2011 NBA Draft: A Complete Mystery

The Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2011 Draft Lottery on Tuesday and the safe assumption is that they will take Kyrie Irving with the number one pick. It says something about this draft. The presumptive number one pick played all of 11 games last year — even though he averaged 17.5 points per game and shot a 61.5 percent effective field goal percentage.

Irving is going to be a good guard in the NBA. There is no doubt he has the talent. The thing is though, there is just very little video to analyze or work against college competition to evaluate him against. Information is few and far between. Irving is being drafted almost on pure potential.

Same could be said for Enes Kanter.

Kanter is expected to go within at least the first 10 if not the first five picks in the draft. This after a year of not playing any game basketball after the NCAA ruled him ineligible at Kentucky. He still worked out with, practiced with and played against the Final Four team out of the SEC. But he has not been under the bright lights of a game situation.

When you have uncertainty at the top, you know you are going to have uncertainty at the middle, bottom and just about everywhere else.

American fans (and I assume that is just about everybody reading this blog) are not going to know a lot of the names on this list. Yes, from Jan Vesely to Donatas Motiejunas to Jonas Valanciunas and (my personal favorite) Bismack Biyombo, David Stern is going to be brushing up on his pronunciation guide for this draft.

There are good players, even if you cannot pronounce their names. But this is not a draft where you are going to get a bona fide superstar, or maybe even a starter. There might be lottery teams picking up long-term projects. That is at least what one Western Conference general manager told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports in evaluating this year’s talent: “It’s horrendous. Every year we always talk about how bad the draft is. This year we really mean it.”

The draft is never as bad as they say it is, but this general manager REALLY means it this time.

It sure helps to have a lot of upper classmen in the draft in order to get some surety of how the talent is going to perform. There just is not a lot of that at the top of the draft board. NBADraft.net has Kemba Walker as the first upperclassmen drafted at No. 7. In the lottery there are only three more — and all four are juniors.

Irving, Brandon Knight and Tristan Thompson — all projected lottery picks — are all freshmen. So is Kanter, technically.

Outside of those there are a lot more international players in the draft than there have been the last few years, at least seemingly at the top of the draft. While a lot of those players have played a ton overseas, international players can be hit or miss. Very hit or miss. Especially with the prospect of a lockout coming up.

The lockout might have spurred some international stars — like Jan Vesely (right) — to take the leap since so many of the top prospects in college — like surefire top five picks Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes — decided to stay away with the uncertain labor future. At least Warriors general manager Larry Riley seems to think guys drafted in the lottery this year would not be drafted in other years.

“There are guys that are going to be lottery picks that weren’t going to be. If you look at the tail end of it, there are going to be second-rounders that are going to be taken late in the first.”

That has a trickle down effect with the guarantee of first-round contracts. Who will emerge in this draft? That is a big mystery.

Photos via DayLife.com.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily