2011 NBA Draft Grades: The Best and Worst 1st Round Picks
Jimmy Butler was a great pick for the Bulls at No. 30. (Icon SMI)
By Ryan Feldman
Friday, June 24, 2011
When grading teams in the NBA Draft, it's important not to just look at the pick and blindly declare a grade. How good or bad a pick was depends on the players still available at that time at the same position or that serve a similar role. Let's take a look at how well or poorly each NBA team drafted on Thursday night.
1. CLEVELAND - Kyrie Irving - A
The Cavs got the best player in the draft. They drafted a franchise point guard with as much potential as any player in this draft. Irving may not end up being the best No. 1 pick of all-time, but he was the best choice this year.
2. MINNESOTA - Derrick Williams - A
Derrick Williams may or may not pan out as a terrific NBA prospect. But that has nothing to do with why this was the best pick. There were no better options. Williams was clearly the second-best prospect in this draft, and the T-Wolves realized that instead of drafting for a need.
3. UTAH - Enes Kanter - C
Kanter was probably the best player available at this point, but there were other players in the same tier that would fill more of a need for the Jazz. They already had a number of big men, but their backcourt and perimeter scoring needed help. Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker would have been better picks here.
4. CLEVELAND - Tristan Thompson - F
There was no great pick for the Cavs here, but it's tough to argue that Tristan Thompson was the best player available. They also already have JJ Hickson at power forward. How does Thompson help them? There's no good answer.
5. TORONTO - Jonas Valanciunas - F
The Raptors drafted a player that won't be around for at least another year or two. They also drafted a player that won't really improve the Raptors frontcourt. They were already soft with Andrea Bargnani and Ed Davis down low. How does drafting Valanciunas change that?
6. WASHINGTON - Jan Vesely - A
The Wizards are a team that wants to run. John Wall and JaVale McGee are best in the open court. They added a player in Jan Vesely that fits their style. He likes to run the floor and can throw it down in traffic. Vesely makes this Wizards team immediately more exciting and dynamic.
7. CHARLOTTE - Bismack Biyombo - F
What's so great about Bismack Biyombo? Does he have the potential to become a star? It doesn't look like it. He performed well in one game and all of a sudden he's in high demand. Biyombo is long and athletic, but he also has a lot of question marks. This pick is way too risky for the Bobcats.
8. DETROIT - Brandon Knight - B
While the Pistons didn't necessarily fill a need, they sort of did fill a need. The Pistons already have a group of undersized combo guards. But they don't have a pure point guard. Knight can take his time to learn how to play in the NBA and eventually come in as the Pistons' future floor leader. The Pistons wanted Tristan Thompson or Bismack Biyombo, but with both gone they went with the best player available.
9. CHARLOTTE - Kemba Walker - D
Kemba Walker has a chance to be a great player in the NBA. But the Bobcats already have DJ Augustin at point guard. They can't play the two of them together, so how does drafting Walker improve their team at all? They will have to trade Augustin. If not, they drafted Walker in the top 10 as a backup.
10. SACRAMENTO - Jimmer Fredette - A
The Kings wanted to move Tyreke Evans off the ball and pair him with a player that could similarly play either guard position. They got the perfect player in Jimmer Fredette. The two of them will form one of the most dynamic, exciting offensive backcourts in the NBA.
11. GOLDEN STATE - Klay Thompson - A
There wasn't any better pick for the Warriors at No. 11. Klay Thompson can step in at small forward for the Warriors, a team that likes to run and gun. Thompson will be able to get a lot of open outside shots in this offense. If Monta Ellis is traded, Thompson will be able to step in at shooting guard.
12. UTAH - Alec Burks - B
The Jazz weren't able to get Kemba or Jimmer at No. 12, but they did improve their backcourt by drafting Alec Burks. Devin Harris will have to remain at point guard for now with Burks playing alongside him.
13. PHOENIX - Markieff Morris - C
The Suns could have went in many different directions here, but they opted for Markieff Morris, a strong, polished, defensive-minded power forward. He was probably the best pure power forward available, but Kawhi Leonard and Chris Singleton could've been solid additions at small forward.
14. HOUSTON - Marcus Morris - B
The Rockets drafted the best player available, a player that gives the Rockets a scorer in the post. The Rockets have a strong young core of players, and Morris will be a great addition.
15. SAN ANTONIO - Kawhi Leonard - B
The Spurs acquired Kawhi Leonard from the Pacers. Leonard is great value at this point in the draft. He may not become a star, but he's a strong, athletic small forward that will help the Spurs at the defensive end.
16. PHILADELPHIA - Nikola Vucevic - D
The Sixers wanted to add some size and they got a 6-foot-11 center. But was he the best option at this point in the draft? Will he be much better than Spencer Hawes?
17. NEW YORK - Iman Shumpert - F
This may have been a bit of a reach for the Knicks. Shumpert is a good athlete and versatile player, but he didn't prove at Georgia Tech to be much of a winner.
18. WASHINGTON - Chris Singleton - A
The Wizards wanted Singleton and were ecstatic that he fell to them at No. 18. Singleton gives the Wizards a big small forward, which is exactly what they needed.
19. MILWAUKEE - Tobias Harris - B
Harris is a young combo forward with lots of potential. He will need time to develop, but he could be a future star for the Bucks.
20. HOUSTON - Donatas Motiejunas - A
The Rockets wanted to add some size in this draft and they got a talented 7-footer. Motiejunas has the potential to become a star in this league.
21. PORTLAND - Nolan Smith - C
NOlan Smith will be able to contribute right away in the NBA, but the Blazers needed a point guard with the potential to replace Andre Miller as their future starter. Smith isn't necessarily that, but he will help the Blazers for sure.
22. DENVER - Kenneth Faried - B
The Nuggets add another tough-minded big man in Kenneth Faried. He will be a good addition to their frontcourt and should see some immediate minutes off the bench.
23. CHICAGO - Nikola Mirotic - B
The Bulls didn't really need to add much to their roster, as they already have a championship-caliber team. Mirotic will stay in Europe for a couple years and could be a steal when he does come to the NBA.
24. OKLAHOMA CITY - Reggie Jackson - D
The Thunder don't have many needs, but the one area they didn't need help in for sure is point guard, where they have Russell Westbrook and Eric Maynor.
25. NEW JERSEY - Marshon Brooks - A
The Nets needed a young scoring wing, and to get it this deep in the draft is incredible. Marshon Brooks has star potential, so the Nets got an absolute steal here.
26. DENVER - Jordan Hamilton - A
Just like the pick above, to get a talent like Jordan Hamilton at No. 26 is amazing. The Nuggets need a lot of help on the wings and Hamilton could become a star.
27. BOSTON - JaJuan Johnson - A
The Celtics were looking for a big man that can step out and knock down jumpers, and they found arguably the best one in this draft in JaJuan Johnson. He will also be a terrific defender in the paint.