NBA Draft 2011: 25 'Surest Things' in This Year's Draft Class

Joseph FafinskiCorrespondent IJune 20, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: 25 'Surest Things' in This Year's Draft Class

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02:  Brandon Knight #12 of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts after a play against the Connecticut Huskies during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Ho
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The NBA draft is three days away, people.

    If you're half as excited as I am about this Thursday, then it's going to be one heck of a ride.

    For the time being, scouts and fans alike are researching and exploiting strengths and weaknesses of all the available prospects.

    There are many givens in this year's class. For example, it's a sure thing that Kenneth Faried will be a good rebounder. He has the moves and ability, and those skills will translate perfectly into the professional level.

    Take a dive into this slideshow and discover the 25 "surest" things of the 2011 draft class.

     

    Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @JosephFafinski.

1. It Won't Be 2003...

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    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  Dwyane Wade #3 (R) and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat stand on court against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackno
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The draft class of 2003 is undoubtedly the best in recent memory.

    In the top five alone were perennial All-Stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

    2011's bunch isn't expected to perform like the boys of eight years ago were, and it is almost a 100 percent certainty that they will not collectively surpass the accomplishments and ability of the aforementioned clan.

2. But It Won't Be 2000.

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 18:  Kenyon Martin #6 of the New Jersey Nets shoots over Jamaal Magloire #21 and P.J. Brown #42 of the New Orleans Hornets on November 18, 2003 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.   NOTE TO USER: Us
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    While 2003 was the Michael Jordan of NBA draft classes, think of the 2000s as the Pervis Ellison.

    Kenyon Martin, Jamaal Magloire and Michael Redd were the only players from the crew that ever made an All-Star game appearance.

    As unregarded as this year's pack is, it won't even rival the two rounds that were bestowed upon us 11 seasons ago.

3. Kyrie Irving Will Be the Best Floor General

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on against the Arizona Wildcats during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Brandon Knight might feel a little disrespected by this inclusion to the list, but really there shouldn't be any fans out there questioning Kyrie's greatness.

    He excels at every asset of the point guard position and is destined to be a great pro.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers should be feeling lucky about grabbing ahold of that first pick.

4. Derrick Williams Will Be Passed on at Least Once

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 26:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats goes up for a rebound against Jamal Coombs-McDaniel #4 and Charles Okwandu #35 of the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at
    Harry How/Getty Images

    At this point in time, it seems as though Kyrie Irving is a lock to become the first pick of the 2011 NBA draft.

    Derrick Williams looks like the consensus No. 2 guy, but really nothing is certain at this moment.

    Even if he drops to the T'Wolves (let's assume they keep the pick as of now) at two, they will most likely pass him over in favor of Enes Kanter's talents. There's really no reason to believe D-Will's name will be the first uttered by commissioner David Stern.

5. Chris Singleton Will Be the Draft's Best Defensive Player

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 25:  Chris Singleton #31 of the Florida State Seminoles reacts during the southwest regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams at the Alamodome on March 25, 2011 in San Antonio, Tex
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Just looking at the title, Kenneth Faried and Bismack Biyombo are muttering words behind my back.

    The fact of the matter is that Chris Singleton simply dominates on defense, and he was hands down the best player in that department at the collegiate level last season.

    He has what it takes to change the defensive outlook on a franchise, and he will easily become one of the draft's better pros.

6. Kenneth Faried Will Become a Good Rebounder in the NBA

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Kenneth Faried #35 of the Morehead State Eagles shoots over Justin Harper #32 of the Richmond Spiders during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Phot
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    This prediction is simple science, really.

    A player who puts up good rebounding numbers in college can do the same thing at the professional level.

    Kenneth Faried grabbed an astounding 14.5 boards last season, and he will undoubtedly pull down a lot on both sides of the court.

7. 5 Point Guards Will Be Selected in the 1st Round

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies at the free throw line against the Butler Bulldogs during the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011 in Ho
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The 2011 draft isn't considerably deep at any position, but there is no reason to believe that a specific position isn't top-heavy, and I'd say this is true with the guys at point guard.

    On just about every single mock draft I've seen on the World Wide Web, five point guards are selected within the 30 picks.

    Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette and Josh Selby help round out the position, and it would be no surprise to anyone if all five had their respective names called during the first round of Thursday's draft.

    It's not a crazy thought to think that Nolan Smith, Reggie Jackson and Darius Morris could all end up making the final total eight.

8. Jimmer Fredette Will Be Publicly Scrutinized No Matter Where He Ends Up

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 24:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young Cougars reacts during their 74 to 83 loss to the Florida Gators in the Southeast regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 24, 2011 in New Orle
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Heading into Thursday's festivities, no potential lottery pick has faced more criticism than BYU's Jimmer Fredette.

    We know he's a great shooter and that he'll make the best out of most situations, but really what else should we expect?

    The consensus seems to be that Jimmer couldn't defend a 2A high school player, and that his lack of athleticism will doom him in the end.

    Whatever the case, he will undoubtedly become the draft's most scrutinized prospect, fair or not.

9. Teams Will Be Iffy on Bismack Biyombo

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    A few months ago, we had no idea who the heck Bismack Biyombo was.

    Now?

    He seems assured of a lottery pick, and it'd be downright unfair not to consider him.

    However, there will be teams who will be iffy in his abilities, and it is for that reason that he may fall out of the top 10.

    That's not to say he doesn't belong there—he's clearly one of the most skilled prospects on the big board.

10. Enes Kanter Will Be the Highest Selected European

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    Enes Kanter, a Turkish prospect who was ruled ineligible to play for Kentucky last season based on benefits he received overseas, is undoubtedly the most intriguing prospect who doesn't call the United States their homeland.

    Kanter's name has been muttered as a possible option for the second overall pick, and I believe he'll be taken somewhere between the second and fifth pick.

    As far as centers go in this class, Kanter is unquestionably the greatest presence.

11. Marshon Brooks Will Be Undervalued

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Marshon Brooks #2 of the Providence Friars brings the ball up court against Jimmy Butler #33 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfit
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    No one is writing off Marshon Brooks as a bust right now, and for good reason.

    Everyone's calling this guy vastly underrated and that he might be worth a lottery pick.

    So what does this mean for Brooks?

    Well, essentially he's ready to prove that he is actually as undervalued as some think.

12. Kawhi Leonard Has All the Tools to Become a Great Player

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Kawhi Leonard #15 of the San Diego State Aztecs dunks the ball against the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, Calif
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Kawhi Leonard is easily one of the best all-around players in this year's class.

    On one end of the floor, he's an efficient scorer and can grab more offensive rebounds than most guys his size.

    Defensively, he has the skills to translate simply to the professional level and that's that.

    He has the making similar to a guy by the name of Ron Artest, and we have seen how well this skill set has boded for him.

13. The Utah Jazz Will Take a Point Guard in the 1st Round

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02:  Brandon Knight #12 of the Kentucky Wildcats moves the ball while taking on the Connecticut Huskies during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    After dealing Deron Williams just before the trade deadline in February, the Utah Jazz aren't necessarily ready to declare themselves safe with a guy like Devin Harris running the point, and it is for that reason that they will end up picking a solid floor general with one of their two picks in the lottery.

    There is no question that former Kentucky Wildcat Brandon Knight will be available with the third pick, and if the Jazz aren't going to make him don their uniform, then expect Utah's club to make a legitimate run at Jimmer Fredette with their second (and the 12th overall) pick.

14. Keith Benson Will Surprise

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 18:  Keith Benson #34 of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies goes up for a shot against Alexis Wangmene #20 of the Texas Longhorns during the second round game of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 18, 2011 in Tuls
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Keith Benson, out of Oakland University, is almost unanimously projected to go somewhere in the middle of the second round.

    That absolutely boggles me, and do you know why?

    Benson is a solid all-around player who is never mentioned as elite in this class. He can score (17.6 points per game last season) and crash the boards (10.3 per) better than almost any other big coming out of college this season.

    He also can light it up from downtown, a place where he drained 39 percent of treys for the Grizzlies last season.

15. Marcus over Markieff

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 27:  Marcus Morris #22 and Markieff Morris #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks react during the southwest regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Alamodome on March 27, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. Virginia Commonw
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    It's no secret that the Morris twins definitely have the potential to be great NBA players.

    But, just as we knew three years ago with the Lopez twins, there is a definitive winner in the head-to-head debate, and the winner is Marcus.

    He has too many positives to ignore, as he is one of the most NBA ready players in this class. He also has a ceiling much higher than his bro Markieff's.

    That's not to say Markieff doesn't have the potential; it's there for sure, but will he be picked over his buddy?

    No chance.

16. Jan Vesely Will Be Worth the Risk

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    Jan Vesely is a guy who has shown he has great size (he's 6'11 and weighs 240 pounds), athleticism and versatility, which has made him available at either forward position.

    Some signs to point to him being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but no matter I think he'll be worth the "risk" that some teams look at him as.

17. Derrick Williams' Athleticism Will Be Up to Par

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 26:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after a dunk against of the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 26, 2011 in Anaheim, Cali
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    This one should be as obvious as they come on this list.

    Derrick Williams is an NBA-ready prospect whose athleticism will be welcomed into the professional level.

18. Jonas Valanciunas' Lack of Offensive Moves Might Doom Him

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    The best Lithuanian prospect in the 2011 class, Jonas Valanciunas is a pretty solid player, but he has one weakness, and that is found in his lack to create his own offensive game.

    He might be able to shoot, sure, but that doesn't mean he can handle and shoot the ball around the perimeter and the charity stripe.

    To be a fully effective center in the association, he needs to work on his offense because as of right now he'd be on the wrong side of so many turnovers.

19. Alec Burks Could Start Somewhere Next Year

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 11:  Alec Burks #10 of the Colorado Buffaloes drives with the ball against the Kansas Jayhawks during their semifinal game in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 11, 2011 in Kansas City
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Alec Burks is one of the few all-around players in this year's draft class.

    He could find himself a starting position on a few rosters, namely the Golden State Warriors (assuming they trade Monta Ellis) or the Charlotte Bobcats.

    Whatever the case, he's talented enough to hear his name announced every night.

20. Klay Thompson Will Flop in the NBA If Speed Doesn't Improve

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10:  Klay Thompson #1 of the Washington State Cougars walks off the court after the Cougars lost to the Washington Huskies 89-87 in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Klay Thompson is a great shooting guard, make no mistake.

    However, he doesn't possess any sort of admirable quickness ability. His lateral speed is mediocre at best, and he isn't about to blow by anyone any time soon.

    The months following the draft will be key for Thompson, and he must show improvement if he wants playing time next season.

21. Jimmer Fredette's Shot

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 24:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young Cougars shoots over Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators in the second half during the Southeast regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Say what you want about Jimmer Fredette, but he undoubtedly has the best shot out of anyone in this bunch.

    Heck, even Barack Obama chimed in on the matter, stating: "Unbelievable. Best scorer obviously in the country. Great talent."

    If there's one thing going for Jimmer in this league, it's his tremendous ability to put the ball through the hoop.

22. Tristan Thompson's off-the-Ball Movement

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 20:  Tristan Thompson #13 of the Texas Longhorns walks off the court after their 70-69 loss to the Arizona Wildcats in the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 20, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Pho
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    No one in college basketball did better off-the-ball last season than Texas' Tristan Thompson.

    When he didn't have possession of the ball, there was no limit on what he could accomplish.

    It might be bold of me to say this, but dare I compare him to Kobe Bryant in that aspect of the game?

23. There WILL Be All-Stars

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats goes up for the ball against Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 201
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    There's no chance that all 60 of the players who are to be drafted will go All-Star-less throughout the course of their careers.

    It's highly feasible to believe multiple players will get there eventually—remember, even the horrendous 200 draft has had three.

    The two players pictured will undoubtedly be playing in the mid-February classic sometime soon.

24. It Won't Be as Strong as 2012

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    NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 27:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in action against Josh Harrellson #55 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the east regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Prudential Center on March 27, 2011 i
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    In late March, a few marquee players pulled their names out of the draft hat, therefore setting us all up for a great prospective class in 2012.

    Headlined by Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones and Terrence Jones (all guys who withdrew from this year's), 2012 will undoubtedly produce a plethora of available NBA talent.

25. Kyrie Irving Will Head to Cleveland

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    This one is a no-brainer.

    Kyrie Irving of Duke has already commenced his new life in Cleveland, whether he be looking at houses near Lake Erie or being the only one to be invited to work out with the Cavs.

    I don't think much more needs to be said here; it's just going to happen.