The 2011 NBA Draft is just over a week away; with the NBA Finals over, full attention shifts over to the world of espionage and subterfuge that makes up just about every NBA Mock Draft out there. What lies am I telling you? What misconceptions will I correct? Put on a nice bowler, take a drag from a long cigarette and find out.
UPDATE: I LeBron'd up this morning and forgot to include potential top-5 pick Bismack Biyombo. I reworked a few things to include him. But y'all are still going to wake up to your same problems while I'm mock drafting how I want to mock draft, so whatevs.
Prediction: more people will complain that it's unfair that Irving be held up to LeBron James standard than will actually assert or imply that Irving be held up to LeBron's standard.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
Has anyone told David Kahn that Derrick Williams is better than Michael Beasley yet?
This remains the spot where the draft breaks down into a million little question marks. Many have Brandon Knight here. But a) size usually wins, and b) Knight may have shot up draft boards too quickly, leaving a lot of time for everyone to poke holes in his game. His great attitude may be the saving grace here at No. 3, but, again, size usually wins.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
The buy-out issues could purportedly drop Valanciunas into a valley of despair, but indications are that this will get worked out. But will he arrive in the United States this year? If he decides to ultimately stay in Lithuania or move to Italy or Spain for 1-2 years, that could be another anchor for his stock. Too many GM's jobs -- Chris Grant's included -- are in too precarious a position to take risks on the next Ricky.
5. Toronto Raptors: Jan Vesely, F, Czech Republic
Vesely is the big riser at this point, with the Raptors and Wizards both reportedly in love, and even the Jazz and Cavs looking at the Czech. A workout in New York this week should tell us more about whether Toronto plans to pull the trigger instead of cinching up a potential franchise point guard.
If the Wizards don't get Vesely, they don't need a point guard. And so: the next best small forward (though many would argue that Marcus Morris deserves more love here). Washington seems sold on Leonard as a solid prospect after his workout in D.C.
7. Sacramento Kings: Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
Will Knight really fall all the way to No. 7? The Kings would spread <3 <3 <3s all over the world if so.
The Pistons' roster needs a massive overhaul. Walker's a brilliant piece to build around.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Marcus Morris, F, Kansas
Morris is actually a legit R.O.Y. contender; few scored as efficiently as he did at Kansas. He's also tough and famously skilled. That's a great combo, and a good fit with the ... stoic Bobcats.
The Knicks are said to be madly in love with Thompson, which means Thompson needs to be off the board before the Knicks pick.
11. Golden State Warriors: Bismack Biyombo, C, Congo
The new Warriors' braintrust is looking for defense, and Biyombo brings that by the truckload. He's not your typical Jerry West pick, but Jerry West is just one of the front office voices. (Control your laughter, please.)
12. Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU
Think of it this way: if I stopped putting Fredette at No. 12 and they actually took him, wouldn't I look like a fool?
13. Phoenix Suns: Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas
Thompson is an interesting fit for Phoenix because he both looks like the anti-Sun in that he's more a defender than scorer, but he's also the type of player who could benefit greatly from a year or two with Steve Nash.
The Rockets have two "pieces of the future" in Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry. One is an incredible scorer, the other a solid distributor and great defender. What do you need at small forward, then? Another good scorer, or another defender? Singleton is the latter, and that's my bet.
Whether Marcus Morris ends up better than Brook Lopez is a question of where Marcus gets chosen. But Markieff doesn't have a huge hurdle to overcome to be better than Robin Lopez. He just needs to land somewhere he won't be buried.
Philadelphia needs a plug-and-play prospect to keep building the roster toward postseason success. Burks should be better than Jodie Meeks.
In Chauncey Billups and Toney Douglas, the Knicks have two lead guards more likely to shoot than pass. Why not add a third?
18. Washington Wizards: Donatas Motiejunas, C, Lithuania
The Wizards' mantra has been build build build, and taking a European player who might spend another year overseas can fit that, especially if the team gets immediate help at No. 6.
19. Charlotte Bobcats: Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence
Brooks is a bombastic scorer; Charlotte needs a few of those.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Davis Bertans, F, Latvia
Bertans decided to stay in the draft at the last minute before Monday's international withdrawal date. The Timberwolves are focused on Europe, and could stash him with fellow small forward Nemanja Bjelica.
The Blazers have to go big, right? Unless there's a can't-miss wing (and the next player in this mock might qualify as such), Portland's roster is so imbalanced it should be hard to pass on a talent like Faried.
22. Denver Nuggets: Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas
It's unclear how wedded to spending to keep Wilson Chandler the Nuggets will be; Hamilton might be a better young player in short order.
23. Houston Rockets: Tobias Harris, F, Tennessee
Harris shouldn't be dropping this far; he's, in my eyes, one of the more exciting prospects in the draft, especially if he's allowed to play small forward in the pros.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Nikola Mirotic, PF, Montenegro
Mirotic was another minor surprise who remained in the draft despite daunting buyout issues. The Thunder have a full roster, and can gladly stash promising prospects. Mirotic was Euroleague's Rising Star winner in 2011.
The Celtics are desperate for help up front. Jeremy Tyler would be Danny Ainge's home run swing, but Vucevic can help next season. (To what degree? We'll see.)
Honeycutt's an interesting prospect; every player that comes out of UCLA now seems to have their NBA offensive ability doubled by prognosticators. But the Mavs will be intrigued by his defensive potential.
Shumpert could go in the teens. My question: if he's such a good prospect, why has everyone constantly ripped Georgia Tech's guard play?
The Bulls' power structure doesn't take gambles. Is taking Selby over a more polished prospect all the way down at No. 28 a gamble?
The Spurs' frontcourt depth was exposed by the Grizzlies in the loudest fashion imaginable. Time to restock.
30. Chicago Bulls: Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington
Thomas might be better than C.J. Watson from Day 1.