The 2011 NBA Draft will take place June 23, which is this coming Thursday night. We here at Beard and Stache will have our matchmaking skills put to the test over the next three days leading up to the draft. We will attempt to predict the perfect marriages between prospect and team for all thirty first round picks.
Today we will cover picks one through ten, tomorrow will be picks eleven through 20, and then we'll finally finish our mock draft with picks twenty-one through thirty on Wednesday.
This is what you've all been waiting for. The Beard and Stache NBA 2011 Mock Draft is now underway with the first ten picks.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Clippers) - Kyrie Irving, Point Guard - Duke (6'2" 180 lbs) With some help from owner Dan Gilbert's son, Nick, the Cavaliers turned their trade of Mo Williams for Baron Davis into Davis AND the No. 1 pick.
The Cavs' reportedly have yet to decide on who they'll select with first pick. They could go the conventional route and take Irving, who is clearly the top point guard in a guard-heavy draft. Or they could go with versatile Arizona forward Derrick Williams or even Turkish big man Enes Kanter and then solidify the point guard spot by nabbing either Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker with the fourth pick.
Despite all the specualation that the Cavs' are still undecided, the Beard and Stache would like to believe that the top spot is Irving's to lose at this point.
Though he may not have the superior explosiveness and athelticism of a Derrick Rose or John Wall; Irving has shown, when healthy, that he's a capable shooter who can get where he wants on the floor and can also impact the game without scoring. That skill set should set Irving up for great success at the NBA level and we fully expect to see him suiting up for Cleveland next season as the incumbent point guard in what has become a point guard-driven league.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves - Derrick Williams, Forward - Arizona (6'9" 240 lbs) Williams could go over Irving at No. 1, but as of now, we're guessing he ends up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Unfortunately, that would create another logjam scenario since they already have All-Star double-double machine Kevin Love locked in at power forward and versatile forwards Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, and Wesley Johnson.
But Williams would have time to develop off the bench in Minnesota, and appears to be the only option they have at No. 2. Then again, David Kahn is running the show, which means anything is possible here.
Who knows? They might even draft another point guard to add to the cluster they've already accumulated at the position since 2009 first round pick Ricky Rubio has finally signed on.
All jokes aside though, we have the Timberwolves taking the athletic, 'tweener forward from Arizona - Derrick Williams. If they're taking the best player available approach, Williams is really the only option at No.2, though they could decide to deal the pick too.
3. Utah Jazz (via Nets) - Brandon Knight, Point Guard - Kentucky (6'3" 185 lbs) I know Jazz fans, you all expected to see your boy Jimmer with this pick. Even though the Beard and Stache think that would be a great story, we also feel that selecting Fredette third overall would be a bit of a reach.
Current starting point guard Devin Harris is often banged up and doesn't look like the long-term answer at the position. GM Kevin O'Connor has been coveting Brandon Knight since the season was still taking place; and he would be the perfect fit to backup Harris while learning to become the point guard of the future.
Because let's be honest, Earl Watson and Ronnie Price aren't great NBA point guards; and though the Jazz did the right thing by cutting Deron Williams loose and getting this pick in return before he could make his own LeBron-esque 'decision', the Jazz now need to shore up their point guard position. Knight fits the bill here.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jonas Valanciunas, Center - Lithuania (6'11" 240 lbs) After getting their point guard at the top of the draft, the Cavs' go big at No. 4. Valanciunas might be the top international prospect in this draft. In the mold of most foreign big men, Valanciunas is able to get out and run the floor and is very skilled with the ball in his hands.
Taking Valanciunas here is a gamble, he just turned 20 last month and has a long way to go in terms of developing into a reliable NBA post player. Cleveland can only hope he pans out as well as the last Lithuanian big man they drafted – Zydrunas "Big Z" Ilgauskas in 1996. The combination of Irving and Valanciunas sets the Cavaliers up with two nice building blocks for the future.
5. Toronto Raptors - Enes Kanter, Center, Power Forward - Kentucky (6'11" 260 lbs) Kanter gives Toronto a legitimate post presence to compliment Andrea Bargnani's finesse shooting. He's missed two years of development, but has kept himself in great shape and got a chance to practice every day with a Final Four team. Kanter is billed as an extremely polished and athletic post player, a rare combination of size and skill.
6. Washington Wizards - Jan Vesely, Small Forward/Power Forward - Czech Repbulic (6'11" 240 lbs) The Wizards have long been high on Vesely, and his exceptional transition game would translate well when running the floor with John Wall in D.C. He shoots free throws like Shaq, but his outside shot isn't bad, and could be improved further with coaching. Consistency is the question mark with Vesely, who can be a bit of a ‘tweener in terms of the small and power forward positions.
7. Sacramento Kings - Kemba Walker, Point Guard - Connecticut (6'1" 180 lbs) The Kings finally realized that Tyreke Evans is a lot of things, but a point guard isn't one of them. Sacramento could also use a high-character leader in its locker room. Enter Walker, who single-handedly willed UConn to the national championship last season.
He is a shoot-first point guard, so the challenge will be finding enough shots for him and Evans. His lack of size is an issue, but smaller men have had great success in the NBA before, most notably Allen Iverson. Walker is an NBA-ready talent with box office draw, which is big for a Kings team on the brink of leaving Sacramento.
8. Detroit Pistons - Bismack Biyombo, Power Forward/Center -Congo (6'9" 243 lbs) Biyombo is an unknown quantity, with the only certainties being his defense and rebounding. He has an NBA-ready body and is an elite level shot blocker and rebounder because of his explosive athleticism and freakish 7'7" wingspan.
His offensive game needs big-time work, but the Pistons will take his defense and wait for his offense. Detroit gave up more than 100 points per game last season, and they are hoping to see the second coming of Ben Wallace walk through the doors of the Palace at Auburn Hills in Biyombo.
9. Charlotte Bobcats - Tristan Thompson, Power Forward - Texas (6'9" 225 lbs) Thompson has drawn comparisons to current Bobcats forward Tyrus Thomas, the Bobcats' frontline still needs help. Thompson would give the team another athletic forward to compete for playing time.
He's another one of those 'garbage men' with a forte for defense and energy that would earn him a place on any NBA team. Thompson's frame has all the makings of a terrific rebounder and shot blocker which makes him a perfect fit for the defensive-minded 'Cats.
He averaged 13 points and eight rebounds as a freshman at Texas. He also made great strides offensively during his time in Austin, as a lefty who is a handful to defend on the low block.
10. Milwaukee Bucks - Alec Burks, Shooting Guard/Point Guard - Colorado (6'6" 193 lbs) Burks is likely to fall somewhere in the nine-to-15 range, with teams such as Milwaukee, Utah and Phoenix potentially targeting him. He's struggled some in workouts and will need to hit the weight room and bulk up his slender 193 pound frame to prevent players from muscling him. The Bucks could use a another athletic wing to play alongside Brandon Jennings.
Burks has NBA shooting guard size at 6'6 with an excellent 6'10 wingspan, and shows signs that he could fill in at point guard on ocassion, illustrated by the 2.9 assists per game. He's long and athletic enough to be an effective defender at the next level and also grabbed 6.5 rebounds in just 31 minutes per game.
He's an advanced ball-handler who is tremendous in the open floor and can finish in traffic with either hand. A consistent outside shot remains the missing piece to his game, but that's something that could be developed over time with the proper coaching.
Overall, Burks has excellent upside and the potential to become a fixture in someone's rotation. If he can start knocking down his jumpers on a more consistent basis, he can become a real offensive threat considering his ability to create his own shot and get to the line.
Picks 11-20 coming up tomorrow!
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