Despite being seen as one of the "weaker" drafts in NBA history, the 2011 draft was one of the more watched offseason events in league history.
It was fairly uneventful in terms of trades and league shakeups, partially due to the impending lockout, but it’s a draft that will impact play next year. It was knocked as being lackluster for not having any stars or sure-fire studs at the top, but there are plenty of players who will make NBA rotations and be in contentions for starting spots. To wrap up the draft, we are going to do a brief overview of who we thought made great picks, got solid value and who might have reached.
That said, SwishScout.com presents “Final Thoughts on the Best & More Questionable Picks.”
Note: On every player, you can click their name or country to take you to a more detailed profile for an extensive scouting report and highlights on the respective prospect.
Kyrie Irving. When you have the opportunity to take a player who can be your franchise point guard for the next decade, you take him. There was said to be discussion within the organization of whether or not they wanted to take Derrick Williams, and while he has great ability and talent, it's much easier to obtain a player of his talent down the road than a true point guard who can run a team and has a chance at being on of the elite guards. This was the safe pick for the Cavs, and while they may have been tempted with Williams, they made the right choice.
Jimmer Fredette. Tenth was a lot higher than I was expecting him to go, and not sure I’m sold on his fit with the Kings. He is a smart player who can handle the ball and should be able to set up teammates, but will he be ball dominant the way Evans already is?
Don’t know how that fit will work, and while the Kings have some nice pieces, don’t see Jimmer as a great fit within the team. He’s not a true PG, and if they plan on playing him there, he will need a fair share of time to learn how to run the position, play without the ball and step up his game on D. Maybe this pans out in the long run, but it’s a gamble, and he may have been over drafted.
Kawhi Leonard. I had Leonard as the seventh-best pick available in this group and was surprised he fell out of the lottery. He has incredible natural talent and ability on the court that it makes the Spurs look good for being able to trade for him. One of the best rebounders in the draft who can create his own shot and is much improved in terms of fundamental stroke; it's very possible you could see a number of teams regret not taking him when they had the chance.
Iman Shumpert. A lot of Knicks fans were a little puzzled by the pick at 17, and I was too honestly. The most pressing on that issue seems to be impact post play and interior D alongside Amaré, but they opted for a perimeter player who might help them on D. Shumpert is one of the best athletes but doesn’t quite understand how to play the game within the team scheme and is more of project than they think.
I had him as the No. 47 player available in the draft, and while he was said to be a "rising name" in the draft because of his size, athleticism and defense, feel like he might be "fools gold." He takes a lot of errant threes, turns the ball over a ton, doesn’t get his teammates involved, isn’t great at getting his own shot and is not a true point guard.
I think they end up regretting on passing up guys like Kenneth Faried, Donatas Motiejunas, Chris Singleton or even Reggie Jackson. While he may have been their guy, 17 was high, and they should have been able to trade down and still get him comfortably.
Tristan Thompson. The Toronto native might not have been available beyond the fifth slot with the Raptors picking next, and I get that he’s worth the pick if the Cavs think he’s their guy. What I don’t get is why they chose a power forward when they have a pretty good one in JJ Hickson.
Thompson has great NBA length and athleticism for a pro, but his offensive game might be a step back from Hickson’s. They may have been better off trying to trade up and get Enes Kanter or picking Jonas Valanciunas to give them great size and post presence that can play at center. Even if they were afraid it might be awhile before Valanciunas could come over, it's not likely they are going anywhere in the standings this year and don’t see how Thompson really helps them immediately.
Like Thompson’s game, but obviously, don’t understand the pick for Cleveland unless they think they can get great value for Hickson in a trade.
Jeremy Tyler. Jeremy has top 10 upside in this draft and is much more developed player than most seem to think. He has some work to do on his post game and conditioning, but his physicality, athleticism and length will make him a contributor if the Warriors choose to use him from day one.
Give him some time to get there, but we may look back in five years and wonder why more teams weren’t willing to take a chance on his talent. Great long-term fit alongside David Lee and Ekpe Udoh if they are patient while his game matures. Charles Jenkins was a solid pick at No. 44 for Golden State as well.
Josh Selby. I had him down as the 20th-best player in this draft, and for him to drop all the way down to 49 to the Grizzlies was astonishing. I may be one of the few who thought he didn’t need another year at Kansas based on the fact he was not a good fit for their style of play, would have been behind senior Tyshawn Taylor and wouldn’t have helped himself much relative to the talented 2012 draft class next year.
He struggled mightily but was back by suspension and injuries, so he may have been a victim or consequence on this one. I probably have a minority stance on this one, but he is a tremendous talent that will have time to develop behind Conley, Vasquez and probably gets a shot to dominate the D-League on his way up. Outstanding second-round talent who could a great player in the league.
Charlotte Bobcats (Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker). A team that addressed their desperate need for help scoring and with toughness in the paint. Walker is a great pick at No. 9 and could be an elite scoring guard in the league with his quickness and scoring prowess. Playing alongside DJ Augustin might allow him to play his more natural position of scoring guard in the league and really excel.
Don’t know that many are going to be able to stop him one-on-one with that great quickness, high basketball IQ and competitiveness. Biyombo brings tremendous grit rebounding the ball, locking down on D and shot-blocking in the post. He’s a project offensively, but he’s an almost guaranteed Ben Wallace-type player who will play his role at a high level for the Bobcats.
With guys who could have been potential top five picks in this draft holding out like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and even Terrence Jones. You add that to the incredible upside of incoming freshman Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist, Austin Rivers, Quincy Miller, Marquis Teague, James McAdoo and Bradley Beal; the talent pool looks very deep.
Don’t forget that there are still some very good proven NCAA talent that could throw their name in such as John Henson, Mason Plumlee and Tyler Zeller. A lot of players that could end up entering the draft in 2012 likely could have been lottery picks in this year's draft, so to see them littered throughout the entire first round next year will be a welcome site to many teams. Check out over 80 prospects we already have available for 2012!
I realize there was a lot left out in this regarding prospects, but if you want to know my complete thoughts pick-by-pick on the players and fit with team, please check out the "Live Blog" transcript from the draft. Also, feel free to weigh in and vote on your choice for the various categories.