NBA mock draft: Will Celtics trade out of first round?
|06.22.11 at 6:02 pm ET|
The 2010-11 NBA season is over. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks denied LeBron James a ring as Dallas ousted Miami in six games. Now everyone (excluding DeShawn Stevenson) appears focused on the draft.
Brazilian prospect Lucas Nogueira withdrew from the draft. Nogueira was slated to be picked by Portland at No. 21 in our first mock. No other high-profile players have pulled out. The pre-draft workouts have helped teams get a closer look at the prospects, but very few players who are expected to go in the draft lottery (first 14 picks) have played against other lottery-caliber players.
The best example of this has been the elite point guards. Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette have been scheduling and rescheduling workouts for various teams as their agents don’t want any of them to hurt their stock. For the same reason, sure-fire No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving doesn’t even need to work out for teams.
The Blazers appear eager to trade up in the first round (possibly for Walker), while the Celtics are believed to be looking to trade out of the first round. All that and more in our NBA mock draft 2.0.
Kyrie Irving, Duke, Fr., PG, 6-2, 180
Trade rumors and speculations have been swirling about every pick except this one. The Cavaliers reportedly are interested in acquiring the No. 2 overall pick to draft Derrick Williams. Regardless, expect Cleveland to take Irving here and build its future around him.
Derrick Williams, Arizona, So., SF/PF, 6-9, 241
The question that should be asked regarding the No. 2 overall pick is not who will be picked with it, but rather who will take Williams, the top forward in the class. Minnesota already has an overloaded frontcourt and general manager David Kahn is no stranger to draft-day deals. However, assistant general manager Tony Rozone indicated the Wolves may keep the pick. This may be due in part to Ricky Rubio‘s decision to come over from Spain.
3. Utah Jazz
Brandon Knight, Kentucky, Fr., PG/SG, 6-3, 185
This is where the real speculation begins, and GM Kevin O’Connor has said less than Sammy Sosa at the 2005 MLB Congressional steroid hearings. Irving and Williams are the consensus first and second picks. Knight is the most complete guard on the table, and his size advantage over UConn’s Kemba Walker may earn him the nod at the No. 3 spot. The Jazz also have the No. 12 selection, so they could go with a big man (possibly Kentucky’s Enes Kanter) and hope Walker or guard Alec Burks still is on the table nine picks later.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania, C, 6-11, 240
One of five mysterious international towers, Valanciunas reportedly is ahead of Kanter on both Cleveland and Toronto’s draft boards. He led the EuroLeague in rebounds per minute and has a 7-6 wingspan. Valanciunas may have a contract issue with his buyout that could keep him from the NBA until 2012-13, but in a weak draft he may be worth the wait.
Enes Kanter, Kentucky, Fr., PF/C, 6-11, 261
The Raptors have gone the European route in the past. Don’t be surprised if they do again. Kanter was the only one of the five international big men at the NBA combine in Chicago. However, the fact that the NCAA suspended him for his freshman year combined with knee problems earlier in his career make him a risky selection. Toronto also is interested in Jan Vesely, whom general manager Bryan Colangelo watched at the Serbian finals in Belgrade. Kanter’s size and strength gives him the slight edge over Vesely.
Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State, So., SF, 6-7, 225
A great fit in the nation’s capital, Leonard impressed in his pre-draft workout with the Wizards. His offensive game needs work, but he is a relentless defender and very gifted physically. Leonard would complement perimeter guards John Wall and Nick Young and would join Rashard Lewis as the top swingmen on the squad. He still is growing at only 19 years of age.
Kemba Walker, UConn, Jr., PG, 6-0, 172
He may have had the best on-court performance this past collegiate season. Walker boosted his draft stock this past March in leading the Huskies to an NCAA championship. He did not compete against the other elite point guards in pre-draft workouts. The Blazers reportedly are looking to trade up for Walker.
Jan Vesely, Czech Republic, SF/PF, 6-11, 230
Vesely has looked sharp in finishing his season with his Serbian team, Pratizan. He connected on 6-of-8 shots for 13 points in 27 minutes in Game 1 of the league’s finals. Though he only made 1-of-6 free throws in the contest, he recorded five boards, two assists and a block, and his stock appears to be rising. He already has drawn comparisons to Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko for his length and athletic ability.
Tristan Thompson, Texas, Fr., PF, 6-9, 225
Thompson impressed in his June 4 pre-draft workout with the Bucks. He outperformed Kansas’ Markieff Morris and drew rave reviews from scouting director Billy McKinney, who compared him to ‘a pit bull who hasn’t been fed in about a year and you’ve got pork chops in your pocket.’ Unfortunately for Milwaukee, Thompson is a great fit in Charlotte, where Joel Przybilla and Kwame Brown are coming off the books.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Alec Burks, Colorado, So., PG/SG, 6-6, 193
Burks also worked out with Thompson, and he brings a skill set that the Bucks currently lack. His ability to create his own shot, initiate contact and knock down mid-range jumpers impressed McKinney. With no depth in the backcourt and sub-par play from shooting guard John Salmons last season, the Bucks seem likely to take Burks.
Bismack Biyombo, Congo, C, 6-9, 243
Anyone who has ever played basketball at any level knows the feeling of walking into a gym and seeing a physical freak of nature on the other team. That’s Bismack Biyombo, except bigger and stronger. With a 7-7 wingspan and less than 5 percent body fat, Biyombo undoubtedly is the second-best center in this class, behind Kanter. He is an exceptional shot-blocker and willing communicator on the court and in the locker room. However, his offensive game is as raw as they come and many scouts are skeptical of his actual age.
12. Utah Jazz
Marcus Morris, Kansas, Jr., SF/PF, 6-9, 218
With Kirilenko’s contract expiring this offseason, Morris would be an adequate replacement. He would be the most complete forward on the board, and as the old adage goes, “What you see is what you get.” His ceiling may not be as high as some of the international towers, but he is the type of player who can hang around in the league for a long time. The better of the Morris twins brings a solid post game and range extending beyond the 3-point line.
13. Phoenix Suns
Klay Thompson, Washington State, Jr., SG, 6-6, 202
With Jason Richardson gone and Vince Carter likely headed out ($18 million team option), the Suns need a shooting guard. Thompson put on a show at the combine. ESPN’s Chad Ford said he had ‘the most impressive shooting performance of the camp.’ The fact that there are few first-round shooting guard talents in this year’s class bodes well for Thompson. If taken by the Suns, or any pick before No. 18, he would become the highest-ever WSU draft pick.
14. Houston Rockets
Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, Sr., PF, 6-7, 225
The Rockets are looking for a defensive presence. Realistically, Kanter and Biyombo are the only two legitimate centers. Look for Houston to attempt to trade up into the top 10, possibly by packaging this pick and No. 23 overall. If the Rockets keep the pick, Faried, who tallied 1,673 boards as an Eagle, is the next best option. He is a far superior rebounder and shot-blocker than any other big man left on the board, including Markieff Morris.
15. Indiana Pacers
Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young, Sr., PG, 6-2, 196
Someone has to take the risk, and the Pacers have the most reason to do it. With a pretty weak draft class outside of Irving and Williams, Fredette is one of the few players with the potential to have an immediate impact. Arguably the best shooter in the NCAA last year, he can shoot the lights out. With T.J. Ford‘s contract coming off the books, Indiana needs a point guard. Why not Jimmer?
Jordan Hamilton, Texas, Jr., SG/SF, 6-8, 228
Hamilton shined in Philadelphia’s pre-draft workout June 18. Originally it appeared the Sixers were looking for a big man, but it is now rumored that small forward Andre Iguodala is on the trading block. Hamilton is an NBA-ready slasher whose strong build allows him to get to the rim at will. The only knock on Hamilton is his lack of a consistent outside shot.
17. New York Knicks
Chris Singleton, Florida State, Jr., SF/PF, 6-9, 225
The Carmelo Anthony trade has left the Knicks roster very shallow. New York needs a player who can make some sort of impact now. Singleton thrives in the open court as an above-the-rim player. His 7-1 wingspan and physical capabilities allow him to guard three positions and have drawn comparisons to Lakers forward Ron Artest.
18. Washington Wizards
Marshon Brooks, Providence, Sr., SG, 6-5, 195
Brooks arguably has improved his stock more than anyone else in recent weeks. Previously considered a fringe first-round selection, he has shined in pre-draft workouts, most recently for the Wizards. He finished his workout in Washington with a drill that included a series of elbow jumpers. After missing the first, he drained eight in a row in front of coach Flip Saunders and other Washington personnel.
19. Charlotte Bobcats
Markieff Morris, Kansas, Jr., PF, 6-9, 241
Like his twin brother, Marcus, Markieff Morris’ game is no secret. He is a lunch pail guy. The one who most consider to be the lesser of the Morris twins actually was the Jayhawks’ best rebounder and shot-blocker last season. He has an impressive stroke from beyond the arc and can convert buckets in the paint, but he needs to improve his endurance and in-between game.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania, PF, 7-0, 224
Motiejunas looked awful in a pre-draft workout at the Adidas Eurocamp. For some reason, his agent focused the workout on perimeter shooting. Motiejunas, who appeared to be well over the 224 pounds at which he is listed, was missing shots left and right, including more than a few air balls. He still is a potent threat in the paint and an athletic big man. The Timberwolves can only hope he doesn’t pick up Michael Beasley‘s shot selection.
21. Portland Trail Blazers
Nikola Vucevic, Southern California, PF/C, 7-0, 260
Portland is looking to trade up in the draft, but if the Blazers decide to stand pat at No. 21 and pick up point guard Andre Miller‘s team option, their main need will be in the frontcourt. Vucevic has been steadily moving up the draft boards, and he broke into the first round of our mock for good reason. He turned a few heads at the NBA draft combine. He arguably outperformed Kanter in the Thursday morning workout and measured 6-foot-11¾ with shoes on, a 7-foot-4½ wingspan and a 9-foot-4½ standing reach. He also has just 6.1 percent body fat.
22. Denver Nuggets
Tobias Harris, Tennessee, Fr., SF/PF, 6-8, 223
The Nuggets are believed to have had their sights set on Harris for a while. Denver needs another forward, and he brings a solid all-around game. Harris is crafty with the ball and can get to where he wants on the court. His main weaknesses are an unimpressive outside shot and poor foot speed. To become an NBA defender, Harris needs to become more athletic.
23. Houston Rockets
Josh Selby, Kansas, Fr., PG/SG, 6-3, 195
Selby is listed as high as No. 14 (to the Rockets ironically) and as low as an early second-round pick in various mock drafts. Like Biyombo and a few others, he has a high ceiling, and in a draft class as weak as this one he could be worth the risk for teams in the mid-to-late first round. As a combo guard, he could play alongside Kyle Lowry to form a strong backcourt.
Nikola Mirotic, Montenegro, SF/PF, 6-10, 225
Three years ago, the Thunder held the No. 24 pick in the draft. They selected Serge Ibaka: a long, athletic forward with explosive dunking ability. Mirotic has a slightly wider but similar frame. However, the two are completely different players. Mirotic is an excellent 3-point shooter. He can shoot off the catch, off the dribble and in transition, and his high release prevents defenders from blocking his shot.
25. Boston Celtics
Justin Harper, Richmond, Sr., PF, 6-9, 228
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has hinted that Boston is looking to trade the No. 25 selection. “It’s not a strong draft,” Ainge said. ‘There’s not a lot of players who could change a franchise.’ If Boston does use its pick, Harper would be a solid choice. Though he needs to add muscle, he has a reliable outside stroke and can drive well from the perimeter.
26. Dallas Mavericks
Trey Thompkins, Georgia, Jr., PF, 6-10, 239
One of the best post players in the draft, Thompkins seems comfortable on either side and has an array of turnarounds and hooks. He is also a solid spot-up shooter and can stretch his range beyond the NBA 3-point line if he works at it. His footwork and lateral speed are above average, but he needs to become quicker and lose weight. He measured 15.5 percent body fat at the combine.
27. New Jersey Nets
Charles Jenkins, Hofstra, Sr., PG/SG, 6-3, 220
Along with Vucevic and Thompkins, Jenkins has worked his way into the first round. His game-winning shot on Feb. 15 to beat William & Mary in overtime (after he hit a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force OT) put him on teams’ radars, and his pre-draft workouts have skyrocketed his stock. An exceptional shooter, Jenkins made 42 percent of his attempts from deep his senior year. In New Jersey, Jenkins could potentially start alongside star point guard Deron Williams.
28. Chicago Bulls
Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA, So., SG/SF, 6-8, 187
Assuming Chicago does not acquire Golden State’s Monta Ellis, who indicated he was interested in playing in the Windy City, Honeycutt is a great fit. An athletic leaper, he led the Pac-10 in blocked shots last season. Honeycutt credits his ability to control his body in the air to playing volleyball ‘It’s equivalent to going up and blocking a shot and not touching the [volleyball] net [to] blocking a player’s [basketball] shot and not touching him,’ Honeycutt said. He needs to add muscle and confidence in his shot to be an impact player at the NBA level.
Davis Bertans, Latvia, SF, 6-10, 211
Bertans decided not to follow Nogueira and pull his name out of the draft. Instead, he looks to join a playoff team that as traditionally chosen international players, including Tiago Splitter. Bertans is a threat from deep and would get open looks with stars Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan on the court with him. However, he needs to develop a better all-around game to stay in the league.
30. Chicago Bulls
Darius Morris, Michigan, So., PG, 6-4, 190
Morris could learn a lot from current Bulls court general Derrick Rose. Morris was generally a pass-first guard in college, so much so that he would often turn the ball over trying to force passes. He has the size and speed to stay in front of other guards. Like most true point guards, he needs to extend his range beyond the 3-point line.
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