Who’s excited for the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery!!!
Don’t feel too bad if this year’s NBA Draft Lottery is leaving you comfortably numb. Heck, I didn’t even realize it was tonight until I saw an ad on SportsCenter yesterday. The 2011 Draft class may be one of the weakest in recent memory, and that was before shoo-in lottery picks like Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school for another year. Perhaps some of it is due to labor uncertainty facing the league, but the overall talent level in this class, especially at the top, is well off the pace of years past.
That being said, the NBA Draft is always one of my favorite times of year, if for nothing more than the terrible trades, crazy suits, and awkward Stuart Scott interviews. Even though this is considered a weak class, there are still plenty of intriguing prospects available. First, let’s take a look at the odds for each team to get the #1 pick, then examine some of the major storylines ahead of the lottery and the draft…
Cleveland 22.7% (has both their pick and the Clippers’ due to the Baron Davis trade)
Utah 8.2% (has both their pick and New Jersey’s due to the Deron Williams trade)
Golden State .8%
Minneapolis, the point guard capital of the world!
The most captivating result tonight would be seeing Minnesota win the lottery, if only to see David Kahn pick ANOTHER point guard with a top draft pick. I’m salivating at the thought already! With Duke PG Kyrie Irving as the favorite to go #1 overall, this has a real chance of happening. Consider the fact that Minny GM David Kahn passed on a point guard last year by selecting Syracuse SF Wesley Johnson at #4. However, it’s already been two long years since Kahn selected three PGs in the 2009 1st Round – Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, and Ty Lawson. Of the three, Lawson has been the best NBA player by far… in Denver. Rubio may or may not come to the States this year, but is putting up numbers in Spain that would shame Jannero Pargo. Flynn, the only PG to actually play for the T’Wolves thus far, might as well be a continent away when you look at his stats from this year – 8 GS, 5.3 PPG, 3.4 APG. So yes, it could be a perfect storm where the T’Wolves actually need to select another point guard at #1 if they are successful in the lottery. Brace yourself now, folks. The only thing to possibly make it better would be for Ricky Rubio to commemorate his official debut with Minnesota… and announce Kyrie Irving as their top draft choice.
The Cavaliers officially get a chance at rebuilding
It’s been a year Cavs fans, and LeBron James isn’t walking back through that door. Shoot, not even Donyell Marshall and Larry Hughes are walkin’ through that door! While it is still a depressing time to be a Clevelander with LBJ still in the Playoffs, consider the 2011 Draft as your chance to finally begin anew. The Cavs will likely have two Top 10 picks – one in the Top 3 or 4, and one in the 8-10 range. The Cavs reportedly favor Irving, but their best option may be Arizona’s Derrick Williams. Williams has perhaps the best skills package and highest ceiling of anyone in the 2011 class. His NCAA Tournament performance against Duke was the eye-popping showing in March. Miles Plumlee still sees this in his nightmares. Williams could be plugged into the starting lineup from Day 1 and be the Rookie of the Year. Besides, do you really trust Baron Davis to mentor a young point guard in anything besides gaining weight and beard growing?
Enes Kanter, international man of mystery
The Turkish center was supposed to be the centerpiece for John Calipari’s Kentucky team this year, but never played a game due to being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. So, Kanter has spent the year in anonymity away from the spotlight. Ultimately, this may have helped his draft stock in the end because we haven’t seen him enough to point out weaknesses in his game. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kanter’s stock has been rising through pre-draft workouts. Like many players before, he has the reputation as being the European big man that’s unafraid to go hard in the paint while still possessing a solid outside game. Some team will fall in love with Kanter’s workouts and mystique. I guess we haven’t seen him post up a chair yet if that’s any encouragement. Toronto and Washington seem like the logical landing points.
Who will get lucky?
There is traditionally one team that shoots way up the ladder and breaks into the Top 3. A fatal bounce of the ping pong balls like that can make the difference between making the playoffs for the next several years and returning to the friendly confines of Secaucus, NJ once again. The Chicago Bulls had a 1.8% chance of winning the lottery in 2008… and ended up with future league MVP Derrick Rose. The SonicThunder had a .097% chance of picking 2nd in the 2007 lottery and nabbed Kevin Durant (just lucky enough to avoid Portland and their a .053% chance of being doomed with Greg Oden). It will happen to someone this year. Can a team like Sacramento, Milwaukee, or Golden State have that one piece fall into place to move them from afterthought to contender? Only two years ago, Oklahoma City and Memphis both had Top 3 picks.
Ping Pong Balls
Is there anything more awkward in sports than the random interviews with team representatives before the lottery begins? I love asking the team rep with a .8% chance about his or her good luck charm.
I especially love the drama and intensity when the reps of the Top 3 picks are brought together and the wacky combinations that moment is able to produce. Last year’s Top 3? Irene Polan, Mikhail Prokhorov, and Jrue Holiday. Seriously. Where else can Fred Hoiberg and Dwyane Wade share the same stage as they did in 2008?? How has the Top 17 NBA Draft Lottery Representatives not made it into a hideous Bleacher Report slideshow yet??
Jay Bilas will make up at least one word to describe a prospect on the lottery show. My guess is it will be wingspanability.
Will David Stern rig this year’s lottery so the Jazz are in the best position possible to draft Jimmer Fredette? That’s a match made in Joseph Smith’s vision of heaven!
Finally, I miss Russ Granik.