NBA Draft 2011: Grading the Lottery
The 2011 NBA draft is underway, and there has already been a trade to shake up the lottery.
There's a lot more potential in this draft than many tend to believe, and these draft picks are going to prove it next season.
Will there be a lot of surprises? Where will Jimmer fall? What about Kemba Walker?
We're about to find out.
Without further ado, here are the lottery grades:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving
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And with the first pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select...Kyrie Irving! Who saw that one coming?!
Oh, everybody saw that coming? Fair enough.
Irving was the consensus pick to go to Cleveland, and he will be the Cavs' point guard of the future. However, in order to get him in the starting rotation, the Cavs will have to get rid of Baron Davis, or just write him off.
The trade is more likely to happen, because when healthy and motivated, Baron Davis is still a hell of a player.
Irving is the best point guard prospect in the draft, and while Derrick Williams was the more logical pick for the Cavs, Irving will fill a long-term need rather than an immediate need.
The Cavs get an A because they really couldn't go wrong with Irving or Williams.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams
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And, once again, what the consensus thought would happen, happened.
Williams, who may be the most explosive prospect in the draft, joins the Minnesota Timberwolves and their logjam of "tweeners."
It looks like the Wolves are going to be keeping Williams around rather than trading his draft rights, so he will be joining Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love in hopes of finding the right amount of youth talent to make a run next year.
I figured the pick would be Williams, but the more logical pick would have been Enes Kanter. Kanter would have filled a need for the Wolves.
Even though Williams is an A player, the Wolves get an A- for creating a difficult situation at their forward positions.
3. Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter
The Jazz were projected to either take Kanter to provide frontcourt depth, or Brandon Knight to become their point guard of the future.
They went with the big man.
This might be the best pick of the draft so far. The Jazz still have Devin Harris, a more than capable starting point guard, and Kanter, who is by far the best big man in the draft, will provide some much-needed depth for the Jazz.
They will now have Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Enes Kanter to split the forward minutes.
They get an A because this pick was logical, it fills a need and they got a great prospect.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson
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And with their second lottery pick, the Cavs throw everybody for a loop. With the first surprise of the draft, Tristan Thompson gets picked at No. 4.
Like Chad Ford said, this isn't much of a reach. Thompson, who was Big 12 Freshman of the Year, is an athletic forward with a lot of room to grow. His upside may be the best of any forward prospect.
I actually like this pick a lot. Thompson provides the Cavs with depth in their frontcourt, and he will be able to provide immediate minutes and help.
Also, Thompson is a "safer" pick than Jonas Valanciunas, who may have to be in Europe for another year to grow, and there are some problems with his ongoing European contract.
A- for logicality and immediate help.
5. Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas
The Raptors really couldn't go wrong with this pick. They could have taken Knight, Valanciunas, Vesely, Leonard or Walker, and all would have been decent, logical picks.
Valanciunas, who may be the best international prospect in the draft, will provide help to Andrea Bargnani and the Raptors frontcourt.
Like I said in the last slide, Valanciunas has to get stronger, and he may stay in Europe for another year, but the Raptors need all the help they can get, and I'm sure they won't mind waiting a year if Valanciunas turns out to be the forward they think he can be.
6. Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely
Good job, Washington. I will congratulate you on making the correct pick. Your need was at the small forward position. You could have gone with Vesely or Leonard and both would have been great.
By picking Vesely, one of the most athletic players in the draft, you now have a guy who is going to be able to run the floor with John Wall, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee.
Vesely will have to work on his shot, but he has the chance to be an immediate starter in Washington.
Washington now has an opportunity to take the best available player with their next first-round pick.
7. Sacramento Kings: Bismack Biyombo
***Biyombo's draft rights are going to be traded to Charlotte.
In Biyombo, Charlotte gets an immediate impact player on defense, and he'll have a chance to start from day one.
But Biyombo is extremely raw with virtually no offensive game. What Charlotte really needed was some scoring, but that's not going to happen from this pick.
This may have been the first "reach" of the draft, but there's no questioning Biyombo's upside if he continues to work and progress on the offensive side of the ball.
They get a B+ because there were some more logical picks they could have made, such as Alec Burks or Klay Thompson.
8. Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight
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I really wanted Biyombo to go to Detroit to play alongside Greg Monroe, but with Biyombo off the board, the Pistons decided to take a chance on Brandon Knight.
Knight was a projected top-five pick by almost everybody, and slipping down to No. 8 may be a blessing for the Pistons, who are in need of any help they can get.
By selecting Knight, the Pistons either have their point guard of the future, or a combo-guard prospect. It will be interesting to see what the Pistons do with Rodney Stuckey now that Knight will be in Detroit.
By all accounts, Stuckey is the better point guard. Will they try to play them both at the same time? Will they shop Stuckey to try to get some better value?
Who knows? Knight had a good year at Kentucky, and he does show good upside, but I still think Knight has a great opportunity to be a bust, especially if he's asked to play out of position.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker
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I love everything about Kemba Walker, but man, I really wanted him to go to Sacramento to play with Tyreke Evans. I thought that was perfect.
Alas, Walker is on his way to Charlotte with Bismack Biyombo. Charlotte addressed a need in frontcourt depth with Biyombo, and while D.J. Augustin has proved to be a capable starting point guard, Walker will without a doubt challenge him for that starting spot.
I can't give a bad grade to Charlotte for drafting Walker, even though drafting a shooting guard would have made a lot more sense.
Maybe they'll try to play Walker and Augustin at the same time? I...don't think that would work.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jimmer Fredette
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***Jimmer's draft rights are going to be traded to Sacramento.
With Walker off the board, who I thought would fit perfectly in the Kings offense, the Kings decide to draft Jimmer Fredette, the best shooter in the draft class.
I'm not sure what to make of this. Jimmer will definitely improve the Kings offense, and he'll thrive in the run-and-gun style. He'll be playing alongside Tyreke Evans (assuming he gets the chance to start), and maybe he'll continue to develop his horrid defensive game.
With Udrih shipped off to Milwaukee, Fredette will likely have to be more than just a bench scorer, which is what I thought he'd be the best at.
There's nothing in the middle with Jimmer; he's either going to be a bust or a quality starter.
Sacramento took a chance, and I'm leaning towards this working out for them.
11. Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson
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Klay Thompson has excellent range, and he will be another asset to an already dynamic Golden State offense.
His size (6'7") will provide a nice change to Golden State's backcourt when he's in the game. I thought Jimmer would be a great fit here for Golden State, just to be a bench scorer, though.
Thompson may be the smarter pick. He's not a bad defensive player, and he provides some much-needed depth for the Warriors.
The Warriors get a B, even though this may have been their best option. What the Warriors need, though, is frontcourt depth. They'll have to address that with their next pick, No. 44.
Maybe they'll be able to steal Keith Benson that late.
12. Utah Jazz: Alec Burks
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The Utah Jazz have had the best draft so far. They got Kanter with the third pick, the best big man in the draft, and now they get Burks, who might be the best shooting guard in the draft.
The Jazz have highlighted two needs in the draft so far. Burks is NBA-ready, and he should step in with a chance to start right away.
I really have nothing bad to say about what the Jazz have done so far. This is exciting for them.
The Jazz don't have anymore draft picks, but they still have a need for small forward and point guard depth.
I wouldn't be surprised to see them try to get another pick late in the first round to take a stab at a player like Nicola Mirotic or Reggie Jackson.
13. Phoenix Suns: Markieff Morris
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Who saw that coming? Hasn't the consensus been that Marcus is the way better Morris brother?
Regardless, Markieff is the one that's off the board first. Markieff has a definite position—he's a power forward. He will likely be a role player to start off, playing behind Channing Frye, but his size and improved jump shot will allow him to challenge Frye for minutes.
This pick makes sense. With Burks, Thompson and Jimmer off the board already, the Suns wanted to take a safer pick in Markieff, rather than taking a chance on the next-best shooting guard prospect, Marshon Brooks.
They very well could have used this pick on Kawhi Leonard, though, who still isn't off the board. Where is he going to fall?
14. Houston Rockets: Marcus Morris
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The Rockets get somewhat of a steal in Marcus Morris. The Rockets were in the position to take the best player available, and they decided to take a chance on Morris, whose offensive game is a bit more advanced than Kawhi Leonard.
With their next pick, No. 22, the Rockets will again be in a position to take the best player available, they will likely try to take either a point guard, such as Reggie Jackson, Josh Selby or Darius Morris...or a center prospect, such as Nikola Vucevic or maybe even Jeremy Tyler.
Marcus will fit into Houston's game plan right away. He and Chase Budinger will be able to split minutes well at the small forward.
And thus concludes the lottery. Like expected, there were some surprises, some consensus picks, but all in all, it was an exciting lottery.
Notable players still on the board: Kawhi Leonard (who just got selected at No. 15 to Indiana), Chris Singleton and Jordan Hamilton.