Tag:2011 NBA Draft
Posted on: June 22, 2011 9:11 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 9:13 pm
2011 NBA Draft prospect Brandon Knight says he's ready to lead a team right now. Posted by Ben Golliver.
NEW YORK, N. Y. -- Brandon Knight isn't looking over his shoulder and he doesn't have any time to waste.
The one and done Kentucky point guard addressed the media on the eve of the 2011 NBA Draft, and it was the verbal equivalent of a rim run: straight, direct, no veering or wavering.
Knight, who averaged 17.3 points and 4.2 assists as a freshman, wants to be picked at the top of the board, he wants to start immediately and he wants to win.
"My competitive nature wants me to go as high as possible," Knight said.
One day before NBA Draft night, Knight is projected to go as high as No. 3 to the Utah Jazz and no lower than No. 7 to the Sacramento Kings. The Toronto Raptors at No. 5 are also a possibility should the Jazz elect to draft Turkish big man Enes Kanter at No. 3.
Knight holds himself to a high standard -- notching a 4.3 GPA in high school -- and is equally demanding in his expectations for his NBA home.
"A place that can use a point guard, a place that wants me, obviously," Knight said. "A place where I can compete. I don't want to go somewhere where they have no chance of winning at all. A place where I know I can compete, where I have great teammates."
The Jazz figure to be the best fit for that description. While they have a starting quality point guard in Devin Harris already in place, Utah certainly has a longer tradition of winning than either Toronto or Sacramento. Utah had made the playoffs four straight years before this season, which saw a trade of franchise point guard Deron Williams and the retirement of longtime coach Jerry Sloan. The Jazz also have a string of making the postseason 20 straight years.
The Raptors, meanwhile, have made the playoffs in just two of the last nine years and arguably have one of the two or three least talented roster in the league. The Kings are far removed from their glory days at the beginning of the aughts, having missed the playoffs in five seasons. A turbulent and tenuous ownership situation only makes seriously competing that much more difficult.
Pressed about his fit with the Jazz, Knight did his best to remain open to all possibilities.
"The draft is inexact," he said. "I might not be taken by the Jazz. I might. I definitely would be comfortable there. I had a great vibe with the coaching staff and front office."
Outsiders might view Utah as a perfect fit. Knight could serve as Harris' understudy, learning the pro game and gradually taking on added responsibilities and minutes. Knight doesn't necessarily see it that way.
Asked if he felt he was ready to step in and assume starting point guard duties from Day One, Knight, who is 19 years old, said, "Yeah, I do." No hesitation. No blinking.
He listed off the attributes he brings to the table in a methodical manner, stripping emotion from the process as if he was reading a boring legal document.
"The ability to shoot, spread a defense, defend other point guards, run a team," he said. "That's something I've got better at this year."
One thing he doesn't bring to the NBA? Second thoughts about returning to Kentucky for a sophomore season.
"Once I knew I might be a top 10 pick," Knight recalled without a trace of regret. "My mind was decided."
For all that readiness and self-assuredness, Knight did admit that one thing has tripped him during the pre-draft process: the travel.
"I've never really lived out of a suitcase before," he said, allowing himself a rare grin.
He'll get used to it.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 7:42 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 7:55 pm
Kyrie Irving, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, met with the media on Wednesday. Posted by Ben Golliver.
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The word you're looking for to describe projected No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving is "poised."
Irving and 11 other future first-round picks in the 2011 NBA Draft met with the media at the Westin in Times Square on Wednesday,
By and large, the twelve young men -- who range in age from 19 to 22 -- were asked the same questions. No one was as prepared or as polished as Irving.
A hot topic in New York and across the country is the looming potential of a lockout and work stoppage. Those questions were usually met with a dodge by the Class of 2011. Something like, "I'm just concentrating on tomorrow right now and that will work itself out" or "I'll stay in shape and be ready whenever the season starts."
Irving, however, wasn't ready to cop out.
Dressed comfortably in a full suit when most of his peers were wearing polo shirts or casual attire, Irving said he would head back to Duke, where he went one and done, and enroll "like a regular student" to get to work on his degree. He laid out a five-year plan for earning his diploma, expressing a desire to major in African-American studies, and said he had committed to maintaining a 3.5 GPA or higher.
Reporters that had never heard Irving in person exchanged looks and raised eyebrows. More than one seemed ready to take him home to meet their daughters.
Where most of the players assembled fumbled with how to respond to questions about this being a weak draft, Irving stuck up for his peers. "This draft is really special regardless of what people say," Irving proclaimed, before listing off Arizona forward Derrick Williams and Turkish big man Enes Kanter as potential stars.
Where other prospects hesitated to compare their games to current NBA players, Irving seized the opportunity with a concise, studious description.
"I'm a balance between Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul," Irving said.
That combination is fairly apt. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Irving has excellent size, good decision-making skills and the ability to beat you with his own offense or by making plays for others. He has an excellent, intuitive sense of the game and he makes a coach comfortable when the ball is in his hands.
Irving is widely expected to be the first name called on Thursday night. The Cleveland Cavaliers hold the No. 1 pick and it would qualify as a stunner if they selected anyone but Irving. While Irving made it clear he is no replacement for departed Cavaliers forward LeBron James, he also said he sees opportunity for someone in his position to make an immediate impact in today's NBA.
“This is a youthful league," Irving noted. "Derrick Rose won the MVP in just three years.”
The type of transformation Rose brought to the Chicago Bulls would be a dream scenario for Cavaliers fans. The year before Rose arrived, Chicago won 33 games. This season, the new-look Bulls, constructed entirely around his skills, won 61 games and made the Eastern Conference Finals.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 6:34 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 5:29 am
Posted by Matt Moore
It's passed over because we're so far removed from it and because that's not how the machine works, but stop for a second and consider what it's like to be a general manager who actually has control, whose owner trusts him. It's draft night. The future of your franchise rests with you. A pick gone wrong and that can mean a pink slip. Questions from the media, from the fans. You've got to somehow not only see what these kids, and they are kids, have done, but what they will do. And that's not just on the floor, it's in the locker room and outside the halls of the arena.
You've got to look into a kid's soul and see what he's made of, out of basically a handful of workouts, some measurements, and maybe a psych profile, if he consents. And it's not a simple "yes or no," you have to choose someone. You've got hundreds of options, a dozen or so serious options, and you've got to hit the right one. Miss, and it's a black mark on your career that may follow you forever. And no matter how many people you bring in, no matter how much consultation is done in advance, at the end of the night, when it's time to make the call, it's got to be your say. You have to make the decision.
And we think shooting free throws is tough.
With that in mind, here are the top five GMs/front offices facing the toughest decisions of the draft.
1. David Kahn, GM, Minnesota Timberwolves: He can't miss every time, right? After drafting Jonny Flynn to go with Ricky Rubio, who didn't come over, essentially going 0-2 on viable point guard options until this season, then following it up by passing on DeMarcus Cousins and others to reach for Wes Johnson, the Wolves could really use a home run. So naturally Kahn is trying to trade this pick like there's no tomorrow. They've reached out to everyone, and so far no one is biting. So if they keep the pick, the Wolves have to decide whether to take the best talent available, Derrick Williams, even though he creates a logjam at small forward/combo forward position for them, or roll the dice on Enes Kanter. You know, because what they don't have is enough Euro centers with upside.
Kahn's in a bad spot, having to try and hit a home run to save his job by bringing in a veteran star. He announced at the end of last season that "rebuilding is over" for the Wolves, which is pretty insane for a 17-win team. He can't wait to see if Williams will be an impact guy, he needs one now. If he does have to take the pick, Williams is the best overall talent, but that doesn't jive with what he did throughout the past calendar year, bringing in Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. It's a significant problem and not one you should envy. Even if the Cavs were to suddenly pass on Kyrie Irving for Williams, the Wolves still couldn't take Irving because of Rubio.
In the end, the Euro teen center who hasn't played in two years is the safe option. That's how tricky the Wolves' position is.
The Raptors need rebounding and size, and Jonas Valanciunas provides both. Sure, the big man is not coming over till 2012, but the Raptors also aren't going anwywhere until then. Another year of letting DeMar DeRozan, Jerryd Bayless, and Amir Johnson lead the team while trying to find somewhere to ditch Bargnani to isn't a bad option. Then when Valanciunas comes over, they'll have another high pick, and worst case scenario the ability to put Bargnani next to Valanciunas with Amir Johnson at the three for defensive coverage of Bargnani's limitations in space.
If not "Choonus" (as no one besides me is calling him), Jan Vesely is a great fit here. An explosive combo forward who won't need the ball and whose limitations in ball handling will be managed by low usage, Vesely brings size, athleticism and aggressiveness. A DeRozan-Vesely-Johnson 2-3-4 combo is just plain nasty.
But Colangelo may not be able to take either of those and may instead have to reach for... Kemba Walker. If the Utah Jazz aren't too spooked by Brandon Knight's attitude, Walker will be the best known-American talent in the draft at that point, and finding a replacement for Jose Calderon will be seen as a smart pick. No one will criticize them for taking Walker, despite Walker not being the type of defender Dwane Casey's going to want to work with and the fact that he's honestly a reach here. Not much of one, but a reach.
So does Colangelo take the Best Player Available or the Most Popular Available? That's the kind of thing impacted by your previous decisions which come back to haunt you.
3. Geoff Petrie, President of Basketball Operations, Sacramento Kings: This should be easy. There's a good chance either Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker falls this far, despite the above scenario. They take that guy, they're good. But for whatever reason, the Kings are still trying to figure out what to do with their backcourt.
Alec Burks has become the hot name to take but he's not a point guard in any way shape or form. He becomes redundant next to Marcus Thornton, even if Tyreke Evans stays at point guard. Jimmer Fredette is too much of a reach.
Kawhi Leonard is the safest pick possible, filling a need at small forward, a polished player who can defend, and leaving the backcourt questions out of the equation. But he may go higher. The Kings are in a danger zone that guarantees their options will be limited, but the decison tree is complicated by the wishes of the Maloofs. Fredette brings ticket sales, that's for sure, but he's going to be an awkward fit with both Evans and Thornton needing shots. What's going to win out, making money or the right decision? Let's just say we don't have high hopes for the voices of reason.
4. John Hammond, GM, Milwaukee Bucks: Hammond's got a lot of holes to fill and is just outside the ability to fill them in the draft. Meanwhile, he's trying to move down. Move down and not make an improvement, the team could slide even further backwards. Make the wrong pick and he's wasted all that opportunity. Power forwards are abundant at the No. 10 spot for Milwaukee, but Hammond's got Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Jon Brockman,and Ersan Ilyasova (who he's reportedly trying desperately to trade). So that's not really viable. He sunk a huge portion of cash into John Salmons which didn't work out, so while drafting a shooting guard sounds like the right move, it comes with usage concerns.
Popular players like Fredette are there, but with Jennings it may only exacerbate a tense situation. And the other option is a fleet of talented but wholly incomplete combo forwards without a decent lock among them. All are long-term prospects, none are sure things. And that's relative to the entire draft process which is a crapshoot.
The Bucks have been active in trade rumors but are trying to find an identity. They seemed like they'd stocked their team with athletic, relatively young players and yet don't seem to have the right combination. The 10th pick doesn't provide them many answers and may leave them eying simply a chance to move out of the spotlight.
5. Daryl Morey, GM, Houston Rockets: No team with a real chance of competing needed a lottery win like the Rockets. With Yao Ming a huge seven-foot question mark and failed attempt after failed attempt at securing a star, they need a big name to put next to the versatile complimentary talent they have. But instead here they are with two picks that help them almost not at all.
Their options are a series of athletic threes and undersized fours (the Morris twins, Jordan Hamilton, maybe Tristan Thompson), when they already have Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Chase Budinger, and Jordan Hill to go with Chuck Hayes. Their only real need is at five, and Valanciunas is almost guaranteed to be off the board. With Motiejunas more of a stretch four than a real five considering his defense and effort problems, there's simply not a fit here. Marcus Morris is the most surefire player available here, and he comes with huge question marks and a limited upside.
Morey is charged with somehow turning these elements into a contender, despite the best "star" on the market being Andre Iguodala, which would be like adding a Swiss army knife when you need a broadsword. His second pick in the first round leaves him only with the exciting possibility of drafting a Euro center who won't be available for several years, or a player like Jeremy Tyler who would likely spend at least a year with the Rockets' D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Morey's been considered a genius and a math wizard for years in this league. With the team stangnated and no help available in free agency or trade, the draft looks like his last chance to pull a rabbit out of a hat. And right now, the hat looks awful empty.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 4:49 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 5:22 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports:
With top prospects in New York Thursday for media and service responsibilities, a person familiar with the draft discussions said the Pistons appear to have zeroed in on Texas small forward Tristan Thompson with the eighth pick. Thompson canceled other scheduled workouts after working out for the Pistons with five other players Wednesday.via Draft buzz: Nash, Smoove, and more - CBSSports.com.
There have also been reports that Kawhi Leonard has canceled his workouts after meeting with Detroit. Throw Marcus Morris and now Markieff Morris on that list as well. Now, Leonard was expected to go top six regardless, but it's interesting that so many players are certain Detroit's going to take them if available.
The quandary for the Pistons is a complex one. They clearly need to go in a younger direction, ditching the older talent they have. But they can't really upgrade in positions they need to because of how those players have killed their value. Greg Monroe is a huge part of the future. Austin Daye presumably is, but he played most of his minutes at small forward. Jonas Jerebko is also part of that future, but he split time between the 3 and the 4. So if they draft a power forward like Marcus Morris or Tristan Thompson, Jerebko likely moves to the 3 and Daye is then benched, and that's before you get to the issue of Tayshaun Prince and whether to bring him back. If they go with Kawhi Leonard (if available) Jerebko stays at 4 and Daye, again, remains on the bench and they still have the Tayshaun Prince problem. And they still have to settle what they're going to do at the 2 with Rip Hamilton needing a trade more than anyone in the league and the question of whether to retain Rodney Stuckey.
It's a mess the Pistons have gotten themselves into, and it appears one they're prepared to compound.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 10:57 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 11:44 am
We're less than 36 hours from the 2011 NBA Draft so we thought we'd kick the tires and see what's what. We'll talk trade rumors, workouts, upsides, downsides, sidesides, length, athleticism, motor, the works. Ben Golliver is live in New York for NBA Draft media availability and will be sending in images and quotes from the prospects. Join us at 12 EST here on EOB!
Posted on: June 21, 2011 7:58 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 10:09 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
In every draft there's a gluttony at a position. It never seems to be point guards, though 2009 came close. This year, it's combo forwards.
First there's Derrick Williams, who projects himself as a small forward. But most of the kids project themselves as a small forward, thinking their jumper is good enough and they'll always have that lithe frame. As Williams puts on muscle (or fat) he's likely to morph into more of a stretch four model. His athleticism and explosiveness is good enough to keep him playing on the perimeter, but defensively he's likely to wind up defending bigger players. Which is problematic since he's not as tall as most power forwards. You can see why the movement to get Williams to the top selection (likely) fell short. On the other hand, if he manages to keep his weight down and play the 3 smoothly, his combination of range and athleticism combined with a nasty set of shoulders could put him in great position.
Jan Vesely is the underrated small forward with the height to play power forward. That's right. Derrick Williams will likely wind up playing power forward even though he's too short and Jan Vesely will probably play small forward even though he's 6-11. It's a weird NBA, really. Vesely has incredible explosiveness but needs to be on a team where he can be a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. He doesn't have a reliable jumper and can be turnover heavy. He actually translates well to a poor man's Josh Smith. Vesely will be a steal at his position while everyone flocks to Enes Kanter who has earned a living in the last three months scoring on chairs.
The Morris twins are both tweeneres that will spend more time at PF than SF mostly due to their more limited athleticism. They do have range (Marcus' obviously being higher), but lack the athleticism to get up and down the floor as a small forward. Still, without dominant size, they're looking at a struggle regardless of position, unless they hit another gear in the NBA.
Chris Singleton is yet another player that's going to drift from position to position. Unlike the Morris twins, he's got the athleticism, but not the range. His rebounding abilities are particularly alluring as a prospect, but he lacks a post game.
Are you sensing a patttern? There is a plethora of combo forwards available and the reason they're combo forwards is that they're incomplete. This is just inside the top 15, before we get to players like Tristan Thompson and Tobias Harris. It's a draft that's rife with holes in talent, and even the talent that is there is more fraught with concerns than the usual.
And still that talent is alluring. That's the thing with combo forwards. No type of player sucks in fans so easily as those with the ability to leap, muscle, hook, run the floor, swat, and still have range. For a long time the myth was based on a fictional player, some sort of hybrid between Magic Johnson and Moses Malone. Then LeBron James came along and made the prototype a reality. Then we all decided we hated him because he's a jerk. But the myth goes on. The idea is for a player with size, length, and athleticism to develop range, handle, and savvy. It's like asking Voltron to strap a transformer to his back.
The bar has to be much lower for these players. It's often a struggle just to find a place for them, and for them to mold to that spot. This year's class is no exception with a collection of rare strengths and witnesses that make you think the forwards in this class grabbed their attributes blindly from a top hat.
That's why in this draft, even moreso than in the usual crasphoot that is the yearly selection process, teams need to be cognizant not only of whether the player is a good fit for what they want, but if they are capable of defending that talent. Have an overstock of mid-range shooters but struggle with post scoring? Don't target a player who can't play back to the basket and hope he turns into it. Have issues with developing defensive personnel? Don't bring in the player who lacks awareness. It will only compound your problem.
Sounds obvious, right? Except that traditionally teams are resistant to these ideals instead opting to do what's best for them or aim for talent by default. But this draft allows for some creativity precisely because it isn't stocked, or even partially filled, with All-Stars. Having so many role players and tweeners can be a good thing because it makes every pick that much more crucial. There's no defense for not knowing this is a weak draft class. So teams which are gambling on these forwards need to have a set development plan in place. This is not a "stick them in and see what happens" kind of draft. The convenient part is knowing that ahead of time and planning accordingly.
The myth of the athletic big man is as old as the league itself. Tyrus Thomas, Stromile Swift, Anthony Randolph, even the league's recent history is filled with players of the prototype who can't put the tools together with any skill. They key in the 2011 NBA Draft isn't staying away from any and all combo fowards. It's merely recognizing that best talent available doesn't mean best talent available for your team. Maybe if they can learn that this year, it will become a trend they can use in all situations.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:09 am
Posted by Matt Moore
Drafting a Euro big always has its complications. Will he be able to adjust to the NBA style of play? Will he struggle with the physicality? Will his buyout be reached within a reasonable timeframe and will any of the core he was drafted into still be around then? Teams looking to draft Jonas Valanciunas will be faced with that last question it seems, if only for one more (possibly lockout-shortened) year.
Yahoo! and Draft Express' Jonathan Givony reports that Valanciunas' club Lietuvos Rytas has decided to stick with their demand of Valanciunas being unavailable until 2012 under any buyout agreement. That means that any team that wants Valanciunas will have to wait at least a year to get him, leaving him open to injury, second thoughts about coming across the pond, or any number of factors. More importantly, it means those teams looking to acquire a franchise center to build around now will have to have second thoughts. This has two consequences.
One, Valanciunas may take a hit, as Ken Berger reports. A lot of the teams at the top of the lottery (Cleveland, Washington, Toronto) are looking for immediate impact players. They have antsy ownership wanting quick results. Telling them "You're going to love this guy we got... once he gets here." is not going to go over well, even if the lockout is going down next year. Sure, it makes no sense for ownership to be unhappy about a player missing out on a year they're not going to play, but you've already gone down the wrong path by assuming ownership is a set of rational actors. Shame on you.
Second, it helps Enes Kanter considerably. Kanter has allegedly slid a bit on draft boards because, well, he hasn't played anyone in a long time. Trying to figure out how good he is is like looking at a picture of a car on the internet. You don't even know if the thing is three-dimensional. With Valanciunas not available for immediate help, Kanter becomes the top Euro big in the draft, the top center overall. Expect there to be even more talk about the Cavaliers taking Kanter with the No.4 pick.
Valanciunas could still get picked up by a team with long-term prospects, like Utah, which is clearly willing to wait for things to develop. Someone in the top 10 will swallow the extra year on Valanciunas who will only be 20 when the 2012 season begins. But in a draft rife with disappointment, this is certainly an extra tough pill to swallow for those top-five teams looking to grab an impact player.
There's still a chance Lietuvos Rytas could back down from its demands but with two days to go before the draft, they hold all the cards here.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 3:39 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 9:45 am
Posted by Matt Moore
It should be apparent by now that I'm not big on Jimmer Fredette as an NBA prospect. I've been trying to cool the irons on him since March. I've plugged him in as low as the late teens in mock drafts. I listed him in the "Buyer Beware" post. Basically, if you wanted to make the case that I'm a "hater," you wouldn't have to spend long cooking up the formula. In reality, I merely have concerns about his length, athleticism and adaptation to the NBA game. But in light of Ken Berger of CBSSports.com's recent post wrapping up the latest draft news, there's one scenario where Fredette can not only survive in the NBA game, but flourish. From the halls of Brigham Young to the streets of New York. From KB:
If Toronto passes on Biyombo, some execs believe he could slide as far as 14-18, and the Knicks, with the 17th pick, are known to be high on him. But the apple of the Knicks’ eye is BYU sharpshooter Jimmer Fredette, and New York officials are trying to compute how far they’d have to trade up for him and what it would cost.via NBA draft buzz: Kyrie No. 1 - CBSSports.com.
New York is the one place where Jimmer could not only become a decent role player (which is possible anywhere he's drafted, the kid can play after all) but develop into a legitimate star. While he'll never be Steve Nash, D'Antoni's system does reward players with quick instincts and efficient jumpers, which Jimmer has both of. D'Antoni has a knack for taking players of odd-fitting ilk (Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa, Toney Douglas, Landry Fields) and producing effective players by employing them correctly in his fast-paced dance.
Fredette's never going to win any foot races in the NBA, but by filling in on the perimeter in transition to find open shots and by learning to distribute by sheer volume of opportunity, Fredette can become something more than he would be otherwise in the NBA. It's certainly true that D'Antoni preferes accomplished veterans whose athleticism prevails, but there's something to be said of the nexus of talent where D'Antoni's machinations so often play. Yes, Nash is a daring specimen in terms of conditioning despite his back problem, but it's always been his guile that has set him apart, as it did under D'Antoni. Fredette can quite simply remain a threat at all times as he loops under the basket and around it, while aslo working off of Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Fredette in the pick and roll with either player could be deadly as Fredette's shooter's touch would deny the defense's ability to cut under the screen and dare the ball-handler to shooot. Instead, due attention would have to be paid to Fredette which would open up angles for the superstars on the roll.
Granted all this is dependent on Fredette actually falling to wherever the Knicks wind up picking on Thursday. But as New York continues to pursue deals to move up -- among the many teams that should be wary of Fredette's limitations -- New York provides the right situation for Jimmer to thrive and be the firecracker his narrative so desperately sells him as.
Plus, no one will be able to tell if he can't play defense in New York. Sorry, the joke had to be made.