Countless questions surround the 2011 NBA Draft. Is Derrick Williams the next LeBron James? Is Kemba a lottery pick? How good is Enes Kanter, really? Will Jimmer be the next Ray Allen or the next Dan Dickau? Can the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers parlay their top two picks into a playoff appearance in 2011-12?
Only time will tell.
Stay tuned as I grade every first round pick.
Unlike the NFL Draft, the NBA Draft is almost exclusively talent driven. NBA teams almost always pick the best available player regardless of team needs, while NFL executives are known to heavily factor team needs in the decision making process.
This kind of talent-first thinking explains why the forlorn Cavs took Duke's Diaper Dandy, Kyrie Irving, with the first pick instead of a much needed big man.
As long as the Cavs use the fourth pick on a big man, this is a solid pick as most experts agree Irving is a top 10 talent despite his youth and inexperience.
Derrick Williams has the most star power of any player in the 2011 Draft Class. The Terror from Tucson should fit right in on the rapidly improving Timberwolves. With Kevin Love dominating the boards down low and Spanish phenom Ricky Rubio in charge of distributing the ball Williams will be able to focus on what he does best: Scoring. Look for Timberwolves to shoot up the Western Conference standings in 2011.
Do not underestimate Turkey's Enes Kanter. Had he had a chance to showcase his skills at Kentucky last year, he may have been a shoe in first pick. Kanter dominated Jared Sullinger and Tristan Thompson in summer league play last year, which may explain why Sulleinger stayed in school.
Cleveland took a flyer on this one. The Cavs got there big man in Thompson, unfortunately they probably won't reap any of the benefits for a few years. The Texas big man is undoubtedly a project. Scouts list his weakness post-game and jump shooting. Basically Thompson has a hard time putting the ball through the hoop, which, last time I checked is the objective of basketball.
Valanciunas has all-NBA potential but will need to improve his post play in order to become a force in the NBA.
The Wizards continued the European theme of the 2011 NBA Draft as they took Jan Vesely, pride of the Czech Republic with the 6th pick of the 2011 draft. This was a horrible pick. Vesely averaged only 9,2 ppg and 3.4 rpg in Euro League play last year and showed no ability to create his own shot or post up.
Wizards fans should cringe at this pick, Vesely may be the next Darko Milicic.
With the first pick of the 2011 Draft Michael Jordan put his faith in Congolese big man Bismack Biyombo. Other than his awesome name, Biyombo's strengths include his physicality and potential for improvement. His biggest weakness, inability to put the ball in the basket. Best case scenario he could turn into a slightly smaller version of Dwight Howard, worst case; Kwame Brown.
The leader of Kentucky's 2011 Final Four team will be taking his talents to Detroit next season. The NCAA tournament was a coming out party for Knight. Despite struggles from the field Knight hit game winners against top seed Ohio State and Princeton.
He is a proven leader who shouldn't have any trouble adjusting to the bright lights of the NBA. His slight frame is cause for some concern, but it is nothing that can't be fixed with a few extra hours in the weight room.
The 2011 NCAA Player of the Kemba Walker will be teaming up with his Airness in Charlotte. I usually don't agree with Jordan's taste in talent (see Kwame Brown), but this time I think he hit a home run.
Walker is a winner. He showed uncommon work ethic and leadership at UConn. He improved his jump shot each season and functioned as a coach on the floor during Jim Calhoun's health issues.
The state of Utah let loose a collective sigh when the beloved Jazz passed on Jimmer with the third pick. Alas, Jimmer will join Tyreke Evans in Sacramento next season where he will still not be able to play any defense. Ferdette will be LUCKY to be considered a "JJ Redick type" two years from now.
The Warriors could have the steal of the draft in Washington State's Klay Thompson. If it weren't for Derrick Williams Thompson would have been a lock for Pac-10 player of the year last season as he put up 21.6 ppg and shot nearly 40% from behind the arc.
While undoubtedly talented Thompson doesn't really fit with the Warriors. Assuming Golden State deals Monta Ellis this offseason their opening night backcourt would be Stephen Curry and Thompson neither of whom have shown any ability to penetrate the lane. The Warriors will never be successful depending primarily on a perimeter game.
Many Jazz fans would have loved to see Utah take adopted son, Jimmer Ferdette, with this pick but they will be in for a pleasant surprise when they realize Burks is the better player. The Colorado star has a serviceable jumper, an ability to penetrate and at 6'6, above average size for a guard. He can also play defense.
Everybody in the Newark's Prudential Center expect Markieff was shocked that he was the first Morris twin off the board in the 2011 NBA Draft. Morris will give the Suns a much needed physical presence on the block.
Morris is no slouch on the offensive end of the court but it is his superior defensive skills and length that will get him on the floor consistently as a rookie.
The Morris twins made NBA Draft history as they became the first set of twins to be drafted consecutively. The Rockets selection of Morris may signal the end of Ming's career in Houston regardless of weather or not he fully recovers from his second major foot injury in as many years.
Marcus brings an all-around offensive game as well as above average defensive skills to the table.
The Spurs continue to build an army of big bodies as they added relentless rebounder, Kawhi Leonard to their rotation of DuJuan Blair, Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess.
The Spurs have done a great job scouting talent over the past few seasons despite consistently drafting in the late 20s, so if Pop and Co. think Leonard will be successful I'll take their word for it.
The 76ers picked up the biggest man in the 2011 NBA Draft with the 16th pick. At 6'11 260lbs Vucevic knows how to use his body to get shots off even when double teamed.
If he is to make a successful transition to the NBA he will have to learn how to play defense. Showed good feel for shot blocking and rebounding so his defensive struggles are likely effort related.
Boo Birds echoed throughout the Prudential Center as the Knicks used arguably the most important pick in franchise history, on Georgia Tech's 6'5 point guard, Iman Shumpert.
Knicks fans are pissed because they might not know who this guy is, but many didn't know who Landry Fields was last year and that has worked out pretty well so far.
With Carmelo Anthony already on the roster the Knicks need role players who can hit the occasional open and, most importantly, play defense. Shumpert fills both of these needs.
With their second pick of the first round the Washington Wizards took Florida State's defensive specialist, Chris Singleton.
With defense becoming increasingly important in today's NBA defenders like Singleton will become staples of future playoff teams.
With a little luck the Wizards could see Singleton become the next Ben Wallace
In one of the more complicated trades of a crazy draft night the Charlotte Bobcats got the rights to Tennessee forward, Tobias Harris.
Harris had a respectable freshman year at Tennessee, but lacked consistency and conditioning. He will need to make a commitment to the weight room if he wants to be able to bang on the blocks with the NBA's big boys. Harris will undoubtedly be a project for Jordan and Co.
His long term success will be decided by his work ethic.
With their second pick of the first round the Houston Rockets chose Euro big man Motiejunas, providing further evidence that the Rockets are moving on from oft injured Yao Ming.
Motiejunas might be the best Lithuanian player in the 2011 draft. He produced consistently against Europe's stiffest competition in Italy. His offensive versatility reminds some scouts of Pau Gasol.
As much as it pains me to say it; it rarely pays to bet against Dukies in the NBA. Nolan Smith is a proven leader who will come to Portland ready to put in the work it will take to become an above average NBA point guard.
If there was a truly safe pick in this rag-tag draft Smith was it.
The Nuggets used their first pick of the 2011 NBA draft on the dreadlocked darling of the last season's NCAA tournament.
Faried's energy will fit in great with the Melo-less Nuggets who have become a hustle and heart team led by the likes of Chris 'Birdman' Andersen.
Nikola Mirotic rounded out the slew of foreign born big men who heard their name called in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Ironically, Real Madrid's star PF may be the most NBA ready of any of them.
Mirotic is a versatile offensive player who can spread the floor and knock down open jumpers. He is a safe bet to succeed at the next level.
Boston College's star guard is a proven scorer who can knock it down from anywhere inside the gym. Jackson shot a remarkable 50% from the floor last season including 42% from three.
Jackson has shown a tendency to play out of control sometimes which leads to turnovers. However, on his best days he will be the perfect complement to Russell Westbrook in the Thunder's back court.
Marshon Brooks is the classic Big East sleeper pick. The 6'5 shooting guard averaged 24.6 ppg and shot nearly 50% from the field (both of those numbers outshine Kemba Walker by s considerable margin) in the toughest conference in college basketball.
Brooks has the size to succeed at the next level, although he will need to pack on a few pounds in the weight room to deal with the physicality of NBA play.
The Mark Cuban and the world champion Mavericks used their first round pick on local legend, Jordan Hamilton and then flipped his rights to the Portland Trail Blazers for the services of Rudy Fernandez.
Honestly, I would have liked to see the MAvs hold on to Hamilton. I think he would have added offense to their big man rotation.
Grade: B for the pick B- for the trade
The Celtics landed JaJuan Johnson with the hopes of replacing the void left by the departure of Kendrick Perkins and Shaq.
While Johnson is an excellent offensive option (20.5 ppg) and a good shot blocker he lacks the bulk to clean the boards and be an all-around physical presence down low.
On the bright side some scouts have compared him to Marcus Camby with an added offensive dimension. If he can get in the weight room and buy into the Big Three's intensity I see no reason he can't be a solid contributor for the Celts next season.
Cleveland State's Norris Cole singlehandedly tried to bring back the hightop fade during his days battling Butler for Horizon League titles. Unfortunately for everyone he admitted defeat when he chopped off the glorious do last season.
Haircuts aside, Miami is looking for a role player who they won't have to pay too much and Cole fits that bill. If he can add an extra 10-15 pounds of muscle there may be a spot for him on the end of the Heat's bench. The biggest question surrounding Cole is if he will handle adjusting to a severely diminished role in the NBA after being the man all throughout college.
The Spurs added a backup point guard when the picked the Longhorns' freshman phenom with their second choice of the first round.
Too early to tell how good this pick will be because Joseph is unlikely to see many minutes in the near future playing behind Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
On the bright side he will have access to two great veteran role models and one of the best coaches in the NBA. If this kid wants to learn, he will.
Jimmy Butler is the feel good story of this year's draft, left homeless for a time as a teenager, Butler persevered and found his way to Marquette where he flourished.
Last season Butler put up 15 ppg and shot nearly 50% from the field against tenacious Big East defenses.
But, it's his defense that sets him apart. This kid shows uncommon effort on every possession and will likely carve out a nice career as a solid role player in the NBA.