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Sam Smith’s pick-by-pick NBA Draft analysis
by Sam Smith
Posted on Jun 23
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Below is my pick-by-pick reaction to the 2011 NBA Draft as it unfolded live on June 23.
1. Cleveland: Kyrie Irving As expected. I still have my doubts, though not because I dislike Irving. The tactic, to me, was to pick Derrick Williams and get a point guard at 4, either Knight or Irving as Minnesota isn’t taking a point guard. I hear more executives around the league projecting All Star status for Williams. But it’s just a guess for now.
2. Minnesota: Derrick Williams Also as expected, they couldn’t or wouldn’t deal. I know several teams have him listed as the No. 1 prospect in this draft. Problem is many teams see him as a four, and they have Kevin Love. Williams fancies himself a three. The speculation is the Timberwolves will now move Michael Beasley, who can score. But I’m hearing they are not so anxious to do so and won’t give him away cheaply. With Ricky Rubio, the plan is to be uptempo, which everyone says until defenses set in.
3. Jazz: Enes Kanter Some say before it’s all said and done, as it were, he could be the top player in this draft. Many thought earlier Jazz would go for Brandon Knight, but this is the place to watch. The Wizards supposedly have been talking about making a deal. They said they won’t give up JaVale McGee. It will be interesting to watch the next few picks as the next best player for the Cavs is a point guard, and they aren’t taking Knight.
4. Cleveland: Tristan Thompson No one figured that, but he’s a good pick. He’s was generally regarded as a top 10 talent, and they need talent. Most had Valanciunas for them, but he’s not coming to the NBA for a year. With Thompson and J.J. Hickson and Varejao coming back you figure they’ll do anything to move Antawn Jamison, a good guy to have. He makes $15 mil, but maybe with his career winding down he’ll do a buyout and would be a good pickup on the open market. Classic sixth man scorer.
5. Toronto: Jonas Valanciunas I hope Dwane Casey has a long contract. Valanciunas is supposed to be good, a real center, but not available for another season. Maybe the Raptors figure short season, anyway, so no big deal. Everyone figured they would be thrilled to get point guard Knight, so that part is a surprise. But it does finally acknowledge Andrea Bargnani was a mistake. They have Ed Davis at 4 for the future, but it’s tough to pass on a good, young point guard.
6. Washington: Jan Vesely Guess that means they could make any deal to move up for Kanter. They liked him as their next best guy and he’s regarded as a high level talent and top five on the draft boards of many teams. If he’s a competitor, he better hope they don’t introduce him to Andray Blatche.
7. Kings for Bobcats: Bismack Biyombo Isn’t he the next Tyrus Thomas without the bad attitude. This figures to be a good pick for the Bulls as they have the Charlotte pick in 2012 from the Thomas deal. It’s lottery protected to the point it’s unprotected in 2016. With Biyombo and Tyrus on the front line it’s hard to see how they make the playoffs this decade. Oh, and Kwame.
8. Detroit: Brandon Knight If they get in a 6-4 and under league, they win. They have nothing but point guards, and none really a starter. You assume they finally put Stuckey on the market. or Ben Gordon. And Will Bynum. Certainly, Richard Hamilton. Tracy McGrady, gone.
9. Charlotte: Kemba Walker They do need a point with Livingston gone in the trade to Bucks and Augustin really a backup. They do have nothing but small points, but he’s a player. I also assume they remain desperate to move Diaw as they seem headed to the league’s wost record. But they are young. We will hear plenty of that. Looking around my guess is Tyrus will decide he needs 25 shots a game given those teammates. It’s the dream Tyrus team.
10. Milwaukee for Kings: Jimmer Fredette That’s a huge rise for a guy who was regarded as a low teens high 20’s player a few months ago. He did well in workouts and showed he’ll compete, which makes up some for his lack of defensive effort and play. Sounds like an owner pick of a team needing to sell tickets, but Geoff Petrie does make out of the box picks. You can see him playing with Tyreke and Tyreke defending the tougher guard, and he can open the court for Tyreke. So it could work as a three guard rotation with Marcus Thornton.
11. Warriors: Klay Thompson Let the bidding begin — again — for Monta Ellis. The Warriors loved that three team trade since they wanted Thompson and the Bucks were going to take him at No. 10. But his addition suggests a more standard guard lineup with Stephen Curry at point. This kind of pick eventually makes Ellis a backup, which he wants no part of. Mark Jackson said he can’t wait to coach Ellis. If that’s true, I guess Jackson is looking to leave the Warriors.
12. Jazz: Alec Burks Next best shooting guard, though not the shooter that Thompson is. But it’s a hole for them with Bell on the decline and C.J. Miles. The guy who has been falling is Kawhi Leonard, a rough, rugged defender. If the Suns are serious about defense now I guess they have to take him, though they’ve most like Kansas Morris (the better one).
13. Suns: Markieff Morris Hey, they picked the other twin. Maybe they forgot Marcus wasn’t picked yet. I thought they preferred the other twin, who was considered more solid and with a higher ceiling. But he’s the more defensive guy, so maybe they really do want to become the new Bad Boys. With Steve Nash.
14. Houston: Marcus Morris the other twin. They’re in the south together and probably both out of the playoffs. So they should have good, fun, long offseasons. I thought the Rockets would go bigger. He looks still more like a four, which is their strongest position. They obviously picked him for small forward, but I wonder. If the Bulls want to deal Asik, I assume they’re desperate now. Maybe they throw in Scola in a bigger deal with Courtney Lee. You’d have to give that some thought.
15. Indiana: Kawhi Leonard There’s always a guy who slips through and this could be a coup for the Pacers. He’s really a great defender and a dominant physical player who is a Ron Artest type without the issues. He’ll be one of the top defenders in the league and will be a top perimeter defender. He’s going to help make the Pacers a tough team with another relentless guy in Hansbrough. And with Paul George they’ll be tough to score against.
16. 76ers: Nikola Vucevic The USC center the 76ers were hoping would fall to them. He’s a center and a big need for Philadelphia. It gives them a nice piece to move forward with and makes them a further threat in the East.
17. Knicks: Iman Shumpert The highlight of every draft is hearing the Knicks fans boo the pick. He wouldn’t be a first round pick by anyone but the Knicks, you hear. It sounds like James Dolan is running the draft as well. Shumpert isn’t bad, though he was a guy the Bulls were considering at 30 or 43.
18. Wizards: Chris Singleton He’s an overall talented athlete, though they have plenty of those. You want to have a guy with a defined position, though he’s well thought of. With Vesely that’s two more workers, which is a positive, but it’s unclear what sort of team they have. I guess we don’t understand what sort of Congress we have, so there seems to be a symmetry.
19. Charlotte for Milwaukee: Tobias Harris Not sure about this pick as a young guy with a team that needs to make a move now. The Bulls might like this pick as when you are selecting where they are at Nos. 28 and 30 you want guys being picked who you were not interested in and I think this is one guy.
20. Minnesota: Donatas Montiejunas The European style power forward/center who shoots from outside. Appears to be a guy they’re picking so Darko looks better.
21. Portland: Nolan Smith He was the point guard who played when Irving was out all season. He was one of the guys on the Bulls short list, as probably most of the guys coming here will be. He’s the kind of solid backup point who’ll fit in and compete. They also remain uncertain about how long they’ll keep Andre Miller, who is rumored in numerous deals for weeks.
22. Denver: Kenneth Faried He’s a robo rebounder and a replacement for guys like Kenyon Martin,who’ll probably be let go,and Al Harrington, who has knee problems. High energy, hard worker like Paul Millsap. Smallish, but he gets the ball. The question always is if guys like him can in the pros.
23. Houston. Nikola Mirotic I know the fans wouldn’t care about this guy, but I thought the Bulls would go for him if he were available. Won’t come to the NBA for a few years.
24.Oklahoma City: Reggie Jackson Maybe they trade Westbrook. Nah, but with all the questions about a true point guard in the playoffs, you can see them wanting to play Westbrook more off the ball.
25. Boston. Marshon Brooks There went the Bulls’ fans’ sentimental favorite. He’s a nice pick for them, a young guy with some juice at guard. Ray Allen has one more season left and who knows with Rondo. Danny Ainge is an aggressive GM and you can see some changes coming there after the Perkins deal.
26. Mavericks: Jordan Hamilton Good value pick of a player who was expected to be in the top 20 and perhaps the late lottery. A swingman who can score and rebound like a four. Gives them more depth for potential deals.
27. Nets: JaJuan Johnson Supposedly picked for the Celtics, a thin rebounding forward much like Taj Gibson. Good guy to get at the bottom of the first.
28. Chicago Bulls: Norris Cole The Bulls picked him for the Rockets in that trade for Mirotic. Cole was one of the guys I liked as a potential backup point for the Bulls, a really solid player. A bit thin, but tough and strong and versatile. Nice addition for the Rockets, though they like Kyle Lowry and also have Goran Dragic from the Suns in the Brooks trade.
29. Spurs: Cory Joseph He’s going to surprise as a very good pick for the Spurs and an undervalued player. He’s a Texas freshman and a point guard who could become a great shooter. I like the pick a lot.
30. Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler, Marquette A tough guy, whiich is the kind of guys known for coming from Marquette. He’s got a classic story like the Blind Side movie in which he was homeless and raised by another family. Hard worker, a bit undersized who is a front court swingman and solid citizen guy. Also a guy who’ll be a good teammate and good for team chemistry, which is vital for the Bulls.