stars Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Tyreke Evans making quick adjustments to the NBA, the Raptors have reason to hope Knight will follow in their footsteps and star quickly, giving the fan base something to cheer for.
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