Tag: 2011 NBA Draft

Lietuvos Rytas's Jonas Valanciunas (C) j

Starting with Cavaliers at No. 4, draft will mean hard choices


For all the chatter otherwise, it would be stunning not to see Kyrie Irving not go No. 1 and Derrick Williams No. 2. We may well have stunning, it’s been that kind of NBA season, but you might not want to bet on it.

As we said before, the draft gets interesting when the Jazz select at No. 3. But it looks more and more like they will take Enes Kanter, the Turkish center. Do the Jazz need a point guard more? Damn straight. Is Kentucky’s Brandon Knight still on the board? Yup. But the Jazz stick to their “best man available” system no matter what, and reportedly they like Kanter more.

That shakes up the draft, because it means hard choices for the teams that follow.

For the Cavaliers at No. 4 that would leave them with a choice between Texas’ Tristan Thompson and Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas has the higher ceiling — some scouts think he can be the best player in this draft — but he may play in Europe for a couple more years. Thompson is the better player right now and fills a need. But ESPN’s Ric Bucher says the Cavs go Valanciunas.

Then at five is the Raptors. They really like Brandon Knight at the point, but Chad Ford of ESPN says they would take Bismack Biyombo, the wildly athletic but raw center out of the Congo (via Europe) over Knight. Hard choice, though.

At No. 6 you can bet the Wizards are not taking a point guard — they took some guy named Wall last year — so they will take Thompson or Jan Vesley.

Then at seven the Kings are faced with a real hard choice — Knight or Jimmer Fredette? The clear consensus is Knight is now and will be the better player, but the Maloof Brothers have been reported to push to get Fredette. Owners tend to get their way. Or, maybe the Kings just trade out of the spot so the Knicks can get Klay Thompson.

The choices keep on going… what will the Jazz do at No. 12 if they can choose between Kemba Walker or Fredette? It his hard to see the Jazz not taking Jimmer, even if the basketball people like Walker (or anyone else) more.

It’s been a long time since we had a draft that was going to be this unpredictable. This is going to be fun to watch unfold.

Kemba Walker is falling in the draft. How low will he go?

NCAA Men's Championship Game - Butler v UConn

There was a time, right after Kemba Walker made big plays in crunch time leading his UConn Huskies to the national title, that Walker was a top five pick in this draft.

But his stock is falling and he could plummet down the draft board all the way to the Knicks at No. 17 (no way he’d slide past them). He still may well go to the Sacramento Kings at No. 7, but the owner Maloof brothers have reportedly been pushing hard for the more marketable Jimmer Fredette to be the team’s pick there. Or the Kings may trade out of the spot.

If the Kings do not take him, look for the free fall to begin. The Jazz may take him at No. 12… unless Fredette is still on the board.

Why the fall? A couple of factors.

One is that teams are falling in love with the potential of others in this draft — with Walker they know what they are getting. He has real heart and toughness, He will be a leader in the locker room quickly. He is very athletic and quick, he can drive the lane. The concerns are that he is a shoot-first guard with a streaky shot (at best, it needs work).

Teams know they are getting something solid with Walker. However, with point guards like Brandon Knight of Kentucky there is a much higher ceiling. This is a draft where a lot of the guys have flaws but their potential upside is higher than Walker’s and that is attracting teams.

The other is need — a lot of teams picking after the King’s don’t really need a point guard, they will take what they see as an equal player at more of a position of need. Maybe the Suns grab him at No. 13 to back up Steve Nash.

This is the kind of situation that five-years from now we all look back and say “why didn’t anyone take the guy who was a baller on the biggest stage of the NCAA Tournament?” Walker has proved himself in pressure situations and that has to count for something. The guy is going to be at least good for any team that drafts him, and if his shot and passing improve he could be a quality floor general in a few years.

But that is the draft, where teams fall in love with potential.

NBA Draft day morning rumor roundup

George Hill, Tony Parker, Channing Frye

The NBA has seen more rumors in the last 24 hours than the morning after a Charlie Sheen party. At least we didn’t wake up wondering where we were. We’ll be bringing you all the latest over the course of Thursday right up to the draft (and plenty of pick-by-pick draft coverage, too) but to get you started here are a bunch of the rumors collected on Thursday morning:

We’ve been telling you about all the rumored Tony Parker trades (and there are a lot of them), but the Spurs also may be shopping George Hill to move up in this draft. The Spurs rumored target is sharpshooter Klay Thompson.

The Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks are discussing a deal that would send Ersan Ilyasova to the Rockets along with the No. 10 pick for a package that includes the No. 23 and No. 24 picks plus another player.

The Rockets have had talks with a number of teams because they want to move up, including Detroit at No. 8. Apparently they want a big man and like Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas. (A lot of teams like him, look for him to go early.)

The key pick in this draft remains the Jazz at No. 3. They would love it if Derrick Williams falls to them. If not, if they have to choose between Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter, put your money on Kanter. He doesn’t fill a need but the Jazz are a “best player available” team.

There are a lot of rumors that Tristan Thompson could go as high as No. 4. Which seems crazy to me, but there it is.

If I were placing my money on one team to trade their lottery pick this draft, it would be the Bucks.

Would you believe the Lakers and Warriors talked about a deal that was Monta Ellis for Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown? That’s what Ken Berger reports at CBSSports. I have trouble seeing how Monta Ellis and Kobe Bryant work together in the back court, frankly.

Just so you know, Minnesota is still shopping the No. 2 pick and still not finding any takers at their price.

Roy Hibbert’s name popped up in trade rumors but Larry Bird shot them down, the Pacers want to keep him.

Apparently those rumors of Andre Iguodala to the Clippers for Chris Kaman are dead — the Sixers didn’t even make a counter offer.

If all the Europeans in this draft are confusing you, here is a great breakdown of what you can expect from them.

Statistically, who did the players in this draft match up to, who do they project to be? Some interesting stuff from Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus.

Soon to be top three pick Derrick Williams says not to compare him to LeBron — compare him to Dirk Nowitzki instead. Yes, that sounds far less egotistical.

One final one, not really draft related but it made me laugh: Magic GM Otis Smith wants Gilbert Arenas to play less basketball this summer. Arenas is having none of that, saying he is a professional basketball player after all.

Can the Lakers, Celtics or Heat find any help in this draft?

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six

The focus during the draft is often on the teams that saw little of the spotlight during the season — hello Minnesota!

But what about some of the league’s top teams that need some tweaks to get a ring next season? The Miami Heat made it to the finals but it is clear their roster needs improvement around the Big Three (or whatever you want to call them). The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are still very good teams that need to get younger and more athletic to hang another banner.

Can those teams find help in this draft?

No, not really. Not where they are picking.

Not that they can’t get guys who can evolve into good players, but they can’t get anyone in this draft who can help next season in any meaningful way. And all three of these teams are in “win now” modes. Their championship window is open, they need guys who can play tomorrow, not in two years.

The Heat have the 31st pick in the draft, the first pick of the second round. They are rumored to be high on Reggie Jackson, the 6’3” point guard out of Boston College, who is a favorite sleeper of a lot of scouts. To do my best Jay Billis imitation, he has a freakishly long wingspan (7’0”) and is very athletic, he’s able to penetrate and get in the lane, plus he is a willing passer. His outside shooting needs work and his game needs to mature. So, right now he sounds a lot like what the Heat already have. But in a couple of years he could be a quality point guard.

The Celtics are not under any illusions they are getting real talent in this draft, picking No. 25 in the first round. Look what Boston decision maker Danny Ainge told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England.

“Not trying to put a negative spin on this; trying to be realistic,” said Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “The 25th pick of the draft is probably not going to help us immediately. But there are some players that we think can fit our roster, the personality of our team, make our team better in practice and add depth to our roster.”

So, Boston is drafting a practice body, someone for Kevin Garnett to beat up before he beats up other teams. Rumor is they like Jimmy Butler, the forward out of Marquette.

The Lakers have four picks in the draft — but the first one is No. 41, the 11th pick in the second round. Once you get to pick 40, the Lakers have 20 percent of the picks left in the draft.

What they are looking for is a guy that can develop into a player for them in three years or so. Or a guy they could stash in Europe while he matures. This is essentially what they did last year when drafting Devin Ebanks (he will stick with the team next season) and Derrick Caracter (he may not).

Of the four guys the Lakers draft this year, look for one or two to fill out the very end of the team’s bench this season (depending on roster moves and how many spots there are).

The Celtics, Lakers and Heat may find a gem in this draft. They may find a guy who becomes a part of the regular rotation. But it won’t be for next year, when these teams really need the help.

Report: Thunder offering Eric Maynor to move up in draft


A number of teams have floated the idea of trading a player for one of the picks higher up in this draft. The Lakers dangled Lamar Odom, Tony Parker’s name was thrown around by the Spurs, and countless other deals have been suggested.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have done the same… except they really like their core. They don’t want to give up a key piece of a young and improving team.

So they are offering backup point guard Eric Maynor, according to Chad Ford at ESPN.

Sources say the Thunder have been quietly gauging interest in Maynor over the last few days in an attempt to move up into the top half of the draft. They’ve spoken to the Kings (No. 7) and Bobcats (No. 9) in particular in the last few days …

Who are the Thunder after? Like a lot of teams, it seems they are in hot pursuit of Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas.

Maynor is not chump change — he is arguably the best back up point guard in the league, a guy with real talent and he is entering just his third year in the league. For a team that needs a point guard he may be a better option than anything they can draft.

And look for Valanciunas to go very early in this draft. He may not be able to play in the NBA for a couple years due to buyout issues with his European club, but he may have a higher ceiling than any other player in this draft. Some scouts love his game.