With the 2011 NBA draft coming up later this week, let's go through one last mock draft for both the first and second round and take an educated look at where each prospect might go.
The beginning of this draft seems to be fairly clear, but as soon as the lottery really gets going, the draft picture gets a little more murky. Muddy, not murky, may in fact be the best way to describe the potential pool of selections in the second round.
This draft class has gotten a reputation for being weak, but let's not discount it too much. While the top isn't as superstar-laden as normal, there are a lot of players in this class that could become valuable contributors down the road.
As the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat helped prove, contributors can be just as important as stars.
Kyrie Irving, Point Guard, Duke Blue Devils
One of the few sure things in the draft, Kyrie Irving needs to be the player that Cleveland selects with the first overall pick, especially because the 2012 NBA draft is expected to be quite forward-heavy at the top.
Despite only playing 11 games at the collegiate level, Irving is an incredibly talented point guard who will be able to immediately start for the Cavaliers. He's the first step to truly helping the unlucky city forget a certain royal member.
Derrick Williams, Small Forward, Arizona Wildcats
With Kyrie Irving off the board, the only logical choice here is Derrick Williams.
The forward from Arizona is a very good all-around player whose trademark is his incredible efficiency shooting the ball.
Minnesota could use Williams to pair up with Kevin Love, forming one of the most potent forward tandems in the league.
However, Williams and Michael Beasley have very similar roles, and the former could force the latter out. For that reason, and many others, the Timberwolves will be looking to trade this pick up until the last second.
Brandon Knight, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Kentucky Wildcats
Brandon Knight has been thought to be the second-best point guard in the draft for quite some time now (or third-best, if you're a big Kemba Walker fan) and Utah doesn't really need a center. The Jazz are much more desperate for solid guard play.
That means that Utah is going to be looking at either Knight or Walker with the third overall pick. Right now, the consensus is that the Jazz will go with the score-first, pass-second guard from Kentucky.
Enes Kanter, Power Forward/Center, Turkey
With the fourth pick in the draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers get to add a potential second future All-Star to their squad.
Enes Kanter may have been deemed worthy of the No. 1 overall pick if he didn't have problematic knees, but that concern has pushed him down the board a little. Actually, both that and the lack of competition for the last year since he was ruled ineligible at Kentucky have done the trick.
Regardless of the problems, the Turkish center is a ridiculously talented player, and pairing him with Irving could turn the franchise around.
Kemba Walker, Point Guard, Connecticut Huskies
Everyone and then some knows about Kemba Walker by now. You know, the guy who carried his team all the way through the Big East Conference tournament and then the NCAA Tournament en route to a championship in each.
With ridiculous speed and athleticism, Walker has a chance to go as high as No. 3, and the Raptors will be thrilled to see him fall this far.
Jan Vesely, Small Forward/Power Forward, Czech Republic
Now ready to take his talents across the Atlantic Ocean from the Czech Republic to the NBA, Jan Vesely is a 6'11" small forward, so he's not exactly lacking in the size department. But he also has the skill to go along with the size.
Most scouts are saying that he does, as Vesely is very athletic and not just a lanky, Shawn Bradley-esque big man. International picks are never exactly safe, though.
Washington will definitely be hoping that this one pans out.
Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward, San Diego State Aztecs
With huge hands, athleticism and versatility, Kawhi Leonard made an impressive climb up draft boards after the NBA draft combine. If he falls past Washington at No. 6, which is a big if, there is no way he'll be skipped by the Kings as well.
Leonard is a do-everything forward from San Diego State who will have to improve his shooting to be anything other than a role player in the NBA. His legitimate inclusion in the top 10 is a true testament to just how weak this draft class is, though.
Jonas Valanciunas, Center, Lithuania
The 18-year-old center still has a bit of work to do on his underdeveloped game before he's entirely ready to play in the big leagues, but his skills will be a great addition to the Pistons' system so they can look on with pride as he progresses. Having Ben Wallace as a mentor will be very useful, provided that a translator can bridge the language gap effectively.
The Lithuanian big man is already 6'11", but he doesn't appear to be done growing yet and shows a lot of potential. Once more, no international pick is ever safe in the draft, but Valanciunas' ridiculously high ceiling outweighs the risks here.
Tristan Thompson, Power Forward, Texas Longhorns
From inside the paint, Tristan Thompson is unstoppable. But as soon as he steps foot outside the colored area, the power forward looks as though he's just had his pants pulled down at recess in front of the entire school. Hopefully, he'll eventually learn to change that.
Thompson is very athletic and has high upside, especially if he's put in a situation where he can play with a guard that's good at distributing the ball.
Alec Burks, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Colorado Buffaloes
It seems as though this has been one of the very few picks that has not changed from draft to draft, as everything still points towards the guard going to the Bucks.
Burks, a shooting guard from Colorado, is an incredibly talented, athletic scorer. He just needs to develop an outside shot to have a complete offensive game.
I've been calling Burks one of the biggest sleepers in the draft and thinking that he will be a steal no matter where he's drafted for quite some time now.
Marcus Morris, Small Forward/Power Forward, Kansas Jayhawks
The more talented of the set of twins eligible to be drafted this year, Marcus Morris has moved up the boards to this current spot at No. 11.
Morris is a very physical forward with a soft shooting touch. He is about as NBA-ready as they come and should make an immediate impact with the Golden State Warriors if they do indeed draft him. This will be especially true on the defensive end of the floor, since he actually has some idea how to play at that end.
Jimmer Fredette, Point Guard, BYU Cougars
I've definitely heard some Utah fans express their opinions and say that they'd rather not have the nation's leading scorer on their team for the 2011-2012 campaign, but it appears more and more likely that that will soon become a reality.
Fredette is a gifted scorer with questionable athleticism and defensive ability. In the end, though, the local hero may stay at home.
Klay Thompson, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Washington State Cougars
A shooting guard with a Jimmer-like shot, Klay Thompson could flat-out score at the shooting guard position for the Washington State Cougars.
But questions about his maturity, thanks to marijuana-related charges, and speed, thanks to his lack of quickness, have dropped Thompson down the boards in the minds of quite a few scouts. Thompson could prove to be a steal for the Suns, though.
Donatas Motiejunas, Power Forward, Lithuania
The seven-footer from Lithuania has a ton of potential, and he is fully aware of that fact. Unfortunately, though, sometimes Donatas Motiejunas gets a big head and thinks he's a bit better than he currently is.
As soon as he lets his mental game catch up with his physical skills, Donatas Motiejunas has the ability to dominate no matter where he plays, much like Dirk Nowitzki. And as we all know, that is a huge compliment right now.
Motiejunas might not be the most sexy pick at the end of the lottery, but it's the smartest one.
Marshon Brooks, Shooting Guard, Providence Friars
One of the best scorers in the draft class, Marshon Brooks impressed quite a few people during the combine and may sneak into the lottery when it's all said and done.
It's amazing that just a month ago, Brooks was considered a definite second-round pick. Just goes to show you what comparisons to people like Kobe Bryant can do for your stock. The scary thing is that I can see why the comparisons are being made.
Markieff Morris, Power Forward, Kansas Jayhawks
It's a shame that Markieff Morris isn't going to go higher, because it will be quite some time before we get another opportunity to see the first pair of twins drafted in the same NBA Draft Lottery.
But, as it currently stands, this appears to be another near-certain pick. Philadelphia has expressed interest in Markieff, and he should be available here.
Markieff has a higher ceiling than his brother, but he also has a lower floor because he has a very balanced game without any standout attributes. He should be an immediate contributor, though
Bismack Biyombo, Center, Congo
Talk about a meteoric rise up the ranks of the 2011 NBA draft class.
Bismack Biyombo went from unknown to highly coveted in just a few weeks, thanks to his defensive skills, 7'7" wingspan and triple-double at the Nike Hoops Summit.
He has the highest ceiling of any player in the draft, but Biyombo's offensive game is incredibly raw, and he is a rather risky selection.
Biyombo is the toughest player to predict in this draft because he could go as high as the top 10 or drop precipitously when everyone is too scared to take him, leaving him in the draft room longer than anyone else.
There are even whispers that Cleveland could take him at No. 1, but I seriously doubt that.
Chris Singleton, Small Forward/Power Forward, Florida State Seminoles
The best defender in this draft class, Chris Singleton impressed plenty of people with his skills during the combine, just shortly after doing so throughout his collegiate career.
It's not easy to make an impression on defense during drills and low-intensity game simulations, but Singleton still managed to do so. He's unbelievably talented on that end of the floor.
Still, though, Singleton has a decent set of offensive skills and will not really be a liability there either.
Jordan Hamilton, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Texas Longhorns
One of the best scorers in this year's draft class, Jordan Hamilton can slash as well as he can shoot from outside.
The Charlotte Bobcats need a solid guard in this draft, and Hamilton is the best option that would fill that need. Well, that's if he's available this late, of course.
Tyler Honeycutt, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, UCLA Bruins
Inconsistent shooting at the combine caused people to question his skill, and then the subsequent worry dropped Tyler Honeycutt behind a whole bunch of other players. Fortunately for the guard's pride, though, he is still projected above former teammate Malcolm Lee.
Honeycutt is still very athletic and has all the tools necessary to be a successful guard in the NBA. Now he just has to put all the tools together in the same toolbox.
Tobias Harris, Small Forward/Power Forward, Tennessee Volunteers
Most of the positives being thrown around Tobias Harris right now have to do with his body, which now appears to be quite svelte thanks to cutting Swedish Fish from his diet. Unfortunately, most of the negatives have to do with his skillset, causing his draft stock to slip a bit.
Harris is a very good all-around player, though, who has a chance to make an impact in a lot of different ways.
Kenneth Faried, Power Forward, Morehead State Eagles
College basketball's all-time leading rebounder may not have any sort of offensive game to speak of, but his glass-cleaning abilities more than make up for that. This human version of windex has the one skill that translates most easily to the NBA.
Because of that, and his relentless motor and unstoppable energy and drive for the game, I can't help but think that Kenneth Faried is going to end up being quite a steal for the Denver Nuggets.
Josh Selby, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Kansas Jayhawks
Josh Selby's immaturity is a major red flag and has kept him from going as high as his preseason lottery projections, but his talent is boosting him back up the boards.
Selby was very highly recruited by Kansas, but his collegiate career was nothing more than a sham, and he proved to have absolutely no loyalty to the Jayhawks. Hopefully the same will not be true in Houston.
The Rockets would love to see him slip past New York. If that's the case, they'll be all that stands in between him and a dropoff to the second round.
Darius Morris, Point Guard, Michigan Wolverines
With a whole bunch of talented young players in place, I would expect for the Oklahoma City Thunder to abandon the concept of need and instead draft a player that they feel is simply more talented than all the others on the board.
Darius Morris is that very talented guard out of Michigan who was essentially the Wolverines' entire team at stretches during the 2010-2011 season. He can score and pass quite well.
Trey Thompkins, Power Forward, Georgia Bulldogs
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once a top-10 pick, Trey Thompkins has seen his stock fall quite a bit.
Thompkins is as talented as they come, but his lack of athleticism and poor work ethic have sent up too many red flags for a bunch of teams. Weighing in at the combine with 15.5 percent body fat, the highest such number of all 54 prospects, didn't help his case.
Boston could see Thompkins become a steal, though, if the veterans on the team get his head screwed on straight.
Justin Harper, Power Forward, Richmond Spiders
Now that the versatile forward is done inspiring arachnophobia in his opponents while at Richmond, it's time for Justin Harper to work his magic with the defending champions.
Harper is both athletic and skilled and could make Mark Cuban's Mavericks even scarier right from the get-go next season.
Kyle Singler, Small Forward, Duke Blue Devils
Kyle Singler is good at everything, but isn't really great at anything, a characteristic which will keep him from going any higher than this spot when the draft rolls around on June 23.
That said, he was a successful college star at a major program, and his floor appears to be a valuable end-of-the-rotation contributor. He's a relatively safe pick at this point in the selection process.
Shelvin Mack, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Butler Bulldogs
Shelvin Mack is a great scorer, as he proved time after time during Butler's magical run to a second straight NCAA championship game, but he needs to work on his passing before he can be called one of the truly elite guards in this year's draft class.
The Bulls could use a viable backup for Derrick Rose, and this could very well be that guy.
Davis Bertans, Small Forward, Latvia
The tall Latvian forward may not look much like a basketball player, but he's an absolutely incredible shooter who will make an immediate impact in the league.
Davis Bertans only stayed in the draft because he received a guarantee that he would be drafted in the first round. Unfortunately, the team that promised this has not been revealed. We just know that it exists.
Reggie Jackson, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Boston College Eagles
The combo guard from Boston College is another player who has seen his stock soar like an eagle in recent days.
Reggie Jackson is a very balanced player with a ridiculously big wingspan. The only problem is that he lacks the upside that usually goes along with a first-round pick.
In this draft, that may be okay.
JaJuan Johnson, Power Forward, Purdue Boilermakers
JaJuan Johnson has everything you could want in an NBA player. It boggles my mind how the teams drafting players earlier in the draft aren't realizing this. But that just means that the Heat will find yet another draft day gem in the lanky Johnson.
Jeremy Tyler, Power Forward/Center, United States
After playing professionally in Israel, the immensely talented American big man is going to come back across the pond and make the leap to the NBA, hoping to demonstrate more maturity in the process.
Nikola Vucevic, Center, USC Trojans
Some people said that Nikola Vucevic looked better than Enes Kanter during the combine, and that's quite a compliment for the center from Southern Cal.
Nikola Mirotic, Small Forward/Power Forward, Montenegro
Hailing from Montenegro and currently playing for Real Madrid (the basketball team, not the soccer team), Nikola Mirotic has a great skill set for a 6'10" forward and can shoot a jump shot as well as just about anyone in this draft.
Chandler Parsons, Small Forward, Florida Gators
A jack of all trades and a master of none (except for avoiding combs), Chandler Parsons is still going to be a matchup nightmare when he makes the leap to the pros.
Travis Leslie, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Georgia Bulldogs
The most athletic player in the draft class also became the cockiest when he said that he wanted to be compared to someone better than the Memphis Grizzlies' Tony Allen, dropping him down some draft boards. But hey, it's only cocky if you can't back it up.
Malcolm Lee, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, UCLA Bruins
Lee is a big guard with a defensive orientation. He doesn't have the highest ceiling, but he's a relatively safe draft pick at this stage early in the second round.
Nolan Smith, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Duke Blue Devils
The best regular season college basketball player in 2010-2011, Nolan Smith still has to prove that he has the speed and strength necessary to be a successful guard in the NBA.
Iman Shumpert, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The Georgia Tech point guard is a great scorer but still needs to improve both his passing and jump shooting before he's deemed a pure point guard. His athleticism is nothing short of outstanding, though.
Jordan Williams, Power Forward, Maryland Terrapins
Jordan Williams probably should have returned for one more year at Maryland, but now he'll have to settle for developing his post moves while riding the pine in Milwaukee after being drafted in the second round.
Norris Cole, Point Guard, Cleveland State Vikings
One of the nation's leading scorers thanks to his 21.7 points per game during his senior season at Cleveland State, Norris Cole will be able to make an immediate offensive impact for whichever team drafts him, especially if it's the Lakers with aging Derek Fisher ahead of him in the depth chart.
Jon Leuer, Power Forward, Wisconsin Badgers
A bit of a hard player to figure out, Jon Leuer is a very tall forward with a better three-point shot than set of post moves. He'll find his niche on an NBA roster, but it might be hard for him to consistently crack a rotation.
Jimmy Butler, Small Forward, Marquette Golden Eagles
Once homeless during his teenage years, Jimmy Butler now has a chance to be a true second-round steal. The former Golden Eagle is a terrific defender and a very efficient offensive player.
Rick Jackson, Power Forward, Syracuse Orange
Rick Jackson is a high-energy player with a good all-around game. He doesn't really excel at any one skill, and he'll have to learn a new system after running Jim Boeheim's defensive zone at Syracuse, but he has potential.
Andrew Goudelock, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Charleston Cougars
A great scorer out of the College of Charleston, Andrew Goudelock needs to work on his passing skills to become a true point guard, but there is no doubt that he can put the ball in the basket. He's a bit of an unknown player thanks to the Cougars' lack of success, but that should soon change.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Shooting Guard, Serbia
If there's any team that could take a chance on a project player, it would be the Lakers. The lanky, athletic, offensively skilled Serbian guard is definitely a player that falls into that category right now.
Charles Jenkins, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Hofstra Pride
A tremendous shooting combo guard from Hofstra, Charles Jenkins rose up draft boards thanks to a great showing at the combine. It's time to see if he can take it to the next level.
Keith Benson, Center, Oakland Golden Grizzlies
An offensively gifted center from Oakland, Keith Benson has a lot of work left to do on the defensive side of the court before any team will be able to justify giving him consistent minutes.
Malcolm Thomas, Power Forward, San Diego State Aztecs
A rather recent inclusion in many mock drafts, the second player drafted out of San Diego State in this year's draft will be Malcolm Thomas, a power forward that has every tool except for a consistent jump shot at this stage in his career.
Demetri McCamey, Point Guard, Illinois Fighting Illini
Thanks to one of the best showings at the combine and a lot of hype afterwards, Demetri McCamey, a senior point guard for Illinois, is now being thought of as one of the better pure point guards in the draft.
Cory Joseph, Point Guard, Texas Longhorns
Cory Joseph doesn't look like he belongs on the same floor as the other guards, and the point guard from Texas' draft stock fell accordingly to the point where he may not even be drafted if some team isn't willing to take a flyer on him. He should've stayed in school another year.
Jereme Richmond, Small Forward/Power Forward, Illinois Fighting Illini
A very raw freshman from Illinois, Jereme Richmond has yet to put it all together but could be very good when he finally does. This is a high-risk, high-reward pick for the Nuggets.
David Lighty, Shooting Guard, Ohio State Buckeyes
David Lighty was the prototypical glue guy for the Ohio State Buckeyes and should be able to serve the same role on any NBA team, making him quite valuable despite his limited upside.
Greg Smith, Power Forward/Center, Fresno State Bulldogs
With huge hands capable of snatching the basketball out of the air like it's a tennis ball, Greg Smith is a very impressive physical specimen who will have to prove that he has the skills to back up the NBA body.
DeAndre Liggins, Shooting Guard, Kentucky Wildcats
Most people thought that it would be Terrence Jones, not DeAndre Liggins, who would be the second drafted player from Kentucky in 2011, but once Jones dropped out, that honor was left to the talented 6'6" shooting guard.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Power Forward, Washington Huskies
One of the most athletic players available at any point during the draft, Matthew Bryan-Amaning needs for his basketball skills to catch up to his physical ones in order for the Lakers to be able to justify taking the former Washington Husky.
Chris Wright, Small Forward/Power Forward, Dayton Flyers
Nicknamed "Top Flight," Chris Wright has incredible athleticism and a very high ceiling. The only problem is that he has significant work to do on his passing...and shooting...and ball handling...and, well, everything on offense.
E'twaun Moore, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Purdue Boilermakers
A very talented guard from Purdue, E'twaun Moore is a prolific scorer with passing skills to boot. Concerns about his athleticism and size are the only things keeping him from going much earlier in the second round.
Scotty Hopson, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Tennessee Volunteers
Will the magical powers of the flat-top carry over from Knoxville to San Antonio? Only time will tell, but the athletic tweener from Tennessee can score in bunches thanks to his size and athleticism.
Isaiah Thomas, Point Guard, Washington Huskies
The smallest player in the draft is also one of the guys with the biggest vertical jumps. Isaiah Thomas needs every inch of elevation to make up for his 5'10" frame, but his athleticism will get him drafted before David Stern steps off the stage in 2011.