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Mocking the NBA Draft Lottery

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Most every “expert” around has been bashing this draft for months. Sure aside from the first few picks, it’s not laden with many super high-ceiling, elite prospects, but one of the reasons I’m not as down on this draft as most people is simple: lowered expectations. I see a lot of players in this draft having good NBA careers, maybe not too many superstars, but if you draft a player in the 1st round and he plays for 10 years, I think that pick can be counted as a hit. There are a lot of those type of guys in this draft, and for that reason, I think history will be a little more kind to the 2011 draft than predicted.


1. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63): Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke: All but a foregone conclusion at this point, Irving is the premier prospect in a draft low on NBA-ready top-end talent. Irving is silky smooth with an incredibly high basketball-IQ. Tough to say this about anything related to Cleveland sports, but he is close to a can’t miss PG. Only knock is his injury concern, but he says he’s 100% and with Byron Scott’s tutelage, he should be an elite PG in the league.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-65): Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona: Williams is an interesting commodity. In my mind, he’s a player that whomever drafts him will love to hate. I don’t see how Minnesota stays in this spot as he’s more or less the only thing that they don’t need… but David Kahn is the Al Davis of the NBA so anything goes. He flashes brilliance, has a great mid-range game, and all the necessary skills to be an all-star caliber player, but he has also underwhelmed during most of his career. Coming out of high school he wasn’t all that touted, then in college he was seen as a solid contributor until he turned it on at tournament time. Maybe I’m being a bit hard on him, but I don’t see a high ceiling and anything more than a guy that will contribute, but not ever live up to #2 overall pick status.

3. Utah Jazz (39-43): Enes Kanter, PF/C, Kentucky: Kanter is a bruising interior presence. Undoubtedly the most NBA-ready big man in the draft, but questions remain about his overall skill-set after being forced to sit out last season at Kentucky. From what I’ve seen (not much), he seems to have solid post moves and decent athletic ability. Should be fun to watch for awhile, but the question remains of how much constant contact a body can take, even a 6’11, 260lb body. The Jazz are pretty set on bigs, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see this pick moved as well.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63): Jonas Valanciunas, PF/C, Lithuania: Although his stock has cooled a bit due to the fact that he is raw and more recently contract issues, I still think that the Cavs take him if the 3 ahead of him are gone. I also think that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert alleviates any contract issues by agreeing to buy Lithuania and turning it into a giant anti-Lebron James amusement park. As for his play he’s a very good athlete with good/great basketball skills. High energy guy that needs to be developed, but with the right development comparisons to Pau Gasol might just be the tip of the iceberg… without it, he could be the next Yi Jianlin.

5. Toronto Raptors (22-60): Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky: Toronto needs a point, and I think would be thrilled to get Knight. Not as thrilled as they would be if Kanter inexplicably fell to #5, but thrilled nonetheless. Knight doesn’t have the same team leadership abilities as Kyrie Irving and has struggled a bit in his transition from scorer to distributor, but the same things were said about Allen Iverson. While he doesn’t have Iverson’s quickness, he is a better pure point guard, despite his slow transition. He can be a chucker and needs to become more comfortable in his own skin, if he does, he could be Gilbert Arenas in terms of production.

6. Washington Wizards: (23-59): Jan Vesely, PF, Belgrade: I don’t know a whole lot about Vesely other than enough to know that he probably shouldn’t be anywhere near the lottery in a normal draft. I’ve seen comparisons to Nicholas Tskitishvili, which make sense because most people that compare talents do so based on looks and origin first. From what I gather, Vesely is athletic and very active. Doesn’t have a great basketball skill-set, but has a basketball body and a lot of energy. Have no idea how he will turn out, but it’s tough to turn a guy that doesn’t like to get after it underneath into a premiere 4, unless he has the skills of Dirk Nowitzki… and Vesely certainly does not.

7. Sacramento Kings (24-58): Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego St.: Leonard is a prime example of a hustle player. He’s a great defender that plays much bigger than his 6’7 frame. Although he’s raw, has the ability and tenacity to be a solid contributor to an NBA team for the next 10-12 years. His best case upside is Shawn Marion. To get there he would need to continue to improve his jumper. If he can develop a solid mid-range game with decent range from deep he could vault from solid to very good. A lot of heart, hard work, and energy will get him there, and I think he has the will to do it.

8. Detroit Pistons (30-52): Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas: Highly touted out of high school, he has a great defensive game, but I don’t see enough explosiveness to play the 3 in the NBA. He still has a lot of time to develop, but even if he doesn’t improve much offensively he still has the skills to be a decent post option who puts in the effort underneath necessary to succeed. He is a good finisher and doesn’t rock the boat demanding touches. When he fills out, he projects to be a trusted contributor to a championship caliber team… just maybe not in Detroit.

9. Charlotte Bobcats (34-48): Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas: Morris more or less sums up the ceiling for many of the players in this draft, solid, but unspectacular. He is a guy that will be able to contribute immediately to most rotations. He has a good post-game and high intensity work ethic. His ceiling is somewhat limited due to his less than ideal length, but could, and probably should develop into a Drew Gooden-type player.

10. Milwaukee Bucks (35-47): Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State: Another low-risk pick that should be able to help right from the start. He is a pure and refined shooter with very good size for the 2 position. Not all that athletic and can struggle to keep up in transition, but with a shot like his, in a draft like this, he won’t be on the board for long. Another red flag is around his one game suspension for smoking the hippie lettuce, but by some estimates 80% of NBA players enjoy similar interests, so he should fit right in. No chance that he slips past Golden State at 11, but I think Milwaukee (or another team) sneaks to #10 and grabs him.

11. Golden State Warriors (36-46): Alec Burks, PG/SG, Colorado: A late bloomer both figuratively and literally. Burks grew 3 more inches in college and turned himself from an NBA afterthought to a first-round pick. I’m not sure how his recent string of iffy workouts will effect him, but is uber-athletic and he has no problem creating his shot. He can log minutes at the 1 and 3 in a pinch and has 20-point scoring in him, just a matter of if he can become a more efficient shooter and add some bulk without sacrificing athleticism. Best case, Latrell Sprewell (without the psychological issues), worst case, out of the league in 3 years.

12. Utah Jazz (39-43):Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU: I really, really wanted to put The Jimmer at #7 to Sacramento for a couple of reasons. First, the Maloofs need to make a major marketing splash and getting The Jimmer would do just that. Secondly, the kid can flat out play. The only question is if he can play the point in the NBA, if he can, a team is getting a steal, if not, they are getting a Ben Gordon-type instant offense type of player with in-the-gym range. His draft prospects have risen since a recent workout with Kemba Walker where depending on who you talk to, either held his own, or grossly outperformed Walker. The hype is huge, but the talent is there. May be a defensive liability given that he’s too short to guard most 2s and probably not quick enough to guard NBA-quality 1s, but it’s not often that you can add a guy who can drop 40 in the blink of an eye… so if he does fall past #7, he won’t get past Utah at #12.

13. Phoenix Suns (40-42): Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas: The Suns reek of a team that needs to blow things up and rebuild. The problem is that if they do blow it up, the rebuild could be long and painful. Ownership has shown no willingness to spend money and that generally doesn’t translate into sustained success. I’m really just filibustering because I have no idea who the Suns are going to take here… They want Derrick Williams, but let’s face it, I want to my microwave to spit out $100 bills, neither of which are going to happen.It wouldn’t surprise me if they just passed. For the sake of completeness I’ll say they go with Markieff Morris over a plummeting Kemba Walker and surging Iman Shumpert. Markieff is pretty similar to his identical brother Marcus, but has less of an offensive game. Still, he has ideal size, toughness, and good character. Not a huge ceiling, but much like his brother, Drew Gooden-like production isn’t out of the question.

14. Houston Rockets (43-39): Bismack Biyombo, PF, Spain : The Rockets are looking to move up for a big, but they may not have to as Bismack Biyombo projects (by me) to be staring them in the face at #14. Most have him gone by this point, but I think he is far too raw to take a chance on any earlier. He is a physical specimen with a 7’7” wingspan, but has absolutely no offensive game to speak of. Right now he’s being compared to Ben Wallace, because of his defensive ability underneath. That said, there’s too many question marks for me (including that he might be 24 and not 18) to pop on him any earlier than mid-first round.

The next 15 (not in draft order):

Tobias Harris, PF, Tennessee

Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas

Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State

Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State

Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence

Nikola Cucevic, C, USC

Norris Cole, PG, Cleveland State

Nikola Mirotic, SF, Serbia

Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania

Jimmy Butler, SF, Marquette

Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA

Justin Harper, PF, Richmond

Reggie Jackson, PG, Boston College

Malcolm Lee, PG, UCLA

Davis Bertans, SF, Latvia

Five more that you’ve heard of:

Josh Selby, PG, Kansas

Kyle Singler, SF, Duke

JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue

Chandler Parsons, SF, Florida

Nolan Smith, SG, Duke


2 Responses to “Mocking the NBA Draft Lottery”

  1. Hot Diggitty Dog

    Posted by Bobby Digital | June 23, 2011, 4:11 pm
    “When he fills out, he projects to be a trusted contributor to a championship caliber team… just maybe not in Detroit.”

    …..but, surely in CLEVELAND!!!!

    Posted by Bobby Digital | June 24, 2011, 10:44 am

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