The 2011 NBA Draft is nearly here.
We have all been studying, researching and obsessing over our favorite players for months now. There have been mock drafts galore and everyone has their own opinion about each prospect. Well, here we are. The night we have all been waiting for.
We are on the precipice of the biggest night of the NBA offseason. Take it all in tonight, because this might be the last NBA material we watch before the lockout takes hold on June 30th.
Here is my final mock draft. Print this out tonight, and then rip me in the comments section later. For now, though, enjoy!
1. Cleveland Cavaliers—Kyrie Irving, Duke: An efficiency machine, Irving can score in any way. His shooting percentages are Steve Nash-esque (53 percent FG, 46 percent 3FG, 90 percent FT), and he has proven to be a team leader. There are questions about his durability though.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves—Derrick Williams, Arizona: A total beast, D-Will can score from any part of the court. He made a huge leap from year one to year two in 'Zona and will continue to develop into one of the better combo forwards in the game. Keep in mind that the Wolves are shopping this pick to anyone who is willing to trade.
3. Utah Jazz—Enes Kanter, Kentucky: There is a complete 50/50 split here on whether Utah drafts Kanter or Brandon Knight. Considering the new possibility that Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette are both available when they pick at No. 12, I say they choose the big man here. Kanter could easily be remembered as the best player in this draft—he has all the tools.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers—Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania: With Kanter gone, Cleveland goes with the best big man available. Valanciunas is having some problems with his contract overseas, but the Cavs can't afford to risk missing out on Jonas' talent. He's not as good as Kanter, but he is a very close second.
5. Toronto Raptors—Brandon Knight, Kentucky: With Jan Vesely recently being taken off their draft board, the Raptors shifted their focus to Knight. If Utah takes him at No. 3, the Raptors will gladly snatch up Valanciunas, if they don't, then Toronto will jump at the ability to take possibly the most well rounded PG in the draft.
6. Washington Wizards—Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State: People are jumping on the Jan Vesely bandwagon for this pick, but I think the Wiz will stick with Leonard. He fits right into their lineup, and won't create the playing time headaches that will surface between talented big men Andray Blatche and JaVale Mcgee if Vesely is chosen.
7. Sacramento Kings—Tristan Thompson, Texas: In one of the bigger surprises in the draft, Sacramento stays away from the PG position and chooses this talented Longhorn. He has superior length and athleticism, and is a refined scorer in the post.
8. Detroit Pistons—Bismack Biyombo, Congo: After some fantastic workouts this week, Biyombo's stock has shot through the roof. He fits in well with Detroit's tough defensive tradition, and will be a welcomed addition to a team in transition.
9. Charlotte Bobcats—Jan Vesely, Czech Republic—Vesely was in the top five or six for many weeks, but suddenly he has dropped. He is very talented, but he is a lot weaker than a guy his size should be. He could be a steal at No. 9, but he could also be a perennial underachiever.
10. Milwaukee Bucks—Klay Thompson, Washington State: Maybe the only player who has remained steady over the last few weeks, Thompson seems like a lock at No. 10. Milwaukee is looking for trade partners though, as they feel that the No. 10 spot doesn't have enough value in this draft.
11. Golden State Warriors—Alec Burks, Colorado: Burks' stock is falling fast, but he is a great scorer with unbelievable size, 6'6". Assuming the Warriors trade Monta Ellis, Burks can step right into that role of scorer. If Golden State doesn't think it can trade Ellis, they may elect to go big here with Marcus Morris.
12. Utah Jazz—Kemba Walker, UConn: With Enes Kanter locked up, Utah takes arguably the best player in college basketball last season. Kemba is super quick which enables him to create his own shot, and shots for others. He is a natural team leader. Jimmer Fredette will get a heavy look here, but ultimately, Walker is the better player.
13. Phoenix Suns—Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young: After inspiring a nation last season, this jump shooting extraordinaire will bring his electricity, tenacity and leadership to a Phoenix Suns organization that is desperate to find a replacement for Steve Nash. Utah's loss is Phoenix's gain.
14. Houston Rockets—Nikola Vucevic, USC: Houston is in desperate need of a big man with Yao Ming leaving, and Chuck Hayes testing the free agent market. Vucevic is probably the biggest player in the draft, and he is legitimate scoring touch around the hoop. He may be going a bit higher than he should, but most teams in the NBA are scrambling for a center. Supply and demand.
15. Indiana Pacers—Marcus Morris, Kansas: Stuck with a crummy pick, Larry Bird picks the best guy on the board. Morris is very strong, and can be a solid presence down low along with Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough. He may not be filling a need, but it is probably better at this point for Indiana to choose talent over need.
16. Philadelphia 76ers—Jordan Hamilton, Texas: The Sixers need to replace Andre Iguodala, and Hamilton is the man for the job. He shoots a lot, but he is an extremely long 6'8", and no one doubts his ability to put the ball in the basket.
17. New York Knicks—Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech: He can play tenacious defense at the guard position, and that is all New York really needs to hear. He may not be a good scorer, but when you already have Melo' and A'mare, why draft scoring? Shumpert will help the Knicks immediately.
18. Washington Wizards—Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania: With their starting five set (Wall, Crawford, Leonard, Blatche, McGee), Washington shores up its bench by picking this sensational shooter. Donatas can score on the NBA level, and has a chance to be one of the biggest steals in the draft.
19. Charlotte Bobcats—Marshon Brooks, Providence: He is a volume shooter, and someone that the Bobcats can look to down the stretch. Charlotte really had trouble scoring the ball last season, but with Vesely and Brooks, the scoring woes should end.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves—Reggie Jackson, Boston College: Certainly a reach at this juncture, Jackson will help fill the void in the back court. Rubio can't be expected to be an effective NBA PG this soon in his career, and once he is ready, Jackson can move over to the SG position.
21. Portland Trail Blazers—Kenneth Faried, Morehead State: Possibly the most sure pick in the draft, if Faried is available, Portland will take him. Kenneth is a rebounding machine, and one of the most NBA ready guys available.
22. Denver Nuggets—Markieff Morris, Kansas: With the probable losses of Kenyon Martin and Nene, Denver will look towards this man-child to patrol the middle. He is slightly undersized, but like Kenneth Faried, he more than makes up for it with extreme toughness and durability. Aside from the rebounding and defense, Morris is a more than capable jump shooter.
23. Houston Rockets—Chris Singleton, Florida State: Singleton takes the biggest tumble by far out of any player in the draft. Once considered a top-10 pick, he doesn't even end up in the top 20. He has very good length, can score, and is a superb defender. He could be a steal here.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder—Nikola Mirotic, Serbia: A 6'10" small forward, Mirotic is tearing it up overseas. He won't be in the NBA for a couple of years, but his size wouldn't allow him to succeed here now anyway. Oklahoma City can wait, and Mirotic is worth it.
25. Boston Celtics—Jeremy Tyler, Tokyo Apache: Even though everyone has given up on Tyler going to the Celtics, I will stick by him. He is extremely hit or miss, but the Celtics need to take a chance. They are going to rebuild after this year anyway.
26. Dallas Mavericks—Tobias Harris, Tennessee: Somehow, Harris falls to Dallas. Lucky Mavericks. They just won an NBA championship, and now a top-20 talent falls into their laps at No. 26.
27. New Jersey Nets—Norris Cole, Cleveland State: Cole found his way into the first round after some terrific NBA workouts. He is definitely undersized, but New Jersey has a year until Deron Williams leaves. He needs to get bigger, but he is very solid.
28. Chicago Bulls—Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA: This Bruins product underperformed in his second year at UCLA. He has fantastic length and is a great defender. On a Tom Thibodeau squad, he will definitely find playing time. Also, Rose needs help, badly.
29. San Antonio Spurs—Davis Bertans, Latvia: A potential lights-out shooter, the 6'10" Bertans could be a very good role player in the NBA. He needs to put on some muscle, but in San Antonio he will be given time to develop and mature. Perfect fit here.
30. Chicago Bulls—Justin Harper, Richmond: Harper has been picked to go to Chicago for weeks now, and for good reason. He has a terrific shot, and he will add very good scoring off the bench behind Carlos Boozer.
Well, there it is. The entire first round of the NBA Draft. Comment away...