One of the biggest things going through fans’ minds as they see their favorite NBA team draft a new young stud is how soon they’ll make an impact; more importantly, when will they be good enough that they can start.
Though some early picks in recent years, such as John Wall and Tyreke Evans, have stepped right into the starting lineup, others have been forced to watch and learn behind their veteran counterparts.
As the draft goes on tonight, I’ll be breaking down how long it should take for every first-round pick to crack into their new teams’ starting lineup.
So without further ado, I’ll hand the floor over to Commissioner Stern.
“With the first overall pick of the 2011 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…”
No surprise here.
Most pundits around the web believed that Duke point guard Kyrie Irving would wind up being the Cavaliers' No. 1 pick after an excellent start of the 2010 college basketball season.
Unfortunately, a toe injury limited him to just 11 games all season. I think the Cavs are going to end up regretting not choosing Arizona forward Derrick Williams, but right now the Cleveland fanbase has to be excited about infusing a young star into their rotation.
While Irving is the best point guard in the draft, the Cavs just traded for Baron Davis, and I don't expect Byron Scott to start Irving right away.
Expect Irving to start when the Cavs start losing or when Davis decides to check out at the end of the season.
Expected to start at the All-Star break.
The Minnesota Timberwolves take, in my opinion, the best player in the NBA draft: Derrick Williams of the University of Arizona.
Williams' draft stock exploded after an unbelievable NCAA tournament, capped off by beating Irving's tough Duke team.
Rumors are currently swirling that the T-Wolves have fired head coach Kurt Rambis, and if that's the case D-Will has a higher chance of starting.
Williams has a much higher ceiling than incumbent Michael Beasley and should start over him by the end of 2011.
Expected to start by end of December.
While Kanter has the potential to be the best player taken in the draft, the Utah Jazz now have a sticky situation on their hands. Before the 2011 season, the Jazz traded for center Al Jefferson while already having Mehmet Okur in the fold.
With the addition of Kanter, they now have a true roadblock in the paint. I predict that the Jazz hang onto Kanter but wouldn't be surprised if Okur or Jefferson are moved at some point during the offseason. If Kanter comes off the bench and proves he can hang in the NBA, he'll make his way to the starting lineup.
Expected to start toward end of 2011-12 season.
The Cavaliers pull off the first shock of the night by taking Texas freshman Tristan Thompson. While Thompson is one of the best pure scorers in the draft, most draft experts believed he would slip to the bottom half of the top 10.
Either way, it's rumored that Thompson may be on his way out of Cleveland already as many teams in the back end of the lottery were coveting the young forward.
If the Cavs do end up holding onto Thompson, I would expect him to get a start at some point of the 2011-12 season based on how badly the Cavaliers are struggling. Head coach Byron Scott dealt with so many lineup changes last year so it wouldn't be surprising to see him inject some youth amongst the starters and see what he can do with Kyrie Irving.
Expected to start after the All-Star break, or beginning of 2012-13 season.
The Raptors may have ended up getting the steal of the draft in Lithuanian prospect Jonas Valanciunas. He's a big man that knows how to play in the paint and is an excellent rebounder.
There are rumors swirling that Valanciunas won't be able to get out of his $2.5 million buyout with his European club and that it could have caused a draft-day fall. Obviously, that didn't happen.
When Valanciunas puts on a Raptors uniform, this kid is starting over Andrea Bargnani, hands down.
Expected to start right away.
The dunking ninja is going to the Washington Wizards. Some projected Czech Republic prospect Jan Vesely to be the second overseas athlete to be taken in the draft but the Wiz have to be thrilled to get him at No. 6.
Vesely will be able to run the court all night long with 2010's No. 1 pick John Wall, and with dunk contest runner-up JaVale McGee on the team, there will be plenty of high-flying action in the nation's capital this season.
I expect Vesely to start right away simply because the Wizards have no one better than him as they have Maurice Evans and Larry Owens at small forward on their depth chart.
Expected to start immediately.
There is plenty of controversial speculation of Bismack Biyombo's correct age, but that didn't prevent Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan from pulling the trigger on this freakish Congolese prospect.
This pick was technically made by the Sacramento Kings, but the pick was sent to Charlotte in a three-way trade with the Milwaukee Bucks earlier today.
Biyombo won't be starting in his first year, is probably more raw than Hasheem Thabeet and has even less of an offensive game.
This is another one of MJ's controversial picks but it'll take a few more years to see if it turns into one of his classic draft busts.
Expected to start beginning to middle of 2012-13 season.
The Pistons didn't draft for need here as they plan on extending an offer to Rodney Stuckey and they still have Will Bynum, but point guard Brandon Knight's potential is just too much to pass up at No. 8 overall.
Knight has a deadly fallaway jumper and has some serious handles when running the point.
Knight's starting job will likely depend on the Pistons' other offseason moves but he could end up the starting point guard in the Motor City at the beginning of the 2012 season.
Expected to start beginning of 2012-13 season.
Tournament hero Kemba Walker comes off the board at No. 9 to the Charlotte Bobcats and Michael Jordan may finally have drafted a pick that will pan out.
While the Bobcats still have D.J. Augustin, he hasn’t had the greatest track record since coming to Charlotte. Though Augustin can ball, Walker is a straight winner.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kemba take the starting job at some point after All-Star break if Michael Jordan needs to show he made the right decision.
Expected to start after All-Star break.
This pick was made by the Milwaukee Bucks, but this pick was shipped to the Sacramento Kings in a trade earlier today.
The Kings snatch BYU sensation Jimmer Fredette with the No. 10 overall pick in the draft. It's a little puzzling in my opinion, as I don't believe he'll ever be a great starter in the NBA.
Sacramento shipped Beno Udrih to the Bucks before the draft so the Kings will need some point guard depth but it's more likely that Jimmer comes off the bench as a 2-guard so he can rain down threes.
Expected to get spot starts, but may never be a permanent starter.
It was rumored that Golden State Warriors executive Jerry West had been eyeing shooting guard Klay Thompson since the beginning of the draft process and he was able to get his man with the 11th pick of the draft.
Thompson is an excellent scorer and a deadly three-point shooter so he should see plenty of minutes in his rookie season.
His starting time will directly hinge on what the Warriors decide to do with starting shooting guard Monta Ellis, who has garnered a ridiculous amount of trade talk. If Ellis is on the Dubs when the season starts, Thompson should be the team's sixth man but he definitely has a chance to start right away if Monta is moved.
Expected to start if and when Monta Ellis is moved.
The Jazz make a great pick taking Colorado shooting guard Alec Burks with the 12th overall pick.
Utah’s scoring offense wasn’t nearly what it could have been last year but Burks should absolutely change that. He’s a lethal shooter from anywhere inside the arc, but has shown that he can drain threes when necessary.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Burks start early and often as he is likely a better option than Raja Bell.
Expected to start by end of December.
WHOA! Did the Suns get their Morris twins mixed up?
The Phoenix Suns selected Markieff Morris with the 13th overall pick in the draft leaving most experts wondering if they knew that Marcus was the better player.
Morris is a very good rebounder and a plus defender but he’s not nearly the complete, offensive presence that his brother is. I see him as a bench player that still gets plenty of minutes but won’t work his way into a starting spot because of his offensive abilities.
Very good rotation player, could get the occasional spot start though.
The Houston Rockets get a steal in the better Morris twin, drafting Marcus with the 14th overall pick.
Morris is one of the most complete players in the NBA draft this year and had an excellent college career at Kansas.
It remains to be seen how the twins will play after being separated for the first time ever, but I don’t expect it to be a problem.
Will be interesting to see how much new head coach Kevin McHale likes Morris. He should at least compete for the starting SF position.
Expected to compete with Chase Budinger.
With the 15th overall pick in the draft, the Indiana Pacers selected Kawhi Leonard, a guy that most experts believed would go in the top 10, and maybe as high as No. 6 to the Washington Wizards.
Leonard was ESPN’s No. 1 small forward prospect on the big board and the Pacers got an absolute steal.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like he’s going to wind up in Indiana.
The San Antonio Spurs have a deal in place to send point guard George Hill in a package for Leonard.
He wasn’t going to start over Danny Granger, but if the Spurs can find a buyer for Richard Jefferson, Leonard could absolutely start for the Spurs to start the season.
Could start right away if Spurs deal Richard Jefferson.
Before the draft, 76ers stud point guard Jrue Holiday was lobbying for Philly to draft a big man. The youngster got his wish as the Sixers drafted Nikola Vucevic out of USC with the 16th overall pick.
Vucevic is a dominant rebounder, an above-average scorer and could be the tough paint presence the Sixers were lacking last year.
Vucevic’s playing time will largely hinge on the rest of Philly’s offseason, as they have been shopping Andre Iguodala for the last month. On top of that, most fans have been calling for the head of Elton Brand since his first year with the 76ers.
He's not expected to start right away, but could wind up in the lineup if an opening comes up.
Expected to start beginning of 2012-12 season.
Whether or not Shumpert was a good pick won't matter. The fact is that because New York Knicks fans haven't heard of him, they will bash the pick.
Shumpert is a super-athletic point guard with elite size at 6'6" but struggles with his mid-range game, as well as his shot from long distance.
He's got good speed and knows how to finish at the basket but won't crack the starting lineup unless there are injuries to both Toney Douglas and Chauncey Billups.
Expected spot starter, maybe a project for the future.
With their second pick of the first round the Washington Wizards select the best defensive player in the draft in Chris Singleton.
He's not a flashy player but he can guard four different positions on the floor and will infuriate the offensive stars of the NBA for the next 10 years. The Wizards didn't draft the scorer that they desperately needed but they have a guy that can come off the bench in high-pressure defensive situations and lock down teams' opposing scorers.
Not expected to be a starter, but a great rotation player.
The Charlotte Bobcats made this pick but they had already shipped the rights to the Milwaukee Bucks earlier today.
With that in mind, the Bucks add highly regarded Tennessee freshman Tobias Harris.
He's got a good offensive game but at his size, he's a bit of a tweener between playing the 3 and the 4. Small forwards won't enjoy guarding him, but if he can put on some weight and get stronger in the offseason, he should play well at the 4 for the Bucks next season.
The Bucks have been rotating their small and power forward positions for the last two years between Larry Sanders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova. Harris may not start right away but he will enter the equation eventually, as he's got the highest offensive upside.
Expected to start by beginning of 2012-13 season.
Though the Timberwolves selected Motiejunas, they will be shipping him with Jonny Flynn to the Houston Rockets for Brad Miller, the 23rd overall pick and a future first-rounder.
The Rockets snare Donatas Motiejunas 20th overall after grabbing Marcus Morris with the 14th pick.
Motiejunas has a great outside shot and has pretty good athleticism for a seven-footer. However, he's about as skinny a seven-footer as there is in the game. He'll play the 4 at the next level but the Rockets seem to be set at that position with Luis Scola and Morris.
Will have to force his way into the lineup to start.
Not only did the Portland Trail Blazers pick up Duke guard Nolan Smith, but they were able to trade away Andre Miller and pick up Raymond Felton from the Denver Nuggets.
The Blazers now have their PG of the future in Felton and have solid guard depth in Smith, who can play both the point and the 2.
In my opinion, Smith is a big reach at No. 21, especially with a guy like Marshon Brooks still on the board. I guess the Blazers saw something in the senior guard that the rest of the scouts didn't.
Could get spot starts, but not expected full-time.
The Denver Nuggets get a real gamer in Kenneth Faried at No. 22 overall. The Morehead State star shined in the NCAA tournament and has a motor that never quits.
He's one of the top rebounders in this draft and can throw down some serious dunks. If the Nuggets can hold onto Nene, they will have one of the best rebounding frontcourts in the entire NBA, if not the best.
Faried may not start right away over Kenyon Martin, but his youth should push him into the starting lineup potentially by the end of the season.
Expected to start by end of 2011-12 season.
The Rockets made this pick but Mirotic's rights go to the Chicago Bulls by way of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Confusing, isn't it?
Not a lot to say about Mirotic, but apparently the guy won't get to come to the NBA for four years, as he's under contract overseas. He would have been a mid-lottery pick if he was eligible immediately with his excellent size, quickness and shooting skills.
The Bulls have had success developing overseas talent such as Omer Asik, but they won't see Mirotic any time soon.
To be determined...
One of the few picks taken in the 20s that actually goes to the team that drafted him. The Oklahoma City Thunder take one of the more controversial names in the NBA draft in Reggie Jackson.
The Boston College guard basically went into hibernation over the last two months, as he refused to go to the NBA combine, nor would he work out with a single team. Apparently, it didn't matter as the Thunder had a promise to take Jackson in the first round.
The pick is puzzling, however, because he's now stuck behind Eric Maynor and more importantly, Russell Westbrook.
Solid point guard depth, could emerge as primary backup.
Marshon Brooks traded to the New Jersey Nets for the No. 27 overall pick and a future pick.
Great pick by the Nets here getting Marshon Brooks, who I thought should have gone a lot higher.
As a 6'5" shooting guard, Brooks has good size but it's his seven-foot wingspan that is truly impressive.
The Nets just drafted some major help to persuade Deron Williams into staying with New Jersey. Could be a dynamic scoring option off of the bench with major star potential.
** ESPN's Skip Bayless said that he may wind up being the best pick in the draft.
Just when you thought that the Dallas Mavericks got the steal of the draft, they shipped Jordan Hamilton to the Portland Trail Blazers. However, he's headed to Denver as part of the Andre Miller-Raymond Felton deal. Seriously, confused yet?
Most experts were pretty surprised that Hamilton dropped all the way to 26th overall, but he's got a great shot, although his shot selection is more than questionable—it's downright awful.
He has an all-around offensive game, but if the Nuggets can teach this kid when and when not to shoot the basketball, he could turn into an offensive juggernaut.
Potential to start after All-Star break and some added discipline.
To complete their trade with the Boston Celtics, the New Jersey Nets select Purdue power forward and send his rights to Beantown.
Johnson isn't a reach here, but he isn't exactly a steal. The senior forward has great size and is a very good shot-blocker. He won't be depended on to score much with a star-studded cast around him, but that may benefit him the most.
Head coach Doc Rivers loves guys that he can plug in immediately and become defensive stoppers. Johnson won't start but he'll be very strong rotation player.
Strong rotation candidate, unlikely to start for Celtics.
The Bulls apparently didn't want this pick and shipped it to the Miami Heat.
That said, Cleveland State point guard Norris Cole might be the guy picked latest with the highest chance of starting immediately. Because the Heat's point guard situation is so questionable, Cole has the opportunity to come in right away and start next to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Cole has everything that you want in a point guard. He's an excellent shooter, can penetrate the lane and is one of the better passers in the draft. The Heat liked this kid plenty and showed it by trading up for him.
Expected to compete for starting job immediately.
The San Antonio Spurs dealt backup point guard George Hill to the Indiana Pacers earlier in the day so they go ahead and get their next backup for Tony Parker in Texas freshman Cory Joseph 29th overall.
Joseph was a very highly rated guard coming out of high school but he basically flopped this past year at Texas. This is definitely a reach for the Spurs who seemed desperate to find someone with at least a decent amount of potential.
He's very quick and can finish at the basket but that's about all Joseph has shown at Texas. The Spurs are probably hoping he can develop behind Parker but there are no promises here.
Projected backup, unlikely to start.
With the final pick of the first round, the Chicago Bulls Jimmy Butler, the feel-good story of the draft.
Butler was kicked out of his house at 13 and winded up taking a very Michael Oher-like journey to Marquette University.
A 6'8" small forward, Butler won't start for the Bulls but can come off the bench in defensive situations and cause problems for the offense. He's not a real offensive threat, but his defensive capabilities should land him in the Bulls' rotation.
Solid rotation player with plus defensive skills.