Monday, June 20, 2011
Posted: 12:11 p.m.
By Sean KaneCSNPhilly.com Contributor
With the NBA draft just three days away, here is our updated mock draft:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving (6-2, 180, PG, Duke)
The Cavs reportedly haven't made up their mind on who they'll take with the first pick. They could go the conventional route and take Irving, or they could select Arizona forward Derrick Williams or Turkish big man Enes Kanter and get their point guard with the fourth pick by taking Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker.
We think they'll make the safe play and take Irving. The one strong point of this draft is the point guard position, and Irving is the surest bet of the bunch. The biggest knock on the 19-year-old Irving is he played just 11 games during his career at Duke because of a toe injury. Had he not gotten hurt, he likely would have been the national player of the year and even more of a lock to go No. 1 in the draft. He showed enough when he was healthy the ability to score and control the game without scoring to prove he'll be successful at the next level. Irving is a capable shooter and while he may not have Derrick Rose or John Wall type explosiveness going to the basket, he has no trouble getting where he wants to go on the court.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves - Derrick Williams (6-9, 240, SF, Arizona)
Williams and Irving are on a level of their own when it comes to this year's draft. They are considered the two elite prospects, then there's everyone else. Williams went from a little-heralded recruit at Arizona to top draft prospect in just two years. His body and game are NBA ready he is the best athlete in this draft, and is a surprisingly good shooter for a player his size (he shot close to 57 percent from three-point range as a sophomore at Arizona).
He doesn't necessarily fill a need for Minnesota, so don't be surprised if the Timberwolves trade out of this spot. If they don't, they'll go with the best player available and there's no question that's Williams. 3. Utah Jazz - Enes Kanter (6-11, 260, PF, Kentucky)
The Jazz have a choice to make here. Do they take a point guard and play him in combo sets with Devin Harris? Or do they bolster an already strong frontline featuring Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson? We say they go big, and the best post player available is Enes Kanter. Unless you've followed Turkish basketball closely, chances are you haven't seen Kanter play. He spent last season sitting on the Kentucky bench after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. He did practice everyday with the Wildcats, but practicing and game action are far different animals. Kanter is billed as an extremely polished and athletic post player, a rare combination of size and skill. 4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jonas Valanciunas (6-11, 240, C, Lithuania)
After getting their point guard at the top of the draft, the Cavs go big at No. 4. Valanciunas might be the top international prospect in this draft. In the mold of most foreign big men, Valanciunas is able to get out and run the floor and is very skilled with the ball in his hands. Taking Valanciunas here is a gamble, he just turned 20 last month and has a long way to go in developing into a reliable NBA post player. Cleveland can only hope he pans out as well as the last Lithuanian big man they drafted Zydrunas Ilgauskas in 1996.
5. Toronto Raptors - Brandon Knight (6-3, 185, PG, Kentucky)
If Knight gets past the Jazz at No. 3, he would be a great value pick for the Raptors here. Toronto's point guard situation is hardly stellar Jose Calderon turns 30 in September and Jerryd Bayless has yet to fulfill his potential as a lottery pick in 2008 (though Bayless did produce when given big minutes in the last month of the season). Knight was the driving force behind Kentucky's Final Four run as a freshman, taking and making all the big shots for the Wildcats. He is polished beyond his years offensively, and his size gives him the edge over Kemba Walker, another point guard who will be on the board here.
6. Washington Wizards - Jan Vesely (6-11, 240, PF, Czech Republic)
Vesely has been soaring up draft boards the past few months. He isn't your typical big man. He is an extremely gifted athlete who can excel on the offensive end right away. Vesely is a high-energy guy who would be a great fit running the floor with John Wall in DC. Consistency is the question mark with Vesely, who can be a bit of a tweener in terms of the small and power forward positions.
7. Sacramento Kings - Kemba Walker (6-1, 180, PG, Connecticut)
The Kings finally realized that Tyreke Evans is a lot of things, but a point guard isn't one of them. Sacramento could also use a high-character leader in its locker room. Enter Walker, who singlehandedly willed UConn to the national championship last season. He is a shoot-first point guard, so the challenge will be finding enough shots for him and Evans. But Walker is an NBA-ready talent with box office draw, which is big for a Kings team on the brink of leaving Sacramento.
8. Detroit Pistons - Bismack Biyombo (6-9, 240, PF, Spain)
Biyombo is an unknown quantity, with the only certainties being his defense and rebounding. He is an elite level shot blocker and rebounder, with a NBA-ready body. His offensive game needs big-time work, but the Pistons will take his defense and wait for his offense. Detroit gave up more than 100 points per game last season, and they will see shades of Ben Wallace in Biyombo.
9. Charlotte Bobcats - Tristan Thompson (6-9, 225, PF, Texas)
The Bobcats' frontline needs help, and Thompson has a ton of potential here. He averaged 13 points and eight rebounds as a freshman at Texas. Thompson's frame has all the makings of a terrific rebounder and shot blocker. He made great strides offensively during his time in Austin, as a lefty who is a handful to defend on the low block. 10. Milwaukee Bucks - Kawhi Leonard (6-7, 225, SF, San Diego St.)
Leonard is a good fit for the Bucks here. His specialties are rebounding and defense, and Milwaukee emphasized both last season (although scoring was an issue they were dead last in the NBA in scoring at 91.9 ppg). Leonard can help in that area too; he averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds as a sophomore for a 34-win San Diego St. team.
11. Golden State Warriors - Klay Thompson (6-6, 200, PGSG, Washington St.)
Thompson is an interesting pick here. The Warriors already have a high-scoring backcourt with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. But with Ellis on the market, Jerry West and company can look to the future by taking Thompson. He's a big guard who can defend both backcourt positions, which would suit him well playing with Curry. Thompson is also considered one of the best shooters in this draft. 12. Utah Jazz - Jimmer Fredette (6-2, 195, SG, BYU)
With their second lottery pick, the Jazz get a local boy and scoring machine in Fredette. The long range marksman became the darling of college basketball as a senior at BYU. Fredette led the nation with just under 29 points per game, and shot 40 percent from three-point territory. But he's not just a one trick pony. Fredette demonstrated the ability to get to the basket in college, which complements his shooting stroke perfectly. He'll also create quite a buzz playing in the same state where he starred collegiately. All this will help the Jazz look past Fredette's defensive shortcomings.
13. Phoenix Suns - Marcus Morris (6-9, 220, SF, Kansas)
The Suns add an NBA-ready prospect in Morris with this pick. Phoenix has plenty of guys that like to score and not much else. Morris has the ability to score when needed, but more importantly at this pick can rebound, defend and share the ball. The Philadelphia product improved every year at Kansas. He knows the game and made countless winning plays in college. Morris doesn't need the ball to contribute, a welcomed attribute in Phoenix.
14. Houston Rockets - Chris Singleton (6-9, 225, SF, Florida St.)
Singleton is considered the best perimeter defender in this draft, and that's music to the Rockets' ears. Houston gave up the ninth-most points in the NBA last season. Taking Singleton here gives them an immediate boost defensively, but they'll have to be patient for his offensive skills to evolve. 15. Indiana Pacers - Markieff Morris (6-10, 245, PF, Kansas)
The Pacers are in the market for an athletic big man who can protect the rim and run the floor. Morris fits that need perfectly. He was the less heralded Morris twin during his time at Kansas, but he thrived on doing the dirty work defensively and on the glass. Morris is an excellent interior defender who averaged 8.3 rebounds last season as a junior.
16. Philadelphia 76ers - Kenneth Faried (6-8, 225, PF, Morehead State)
The 76ers have plenty of young building blocks for Doug Collins to work with, particularly on the perimeter. But they're in need of a big man, an energy guy that will help them improve on their rebounding they were the eighth-worst rebounding team in the NBA last season. That was the biggest difference when the 76ers went toe-to-toe with Eastern Conference heavyweights like Orlando and Miami (in the four games they lost to the Heat in the postseason, they were beat on the glass by an average of 8.5 rebounds per game).
No one in college basketball rebounded the ball better than Faried last season he led the nation with 14.3 rebounds per game. But his skills aren't limited to the boards alone. He blocked close to 2.5 shots per game last season and scored 17.3 points per game. He broke onto the national radar in Morehead State's first round upset of Louisville in the NCAA tournament, grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking the potential game-winning shot at the buzzer. With four years of college experience, Faried will be ready to contribute immediately for the 76ers' thin frontline. He won't need the ball to be a factor in the NBA, he's content protecting the rim and rebounding.
17. New York Knicks - Donatas Motiejunas (7-0, 225, PF, Lithuania)
18. Washington Wizards - Alec Burks (6-6, 190, SG, Colorado)
19. Charlotte Bobcats - Jordan Hamilton (6-7, 225, SG, Texas)
20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Nikola Vucevic (7-0, 260, C, USC)
21. Portland Trailblazers - Reggie Jackson (6-3, 210, PG, Boston College)
22. Denver Nuggets - Tobias Harris (6-8, 225, SF, Tennessee)
23. Houston Rockers - Marshon Brooks (6-5, 200, SG, Providence)
24. Oklahoma City Thunder - Justin Harper (6-10, 225, PF, Richmond)
25. Boston Celtics - Tyler Honeycutt (6-8, 190, SF, UCLA)
26. Dallas Mavericks - Darius Morris (6-5, 190, PG, Michigan)
27. New Jersey Nets - Josh Selby (6-2, 180, PG, Kansas)
28. Chicago Bulls - Shelvin Mack (6-2, 215, PG, Butler)
29. San Antonio Spurs - Nolan Smith (6-3, 190, PG, Duke)
30. Chicago Bulls - Davis Bertans (6-9, 210, SF, Latvia)
E-mail Sean Kane at email@example.com.