2011 NBA Draft Preview: 5 Current NBA Players Most Affected by the Draft
For many teams, the NBA Draft represents a time for new-found optimism and a fresh perspective on the future.
On Thursday night, 60 of the world’s top amateur talents will be drafted by NBA teams, thus beginning their careers as professional basketball players.
The story less told is that of the current players who will see their roles change in response to their team's draftees.
For better or for worse, here is a list of the five current players who will be most affected by the 2011 NBA Draft.
PG, Utah Jazz
Jazz Projected Pick: Brandon Knight, PG
If the Jazz do indeed draft Brandon Knight at No. 3, then it doesn't necessarily mean the end of the line (albeit short line) for Devin Harris in Utah.
However, it will mean reduced minutes for the one-time All-Star point guard.
With the biggest knock against Knight being that he's not a pure point guard, the Jazz will look to get him some valuable experience at the 1-guard during his rookie season to see if he can morph into that role in the future.
With that in mind, Harris' minutes will certainly decrease—and so too might his satisfaction level in Utah.
PF, Philadelphia 76ers
76ers Projected Pick: Markieff Morris, PF
The 76ers have long been rumored to be looking for big-man depth in this year's draft.
At No. 16, Markieff Morris should still be on the board, making him an appealing choice for the 76ers.
If the Sixers go with Morris, he'll provide instant depth to their front line. However, he won't win the starting power forward job from Elton Brand right away.
Instead, Morris will be expected to come off the bench and provide youthful energy, while giving the aging (and injury-prone) Elton Brand time to rest and stay fresh.
The possible drafting of Morris may be just what Brand needs to keep himself healthy and playing at a high-level for 82 games next season.
C, New York Knicks
Knicks Projected Pick: Nikola Vucevic, C
In the past few days, rumors of the New York Knicks' apparent affinity for Nikola Vucevic have started to heat up.
If drafted, the USC product is certain to win the starting job out of training camp, as he'll be the only natural center on the Knicks' roster.
This means that Ronny Turiaf will lose his hold on the starting center job, relocating himself back to the bench where he's most useful.
Turiaf plays with nitty, gritty energy—traits that are served well coming off the bench.
At 6'10", Ronny isn't a true NBA center, as he's greatly undersized. Time and time again last season it was painfully obvious that the Knicks lacked a true big man, but they can right the ship by drafting Vucevic at No. 17.
Ronny Turiaf is still a valuable piece to this Knicks team, but in a different role.
SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Timberwolves Projected Pick: Derrick Williams, SF/PF
Where Derrick Williams fits into an NBA lineup remains to be seen, but he's insisted that he's a natural small forward.
That means Michael Beasley, the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, will be given competition for the starting small forward job.
In his first season in Minnesota, Beasley recorded a career high 19.8 points per game, but the temptation for the T-Wolves to draft Williams will ultimately be too high to pass up on come draft night.
Power forward Kevin Love has blossomed in his current position, and Minnesota doesn't want to mess with success. So you can throw away the idea of moving Love to center to make room for both Beasley and Williams.
While he may not win the job over Beasley out of camp, Williams will certainly reduce his minutes—something that is sure to infuriate the troubled small forward.
PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cavaliers Projected Pick: Kyrie Irving
Baron Davis has done quite a bit of moving around in the past year.
He began last season playing point guard for the upstart Los Angeles Clippers. Davis then found himself in the middle of the All-Star Weekend festivities, assisting on the dunk that would land Blake Griffin the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk title.
Then it went downhill.
Davis was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers and found himself stuck in basketball purgatory.
Now, he may be set to make another move: to the bench.
While Davis battled with Ramon Sessions for the starting point guard job upon his move to Cleveland, he still managed to start nine of 15 games over his counterpart.
However, that number is certain to drop with the impending arrival of first-overall-pick, Kyrie Irving.
Irving has been billed as a future star point guard in the NBA, and the Cavaliers will give him every chance to prove that theory accurate from day one.
That means a reduction of minutes for the veteran Davis, who will then have one of two choices to make.
He can take the young star under his wing and show him what it means to be a professional, or he can sulk and demand a trade.
For the sake of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have already been mired in their fair share of drama, let's hope Davis chooses the former.