NBA Draft 2011: 10 Horrible Draft-Day Decisions to Brace For
The NBA Draft is one of the more entertaining sporting events of the year. If you're disagreeing right now, then you've probably never sat down and watched a full draft and made any attempt to appreciate it. What makes the draft so intriguing is the vast variability of it.
Owners, coaches and GMs gather around and judge players who have never played a single NBA game based solely on collegiate experience, foreign competition and individual workouts.
The length of a prospect's arms become as important as what he has actually done on the court. His "coachability" becomes as important as his actual production.
To top it all off, these new draftees at the bottom of the NBA totem pole are asked to shed their attire of choice (shorts and sneakers) for formal wear and are introduced to the CEO of the world's largest basketball business, commissioner David Stern.
It's hard not to marvel, therefore, at the teams and players who consistently make good decisions on draft day.
But it's even harder not to anticipate coming disasters. With that in mind, here's a closer look at 10 horrible draft-day decisions that will be made.
The Atlanta Hawks Trade Josh Smith for What?
As an Atlanta Hawks fan I would be remiss to ignore the giant elephant in the Hawks’ war room, Josh Smith.
Smith is disgruntled and feels that he unfairly shoulders the blame when Atlanta struggles and goes unnoticed when his hometown squad plays well. It seems that both Smith and management are ready to part ways. The only question left is where does he go and what do the Hawks get in return?
The NBA draft always serves as a catalyst for trades, and this year will be no different.
I fear that the Hawks will shop Smith in some sort of package that will include a draft pick or two. This bothers me as this year’s draft class is one of the weakest in decades.
If a draft pick is involved without the addition of a veteran who can immediately contribute then the Hawks will have given up too much.
Numerous scenarios have been thrown out, but I get the vibe that the Hawks are ready to act quickly and get this matter out of the way sooner rather than later.
Even Cleveland’s No. 4 pick seems like a small price for Smith. Sure, he’s been a headache at times and is ready to go, but a team like the Cavs would get much more out of Smith than the Hawks could get out of any draftee.
Trading Smith for a draft pick would be a horrible decision.
Gloom and Doom in Cleveland
If Cleveland does not trade one of their two top-four picks, I expect them to botch at least one selection (if not both).
Cleveland has been open about shopping the picks to acquire assets, but I get the vibe that Dan Gilbert might be crazy enough to try to rebuild this team from the floor up with a heavy rookie emphasis.
The talent pool is shallow in this draft and I’m not sure that any squad would necessarily be chomping at the bit to have half of the top four picks.
The Cavs are unfortunately doomed for failure and I’m afraid that things might actually get worse in Cleveland before they get better.
Given the Cavaliers inconsistent draft performance over the past decade, keeping both picks is a recipe for disaster.
Derrick Williams: Bust
The Cavs seem settled on Kyrie Irving as their top selection, however some of this may be a smoke screen.
After all, what competitive advantage is gained by making a decision prior to draft day and telling other teams of that decision? If I'm running an NBA squad, I'm prepared for every possible scenario and I'm forcing other teams to do the same.
If the Cavs don’t take Irving, all signs point to Arizona’s Derrick Williams as the alternative consensus top-two talent.
I don’t buy Williams' stock. He’s athletically gifted and has the size of a premier NBA forward, but he is unrefined. Williams seems to see himself as a small forward, but he hasn’t played that position since early in high school.
I think he will struggle guarding quicker perimeter forwards. Supporters point to his 56.8-percent shooting from three-point distance last season as proof of his outside scoring ability, but he only attempted 1.5 threes per game and his distance shooting accounted for less than 10 percent of the Wildcats’ total output from behind the arc.
Williams doesn’t seem ready mentally or physically to play the power forward position and as a player who has relied primarily on athleticism and size for much of his career, I have trouble seeing him being successful anytime soon at the next level.
Despite his respected game and surrounding hype, I still think Williams is a gamble with a top-two pick.
What Is He Wearing?
One of the worst decisions of the night will undoubtedly be the attire of some unfortunate draftee in the green room.
Some young gun will surely make a name for himself as a fashion disaster whose sense of class is so distorted that even the average uncultured jock at home watching on TV will nudge his wife and comment: “See, I don’t dress that bad honey.”
The European players either don’t show up for the draft or seem properly coached with regards to style, while younger players tend to be the most likely to go astray.
Kentucky’s Brandon Knight seems like the most eligible candidate. At only 177 pounds, he’s probably survived locker rooms with his quick wit and generally-feigned tough-guy swagger. He seems like he’d take a risk with clothing.
Somebody will be wearing a horrible decision.
Where Is He?
Some team drafting in the lottery will take a risk on Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania.
The 6’11” big man has been praised as a shooting center with the size and skill set that will translate well in the NBA. However, getting him here may prove as difficult as pronouncing his name.
Jonas has a $3 million dollar buyout with his European club, Lietuvos Rytas. Much like Ricky Rubio, he will probably remain on the other side of the world for at least one season, if not more. The biggest knock on Valanciunas’ game may be his lack of physical strength, and that most likely will not improve playing European ball.
Rubio is finally arriving in the NBA and much of the hype surrounding him has subsided.
I think that Jonas Valanciunas has even more to lose by staying than Rubio did. As a seven footer, he is much more injury prone, while Rubio’s true strength, passing, flourished in European play.
I’m not sure that Jonas will be able to improve his game to become more NBA-ready without practicing day in and day out with the best NBAers.
Who Is He?
Remember how shocked you were a few months ago when the Minnesota Vikings drafted QB Christian Ponder with the 12th-overall pick in the NFL draft? Remember hearing Mel Kiper, Jr. and others discussing how shocked they were to see a third or fourth-round projection go so high in the first round? That’s going to happen at least one time in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft.
In 2006 the New York Knicks selected Renaldo Balkman out of South Carolina with the 20th-overall pick. If you don’t know anything about basketball, then that probably doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary. Balkman averaged fewer than 10 points per game in college while playing for a South Carolina team that won the NIT in 2006.
The NBA issued an official draft guide that featured detailed information on the top 300 prospects. Renaldo Balkman did not make the cut.
Some NBA team will pick up a virtual unknown and then stress the fact that their scouts just fell in love with him. Unless that team is a perennial contender, I would doubt those scouts’ judgment.
Somebody off of the radar will be taken and it will be yet another horrible draft day decision.
Jimmer Fredette: Where Does He Land?
Jimmer Fredette has become a cult icon over the past several months, and one of the most talked about NBA prospects.
While his shooting and offensive skills were well known, Jimmer showed tremendous lateral quickness and athleticism during pre-draft workouts and his stock has been soaring ever since.
A player like Fredette needs a team with a very specific need: scoring. He can fill it up, but his defensive ability is just not there yet and could serve as a liability until he improves.
However, if his scoring is efficient enough, he will find playing time. Sacramento seems like a good fit for Jimmer as he could run the point and allow Tyreke Evans to man the 2-spot.
If he pans out to the level of Stephen Curry, the Kings could have the most potent pair of young guards around. Phoenix also makes sense as he could spend some time learning from similarly-molded Steve Nash and patiently develop his game.
However, I think a team goes Jimmer-crazy and drafts him into a position that does not fit him. Cleveland, Minnesota, Washington, Golden State and Utah seem like horrible places for him to land.
And those teams control seven of the top 12 picks in the draft. Jimmer Fredette could be bound for a bench and a poor situation.
The Bear Hug
Every couple years, the draft powers that be give us a true blessing while at the same time further proving that you can in fact get too much of a good thing.
Every few years, we get the pleasure of watching the excitement of a big fellow hearing his name called and greeting David Stern with all the joy his heart can contain. And every few years, it gets ugly.
Last year, Greivis Vasquez made his way out of the upper deck crowd, hugged everyone along the way and then went for it.
The papa bear got his paws on the commissioner. Without a doubt, some cheesing new millionaire will provide us with a pure moment of joy and awkward disaster by hugging Stern.
Enes Kanter: Not a Kant Miss
Enes Kanter’s name has been thrown around with the best of them leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft.
He’s a 6’11” big man out of Turkey with no European contract issues, big hands, long arms and an ability to score. Sounds like a can’t miss, right?
Wrong! European big men have consistently struggled when coming into the NBA, and at over 260 pounds, I don’t foresee Kanter having the quickness of a Pau Gasol or the shooting touch of a Dirk Nowitzki.
Furthermore, Enes has already experienced a number of knee injuries, something that does not bode well for a long, healthy career in the physical NBA.
Drafting Kanter in the top five (where most are projecting him to go) could prove to be disastrous.
Kemba Walker Sliding
Year in and year out, we see proven NCAA winners slip on draft boards, and 2011 will be no different. The intrigue of big foreign players and the allure of players with more “upside” will send Kemba Walker sliding, possibly even out of the lottery.
If Walker falls out of the top seven picks, then somebody is getting a steal.
A talent like Kemba can be shoved into an NBA lineup immediately and produce. He may not be a Hall of Famer and will never be a seven-footer, but Kemba Walker has the quickness, strong frame and tenacity necessary to be a consistent threat on the offensive end and a ball hawk on defense.
He will slide in the NBA draft, and teams will regret passing on him.