The 2011 NBA Draft Preview (Editorial)
Since some time has passed, I think I am allowed to talk basketball again without hearing mindless slander of the best player in the game. Tonight, NBA teams convene in hopes of selecting the next jersey selling, franchise reinvigorating superstar. Due to renovations at the traditional draft home of Madison Square Garden, the festivities will take place across the river inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Much of the suspense has been removed from the top pick. It is widely reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers will select D*ke (that is an unspeakable four letter word for me Tar! Heels! ) point guard Kyrie Irving with the first selection.
More Analysis Of The Draft By Jackthejoekr after the break.
Unlike 2003, this draft does not present a number of “can’t miss” superstar quality players. However, this class does have some depth and players who can provide key contributions to a franchise for a number of years. Along with Irving, Brandon Knight of Kentucky and UConn’s Kemba Walker can provide immediate help to a lottery team at the point guard position. While Walker dominated as a collegiate scorer, the NBA will require him to become a facilitator. Questions also linger about his size. Knight is also an explosive scorer; unlike Kemba, he possesses NBA size and leaping ability. Arizona’s Derrick Williams, the likely number two pick, is a combo forward with explosive athleticism and a 7ft wingspan. He is a bit of a “‘tweener”, meaning he is too small to be a 4 but not quite quick enough to be a 3. He will be able to contribute on the offensive end immediately. Williams will have to learn to use his strong frame and wingspan to clean the glass and defend. Other American players generating pre-draft buzz are Jordan Hamilton, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmer. Yes, Jimmer Fridette is already a one name kind of guy in the households of many due equally to the color of his skin and the incredible range on his jumper. While I don’t see him as an All-Star or dominant NBA player, he possesses the all-around skill and strength to contribute off the bench for years in the league. Look for him to land in Utah, New York or Phoenix.
This draft will feature an enormous number of foreign born players, perhaps even challenging the record of eight foreigners chosen in round one. The best of the bunch is PF/C Enes Kanter of Turkey. This 6’11” 260lbs athlete is not lacking in confidence or skill. Look for him to land no lower than number 4 to the Cavaliers. Next is Jan Vesely. Vesely is an athletic finisher who needs to add some strength and skill to his perimeter game. He is 6’11” but projects as a big small forward in the NBA. The most intriguing prospect of this foreign class is Bismack Biyombo. Rugged and unrefined at 6’9” 240lbs, Biyombo is an amazing athlete that some believe can mature into a Ben Wallace type of player. Offense is not his forte but he can block shots and rebound now while learning the skills needed to score.
As always, trades will also make headlines on draft night. Lamar Kardashian is reportedly on the move with Philly as a possible destination. The Sixers are offering the current AI in exchange. The Lakers and the Miami Heat are both reportedly seeking to move up into the first round. The Lakers are looking to get younger and more athletic and the Heat are trying to add a PG or Center. Other outrageous reports even have the Lakers looking to move Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum to the T-Wolves for Kevin Love and the second overall pick. The Orlando We Need to Keep Dwight Howards are active, looking to move Jameer Nelson with Portland as a possible landing point. The Blazers are supposedly offering veteran Andre Miller and the 21st pick.
Tune in tonight at 7:30 on ESPN to see how teams scramble to find pieces to dethrone the newly crowned Dallas Mavericks.