Kemba Walker of the University of Connecticut speaks to reporters at a media availability session ahead of the 2011 NBA Draft in New York, June 22, 2011. The 2011 NBA Draft will be held June 23 in Newark, New Jersey. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
As expected, Kyrie Irving went #1 overall to the Cavs, and Derrick Williams went #2 to Minnesota, a sign that the T-Wolves could not swing a satisfying trade for the Arizona forward. If he’s not moved in the next few days, he’ll be asked to play small forward alongside Kevin Love and Darko Milicic on the front line.
Conventional wisdom had Brandon Knight headed to Utah, but the Jazz went with Turkish big man Enes Kanter instead, which is odd considering the presence of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson on the Utah front line. The Cavs went with Texas freshman Tristan Thompson at #4. Apparently, he played Williams to a standstill in a recent workout and that won over the Cleveland brass. He plays the same position as J.J. Hickson, so I’m not exactly sure how the two are going to develop together. (For what it’s worth, John Hollinger’s Draft Rater had Thompson ranked #3.)
The Raptors surprised no one at #5 by going international with Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas, who has the potential to provide some rebounding alongside softy Andrea Bargnani. At #6, the Wizards went with Jan Vesely, a Czech swingman with a penchant for dunking…hard…on people.
At #7, the Kings took Bismack Biyombo (of Congo) but it appears that he’s part of a three-team trade with the Bobcats and the Bucks. Biyombo is probably headed to Charlotte, while the Bucks’ pick at #10, Jimmer Fredette, is headed to Sacramento. For their part, the Bucks acquired Stephen Jackson to replace John Salmons (on his way to Sacramento) and Corey Maggette (on his way to Charlotte). Milwaukee needs scoring and Jackson brings that while also playing good defense on the other end of the floor. The Bucks are also expected to acquire #19 pick Tobias Harris (of Tennessee) in the deal.
Check out these highlights of Derrick Williams sophomore season at Arizona:
Williams averaged 20/8 and shot 60% from the field in 2010, including an eye-popping 57% (42-of-74) from long range. He stands just over 6-7 in bare feet, but his standing reach of 9-0 is the same as Nick Collison and Tyrus Thomas and just a half inch less than Amare Stoudemire’s (though Stoudemire may have grown a bit since being measured in 2002).
While slightly on the small side, Williams is more of a power forward than a small forward, though he could get by with some minutes at the ‘three’ if need be. This isn’t good for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who already have a very good power forward in Kevin Love. Williams would struggle covering the quicker small forwards if pressed to play big minutes out of position, which is why the T-Wolves are trying to trade out of the #2 spot.
Williams is a terrific finisher in the lane, whether it be a powerful dunk or a nifty double cutch lay-in. He’s especially good at catching the ball off the pick-and-roll and finishing in traffic. He has a high motor and isn’t easily outworked. His range goes out to the NBA three-point line, though his shot isn’t exactly pure.
DraftExpress compares him to Michael Beasley (without any of the off-court issues) and says that “Williams shouldered a heavy load for Arizona this season at 16.4 possessions per game (5th in this group), but was nevertheless the most efficient forward of the players we looked at, scoring 1.16 points per possession. That’s especially impressive considering how heavily defenses keyed in on stopping him, how little playmaking Arizona had besides him, and the way in which he generated his offense.”
Meanwhile, NBADraft.net says he “was a pretty modest defensive player in college, as his lateral quickness is mediocre and his length is just OK, which are respective problems for the SF and PF positions … Definitely has wavering intensity on this end, and will allow baskets without much resistance around the rim, particularly against the bigger, more athletic PF’s he faced.”
First, watch these highlights of Irving’s stint at Duke…
Irving reminds me a little of Chris Paul. He has that same speed and ball control, and while his vision may not be on par with Paul’s, it’s pretty close. He’s great on the break and does a nice job of making the right decision in transition or when he dribbles into the lane. He made 18-of-39 three-pointers (46%) while at Duke, which isn’t a huge sample size, but it appears that he has an NBA-ready jumper. He also nailed 90% of his free throws and shot a terrific 53% from the field.
NBADraft.net says Irving is “a facilitator who shows the ability to make those around him better … Great vision and passing skills … Great burst. Has the blow by speed to get past defenders off the dribble … Good decision maker. Looks to make the right play instead of always trying to dazzle.” Conversely, the site says that Irving’s durability is a concern and that he “could struggle with the transition to the NBA game with just 8 games of NCAA experience under his belt.”
Meanwhile, DraftExpress says that Irving is “not as blazingly fast with his first step as Derrick Rose, John Wall, or even Kemba Walker, Irving plays at a very unique pace that keeps defenses consistently off-balance and allows him to get to the basket seemingly whenever he needs to. Able to drive left or right almost equally well, he has excellent timing on his drives, very good body control, and the ability to operate at different speeds.”
It may take a while for Irving to mature into a franchise point guard, but he has all the tools to get there. The Cavs need a player to build around and Irving is that guy.
Below you’ll find the consensus mock draft from NBA.com. Click here to read the rest of the article.
Guys like Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris are familiar to most U.S. readers, but what about Enes Kanter and Jan Vesely?
Here’s a look at the four lesser-known prospects currently projected to go in the lottery.
Enes Kanter, Turkey (C) 6-11, 260 lbs, 19-years-old
NBADraft.net said “Bigman with excellent size, strength and polish … Combines brute strength with a high skill level … ” but that “One of the big concerns scouts have with Kanter is his physical health. He has had a history of knee problems and there are concerns about his knees not checking out 100% when he has NBA physicals.” DraftExpress says “Kanter has soft hands and displays good touch on his shots, both around the basket and from the perimeter. He’s a reliable finisher who can score in multiple ways in the paint — with a soft turnaround jumper for example” but that his “lack of experience shows up first and foremost on the defensive end, where Kanter was incredibly ineffective in the film we watched. His fundamentals, instincts and positioning leave a lot to be desired.”
Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania (C) 6-11, 240 lbs, 19-years-old
NBADraft.net says Valanciunas “uses all of his physical skills to the fullest when attacking the glass … Extremely aggressive rebounder both offensively and defensively …” while DraftExpress notes that “he’s an incredibly intense competitor, a boundlessly energetic player who never stops working for a moment and whose presence is constantly felt on the court” and that “Valanciunas’ most important source of scoring comes from his ability to finish plays created for him by teammates around the basket.” In other words, he’ll fare well in the pick-and-roll.
Jan Vesley, Czech Republic (F) 6-11, 240 lbs, 21-years-old
DraftExpress says that he “has terrific size and length for a small forward at 6-11 and couples that with incredible explosiveness. He looks a lot more confident in trying to utilize his athleticism as of late, as he’s been responsible for a number of unbelievable dunks this season.” However “watching him handle the ball in the open floor is definitely not a pretty sight.” NBADraft.net notes that “as a shooter he improved since last year and feels more confident taking shots outside the 3pt line and creating off the dribble; his mechanics and follow-through look fluid; good elevation on his shot” but that he “needs to continue improving his offensive skills.”
Bismack Biyombo, Congo (PF/C) 6-9, 240 lbs, 18-years-old
DraftExpress says that “his combination of length, strength agility and explosiveness is almost unheard of, causing many to marvel at his physical gifts despite the low-skill level he displayed” and compared him to a 6-9 version of Dwight Howard. NBADraft.net thinks that “Biyombo is a player who likes to play above the rim. Additionally he has nice skills in the low post to attack the basket, using fakes, spin moves and jump hooks.” However his “offensive game is a long ways from being NBA ready.”
The Minnesota Timberwolves had the worst record in the NBA and the best chance to win the #1 overall pick, but ended up with the #2 pick when the Cavs leapfrogged from #8 to #1. GM David Kahn didn’t take the news gracefully. (Brian Mahoney, AP)
Wolves general manager David Kahn said he knew Minnesota was “dead” when it got down to the final three of himself, Utah executive Kevin O’Connor and Nick Gilbert.
“This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines,” Kahn said. “Last year it was Abe Pollin’s widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told Kevin: ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us and I was right.”
I bolded the interesting bit. Kahn went out of his way to point out that he was just saying “habit,” but by doing so it sure seemed he was implying that the lottery may have been fixed without going so far as actually saying it.
Then again, he might have been joking about the fact that he “knew” he was in trouble when there was a 14-year-old kid representing a team in the final three, but with his track record, he should know what to say and what not to say.