The 2011 NBA Draft has come and gone, and only the most hard-core basketball fans seemed to care. According to sportswriter Bill Simmons, that’s what you get when the most exciting player on the board projects to be “a rich man’s J.J. Barea.” Here are some highlights of the 2011 NBA Draft lottery picks.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
As expected, the Cavaliers selected the Duke point guard. There is some question as to whether Irving has the upside to be a star in the NBA. Simmons sees Irving’s stock falling somewhere between “an extremely poor man’s Chris Paul,” in terms of pushing the tempo, hitting the mid-range shot and disrupting passing lanes, and “a rich man’s Mike Conley.” Irving has more offensive tools than Conley.
Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves
While Minnesota could have used a strong point guard, Arizona’s Williams at either forward position isn’t a bad pick, considering his all-around skill set. Considering that he can go inside or hit the three, CBS Sports’ B-grade is probably accurate.
Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz
Fans in Utah were hoping for Mormon scoring hero Jimmer Fredette out of Brigham Young University, but Kanter makes more sense at this stage in the draft. Kanter has a good motor that will supply the depleted Jazz with plenty of energy. The big Turk may be too much for less mobile centers to handle, particularly on the defensive boards.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers
A power forward by trade, Thompson is billed as an excellent two-way player who provides maximum effort. According to ESPN’s Stuart Scott, Thompson is now one of only five active Canadian players in the NBA, including Steve Nash, Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire and Samuel Dalembert.
Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
Toronto needed a man in the middle immediately, yet selected Valanciunas, who won’t be free of his Euro League contract until 2013. Not only is the PR factor for this pick underwhelming, but better choices like Bismack Biyombo and Jan Vesely were still available.
Jan Vesely, Washington Wizards
Speaking of Vesely, “The Dunking Ninja” is an explosive athlete who counts as the best steal in the draft at pick 6. He’s aggressive and has the skills to play at a variety of frontcourt positions.
Bismack Biyombo, Sacramento Kings
While this explosive big man won’t light up the scoreboard, Biyombo will wipe the glass clean and put on his own block party. “B-Smack” is sheer aggression. His name is fun to say, too.
Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons
Yet another misfire for Joe Dumars and the Detroit brass. Knight will not mesh with Rodney Stuckey in the backcourt, because they’re the same type of player. Both require the ball to play effectively.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats
A clutch player from the champion University of Connecticut Huskies, Walker may create a backcourt logjam in Charlotte. Stay tuned for trades.
Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings
There won’t be enough basketballs to go around for this already miserable team once Fredette hits the backcourt with the entrenched Tyreke Evans. Something has to give.
CBS Sports: http://eye-on-basketball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22748484/30222506/2
Bleacher Report: http://bit.ly/kznig7
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