So it’s that time of year again when all the NBA focus is on the upcoming Draft, that will be held on June 23rd, 2011. Unlike recent years that have produced bona fide first overall picks, like John Wall, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and LeBron James, the 2011 draft class doesn’t have any can’t miss players. That isn’t to say these kids won’t turn into superstars; all of the highly-touted players in this draft - Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, have all shown that they are capable ball players, but so far there are really only two players that stand out as truly elite prospects. So today, one day out from the Draft, I’m going to present to you my mock draft of who goes where. This will mainly be centred around positions of need for teams and, if there are no major holes in the line up, best player available. So, without further ado, here’s my 2011 NBA Mock Draft. Enjoy. *This is a rough idea for the draft. There are trade rumours swirling around nearly every franchise in the NBA, so including all scenarios would have been extremely time-consuming!
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving, Duke The only reason I put Irving above Derrick Williams is because of the position Williams plays. After the LeBron James experiment broke the hearts of all Cavs fans, I’m sure the franchise wants to distance itself from a LeBron-like player here. So the pick for the Cavs is Irving. Not an overly athletic guard like the recent crop of talent, but Irving has a high basketball IQ and he can shoot, hitting 50% from the field, 40% from three-point range and 90% from the line. 2. Minnesota Timberwolves - Derrick Williams, Arizona I could put Enes Kanter here as a position of need or write over 4,000 words on this pick being traded, but Derrick Williams is the best, most efficient player in this draft. The T-Wolves should draft him here, add him to the core of Ricky Rubio and Wesley Johnson, letting them develop together and take the pressure off Kevin Love. With an impressive physique that can still add size, Williams can shoot (hitting over 55% from the field and from three-point territory) as easily as he can get to the rim. Develop him into the go-to scorer and trade Michael ‘Supercool’ Beasley for a young center than can take over from Darko Milicic. 3. Utah Jazz - Brandon Knight, Kentucky Devin Harris isn’t the future for the Utah Jazz, they are forced to find their point guard of the future here. His speed is a massive part of his game, but he must add bulk to his 180 lbs frame to become a franchise player. He doesn’t have great court vision, easily slipping into the habit of playing isolation ball, where he’s prone to turnovers and ill shooting. Still the best pick here. 4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Enes Kanter, Kentucky This pick is almsot certain to be traded, but let’s look at the options if Cleveland keeps this pick. After initial reports said Kanter wanted to team up with John Wall in Washington, he seems to have grown to like the fact his likely destination is Cleveland. JJ Hickson is a decent piece at the four, but Anderson Varejao is best served as a back-up. Kanter has an NBA-ready physique and a decent shooting touch. An easy choice for Cleveland. 5. Toronto Raptors - Kemba Walker, UConn [caption id="attachment_1204" align="alignright" width="208" caption="UConn's Kemba Walker would be a welcome addition to Toronto's backcourt."][/caption] Jan Vesely is the media favorite to go here, but I think the Raptors may go in another direction. Kemba Walker was the toast of the NCAA tournament, leading the Huskies all the way to the National Championship. With José Calderón nearly 30 and not an elite point, I think the Raptors will draft a player with scoring punch who can draw a crowd. Still needing a small forward/power forward, I think they’ll go small here and hope they land a top 5 pick in next year’s draft to pick up one of Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones or Quincy Miller. 6. Washington Wizards - Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State This has been the hardest pick so far. They could trade up with Minnesota to grab Williams or Kanter at two, but they would want Andray Blatche, pick 6 and maybe even Jordan Crawford. Too much for one player when they have so many holes to fill. The Wizards are set at both guard positions with John Wall and Jordan Crawford, while JaVale McGee is developing nicely at center. But, they are in desperate need of scoring ability. I can’t see the Wizards contending this year, so I can see them drafting an athlete at the small forward position to open up the floor for Wall to create plays and open looks for whichever shooters they bring in from free agency. 7. Sacramento Kings - Jimmer Fredette, BYU This pick may be traded to San Antonio for Tony Parker, but the Kings’ owner Gavin Maloof (along with his brother) are both already sold on Kawhi and Jimmer. With Kawhi gone, it’s Jimmer Time! He lead the nation in scoring (as you know), has displayed shaky defense (as you know) but can shoot from anywhere on the court. Tyreke Evans is a shooting guard and Demarcus Cousins is a good young talent. Outside of those two and Marcus Thornton, there’s not much left on this roster. Fredette’s range should help open the lanes for Evans, Cousins and Thornton. If they can swing Samuel Dalembert for either Udonis Haslem or Mike Miller from Miami, that could help this team a lot. 8. Detroit Pistons - Jan Vesely, Czech Republic Most have Congolese big man Bismack Biyombo here, but Greg Monroe is their building block, and his best position is center. No need to double up. With the athletic scorer Jan Vesely still here, he would be a steal. He’s athletic, can rebound and can score. Can play both forward positions and will help a franchise that is in trouble. 9. Charlotte Bobcats - Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania No, he’s not the fourth Jonas Brother. He’s a big, strong center that can score in the paint, but doesn’t have a very advanced mid-range game. Yet. With his skill set and remarkable rebounding ability, the Bobcats, who have Kwame Brown, DeSagna Diop and Joel Przybilla at center, can ill-afford to pass up a player who could have been a top 5 pick if it wasn’t for his muddled buyout situation. 10. Milwaukee Bucks - Klay Thompson, Washington State The Bucks finished dead last in points per game this year, but were 3rd overall for opponents points per game. Adding a scoring wing player like Thompson (even with his off-court troubles) to help Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings is priority numero uno. Getting rid of the overpaid John Salmons is a close second. 11. Golden State Warriors - Bismack Biyombo, Congo Rumors are sneaking out that this pick may be dealt to the Suns. If so, the same player will be taken, if he’s available. If Golden State stays here, every single NBA fan knows the Warriors need defensive help like Ronaldinho needed braces as a child (unfortunately, he didn’t get them). With excellent scorers Monta Ellis, who Mark Jackson is adamant he isn’t shopping, Steph Curry and David Lee, getting the physically gifted Biyombo, who has supreme length, a great motor and owns the glass, could be the first step in creating a defensive mindset for this team. 12. Utah Jazz - Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania Big and quick front court man who could run an excellent pick and roll with Brandon Knight. Can play tough inside, especially after a few seasons of adding muscle to his 224 lbs frame, but also displays the typical European big-man mid-range jumpshot. Utah has solid bigs, but this is a case of best available. If he can use his offensive toughness on the defensive end as well, Motiejunas could develop into the player Toronto wanted Andrea Bargnani to be. 13. Phoenix Suns - Alec Burks, Colorado [caption id="attachment_1205" align="alignright" width="199" caption="Colorado's Alec Burks would fill a large void for the Suns at shooting guard."][/caption] With Fredette gone and no other point guards worthy of this spot, I think the Suns will draft Alec Burks. He has the scoring ability that the Suns love and has the makings to be an above average defender, something the Suns don’t covet but desperately need. 14. Houston Rockets - Marcus Morris, Kansas The Rockets don’t have any glaring holes, but could add size in their front court. Morris is a lottery talent and scrapes in here at number 14. Not a great defender but has a very smooth jump shot that scouts love, as they open up the court for athletic bigs. 15. Indiana Pacers - Marshon Brooks, Providence This is where the talent has a major fall off and the choices start to get murky. The Pacers’ biggest holes are at the guard positions. With no point guards worthy of this spot, they will look for Marshon Brooks, a 2-guard with good size and good enough athleticism to get to the rim and create his own shot. 16. Philadelphia 76ers - Chris Singleton, Florida State André Iguodala is all but gone from the City of Brotherly Love. Good young core here, so I see them taking Singleton, a big man who can jump out of the stadium, defends well and is an efficient scorer. 17. New York Knicks - Reggie Jackson, Boston College The Knicks need a shooting guard, and Reggie is the best available - a wild scorer with average defense at best. A D’Antoni Knick if I’ve ever seen one. They hope to get Dwight Howard in a trade or via free agency (they won’t) so will hold on with Ronny Turiaf until the cavalry arrives. 18. Washington Wizards - Tristan Thompson, Texas The Canadian Longhorn is the first high-energy guy off the board here. Undersized for a power forward and with a limited offensive game, the Wizards can use him as an outlet for John Wall so that, with early points scored, he can become a hustle/energy guy on the defensive end. 19. Charlotte Bobcats - Markieff Morris, Kansas The Bobcats need toughness and rebounding in their front court. They can get it in Morris. He’ll never be a superstar, but should be good for 10 points and 8-10 rebounds a night for the ‘Cats. 20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Nikola Vucevic, USC Probably overselling Vucevic here, but the Wolves need him. Darko is not a good center. They need a big body to help Love rebounding and keep th bigger bodies off their franchise player, at a shade under 7 feet tall and 260 lbs, Vucevic fits that bill. 21. Portland Trailblazers - Darius Morris, Michigan The Blazers enter the party with a clear need in the back court. With André Miller 35 years old and no guarantee to return, I see them drafting Morris, letting the big guard learn behind Miller and then unleashing him as a true point guard with a pass first mentality. 22. Denver Nuggets - Kenneth Faried, Morehead State A lot has been made of Faried’s rebounding abilities and lack of offensive firepower. With Nené and Kenyon Martin unlikely to be back in Denver next season, the Nuggets will desperately need rebounding ability as they still search for the identity. 23. Houston Rockets - Trey Thompkins, Georgia The Rockets still need front court depth. Adding Thompkins to Luis Scola and Marcus Morris will create a good offensive rotation through the front court. Has good range but can also get tough in the paint. Plays like a tougher Channing Frye. 24. Oklahoma City Thunder - Kyle Singler, Duke The Thunder could use some depth behind Kevin Durant and someone who can knock down three-pointers efficiently. There aren’t any dead-eye shooters left here, so Duke’s Kyle Singler would be a good player to spell Kevin Durant in Oklahoma. 25. Boston Celtics - Justin Harper, Richmond [caption id="attachment_1206" align="alignright" width="218" caption="Kenneth Faried (L) ended Tim Duncan's 14-year reign atop the NCAA's career rebounding list."][/caption] The Celtics need depth at both forward positions and center. They traded for Jeff Green, so they won’t draft small forward here, which leaves power forward. Justin Harper is a big, strong forward but displays inconsistent toughness when going for rebounds. Could be the perfect understudy to the aging Kevin Garnett. 26. Dallas Mavericks - Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech Shumpert’s stock is rising and, with Jason Kidd being 39 next season and JJ Barea standing below 6-feet, Shumpert’s 6’6” size, speed and athleticism will help the Mavericks infinitely. 27. New Jersey Nets - Tyler Honeycutt - UCLA International Davis Bertans would have run a dangerous pick-and-pop duo with Deron Williams, but Tyler Honeycutt fits better into this team. He could potentially start over Travis Outlaw as early as his rookie season if Outlaw doesn’t improve his game. 28. Chicago Bulls - Davis Bertans, Latvia The Bulls are still chasing Memphis’ OJ Mayo to plug at the 2-guard. I think they’ll add a shooter here with Davis Bertans. He’s still very young and raw, but the Bulls have time to put into the kid. Rumors abound that Bertans will withdraw from the draft so he has more time to develop, but as a player who developed as a jump-shooting guard before his growth spurt, he could be a good project player. 29. San Antonio Spurs - Josh Selby, Kansas He won’t be a franchise player, but with 2-guard Manu Ginobili getting up there in years, Selby could learn from one of the smartest players in the NBA and add Manu’s IQ to his athleticism. 30. Chicago Bulls - JaJuan Johnson, Purdue Good on the offensive end with great length. Joakim Noah isn’t a scorer and Carlos Boozer was disappointing. With two or three years in an NBA gym adding muscle to his 6’10” frame, Johnson has a good post-up game and would be a nice player to run pick-and-rolls with Derrick Rose. Worth a pick here, at least.