2011 NBA Draft: What the Top 10 Lottery Picks Should Have Looked Like
The 2011-12 NBA season is officially under way for every NBA team and that means that a majority of the 2011 NBA draft class has made their professional basketball debut.
Some rookies like Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson and Derrick Williams had great NBA debuts, proving that they are ready to make an immediate impact in the NBA. Other rookies, however, like Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter didn't fare so well.
It goes without saying that if NBA front offices could undo their trade after watching their rookie's NBA debut, they would, well at least they would re-think their selection, and that is what this article is about.
What would the top 10 lottery picks of the 2011 NBA draft have looked like if the picks could have been made after watching each rookie's NBA debut? Read on to find out.
No. 10 Milwaukee Bucks: SG/PG Brandon Knight
Brandon Knight didn't have a terrible debut in his first NBA game against the Indiana Pacers, but he didn't do anything to truly impress.
Knight ended the night with nine points on 33.3 percent shooting and one rebound.
His performance didn't help the Pistons beat the Pacers, but neither did anybody that had a Pistons jersey on. I think Knight would have been a better fit where he could fall into a shooting guard role, and that place is with the Milwaukee Bucks.
With the Bucks, Knight would have had a chance to learn from veteran Stephen Jackson and earn time replacing him on the roster.
Knight will be a good player in time, but with the Pistons he has too much pressure on him to succeed quickly.
No. 9 Charlotte Bobcats: PG Kyrie Irving
The Bobcats can't draft Kemba Walker here only because he should have been drafted higher than the ninth overall pick. Kyrie Irving is a great fit for the Bobcats for many reasons.
Irving is a solid guard with the ability to play either the point or fit into an offense as a shooting guard.
In Cleveland, he is the main man and that is too much pressure for the young Irving to handle, which was put on display by his rough first outing with six points, seven assists and three rebounds with a miserable 16.7 percent shooting.
It's obvious that Irving isn't ready to be the number one man on any team, nevertheless the atrocious Cavaliers. Irving should have dropped past the No. 1 pick to the ninth pick where he could slowly adjust to the speed of the NBA by coming off the bench and eventually replacing point guard D.J Augustine.
No. 8 Detroit Pistons: PF Kawhi Leonard
The Detroit Pistons didn't need to draft a guard with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, but they did because they darted the player on the board with the biggest upside. What the Pistons really needed was an athletic forward who could get to the rim and rebound the ball, and that is who Kawhi Leonard is.
In his first game with the San Antonio Spurs in just 14 minutes, Leonard totaled six points, six rebounds and two blocks. Sure, he had six points on miserable 22.2 percent shooting, but Leonard proved that he's ready to make an instant impact on both the offense and defensive side of the ball, something that Piston's actual draft pick Brandon Knight isn't ready to do.
The Pistons could have benefited from having an athletic forward to compliment Will Bynum, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, but they are stuck with Brandon Knight, who in time will be a decent player.
No. 7 Sacramento Kings: SG Jimmer Fredette
Well, this worked out well for the Sacramento Kings. Jimmer Fredette is really a great fit for the Kings who need a pure shooter on their roster aside guards Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton.
In his first game with the Kings, Jimmer accounted for six points, three assists and one rebound on 37.5 percent shooting. While that isn't amazing, it shows that Jimmer is capable of coming off the bench and producing at a consistent rate that will earn him the role of being the first player off the bench.
There is no better fit from the 2011 NBA draft than Jimmer with the Kings because they need a player like him to be a spark off the bench. The Kings were wise to trade with the Bucks to get Jimmer, and in this "mock" re-draft, they would take him again.
No. 6 Washington Wizards: PF Markieff Morris
Markieff Morris is one of the steals of the 2011 NBA draft, falling all the way to the 13th overall pick when he should have been drafted in the top six.
With the sixth pick, the Wizards drafted an athletic international forward who might end up fitting nicely into their system, but the pick they should have made was power forward Markieff Morris.
In his first NBA game with the Phoenix Suns, Morris scored seven points on 40.0 percent shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and accounted for two blocks and two steals.
In just 25 minutes played in his first game, Markieff Morris proved that he's ready to be one of the "impact rookies" from the 2011 draft class.
The Wizards could have benefited from having a strong and athletic power forward that can run the fast break while still bang down low in the paint when needed.
The Wizards dropped the ball on this pick for sure.
No. 5 Toronto Raptors: C Enes Kanter
I don't understand why the Toronto Raptors drafted a center in the 2011 NBA draft who won't even step on an NBA court until the 2012-13 NBA season.
The Raptors should have tried to grab center Enes Kanter, because unlike their actual pick, he is eligible to play.
In his NBA and USA debut, Kanter scored five points on a rookie-worst 14.7 percent shooting, but he did grab 11 boards and account for one block.
In time, Kanter will be a good NBA player, and the Raptors should have seen that and jumped at the opportunity to have him.
Kanter will be exponentially better than their actual draft pick, Jonas Valanciunas, and the Raptors will regret drafting him.
No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers: PG Norris Cole
This one isn't really fair because I'm basing this pick on two games of production rather than just one like most other players in this "re-mock" of the 2011 draft, but I just can't overlook Norris Cole's breakout night against the Celtics.
It appears that Norris Cole is the steal of the NBA draft thus far, and the team that stole him was none other than the star-studded Miami Heat.
In just two games, Norris Cole is averaging 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
In his career-game thus far, he finished with 20 points—scoring 14 of the Heat's final 24 points in the fourth quarter—against the reeling Boston Celtics and All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo.
Norris Cole's performance is most likely the product of being on an incredible team, but still, dropping 20 points is quite an accomplishment.
The Cavaliers would have been better off by using their first overall pick on an athletic SF/PF and using this pick on the point guard that could actually be their future.
No. 3 Utah Jazz: PG/SG Kemba Walker
I'll never understand why Kemba Walker dropped to the ninth pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
It was like NBA coaches and front offices didn't watch him during the NCAA tournament, when he led a young UConn team to the NCAA championship.
Sure, the Jazz have Devin Harris, but he is more of a shooting guard than he is a point guard, and drafting Kemba Walker would have allowed him to fit that role again.
In his NBA regular season debut, Kemba scored 13 points on 30.0 percent shooting, and he accounted for seven rebounds and three assists. Those statistics are among the best when it comes to point guards coming out of the 2011 NBA draft—aside from Norris Cole it is the best performance.
I think the Jazz made a mistake by drafting Enes Kanter, a player who is more of a project than a player who can have an immediate impact.
Kemba Walker is the kind of player who can step in and help a team out right away.
No. 2 Minnesota Timberwolves: PF Derrick Williams
Finally a draft pick that worked out just as expected.
The Minnesota Timberwolves drafted power forward Derrick Williams with the second overall pick and that was the best move that the T'Wolves could have made.
Derrick Williams has the athleticism and perimeter ability to fit nicely into the Timberwolves' hodge-podge roster.
In his NBA debut, Derrick Williams looked just as good as promised, scoring 13 points on a decent 42.9 percent shooting, while grabbing six rebounds, one steal and one block.
While Williams' production couldn't help the T'Wolves put an end to their losing ways, he still showed promise and that is something T'Wolves fans should be excited about.
The Timberwolves made the right move by drafting a player who might not be an NBA All-Star, but who will be an consistent and reliable power forward.
No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers: PF Tristan Thompson
I'll admit it, when the Cavaliers drafted PF Tristan Thompson with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, I thought they were absolutely nuts.
Turns out they knew a lot more about Thompson than I did, and he actually should have been drafted with the Cavaliers' first overall pick.
Thompson came out of college after only one year and looks poised already.
In his NBA debut, Thompson scored 12 points with a rookie-best shooting percentage of 66.7.
In addition to his impressive offensive production, Thompson also grabbed five rebounds, and he did that all in just 17 minutes of playing time.
The potential for Tristan Thompson is through the roof, and it all depends on how much work he puts in to perfect the weaknesses in his game and to get stronger in the weight room.
Tristan Thompson should have been the No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 NBA draft, but hey, what's it really matter, right?
The difference between being selected No. 1 and No. 4 is only like $2 million a year, no big deal.