2011 NBA Draft Results: The 10 Most Impressive Steals of the 2011 NBA Draft

Eitan KatzAnalyst IIJune 24, 2011

2011 NBA Draft Results: The 10 Most Impressive Steals of the 2011 NBA Draft

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    The 2011 NBA draft has left us all feeling different things. Hope. Excitement. Confusion. Anger.

    There were a ton of trades in the draft, a lot of surprising picks (Tristan Thompson, anyone?) and a few guys who fell a little too far.

    This list is dedicated to the guys who fell too far. 

    Last year, we had players like Eric Bledsoe and Jordan Crawford who seemed to get picked just a little bit too late. Crawford responded by averaging 16 PPG, while Bledsoe played 81 games and saw his shooting percentage rise as the season progressed. 

    Who do we have this year? Which guys will we look back on and say, "How in the world did they get picked that late?"

    Luckily for you, I made sure to keep track of all of the big fallers and all the guys who didn't fall but were way too underrated to begin with.

    Without further ado, the top 10 most impressive steals of the 2011 NBA draft.

10. Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets (22nd Pick)

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    Most NBA mock drafts had him projected to go in the 19-22 range. So why, you may ask, is he a sleeper?

    Because this dude is underrated, plain and simple.

    Teams don't want to draft "boring players" like Faried. So he's the NCAA record holder for rebounds—who cares? It's rebounds!

    This is where the fans and the GMs are all wrong. Rebounds do matter. A lot. Why don't you go ask the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat what they would do for a guy like Faried? He is a man's man. He is probably the most NBA-ready player in the draft.

    Kenneth may have reached his ceiling, but who cares? How many players in the NBA can you name that have the potential to average 14 rebounds per game?

    Kevin Love and Dwight Howard. That is the entire list.

    So Faried can't score. Big deal. Put this vacuum into the game and let him do what he does best: clean up.

9. Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns (13th Pick)

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    Let me explain myself.

    Markieff Morris is a different type of sleeper. He wasn't picked too late (in fact, he was picked earlier than was projected) and he isn't really underrated.

    But if you put a beast like Markieff Morris on the Phoenix Suns, you are going to get a fantastic season. This is an ideal landing spot for Markieff. He is going to far outperform his projections.

    With Steve Nash distributing the ball, an extremely high-paced offense and plenty of minutes there for the taking, Morris is going to have one of the easiest transitions for any player in this draft.

    He is a terrific rebounder, a fierce defender and an under-appreciated offensive player.

    Markieff is 6'9", 240 and he shot 42.5 percent from three-point land last year. You don't think that is going to be helpful in Phoenix? The land where offense rules and three-pointers are more common than layups?

    Of course it will be. 

    It is also one of the reasons why Markieff Morris is a steal for the Phoenix Suns.

8. Josh Selby, Memphis Grizzlies (49th Pick)

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    This picture is a microcosm of Selby's only season at Kansas: frustration.

    Josh was terrible.

    Coming out of high school as a 5-star recruit, Selby averaged 28 PPG, 7 RPG and 7 APG in his senior year. He was going to Kansas—starting point guard on one of the most historic and legendary basketball schools in the country.

    Sounds awesome, right? Not for Selby.

    He struggled mightily through a nine-game suspension and a variety of injuries. He limped to the finish line with 8 PPG, 2 RPG and 2 APG with an abysmal 1.06 AST:TO.

    Total trash.

    But everyone knows that the talent is there. He's finally healthy and he is ready to make good on all the potential he showed at the beginning of last year. I understand him falling out of the top 25, but after that? 

    No excuse. You can't tell me that Malcolm Lee and Andrew Goudelock should be drafted ahead of a guy with this much upside.

    Memphis made the smart move. It's the second round and 75 percent of these guys aren't going to play anyway, why wouldn't you draft him? With Selby coming off the bench, the Grizzlies now have a backup PG they can count on.

    Thank God, because if I had to see one more minute of Greivis Vasquez trying to play point guard in the NBA, I might have punched myself in the face until I blacked out. 

7. Tyler Honeycutt, Sacramento Kings (35th Pick)

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    Long-armed, skinny and totally overrated, Honeycutt was projected to go in the mid-20s of the draft.

    Instead, he dropped like a dead fly. Into the second round, Honeycutt was still waiting.

    Finally, after 35 excruciating picks, Tyler landed in the perfect spot. Sacramento. I never thought I would say that about Sacramento, but with Jimmer coming to town, a bunch of talented youngsters and a veteran small forward to learn from, Honeycutt couldn't have scripted this any better.

    Now he can go in there, learn all the tricks of the trade from experienced small forward John Salmons, hit the weight room and be ready to play when his number is called.

    He is super lanky, and once he adds some muscle, he could be a terrific defensive player.

    With Tyreke, Jimmer, Thornton and Cousins leading the offense, Honeycutt and defensive stalwart John Salmons can focus on the defense (assuming Samuel Dalembert leaves, otherwise he too would be helping with the defense).

    Great pick by the Kings and a perfect fit for Tyler Honeycutt.

6. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls (30th Pick)

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    Speaking of ideal fits, could this have been scripted any better for Jimmy Butler?

    After being thrown out of his home by his mother at age 13, Butler has worked his way all the way into an NBA first-round pick. Just awe-inspiring. I honestly can't even comprehend his story.

    Jimmy got the last laugh, though.

    He's going to be an extremely good player for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed. The Bulls have an extremely physical defensive philosophy, and Butler will fit right in. 

    Jimmy's defense is airtight and he is remarkably efficient on offense. On Tom Thibodeau-coached teams, if you play defense, you will play. He coaches defense first and defense second. If you don't play defense, don't even bother showing up. Butler's toughness, both mentally and physically, will serve him well this season has he tries to break into the rotation of a team on a quest for a championship.

    Finally, a Chicago Bull I can root for.

5. Charles Jenkins, Golden State Warriors (44th Pick)

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    Charles Jenkins is a rare draft-pick steal that falls into both categories of falling too far and landing on the right team.

    Let's take a look at some numbers:

    Player 1: 27.5 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.3 APG (1.74 AST:TO), 53 percent FG, 46 percent 3FG, 90 percent FT

    Player 2: 37.3 MPG, 22.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.8 APG (2.16 AST:TO), 52 percent FG, 42 percent 3FG, 82 percent FT

    Now, you tell me which one you'd rather have. 

    Player 1 is Kyrie Irving. Player 2 is Jenkins.

    He is just a terrific all-around player. Considering his ability to play big minutes, get into the lane and really put a team on his back, it is pretty crazy to think that Jenkins lasted until the 44th pick. This guy is the full package.

    In Golden State, he'll be able to learn from two established scoring savants in Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis as well as first-round draft pick Klay Thompson.

    Jenkins is going to thrive for the Warriors and new head coach Mark Jackson.

4. Darius Morris, Los Angeles Lakers (41st Pick)

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    As much as it pains me to say it, the Los Angeles Lakers just got their man.

    After searching far and wide for a Derek Fisher replacement, the Lakers caught a lucky break and landed Michigan standout Darius Morris. Why the Nets (36th pick) or the Clippers (37th pick) didn't take Morris, I have no idea. They both having glaring needs at point guard in the long term.

    But I digress.

    Morris is considered by many to be one of the purest point guards in the draft. He has a very unique ability to see the whole court as a point guard because he stands at 6'5". With a year in the Lakers' system, Morris should become their point guard of the future.

    Darius isn't the best scorer, but boy, can he pass. Great pick by the Lakers.

3. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs (From Indiana Pacers—15th Pick)

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    Hope you didn't get too comfortable in that Pacers hat Kawhi. Instead, you should get used to the black and silver of the San Antonio Spurs.

    Yep, it's not a dream. You are actually joining the four-time champion San Antonio Spurs and Hall of Fame lock Tim Duncan.

    Kawhi, you got the best of both worlds.

    You got drafted 15th, but got traded to a perennial contender. A team with one of the greatest power forwards in the history of the NBA as well as one of the most highly regarded coaches in league history.

    Leonard, who up until about three days ago was considered a lottery lock, fell just out of the lottery and into heaven.

    San Antonio gets itself one of the toughest and most hardworking players in the draft. Leonard is also supremely talented—with a ridiculous wingspan and a crazy high vertical, Kawhi is one of the draft's most athletically gifted players.

    His athleticism, combined with his motor, will result in a successful career in the NBA. He may not be the best scorer, but he makes up for it in a plethora of different ways. 

    Kawhi fits right into San Antonio's No. 3 spot and will contribute right away. Great value trade/pick by the Spurs. 

2. Jordan Hamilton, Denver Nuggets (From Dallas—26th Pick)

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    Hamilton just kept falling. And falling. And falling.

    It happens in every draft. There is one top-tier guy who just doesn't get picked until the end of the first round. And every year, it is perplexing.

    Hamilton would have fit perfectly with Dallas, but he got traded to Denver.

    Denver is in a tricky situation because of all of their contract/free agent business, but the Nuggets would seem like an ideal fit for the super athletic wingman. He can run the break, finish in transition, and shoot from deep. Sometimes, though, he tends to over-shoot, but I think that may have been more a cause of circumstance (Texas not really having established scorers).

    Hamilton is a legitimate first-round pick—he has a chance to be very special in this league for a long time.

1. Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons (8th Pick)

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    Think John Wall, minus the passing skills.

    Brandon Knight was almost universally accepted as a top-five pick up until the day of the draft. When Knight was available at No. 8, the Pistons pounced.

    They didn't care that they already have a similar player in Rodney Stuckey. When you have a chance at a player of Knight's distinction, you worry about that kind of stuff later. While Knight might not be ecstatic to go to a pretty unbearable situation in Detroit, he is the type of player who can turn a franchise around.

    Super fast, a great finisher and a solid jump-shooter, Brandon has the makings of a terrific NBA player. Already a tenacious defender, if Knight adds a few pounds of muscle, he could easily become known as the best point guard to come out of this draft.

    Brandon has a high motor, a high basketball IQ and a high ceiling.

    Luckily for Detroit Pistons fans, they now have a point guard to fill the large void left by Chauncey Billups. All thanks to the biggest steal of the draft, Brandon Knight.


    Let me know what you think!

    Post your comments below and I will do my best to respond as soon as I can. 

    Thanks for reading!