Christian Watford led Indiana in scoring last season. (Icon SMI)
By Ryan Feldman
Friday, July 8, 2011
1. Cleveland - @WFNYScott - Scott, WaitingForNextYear.com
KYRIE IRVING, DUKE
Kyrie Irving is a position of dire need and nearly consensus on being the best player available. After years of running with 6-foot-tall guards, the 6-foot-3 Irving provides head coach Byron Scott with his next pure point guard as he had in Jason Kidd and Chris Paul in his previous lives. In an offense that's predicated on ball movement, Irving will be able to learn on the job due to the presence of the team's "fifth assistant coach" Baron Davis; not being forced to shoulder the burden of a rebuilding team will only help the young guard long-term. A potential future All-Star, Irving is easily the choice at the top spot.
2. Minnesota - @NBADraftInsider - Kristofer Habbas, NBADraftInsider.com
DERRICK WILLIAMS, ARIZONA
They may be drafting second, but the Timberwolves may come up with arguably the best talent in the 2011 Draft. Williams will add versatility to the Timberwolves and superstar potential. With Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and now Williams, there is legit excitement in Minnesota.
3. Utah - @ScottyGKFan - Scott Garrard, 1320 KFAN
BRANDON KNIGHT, KENTUCKY
There's certainly a good debate between Knight and Kanter at this point, but Knight bolsters the Jazz backcourt. Despite his youth, Knight had great flashes as a floor leader and a scorer. He had great development from the start of the season to the end of the season at Kentucky, which showed an ability to learn and adapt his game. Knight will have time to develop alongside Devin Harris.
4. Cleveland - @WFNYScott - Scott, WaitingForNextYear.com
ENES KANTER, TURKEY
With two of the top-four selections, the Cavs will address the other end of the spectrum by selecting a big man with the fourth-overall pick. The Cavs will think long and hard about drafting Jonas Valanciunas here, but at present day - with contractual obligations still pending - I went with the player who may be more NBA ready than the upside possessed by the Lithuanian. Kanter's presence will allow Anderson Varejao to come off of the bench (a position of strength) and should allow JJ Hickson to stay firmly planted in his true position at power forward. If Kanter goes second overall (as some forecast), things could get interesting at four. For now, the Turkish big man gets the nod.
5. Toronto - @WolstatSun - Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun
KEMBA WALKER, UCONN
It's a nightmare scenario for the Raptors who most need either Brandon Knight or Enes Kanter. With Jose Calderon clearly not the answer and likely trade bait and nobody comfortable with betting the farm on Jerryd Bayless as a floor general at this point, the pick almost has to be Kemba Walker, despite his faults.
While Jonas Valanciunas is probably the smart pick, Bryan Colangelo needs to get the Raptors back on track now and can't wait a year or two for the big man to come over. Kawhi Leonard and Jan Vesely make some sense too, as does Tristan Thompson if Ed Davis or Amir Johnson are traded, but Walker makes the most sense in this scenario, even though I'm not sure he's going to be a solid starter in the NBA. I see him more as a very good sixth man.
Walker will bring swagger and leadership to one of the NBA's youngest teams and will sell tickets/get the fanbase excited based on what he's accomplished, making ownership happy. Bring in Dwane Casey as coach, and all of a sudden the Raptors will have some winners on the scene for once.
6. Washington - @thedraftreview - Matthew Maurer, TheDraftReview.com
JAN VESELY, SERBIA
This was the one pick that I felt could be controversial to some people in the early parts of this mock draft. At the sixth pick I felt there were two choices: Jan Vesely and Kawhi Leonard. Each player has its pros and cons. In Leonard you have toughness, defense and energy. In Vesely you have potential, athleticism and offensive skills. Make no mistake: the Wizards will be looking hard at the three spot with Rashard Lewis declining and Josh
Howard’s health issues.
It will almost be a given that a three man will be selected. With looking at the team personnel I think Vesely gives the Wizards something Leonard can’t: offense. Those who have seen Vesely know he is a tremendous finisher in traffic and plays the game with hustle and emotion. If there is a big dent in the armor it’s lack of position and more importantly 3-point shooting, which he is currently inconsistent with.
Luckily for the Wizards, in the long run I see him developing into a much better shooter than Kawhi.
7. Sacramento - @mr_jasonjones - Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee
KAWHI LEONARD, SAN DIEGO STATE
There is some local sentiment to go with Jimmer Fredette at No. 7, but with the Kings expected to re-sign restricted free agent Marcus Thornton, the decision to upgrade the perimeter defense and rebounding becomes a priority. Kawhi Leonard won’t be needed to score, but his energy and athleticism would improve what has been porous perimeter defense from the Kings. Considering Omri Casspi could be dealt and Donte Greene is in the last year of his deal, the Kings need to solidify the spot, which has had a problem since Ron Artest was dealt.
8. Detroit - @vgoodwill - Vincent Goodwill, Detroit News
JONAS VALANCIUNAS, LITHUANIA
With Greg Monroe firmly entrenched as a centerpiece in the Pistons frontcourt, the mission is to now find a complementary piece. Jonas Valanciunas is a legit pivot man with a soft touch around the basket. Like Monroe, he runs the floor well but he needs to develop bulk to deal with the rough and tumble bigs. In all likelihood, he'll learn at the feet of Ben Wallace, who hinted he'd return for his final season next year. Pistons President Joe Dumars will have the opportunity to build this team deliberately, so waiting on Valanciunas to develop won't be a huge issue, nor will Dumars have any trepidation about drafting another Euro in the top 10. Valanciunas' tricky buyout situation bodes better for the Pistons, as it lowers as Valanciunas' draft standing does, too.
9. Charlotte - @TheHoopsReport - Ryan Feldman, TheHoopsReport.com
MARCUS MORRIS, KANSAS
The Bobcats need a lot of help and are looking for the best player available. They have a lot of options, but they like to draft college winners from big schools. Marcus Morris of Kansas fits this mold and he could be the best player available at this point in the draft. Morris will give the Bobcats a combo forward that can score, rebound and play defense.
10. Milwaukee - @brewhoop - Frank Madden, BrewHoop.com
ALEC BURKS, COLORADO
In a draft otherwise brimming with unpredictability, it almost feels like a cop-out to select Burks for the Bucks -- after all, that's what everyone seems to be thinking. Still, there are in fact some pretty good reasons (beyond group think) for taking Burks at No. 10. Given the Bucks' lack of athleticism on the wing and their extreme struggles in the scoring department, there's a clear appeal in going after an athletic, young guard to complement the aging John Salmons. A silky smooth ball-handler and shot-creator, Burks is a consistent 3-point shot away from being a top five pick, and while that's not an insignificant skill, it's something he can improve on over time. What he does do well is score in volume and with high efficiency (20.5 ppg, 58 percent true shooting) -- not bad for a guy who supposedly can't shoot, wasn't a major recruit coming out of high school in 2009, and won't turn 20 until after the draft.