As we embark on our final 2011 NBA Mock Draft, let us both reflect on where we've been and where we're going. It was more than 10 weeks ago when we projected Kyrie Irving as the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavailers in the 2011 NBA Draft -- quite a ledge we stepped out on! Since then, any number of top-flight candidates stayed in school, tumbled down boards or became general nuisances on the periphery of our consciousness. (I'm talking about you, Donatas Motiejunas.) Others wowed us with superior smarts (Brandon Knight) or swag (Enes Kanter). Some just inexplicably drew inordinate attention for a late lottery question mark (Jimmer Fredette).
And because of all of that up and down, up and down, we're left with potentially the most riddling draft since 2006 or beyond. No one knows what's going to happen beyond the first pick. No one. Not even the guys with the second pick, because they are trying to trade it! It's going to be more than a mad dash to hallelujahs. This draft will be a celebration of the excess of professional sports and our deep, desperate obsession with them. A paean to the distant hope that spring eternal from the loins of each and every envelope David Stern pries open at the podium.
Of course, this is also the last official NBA event before the league likely shuts down on July 1. A lockout could be avoided via last-minute miracle ... or it could claim the summer ... or it could claim preseason ... or it could claim a few weeks of the regular season ... or it could claim, as the '98 version did, 32 games and All-Star Weekend ... or it could claim the whole damn thing. That uncertainty, that doom makes this celebration, this draft oh so much sweeter. Embrace the what-the-f**k and revel in the holy-s**t while you still can.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, G, Duke
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
David Kahn, you're soo smart, telling everyone you're going to take Enes Kanter since you can't find anyone will to give you Andrew Bynum or JaVale McGee or Roy Hibbert or Marcin! Gortat! for the pick. I'm sure everyone will believe you, bro.
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3. Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter, C, Kentucky
If chosen here, Kanter would replace Mehmet Okur, the only Turkish NBA player to be famous for a photo with his wife on a beach. Tall challenge, replacing Memo.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jan Vesely, F, Czech Republic
Panic at the Q! With Kanter unavailable and Jonas Valanciunas trapped in Lithuania, the Cavs could be forced to opt for a lesser prospect. Tristan Thompson was mentioned here in rumors Wednesday. As I said, the Cavs could be forced to opt for a lesser prospect here.
5. Toronto Raptors: Brandon Knight, G, Kentucky
If Utah goes big, Toronto will apparently take Knight, unless they opt for Kawhi Leonard or Bismack Biyombo. If they do go with Leonard or Biyombo over Knight, Kemba Walker might as well storm out of the Prudential Center.
6. Washington Wizards: Kawhi Leonard, F, San Diego State
How many players with broken jump shots can the Wizards collect? Related: how many roster spots do NBA teams get?
7. Sacramento Kings: Kemba Walker, G, UConn
The Kings would dance for weeks if Knight fell past Toronto. Assuming that doesn't happen, Leonard or Walker appear to be next ... though don't count out the ability of Geoff Petrie to confuse the f--k out of everyone. Alec Burks, Klay Thompson, Jimmer Fredette, Kenny Smith, Bobby Hurley, Dan Dickau, Pervis Ellison and Quincy Douby have all gotten recent mentions here.
8. Detroit Pistons: Bismack Biyombo, F/C, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Ten bucks says Ben Wallace bristles at the first comparisons of himself to Biyombo. Icy glares. Step right up.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
They say Jonas' floor is with the Bucks at No. 10. Who am I to doubt "they"?
11. Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson, F/G, Washington State
12. Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU
The Jimmer Prophecy, nearly complete.
13. Phoenix Suns: Alec Burks, G, Colorado
I have a feeling the Rockets like Morris a lot, and could have been target a move-up to his range in recent rumors.
15. Indiana Pacers: Tristan Thompson, F, Texas
If Tristan T. fall to No. 16, that's a mighty nice win for Philly. But Markieff's nice, too.
I hope Knicks fans travel to Newark like they did during the regular season, and I hope they scream their disapproval. Not at the pick, mind you. Just their general disapproval.
18. Washington Wizards: Jordan Hamilton, F, Texas
I really struggle to find a spot for Hamilton. This draft is secretly knee-deep in small forwards.
19. Charlotte Bobcats: Iman Shumpert, G, Georgia Tech
I can almost hear Derrick Favors' and Gani Lawal's disbelief at any guard they played with in ATL getting taken in the first round.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Davis Bertans, F, Latvia
The only thing stopping this is Faried being off of the board. I guess you could say the same thing about Kyrie Irving at No. 21.
23. Houston Rockets: Charles Jenkins, G, Hofstra
The black Jimmer Fredette who could drink coffee in college.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Nikola Mirotic, F, Montenegro
26. Dallas Mavericks: Donatas Motiejunas, C, Lithuania
Dear God, no. Not the Dirk comparisons! Anything but the Dirk comparisons.
Matt Bonner is not going to be pleased.
30. Chicago Bulls: Reggie Jackson, G, Boston College
Kick the Heat when they're down.