So the NBA Draft lottery was last night, and for the first time in what feels like forever, the New York Knicks being uninvolved wasn’t a result of some atrocious trade robbing them of their first-round picks. Truly remarkable, I know. And while Knicks fans might not be salivating at the idea of the draft as much as they would have in past years, the fact that the Knicks early playoff exit exposed a serious need to round out a ridiculously thin roster (on top of the tremendous success 2010-11 rookie Landry “Muddy” Fields had) was enough to get our own Mark C. Rinaldi’s blood pumping.
So, while the ping-pong balls are being returned to their proper place at a Hofstra University beerpong table, we’ll let Mark present his newest fresh-off-the-presses 2011 NBA Mock Draft:
By Mark C. Rinaldi
This year’s NBA draft class isn’t the strongest ever. What makes it even weaker is the fact that a 2011-12 NBA season isn’t a sure-thing either. What we are assured of, at this point, is that the Cleveland Cavaliers will have the first overall pick. And with that pick, the former LeBron’s select…
The Cleveland front office are the ones with The Decision to make this off season, and it could be a tough one. With two picks in the top four and Baron Davis on the roster, the Cav’s have the option of picking up their point guard of the future with either of their picks.
In this scenario I see Cleveland taking the quick Duke point guard and looking for size with the forth pick. Irving gives the Cav’s excitement and potential, not to mention a solid game manager to build around. It’s not LeBron… or even Jared Sullinger… but winning the lottery last night was a GREAT moment in Cleveland’s history.
I firmly believe that Minnesota General Manager David Kahn was salivating over the prospect of drafting Irving since the Cav’s will take him first overall leaving Williams to team up with Kevin Love in the cold Minnesota fall.
Williams doesn’t have a particular high ceiling or seem destined to become a superstar, however he is the most NBA ready player in the draft. The comparisons to Andre Iguodala are warranted and his athleticism could be an interesting pairing if Ricky Rubio decides to come to this side of the pond.
Kanter is the third best player in the draft and may be a better selection then a 185 pound 18 year old, but the Jazz have a log jam at power forward already with Jefferson, Millsap and Favors. Knight would be in an ideal situation where he can sit back and learn from Devin Harris for a year or two before taking over and teaming up with Favors to become the new generation pick-and-roll combination in Utah.
Kanter was ineligible to play this year for the Wildcats but he is a big man in a big body and Dan Gilbert and Byron Scott would love to see the Turkish Giant sitting there at the fourth overall pick. He brings a tough interior presence that can rebound at the NBA level, and if the big Brazilian can come back healthy then it could be very difficult for opposing teams to get second shot opportunities in the paint.
San Diego State
The Raptors are in need of a solid swing man who can provide toughness and lock down defense. Leonard will need to improve on his jump shot, but Toronto has offensively solid players at the other four positions and drafting him will allow the Raptors to get out and run. Look for Toronto to consider a point guard or an international big man at this spot as well.
Thompson can rebound on both ends of the court and he gives John Wall a solid scorer on the low block. At 6’8’’ the Texas product may be a little undersized and that may scare the Wizards into taking a bigger body or a more athletic swing man, but as a team moving away from its past image problems, Thompson could be a step in the right direction.
The Kings are a very young team and with Evans and Cousins planted in Sacramento’s starting line up for the time being they need an on court general to lead them. Kemba Walker proved he can lead a team of mediocre players to a championship, so whose to say he can’t do it again? On the bright side the combination of Evans and Walker could cause Western Conference back courts to have nightmares for the next five years and beyond.
Biyombo is a 6’9’’ power forward who is long and athletic, so he may be picked before here based on potential alone. It is about time the Pistons get back to the Detroit Basketball we all fell in love with in the late 80’s, and a banger like Biyombo may be the way to do that.
If Michael Jordan owns a team, then it is obvious that team needs a solid shooting guard. Alec Burks has solid range and has shown leadership ability in his time at Colorado. Teaming him up with D.J. Augustin could make for an interesting young back court for Paul Silas.
There are very few pure centers left in the NBA and the Bucks just happen to have one. Taking Morris at this spot would give Bogut a huge partner in the paint. He has a high basketball IQ, a nice mid range game and an ability to rebound and get the ball out to start the break. Jennings and Bogut would be thrilled to see Morris come to Milwaukee.
NBA scouts think Valanciunas may be the best international player in the draft, yet I have him outside of the top ten. Right now the 6’10 Lithuanian is still under contract with his team and the buy-out could become tricky. That being said he can run and shoot, but at 230 pounds he needs to bulk up if he wants to make an impact on the boards.
Andre Kirilenko is going into free agency and he may not come back and the team doesn’t appear to be sold on Gordon Hayward, so drafting a small forward who can defend several positions makes a lot of sense for a young team that seems to be set at the 1, 4, and 5 positions (especially if they take Knight at the 4th pick).
The Suns like guys who can run and Vesely is an explosive athlete who has been running with some of the best European players for the last few years. At 21 he is one of the more experienced guys out there, meaning he should be ready to come to the NBA immediately. The Suns have been looking for more scoring from the 4 spot ever since Amar’e headed for the Big Apple, and they may look to Vesely to do just that.
Yao Ming probably won’t be back in a Rocket uniform anytime soon, so Houston will look to add size and interior toughness. Faried was a double-double machine last year, averaging 17 points and 15 rebounds a game. Combining him with Lowry and Martin could make for a fun up-tempo season in Texas.
Indiana has several expiring contracts that should leave the team open to making some free agent moves, but as for this pick I see the Pacers going with a pure shooter who can create his own shot. And there is no one better then that in the draft then Jimmer. The BYU grad would be the best three point shooter in Indiana since New York’s greatest villain… Reggie Miller.
Markieff isn’t as polished as his twin brother, but he is bigger and taller then Marcus. Morris is a Philly boy and the Philly boys needs a center. The match almost seems too perfect to actually happen. He does have a solid mid-range game and it shouldn’t be a problem for him to play with either Brand or Hawes… that is if he is still around at this point in the draft.
Outside of the 3 and 4 spots the Knicks have a ton of needs, especially an outside shooter who can step out and stretch the defense. At 6’8’’ Honeycutt can play either the 2 or 3, and he showed at UCLA that he can handle the ball when needed. Last year the Knicks did a good job taking a 2 guard from the Pac-10 so why can’t lightning strike twice?
This is the second Longhorn I have Washington taking, and his shooting ability would be a huge asset to John Wall and the Wizards. Rashard Lewis could step in and mentor the young swing man who will eventually take his place as the teams starting three.
The Bobcats have been in the process of rebuilding since their inception, with Raymond Felton out of town and the current Charlotte point guard position up for grabs it makes sense for Jordon, Silas, and Charles Oakley to grab a tough point guard who can shoot lights out and has an absurd seven foot wing span.
As previously stated, Kahn loves picking point guards. Thompson is a tweener who can play either back court position and shoot lights out. Granted the team has Ridenour and Flynn and they still own the rights to Ricky Rubio, but an upgrade is definitely needed.
Due to a turbulent tenure at Kansas, Selby can go anywhere from the lottery to the second round. Portland needs an upgrade at point guard in the worst way, so the match makes sense. If Selby can get his act together and put in the extra work then I have no doubt he will be a competent starting guard in the NBA for several years.
With the Bruce Pearl situation going the way it did no one can really blame Harris for leaving Tennessee after just one season. He can play both forward positions and appears to be an incredibly versatile player who can do just about everything well. With Chandler, Nene, and Martin currently in free agency he may need to do a lot soon if Denver brings him in.
Another seven foot international player who is hoping to take the U.S. by storm. The Rockets will be looking for front line depth and scoring and this lanky Lithuanian will provide Houston with both, but at 220 pounds don’t expect him to clean the glass any time soon.
Ever since acquiring Perkins from the Celtics at the deadline the Thunder have needed more scoring. Brooks would provide Oklahoma City with an immediate scoring option off of the bench who can create his own shot off the dribble or set up and hit one from deep. He is undoubtedly a perfect asset to the transition game Scott Brooks likes to play.
No shock that Boston would go for a center here. Williams is big and physical and in a down year for the ACC he was one of the best rebounders in college basketball. Conditioning could prove to be a minor obstacle for the 20 year old but the Celtics have the veteran leadership in the locker room to keep the big man in shape.
Stop me if you heard this one before. Dallas takes a long European based on potential because he can shoot lights out. Well actually Milwaukee drafted Dirk Nowitzki back then (and traded for the recently deceased Robert “Tractor” Traylor), but Bertans is already hearing the comparisons even though he remains to be a project. If the Mavericks are willing to draft a player and let him sit in Europe for a few years to develop, then this could prove to be a good move for Dallas.
The Nets have a lot of work to do in free agency but in the Eastern Conference they are not far from competing for the playoffs with Williams and Lopez. An experienced point guard to help Williams is a must for New Jersey and even though it isn’t at the top of their off season priorities, Nolan Smith would be a much better fit then Farmar. The Nets could also take the best player available in hopes of swinging him in a potential Dwight Howard trade.
The Bulls need a back up point guard and shooting guard who can actually score, and at 6’3’’ Jenkins fills both needs. As a Hofstra graduate, working for a site operated by a Hofstra graduate, which employees several proud “Pride” men, I can tell you that offensively there isn’t anything that Jenkins can’t do, it is defense where he needs to work. This new Bulls team prides themselves on D. I have heard rumors of Jenkins going as high as 17th to the Knicks and as low as undrafted… Definitely one of the more fun stories to fallow for New Yorkers during draft season.
The Spurts like to draft international guys, and it looks like they can use a center. At this point in the draft they may not be able to find someone capable of contributing immediately, so San Antonio may pick Nogueira in the hopes that they can stash the 18 year old overseas for another two years so he can develop and come to the NBA and contribute when Duncan hangs it up.
The Bulls love big men who can bang the boards and pick up cheap garbage buckets on the glass. Harper is good at just that…but not great. What the 6’10’’ former Richmond big man does do well is shoot from the outside and run the court. He is big and athletic and that goes well with what Chicago wants to do on offense, he will however need to improve on his defense to play for Coach Thibodeau.
Be sure to check back for frequent updates to my NBA Mock Draft.
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