The 2011 NBA Draft will be held today in Newark, New Jersey at 4:30p and broadcast on ESPN. With that being the case and using information gathered from various scouting reports, workout videos and rumor mills, it’s time for me to do a mock draft of today’s first round (excluding any trades). So let’s jump right into it:
#1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
The Cavs have been on the clock since winning the draft lottery with a pick they acquired from the Clippers in the Baron Davis/Mo Williams trade, and I believe their best move will be to draft their point guard from the future. Anytime you have an opportunity to get a high quality PG in the top 5 you should jump at it, and chances are Irving will not be around at #4 and he is the best pure point in this draft. Lots of people are clamoring for Derrick Williams since the Cavs need a SF, but is he a true wing player? Also, the Cavs have a virtually untradeable Antawn Jamison on the books for 2 more years.
#2. Minnesota Timberwolves – Enes Kanter, PF/C, Kentucky
This may seem like a shocker to most as Derrick Williams is a better player, but the Timberwolves really have no place for him and have a need at center. They already have combo forwards Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph (who no one is willing to trade for) and a stretch PF in Kevin Love, so picking up Kanter to man the paint is a decent move. The question marks surrounding Kanter are due to his lack of actual game experience but he’s kept himself in shape so far and looks like he can be a solid pro. He’s also a definite upgrade over Darko Milicic.
#4. Utah Jazz – Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
Another draft, another Calipari point guard going in the top 5. Utah needs help on the wing with Andrei Kirilenko most likely a goner in free agency and C.J. Miles a restricted free agent and in this scenario will have a decision to make with Derrick Williams still on the board, but they can grab a better value SF than PG at #12 and should use this pick on a guard to eventually replace Devin Harris. Knight’s skill set should allow him to play at the same time as Harris on our off the ball and he’s a very good pick-and-roll player.
#4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Derrick Williams, SF/PF, Arizona
In this scenario, passing on Williams at #1 pays off for the Cavs as he falls to them at 4. They can plug Williams in on the wing as utilize him in a similar fashion as the Timberwolves use Michael Beasley, who Williams game reminds me most of. The Cavs are thin at the small forward position so Williams has a chance to start from day 1 and combined with Irving would give the franchise a potent 1-2 punch for the next 4-6 seasons.
#5. Toronto Raptors – Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego St.
Toronto has a lot of holes, with the most glaring on the wing. Sonny Weems played well last season but is a free agent and may demand more than Toronto is willing to pay, when they can get an energy player like Leonard at #5. They need help in the backcourt but none of the shooting guard options are worthy of a top 5 pick. Leonard is the type of player that doesn’t need plays ran for him, hits the glass, runs the floor and finishes well, similar to Shawn Marion. He can also guard multiple positions. Good value pick for Toronto.
#6. Washington Wizards – Jan Vesely, SF, Czech Republic
Washington may have more holes on their roster than any other NBA team as they only have seven players under contact for next season. They have no backup PG at all, but with John Wall looking to be the real deal they can afford to wait until the second round to find a decent option there. Vesely would be a solid pick for the young Wizards as he can run the floor and finishes well at the basket. Think a taller AK-47 with a worse jumper. With all the gunners on the roster he should fit in nicely.
#7. Sacramento Kings – Kemba Walker, PG, Conneticut
Sacramento gets a steal here. Although a bit undersized, his athleticism and strength allow him to play bigger than his 6’1 frame would suggest. The Kings need a new point as Tyreke Evans is a true SG, and with Kemba’s ability to play off the ball at times he would be a great complement to the Kings current core of Evans and Cousins. He’s also a proven winner and capable of knocking down big shots in crunch time.
#8. Detroit Pistons – Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
The Pistons need a small forward and a shooting guard, but also need a true center as Greg Monroe is more of a four that a five. Valanciunas’ would be a nice complement to Monroe’s skill set and the two could play a high/low type post offense and allow the Pistons to play to their strength as a motion offense. Bismack Biyombo would also be a good option here.
#9. Charlotte Bobcats – Bismack Biyombo, Congo
Charlotte needs help up front and better defense in the paint, Biyombo looks like a Serge Ibaka clone in that regard. He can play both the PF and center positions and shore up the middle as the Bobcats continue to rebuild for the future. Michael Jordan has a rep of drafting unconventionally, so a shooter like Klay Thompson or Alec Burks may also be in play here, but the Bobcats can target a shooter later in the first round at #19 with someone like Marshon Brooks.
#10. Milwaukee Bucks – Alec Burks, SG, Colorado
Alec Burks has the potential to be the best shooting guard in this draft. At 6’6″ he has legit size for the position, can create his own shot and knock down spot up jumpers, and he will only be 20 when the NBA season is scheduled to start. The Bucks need shooter to replace Michael Redd and Burks looks like a better option for their roster than Klay Thompson.
#11. Golden State Warriors – Chris Singleton, SF, Floria State
New head coach Mark Jackson needs to get the Warriors to inprove on defense, and Singleton should be a good pick to help that cause. His size, length and athleticism should allow him to guard multiple positions in the pros and he has some offensive tools as well. He’s reminiscent of Trevor Ariza, for better or for worse.
#12. Utah Jazz – Marcus Morris, PF/SF, Kansas
With Utah shoring up their point guard for the future with Brandon Knight, they can now focus on their wing deficiencies by drafting one of the Morris twins. Marcus Morris played extremely well as a combo forward for Kansas and that should translate well to the NBA level and fit in with Jefferson, Milsap and company up front.
#13. Phoenix Suns – Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young
If Jimmer is available here this should be a no-brainer for the Suns. Chances are Steve Nash will remain in Phoenix and who better to tutor the young gunner Fredette than Nash? There have been tons of comparisons thrown out there for Jimmer but one that seems more accurate to me is Mark Price and I think Jimmer can develop into that type of pro. He can also play off the ball with Nash on the floor and become deadly offensively, but they’ll give up a ton of points. Tristan Thompson may be an option here as well.
#14. Houston Rockets – Iman Shumpert, G, Georgia Tech
Shumpert has been shooting up draft boards, and for good reason. He’s a legit 6’6″ playmaker with a off the charts athleticism. His shot selection as a point can use some work but a combo guard with his size and measurables may be too hard to pass on, especially with Houston a little undersized at the PG. Best case scenario for Shumpert, Tyreke Evans with more bounce. Worst case, Terrence Williams.