2011 NBA Mock Draft: Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers Reconstruction After LeBron
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert finally had his prayers answered on May 12, as the Dallas Mavericks finished off LeBron James' Miami Heat in dominant fashion.
In a “what the hell was Donald Sterling thinking? Oh, right, it's Donald Sterling” move, the Cavs committed highway robbery on the LA Clippers, sending Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to LA for Baron Davis and the Clippers' first-round pick, and justifiably coming away with the No. 1 pick of the 2011 draft.
With their name contending for two spots in the lottery, the Cavs also landed the fourth pick, giving America's most sympathetic franchise a chance at building toward redemption.
Though this year's draft doesn't offer the kind of firepower that we are sometimes accustomed to seeing, what should be a first pick shoe-in will surely be accompanied by some wild-card potential at the four-spot.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Clippers): Kyrie Irving ( PG, Duke)
Kyrie Irving has been a no-doubter for the top pick since he chose to enter the draft in early April.
Irving has been dubbed a potentially elite facilitator in a league that gradually sees less and less of them.
An excellent passer and shooter, Irving knows how to work within his game and pick his spots. While not as fast as a Derrick Rose or Russell Wesbrook, Irving has the vision and work ethic to make up for it.
With Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions likely ahead of him early on, Irving will have time to curve his game to the NBA level. With only eight college games in his career; he may need it.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams (F, Arizona)
While Derrick Williams clearly has the talent of a No. 2 pick, he doesn't exactly fit into the Minnesota Timberwolves' plans all that well.
Even though the 'Wolves would be foolish to pass on a potential stud like Williams, having Michael Beasley and Kevin Love already occupying time at your possible positions isn't the best starting point.
Leave it to the 'Wolves to get caught up in a situation like this, while nearly every other position on the team leaves much to be desired.
Unfortunately, Williams has too much upside to pass up.
3. Utah Jazz: Brandon Knight (PG, Kentucky)
Brandon Knight always seemed like a top-10 pick, but his performance in the NCAA tournament definitely raised his value.
Knight exhibited the kind of natural scoring abilities that could flourish in the NBA, and he is a quick defender with an already proven reputation.
The knocks against Knight are based around the fact that he will likely be drafted for PG purposes, but he has yet to define himself as a clear-cut player at the position.
With Devin Harris playing with an inconsistent, and injury prone aura about him, Knight would be a welcomed member for one of the best fan bases in the league.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Enes Kanter (C, Turkey)
The biggest question for the Cleveland Cavaliers here is not whether Enes Kanter, but whether Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania might be a better one.
Kanter served as a student assistant at Kentucky after taking 30k while playing for his Turkish team.
A plethora of offensive moves, and one of the strongest players in the draft, Kanter has proven to be a very difficult player to guard in the post.
Like many big men, Kanter's legs are a slight concern, but that is the risk that often comes with choosing a big guy.
Regardless, Kanter seems worth the gamble.
5. Toronto Raptors: Jan Vesely (F, Czech Republic)
ESPN's Chad Ford is reporting that Jan Vesely is currently ahead of Bismack Biyombo and Jonas Valanciunas on the Raptors' draft board.
With Vesely, the Raptors get a 6'11" small forward that could be part of a mean trio with Ed Davis and Andrea Bargnani.
Vesely's size will make him difficult to guard at a smaller position, and he is an excellent shooter that knows how to finish strong (rare for those Europeans).
Vesely is another European player that should look to add weight if he wants to be successful against the big boys.
6. Washington Wizards: Tristan Thompson (PF, Texas)
It would be an interesting pick for the Washington Wizards at No. 4, but Tristan Thompson has the kind of athletic upside that makes draft strategy fun to observe.
Although he is short for his position, Thompson knows to win battles under the basket.
Thompson would be a nice component to the group of big men that the Wizards have already assembled (Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee).
I can see Thompson being useful for when McGee gets in foul trouble, or for when Flip Saunders gets fed up with Blatche's ball-hogging tendencies.
7. Sacramento Kings: Kawhi Leonard (SF, San Diego State)
A huge part of San Diego State's NCAA Tournament seeding and subsequent run, Kawhi Leonard could end up being a nice fit for a Sacramento Kings team that has been in dire need of consistency at the small forward position for some time now.
Leonard brings some Joakim Noah-like energy to his game, and has worked hard to improve his inside-out game.
Leonard still needs to work on his scoring abilities, and he will need to become more disciplined if he wants to earn some playing time.
8. Detroit Pistons: Jonas Valanciunas (C, Lithuania)
The Detroit Pistons would probably be more than happy to see Jonas Valanciunas fall all the way to No. 8, but there are many scenarios in which that could happen.
Like many of our friends from overseas, Valanciunas has bread and butter talent from the inside out.
Valanciunas knows how to be aggressive, and make plays around the basket.
For a team that is accustomed to dealing with raw talent, Valanciunas has the kind of skills that a team could work with.
Whoever selects him, look for them to send this rookie straight to the workout room.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Marcus Morris (F, Kansas)
Marcus Morris is one of the few men with his body type that can still hit an outside shot.
Morris entered the limelight in his junior year, and has an array of moves that are difficult to defend in the post.
Accompanied by solid balance, Morris' work-ethic and strength make him one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft.
At 6'8", Morris has a lot of size to make up for, but his inside-out game should make him more difficult to defend.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Donatas Motiejunas (PF, Lithuania)
Another foreign wild-card, Donatas Motiejunas has been compared to Andrea Bargnani because of a his capabilities to hit a variety of shots.
However, unlike Bargnani, Motiejunas looks to have a greater eye for the interior.
Motiejunas could make for a furious combo with Andrew Bogut in Milwaukee, and despite his deep talent, the young seven-footer still has upside.
Motiejunas still needs a lot of experience, and he is one of many players that will need to add pounds before competing at the highest level.
11. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Hamilton (SF, Texas)
Jordan Hamilton, our second member of an underachieving Texas team, is a small forward with the outside skills of a shooting guard.
Hamilton is capable of hitting shots from deep consistently, and has the athleticism to work in a fast offensive system (how Mark Jackson will alter this remains to be seen).
Hamilton has seemingly played selfishly at times, but become more rounded in his sophomore season.
Hamilton has the potential to give the Warriors an extra weapon.
12. Utah Jazz: Alec Burks (SG, Colorado)
The Utah Jazz make the second team to have their second pick in the draft, and the shooting guard position is a major point of question for the Jazz.
At 6'6", Alec Burks has the frame of a model shooting guard.
An athletic and versed ball-handler, Burks has the ability to create his own shot, while knowing when to give up the rock.
Burks has the vision to play the point guard position, which makes for an interesting duo of discovery with Brandon Knight.
With C.J. Miles a very questionable start, Burks could end up getting a decent amount of time this season.
If Knight and Burks panned out, the Jazz would have the kind of backcourt to match the skills of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson in the front court.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kemba Walker (PG, UConn)
Previously dubbed as too small for the NBA, Kemba Walker put together one of the most historic runs in NCAA history, leading his team to both the Big East and National Championships.
At 6'1", Walker has the kind of controlled speed to make up for his lack of size.
Walker could be the best player in the draft in terms of creating his own shot, and he often seems to know the precise move to fool his opposition into getting out of position.
With Steve Nash soon to be on the decline, Walker would be in the perfect position to play student to a legend of the game.
14. Houston Rockets: Darius Morris (PG, Michigan)
Darius Morris would be an interesting option to backup Kyle Lowry for the Houston Rockets, and the Big Ten's assist leader was a solid offensive orchestrator for Michigan.
At 6'4", Morris has decent size for a point guard, and is touted as one of the better passers in the draft.
Morris doesn't have the athletic prowess of some of the draft's other point guards, but a truly talent passer is rare a valued commodity in the NBA.
The Rockets would be taking a chance on Morris, but at 20, he might be worth the risk.
15. Indiana Pacers: Jimmer Fredette (PG, BYU)
Several mocks have Jimmer Fredette going higher in the draft, but his poor defensive qualities and low athleticism has me doubting that a team like the Kings might take him.
Everyone knows about Jimmer.
The most able scorer in the nation last season, Fredette has as much range as we have seen in college hoops in years.
Fredette is a team player that has shown full commitment to improving his game.
For an Indiana Pacers team that had greater hopes for Darren Collison, Fredette adds an extra dimension to an organization that looks to be on the rise.
16. Philadelphia 76ers: Markieff Morris (PF, Kansas)
Despite already having a serviceable PF in Elton Brand, the Philadelphia 76ers could use a big man with the capabilities to come right in, and make up for the lapses in usefulness that Spencer Hawes and Marreese Speights have shown.
Though not as valued has his brother, Markieff Morris has many of the same qualities, including a 42 percent shooting line from beyond the line.
Morris is a capable finisher, and his ability to play physical and imposing defense would be a bonus for any organization.
Morris has to work at polishing his jump shooting, but he still has the type of talent to log big minutes right away.
17. New York Knicks: Chris Singleton (F, Florida State)
After acquiring Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks immediately became a more talented, but much less rounded team.
A solid pick in the draft could put the Knicks in a much better position heading into next season.
With Amar'e Stoudemire already occupying the PF position, Chris Singleton would make for an imposing and athletic small forward behind Anthony.
Singleton is a tenacious defender, and although he needs to improve his scoring, he is a hard worker that could provide a huge boost off the bench.
18. Washington Wizards (via Hawks): Tobias Harris (F, Tennessee)
With Washington's second first-round pick, Tobias Harris would be the kind of skill player that could feed of John Wall.
Harris has ample strength to go up for rebounds, and is a well positioned, knowledgeable worker.
Harris has resonated with several teams, and the Wizards necessity for a smaller forward (as Rashard Lewis and Josh Howard continue to folly) was no more apparent than this season.
Coming out as an 18-year-old freshman, Harris has the kind of potential that teams should thrive on.
19. Charlotte Bobcats (via Hornets): Klay Thompson (SG, Washington State)
Several drafts have Klay Thompson going to Golden State, but I believe that the Warriors are leaning toward the more athletic Jordan Hamilton.
With the shooting woes of D.J. Augustin, Stephen Jackson and Gerald Henderson, the Bobcats could certainly make use of a sharpshooter like Thompson.
For such a great shooter, Thompson's 6'7" frame helps him to overcome some lacking athleticism.
Thompson has a quick trigger, and knows how to handle the ball to shoot off the dribble.
Oh, and his father, Mykhal Thompson, was a No. 1 overall pick in 1978.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Bismack Biyombo
With the inconsistent play of Darko Milicic, the Minnesota Timberwolves may look to take a chance on another foreign center.
Bismack Biyombo recently had a workout in front of around 100 NBA higher-ups, and the results were not flattering.
Chad Ford estimates that Biyombo missed somewhere from 75-80 percent of his perimeter shots, with one GM quotes as saying, “Bismarck Biyombo played one-against-none today...he lost.”
Regardless of his rough “tryout,” Biyombo has the kind of defense talent that would be a worth service to any team.
Whether he will be another offensive dud down low, well, that's another story.
21. Portland Trailblazers: Kenneth Faried (PF, Morehead State)
One of the near Cinderella's of the NCAA Tournament, Kenneth Faried led Morehead State to shock Lousville, and improved his value in the process.
Faried is a very small 6'7"/6'8" power forward, but his NCAA-leading 13.3 RPG wouldn't make you think so.
While also leading the OVC in steals, Faried has developed his game through a long, and impressive college career.
While Faried needs to work on becoming more multidimensional, his Kevin Love-like energy around the basket should be an asset to whoever drafts him.
22. Denver Nuggets: Marshon Brooks (SG, Providence)
I know, it's hard to imagine that the Denver Nuggets need another shooting guard, but what do they really need?
Arguably the deepest team in the NBA, the Nuggets have every angle covered. However, with J.R. Smith probably eying a bigger role with another team, Brooks could be a solid backup.
A decent-sized guard, Brooks has the ability to both create his own shot, and spot up to shoot.
Brooks has sometimes been pegged as a boll-hog, but doesn't that remind you of someone?
Regardless of his questions, George Karl is the perfect type of coach to whip him into shape. With Karl, if he doesn't work, he won't play.
23. Houston Rockets: Tyler Honeycutt (SF, UCLA)
As we begin to climb down the list here, there are still some available players that could provide a spark to their prospective teams.
Tyler Hunnycutt is one of those players.
Solid on both sides of the ball, Hunnycutt has the ability to provide some grit to a team that needed some for quite some time now.
Quick and smart, Hunnycutt plays the game with alertness and solidity.
With tons of potential, Hunnycutt has a chance to log some big minutes with Chase Budinger merely filling in until new weapons arrive.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Nolan Smith (G, Duke)
I've always been skeptical of Nolan Smith's talents.
A smart player in the Coach K offense, Smith had several games in which he provided major contributions.
Still, I was never impressed with his speed and I worry that he doesn't have the kind of athleticism to make a dent in a league that relies upon it.
Smith is one of those players that will need to utilize his smarts to have an impact.
25. Boston Celtics: Trey Thompkins (PF, Georgia)
This one is interesting.
As a Featured Columnist for the Boston Celtics on B/R, I've pondered several different players.
Marshon Brooks, Trey Thompkins and Nikola Vucevic are just a few of the players that have entered my mind.
Why do I think Thompkins?
Danny Ainge has already voiced his opinion of lacking depth in the draft, and I don't think that a player like Vucevic is as attractive to Boston's style of play as Thompkins is.
The reality is that the Celtics are unlikely to find a franchise center this late in the first-round, and Tompkins has the kind of versatility to be a great bench scorer.
Thompkins provides an array of offensive moves, and with conditioning being one of his only weakness, he could bring a spark off the bench rather quickly.
26. Dallas Mavericks: Justin Harper (PF, Richmond)
Another player that I contemplated for the Celtics, Justin Harper has several qualities that the defending champs might find endearing.
Shooting 49 percent from deep as a senior, Thompson has an excellent spot up shot that could be a huge advantage over smaller defenders.
Categorized as a power forward at 228 lbs., it's easy to question Harper's ability to defend the strength players in the NBA.
Harper's shot caters to the Mavericks style of play, and his height could end up being a welcome bonus off the bench.
27. New Jersey Nets (via Lakers): Nikola Vucevic (C, USC)
If Nikola Vucevic happens to fall all the way to the Nets, it would be a shame to not scoop him up.
Utilizing Vucevic as a versatile backup to Brook Lopez would be a great decision for a team that has needed a backup at the position for quite some time.
Vucevic has been working on his shot for some time now, and his physical presence down low is intriguing to any team.
As his range continues to expand, Vucevic comes closer to being a steal.
Like I said, this could easily end up being Boston's pick, but the Nets are wise to keep Vucevic on their radar.
28. Chicago Bulls (via Heat): Josh Selby (SG, Kansas)
Josh Selby hasn't exactly panned out as much as scouts had hoped, but his upside is still more than evident.
A team with a solid bench, it wouldn't be a bad idea for the Bulls to look at an athletic guard like Selby.
Looking toward the future, the Bulls are going to need a player that can create off the dribble besides Derrick Rose. As a late pick, Selby may be worth the look.
Selby has shown that he has some decent range, and he is quick/physical on the defensive end.
With significant depth, the Bulls could work the young freshman into NBA-form.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Kyle Singler (SF, Duke)
Kyle Singler to the San Antonio Spurs. Hm...
Is it me, or does Singler seem like the perfect player for the Gregg Popovich philosophy.
I'm not saying that anything will pan out here, but Singler is an ultimate team player that is all work and none of the other stuff.
Singler plays intelligent basketball, and knows his role at the SF spot.
Singler's athleticism leaves much to be desired, and he may never have the type of body to compete at the highest level.
Yet, I can still see the Spurs taking a shot at another team player.
30. Chicago Bulls: JaJuan Johnson (F, Purdue)
JaJuan Johnson could end up being a solid pick for a Bulls team looking to add some depth for the future.
The Big Ten Player of the year averaged 20.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 2.3 blocks per game last season, and would be in a great spot for grooming in Chicago.
Johnson is, through and through, an athlete.
Johnson plays with high energy, and has developed various parts of his game throughout his college career.
At 220 lbs., it is easy to be concerned about whether Johnson has what it takes to be a power forward in the NBA.
Regardless of his length, Johnson doesn't have the kind of strength to do the same things he did against smaller players in college.
Johnson has a similar frame and length to Hakim Warrick, who hasn't been the type of impact player that he was in college.