2011 NBA Mock Draft: Cleveland Cavaliers And The Unfortunate Case Against Jonas Valanciunas

Jonas Valanciunas may be worth waiting for at the No. 4 overall selection.

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2011 NBA Mock Draft: Cleveland Cavaliers And The Unfortunate Case Against Jonas Valanciunas

With the latest version (3.0) of the 2011 NBA Mock Draft, ESPN’s Chad Ford has made some changes within his top 10. One especially interesting note comes when he describes Jonas Valanciunas heading at No. 8 overall to the Detroit Pistons with the side note, “They may have to wait on him a year, but many NBA scouts believe he’s the most talented international player in the draft.”

Two classes of teams can make a choice like this: 1) a team that is already good and doesn’t need the instant impact of a first round choice, or 2) a team with incredible patience and a decent fan base who recognize the bigger picture. You watch teams at the bottom of the draft like the San Antonio Spurs or Portland Trailblazers make selections like this. But at the top of the draft, it’s a more difficult act to pull off — just ask Minnesota fans how they like the Ricky Rubio selection.

That’s why you’ll see Valanciunas fall in this year’s draft, and that’s an unfortunate mistake for such a talented player with impressive size. There’s no way a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers take him, who need some sort of public relations boost ASAP. Two selections among the top four should provide the cushion to take an impact player like Kyrie Irving and then take another big man you can wait on, but it doesn’t seem like Cleveland has that flexibility.

Instead, the Cavs are rumored toward taking Enes Kanter, if available, and that’s understandable given the great week he displayed at the NBA Draft Combine. Yet Valanciunas is that great all-around player underneath who would provide a finesse scorer who can also play tough and provide defense — something many Euro players aren’t exactly known for.

Bottom line: the book on Valanciunas is that there’s not any real weak spot, other than a need to work out with an NBA strength coach. The scoring touch and well-rounded game point due South toward a certain German big man taking his team to the NBA Finals. Jonas Valanciunas isn’t guaranteed to be the next Dirk Nowitzki, but it might be worth the wait to find out.


2011 NBA Mock Draft: Brandon Knight Gives Cleveland Cavaliers Another Draft Scenario

One of the wild cards of the top half of the 2011 NBA Draft’s lottery section has to do with the placement of Brandon Knight on team’s draft boards. The talented point guard from Kentucky is still young and obviously coming into his own even after averaging 17.3 points per game last season. It’s clear his stock is high and scouts will love his potential the more they observe, a move that led head coach John Calipari to endorse his jump to the NBA.

One year ago, Scouts, Inc. had Knight as the fourth best player overall (and best overall guard) coming into the college ranks. With a tremendous scoring ability partnered with elite athleticism and quickness, Knight only needed to refine his passing game and rough up some of the younger edges to become a complete player. Those are the kinds of descriptors that will make a team think twice about its draft board.

Mock drafts link Knight to various teams at the top of the draft, from the Utah Jazz at No. 3 overall (where Chad Ford has him going) to the Charlotte Bobcats No. 9 (where Hoopsworld has him). If Knight could possibly slip past the Utah Jazz, why wouldn’t the Cleveland Cavaliers take him at No. 4 and get a dynamic post presence instead with the top overall selection. After all, the guard play from Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions was actually respectable last year for a 19 win team.

Knight’s game is not nearly as refined as Duke’s Kyrie Irving, but point guard isn’t nearly the most pressing issue facing the Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead, a player like Derrick Williams makes sense — someone who can provide an elite scoring presence anywhere down low. The pressure might be on to choose Irving as the best overall player in the draft, but the value doesn’t fit the need. For the Cavs to maximize their two choices, they could take advantage of the back-up Knight gives them at point guard and take Williams instead at the top of the draft.


2011 NBA Mock Drafts: BYU's Jimmer Fredette Stock Most Volatile

Although he was one of the most entertaining and recognizable players of the last few years in college basketball, Brigham Young’s Jimmer Fredette is also one of the hardest to pin down when it comes to NBA projections. The scoring ability is obviously there, but it’s the rest of his game that raises questions.

Some analysts feel Fredette’s sweet shot will translate well to the pro game, while others see him as a decent bench scoring option. Still even more fail to see him succeeding at all, a la Adam Morrison, another recent college scorer who couldn’t adjust to the skill and speed of the NBA. Fans of Fredette might be frustrated by such claims, but history has proven that some who fail in college succeed in the big league while many stars have fizzled at the NBA level. It’s simply a different game.

Even with a defensive deficiency, ESPN’s Chad Ford has Fredette landing with the Phoenix Suns at No. 13 overall — the last lottery selection in the draft. He writes, ‘His shooting ability combined with the Suns’ free-flowing offense are a very good fit. Fredette’s terrible defense raises concerns, but at least he is a fit on a team that has been willing to overlook Steve Nash’s weakness in that area for years."

CBS Sports Dave Del Grande has Jimmer headed to the Sacramento Kings at the No. 7 overall spot, easily the highest ranking that any draft analyst has Fredette headed — at least to this point. Even Del Grande admits that it would mostly be for a franchise opportunity to sell tickets.

Sean Deveney of the Sporting News has Fredette headed to the Charlotte Bobcats at No. 9, saying, “The Bobcats need shooting help, and no one in this draft does it better than Fredette.” However, CBS Sports Ben Golliver has Fredette falling all the way to No. 20 overall to the Timberwolves, showing just how volatile the shooter’s stock is.

Jimmer Fredette will no doubt sell tickets wherever he goes, and he can definitely shoot the lights out in any arena coast to coast. But whether or not he’s too much of a liability on the other end of the floor will determine just how high he is taken.


Kyrie Irving Heads To Cleveland Cavaliers At Top Of Most 2011 NBA Mock Drafts

As soon as the NBA finished unveiling its top 13 choices in the 2011 NBA Draft via the annual lottery, held just last night, draft analysts were busy posting revised mock drafts that they even had up before the order was finalized. And in nearly every single one, the Cleveland Cavaliers — winners of the first overall selection — choose Kyrie Irving, the point guard from Duke University.

Whether it’s the Sporting News, ESPN, Hoopsworld or other media outlets, Irving is the overwhelming favorite to be the first choice in the draft. The Sporting News’ Sean Deveney makes the interesting observation, “Oddly enough, the trade that brought on PG Baron Davis’ salary will get the Cavs their point guard of the future.” Chad Ford agrees with the pick and says a backcourt of J.J. Hickson and Irving would bode well for Cleveland’s future success.

However, CBS Sports Dave Del Grande offers a different take, with Arizona forward Derrick Williams taking over the No. 1 spot. He’d be a great addition as a scoring small forward who is a tremendous athlete and more of a sure thing over other international prospects. Yet even Williams isn’t as sure and smooth as Irving.

Of course, weeks of projections are still to emerge and this is only the first wave of several mock drafts from each of these sites and analysts. Perhaps Irving’s stock will fall, but for now it seems he’s the odds-on favorite.


The Problem With Doing An NBA Mock Draft Is Simple

It seems as if mock drafts are spreading like wildfire across all sports. The NFL and NBA have captured this activity and capitalized on the excitement that it brings to fans. It has all fans playing "General Manager" and gives them a closeness to the team and the players that their team ends up drafting. But there are some major differences between the NFL and NBA draft for fans and it's actually very simple.

The problem with the NBA draft is that too often the players who are drafted to a particular team end up getting traded within the hour to another team. It makes the whole process a little anticlimactic. There were 17 trades last season that affected the first-round of the NBA draft. Some of these were made pre-draft and some of them were draft-day trades. Either way it seems as if it's too easy for teams to move around. The NFL draft this past month showed what happens in the NFL if you really want to go after a certain player. The Atlanta Falcons had to mortgage their future on one player, Julio Jones. They gave up their first, second, and fourth round picks this past year, and their first and fourth round picks next year. They gave up 5 picks in order to take one player.

In the NBA you are allowed to draft a guy and then just trade him for "cash considerations". Last year the Memphis Grizzlies traded their first-round pick, #25 Dominique Jones to the Dallas Mavericks for cash. The Grizzlies did have a couple of other first-round picks and it's not that they weren't doing what's best for their team. It's just that the draft isn't exciting to watch as you root for your team to get that next great player if they can so easily just get rid of that player after they were drafted.

The end result is the same for all drafts of every sport. You hope your team got better and you hope they made the right decisions. But with the NBA draft you'll need to hold your applause and praise until the draft is completely over, because you never know if your new-favorite player will get traded again before you could text your friends.


Duke's Kyrie Irving Tops Most 2011 NBA Mock Drafts

In a prospect field that lacks any overwhelming favorite to be taken atop the 2011 NBA Draft, Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving stands as the favorite to be taken in the late June draft by a team determined tonight at the NBA Draft Lottery on ESPN.

The 6-2 guard lacks the elite hype that comes with a draft’s top choice, but he boasts an overall game that lacks any real weakness. He’s a great floor leader with strong basketball instincts and intelligence with the skills on both the sides of the floor to be an asset at the position. He lacks the flashy skills of a Derrick Rose type of pick, but he will definitely become a dependable impact player for some team picking first.

Chad Ford
has Irving going first overall, as long as the team selecting first has a need at point guard. With the Minnesota Timberwolves, that certainly holds true even with recent picks of Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn in the Top 6. The same can be said for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors, the two next teams with the best chance at the first selection.

DraftExpress.com also has Irving going No. 1 overall, and a recent ESPN roundtable of five sportswriters all had Irving as the consensus No. 1 choice. At this point, unless it’s the Washington Wizards who end up with the top overall selection, it should be safe to assume the franchise that wins the NBA Draft Lottery is specifically winning Kyrie Irving.


2011 NBA Draft Lottery Explained: A Primer And Schedule

Most NBA fans understand that tonight's 2011 NBA Draft Lottery establishes the order of June's actual NBA Draft. The problem is in understanding the details that go beyond that. Hopefully, we can help you sort out the details of the draft process and tell you what to expect tonight.

The primary question that comes from most people is why not just use a standard reverse order of standings as most leagues do. The MLB, the NFL, the NHL all have a draft system in place where the worst team from the previous year enjoys the first pick in the following year's draft. Give the NBA points for trying to address a problem and spice up the drama, at the very least.

The history comes from teams being accused (specifically the Houston Rockets in 1984) of losing games on purpose in order to secure the first overall selection. Fan bases were being robbed by teams supposedly throwing games. Enter the draft lottery in 1985, where the New York Knicks won the draft lottery to select Georgetown alum Patrick Ewing. The lottery system has endured a few changes since then, but the general reasons and processes were established then.

The current lottery system is a weighted system that's actually quite complex to explain here (for those interested, you can click here for a full explanation), but suffice to say that the worst team, this year's Minnesota Timberwolves, holds a 25 percent chance of landing that first choice and can pick no lower than fifth overall. The second to last team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, hold a 19.9 percent chance and can choose no lower than sixth. It goes that way through the end of the top 13 overall selections. Those teams at the fringes of the lottery are given a rare chance to earn a Top 3 selection, but otherwise must be content with the few spots at the end of the lottery portion of the first round.

The NBA Draft Lottery can be seen on ESPN tonight starting at 8:30 ET/7:30 CT, and the process will be drawn out a la most reality television programming. So for those expecting to tune in at the appointed time to see a quickly unveiled order, that's not the case. Still the intrigue of the fortunes of franchises being changed by a complex series of ping pong balls is interesting to watch -- even for the faces of the teams' representatives.

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