2011 NBA Draft

Who is the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA Draft?


One year ago today, Harrison Barnes was considered the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Come draft night, Barnes wasn’t even part of the party, staying at North Carolina for another year. Kyrie Irving was the man.

So we can say that whoever is the No. 1 choice of scouts right now has a long way to go to keep that title.

Especially considering next year will be a deep draft with the top several teams getting real talent. This is going to be a potential franchise changing draft for a few teams.

So who will be the top pick?

Barnes is back in the mix, but the guy everyone seems high on is Anthony Davis, heading to Kentucky this fall. Davis is 6’10” with a 7’4” wingspan who is seen as raw but can make plays around the rim. What really seems to catch scouts eyes is the guy is an active and willing defender — he can come in and give a team a real shot blocker inside. Davis is a guy that will take a couple more years to develop, but he could be very good.

Barnes is a swingman that started slow at North Carolina but dropped 40 in an ACC Tournament game and has good skills and is just one of those guys who seems to have a natural feel for the game. He has an outside shot and with a consistent season will be a top three pick.

But the guy catching eyes right now is Andre Drummond, who this week committed to Connecticut (a team that needed a boost if it wanted to repeat as national champions and may have gotten it). Come next June, don’t be shocked if this is the guy at the top of the draft board. Check out what Chad Ford said about him at ESPN.

For starters, he’s got ideal NBA size for a big man. He’s 6-foot-10, has a massive 7-foot-5 wingspan and already has the bulk (currently listed at 275) to play in the middle.

Drummond also possesses explosive athleticism and quickness for a big man. He gets up and down the court well, attacks the rim and pops off the floor quickly. Pair his size and athleticism together, and you have the makings of an elite NBA prospect…. Drummond is an excellent defensive player. He’s an aggressive rebounder and shot-blocker who can guard both the 4 and the 5. He also has a high basketball IQ (especially in his passing ability out of the post) and shows an array of skills on the offensive end of the floor.

Teams will take the big man in the middle over a wing player like Barnes almost every time (hence Oden over Durant, Hakeem and Bowie over Jordan). Davis and Drummond are going to be compared a lot to each other this coming season, and don’t be shocked if they go No. 1 and No. 2 next June.

Doc Rivers: Clippers might blow up roster if they fall short this season

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin DeAndre Jordan, Doc Rivers
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The Clippers have gone 56-26, 57-25 and 56-26 the last three years – clearing the commonly accepted 55-win bar for championship contention.

But they’ve also won only zero, one and one playoff series in that span.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

The Clippers have had three cracks at it with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan all in their primes, and they’re not afraid to admit the fourth could be their last — that another flameout will force them to ask whether the core has grown stale.

“We’re right on the borderline,” Doc Rivers tells Grantland during a long sit-down at his office. “I have no problem saying that. I’m a believer that teams can get stale. After a while, you don’t win. It just doesn’t work. We’re right at the edge. Oklahoma City is on the edge. Memphis, too. We just have to accept it.”

I disagree with Rivers.

It’s so hard to assemble a roster that can win a title, and the Clippers absolutely have one. If they fall short this season, they’ll probably still have a title-contending roster the following year. They shouldn’t throw that away just for the sake of change.

Paul (30), Jordan (27) and Griffin (26) are young enough for the Clippers to remain patient.

Rivers makes a good point later in Lowe’s article:

“You need luck in the West,” he says. “Look at Golden State. They didn’t have to play us or the Spurs. But that’s also a lesson for us: When you have a chance to close, you have to do it.”

The Warriors were the NBA’s best team last season, but they also got plenty of breaks. That’s why they won the title.

The Clippers might need more luck to win a championship, but it wouldn’t be an overwhelming amount. The better a team is, the less luck it needs. The Grizzlies can probably win a title with all the right breaks, but they need more than the Clippers.

It’s about being good enough to win with the right breaks.

The Clippers are that. They’ll probably be that unless they do something drastic.

Unless a lopsided trade comes around, I’d stick with Paul, Griffin and Jordan until they really prove they can’t win together. That would take years. A team not winning a title is not proof it can’t win a title. Every year, multiple teams can win a championship. Obviously, only one does.

Rivers has it good with his big three. This shouldn’t be a make-or-break year for them.

51 Q: Which coaches start the year on the hot seat?

Lionel Hollins
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Going into every season, there are a few coaches under pressure to perform or risk losing their jobs. This season, the operative word there is “few.” Looking around the NBA, most coaches are either new on the job or aren’t in any real danger of losing theirs. There are five brand-new coaches: Billy Donovan (Oklahoma City), Fred Hoiberg (Chicago), Alvin Gentry (New Orleans), Michael Malone (Denver) and Scott Skiles (Orlando). The coaches they replaced were mostly the ones whose names often came up in these discussions. Practically everywhere else, there is either a long track record of success or clear signs that ownership is happy with the job the coach is doing. Coaches who are actually on the hot seat are few and far between. But here are a few who might find themselves in trouble if their teams underperform:

Jeff Hornacek (Phoenix Suns): Two years ago, Hornacek was a Coach of the Year candidate for taking a team that was supposed to be one of the league’s very works and making them into almost a playoff team. Last season was another near-miss. This season, the Suns are once again on the bubble of being a playoff team — there’s a chance they could grab the eighth seed in the Western Conference, if a lot goes right. Hornacek deserves a lot of credit for their sooner-than-expected success. The only reason he’s on this list is the potential for a chemistry disaster on this roster. Between Markieff Morris‘ situation and another attempt at a two-point guard lineup (this time with Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight), there’s a lot that could go wrong, and if the Suns fall out of playoff contention. Hornacek could find himself in a little hot water. But that’s unlikely.

Lionel Hollins (Brooklyn Nets): Hollins has always felt like something of a short-term solution in Brooklyn. The Nets tried going young at the head coaching spot with Jason Kidd, who clashed with management over control before leaving for Milwaukee. This Nets roster is middling at best — some solid veterans, not a lot of young talent, no future hope to speak of unless they land a marquee free agent next summer. Their ceiling is the eighth seed and a first-round exit; their floor is a lot worse than that. It would take a catastrophic start to the year for Hollins to lose his job during the season, but there isn’t exactly a lot of long-term security in his position.

Derek Fisher (New York Knicks): It’s hard to see Phil Jackson firing his protege less than two years in, but the Knicks enter the season with the goal of competing for a playoff spot and a lot of potential to be worse than that. Don’t rule out James Dolan stepping in.

Steve Clifford (Charlotte Hornets): Clifford’s chances of losing his job during the season basically disappeared when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down with a shoulder injury that will likely keep him out the entire season. Without their best perimeter defender, the Hornets’ expectations are a lot lower than they would have been. Now, it’s hard to see them competing seriously for a playoff spot unless Jeremy Lamb makes a huge leap and proves himself capable of being an NBA-caliber starter. If they’re even competitive, it will be an enormous credit to Clifford, who is well-regarded around the league. The story would have been different if they had entered the season with a healthy roster and underperformed, but the MKG injury likely buys Clifford a year before this conversation starts up again.