The Fast Break: 2011 NBA Draft Recap
Posted Jun 24 2011 5:02PM
"The Fast Break" is Scott Stanchak's weekly NBA notebook column that features interviews, insight, international news and more. New every Thursday on NBA.com/fastbreak.
Newark, N.J. – Kyrie Irving’s eyes were fixed on the 52-inch flat screen TV at the same time he was listening to a reporter’s question. The Duke point guard had learned minutes before where he was going to play. Now he was trying to see who he’d be playing with.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were in the lucky lottery position of selecting first and fourth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, which took place Thursday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Once Irving was taken, Arizona power forward Derrick Williams and center Enes Kanter werre snatched off the board. That left Cleveland with numerous options, including a slew of top point guards.
Irving sat in his press conference, wrapping up his answer as NBA commissioner David Stern strolled to the podium to announce the fourth-overall selection. The Cavs had selected power forward Tristan Thompson out of Texas, which pleased Irving.
“Tristan is a great friend of mine,” Irving said. “He's a young player, and having somebody alongside you that will go through the rookie ups and downs with you, it will make the transition into the NBA that much easier.”
Irving and Thompson will create the foundation of the future for the Cavaliers, a franchise which won only 19 games last season, second worst in the league. Irving had little doubt he’d land in Cleveland, the only team he worked out for. Thompson, however, could have gone to a number of cities. Now the pair will tackle Cleveland together.
“Definitely having somebody there to support you and go through what you go through is huge,” Thompson said. “He’s almost like a brother to me and will have my back and I'll have his, and we'll get through this together.”
Cleveland’s newest players were just two of 60 selected at Thursday’s event. The draft is one of the happiest moments in a player’s life, when they realize dreams do come true. Most can’t even believe they’re standing in front of the bright lights, donning a team-branded baseball cap, both representing their maturation from college athlete to professional.
Now that the 2011 Draft is complete, let’s look back at each of the picks, the predictions and who stands in the way of these rookies’ paths to stardom. (Note: Unrestricted free agent players are not included on the current roster lists.)
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, PG (Duke)
Analysis: There are bigger expectations for Irving than most No. 1 picks. First, he’s being counted on to revive a Cleveland franchise that watched its last first-overall pick take his talents to South Beach. Secondly, the 19-year-old only played 11 games his freshman season. That means Cleveland is basing this pick on potential, workouts and what little they’ve seen of him in action.
Point Guards on Current Roster: Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions
He Said It: “When David Stern came up there and said that the Cleveland Cavaliers have five more minutes on the clock, that felt like the longest five minutes of my life.”
Mock Draft Projected: Kyrie Irving, PG (Duke)
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams, SF (Arizona)
Analysis: The Timberwolves didn’t necessarily need a small forward, especially with Michael Beasley showing he can be a strong NBA player last season. When you pick this early in the draft though, talent has to beat needs. Plus, with Beasley one year away from restricted free agency, it was a no-brainer to grab Williams, the top proven college player on the board.
Small Forwards on Current Roster: Michael Beasley, Martell Webster, Lazar Hayward
He Said It: “I'm just glad that my dreams came true, and I'm happy that this whole franchise chose me number two.”
Mock Draft Projected: Derrick Williams, SF (Arizona)
3. Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter, C (Kentucky)
Analysis: There goes my perfect mock draft. Kanter said he’s dedicating this season to Kentucky fans after the NCAA ruled him ineligible to play there. At 6-foot-11, 262 pounds, he’s a big body to sure up the paint in Utah for many years to come.
Centers on Current Roster: Al Jefferson, Mehmet Okur
He Said It: “I love to get hit. I just love to play toughness. So it doesn't matter who; I'm just going to put myself in the court 100 percent.”
Mock Draft Projected: Brandon Knight, PG (Kentucky)
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson, PF (Texas)
Analysis: This pick was slightly surprising because the Cavs already have a number of power forwards on their roster. I thought they should have gone for a center in this spot, or even a guard. Cleveland was looking at Jonas Valanciunas, but his buyout situation might have scared them off. Cleveland could move Thompson over to the three, where they don't have nearly as much depth. Thompson shot 54.6 percent from the field, which translated to 13.1 points per game, in his only season at Texas.
Power Forwards on Current Roster: J.J. Hickson, Samardo Samuels, Luke Harongody, Antawn Jamison
He Said It: “I thought it was realistic after the Cavs called me for a second workout and I thought, anything is possible, and I thought I could be the highest Canadian ever drafted.”
Mock Draft Projected: Enes Kanter, C (Turkey)
5. Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas, C (Lithuania)
Analysis: Valanciunas wouldn’t commit to playing in the NBA this season. He said that is a conversation his agent has to have with the team. Toronto needs some help at center and with very few available in this draft, Valanciunas is a great option, if and when he suits up. The native of Lithuania is just 19 years old with the potential to grow into a solid NBA player over time.
Centers on Current Roster: Andrea Bargnani, Joey Dorsey (Restricted FA)
He Said It: “I have all around game, so I would like to translate that to my NBA game.”
Mock Draft Projected: Kemba Walker, PG (UConn)
6. Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely, SF (Serbia)
Analysis: I love this pick for the Wizards. They got their small forward of the future, an area on the floor they most needed help. Vesely could also shift into the four spot. Many considered him the most NBA ready European prospect. Washington hopes so.
Power Forwards on Current Roster: Rashard Lewis, Larry Owens (Restricted FA), Trevor Booker
He Said It: “Basketball in my country is not so popular, but after this night, I think I hope, that the basketball will be more popular. I will do my best to help that.”
Mock Draft Projected: Kawhi Leonard, SF (San Diego State)
7. Sacramento Kings: Bismack Biyombo, PF (Democratic Republic of Congo) (Traded to Bobcats)
Analysis: I had a strong feeling the Kings were going to land Fredette, but didn’t expect it to be this way. The Kings, Bucks and Bobcats completed a three-team deal which saw Biyombo and Corey Maggette head to Charlotte, Stephen Jackson, Beno Udrih, Shaun Livingston and No. 19 pick Tobias Howard to Milwaukee and Fredette and John Salmons to Sacramento. Fredette is a name the team can market itself around, especially at a critical time when fan support is badly needed.
Point Guards on (Sacramento's) Current Roster: Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton (Restricted FA)
(Biyombo) Said It: “Michael Jordan says that he was so excited to meet me. He heard a lot of stuff about me.”
Mock Draft Projected: Jimmer Fredette, SG (Brigham Young University)
8. Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight, PG (Kentucky)
Analysis: Knight kicked off a stretch of five straight guards to be selected. He strongly believed he was the second best point in this class and should have gone higher. At least in Detroit he’ll have an opportunity to get immediate minutes.
Point Guards on Current Roster: Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey (Restricted FA)
He Said It: “From now, it's just about making people pay that passed up on you.”
Mock Draft Projected: Jan Vesely, SF (Serbia)
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker, PG (Connecticut)
Analysis: Whereas Knight was disappointed in his draft position, Walker was extremely thankful just to have been drafted. Walker comes into this NBA season off a national championship at the University of Connecticut. He said the last few months have flown by, but compared his life during that time to a movie. Walker has skills on both ends of the floor.
Point Guards on Current Roster: D.J. Augustin
He Said It: “I'm happy to be a New York City kid, being able to live his dream.”
Mock Draft Projected: Jonas Valanciunas, PF (Lithuania)
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jimmer Fredette, PG (Brigham Young) (Traded to Kings)
Analysis: As mentioned earlier, Milwaukee dealt Fredette to Sacramento, while picking up some proven veterans, as well as 19th overall pick Tobias Harris. The former Tennessee power forward came out after a freshman campaign in which he averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. The only downside to this trade was it took nearly two and a half hours to announce, meaning Fredette couldn't talk to the media until it was official.
Power Forwards on (Milwaukee's) Current Roster: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Restricted FA), Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden
(Fredette) Said It: “It's a great moment for me and for my family, and for the Sacramento Kings organization. Hopefully their fanbase is excited because I'm really excited to get out there and start the season with them and have a great year.”
Mock Draft Projected: Marcus Morris, PF (Kansas)
11. Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson, SG (Washington State)
Analysis: Golden State selecting Thompson means the end of Monta Ellis’ career with the team. The Warriors had been trying to deal Ellis before the draft, but couldn’t find the right partner. Thompson is elated to form a backcourt with Stephen Curry.
Shooting Guards on Current Roster: Monta Ellis, Reggie Williams (Restricted FA)
Mock Draft Projected: Alec Burks, SG (Colorado)
12. Utah Jazz: Alec Burks, SG (Colorado)
Analysis: Burks gives the Jazz some depth at the shooting guard spot with 34-year-old Raja Bell in the starting role. Utah selected two-guard Gordon Hayward in the first round of last year’s draft. Burks is an excellent scorer.
Shooting Guards on Current Roster: Raja Ball, Gordon Hayward
Mock Draft Projected: Chris Singleton, SF (Florida State)
13. Phoenix Suns: Markieff Morris, PF (Kansas)
Analysis: There’s rumors the Suns would like to move Channing Frye to a backup spot. If so, Morris would likely get a crack at the starting nod. Markieff Morris’ selection was an emotional moment, as his brother Marcus, who was also in the green room, was waiting for his name to be called.
Power Forwards on Current Roster: Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick, Gani Lawal
Mock Draft Projected: Tristan Thompson, PF (Texas)
14. Houston Rockets: Marcus Morris, PF (Kansas)
Analysis: I asked Morris since his brother got drafted first, does that mean he’ll have to win a championship first? He replied: “He was born before me so it’s nothing new.” The Rockets have a number of options at forward, but Morris will get his opportunities, especially since he can play the three too.
Power Forwards on Current Roster: Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Jordan Hill, Marcus Cousin
Mock Draft Projected: Jordan Hamilton, SF (Texas)
15. Indiana Pacers: Kawhi Leonard, SF (San Diego State)
Analysis: The Pacers shipped Leonard, their second-rounder (No. 42) and the rights to 2005 draft pick Erazem Lorbek to the Spurs for proven point guard George Hill. Hill starred in the Hoosier State at IUPUI before spending three years in San Diego. Leonard gives San Antonio depth at the three spot, where he’ll grow his game behind Richard Jefferson.
Mock Draft Projected: Marshon Brooks, SG (Providence)
16. Philadelphia 76ers: Nikola Vucevic, C (USC)
Analysis: The Sixers haven’t made any decisions on whether they want to bring Spencer Hawes back. That decision will decide Vucevic’s status on opening night.
Centers on Current Roster: Spencer Hawes (Restricted FA), Marreese Speights
Mock Draft Projected: Bismack Biyombo, PF (Congo)
17. New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert, PG (Georgia Tech)
Analysis: This was certainly the surprise of the draft, one that left Knicks fans shaking their heads. The point guard spot was a need, but Shumpert was completely off the first-round radar of 29 other teams. I believe Donnie Walsh believes in Shumpert defensively, but with Florida State's Chris Singleton still available, fans in New York were left speechless.
Point Guards on Current Roster: Tony Douglas, Chauncey Billups, Andy Rautins
Mock Draft Projected: Klay Thompson, PG (Washington St.)
18. Washington Wizards (From Atlanta): Chris Singleton, SF (Florida State)
Analysis: Singleton is the second small forward taken by the Wizards after Vesely at six. The Florida State product was considered the top defensive player in the draft. That defense is needed on a Wizards team that surrendered almost 105 points a game last season.
Small Forwards on Current Roster: Larry Owens (Restricted FA), Rashard Lewis
Mock Draft Projected: Markieff Morris, PF (Kansas)
19. Charlotte Bobcats (From New Orleans via Portland): Tobias Harris, PF (Tennessee) (Traded to Bucks)
Analysis: Harris was included as one of the pieces in the three-team deal that landed Charlotte's Bismack Biyombo. This was a strong acquisition for Michael Jordan’s club, which is rebuilding itself ahead of the free agency period. Biyombo, who said he’s ready to learn from the Hall of Famer, surged up draft boards in recent months thanks to strong workouts.
Power Forwards on (Charlotte's) Current Roster: Boris Diaw, Tyrus Thomas, Dante Cunningham, D.J. White
Mock Draft Projected: Nikola Vucevic, C (USC)
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (From Memphis via Utah): Donatas Motiejunas, PF (Lithuania) (Traded to Houston)
Analysis: The Timberwolves traded Motiejunas and Jonny Flynn to Houston for center Brad Miller, No. 23 pick Nikola Mirotic, No. 38 pick Chandler Parsons and a future first-rounder. Mirotic was later sent to the Bulls for the 28th (Norris Cole) and 43rd (Malcom Lee) picks. Cole was then shipped to Miami.
Mock Draft Projected: Donatas Motiejunas, PF (Italy)
21. Portland Trail Blazers: Nolan Smith, SG (Duke)
Analysis: Not many people had Smith going in the first round. That is, except for this guy. I thought he’d land in New Jersey though. The Blazers got rid of Andre Miller in a deal with Denver in exchange for Raymond Felton. That means Smith will sit behind on the depth chart.
Point Guards on Current Roster: Raymond Felton, Patrick Mills (Restricted FA), Armon Johnson
Mock Draft Projected: Josh Shelby, PG (Kansas)
22. Denver Nuggets: Kenneth Faried, PF (Morehead State)
Analysis: Faried was a smart selection by Denver, who could lose Kenyon Martin to free agency. Faried grew up about 10 miles from Newark, which made the night even more special for him. The power forward has the most rebounds (1,673) in modern (post-1973) NCAA history. Faried was also my fourth and last correct mock selection.
Power Forwards on Current Roster: Al Harrington
Mock Draft Projected: Kenneth Faried, PF (Morehead State)
23. Houston Rockets (From Orlando via Phoenix): Nikola Mirotic, PF (Montenegro) (Traded to Minnesota)
Analysis: Mirotic landed in Minnesota in the big deal that saw Houston getting guard Jonny Flynn and No. 20 pick Donatas Motiejunas in return. Montiejunas was rated one of the top power forwards in this year’s draft.
Power Forwards on (Houston's) Current Roster: Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Jordan Hill, Marcus Cousin
Mock Draft Projected: Tobias Howard, PF (Tennessee)
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Jackson, PG (Boston College)
Analysis: The curious case of Reggie Jackson. There were indications that a team with a late first-rounder gave Jackson a commitment, this despite him not working out for several teams concerned about a knee injury. Now we know which team it was. He'll be an interesting guy to keep an eye on this upcoming season.
Point Guards on Current Roster: Russell Westbrook, Eric Maynor, Royal Ivey
Mock Draft Projected: Kyle Singler, SF (Duke)
25. Boston Celtics: Marshon Brooks, SG (Providence) (Traded to Nets)
Analysis: Boston traded Brooks, the nation’s number-two scorer, to the Nets for what would be No. 27 overall (JuJuan Johnson) and a future second-round pick. Johnson was the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year out of Purdue. With Glen Davis’ future up in the air, Johnson looks to be the heir to Kevin Garnett’s spot on the floor.
Power Forwards on (Boston's) Current Roster: Kevin Garnett
Mock Draft Projected: Jordan Williams, C (Maryland)
26. Dallas Mavericks: Jordan Hamilton, SF (Texas) (Traded to Nuggets)
Analysis: The World Champion Mavericks dealt Hamilton to Portland in a three-team swap that also saw Raymond Felton and No. 57 pick (Tanguy Ngombo) land there, Andre Miller and a future second-rounder in Denver and Rudy Fernandez and the rights to 2007 No. 30 selection Petteri Koponen to Dallas.
Mock Draft Projected: Justin Harper, PF (Richmond)
27. New Jersey Nets (From L.A. Lakers): JuJuan Johnson, PF (Purdue) (Traded to Celtics)
Analysis: The Nets needed a shooting guard, someone who could possibly create the backcourt of the future with Deron Williams. They thought highly enough of Marshon Brooks to make a deal with Boston rather than sticking with some of the other well-known names still on the board. Brooks averaged 24.6 points at Providence in 2010-11.
Shooting Guards on (New Jersey's) Current Roster: Anthony Morrow
Mock Draft Projected: Nolan Smith, PG (Duke)
28. Chicago Bulls (From Miami via Toronto): Norris Cole, PG (Cleveland State) (Traded to Heat)
Analysis: This was actually Minnesota’s pick from an earlier trade with Chicago. In return, Chicago ended up getting Mirotic, who might not head to the U.S. for a couple of seasons because of a multi-million dollar buyout with his Spanish contract. Minnesota selected Cole here and sent him to Miami for the 31st pick (Bojan Bogdanvoic), a future second-rounder and cash.
Mock Draft Projected: Shelvin Mack, PG (Butler)
29. San Antonio Spurs: Cory Joseph, PG (Texas)
Analysis: Joseph became the third Longhorn player selected in the first round. The need for a backup point guard arose after George Hill was dealt to Indiana. All week long, it was speculated that it was Tony Parker that would be moved instead. Joseph, who averaged 10.4 points and 3 assists, wasn’t projected to go in the first.
Point Guards on Current Roster: Tony Parker
Mock Draft Projected: Jeremy Tyler, C (Tokyo Apache)
30. Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler, SF (Marquette)
Analysis: The Bulls are said to have spent three seconds thinking about this pick. Butler believes he’s a guard despite being listed at small forward while playing in the Big East. With Luol Deng at the three, Butler may have a better shot at minutes if coach Tom Thibodeau agrees.
Small Forwards on Current Roster: Luol Deng
Mock Draft Projected: Nikola Mirotic, SF (Serbia)
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