2011 NBA Mock Draft: Part 1, the Lottery

It’s hard to imagine that I’ve only had this blog running for a few months and I’m already getting to do my second mock draft. Basically, I created SpreeGoogs to publish my own mock drafts, but at this rate, I’m really spoiling myself.

Anyways, the NBA Draft is tomorrow night, and you know I’ve been studying these prospects and these teams pretty hard. I’m going to release this mock in two parts: the lottery and then the rest. It’ll be a lot of fun.

This is a mock draft like you’ll see plenty of other places, but I like to always do something a little extra to keep you coming back, so I added a new thing at the end of each pick. My assumptions in the mock draft are that every team generally has more than one player in mind when making a selection in the draft. It goes without saying that every pick is made at the expense of all the other players available, but I like to think that picks basically come down to a few players in the final discussion and one is selected from that small group. At the end of each pick in my mock draft, I’ll throw in my ideas about who the runners-up were.

I’m only putting together my thoughts for the first round, but one of my friends who just started his own blog is doing a complete two-rounder at andrewmaas.wordpress.com and you can check that out if you’re thirsty for 30 more picks.

Just like other mocks, each pick hinges on the previous ones being correct, and often when one pick is missed, it’s a nasty slope after that. This draft is going to get extra good from the first pick, because all these mediocre lottery guys are outrageously unpredictable and each team will read that a special way. Have fun, I’ll have the second part posted tomorrow morning.

2011 NBA Mock Draft picks 1-14

Kyrie Irving

1. (Cleveland) — KYRIE IRVING, PG Duke
Irving seems to be the consensus here and everyone knows Cleveland has had its eye on him since the night they won the draft lottery. It doesn’t make sense to me, but it seems pretty obvious that this is the direction the Cavs are going with the first pick. Rumors are circulating that Cleveland is listening to offers for the top pick, but I have a feeling that all of these rumors were started by the Cavs after they realized they had shown everyone their hand too early. I know what you’re saying: do they know that there are a bunch of good point guards and they pick again three picks later? Someone ought to tell them that they could get Williams here and still wind up with an absolute worst-case scenario of NCAA Tournament MVP Kemba Walker? I genuinely hope that the Cavs take Williams here and that the entire first round is spent recovering from it. I’d miss every single pick in this mock, but my love of draft-day wheeling and dealing will get me through.
This pick comes down to: Irving over Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams

2. (Minnesota) — DERRICK WILLIAMS, SF/PF Arizona
This draft is going to get extra interesting really fast. Williams is viewed by most people as the best player in this draft and there are several teams trying to move to the two spot for him. It’s pretty likely that someone trades up to this pick to get Williams, but it won’t happen until after Irving is selected first overall. That makes a window of about 10 minutes that is hugely unpredictable now, but will more or less determine what happens in this round. With Michael Beasley and Kevin Love already dominating the SF/PF minutes, it’s really hard to imagine the ‘Wolves actually taking Williams out of need, so I make this prediction assuming that a team will jump up for him. I don’t like to assume trades, but Minnesota will grab a starter-quality player or several picks for Williams’ value, and this is a trade that just has to be made, so I’ll break my rule once.
This pick comes down to: Williams over Enes Kanter

Brandon Knight

3. (Utah) — BRANDON KNIGHT, PG Kentucky
This is the first real decision in this year’s draft, and as I understand it, the Jazz could go in a few different directions here, but the main choice is Knight or Enes Kanter. I picked Knight because (1) I think he’s going to be the second-best player in this year’s draft (2) the Jazz are trying to move Devin Harris in the offseason and he is the only PG on the roster and (3) The Jazz have good frontcourt players in Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson and there are only so many minutes to go around. I really don’t see how adding another body to that group would help too much, and while Kanter’s body is much different from Mehmet Okur’s (a fourth frontcourt player on the roster), his game is too similar to add any real value. The Jazz are openly shopping Harris, Millsap and potentially Jefferson so things could get pretty spicy here depending on what offers they have in return for those players. Unless Millsap or Jefferson leaves SLC, I don’t see any way the Jazz could add Kanter over Knight. There will likely still be another good big left when they pick at 12 if they want one that badly and the run on point guards will probably be over by then.
This pick comes down to: Knight over Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter

4. (Cleveland) — ENES KANTER, C Turkey
Kanter is my first predicted foreign player. To get my overall view of why we devalue these guys, read this.
Cleveland has a roster full of nothing. That’s traditionally the way to land the first overall pick and it takes a special kind of nothing to land two of the top four picks. It’s pretty easy to see that the Cavs have pretty big areas of need at nearly every position, so if they go small with the first pick, they’ll probably go big with the fourth. While Kanter is kind of a baseline/perimeter big, he’s talented and I don’t know what he has added to his game in the last year, since he’s been playing exclusively behind closed doors. An interesting option would be to keep Varejao at C and Hickson at PF and then draft Vesely here to play a lineup full of enormous players. Maybe that’s a longshot. Kanter may be the safest pick here.
This pick comes down to: Kanter over Jan Vesely

Kemba Walker

5. (Toronto) — KEMBA WALKER, PG Connecticut
There are two ways to look at the Raptors’ current roster: Either they don’t have any real areas of weakness or they don’t have a single area of strength. Both are true, and the Raptors have a decent-looking young rotation that could probably benefit a lot from a finished CBA and a summer with a few veteran players around. Unfortunately, they can’t draft any veterans. Kemba Walker is the closest they can get in terms of experience and leadership. He’d pair up in the backcourt with DeMar DeRozan to make a pretty dangerous young duo. Kemba’s also got a knack for creating turnovers, which could improve the league’s worst defense.
This pick comes down to: Walker over Jan Vesely, Kawhi Leonard

Jan Vesely

6. (Washington) — JAN VESELY, SF Belgrade
We’re going to hear about Vesely as an option for each of the two picks prior to this, but if he’s left for the Wiz, I feel like Jan is a borderline no-brainer. We already know that John Wall and JaVale McGee are pieces to work around and an equally athletic wing player would make a seriously dangerous young core on this team. Actually, I drool over the idea of Vesely and McGee on the same team doing the Association’s first dual-free-throw-line dunk at next season’s All Star game, and my over/under on a leaked YouTube video of that pair in practice would be somewhere around a month after Vesely reports.
This pick comes down to: Vesely over Jonas Valanciunas/Kwahi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

7. (Sacramento) — KAWHI LEONARD, SF San Diego State
This pick is probably one of the least certain in the lottery. The Kings have one good player and he wasn’t really that good last year. They have young potential in DeMarcus Cousins, but can’t figure out where to play him. Although Leonard might seem like a bit of a head-scratcher here, he is one of the two best SFs in this draft (maybe the best), and fits a position of need. Plus, with an extra wing that could play lots of minutes, Cousins could move permanently to Center, which has to be the goal of this pick for the Kings. The other direction the Kings could go is to take the Jimmer and lighten the backcourt load of Tyreke Evans.
This pick comes down to: Leonard over Jimmer Fredette

Tristan Thompson

8. (Detroit) — TRISTAN THOMPSON, PF Texas
I don’t exactly know what the Pistons roster is going to look like next year and it’s very hard to predict which of their veteran players will stay and which will go when free agency starts. Apparently they are looking to beef up in the frontcourt and I’ve heard a lot of rumors about Biyombo going here. Fortunately, the Pistons will be smart  to realize that Thompson has just as high of a reward and not nearly as much risk. He should make an impact for a Detroit team that will be pretty full of young interior talent. he draft could get thrown off pretty severely if Detroit takes Alec Burks here as a replacement for Rip Hamilton, I’m sort of hoping that happens.
This pick comes down to: Thompson over Bismack Miyombo/Jonas Valenciunas

Jonas Valanciunas

9. (Charlotte) — JONAS VALANCIUNAS, C Lithuania
His biggest positive about Valanciunas is that he might be the best down-low center in this draft class. The bad news is that he’ll stay in Europe a year before he can play in America, so it’s pretty much like picking no one. Why would you want the fifth best player in this year’s class when you can have the tenth best player in next year’s? (Answer: you’re the Bobcats)
This team has DJ Augustin and Stephen “Prison Time” Jackson in the backcourt leading the team in taking and making shots and really needs to add a guy who can rebound and score points in the paint. Tyrus Thomas can be that scoring option, but it would be a lot easier if he had another threat to ease the pressure. Jonas won’t play for a year, but it’s not like the ‘Cats are one year or one player away from contending, so they can afford the wait. Then again, they could also take the polished outside shooting of Marcus Morris and try to turn Thomas into the rebounding threat. I still don’t know why they don’t let Jordan play one night. Triple the prices and it would sell out in 10 minutes.
This pick comes down to: Valanciunas over Marcus Morris

Alec Burks

10. (Milwaukee) — ALEC BURKS, SG Colorado
The Bucks would really like to get Alec Burks here. He’s the best shooting guard in the draft and Milwaukee is really thirsty for him to come in and be the replacement for Michael Redd. I like Burks a lot more than Klay Thompson, the next best SG, but in terms of playing style, Klay is a stand-on-the-wing-and-shoot-it kind of player and Burks is more of a shoot-off-the-dribble guy. He seems like a weird fit for this offense with Brandon Jennings also trying to take the ball in the lane all the time. But hey, the Bucks have a long history of awful to mediocre teams and there are lots of good reasons for that.
This pick comes down to: Burks over Klay Thompson

Marcus Morris

11. (Golden State) — MARCUS MORRIS, PF Kansas
This pick is maybe one of the most difficult picks to predict before the draft starts. The GSW are shopping their only good player Monta Ellis pretty hard right now, and if he goes, the team has that blow-it-all-up-and-start-over-again feel. Even if they trade for another player, it’s hard to tell whom the Warriors are targeting, so this pick is a real mystery. From what I have read, they like Morris a lot. He can shoot it from the outside and still has the strength to bang around on the inside. If Ellis leaves before the draft, they may be looking to pair shooter Klay Thompson with Steph Curry in the backcourt. I tend to think the front office is too smart to take another scoring threat, since that’s the team’s only real strength as it is, and a guy like Morris would bring some physicality and rebounding that the current bigs don’t have. Mark Jackson has been pretty vocal about instilling a defensive mindset in this team, and he might be crazy enough to take a flier on Biyombo if Morris isn’t available.
This pick comes down to: Morris over Klay Thompson

Chris Singleton

12. (Utah) — CHRIS SINGLETON, SF Florida State
If only the Jazz had known that Jimmer Fredette would fall this far… Actually, let’s run with that for a second. It’s no secret that the Jazz organization has a solid interested in Fredette. If Utah took Knight early to fill the PG hole, and then found out that Jimmer was still left when they picked at 12, would they look to move Knight for a piece? Maybe they’d move Harris for a second-rounder and just draft two point guards. Maybe they’d move Millsap and the 12 for a guy like Valanciunas or Kawhi Leonard. There are a whole bunch of options here, and they all make sense to me, but that’s an awful lot of legwork for a team to be doing in a short time span, so I think Utah just accepts things and takes Singleton, who could help out immediately with defending wings and wouldn’t take too many shots away from Jefferson (if he stays) or Knight.
This pick comes down to: Singleton over a complicated trade situation involving the acquisition of Jimmer Fredette

Jimmer Fredette

13. (Phoenix) — JIMMER FREDETTE, PG Brigham Young
I’d imagine the Suns were hoping Chris Singleton would fall to 13, but Fredette is still an improvement to this team. He’ll still have a couple of seasons to learn from Steve Nash, which would be ideal for his distribution skills. In addition, he could even play paired with Nash, which could be fantastic for creating open threes. The Suns could use a little help either on the wing or in the post as well, and I hate to mention Klay Thompson getting passed up again, but it might happen. If any of the PFs that I predicted to go in the first 12 picks fall here, they could also be desirable to the Suns.
This pick comes down to: Fredette over Klay Thompson

Bismack Biyombo

14. (Houston) — BISMACK BIYOMBO, PF Congo
This is going to be surprising, but the Rockets know that they need to cut ties with Yao Ming after this season. While he may be playing at a sarcastic All-Star level season after season, he also doesn’t actually play any games season after season. It was a fun experiment, but it’s time to cut ties with him and get a post player who can make a defensive impact and actually stay healthy the whole season. If there’s a guy the Rockets really want (read, Tristan Thompson), they could package this pick and the 23rd and move into the middle of the lottery for him.
This pick comes down to: Biyombo over Markieff Morris

That’s it for the lottery and that’s it for the first part of this mock. I’ll be back tomorrow with the second half, starting with the Pacers (!), so keep coming back. And if you’re watching the draft, be sure to check back with my mock and see how I did. You know I love comments, so feel free to share your opinions below.