2011 NBA Draft: Is This It?

It’s unfortunate that the NBA couldn’t follow up one of the best seasons of all time. Not only do we have this impending lockout looming over everyone’s heads, this year’s draft class is being projected to be a dispersion of the most useless collection of talents (or lack thereof) to ever come up since 2000. Experts are saying that none of these players are guaranteed all-stars, only two are expected to become annual starters, and only a handful are supposed to be part of an NBA rotation throughout their career.

What’s even worse though is that even when the upcoming group of rookies aren’t that strong, it usually doesn’t matter because the real fun is the event itself. But since everyone is following 100 Twitter accounts and is subscribing to every smart basketball blog out there, these kids are so self-aware now that the unintentional comedy that is usually prevalent in NBA drafts are turned way down. If someone is caught wearing a ridiculous suit, someone is most likely doing so ironically.

Oh well. Here’s (t5!)’s shakedown of the lottery picks, the fourteen best of the worst:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers select… Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke

Upside Potential: Chris Paul without the Napoleon complex
Entrance Music: Radio 4 — Too Much To Ask For
Proposed Nicknames: Kyrie “Dr. K” Irving

It’s a high mountain to climb when you are already being compared to the best player in the position you play in. The miserable people in Cleveland are also hoping that he can fill the gigantic void that LeBron James left behind. And to be honest, no one truly knows if Kyrie Irving can conquer these impossible expectations since we’ve only seen him in 11 college games. To be fair, in those 11 games he played, he looked like the best available NBA prospect this year.

Honestly, his basketball IQ might not be as high as Chris Paul’s. He also doesn’t have the athletic ability of Derrick Rose and wouldn’t be able to beat John Wall in a foot race. There’s no particular skill that he can say he’s the best at, but he does excel in every skill needed to be a franchise point guard in the NBA. But first, he needs to prove that he can move ahead of Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions in Cleveland’s depth charts.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!!!

2. Minnesota Timberwolves select… Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona

Upside Potential: if Rodney Rodgers reached his potential
Entrance Music: Fleetwood Mac — Need Your Love So Bad
Proposed Nicknames: Derrick “Not A 4” Williams

I already don’t like this kid. Right after being drafted, he said in an interview that he prefers to play the small forward position, but he will play power forward if necessary. It’s not that I don’t appreciate his talent — because of the uncertainty that surrounds Irving, he may be the most NBA ready player in this draft — but, I’m afraid that even though his greatest strength is his explosiveness and dunking ability, he may be the type of player that settles for outside shots all the time. I realize though that he may be doing this to communicate to the Timberwolves coaching staff that he doesn’t want to compete for playing time with their best player, power forward Kevin Love. But it’s still off-putting.

But with the T-Wolves’ situation right now, he does have to compete for playing time with somebody in that team. The incompetent and incomprehensible GM David Kahn have stockpiled young small forwards over the years, so he needs to clear some space in his roster. The team desperately needs a veteran presence, and if they plan to pick a solid player via trade, Derrick Williams has the most value. There’s a chance that we may not see Williams in a Timberwolves uniform when the season starts, whenever that is. But if we do, it’ll be another dysfunctional season for the LOLves.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!!!

3. Utah Jazz selects… Enes Kanter, C, Kentucky

Upside Potential: Joel Przybilla with offense, so they say
Entrance Music: Magnetic Man — Perfect Stranger
Proposed Nickname: Enes “The Undertaker” Kanter

Based on the two games that scouts saw him play in, and the pre-draft workouts where he went against chairs and assistant coaches, Enes Kanter is a dominating force in the paint. Because he was paid to play overseas, he was ineligible to play for Kentucky last year. Thus, other than the fact that he scored 34 against the best freshmen in the world in the Nike Hoop Summit, no one really knows how good (or bad) he can be against NBA talent.

But since there’s a chance that he could become an All-NBA center in the Association, this is a smart pick for the Jazz. If Kanter needs time to develop, Jazz has a pretty decent frontcourt already so he can just let fellow turk Mehmet Okur mentor him. If Kanter’s ready now though, he will allow current center Al Jefferson to play power forward where he can get more mismatches, Paul Millsap to come off the bench, and Derrick Favors to develop in his own pace.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!!!!

4. Cleveland Cavaliers select… Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas

Upside Potential: A more celebrated Amir Johnson
Entrance Music: Rascalz — Northern Touch
Proposed Nickname: Tristan “True North” Thompson

Although I love the fact that a Canadian was drafted this high, Tristan Thompson is not talented enough to be a no. 4 overall pick on a great year. He has tremendous footwork and busts his ass in the paint, but at 6’8”, he’s a little undersized for his style of game. With Anderson Varejao, JJ Hickson, and Antawn Jamison already in the Cavs’ roster, Thompson has to be phenomenal to crack that rotation. Having said that, this is a testament to how horrible this draft is. The next best available player that is not a point guard is center Jonas Valanciunas, but he won’t be able to play in the NBA for another year due to his contract in Europe. The Cavaliers’ true need is a shooting guard, but Klay Thompson and Alec Burks drafted fourth would be ridiculously way too high.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!

5. Toronto Raptors select… Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania

Upside Potential: Tyson Chandler with low alley-oop IQ
Entrance Music: The Fiery Furnaces — Waiting To Know You
Proposed Nickname: Jonas “Weezer” Valanciunas

Jonas Valaciunas may be everything the Toronto Raptors needs. He’s an intimidating obstacle in the paint, he has a reliable post-up game, and he has a motivated rebounder. It gives new head coach (and former Dallas Mavericks assistant) Dwane Casey a version of Tyson Chandler in the middle. If only they drafted him next year instead.

It’s especially tough because GM Bryan Colangelo passed up two point guards who is available right now. Brandon Knight has the potential to become even better than Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker is a proven winner. Valaciunas is a terrific pick for the long-term, but Raptors fans are aching for them to improve this season. Jonas can’t join the team until 2011, and therefore won’t be able to help them get better.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!!

6. Washington Wizards select… Jan Vesely, SF, Partizan Belgrade

Upside Potential: Jomario Moon, 6’-11 and Czech 
Entrance Music: N.W.A. — Appetite For Destruction
Proposed Nickname: “The Dunking Ninja” is already the greatest nickname of ALL TIME

This wasn’t much of a surprise since the Washington front office invited members of the Czech Republic Embassy in their war room during draft night. If the YouTube highlights is any indication of what Jan Vesely’s going to bring to Washington, the Wizards are going to be fun to watch in 2011. The Dunking Ninja gives 2010 no. 1 overall pick, John Wall, a running mate, and alongside JaVale McGee, I foresee a lot of alley-oops and posterizations in their future. Vesely also had the best accessory in this year’s draft.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!!!

7. Sacramento Kings select… Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo… then trades him to the Charlotte Bobcats

Upside Potential: Ben Wallace, but younger?
Entrance Music: Guided By Voices — Your Name Is Wild
Proposed Nickname: Bismack “My Bitch Up” Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo is certainly the best name of the 2011 NBA Draft. Biyombo’s extraordinarily tenacious on the defensive end, something he showcased in the Nike Hoop Summit when he tallied 11 rebounds and 10 blocks. He and fellow Congolese, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Serge Ibaka, will be battling for the league lead in blocks in five years. However, if you are looking for him to fill up the scoreboard, you’ll be very disappointed. The only thing Biyombo can do offensively is to dunk the basketball. Moreover, everyone is doubting the fact that he’s only 18 because he looks older than some of the head coaches in the league. And like Valanciunas, he is obligated to stay in Spain for a year or so.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!!!

8. Detroit Pistons select… Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

Upside Potential: A mellower Russell Westbrook
Entrance Music: Guns ‘N Roses — Welcome To The Jungle
Proposed Nickname: Brandon “Nut Slapper” Knight

Like I said above, Brandon Knight has the potential to be a better player than Kyrie Irving, so theoretically, this is a magnificent pick for Detroit. But success in the NBA is as much about being in an ideal situation as having talent, and the Pistons locker room is a mad house right now. Last year, all of their players mutinied against their coach, who was eventually fired earlier this month. A point guard needs to be able to lead his group of men every night, so how would a rookie like Knight — who is a shooter first and a passer second — be able to command these gangs of hooligans to victory if a coach can’t? He has a steady jump shot, has a quick first step, and is the type of player that would hold a grudge because he dropped this low. I’m excited to see him play, but him being a Piston is unfortunate.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!!!

9. Charlotte Bobcats select… Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut

Upside Potential: Bulls-era Ben Gordon
Entrance Music: Sufjan Stevens — Size Too Small
Proposed Nickname: Kemba “Too Short” Walker

If Kemba Walker’s six inches taller, he would’ve been the consensus no.1 pick. He is a deadly shooter, an impossible cover, and a clutch performer. More importantly, he led the UConn Huskies to win the Big East Championship and the National Championship, so he’s knows exactly how to win. But at 5’11”, he might have a hard time doing what he did in college in the NBA. It’s not as if guys under 6’0” had never found success in the NBA before (Allen Iverson and Isiah Thomas first come to mind), but he is more likely to fail than to succeed. Plus, the Bobcats is already starting a 5’11” DJ Augustin at point guard.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!!

10. Milwaukee Bucks select… Jimmer Fredette, PG, Brigham Young… then trades him to the Sacramento Kings

Upside Potential: Street ball Mark Price
Entrance Music: Raekwon — House Of Flying Daggers
Proposed Nickname: Jimmer “The Honor Code” Fredette

JIMMER!

There is no doubt that Jimmer Fredette is the most popular player in this draft, thanks to his achievements and highlights in Brigham Young. Unfortunately, his style of play doesn’t necessarily translate well in the NBA. Jimmer can make a shot from anywhere in the gym, but there are questions of how easily he could score in the NBA because he’s not athletic enough or tall enough or quick enough. He also showed in college that he has an allergy to defense. If he is willing to diminish his usage rate though, he may have a productive career of knocking down open corner shorts. It’s all on him if he’s willing to change his game up.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!!!

11. Golden State Warriors select… Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State

Upside Potential: Wesley Person with a ton of open shots
Entrance Music: Broken Social Scene — Stars And Sons
Proposed Nickname: Klay “Achin’” Thompson

I don’t know much about Klay Thompson other than the fact that he’s the son of 1978 no. 1 overall pick, Mychal Thompson. From his highlights, it looks like he’s a little slow, but can knock down shots like an undergrad in Puerto Vallarta. If Golden State decides to keep both Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, he will benefit from countless drive-and-dish opportunities.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!

12. Utah Jazz selects… Alec Burks, SG, Colorado

Upside Potential: smaller Nick Young
Entrance Music: Ramones — Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Proposed Nickname: “Smart” Alec Burks

The most fun aspect of a bad draft is that someone like Alec Burks would feel like a bust on draft night, but when you reevaluate the draft order five years from now, you can’t fathom how some of these teams passed on him. Burks seems like a prototypical 6’6” chucker that would have a hard time cracking an NBA rotation, but remember, Kobe Bryant was the 13th overall pick in 1996. It’s not inconceivable that Burks may shock us down the road. But currently, my excitement level is low.

(t5!) Level of Excitement: !!

13. Phoenix Suns select… Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas
14. Houston Rockets select…
Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas

Upside Potential: Markieff is Chuck Hayes with a better free throw form; Marcus is Carlos Boozer with an underdeveloped post-game
Entranec Music: Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock — It Takes Two
Proposed Nicknames: Markieff “Solid Snake” Morris; Morris “Liquid Snake” Morris

It would’ve been nice to see a Daniel and Henrik Sedin draft-day miracle in the NBA, but alas, the Morris twins went their separate ways. There have only been six set of twins in the history of the NBA, and the only time a set played together is during Dick and Tom Van Arsdale’s last season in Phoenix. Admittedly the chemistry between a set of twins would be uncanny, but the reason why it’s rare for twins to play together in the NBA is because two players with the same size and same build (and same skill set usually) would be redundant. Even if they belonged in the same roster, it would be very rare for them to actually be in floor at the same time. It could work with the Morris twins — because Markieff is more of a defensive presence and Marcus is more of a low-post scorer — and at 6’10”, the two can exist in a lineup as a power forward and a center; however, I don’t think Phoenix or Houston wanted one of them that bad in the first place, let alone two.

(t5!) Level of Excitement for both of them: !!!

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