I can’t remember an NBA Draft in recent times with less sure-fire talent than the class of 2011. Cleveland hold the number one pick in the draft, and most year’s that’s enough to guarantee yourself a star of the future. But in this draft, there is no Derrick Rose, no Dwight Howard, and worst of all for Cav’s fans (or maybe best, considering his megalomaniacal personality), no LeBron James. Whilst there is always an inherent gamble in drafting a player, the vast majority of teams over the years that have earned the right to select first in the draft have picked a ‘can’t miss’ talent. A player that is destined to become a star. In fact, the top 3 or 4 selections normally afford NBA teams the luxury and peace of mind that they’re getting help, either immediately or in the future. But this draft lacks an automatic selection at the top of the draft board. Worse than that, it lacks any sense of star power. This is most clearly evidenced by the fact that the biggest story of the 2011 NBA Draft is Jimmer Fredette; a player that probably won’t be, and shouldn’t be, drafted in the top 12 picks. [caption id="attachment_1185" align="alignleft" width="209" caption="Australian-born point guard Kyrie Irving (pictured) is the odds-on favourite to be drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers"][/caption] Whilst no one doubts that some members of the class of 2011 will end up being NBA stars, the problem is that no one knows exactly who that is yet. Many expect Cleveland to select Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving with the first pick in the draft. Whilst he lacks the blistering speed of the other floor generals that have become the darlings of the NBA Draft, like Derrick Rose, John Wall and Russell Westbrook, he’s a much better shooter than that trio, and arguably more of natural distributor. I expect Irving to be very solid as a rookie, before becoming a top 10 point guard in the league in a few years time. Whether that’s enough for Cleveland fans still stung by LeBron James defections remains to be seen. In a nice twist for local fans, Irving carries an Australian passport and is eligible to play for the Australian National team. Irving was born in Victoria whilst his father Drederick Irving was playing for Bulleen in the ABA, and I expect Boomers Brett Brown, a member of the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff, to seek an audience with Irving and attempt to convince him to join Andrew Bogut in playing for the Boomers. With the USA team loaded at point guard with rose, Wall, Westbrook, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul all All-Star talents, Irving would be the undisputed general of the Boomers line-up. Whilst Irving is considered the quality player of this class, he’s no guarantee to be selected number one overall, as his ceiling of potential may not be worthy of the first pick. There are many that believe the number one pick should be reserved for a potential superstar, and Irving may only ever reach the heights of very good. It’s an easy criticism to make, but the question then becomes, ‘who else is there?’ Arizona’s Derrick Williams has also been mentioned as a potential number one, but many teams have been burnt in previous drafts by picking a combo forward. Optimists will claim that a combo forward gives you the versatility to cover the small and power forward positions, but more often than not, you’re simply drafting a player that doesn’t have the skills or body to play either position. As such, Williams is considered far from a guaranteed success in the NBA. [caption id="attachment_1186" align="alignright" width="199" caption="John Wall can do the Dougie, but can he teach you how to Jimmer?"][/caption] Brandon Knight is another player that some teams are high on, but at 6’3” he’ll need to play point guard in the pros, yet his skill set is a long way from ready for NBA floor general duties, as he’s more adept at scoring than passing. A highly common theme amongst this year’s crop of point guards. So that’s the top 3 players in the draft. All with great skill sets that give franchises hope for the future. All with major questions marks over their ability to shine in the NBA. Question marks that, if given the wrong answer, can set a franchise back another half-decade at the least. This year’s combination of college players leaving school early, the rise of international players, and more teams willing to take a punt on project players, means that the NBA Draft is increasingly becoming more and more of a lottery, if you’ll excuse the pun. The days of scouts having four years worth of college basketball to judge a player on are well and truly over, and a player’s ability to evolve and become a star in the NBA is only known once they’ve had NBA playing time. A very harsh pill for team executives to swallow. On the eve of perhaps the weakest draft class in NBA history, never has it been more evident than this year that the Draft may no longer be the best way to rebuild your team.