RTC 2011 NBA Mock Draft: Version 1.0Posted by zhayes9 on May 19th, 2011
Zach Hayes is an RTC contributor, columnist and bracketologist. For the next six weeks, he’ll also be our chief draftnik, mocking up the place with his first round selections. For additional detail, be sure to also check out our 35 draft profiles of the top collegians that we are rolling out over the next five weeks.
As a college basketball fan, the NBA Draft has always represented a final sendoff to the previous season and for the players we’ve followed religiously over the course of their collegiate careers. Even though some stops (Derrick Rose, John Wall, Greg Oden) have been shorter than others (Tyler Hansbrough, J.J. Redick, Evan Turner), each player has provided a long list of memories while making their individual imprint on the college game. Similar to a parent sending their kids off to school for the first time, the draft in late June serves as one last chance to say goodbye.
Now that the lottery order has been unveiled, it’s time to introduce our first ever 2011 NBA Mock Draft here at RTC. As someone who annually follows the happenings surrounding the draft for weeks leading up to the big night, hopefully my mock selections will provide both insight and expectation into what will transpire in around five weeks time, although with this year’s weak draft class we could see more trades than ever with teams looking to exchange picks this year for 2012 selections.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke. In a point guard heavy league where a gifted court general is essential for any team with championship aspirations, Irving makes the most sense of any single pick in the draft. Irving has tremendous playmaking ability at the position both setting up teammates and generating his own offense.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona. The most efficient player in college basketball who possesses phenomenal athleticism and excels in isolation, Williams is the clear cut choice if Minnesota hangs onto this pick. Although Williams is a bit of a tweener, an improved mid-range game will render Williams a matchup nightmare for opposing threes.
3. Utah Jazz- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky. This pick could certainly go in a different direction if the Jazz head honchos feel Devin Harris is their point guard for the foreseeable future. Even if Harris sticks around, Knight needs some grooming as a distributor before he’s ready to shine. Knight is already a capable shooter and offensive threat.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey. After selecting Irving, it only makes sense to grab the best available big man and pick Kanter. A supremely skilled 7-footer with advanced footwork and scoring ability in the post, Kanter’s ceiling is very high. Kanter hasn’t played outside of a Kentucky practice in over a year, so there’s risk in this selection.
5. Toronto Raptors- Jonas Valanciunas, PF, Lithuania. The Raptors have never been bashful about selecting international players and there’s certainly a need for more athleticism in the low post for Toronto. If the question marks surrounding Valanciunas’ buyout can be resolved, the Raptors are nabbing a projectable low-post threat who can really rebound.
6. Washington Wizards- Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic. The Wizards would love to push the pace more often next season with John Wall running the show and Vesley has the type of burst rarely seen for a player of his height. Vesley is a four that runs like a two and is surprisingly athletic.
7. Sacramento Kings- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut. At 6’1, Walker will need to learn how to play point guard in the NBA and the Kings have realized Tyreke Evans simply isn’t the answer at that position. Enter Walker who can provide leadership, intangibles (to a team with questionable makeup) and scoring punch if shot selection improves and Walker has 2-3 years to develop at the point.
8. Detroit Pistons- Bismack Biyombo, PF, Spain. The Pistons need help up front as a partner for Greg Monroe and Biyombo is the defensive complement to Monroe’s offensive game. Much like fellow Congolese forward Serge Ibaka, Biyombo excels as a relentless rebounder, defender and shot-blocker who has years of development ahead offensively.
9. Charlotte Bobcats- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State. Bobcats headman Paul Silas loves to run and Leonard should thrive in an up-tempo offense where he can show off his athleticism, motor, leaping ability and quick first step to the rim. Charlotte needs a replacement for the departed Gerald Wallace at the three and Leonard could be the answer if his jumper improves.
10. Milwaukee Bucks- Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas. The Bucks desperately need scoring punch and Morris is a tremendously gifted offensive weapon with a variety of post moves and the versatility to step out with a mid-range jumper. Morris also gives Andrew Bogut a sidekick down low and eventually relegates Drew Gooden or Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to a bench role.
11. Golden State Warriors- Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas. Golden State’s glaring need is an offensive weapon in the post and Thompson fits the bill. The former Longhorn is also an outstanding rebounder with great length and athleticism. He could develop in 3-4 years into a fantastic player with an improved jump shot as a face-up four.
12. Utah Jazz- Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State. Singleton is the ideal replacement for free-agent-to-be Andrei Kirilenko as a shutdown wing defender. Singleton was hands down the best individual defender in the college game last season and he can guard multiple positions. Glimpses of offensive promise are also evident.
13. Phoenix Suns- Alec Burks, SG, Colorado. The Suns eventually need to replace the aging but still effective Grant Hill. Burks is fantastic value at #13 despite being a tweener with a below average jumper. Burks excels in the open floor utilizing his athleticism making him a perfect fit for Phoenix.
14. Houston Rockets- Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas. Houston badly needs an upgrade defensively and could afford to add some height in their frontcourt. Morris kills two birds with one stone. He’s a superior shot-blocker and rebounder to his brother but doesn’t quite display the offensive repertoire Marcus possesses.
15. Indiana Pacers- Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State. After plucking Paul George last year, look for Indiana to go big at #15 and nab Faried, another high energy frontcourt cog next to Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert. Faried’s length and explosive ability make up for his undersized stature for an NBA four, as do his otherworldly rebounding skills.
16. Philadelphia 76ers- Donatas Motiejunas, PF/C, Lithuania. Philly needs help up front and Motiejunas is a decent value pick here at #16. The Lithuanian can really score from the low post but may struggle to defend NBA bigs right away.
17. New York Knicks- Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State. A legit NBA two-guard who can replace the departed Danilo Gallanari as the team’s most prolific outside shooter. Thompson already has NBA range, an improved game off the dribble and is an underrated passer, but toughness/strength questions linger.
18. Washington Wizards- Jimmer Fredette, SG, BYU. Nick Young is headed to free agency and the Wizards would love to replace his scoring with the likes of Fredette. His defense is atrocious, but we all know he’s a tremendously gifted scorer especially off the bounce and in pull-up situations.
19. Charlotte Bobcats- Jordan Williams, PF/C, Maryland. Williams may be a bit of a stretch this high, but Charlotte really needs to improve the disaster site they currently call an NBA frontcourt and it’s not as though they’ll contend for a few years. If Leonard isn’t the pick at #9, the Bobcats likely go Jordan Hamilton, the best available player, in this spot.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves- Reggie Jackson, PG, Boston College. Jonny Flynn doesn’t appear to be the answer at the point and who knows about Ricky Rubio? Jackson blossomed during his junior season, has a 7-foot wingspan and could develop at the one, although at the moment he’s a scoring guard with a high ceiling.
21. Portland Trail Blazers- Josh Selby, PG, Kansas
22. Denver Nuggets- Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas
23. Houston Rockets- Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee
24. Oklahoma City Thunder- Kyle Singler, SF, Duke
25. Boston Celtics- Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia
26. Dallas Mavericks- Nikola Mirotic, SF, Serbia
27. New Jersey Nets- Justin Harper, PF, Richmond
28. Chicago Bulls- Charles Jenkins, SG, Hofstra
29. San Antonio Spurs- Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA
30. Chicago Bulls- Darius Morris, PG, Michigan