2011 NBA Draft: Projecting the Lottery Picks
1) Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving (PG) Duke – The Cavs taking Irving here is pretty much a guarantee. Point guards are all the rad now in the NBA, and that’s how you win regular season games. Notice that both teams in the NBA Finals last year had very little production out of their starting facilitators. Kidd was due to his age, and Chalmers, while he wasn’t terrible decided to show up for the first time all season. While taking Williams here and hoping Knight falls to four would be intriguing, Irving is the safe pick for a franchise that needs to bounce back.
2) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Williams (SF) Arizona – Whether the Wolves hold onto this pick or make a deal with it remains to be seen. So far rumors have abound including the pick being traded for such stars as Steve Nash, Andrew Bynum, Andrew Bogut and many others. With Beasley already on board, the Wolves don’t need another tweener at the forward position, even if Williams’ upside is greater. I fully expect them to deal this pick if they lower their expectations a bit, if not, Williams is far and away the best player available here.
3) Utah Jazz – Brandon Knight (PG) Kentucky – Here’s where things start to get interesting in the draft. Do the Jazz try and get a replacement for Deron Williams in Knight, deeming Devin Harris expendable? Do the Jazz try and take a reach on a relative unknown in Enes Kanter? I wouldn’t be surprised by either of those moves. My guess for the pick here though is Knight.
4) Cleveland Cavaliers – Enes Kanter (PF) Kentucky – The Cavs got the distributor with the first pick of the draft, now they just need someone to get him the ball too. Kanter excels in that role, and has a very well-rounded game that many haven’t seen because of his NCAA ineligibility. The only real knack on him is his athleticism, but he’s impressed scouts more than anyone, the question is, “Did he impress Cleveland enough?”
5) Toronto Raptors – Jonas Valanciunas (C) INTL – With the new regime coming into Toronto expected to focus on defense and playing a slower pace, you can expect Andrea Barngani to fully be on the trade block. The only thing that might keep him from going this high is his buyout which may make NBA teams have to wait a year or two before having him. For the Raptors, it’s not like they’re in “Win-Now” mode, and can wait for him to come over and contribute. Scouts think he has a very high ceiling.
6) Washington Wizards - Jan Vesely (F) INTL – Another international player gets picked here in back to back selections. Vesely’s a guy who can do a lot with the ball in his hands. While he’s probably more of a power forward than a small forward he can still create and get to the hoop. A potential mismatch in the NBA, he’d be a very nice pick for Washington. You’d just have to wonder what Blatche’s future with the Wizards would be.
7) Sacramento Kings – Kemba Walker (PG) UConn – Walker’s the man who elevated his status via the tournament more than any other player in it. He’s a proven winner and fills the bill for exactly what the Kings need, a talented man to run the point. Tyreke Evans may be best when the ball is in his hands, but he’s more of a shooting guard than a distributor. Much of the same could be said about Walker though, but I’ll tell you what. When you can run a 3-guard lineup out there any night that includes Kemba Walker, Tyreke Evans, and Marcus Thornton, if I’m the opposing team, that’s a lineup that strikes fear in my heart. Add in two powerful developing bigs in Jason Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins, and the Kings might be sniffing the fumes of the playoff trail next season.
8) Detroit Pistons – Markieff Morris (PF) Kansas – Morris heading up to draft day was thought to be the lesser of the twins, but he had one really good workout with Detroit where he showed them exactly what he could do. Apparently management fell in love with him, and a pairing of bigs that includes Greg Monroe and Morris on any given night has a nice future in the Motor City.
9) Charlotte Bobcats – Kawhi Leonard (SF) SDSU – Leonard’s a very intriguing talent and quite frankly very well could go to the Kings at No. 7. If he falls this far though, I see the Bobcats and Michael Jordan taking a chance on him to see what he can do at the next level. They need a replacement at small forward after dealing away Gerald Wallace mid-season. If the Kings do in fact take him, and the Pistons do take Morris, it should be interesting to see who the Bobcats take between Biyombo and Walker. They need a center bad, but Walker might be too good of value to pass up at the No. 9 spot.
10) Milwaukee Bucks – Alec Burks (SG) Colorado – The Bucks need someone who can come in and put up some points. They possessed one of the NBA’s most laughable offenses last season, and they need to pick up the tempo this season. Burks is a guy who can absolutely put down buckets, and although he may be a bit of an undersized shooting guard, a Jennings-Burks backcourt of the future looks pretty tempting for Milwaukee. It’s also the position they need the most help at with Michael Redd and his expiring deal coming off the books. Not like they’ve had Redd available the past few years, but in theory he could have always been since he was under contract.
11) Golden State Warriors – Klay Thompson (SG) Washington St. – The most fluttered name out there right now on the NBA draft rumor mill is Monta Ellis. The big-time scoring punch for Golden State appears to be on the move so the Warriors can get an upgrade to their bigs. David Lee was a little bit disappointing last year and Ekpe Udoh left a lot to be desired his rookie season. Taking the best shooter in the draft to replace a great scorer would make a lot of sense for the Warriors and Jerry West. This of course would mean Ellis for sure would be getting dealt however, otherwise they could give a good look to Marcus Morris here.
12) Utah Jazz – Jimmer Fredette (G) BYU – Is there a more perfect fit in the draft than the Jazz and Jimmer? Let’s be honest here. The Jazz need a new face to the franchise after dealing away Williams mid-season for future picks. While some think he could be the next big bust in the NBA, the people of Utah may riot if Jimmer’s allowed to leave the state. Let’s not forget also that this kid can absolutely shoot the basketball and fill it up. Defense may be a huge question mark, but the Jazz need to take the plunge here.
13) Phoenix Suns – Marcus Morris (F) Kansas – The second, smaller of the Morris twins would fit perfectly with the Suns. While they’d probably like to take a point guard for Nash to groom for his departure after this year, there’s simply none worth this pick here. Morris gives them athleticism from the position that they haven’t seen since Amar’e Stoudemire left for the bright lights.
14) Houston Rockets – Tristan Thompson (F) Texas – While he’s probably more of a power forward than small forward, which doesn’t fit the Rockets’ needs, he’s still an exceptional talent with a very high ceiling. That ceiling may be too high to pass up despite the fact they just selected someone at the same position last year in Patrick Patterson.
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