The 2011 NBA Draft is just three days away, and there is still speculation over what will happen with the top five picks.
Some sources say that the Cleveland Cavaliers have decided on point guard Kyrie Irving from Duke, though other sources report they are still mulling over the decision.
Today, ESPN reported that both the Lakers and Heat were talking with Cleveland to see about acquiring the No. 1 overall pick. While they would like to make a move, the Cavs would really like to deal the No. 4 overall pick, while holding on to the top spot.
The mock drafts that we have seen so far have all been very inconsistent. Without having a solid grip on how the top five will go, it makes things harder to sort out down the line.
Couple that with the fact that this year's draft doesn't have the top-tier talent that we are used to seeing, and you really have a mystery.
The Indiana Pacers will have the first pick after the lottery selections are made. With the 15th pick, many scouts have them taking a shooting guard, with Marshon Brooks leading the way over Klay Thompson. Others see them going bigger with a guy like Tristan Thompson, if he is still there.
Larry Bird says he has narrowed his list down to three guys, and he is confident that at least two of them will be available when Indiana is ready to pick.
Looking at the past decade or so of the 15th overall pick in the draft, it doesn't look promising. I don't expect them to get a franchise-changing player or even a starter, but I was fairly confident they could find a guy that could work his way into the rotation in the next two years.
Going back to the 2000 NBA draft, here are the list of players that were taken 15th overall.
- Jason Collier
- Steven Hunter
- Bostjan Nachbar
- Reece Gaines
- Al Jefferson
- Antoine Wright
- Cedric Simmons
- Rodney Stuckey
- Robin Lopez
- Austin Daye
- Larry Sanders
Looking at this list, there aren't many guys here that you would even take today, aside from Jefferson. Wright, Stuckey, Lopez and Daye aren't bad, but they haven't really done anything noteworthy since coming into the league.
Going back and looking at Indiana's first-round draft picks since 2000, they seem to have gotten a better handle in terms of finding talented players.
These are the players that were drafted in the first round by Indiana dating back to the 2000 NBA draft:
- Primoz Brezec
- Fred Jones
- David Harrison
- Danny Granger
- Shawne Williams
- Jerryd Bayless (traded in Brandon Rush deal)
- Roy Hibbert
- Tyler Hansbrough
- Paul George
Aside from the Shawne Williams debacle, things have gone fairly well with all of these guys.
Hibbert, George, Hansbrough and Granger are all part of the core of this franchise. Fans have been very unhappy with the selections that Larry Bird has made during his time here, but when you look at it, he has really done an excellent job.
Hopefully Indiana can buck the trend of the 15th overall pick being so poor. If they can find that Al Jefferson in this draft, it could go a long way toward improving the team next year. I still don't think they will land a starter but possibly a decent role player down the road.
The biggest concern for Indiana should be how they work the summer, with nearly $30 million in cap space. They will have to work around the lockout though, and there are no big time free agents this year.
Still, landing a guy like Tyson Chandler or Nene would be considered a great offseason.