With the order set for the 2011 NBA Draft, it's time to roll out the totally exhilarating NBA mock draft season. We present our first post-lottery session below; as will be the case in the run-up to the June 23 draft, we'll rely on the reporting the hard-working draftniks do, our own intuition and -- in few cases -- common sense. Let's kick it.
The L.A. Clippers wanted to get rid of their point guard Baron Davis, and needed to add in their first-round pick to make him disappear. Little did they know they'd be throwing away Kyrie Irving, too. Cleveland will take Irving with glee; while the point guard won't make anyone forget about LeBron James, he fills an immediate need at a vital position and injects a dose of excitement to a bad roster.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
The Wolves would have been in a nearly impossible position with the No. 1 pick, given the team's continued lust for Ricky Rubio. There's a small issue here, too: Michael Beasley is the incumbent small forward, and All-Star power forward Kevin Love isn't going anywhere. Williams could serve as the third forward, or Minnesota could offload Beasley. Or David Kahn could take a point guard, like Kemba Walker.
Kanter might not be the perfect center to match with Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap, but the Jazz had stayed with the "best player available" strategy in the past, and depending on who you read, Kanter could be it. Whoever picks him will be relying mostly on the workout season and combine measurements as he hasn't played competitive basketball in a couple years. He's perhaps the biggest question mark on the board in the top 10.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
After landing a franchise point guard in Irving up top, the Cavaliers can further bolster the backcourt by choosing Kemba Walker here or go big. Given that Walker has been fashioned an NBA point guard -- we'll see -- I'll guess big man here. Valanciunas isn't close to a finished product, but Cleveland is in full-on rebuild mode. (They'd probably prefer Kanter, should he drop.)
5. Toronto Raptors: Kemba Walker, PG, UConn
Walker is the second- or third-best perimeter player in the draft behind Irving and possibly Brandon Knight; while Toronto needs a true point guard to get that offense going, it's hard to pass up NBA-ready leadership that a player like Walker offers. The Raptors love shooting seemingly above all else, but Walker's dribble-creation will help boost the team in the short term while the rest of the roster is sorted out.
6. Washington Wizards: Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo
The Wizards have their shotblocking interior presence (JaVale McGee), but Biyombo, the top shotblocker in the Spanish league per DraftExpress, is another level of prospect. Given the franchise's lack of faith (or is that wishful thinking?) in Andray Blatche, power forward could be a spot they look to address despite a gaping hole behind Rashard Lewis at small forward and a couple of solid PF prospects in the pipeline (Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin).
The Kings desperately need help at small forward, where none of Francisco Garcia, Donte Greene or Omri Casspi stood out (for good reasons) in 2010-11. Leonard is a big SF, and less of a shooter than the Kings would like, but the team is being rebuilt with an eye on energy and toughness. He fits that.
8. Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
The Pistons have an unsettled backcourt; Knight may not be the answer next year or ever, but outside of the top two this whole draft is a carp shoot. (If you've ever shot an arrow at a fish, you know what I'm talking about.) Knight has landed higher on other mocks, and a good workout season could boost him even ahead of Walker.
How many times will the Morris twins get compared to the Collins twins? More than the number of times they'll get compared to the Lopez twins! That's a small joke about how players are only ever compared to players of their race. You know, like how Jimmer Fredette is the next J.J. Redick but not the next Bobby Jackson. (Note: he's probably closer to Redick than Jackson.)
Burks isn't a great shooter, but he's a fine scorer and could be a great long-term fit with Brandon Jennings. John Salmons didn't get the job done last season, and is in his early 30s. Milwaukee might instead go big in an attempt to settle the frontcourt alongside Andrew Bogut. It's a wide open draft for the Bucks. Also: Bucks. Burks. Bucks. Burks. Canny like X-Men.
The Warriors need more defense, despite taking Ekpe Udoh last year. You ask for defense, you get rebounding and defense. Note: if Faried begins to go by "Ken" or "Kenny," I'm dropping him to the second round.
12. Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, SG, BYU
You can pry my Jazz-taking-Jimmer prediction from my cold, dead hands.
13. Phoenix Suns: Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas
Thompson is No. 6 on Jay Bilas' big board; power forwards with potential always rise, and Thompson is a top candidate to get up in the top 10. But if he's around, and assuming more talented big men aren't too tempting, it'd be hard for the thin Suns to pass him up.
The defensive specialist could be Daryl Morey's next Shane Battier; Singleton is a smart, rangy defender with some toughness and a developing (if slowly) offensive game.
15. Indiana Pacers: Donatas Motiejunas, C, Lithuania
Motiejunas won't likely fall this far, not with a certain 7-foot European gunner lighting up the NBA Playoffs. The Pacers need help on offense, and a stretch big man could be a nice addition to the Roy Hibbert-Tyler Hansbrough tandem.
16. Philadelphia 76ers: Jan Vesely, SF, Czech Republic
Another player who should be higher. I guess I'm biased against Euros! Vesely is reportedly more of a gazelle, and Omri Casspi-type transition star with little in the way of halfcourt refinement. That sounds exactly like the Philadelphia 76ers.
Q: Which player will draw the most obnoxious catcalls from the Knicks' faithful inside of MSG for the draft? A: Some Euro, duh. But Morris The Lesser will do.
Thompson's an interesting draft case; he's a perimeter-based scoring who might struggle to adjust to a lower-usage role in the NBA, but who has the skills to excel if he can find the right niche. I'm not sure Washington is that place, but the teens are the assumed range for him.
The Bobcats are restocking from almost scratch after selling off Gerald Wallace at midseason. Honeycutt has promise, but he'll need to prove his value in competitive workouts. Can he handle himself against stronger, more developed prospects like Leonard and Singleton?
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis Grizzlies): Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas
This selection is made with a big ol' wink to my friend David Kahn. You think the draft lottery being fixed is a problem? Wait until Hamilton is shooting from midcourt five times a game.
21. Portland Trail Blazers: Davis Bertans, SF, Latvia
I'm not gonna lie: everything I know about Davis Bertans, I learned from this highlight reel.
Needless to say, I do not know much about Davis Bertans.
Ideally, the Rockets trade all of their draft picks for a time machine to 2004, they wrap Yao Ming's feet in bubble wrap, they get back in the time machine, and they let Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin play off the big fellow on their way to 47 wins.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
"Bebe" is the latest South American wonder to grace my dreams and nightmares. He looks like Mikki Moore but supposedly plays like countryman Nene. Also, his nickname is Bebe! What more do you want?
The Celtics obviously need help in the middle; Nenad Krstic is not the answer, Jermaine O'Neal and Shaq may both retire, and Glen Davis was shown up in the playoffs. Johnson is more a blue chip handyman than a heralded prospect, but he could be a nice fit.
The Mavericks love shooters and need help on the wings. Lighty looks poised to make a smooth transition to the pros, based on his universally needed skill set.
27. New Jersey Nets (from Los Angeles Lakers): Jeremy Tyler, C, Newspaper Articles From Two Years Ago
I just needed to get Jeremy Tyler into the first round of one mock draft to settle a bet from 2008. Move along.
Kyle Singler is the Taj Gibson of private schools in the ACC.
I'm not going to lie: I found the most obscure domestic name in DraftExpress' two-round mock, and picked it.
30. Chicago Bulls: Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington
Isaiah Thomas deserves a shot in the first round; he can outplay a handful of NBA point guards, and a year from now he could seriously be putting in good minutes for a playoff team. He has all the skills. Size matters, but haven't we learned you can't discount a player solely because of their height?
Be sure to check out our 2011 NBA Draft hub for full draft coverage.