2011 NBA Draft: The Good, The Bad, and the Just Plain Weird

I should have done this a while back, but I was out of town and had some business to attend to. The draft was intriguing(well, the first part anyway) there were surprises and twists. That being said none of this is going to change the fact that this draft class is one of weakest in recent years. As a result teams tried to do the best they could with what they had, but let’s face it, they didn’t exactly have a lot to work with. This however is sports. Someone’s got to win and someone’s got to lose. Let’s start off with . . .

The Winners . . .

Like the Utah Jazz for instance. The Jazz selected Enes Kanter from Kentucky (though he didn’t actually play any games for Kentucky) with the third pick. Kanter is a skilled big man with strength and solid moves in the post. Listed at 6’11” Kanter also adds length to a Jazz team that could stand to use it. Utah also selected Colorado’s Alec Burks with the twelfth pick. Burks is a skilled ball handler with good court awareness. He’s most dangerous when running the floor and is a good rebounder for a guard. While Burks is good at attacking the basket, a skill needed by the Jazz, he won’t be mistaken for a solid shooter anytime soon.

I’m proud to say that the Washington Wizards definitely put on a good show at the draft by making smart decisions. As a Wizards fan I couldn’t be happier, but I’m not ready to say that the incompetence of the past is behind us just yet. With the sixth pick in the draft, the Wizards took Jan Vesely from Partizan Belgrade (Serbia). Vesely is 6’11” and has a motor like you wouldn’t believe. He’s athletic and extremely active. He can also dunk with the best of them and may prove to be a fantastic running mate for John Wall. The Wizards also adressed some defensive needs by drafting Florida State’s Chris Singleton.  Singleton is an extremely active defender who doesn’t let opponents off easy. He runs the floor well and gets back on defense. His offensive capabilities are limited however and leave much to be desired. In the second round Washington adressed the issue of a backup point guard when they opted to draft Butler’s Shelvin Mack. Shelvin has a big body for a point guard. He’s not quick or explosive, but can shoot the ball well and is an above average passer and decision maker.

The Detroit Pistons are another team that took advantage in this draft. Brandon Knight fell into their laps at the eight spot in the draft. Brandon is one of many “shoot first” point guards in this draft. Knight can certainly score the ball. He uses his shot to create space and then is quick enough to convert that space into a lane that gets him to the bucket. He’s just 19 years old, and while a capable point guard doesn’t always make the best decisions. He didn’t always pay attention on defense, but he improved overall coming up to the end of the season. I thought the Pistons dominated when it came to “value” picks. Which is to say that when they had to pick lower picks or in the second round they got the best value for their trouble. Enter Duke’s Kyle Singler. Singler was grossly underrated in this draft in my opinion. He’s a good shooter that can put the ball on the floor and make plays. He’s a pretty good defender and is a very smart ballplayer. He picks up systems quickly and should have no problem fitting into whatever a coach demands of him. Their last pick netted the Florida’s Vernon Macklin. Vernon’s a big man with serious hops. His size and strength give him certain advantages, but at 6’10” he’s a bit small for a center. Macklin is still a great fit for Detroit.

The Charlotte Bobcats looked like they had some sense when the drafted UConn’s Kemba Walker. Another “shoot first” point guard who is a bit undersized, Kemba is if nothing, a winner. We all know what Kemba is capable of. He just knows how to win. He is a potent scorer who can score in droves. He’s got great ball-handling ability and court vision. He’s also a great leader, and Charlotte was smart to pick him up. The Bobcats also received Bismack Biyombo from the Sacramento Kings in a trade. Biyombo, just like his fellow countryman from the Congo Serge Ibaka, is a tenacious defender of the basket. Anything coming to the bucket when he’s on guard is liable to be sent three rows deep into the bleachers. He’s got a long frame, great instincts, and great anticipation. His downside is that he has no offense at his disposal. None. Biyombo has great potential though, after all, even Ibaka has a mid range jumper these days.

Lastly the Portland Trailblazers made a number of moves, that flew under the radar. With the twenty first pick and their first pick in the draft Portland selected Nolan Smith from Duke. Nolan Smith was originally a shooting guard, but when Kyrie Irving got injured Nolan was called upon to take over the point guard duties. He did and he did so very well. In fact he did the job so well that when Duke got Kyrie back in the NCAA tournament there was a debate as to wether or not Kyrie should even get his job back. Nolan can shoot and is incredibly intelligent. He was one of my favorite players coming into the draft. Portland is hoping that his coachability will allow them to use him to take over for Andre Miller(who was traded to the Nuggets) and be a reliable guard going into the future. The Trailblazers also got Texas’ Jordan Hamilton in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks. Hamilton has the ability to score at will from any point on the floor. His decision making is not very good however. Often times Jordan can be passive and indirect. He sometimes settles for shots when he ought to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket. His defense is also suspect. Late in the second round the Trailblazers picked up Jon Diebler of Ohio State. Diebler reminds me a lot of Kyle Korver in terms of his mobility and defense. A three point specialist, Diebler is predictable. He will shoot. A lot. His release is extremely quick so he only needs seconds to get his shot off.

There were quite a few teams that did well for themselves, however there were some teams that wasted their picks. These guys are . . .

The Losers . . .

This should go by more quickly than the winners because most of these teams had a single pick in the draft and then failed to adress their needs with the single pick that they had.

For instance the Toronto Raptors went ahead and wasted everyone’s time by taking Jonas Valanciunas from Lithuania.I like Jonas and won’t spend much time bashing him, but one would think a team with many needs wouldn’t take a chance on Andrea Bargnani 2.0, yeah I said it. Toronto had a chance to adress their distinct lack of reliable point guard and maybe make a splash in this draft. Instead they opted to draft a guy who probably won’t be in the league for another two years, because of his prior contractual obligations and is a carbon copy of a guy they already have on their team.

Speaking of redundant draft picks, the Oklahoma City Thunder had one of the head scratchers of the day when they opted to draft Reggie Jackson, a point guard from Boston College. First off, head coach Scott Brooks keeps telling the media that Russell Westbrook is going to be the point guard moving forward. Secondly the Thunder have Eric Maynor who is a point guard who like Westbrook also like to shoot. So how much sense does it make then to draft another shooting point guard? None. It doesn’t make any sense. The Thunder could have used a true big man who will work in the post and grab boards(neither Perkins nor Ibaka truly do this). The Thunder could also have drafted for depth and in that regard Jordan Hamilton, and Jimmy Butler were still available and would have given more to the team than Jackson will.

This of course leaves me with the bad taste in my mouth, that is the Memphis Grizzlies picking Josh Selby. Selby should never have been in the draft. He’s not NBA ready at all. He was highly recruited coming out of high school and grossly under performed in his time at the University of Kansas. I don’t care who you draft, just not this guy. He’s simply not going to get better between college and the pros. He needed to stay in school and develop. Isaiah Thomas would have been a good pick, or Ben Hansbrough(who by the way went undrafted).

This was a bit lengthy of course, but before you check out the  . . .

WTF???!!!! Pick of the Draft.

The Los Angeles Lakerspicked Daruis Moore from Michigan. This was a decent pick considering where they picked from, but from that point onward proceded to pick a parade of international players whose names I will not begin to type here they’re so long. Okay, fine I’ll copy and paste. Who the hell was scouting Chukwudiebere Maduabum? These players will likely not make the team and were seriously just wasted picks.



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