June 27, 2011

2011 NBA Draft Grades

1. Utah

#3 - Enes Kanter
#12 - Alec Burks

How can you not love what Utah did here? They got the best player available in both spots and got two top 5 players in this draft. Utah was smart to pass on Brandon Knight to grab the big center Enes Kanter. The pick may not have been sexy, but you can never have too many quality bigs. Shooting guard has been a huge hole for Utah for quite some time, and now they get a dynamic player next to Devin Harris. After this draft, Utah is clearly on their way back to the playoffs. Sooner than later.

2. San Antonio

#15 - Kawhi Leonard
#29 - Cory Joseph
#42 - Davis Bertans
#59 - Adam Hanga
Erazem Lorbek

No team is better at manipulating the draft that San Antonio. Somehow they managed to turn a redundant backup point guard into what could be three starters down the road. Leonard is the kind of dirty work guy that thrives in San Antonio. Bertans is an elite level shooter who can be a very good NBA player if groomed right. Lorbek may never come over to the NBA, but if he does, he is a rotation player from day one. Add to all that the fact that Cory Joseph could be groomed into essentially what George Hill was, and this is a great, great draft for the Spurs. They needed to get younger and more athletic. Mission accomplished.

3. Minnesota

#2 - Derrick Williams
#43 - Malcolm Lee

Minnesota made the right decision in taking Derrick Williams. Enes Kanter may have been the better fit, but Minnesota is not nearly good enough to be drafting for need at the top of the draft. Williams was clearly a top two player in this draft and they need all the players they can get. Malcolm Lee is an excellent pick at a position of need. His defense could make him a rotation player right away. Minnesota is quietly assembling a lot of talent, now they just need a coach who can put it all together and turn that talent into wins.

4. Atlanta

#48 - Keith Benson

Nothing fancy here, but a team getting the best player available at a position of need. Benson was a top 35 player in this draft, and Atlanta must have been ecstatic to see him fall to them at #48. If Benson can bulk up, he has a chance to eventually become the starting center in Atlanta.

5. Detroit

#8 - Brandon Knight
#33 - Kyle Singler
#52 - Vernon Macklin

Brandon Knight at #8 is a slam dunk. Detroit needs star power in the worst way, and he brings it. He should start in Detroit for a good long time. Singler and Macklin are solid risk/reward picks. Both have NBA level talent, but never totally put it together in college. If either puts it together, this could be remembered as the draft class that brought Detroit back to respectability.

6. New Jersey

#25 - Marshon Brooks
#36 - Jordan Williams

New Jersey needs players, and both these guys can step into the NBA and play right away. Brooks is a big time scorer, and could be a solid compliment to Deron Williams going forward. Jordan Williams is a good center, with work ethic to spare. He may not be the most skilled or athletic big, but he is the kind of rugged big man who can play in the NBA for a long time off the bench.

7. Orlando

#32 - Justin Harper
#53 - DeAndre Liggins

Orlando needs cheap bench players who can contribute in the worst way. In this draft, they may very well have found two guys who fill this need. Harper is a first round talent who should fit in well with Orlando's system of shooters. Liggins is a tough defender who can guard multiple positions. After trading away Mickael Pietrus, Orlando's need for an athletic wing defender was evident in their first round loss to Atlanta. Liggins has a chance to fill this role going forward.

8. Washington

#6 - Jan Vesely
#18 - Chris Singleton
#34 - Shelvin Mack

Jan Vesely is a wild card in this draft. Some love him, others hate him. I think he has one of the highest upsides in this draft. He has all the tools to be an excellent NBA player. If he puts it together, he could be the second star next to John Wall that Washington needs to get back on the map. Singleton is an excellent defender who could be a very good rotation player in the NBA for a long time. Washington needs a guy like that, and he should fill it well. Shelvin Mack will likely become an above average backup NBA point guard. This was a very nice haul for Washington and it could go down as one of the best classes in this draft if Vesely becomes the player some expect.

9. LA Lakers

#41 - Darius Morris
#46 - Andrew Goudelock
#58 - Ater Majok

LA had no first rounders and 5,000 second round picks. Point guard is a huge need for the Lakers and they grabbed two high upside prospects at that position. Darius Morris was a top 30 player in this draft, so getting him at #41 was a coup. Andrew Goudelock is a sharpshooter who can become a very good backup point guard in the NBA. Majok will likely stay overseas, he he has some talent and could come over in a few years. It is kind of a shame Phil Jackson is gone, because both these point guards are tailor made for the trinagle offense.

10. Sacramento

#10 - Jimmer Fredette
#35 - Tyler Honeycutt
#60 - Isaiah Thomas
John Salmons

On talent alone this is probably a top five draft. My concern is that there is only one ball to go around and Jimmer, Tyreke, and Cousins are all going to want it. A lot. The fit with Jimmer and Evans is not the best. Jimmer is a better NBA prospect than a lot of people think, and at worst he will sell some tickets. Which is more what this pick was about than talent. I love the Honeycutt pick at #35. He has a ton of talent, fills a need, and UCLA picks always seem to pan out. Getting John Salmons adds some talent as well, but it also adds another guy who plays his best with the ball in his hands. Sacramento did well talent wise here, but they now have a ton of guys who need the ball in their hands to be effective.

11. Houston

#14 - Marcus Morris
#20 - Donatas Motiejunas
#38 - Chandler Parsons
Jonny Flynn

This may be the ultimate risk/reward draft class. All four guys are high upside, high risk guys. Marcus Morris was an excellent college player who has all the skills to succeed in the NBA. But, I can not shake the idea that he is a tweener who will likely never move beyond role player status. Morris reminds me a lot of another guy I was really high on, Darrell Arthur. He too was a very skilled big who because of his lack of position has never reached his NBA potential. Motiejunas has the talent of a top five pick, but the drive of a young Derrick Coleman. If Kevin McHale can get this kid to reach his potential, he has all star talent. Parson has intriguing skills, but likely is better suited for Europe. Jonny Flynn has been terrible in Minnesota, but he is skilled an a change of scenery may do him a world of good. This may end up being the best class in the draft...or maybe the worst.

12. Denver

#22 - Kenneth Faried
#26 - Jordan Hamilton
#56 - Chukwudiebere Maduabum
Andre Miller

Faried and Hamilton are great picks for Denver. Both fill roles immediately, and both bring things to the table that Denver needed. You could make a case that Hamilton at #26 was the best single pick in this year's draft. This kid is simply too talented to fall that far. Felton for Miller is a drop off, but not so bad that this was not a very nice draft for Denver.

13. LA Clippers

#37 - Trey Thompkins
#47 - Travis Leslie

A couple Georgia kids heading out West. While both these picks come with risk, you could do a lot worse than grabbing a couple guys who were considered lottery level players in this draft not too long ago. Thompkins is skilled inside and out, but his weight was enough of an issue to see him fall out of the first round. Leslie is the most athletic player in this draft, but he has yet to put it together and become an above average basketball player. Leslie needs to buckle down on defense and go the Tony Allen route. The Clippers are a team on the rise, and if either of these guys put it together, then this was a great draft for a team without a first round pick. It is kind of ironic that the Clippers traded the pick that became the #1 pick to Cleveland, yet they still managed a better grade here. Maybe the Clipper curse is dead after all.

14. Golden State

#11 - Klay Thompson
#38 - Jeremy Tyler
#44 - Charles Jenkins

Assuming Monta Ellis is on the way out, this is a very nice draft. If Ellis is not on the move, then maybe Golden State's love of guards went deeper than Don Nelson. All three guys here are good value where they were selected. Klay Thompson is a Reggie Miller type player who fits well next to Steph Curry. If you though Golden State took a lot of outside shots before, imagine now that Ellis is being replaced by Klay Thompson. Tyler and Jenkins are high upside risks in the second round. I'm not totally sold on either, but if even one of them pans out it will make this draft.

15. Charlotte

#7 - Bismack Biyombo
#9 - Kemba Walker
Corey Maggette

Charlotte needed scoring and a defensive big from this draft. They sure got that both in spades. Biyombo was the best defensive big in the draft and has Defensive MVP level upside. Kemba Walker is a very good player who can score with the best of them and will push DJ Augustine for playing time right away. Maggette is no longer the player he once was, but he can still score and get to the line. Charlotte filled their biggest needs here, but for some reason, I still don't think they got much better. I am not even sure how that is possible, but they still do not look like a team headed to the playoffs. At least they have a clear direction now.

16. Indiana

George Hill

While I believe San Antonio got way the best of this deal, that does not mean that Indiana did not also do well. Hill brings them a proven talent who can really score the basketball. If Indy can grab a power forward upgrade in free agency, then they have a chance to be really good next year.

17. Dallas

Rudy Fernandez
Petteri Koponen

I am no Rudy Fernandez fan. But, considering where Dallas was picking, you can not really fault them for grabbing a proven player instead of using the pick. Rudy is a chucker, but he is a talentd chucker, and maybe a change of scenery will do him good. Dallas is a well coached team with good veterans, if any team can get the best out of Fernandez, it is them.

18. Oklahoma City

#24 - Reggie Jackson

Jackson's promise from OKC was this draft's worst kept secret. I'm not sure how he fits in Oklahoma City, but they do need scorers and Jackson is surely that. He is a solid upside pick here, even if he is going to have a hard time finding the floor in the short term.

19. Miami

#28 - Norris Cole

Miami needs cheap role players. Norris Cole has a chance to play right away in Miami and also fills a need for point guard help. #28 may have been a little early for him, but the fit in Miami is nice.

20. Memphis

#49 - Josh Selby

I'm not great Selby fan, but he is too talented to have fallen this far. Selby is a bit of a man without a position, but falling this far may actually help his career. Instead of being expected to be a future starter, he can now settle into a Bobby Jackson type bench scorer role. Which is a role he can be very good in at the NBA level. This pick is also good insurance in case OJ Mayo leaves or is traded.

21. Phoenix

#13 - Markieff Morris

Markieff was a pretty big reach here at #13, but he does fill a need in Phoenix and he also would be a nice fit in the Phoenix front court with Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat.

22. Boston

#27 - JaJuan Johnson
#55 - E'Twaun Moore

This is the most unsexy draft of the year. Both guys are okay value and fill a need in Boston. But, both guys have limited upside and are likely career backups. Ho-hum.

23. Cleveland

#1 - Kyrie Irving
#4 - Tristan Thompson
#54 - Milan Macvan

Cleveland got two high level prospects here, but I can not shake the underwhelmed feeling I get from this draft. Irving is a top talent, but Cleveland would likely have been better off taking Derrick Williams and then grabbing Brandon Knight at #4. As it stands now, the pick of Tristan Thompson at #4 was a big reach. He is a nice player, but he is an offensively limited power forward. Both Irving and Thompson are good prospects, but you have to think Cleveland could have done a lot better here. Add to that the fact that they pretty much gave away the #32 pick and spent the #54 pick on a guy who will never play a minute in the NBA, and you have an underwhelming draft. Cleveland was a team who could not afford an underwhelming draft.

24. Chicago

#23 - Nikola Mirotic
#30 - Jimmy Butler

Chicago clearly did not like their shooting guard options in this draft, because they need one desperately and passed up a handful of them that could help them. Mirotic is a first round talent, but he is locked up long term overseas and won't be in the NBA for at least 4 years. Jimmy Butler is a nice player who gives them solid value at #30, even if he has no chance to see the floor in the short term.

25. Portland

#21 - Nolan Smith
#51 - Jon Diebler
#57 - Tanguy Ngombo
Raymond Felton

The only reason I did not put this draft at #30 was that I think getting Ray Felton was a nice move. All three picks are shaky at best. Nolan Smith is not a first round player, Diebler is not an NBA player, and Ngombo is like 39 years old. Felton will help Portland, the other three guys here, not so much.

26. Philadelphia

#16 - Nikola Vucevic
#50 - Lavoy Allen

Yikes. I like Vucevic as much as the next guy, but this is a big reach. He gives Philly a nice big man to work with, but he has limited athletic ability. The lotto did not play out nicely for Philly, who saw all the good bigs get gobbled up before their pick at #16. Vucevic can become an okay pro, but that is not exactly how you want to talk about your first round pick. Lavoy Allen is a good athlete, but never really showed an NBA game while at Temple.

27. Milwaukee

#19 - Tobias Harris
#40 - Jon Leuer
Stephen Jackson
Beno Udrih
Shaun Livingston

Milwaukee went the quantity over quality approach. All five of these guys will likely play for them next year, but I don't see these guys being what Milwaukee needs to get out of their lotto rut.

28. Toronto

#5 - Jonas Valanciunas

I like Valanciunas because I think he is a nice prospect. Toronto likes him because his name sounds foreign-ish. Toronto needs a lot of help and they sure don't need a guy who will not even be in the NBA next year. Bryan Colangelo is running this team into the ground. Brandon Knight fell right into their lap, and they screwed it up.

29. New York

#17 - Iman Shumpert
#45 - Josh Harrellson

Shumpert is an okay prospect who got overrated based on measurables. An NBA version of a combine wonder. Shumpert never turned his measurables into on the court talent worthy of being the #17 pick in the draft. Harrellson is a big stiff who will likely spend a lot of time wearing a suit. He is not nearly good enough to see the floor consistently at the NBA level. New York blew a big chance to close the gap on the elite teams in the East here.

30. New Orleans

No Picks


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