NBA Mock Draft 2011: Has Kemba Walker’s Explosive Start Made Him a Top-5 Pick?
With the 2010-11 college basketball season nearing its halfway point, it is now time to construct an updated and more accurate 2011 NBA mock draft.
For example, players like University of Connecticut's Kemba Walker have established themselves as belonging among the nation's best prospects, while others, such as Kentucky's Brandon Knight, have failed to live up to their hype.
Furthermore, a number of highly touted players may simply need more time to increase their stock, so some of them, like Harrison Barnes, may hold off in entering the 2011 draft, electing to instead return to school and develop for another college basketball season.
And now, we also have a better picture of what the NBA standings and team needs will look like at the end of their season, so it is more apparent which available players would best fit each franchise.
Consequently, the following mid-season 2011 mock draft will offer how each NBA prospect would fit with the team selecting them, as well as profiling what it is that they each bring to the table.
(This mock draft was formulated under the premise that a new NBA collective bargaining agreement will be reached and a lockout will be avoided.)
No. 30, San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard, F, San Diego State
One of the biggest surprises of this college basketball season has been the outstanding play of the nation's No. 6 team, the San Diego State Aztecs.
With per-game averages of 15.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game, SDSU's star forward Kawhi Leonard has willed his squad to a 16-0 record.
This season the 6'7", 225 pounder has improved his jumper and perimeter skills, although he still largely relies upon his length and athleticism in the paint to score most of his points and grab boards.
Nevertheless, the 19-year-old sophomore could help to bolster the aging forward rotation of the San Antonio Spurs (of the five front court players who play at least 15 minutes per game, only one is below 30).
Consequently, Leonard would bring both youth and a tough inside-out game to one of the NBA's best franchises.
No. 29, Boston Celtics: Tristan Thompson, F, Texas
The No. 12 ranked Texas Longhorns have improved tremendously this season, thanks in large part to the arrival of freshman Tristan Thompson.
With a stat line of 12.1 points (50.8 percent from the field), 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, the 19 year old has proven to be one of the nation's most exceptional athletes.
However, his game is still rather raw and unpolished, especially on the offensive end.
But because of his youth, size (6'9", 225 pounds, 7'2" wingspan) and athleticism, his NBA potential is still off the charts.
And an established team like the Boston Celtics would certainly risk taking a chance on such a prospect, especially since they give him time to develop while playing behind aging stars like Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal.
No. 28, Dallas Mavericks: Chris Singleton, F, Florida State
Chris Singleton of Florida State is another player whose athleticism has caught the eyes of many NBA scouts.
The 6'9", 225-pound forward has put up averages of 15.2 points and 8.3 rebounds, while also dominating on defense with 2.4 steals and 2.1 blocks per game—leading his team in all of these categories.
And although the junior's upside is limited by his age (21), Singleton is still an intriguing prospect.
Consequently, his front court athleticism and defense would fit in nicely with the Dallas Mavericks, who may lose Tyson Chandler to free agency and suffer from Shawn Marion's declining production.
No. 27, Toronto Raptors: Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse (from the Miami Heat)
Junior small forward Kris Joseph has been a leader for the No. 4 Syracuse Orange, leading the team in scoring and averaging 15.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.3 threes per game.
Overall, the 6'7", 207 pounder has been able to do it all, using his athleticism to excel on the defensive end while also improving drastically on offense.
And as long as the 21-year-old continues to show that he can get it done on offense, there is no reason why the Toronto Raptors should pass on him come draft day.
With the Raptors, Joseph would be able to contribute immediately at the three, battling Linas Kleiza, DeMar DeRozan, Julian Wright and Sonny Weems for time.
No. 26, Los Angeles Lakers: Lucas Nogueira, FC, Brazil
After thoroughly dominating the competition in the U18 Tournament of the Americas, Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira has been thrust into the spotlight.
An 18-year-old, 7'0", 225 pound prospect, Nogueira possesses an unbelievable combination of size, length and athleticism.
However, he is still extremely raw and he relies heavily upon his physical gifts to score and defend.
Currently playing in a low level Spanish league, the young center absolutely could use some time to develop strength and an effective offensive repertoire before entering the NBA.
Nevertheless, his shot blocking and rebounding are for real and his potential upside is huge.
And with a selection at No. 26, the Los Angeles Lakers would probably store Nogueira away abroad for a few years before calling upon him when they have a greater need for his services.
No. 25, Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU
Jimmer Fredette has been a star for the No. 15 BYU Cougars, shooting 47.6 percent from the field, 87.6 from the line and scoring 25.1 points per game—good for second in the nation.
Furthermore, the 6'2", 195-pound senior has also been able to showcase some point guard skills, averaging 4.4 assists and 1.4 steals per contest.
And although he is not an elite-level athlete, his well-rounded offensive game should be enough to get the 21-year-old's name called during the first round.
Fredette would be an good fit with the Utah Jazz, where he would have an opportunity to play at both guard positions, backing up Deron Williams at the one or playing alongside him as a shooting guard (where D-Will would likely guard the opposing two).
No. 24, Chicago Bulls: Nolan Smith, G, Duke
When freshman phenom Kyrie Irving went down with a toe injury for the Duke Blue Devils, many feared the worst for the defending champs.
However, senior Nolan Smith has done more than just fill the void at point, as it seems his No. 1 ranked team hasn't even missed a beat.
Currently, the 6'4", 195-pound combo guard is leading his team in both scoring and assists, with impressive averages of 19.6 points (53.4 percent shooting) and 5.6 assists.
Moreover, he has averaged 4.9 boards, 1.1 steals and 1.6 threes per game, consistently displaying his ability to do it all on the court.
As a result, he would be a great fit with the Chicago Bulls, where he could both backup Derrick Rose and play alongside him, providing the team with a complimentary backcourt scorer.
No. 23, Phoenix Suns: Kenneth Faried, FC, Morehead State (from Orlando)
Senior Kenneth Faried has performed magnificently for the Morehead State Eagles, leading the nation in rebounding and putting up per-game averages of 19.1 points (64.2 percent shooting), 13.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.9 blocks.
And although the 6'8", 228-pound forward-center's game is still raw and unpolished, his length, athleticism and success against some of the nation's best big men—he vastly outplayed both Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Florida's Chandler Parsons—make him a fascinating prospect.
With the No. 23 pick, Faried would be a perfect fit for the Phoenix Suns, who have been hurting for help inside ever since losing Amar'e Stoudemire.
Consequently, the 21-year-old would compete with Robin Lopez, Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye for playing time at the power forward and center positions.
No. 22, Oklahoma City Thunder: Tobias Harris, F, Tennessee
Freshman forward Tobias Harris has been instrumental to the success of the Tennessee Volunteers this season, putting up a solid stat line of 15.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 0.9 steals per contest—all of which are good for second on the team.
Consequently, the 6'8", 220 pounder has shown that he can do it all on the court, from scoring inside and out, to ball handling, to defending.
And at just 18 years old, his potential is remarkable.
Therefore, the would be a solid pick for the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he would be given time to further develop while playing behind two of the best young forwards in the league, Jeff Green and Kevin Durant.
No. 21, Atlanta Hawks: Kyle Singler, F, Duke
After flirting with entering the 2010 NBA Draft, Kyle Singler returned to the defending National Champion Duke Blue Devils and has helped to propel them to another No. 1 ranking.
So far it has been much of the same from the 6'9", 235 pound forward, as he's been doing pretty much everything on offense, with averages of 17.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 threes and 1.4 steals per game.
And while his limited athleticism continues to hold him back to some extent, his size, length and shooting help to make up for his shortcomings.
At No. 21, he would be a shoe-in with the Atlanta Hawks, who are probably going to need scoring off the bench since it seems rather likely that they could lose Jamal Crawford following the 2010-11 season.
And even if they retain Crawford, Singler could possibly challenge the perennially underachieving Marvin Williams as the starter at the three.
No. 20, Denver Nuggets: Tyler Honeycutt, GF, UCLA
UCLA wing Tyler Honeycutt is an intriguing young prospect at the wing position, due in largle part to his athleticism and versatility, compiling averages of 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 threes, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 threes per contest.
However, he has struggled at times when having to create his own shot, and at 6'8", 188 pounds, the 20-year-old sophomore desperately needs to put on weight and gain some strength.
Nevertheless, Honeycutt has tons of upside and would likely excel if given the opportunity to play along a top-tier point guard.
And that's exactly what he would get with Chauncey Billups if selected by the Denver Nuggets at No. 20.
Moreover, with it looking like both Carmelo Anthony's and J.R. Smith's days are numbered with the Nuggets, Honeycutt would be given an excellent opportunity to step in right away at either the two or the three for the rebuilding squad.
No. 19, New York Knicks: Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
Entering the 2010-11 college basketball season, Brandon Knight was one of the top-ranked recruits in the nation.
And while he has performed effectively, leading the No. 10 overall Kentucky Wildcats in scoring (18.3), his point guard play and defense have been under scrutiny.
The 6'3", 185-pounder almost has a one-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio (3.9 : 3.4) and doesn't even average one steal per game (0.6).
Consequently, the freshman point guard has likely played his way out of the lottery.
Nevertheless, a top-20 pick is not too shabby.
And if he were still available at the No. 19 slot, the New York Knicks would jump at the chance to select him.
With New York, Knight would serve as the backup point and scorer off the bench which the team has sought all season.
No. 18, Portland Trail Blazers: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke (from New Orleans)
Displaying impressive athleticism and versatility, the interior play of Mason Plumlee has been instrumental to the Duke Blue Devils' No. 1 overall ranking this season.
Leading the team in both rebounding (7.7) and blocked shots (1.6), the 20-year-old has also displayed an ability to score from the post and mid-range.
He has also posted some other impressive numbers, averaging 1.1 steals, shooting 56.6 percent from the field and scoring 7.9 points (although that number would likely be higher if his team wasn't so talented).
However, the 6'10", 230 pounder's interior game could still use some polish and it wouldn't hurt for him to gain a bit more strength.
Nevertheless, the Portland Trail Blazers would be happy to go with Plumlee at No. 18 overall, allowing the junior to provide some interior support to LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby.
No. 17, Portland Trail Blazers: Marcus Morris, F, Kansas
Marcus Morris has been a rock for the Kansas Jayhawks throughout the 2010-11 campaign.
Thus far the 6'9", 225-pound forward has managed to put up solid numbers across the board, with 15.5 points (60.6 percent shooting), 6.1 rebounds, 1.0 threes, 0.6 steals and 0.6 blocks.
Furthermore, the junior has helped his team achieve a No. 3 overall ranking, despite playing without star freshman point guard Josh Selby for most of the season.
The only real knocks him are that he is not an out-of-this-world athlete and that, at 21 years old, his upside is limited.
However, his well-developed and diverse offensive arsenal is precisely what has Morris on many NBA teams' radars for the draft.
Therefore, the Portland Trailblazers would jump at the opportunity to select Morris with the No. 17 pick.
In Portland, he would have an opportunity to contribute right away, backing up LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward, or even being given an opportunity to start at the four should something happen to aging center Marcus Camby and Aldridge had to fill in for him.
No. 16, Houston Rockets: C.J. Leslie, F, N.C. State
Forward C.J. Leslie has proven to be an outstanding athletic talent for the N.C. State Wolfpack.
Leading the team in both rebounds (8.0) and blocked shots (1.8), the 6'9", 205 pounder has also managed to score 10.3 points per game.
But defense is where he excels, as he earned a reputation for being a lock-down defender, capable of guarding multiple positions.
Furthermore, his unique blend of size, length and athleticism, coupled with his being a freshman, has caused scouts to become intrigued by his upside.
Consequently, the Houston Rockets would make a terrific landing spot for Leslie, as he would provide the team with much-needed frontcourt support in the aftermath of Yao Ming's latest injury, impending free agency and potential trade.
No. 15, Minnesota Timberwolves: Jordan Hamilton, GF, Texas (from Memphis)
Jordan Hamilton has been instrumental to the success and subsequent No. 11 ranking of the Texas Longhorns this season.
Averaging 19.6 points (45.4 percent shooting), 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 threes, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks per contest, the sophomore wing has shown himself to have a complete game at the collegiate level.
Scouts worry about the 20 year old's quickness in the NBA, but his strength, length and 6'7", 225-pound frame should make up for most deficiencies.
And with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Hamilton would have an opportunity to compete for time in a rotation that is rather crowded, although where no one has really stood out thus far.
No. 14, Indiana Pacers: John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Coming into North Carolina, John Henson was hyped up as one of the best young players in the nation.
Now in his sophomore season, the 20-year-old looks like he won't ever pan out to be as good as he had been expected to be.
However, at 6'10", 210 pounds, and with undeniable length and athleticism, Henson is still an impressive prospect.
Currently he's putting up per-game averages of 10.1 points (52.6 percent shooting), 8.6 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 0.6 steals.
His scrawny physique and inability to develop much of an offensive game still raises some eyebrows, but a pick at No. 14 by the Indiana Pacers isn't out of the question.
In Indiana, Henson would have a chance to fight for time at the four and backup five, entering the position battle between Josh McRoberts, Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster.
No. 13, Phoenix Suns: Alec Burks, SG, Colorado
Alec Burks has performed exceptionally thus far in 2010-11, leading the Colorado Buffaloes to what looks to be their first winning season in five years.
Furthermore, the sophomore guard has used his attacking offensive style to compile averages of 19.1 points (49.7 percent shooting), 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.9 steals per game.
And while he lacks ideal strength (6'6", 185 pounds), his ability to score in bunches will certainly attract a fair share of teams.
At the No. 13 slot, the Phoenix Suns would select Burks to immediately compete for time at the wing, against Jared Dudley, aging veterans Grant Hill and Vince Carter, as well as Josh Childress, who has underwhelmed in his return to the NBA.
No. 12, Philadelphia 76ers: Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia
After leading the USA U19 in scoring over the summer, Trey Thompkins has continued to impress for the Georgia Bulldogs, accumulating averages of 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.3 steals and 0.6 threes per contest.
Moreover, with his size (6'9", 247 pounds) and inside-outside offensive game, the 20-year-old power forward is a can't-miss prospect.
And even though the junior isn't the best athlete around, the Philadelphia 76ers would scoop him up if he were available at the No. 12 spot.
With the Sixers, Thompkins would fit in nicely alongside Elton Brand in the frontcourt, competing with the likes of Marreese Speights and Spencer Hawes for time.
No. 11, Golden State Warriors: Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
Jonas Valanciunas is a young center prospect who gained international attention when, while playing for the Lithuanian nation team at the U16 and U18 European Championships, he brought home two gold medals and two MVP trophies.
His offense consists primarily of an interior style—in stark contrast to many European big men—and he has good hands and touch, decent athleticism, solid shot-blocking and an effective short-range jumper.
His biggest knock is a lack of strength, but at 18 years old, his 6'11", 240-pound, broad-shouldered frame still has time to grow.
Consequently his upside is off the charts, so a pick at No. 11 by the Golden State Warriors is a realistic possibility.
In Oakland, Valanciunas would have an opportunity to be brought along slowly behind David Lee and Andris Biedrins—both of whom have seen their production drop off lately.
No. 10, Milwaukee Bucks: Jan Vesely, F, Czech Republic
Jan Vesely is a Czech prospect who flirted with entering the 2010 NBA Draft, instead choosing to return to Europe and hone his game.
At the this point, Vesely is a pretty solid offensive player, who has shown the ability to both shoot and attack the basket.
Furthermore, his 6'11", 240-pound frame and decent athleticism have allowed him to develop into a decent shot-blocker.
However, he possesses little-to-no post game, and a lack of strength which occasionally allows bigger players to push him around.
Nevertheless, a selection at the Milwaukee Bucks' No. 10 spot is a sure-fire possibility for Vesely.
Here he would provide a complimentary frontcourt scoring punch to center Andrew Bogut, while competing for time with Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden and Larry Sanders.
No. 9, Charlotte Bobcats: Josh Selby, PG, Kansas
After being suspended nine games and fined a few thousand dollars by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits, Josh Selby finally made his college basketball debut for the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks.
And through five games, the 6'2", 183-pound freshman has not failed to impress, posting averages of 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.8 threes and 1.6 steals.
Furthermore, the 19-year-old has constantly put his freakish athleticism on display.
And although his point guard play hasn't been outstanding thus far, look for it to improve as he gains more experience at the collegiate level.
So as long as some such improvement is made, Selby would certainly be considered by the Charlotte Bobcats at the No. 9 spot.
Here he would be given a chance to split time at the point guard with D.J. Augustin, helping to fill the void left after Raymond Felton's departure during the summer of 2010.
No. 8, Toronto Raptors: Donatas Motiejunas, FC, Lithuania
As the second Lithuanian featured in this mock, Donatas Motiejunas is definitely the more polished product.
Had he entered the draft in 2010, he may have been a lottery selection, but instead he returned to Europe and is currently excelling in the Italian league.
A 7'0", 220-pound forward-center, Motiejunas is a decent shot blocker and can use his length and athleticism to score in a variety of ways, whether it be in the post, from the mid-range, the perimeter or attacking the basket.
However, his lack of strength and occasional lapse in effort have hurt his overall game, causing his rebounding to suffer.
Nevertheless, Motiejunas would certainly attract the attention of the Toronto Raptors at No. 8, where he would give the team offensive support inside, while likely earning a good deal of playing time in a rotation with Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Reggie Evans.
No. 7, Detroit Pistons: Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut
To answer the question proposed in the title of this mock draft, no, Kemba Walker's explosive start has not made him a top five pick.
However, it has propelled him into the top 10, after not even being considered a first rounder prior to the season.
Walker and his UConn Huskies have been college basketball's surprise of the year, with the point guard leading the nation in scoring (26.1) and the team earning a No. 8 ranking (began the season unranked).
Furthermore, the 6'1", 172-pound junior has displayed solid point guard play, with 3.9 assists (sounds low, but not too bad when one considers he is scoring over a third of his team's points), 2.4 steals and 2.2 threes per contest.
So given the 20-year-old's complete offensive repertoire, the Detroit Pistons would consider selecting him with the No. 7 selection.
As a Piston, Walker would likely earn some time at the point, especially since the both Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon are combo guards, and more time will open up at the two with the decline of Richard Hamilton.
No. 6, Los Angeles Clippers: Enes Kanter, FC, Kentucky
Enes Kanter was last seen obliterating international competition, before the NCAA ruled the Turkish Kentucky-commit ineligible.
So now, the 6'11", 260-pound 18-year-old is left sitting out from any type of competition, awaiting word on an appeal.
And while this certainly hurts his draft stock, he has way too much talent and upside to slip very far.
He is a nearly complete player, with strength, a feel for the game, good touch, a decent jumper and he's only lacking elite athleticism and a completely clean bill of health (previously suffered some knee injuries).
However, he should still be selected in the lottery, and the Los Angeles Clippers would be more than happy to scoop him up if he were to fall to No. 6.
Here, Kanter could form a scary young duo with Blake Griffin, while also splitting time with DeAndre Jordan and the often-injured Chris Kaman.
No. 5, New Jersey Nets: Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
Derrick Williams has almost-single-handedly carried the Arizona Wildcats to a 12-3 record so far this season, performing as the most efficient player in the nation.
In doing so, the 6'8", 240-pound forward has put up a stat line of 18.6 points (65.1 percent shooting), 6.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.9 threes (70.0 percent from three) and 0.8 blocks per game.
Furthermore, his ability to score in a variety of ways and do it all should be enough to attract the attention of the New Jersey Nets.
Currently the Nets are locked in with Devin Harris at the point and Brook Lopez at center, so Williams could fit in smoothly at small forward, while also sharing time with 2010 No. 2 overall pick Derrick Favors at the other forward position.
This would give the team a solid young core to build upon and a very bright future.
No. 4, Minnesota Timberwolves: Jared Sullinger, FC, Ohio State
Jared Sullinger's play has been essential to the Ohio State Buckeyes' strong start and No. 2 ranking in in 2010-11.
The 6'9", 280-pound freshman leads his team in both scoring (18.1) and rebounding (10.2), while shooting an impressive 59.5 percent from the field and 71.7 percent from the line.
Additionally, he utilizes a traditional low-post style offense, with a powerful body, a solid arsenal of post moves and decent touch from close-to-midrange.
However, his size and power come with some drawbacks, namely agility and explosiveness.
And while the 18-year-old is not the best defender, he's no pushover either, averaging 1.2 steals and 0.5 blocks per contest.
But regardless of his shortcomings, Sullinger's effectiveness on offense and the glass cause him to be a solid enough prospect to be considered with the Minnesota Timberwolves No. 4 pick.
With the T-Wolves, he would provide a true inside presence on offense, complimenting the face-up offense of Michael Beasley and the inside-outside game of Kevin Love.
No. 3, Washington Wizards: Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky
The dominant play of Terrence Jones has been instrumental to the success and No. 10 ranking of the Kentucky Wildcats in 2010-11.
With impressive per-game averages of 17.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.7 threes, the freshman has largely stolen the spotlight from his teammate, more highly hyped recruit Brandon Knight.
And with an all-around game and ability to score in a variety of ways, he should have enough to attract the attention of the Washington Wizards at No. 3.
With the Wizards, he could come in and steal the starting spot from the aging and declining small forward Rashard Lewis, while also contributing time at the four when Andray Blatche moves up to play the five.
No. 2, Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
Kyrie Irving has been a dominant force for the No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils, putting up 17.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Furthermore, the 18-year-old freshman has been extremely efficient, shooting 53.2 percent from the field, 45.2 percent from three and 89.6 percent from the line.
So with his ability to do it all from the lead guard position, Irving could immediately help an NBA team in the guard-oriented league, even possibly making a run at 2011 Rookie of the Year.
And although his toe injury—which has put the rest of his season in jeopardy—may concern some squads, that's no reason why he shouldn't be considered with the Cleveland Cavaliers' No. 2 selection.
With the rebuilding Cavs, Irving would certainly be given an opportunity to run the point, as the team would either shift Mo Williams to shooting guard or attempt to trade him.
And with an elite-level point guard, Cleveland would then be well on their way to turning their franchise around.
No. 1, Sacramento Kings: Perry Jones, F, Baylor
Perry Jones is a 6'11", 220-pound, athletic freak of nature.
The freshman forward is having a rather impressive year at Baylor, getting it done from all over the court.
Currently, he's posting averages 11.8 points (52.3 percent shooting), 7.5 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 0.7 steals per contest.
But it's really his extraordinary length, athleticism and most importantly his potential which really has NBA scouts drooling.
And with the Sacramento Kings roster only really set at one position—shooting guard, Tyreke Evans—Jones could step in and contribute for the franchise from day one.