NBA Draft 2011 Questions Of Consequence: Will Kyrie Irving Be The Draft's Best Player?

A familiar refrain in every NBA Draft is that when you pick No. 1, you are not necessarily picking the best player in the draft. This is completely stupid, because you ought to pick the best player in the draft! Instead, teams err on the side of big men (or now, point guards) and look to minimize risk in making the choice. It's almost completely backwards, actually: general managers are primarily concerned with keeping their jobs, so they almost always take the No. 1 pick all the pundits would take. If it's the wrong choice? Ah well, everyone was wrong. If a GM takes an unpopular pick at No. 1 and it goes wrong? Two steps from the unemployment line (unless his name is Bryan Colangelo).

We have a consensus No. 1 pick: Kyrie Irving. But is he the best player in the 2011 NBA Draft? Will Cleveland Cavaliers GM Chris Grant be like, "Ah well, everyone was wrong" in a couple years as [different player] exceeds and Irving flounders?

Here are the candidates.

KYRIE IRVING

You know, most years, the No. 1 pick is the best player. Since 2003 (LeBron James), five of the eight No. 1 picks currently appear to be the best player in their class. The exceptions: Andrew Bogut, Andrea Bargnani and Greg Oden. Kyrie Irving isn't a neocon Aussie, flimsy Italian or 56 years old, so I think he's a safe bet. Unless ...

DERRICK WILLIAMS

The presumptive No. 2 pick was one of college basketball's best players. Also, he'd be somewhere around No. 5 or No. 6 or lower if half the All-American team hadn't pulled out of the draft. But he's not being judged against those guys here: just the ducks that stayed in. Can he be better than Irving over the long-term? Can the Minnesota Timberwolves ruin him, too? Will the NBA swallow his selfless scoring game whole and spit out a cartoon fishbone afterward?

ENES KANTER

Has anyone actually seen Enes Kanter play basketball? No, but no one ever saw Kwame Brown play either. Err ...

No, but no one ever saw Darko Milicic play either. Uh ...

No, but no one ever saw Nikolosz Tskitishvili play either. Erm ...

No, but no one ever saw Pavel Podkolzin play either. Um ...

No, but no one ever saw Saer Sene play either. Derp ...

No, but no one ever saw Robert Swift play either. ... ... ...

JEREMY TYLER

[repeat string]

KEMBA WALKER

Has a 6-foot scoring guard ever been the best player from his draft? Just Isiah Thomas, Chris Paul and Allen Iverson? OK.

JIMMER FREDETTE

Has a 6-foot scoring guard who could certainly win American Idol ever been the best player from this draft? Just Isiah Thomas? OK.

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