NBA Draft 2011 Results: 10 Biggest Steals of the Draft
In the midst of the first round of the draft, there were moments of anticipation in which no matter how many NBA mock drafts, experts and fans alike predicted a team would make a move on a certain player, there was that tiny, but all too real, curiosity of "what if?"
There ended up being many "what if" moments in the first round that caused a collective "wow" or "uh-oh" as viewers realized just what that surprise pick meant for the future of that lucky franchise.
Take a look at the top 10 steals of the first round of the NBA draft.
Cleveland Cavaliers Land Tenacious Tristan Thompson
After reawakening one of the most unfortunate records in NBA history—lost 26 games in a row—one might argue that the Cleveland Cavaliers needed the help.
Kyrie Irving was set in stone as the first pick in the draft and will bring speed, scoring and a leadership of an emerging floor general. However, he's not the story.
Tristan Thompson will play an integral role in the rebuilding of the Cleveland franchise. On both ends of the floor, Thompson makes his presence palpably known through his 9'2" reach and 7'2 wingspan. Between put-backs around the rim and superior rebounding skills, Thompson is a premiere power forward.
Alongside Kyrie Irving, these two players represent the future, but they will also be in good company with veteran players like Antawn Jamison and Baron Davis who will only help these two young guns improve.
Brandon Knight Boosts Chances for Detroit Pistons
After a dismal and depressing 30-52 finish, the Detroit Pistons have a gained an essential element of explosiveness to their lineup with Brandon Knight.
There's a plethora of experienced players currently on the Pistons like Richard Hamilton, Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. For Knight to begin his career in the kind of environment full of practical NBA knowledge, it will allow him to rapidly adapt to the pressure of the league.
While the Pistons have a good deal of older, veteran players, they are also brimming with youthful talent. Austin Daye, Charlie Villenueva and now Brandon Knight embody a band of 20-somethings eager to put the Pistons back on the NBA map.
If the coaching staff can integrate the old with the new, with Knight at the forefront of this new squad, it will boost the chances of the previously ailing Pistons and instead turn them into a potential contender.
Shooting Guard Alec Burks Fills Utah Jazz Void
When your two-guard is 6'6" and averaged 20 points per game as a sophomore, the momentum quickly shifts in your favor.
Enter the Utah Jazz.
After Jerry Sloan's departure as head coach and Deron Williams was dealt to the New Jersey Nets, the Utah Jazz appeared to be stuck between a rock and hard place, finishing the season with a 39-43 record, good for 11th in the Western Conference. But Alec Burks has the kind of impressive, consistent scoring ability to reroute the struggling Jazz and right the course.
Burks was feared throughout college basketball for his explosiveness, versatility and ability to finish around the rim, and yet somehow he was only picked 12th in the draft.
The Jazz just earned a crucial ingredient to their upcoming season.
San Antonio Spurs Obtain Speedy Scorer Kawhi Leonard
When the San Diego State Aztecs finished 34-3 last season, eventually losing in the Sweet 16 to the eventual champion Connecticut, there was no question that Kawhi Leonard was the core of the team’s success. San Antonio recognized Leonard's ability to not only take the ball on his own to the hole, but also to be unselfish and integrate the rest of the team.
With an aging Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan, Leonard represents the face of the next generation of Spurs.
According to ESPN statistics, Leonard had 23 double-doubles in 2010-11, and 40 in 70 career games, including 69 starts. Between leading an underdog team and consistently making his versatile, powerful presence a factor in games, Kahwi Leonard was one of the most sought after players in the 2011 NBA draft and landed on a team full of talent and experience, which will be crucial for an upcoming star.
At 6’7", 228 pounds, Leonard’s athleticism and outstanding rebounding capacity provide an integral piece to the Spurs puzzle.
Denver Nuggets Pick Up Top Power Forward Kenneth Faried
Kenneth Faried has the size, stats and staggering skills to have a serious impact upon the Denver Nuggets.
He averaged a double-double in his last three years at Morehead State, highlighted by a luminous senior year of 17 points per game and 14 rebounds per game.
His explosive movement in and around the key is what truly distinguishes him from other big men. He's shown a great deal of comfort in the post, exercising a dazzling drop-step move.
But he's also demonstrated his ability to move without the ball on offense and create viable opportunities for both himself and his teammates. On either side of the court, Faried will have an immediate impact because he gets everything he possibly can out of his enormous nine-foot reach.
Reggie Jackson Makes Oklahoma City Thunder Swift and Serious Threat
Between Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden and Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson just transformed the Thunder into one of the fastest teams in the league, if not the speediest.
To have a squad that can run the court with reliable ball-handlers, aggressive scorers, all of whom have solid motor skills, will add a new and more imposing threat to the Thunder than they had this past year, in what was arguably their best season.
In his final season at Boston College, Jackson exhibited why he was a worthwhile pick for this year's draft, averaging 18 PPG four RPG and four APG. His court vision and perceptiveness allow him to not only see open driving lanes, but show off his excellent passing skills by finding open passing lanes and cutters.
At 6'3", 208 pounds, Reggie Jackson will bring lightning speed to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Three-Team Deal Sends Agile Jordan Hamilton to Denver Nuggets
Jordan Hamilton is the prototypical small forward, and between this acquisition and Kenneth Faried the Nuggets just got a huge advantage for next season.
Hamilton averaged 18.6 points and 7.7 rebounds in his last season at Texas. He is most well-known for his long-range shooting, but has developed an array of options to shoot off the dribble as well as a reliable fade away shot.
Although he's been criticized for his shot selection, that is the kind of change that will gradually occur through experience in a professional setting. Also, working alongside one of the game's best floor generals in Deron Williams will give Hamilton confidence to be aggressive with his shot and that there is a proven leader guiding his team.
JaJuan Johnson Brings Brute Force to Boston Celtics
JaJuan Johnson will be in good company with a sea of talented vets on the Boston Celtics.
Johnson will be pleased to know the Celtics have won 50-plus games each of the last four seasons. But similarly, the Celtics pursued Johnson for his power and aggressiveness in the key. In his final season at Purdue, Johnson averaged 20 PPG and eight RPG and two BLK.
He will fit in extremely well with the type of tenacious and physical style of play inherent to the Boston Celtics.
Donatas Motiejūnas Adds Low Post Presence to the Houston Rockets
Donatas Motiejūnas, the 7'0" Lithuanian power forward, was a part of the deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves that dealt Motiejunas and Jonny Flyn for Brad Miller and the 23rd pick.
The majority of hype surrounding Motijunas was a testament to his imposing low post presence. The Houston Rockets have struggled due to a host of injuries, namely to All-Star center Yao Ming, but also because they haven't found a formidable replacement to protect the key.
However, this Achilles' heel may no longer inhibit the Rockets because Motijunas is supposed to be a juggernaut who will be problematic for others to guard and intimidating for players to try and drive on.
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