2011 NBA draft report card
The 2011 NBA Draft has widely been regarded as a down year for talent, but it offers a chance for GMs to prove themselves, the perfect draft to find that needle in a haystack.
We liked the drafts by Utah, San Antonio and both Los Angeles teams and question the Knicks' moves.
NBADraft.net's Mike Misek (East) and Tyler Ingle (West) have all the picks covered.
Here is a team-by-team breakdown:
Draft moves: No. 48, Keith Benson
Holding only the 48th pick, it is not as if the Hawks were in a great draft position. In taking Benson, they have acquired someone who has a very good combination of length, athleticism and skill. The concern about him is whether he can develop the bulk necessary to make use of his abilities in the NBA. He will also likely require somebody to light a fire under him.
Draft moves: No. 27, JaJuan Johnson; No. 55, E'Twaun Moore
Danny Ainge talked down the draft more than any NBA executive, and ended up swinging for contact. Johnson is not going to be the missing big man in Boston, but he is a worker bee who can be a little like Leon Powe before his knee injuries. Similarly, Moore is someone who can come in and compete for a roster spot. He had a decorated four-year career at Purdue and measured out well at 6-4 and a 6-9 1/2 wingspan. Given the salaries at the top of their roster, they are going to be looking for an inexpensive and capable body on the back end.
Draft moves: No. 7, Bismack Biyombo; No. 9, Kemba Walker; and added Corey Maggette
The Bobcats were not going anywhere as they were currently constructed, so they cleaned up their payroll and moved up to get a second lottery pick. Biyombo is unquestionably a long and athletic shot blocker, but is just as assuredly limited in his offensive skill set, turnover prone and foul prone. Walker is an intangibles pick. Nobody is going to argue that Walker is a pure point guard because he is not one. His perimeter shot needs work, and his small stature is always going to impact him defensively. He went in the lottery because he is by all accounts a great young man with a tremendous work ethic, and he carried Connecticut to the championship. For as depleted a roster the Bobcats have, it is hard to believe a “winner” and a shot blocker were the best options for them in the draft.
Chicago Bulls: B-
Draft moves: No. 23, Nikola Mirotic; No. 30, Jimmy Butler
The Bulls are likely going to return their top 11 players, which put them in a difficult spot in the draft. In acquiring Mirotic, the Bulls took a player who will happily stay and develop overseas with one of the best clubs in Europe. Butler will likely be on the outside of the Bulls rotation, but he fits the Bulls model. He works extremely hard, defends well, and was a very efficient scorer at Marquette.
Draft moves: No. 1, Kyrie Irving; No. 4, Tristan Thompson; and No. 54, Milan Macvan
Barring injuries marring his career, Irving is going to be a good player at one of the two most important positions in the sport. He is not going to turn the Cavs around anytime soon, but the team now has someone to build around. Thompson is a raw offensive player, but he is a relatively safe pick in that he is a tremendous athlete who will run through a wall for the team. Macvan recently signed a long-term deal with Maccabi Tel-Aviv, so he will not be in the mix for a long time. He is a highly skilled power forward who can become an asset for the future.
Draft moves: Added Rudy Fernandez, Petteri Koponen
The recently crowned NBA champions traded both of their picks, but managed to come out of the draft smiling anyway. Fernandez was not happy in Portland, and had to compete with Brandon Roy and Wesley Matthews for playing time at the shooting guard position. Dallas will be a new start for him, and though he'll still have competition for playing time, Rick Carlisle will find a way to get him minutes.
Draft moves: No. 22, Kenneth Faried; No. 26, Jordan Hamilton; No. 56, Chukwudiebere Maduabum; and added Andre Miller
Raymond Felton wasn't really needed in Denver, as the Nuggets already had a quality point guard from North Carolina in Ty Lawson on the roster. They managed to get some talent in return for Felton, receiving the expiring contract of Miller and the rights to Texas sharpshooter Hamilton from the Blazers. Hamilton is a natural scorer with a lot of potential in this area, though he doesn't figure to get a lot of playing time next year unless Wilson Chandler leaves. The Nuggets also picked up Faried, who is easily the best rebounder in the draft and could be the eventual successor to Chris "Birdman" Andersen. Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri drafted countryman Maduabum, who has the nickname "Chu Chu" which makes him worthy of being drafted, alone.
Draft moves: No. 8, Brandon Knight; No. 33, Kyle Singler; and No. 52, Vernon Macklin
The surprises early in the draft worked out to the benefit of the Pistons as Knight fell into their lap at No. 8. Detroit's biggest problem last year was its point-guard play. Rodney Stuckey has never been able to operate the point the way Joe Dumars envisioned when he dealt Chauncey Billups, and point play has had a ripple effect on the team. Knight grew by leaps and bounds as a point guard from the beginning of his freshman year to the end. He will likely have some bumps in the road since he does not turn 20 until December, but he is a bright kid who proved to be a quick study. Singler is a known commodity who will play hard and challenge for a spot on the roster. Macklin showed flashes of NBA skills at Florida and will have an opportunity to compete for a roster spot.
Draft moves: No. 11, Klay Thompson; No. 39, Jeremy Tyler; and No. 44, Charles Jenkins
The decision made by the Warriors to add shooting to their backcourt suggests that they are indeed becoming closer to moving Monta Ellis. Unfortunately, Thompson isn't a great athlete or defender and neither is his future running mate Stephen Curry, but acquiring Andre Iguodala or an athlete in his mold could supplement that. Tyler is an excellent risk/reward pick, and if things work out then he could really add some talent to the Warriors' frontcourt. The Warriors added three new members to their front office and seemed to make a pick for each (Jerry West/Klay Thompson — his guy, Mark Jackson/Jenkins NY ties, and new assistant GM Bob Myers who had ties to Tyler through his agent days at Wasserman Group).
Houston Rockets: A-
Draft moves: No. 14, Marcus Morris; No. 20, Donatas Motiejunas; No. 38, Chandler Parsons; and added Jonny Flynn
Morris and Motiejunas are both great values. We had Motiejunas graded out as one of the top five prospects available so we obviously loved Houston's draft. Motiejunas brings a different element with his perimeter game and has a chance to be special, if he ever puts his mind to it. Morris was also a solid pick at 14. Talent-wise they deserve a strong grade and that's what the draft really comes down to, but now they have their work cut out for them as they'll need to clear the log-jam they have at the 4 position if they want to get their young players any experience.
Indiana Pacers: B+
Draft moves: Traded for George Hill
An IUPUI legend returns home. The Pacers wanted to come away with a point guard who would complement Darren Collison. In dealing for Hill, they acquired someone who has already established himself as one of the best backup point guards in the league. In a weak draft, Indiana did well to get a known commodity. Plus, eight of the 11 players on their roster are still playing under their rookie deals. For a team that wants to build off a season where it made the playoffs, adding another rookie would not have done it much good. With close to $30 million coming off their payroll, the Pacers will be able to go out and supplement their young players with veterans in free agency.
Draft moves: No. 37, Trey Thompkins; No. 47, Travis Leslie
Two very good value picks. Thompkins is a top-20 talent who due to a perceived lack of a motor fell all the way to 37 on draft night. He is a polished/skilled power forward who can play inside or out. He adds a nice contrast to Blake Griffin, whom he'll be backing up. Leslie is a stunning athlete with a lot of defensive potential. If he can add a consistent jump shot (easier said than done) then this pick becomes a real steal. Overall, the Clippers did well with the picks they had and found two players who could become quality players down the road.
Draft moves: No. 41, Darius Morris; No. 46, Andrew Goudelock; No. 58, Ater Majok
Just like last year, the Lakers capitalized on their second-round picks. Local product Morris has great size and appears to be the best passer in this draft class. He's got a good amount of potential — enough to be the Lakers' point guard of the future, though his shooting is a serious deficiency. Goudelock can help the team with his unreal shooting ability, though he's more of a back-end rotation player. It's highly unlikely that we will see Majok don a Lakers uniform anytime soon (if ever), but in the late 50s there's no sleep lost.
Draft puts Cavs' GM in the spotlight
Irving and Thompson are the future
Wolves promise to keep Williams
Wild night of trades for Wolves
Pistons happy Knight falls to No. 8
Suns get physical with No. 13 pick
Fernandez was Mavs' 'A scenario'
Trades should help Bucks' offense
How will George Hill fit in?
Can Cole make instant impact?
Wizards get top defender in Singleton
Draft moves: No. 49, Josh Selby
There was a lot of buzz surrounding Selby prior to the draft, with some talk of him being selected as high as 17. While that would have been more than ridiculous, Selby landing at 49 is completely reasonable. He didn't have a memorable season at Kansas, but he still has the qualities that made him such a highly-touted prospect coming out of high school. Hopefully this serves as a positive wake-up call for him. His athleticism, size and offensive instincts give him a lot of long-term potential — certainly more than your average 49th pick.
Miami Heat: A-
Draft moves: No. 28, Norris Cole
Seeing as how the Heat did their spending last summer, the possibility exists that Mario Chalmers will get a contract offer in free agency that Miami will be unable to match. While there are going to be no shortage of veterans looking to fill that role, Cole can be someone the Heat look to develop internally. He is a dynamic player and a great athlete. His ability to get on the floor will be determined by whether he can knock down the open 3.
Draft moves: No. 19, Tobias Harris; No. 40, Jon Leuer; and added Stephen Jackson, Beno Udrih and Shaun Livingston
Milwaukee’s pre-draft move to trade back from 10th to 19th and acquire Jackson, Udrih and Livingston for Corey Maggette and John Salmons was an interesting move. Jackson should fit in perfectly with the Bucks. He is a tough, gritty, hard-working wing who plays hard on both ends. The team struggled with its point play when Brandon Jennings went down, and this deal brought them two quality backup point guards. In the draft, Harris was a decent gamble. He played power forward at Tennessee, and struggled to score efficiently against bigger and stronger SEC front lines. He sold himself as an NBA small forward, and has the athleticism to do it, but will be a bit of a project. Leuer is worth bringing in as a second-round pick.
Draft moves: No. 2, Derrick Williams; No. 43, Malcolm Lee
Despite all the speculation that Enes Kanter could go No. 2, the Timberwolves opted for the best available player in Williams. They already have a similar player in Michael Beasley, but Williams shoots much more efficiently from the field and is a player you can win with. Brad Miller was picked up in a flurry of T'wolves trades on Thursday, but it'll take a lot more than him to make the team respectable again. They moved the 20th pick in a deal that ridded themselves of draft mistake Jonny Flynn, but should have held onto that pick and kept Donatas Motiejunas.
Draft moves: No. 25, Marshon Brooks; No. 36, Jordan Williams
The advantage the Nets have in their rebuilding is that they have the point guard and center positions filled. Even in a weak draft, a team can find a scoring guard and a rebounder, and the Nets did just that. Brooks has great measurements for an NBA 2-guard and put up huge numbers at Providence, but it is hard to get excited over a guard on a losing team who takes 18 shots per game and averages all of two assists. Williams is a second-round pick who is capable of making the roster and competing for a spot in the rotation.
Draft moves: None
As anticipated, the Hornets sold their only draft pick (No. 45 to the New York Knicks). They're likely trying to save up in order to keep David West. Anytime you can sell Josh Harrellson for $1 million, you have to chalk that up as a good day.
New York Knicks: D
Draft moves: No. 17, Iman Shumpert; No. 45, Josh Harrellson
People will give the Knicks the benefit of the doubt because of the success of Landry Fields, but Shumpert is a questionable pick. At Georgia Tech last season, he was an inefficient scorer and mediocre distributor. He will get out and defend incredibly well, but when has there been an NBA team with a defensive specialist who touches the ball on every possession and initiates the offense? There is a reason those guys do not exist. If the Knicks envision him as a shooting guard, can a shooting guard in the Mike D’Antoni system get on the floor when he cannot consistently knock down an open three? The Knicks bought a second-round pick and took Harrellson, who will set screens, rebound and hit an open shot. If he makes the roster, then he justifies the expense of buying the pick.
Draft moves: No. 24, Reggie Jackson
"Shut it down, we're taking you. No medical reports to teams, nothing." The conversation between GM Sam Presti and Jackson's agent likely went something like that. Not many scouts focused on Jackson during the season, because few thought he would be entering this draft. But once they did, many liked what they saw. And there's no disputing Presti's track record for finding talent. Jackson is a nice offensive talent with great athleticism and a huge wingspan, but it’s questionable how he'll fit in if the Thunder can’t trade Eric Maynor by the beginning of the season.
Orlando Magic: A-
Draft moves: No. 32, Justin Harper; No. 53, DeAndre Liggins
The Magic had a good draft because they need inexpensive players who can make the roster and contribute. Orlando’s bloated payroll has left the team in a very difficult spot. While Harper and Liggins are not going to alter the Magic’s 2011-12 outlook dramatically, they can have value. If Harper sticks in the league, it will be as a Ryan Anderson-type stretch power forward. Where better to put that specific skill set to use than in Orlando? Liggins is a premier defensive prospect who represents a good value for the rookie minimum.
Draft moves: No. 16, Nikola Vucevic; No. 50, Lavoy Allen
The Sixers wanted to go big, and they came away with the safest NCAA big-man selection in the draft. Vucevic is a skilled scorer inside and out, makes good decisions with the basketball, and given the snail's pace of USC, did not receive the proper appreciation for being a solid rebounder. Additionally, having played for Kevin O'Neill and Tim Floyd, he is a step ahead in terms of defensive preparation. In the second round, the Sixers took a local kid in Temple’s Allen. He won over Philadelphia in his two predraft workouts with the team, and worked his way to having the right to compete for a roster spot.
Phoenix Suns: B+
Draft moves: No. 13, Markieff Morris
Once again we witness the Suns take the more defense-oriented twin, but this time they're on the hook that that guy turns out better. Morris is an NBA-ready power forward who can defend the rim, clean the glass and make an open jumper. He seems like a nice fit for the Suns, who are obviously attempting to become less of a disgrace defensively. Good for them.
Draft moves: No. 21, Nolan Smith; No. 51, Jon Diebler; No. 57, Targuy Ngombo; and added Raymond Felton
The Blazers decided to play it safe in this year's draft. With a bigger need in the frontcourt and with players such as Kenneth Faried available, drafting Smith is a head-scratcher. Smith and Diebler have solid role-player potential, but it's difficult to see either of them becoming anything more. Smith will be a scorer/defender combo guard off the bench, while Diebler will be a great shooter at the end of the rotation. They also scored Felton from the Nuggets, which was their real accomplishment and gives them a solid young starting point guard for the next few seasons.
Sacramento Kings: B-
Draft moves: No. 10, Jimmer Fredette; No. 35, Tyler Honeycutt; No. 60, Isaiah Thomas; and added John Salmons
As much as we like Jimmer, it's hard to imagine him fitting in socially with Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. Therefore, we question this move. Especially when staying put at No. 7 and drafting Brandon Knight or especially Kemba Walker (who would have brought the best out of Evans and Cousins off the court) would have been a much better option. Honeycutt, despite being frail, was a steal at 35. Mr. Irrelevant, Thomas, also stands a chance of making the team.
Draft moves: No. 15, Kawhi Leonard; No. 29, Cory Joseph; No. 42, Davis Bertans; and No. 59, Adam Hanga
Though the pre-draft speculation was that Tony Parker would be moved, George Hill turned out to be the traded player. Hill netted the Spurs two picks that turned out to be Leonard and Bertans. Leonard will provide the aging Spurs a solid young prospect. As an athletic forward with a high motor, he draws optimistic comparisons to players like Gerald Wallace and Shawn Marion. Bertans is a great value pick here. Now he probably won't play in the NBA for a few years, but he has a good amount of potential and a deadly shooting stroke. Joseph could be Hill's replacement.
Toronto Raptors: C+
Draft moves: No. 5, Jonas Valanciunas
The Raptors gambled a bit by going with Valanciunas at No. 5. He may be stuck in Europe for another year or two. And while he has been playing at a high level there, the Lithuanian Basketball League is not a great test of his NBA readiness. His Euroleague play was especially concerning because he had extremely high foul and turnover rates. This is where staying abroad might help him.
Utah Jazz: A
Draft moves: No. 3, Enes Kanter; No. 12, Alec Burks
Utah should walk away very satisfied with the talent that they picked up in the draft. They maximized both picks extremely well and are our biggest winners on draft night. Kanter is an intriguing talent with a lot of potential. He'll be an ideal fit next to Derrick Favors, and the teenage duo should make Utah's frontcourt a force to be reckoned with in a few years. Burks gives Gordon Hayward a mate on the wings, though Utah was likely hoping that Fredette or Walker fell to them at 12. On the bright side, Burks could easily end up better than both.
Draft moves: No. 6, Jan Vesely; No. 18, Chris Singleton; and No. 34, Shelvin Mack
Washington came away last summer with a star in John Wall, and went into this draft looking for players who can help him out. Vesely is an ideal 3 in today's NBA because he will have the length and athleticism to handle the oversized small forwards defensively. While his shot is not great at this point of his development, he has the form to where it should come with time and work. Singleton is in many ways a similar player to Vesely. He has a tremendous ability to defend, but needs to stay out of foul trouble and work on his offense. Mack has been a tremendous tournament performer for three years, but he must prove he can play point guard in order to back up Wall.