2011 NBA Draft Lottery: How Far Will Kemba Walker Fall?
There are plenty of teams at the top of this draft with multiple needs who will look to fill them in what is considered a shallow draft class. Without further ado, here's how I think the lottery will play out.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving
All signs point to the Cavaliers drafting Irving at the top, and rightfully so. There are no surefire superstars in this year's draft, but Irving is probably the closest thing.
Unless Cleveland is content with Baron Davis or Ramon Sessions at the point, Irving will make a big impact for this team from the start. I'm on the record previous saying I think Cleveland should take Derrick Williams and pair him with Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight with the fourth pick, but that seems unlikely to happen.
Cleveland has been shopping the fourth pick around and they may not like anybody at that spot, depending who Utah takes. Irving probably isn't an All-NBA player, but he can definitely develop into an All-Star.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams
Minnesota has been listening to trade offers for this pick since the ping-pong balls bounced Cleveland's way with good reason. The two consensus best players in this draft play positions where the Timberwolves have young players with potential.
The Wolves drafted Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn two years ago, while drafting Kevin Love the year before and trading for Michael Beasley last season. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash have been rumored as trade targets with this pick, but so far nothing has materialized.
If Minnesota keeps the pick, it has to be Williams. Both he and Beasley can play the small and power forward positions and Love, while not a true center, rebounds well enough to play the position. Combine those three with Ricky Rubio and Wes Johnson and you have a nice young nucleus to build around.
3. Utah Jazz: Brandon Knight
In normal drafts, Knight would not be considered a top-five selection. In 2011, he could go as high as third overall.
Before this year's NCAA tournament, Knight was not really considered even a top-ten pick by many. But like Derrick Williams, clutch performances during March Madness shot him up draft boards.
With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson down low, Utah has no need for a big man like Enes Kanter and will likely want to draft the successor to Deron Williams. Kemba Walker is also a possibility but I hear Utah prefers Knight, so he should be the pick.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Enes Kanter
If Cleveland keeps the fourth pick, I don't think there's anybody on the board that makes more sense for them than Kanter. He plays the same position as probably the only other Cavalier that is very likely to stay in J.J. Hickson, but he's a much different player.
Kanter's ability to play on the perimeter will allow him and Hickson to be on the floor at the same time and while I still believe Derrick Williams and Kemba Walker would be the best duo for Cleveland, Irving and Kanter isn't a bad haul either for a team looking to revamp its entire roster.
5. Toronto Raptors: Kawhi Leonard
The fact that a player like Leonard can go in the top five proves once again that this may be the weakest draft class in history. Kemba Walker is a strong possibility here as well but the Raptors have competent guards and Walker isn't a true point.
Leonard's athleticism, rebounding ability and defensive prowess make him a good fit for a Toronto team that was 26th in points allowed last season and 21st in rebounding. James Johnson will not be missed at small forward.
6. Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely
The Wizards will be rooting long and hard for Toronto to draft Kemba Walker, as Leonard would also be a great fit in Washington. But with Leonard off the board and the Wizards still having a need at small forward, Vesely is a good fit.
At 6'11", 240 pounds, many view Vesely as a power forward but his game is very perimeter-oriented. The Wizards are desperate for a shooter and adding Vesely to a young starting lineup that includes John Wall, Jordan Crawford or Nick Young, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee could give Washington the piece it needs to climb out of the NBA's bottom tier.
Vesely is very raw, however, and likely wouldn't see heavy minutes right away.
7. Sacramento Kings: Kemba Walker
Walker could go as high as third to the Jazz, fourth to Cleveland if they draft Derrick Williams or fifth to the Raptors. But in this mock, he falls into Sacramento's lap at seven.
Drafting Walker would give Tyreke Evans a running mate and while both are tweeners and not true point guards, the presence of both will give Sacramento a dangerous backcourt.
The Kings have a glut of big men down low and while they also have a hole at small forward, Walker is the best player available at this point. With Leonard and Vesely going right before their pick, the Kings are handcuffed to taking Walker. They shouldn't be disappointed.
8. Houston Rockets: Jonas Valanciunas
Wait, don't the Pistons hold the eighth pick? They do, but there are many signs that point to them trading down, particular if Kawhi Leonard is off the board. Leonard canceled a workout with the Bucks after leaving Detroit, leading many to say he got a guarantee the Pistons would draft him if he was available, which he won't be.
The Pistons need help everywhere outside of center, where Greg Monroe looks like the long-term answer. They can get a solid power forward prospect with the 14th pick that Houston will include in this trade, while also adding a late first rounder.
The Rockets desperately need a center to pair with Luis Scola so they can use Chuck Hayes in a bench role, considering Yao Ming is contemplating retirement. At seven feet tall, Valanciunas would fit well in Houston and while they're rumored to be interested in taking him at 14 regardless of his buyout situation, he may not last that long.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Alec Burks
The Bobcats need scoring help, as they were ranked 29th in the NBA in points per game last season. They drafted Gerald Henderson in the lottery two seasons ago, but he's not really an offensive asset. Burks is a scorer and traditionally those skills translate quickly to the professional level.
Charlotte also needs a center but with Valanciunas off the board, Burks is the next most logical choice for Michael Jordan's team. I think Chris Singleton is a better player, but he's more of a defender than a scorer. Burks should help take some of the scoring load from Stephen Jackson, who shot just 41 percent from the field last season.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Klay Thompson
With Burks off the board and the Bucks in need of a scoring guard, Thompson creeps into the top 10. Milwaukee is expecting to get Michael Redd back, but nobody truly knows how effective he will be. Redd also turns 32 in August.
Thompson has great range on his jump shot, a skill that will transfer to the NBA. He also has high basketball IQ and the ability to handle the ball, which should help young Brandon Jennings. Thompson is far from a flawless prospect, but he fits the Bucks' need here.
11. Golden State Warriors: Chris Singleton
One of my favorite players in this draft class, Singleton has been rising up draft boards in the past few weeks. His defensive tenacity will be a great fit for a Golden State team that has more than enough offense.
Tristan Thompson and Bismack Biyombo are also possibilities here to strengthen the Warriors' front line, but after using the sixth pick last season to draft Ekpe Udoh, I wouldn't be surprised to see Golden State go with a swingman like Singleton.
12. Indiana Pacers: Jimmer Fredette
I think Utah could very well trade this pick to a team looking to move up and draft Fredette like the Suns, Pacers or Knicks. Out of those teams, I think it's Indiana that's most likely to move up three spots to grab Fredette in the second trade of draft night.
The Jazz should take Fredette with this pick if they keep it, but I think Indiana will be willing to move their second-round pick this year or next year if the Jazz don't feel they can get a quality player at 42 in a weak class.
The Pacers were near the bottom of the NBA in assists last game and while Darren Collison is still developing, Fredette would be a nice complement to him and Paul George in the backcourt. By now, I think the Pacers are tired of Brandon Rush.
13. Phoenix Suns: Tristan Thompson
The Suns may want Jimmer Fredette to take the reigns from Steve Nash but if Utah stays at 12 and takes him or trades with somebody who will, they should be very happy to grab Thompson near the back of the lottery. He's raw but if he develops, he could be one of the five best players from this draft class.
The Suns could also use an interior presence next to Marcin Gortat. Channing Frye is a finesse player who scores on the perimeter so using him, Gortat and Thompson at the same time is not out of the realm of possibility.
14. Detroit Pistons: Bismack Biyombo
With the first pick Detroit received in their trade with Houston, they take a player who they would have highly considered with the eighth pick in Biyombo. He represents much better value at 14, however, since there is a fair amount of risk to go along with a good deal of upside.
In the best-case scenario, Biyombo will team up with Greg Monroe down low to give the Pistons an intimidating duo in the post. In the worst-case scenario, he's the next Hasheem Thabeet. But Detroit won't have used the third pick on him.
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