Another season, another lottery and another draft where the Lakers hold no first round relevance. However, with this year’s draft class packed with uncertainties and no sure-fire picks, finding a diamond in the rough might not be such an arduous task for the Lakers, who currently possess four selections in the second round.
With that being said, here is version 1.0 of the LakersNation.com 2011 Mock Draft. (Keep in mind that this mock takes into consideration who I think will go where, but also who I would select if I were drafting for each team.)
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Clippers): Kyrie Irving – PG – Duke – Freshman: The fact that Irving only suited up for 11 games during his lone season at Duke is truly a testament to how awful this draft is setting up to be. It’s not that Irving is bad – he’s going to be a phenomenal point guard in this league – but with so many other, more experienced players on the board, it would be understandable to see him drop a few spots due to his very brief season in Durham, NC. With that being said, Irving might not be able to bring a championship banner to Cleveland, but he will certainly be the first piece of many for the Cavs, as they look to return to relevancy.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams – F – Arizona – Sophomore: As much as I dislike this pick for the Timberwolves, their only other option is to trade down or out. Despite their stockpile of point guards, Irving would have been the best fit for them, while Williams simply duplicates a piece that they already possess (Michael Beasley). Williams is definitely more suited for a wing role than Beasley is, but even if they are able to make it work position-wise, their paralleling loose-cannon personalities have to raise some concern for the franchise.
3. Utah Jazz (from Nets): Brandon Knight – PG – Kentucky – Freshman: Out of John Calipari’s last four one-and-done point guards (Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and now Knight), Knight definitely needs the most work. He’s much more fitted for the shooting guard position, but at 6-foot-3-inches, that’s not an ideal situation for him moving forward. While he would be a fringe-lottery pick in any other draft (other than 2000), at No. 3, he’s the best value for the Jazz, who likely do not see Devin Harris as their point-man of the future.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Enes Kanter – PF/C – Turkey – 1992: Despite missing out on an entire season of basketball, Kanter’s stock did not take much of a hit during 2010-11. This is mainly due to two reasons: 1) GM’s and scouts are still salivating over his 34-point, 13-rebound domination of Jared Sullinger at the Nike Hoops Summit this past year. 2) In case you haven’t already heard 100 times, 2011 is an extremely weak draft. He’s Al Horford with a jump shot, and if he wows NBA personnel in workouts, he could move his way up into the top two picks.
5. Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas – PF/C – Lithuania – 1992: Kawhi Leonard or Jan Veseley could as easily be selected here; however, Toronto lacks a powerful frontcourt compliment to their former No. 1 pick, Andrea Bargnani. Valanciunas is exactly that – a big body with good post skills and a considerable amount of athleticism.
6. Washington Wizards: Kawhi Leonard – SF – San Diego State – Sophomore: Leonard led the Aztecs on a Cinderella run this past NCAA basketball season, and his stock has risen tremendously because of it. However, it is Leonard’s motor and athletic ability that has helped him maintain a steady incline on most draft boards. Pairing him with John Wall could be a scary duo on the break, and while he will never be a top scoring option on a championship team, he will most certainly be an integral part of one’s success.
7. Sacramento Kings: Kemba Walker – PG – Connecticut – Junior: From start-to-finish, Walker powered the Huskies to a memorable national title season. Although he might barely hit six-feet tall in shoes, Walker has never let his size become an issue for his success. Above everything he is a leader, and a good one at that. He may not possess the point guard skills of Irving, but he knows how to win, and the front-office management of any team can definitely appreciate that.
8. Detroit Pistons: Bismack Biyombo – C – Congo – 1992: Biyombo’s name was unheard of until recently, so it might be a stretch to see him rise this high, even if he does wow in pre-draft workouts. However, his resemblance to Ben Wallace will surely be tantalizing for the Pistons, who are in much need of a defensive-minded center to pair with Greg Monroe’s finesse style of play down low. With very few big man options at this position, Biyombo fills a need for the Pistons, and while he has the potential to be the next Wallace, he could as easily become the next Mohammed Sene.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Jan Vesely – F – Czech Republic – 1990:
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Marcus Morris – F – Kansas – Junior: While Colorado’s Alec Burks is the name being packaged with Milwaukee, Morris fills a much bigger need for the Bucks, who already have John Salmons and Corey Maggette under contract for a while. Capable of playing inside or out, Morris is a perfect fit for the Bucks who need a true power forward. Morris is capable of playing on the wing, however, he will be most successful as a four, with the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting ability. Pairing him up front with Bogut will be a tough tandem to guard, and even without his twin-brother Markieff flaking his side, he’ll undoubtedly find success.
11. Golden State Warriors: Chris Singleton – F – Florida State – Junior: I saw Singleton play live this year, and truthfully, I’m not sure if he is as great as everyone is making him out to be. However, that was in December against a very weak Loyola Marymount team, so maybe it was just a reaction to his environment. But for the Warriors, Singleton fits in very nicely as a defensive-minded wing, who could really help propel the Warriors into the playoffs next season. He won’t score a lot of points, but his size, strength and knack for slowing his opponents down is exactly what Golden State needs among its plethora of trigger-happy guards and forwards.
12. Utah Jazz: Alec Burks – SG – Colorado – Sophomore: Assuming the Jazz take Knight at No. 3, it would be hard to justify drafting Fredette, and not a legitimate shooting guard with this pick. Burks is young and hasn’t been seen much on a national scale, but he possesses all of the tools to be an effective off-guard in the NBA, especially in slow-tempo offense ran by the Jazz.
13. Phoenix Suns: Jimmer Fredette – PG – Brigham Young – Senior: “The Jimmer” took the nation by storm this year – so much, that he had to enroll in online classes because his status as a celebrity was too distracting for other students at BYU. Sadly, his ceiling may not be much higher than JJ Redick, but he is much better at creating his own shot, and has considerably better point guard skills than the former POY does. Therefore, with the right teachings, he very well could become a legitimate starting point guard in this league. Given his celebrity status in the state of Utah, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the Jazz select him with the pick before this.
14. Houston Rockets: Markieff Morris – PF/C – Kansas – Junior: As we saw with the Collins and Lopez brothers, it will be unlikely that the Morris twins continue their careers in the NBA together. While Marcus is the better player offensively, Markieff is a beast down low. He may be a little small to play the center position, but as a power forward, he will flourish. He can rebound, defend and block shots, and with a constantly injured set of big men in Houston, he will fill a much-needed void for the Rockets.
Next: Picks 15-20