Tag:Enes Kanter
Posted on: October 25, 2011 9:39 am
 

Kenneth Faried invites Enes Kanter to go quietly

By Matt Moore

Kentucky held an exhibition last night called the Big Blue All-Stars vs. The Villains featuring a number of college stars. As you'd expect, a high number of NBA players showed up, including Jodie Meeks who dropped 42 points. $50,000 was raised for the V Foundation, which is awesome. You know what's almost as awesome? 

This.

 

NO, Enes Kanter, YOU MAY NOT COME IN. Kenneth Faried INVITES YOU TO TAKE THAT WEAK STUFF AND EXIT THE BUILDING IN A TIMELY FASHION. 

Sorry, got a little excited there. No NBA has me a little... off. 

Check out this quote from Kanter post-game:
"I couldn't play in high school," he said. "I couldn't play in college. Now, I can't play in the NBA. I'm really frustrated."
via Curses, Christian Laettner wins again as Villains beat ex-Cats | Homepage | Kentucky.com.

Apparently Kanter can't play when Faried is around, either. Boom. It'll be exciting to see how Faried's intensity and athleticism can help guard the rim for the Nuggets when the NBA returns. You know, in 2014. 
Posted on: July 29, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Report: Jazz C Enes Kanter has offers from China

Posted by Ben Golliverenes-kanter

Finally, a story involving an NBA player heading overseas during the lockout that makes too much sense not to happen.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter, the No. 3 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, is weighing multiple offers from teams in China should the ongoing lockout continue into the fall.

Jazz rookie center Enes Kanter is considering playing professional ball in China next season if the NBA lockout persists. Kanter's agent, Max Ergul, told the Salt Lake Tribune on Friday that his client has serious offers from at least two teams. Ergul does not want Kanter to miss another year of basketball, and he will seriously entertain the offers if the lockout stretches into late September. 

If the lockout does not end by mid-September and Kanter does not play professional ball overseas, he plans to work out in Chicago with trainer Tim Grover. Kanter will not return to Kentucky during the lockout.
The reference to Kentucky, of course, is a nod to Thursday's news that Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe plan to return to Lexington to work on their degrees and potentially practice with the current Wildcats team. 

Forget about Lexington, at least in this case. Kanter fits just about every criteria necessary for an overseas sojourn to be worth the while.

NBA LOCKOUT COVERAGE
NBA players headed overseas?
First, as a rookie, he has yet to receive a paycheck, so he needs the money far more than established veterans or All-Stars on max deals. Sure, he isn't likely to command a top-notch salary as an unproven big man, but small money is better than no money.

Second, Kanter needs the competition far more than most NBA players. Indeed, you could make a solid case that he needs the competition more than every other able-bodied NBA player. Why? Because he hasn't played in organized competition since he was a prep school player in 2009-2010, as he was forced to sit out his entire freshman season at Kentucky due to eligibility issues dating back to his time as a teenage pro phenom in Turkey. While Kanter will represent his country during this summer's EuroBasket tournament, losing another full season of development at the age of 19 would be bordering on disastrous.

Third, he's going to be locked into a rookie deal whenever the lockout ends. In other words, there is (next to) zero financial risk for him to make this move. He's not jeopardizing the money on his next contract because that money is locked in a fixed rate determined by the rookie scale. 

Fourth, and finally, Kanter is a worldly young man, having played overseas previously and having travelled extensively. He's not tied to the United States like many young players and he knows what to expect from international basketball. This would be just another stamp on his passport. 

If I'm the Utah Jazz, this is one of the rare circumstances where I would actually prefer one of my players to play overseas. Kanter is a high-upside player but his unusual route to the NBA raises lots of questions. He can't answer those questions without playing in a competitive environment, even if he has to settle for lesser competition. Kanter needs to play. It's in his best interest and it's in his employer's best interest. 
Category: NBA
Posted on: July 16, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Some teams are probably missing Summer League

Posted by Royce Young



The NBA's annual Vegas Summer League would be wrapping up right about now. Young players would be finishing up a week of gambling, partying and hopefully, at least for their coach, getting better.

Summer League has always been sort of approached by most as nothing more than a perk of July, just something to sort of help bridge the gap. Nobody really pays attention to it except for the hardest of hardcore fans, general managers, scouts and coaches. And bloggers. Summer League basically is blogger paradise, because it's something to write the crap out of for a couple of weeks in mid-July.

Except this summer, because of the you-know-what, there is no Summer League. No rookies to overhype because of a good, random game against a bunch of D-Leaguers. No second-year fringe players to latch onto and get excited about because of a quality week. And no players to completely write off because of a 2-12, five-turnover game. For shame. For damn shame.

And while most just write off what happens in Vegas as unimportant, any time players take the court and compete, there's something of value there for the players, the organization and the coaches. Basketball is about development. It's about getting better. Summer League is a vehicle for new draft picks to get a feel of pro basketball and a feel of playing with a couple of teammates. It's a place for guys to prove themselves a bit. In reality, it's kind of important, even if it's generally ignored by the general basketballing public.

But I can guarantee you a good number of teams were mighty disappointed when Summer League fell through because of the lockout. There's progress to be made, and a week in Vegas is an excellent place to start, especially for rookies. Some teams and players are going to feel the sting of missing out on the opportunity. Here are the ones I see feeling it most.

Minnesota Timberwolves
No team would've benefited more than Minnesota's young roster. First, it would've been the first look at Ricky Rubio on American soil. He would've played against NBA talent and had a chance to run the show for his new team.

It also would've given all of us a chance to rush to snap judgments about his game and, therefore, his career, based on a couple of Summer League games. It would've been great.

But on top of some run for Rubio, Derrick Williams, Wesley Johnson and a few other youngsters could've put away a week or so of games. Every second those guys play together, the better they'll get. They need time to develop, and Summer League is a place for that. Instead, it's going to have to happen on some private court without any coaches. Not the ideal situation for young players to learn and improve.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Pretty much the same scenario for the Cavs as it is for the Wolves, or any young team with talent. Kyrie Irving could've used the extra time on the floor, but not just because he could get a feel for offense or learn the pace of the NBA game or anything. For Irving, it's more that he just needs to play, period.

He only played in 13 games for Duke last season and after returning from his foot injury, played a couple of games in the NCAA tournament. He has barely played any competitive basketball at all in the last year. For a 19-year-old, that's not a good thing. The more play you get, the farther you move ahead.

Not to mention the No. 4 overall pick, Tristan Thompson, getting some play, too. Obviously, that would be great, but to me, it's more about Irving. It's his franchise now, and the objective in Cleveland now is moving him along. Something small like Summer League is one of the first steps forward in doing that.

Sacramento Kings
The Kings' inclusion really is more of a selfish reason. Because with Summer League, you know that every game with Jimmer Fredette woudl be a total experience. Vegas is close to BYU, and Jimmer has quite the following in the area. But, really, it could be in Maine and The Jimmer would walk in like a rock star.

The Kings do need him and Tyreke Evans, though, to get some experience playing together. Who's running point? Is it Jimmer? Is Reke going to handle those duties too? Are they going to tag-team it like Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry? These are some of the questions you can sort of at least start to find answers for, if only they were actually playing.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Despite reaching the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder really do have a ton of room to grow. The roster is extremely young with some pieces that need developing. Two of the most important being Cole Aldrich and this year's pick, Reggie Jackson.

With Aldrich, he simply needs to play a little. He spent most of his rookie season in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers, and while that's good for development, Summer League gives him a chance to be a focus in a competitive setting as well as a primer for what he needs to work on heading to fall camp. Aldrich is far from a lost cause, and the Thunder are willing to stay patient. But part of that being patient comes because you think a guy is going to improve. And to do that, he's got to play.

With Jackson, Summer League could've helped signal a little where he might fit in. Is he a point guard? Shooting guard? Combo guard? Is he a scorer the Thunder want to use off the bench next season? Is he someone that even will challenge for minutes? The Thunder clearly liked Jackson enough to promise him a spot in the first round, but without him working out for anyone before the draft, he's still largely an unknown for everybody.

Miami Heat
Yes, seriously, the Heat. No doubt that for the most part, the roster is set. LeBron, Wade and Bosh handle pretty much all of the heavy lifting, and veterans Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem pick up the remaining slack.

But the Heat need to develop young talent. Players like Dexter Pittman need an opportunity to grow a bit. Where the Heat lacked most last season was having cheap, young talent to infuse with LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Instead, Pat Riley went with trying to work in guys like Mike Bibby, Juwan Howard, Eddie House and whoever else was willing to take the veterans minimum to chase a title.

A week in Vegas for Miami's youngsters like Pittman and rookie Norris Cole could go a long way to restructuring the role players on the roster. And on top of that, it's a chance to maybe scout three or four other unsigned guys to take a look at later on. Miami needs some young talent, and the Vegas Summer League is one of the best places to look.

Washington Wizards
John Wall is going to be a star. I don't have any doubt. But he's still raw and still has a whole lot to learn about running a team. I remember how much Summer League did for Russell Westbrook a couple of years ago as he was prepping for his second season. It helped Westbrook learn how to slow down a bit, learn when to look for a shot, when to look to set up and when to push. Wall would've been the best player in Vegas, much like Westbrook was always on another level when he was there. But it taught him how to play under control -- to a degree -- while also being able to run around anyone. That would've been a good lesson for Wall.

Then there's Jan Vesely, who is mostly a mystery as he prepares to maybe step in as Washington's new small forward. We know he can jump and dunk, but can he defend? Can he rotate over and help? Can he shoot? If Wall and Vesely are the offensive attack of the future for the Wizards, having them play together, if even for just a week, would be huge.

Utah Jazz
Even more than Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter hasn't played competitive basketball in a long time. He was forced to sit out all of 2010-11 for Kentucky because of a NCAA violation, and while he's had some workouts and a little five-on-five action here and there, he hasn't been in a real game setting since he moved from Turkey to the United States. The Jazz liked him enough to take him fourth and maybe force a re-shuffling up front, so obviously they're invested in the young big man.

And on top of him, don't forget the Jazz had another lottery pick in wing Alec Burks, who could surprise a lot of people as an NBA-ready scorer. He was terrific at Colorado as he sort of came out of nowhere to climb into the lottery. A little burn for both him and Kanter could've gone a long way for the Jazz, who are committed to the youngsters in life after Deron.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:23 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Northwest Division

A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Northwest Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

ricky-rubio

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division, the Atlantic Division, the Central Division and the Southwest Division. Let's continue with the Northwest Division.  

MINNESOTA Timberwolves


The NBA's worst team won just 17 games last year, had the league's seventh-worst home attendance and is generally mentioned at the top of the list of examples that "prove" the NBA's economic system is broken. That's because their local television, ticket and memorabilia revenue simply cannot compete with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics of the world. Despite all of that, the Timberwolves might very well have more to lose than any other team in the Northwest Division if the league were to miss an entire season.

Let's start with 2009 lottery pick Ricky Rubio, who against all odds took the plunge and decided to finally join up with Minnesota. For multiple seasons, Rubio has represented hope, carrying Timberwolves fans through ugly winters and late-season collapses. The wait was excruciating. The uncertainty about whether he would or wouldn't stay in Europe further into the future made it worse. Now that he's on board, he's been greeted at an airport, introduced to his teammates, sold some jerseys and rallied the collective fan spirit a bit. To lose an entire season would make that interminable wait that much longer. It would also rob Rubio of a valuable development and acclimation year, which would be an absolute disaster. This is a point guard who needs to start on Day 1, entrusted with the full support of his coaching staff and allowed to make mistakes and build chemistry with his teammates while learning on the job. No season means no opportunity to do any of that.

Aside from Rubio, there are financial risks as well. That might be surprising, because the Timberwolves currently are the only team in the NBA that does not have anyone on their books for more than $6.3 million next season, a fairly astonishing accomplishment. Of course, there's a catch: All-Star power forward Kevin Love is on his rookie deal. Indeed, Love is heading into the last pure season of his rookie deal before Minnesota either must issue him a qualifying offer or sign him to an extension. Worse yet, it's possible that Love, one of the league's premier rebounders, will command a mini-max extension or close to it. The point here? He's set to make just $4.6 million next season, a bargain for his production. If the season is lost, the Timberwolves miss out completely on that outstanding value and are one year closer to biting the bullet on extending him without having reaped full benefits. That's tough.

Last but not least, a lost season is the perfect excuse for any franchise to delay tough decisions or to talk themselves into trying to make things work. With an imbalanced roster full of mixed and matched pieces, the Timberwolves, despite their accumulated talent, are going to struggle mightly again next season. The pains of those struggles, theoretically, could be enough to finally convince owner Glen Taylor to pull the plug on president David Kahn, a man who hasn't shown the ability to construct a team and outright wasted two second round draft picks on technical mistakes during the 2011 NBA Draft, by trading a hurt player (Jonny Flynn) and drafting someone who lied about his age (Tanguy Ngombo). A year without games, then, is a year without losses, which means another year for Kahn to preach patience and wiggle out of responsibility for this mess. The sooner Kahn is gone, the sooner this ship turns around. A lost season will make "sooner" feel like never.

OKLAHOMA CITY Thunder

While the Timberwolves need to get headed in the right direction, the Oklahoma City Thunder are already there. With the best designed roster in the league, two young All-Stars, an undisputed Northwest Division title and a Western Conference Finals appearance under their belt already, and a passionate fanbase that is guaranteed to provide 40+ home sellouts next season, the Thunder would happily start the season today. A lost season, then, would be a nightmare.

Name something, anything, and it's at risk for the Thunder. They lose the value of Russell Westbrook playing on a rookie deal. They lose the value of James Harden on a rookie deal. They lose the value of Serge Ibaka on a rookie deal. They lose one year of Kevin Durant's Hall of Fame playing career. They lose another season of playoff experience. They lose a very good chance at making a run at an NBA Finals. They lose a season of having their top eight players (Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefalosha, Nick Collison, Eric Maynor) all locked into affordable contracts. They lose the chemistry and momentum that goes with having an entire nucleus together for multiple years.

What's worse: they have nothing to gain from a work stoppage, other than perhaps the money that would come with increased revenue sharing. Without a single bad or untradeable contract on their books, there is no financial reason OKC would root for a year away from the game. In fact, any change to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that firms up the cap would make it more difficult for the Thunder to keep all this talent in house. That means they wouldn't get the chance to win now and their ability to win later could be compromised.

Usually, young teams that make a deep run through the playoffs can't wait to get back on the court for a second go-around. Multiply that feeling by about 10 and that's the situation facing OKC. 

PORTLAND Trail Blazers

lockoutYou might think the injury-plagued Trail Blazers would welcome some time off to lick their wounds and assess the damage, but missing an entire NBA season wouldn't necessarily be a good thing for this franchise. Really, it's a muddled picture.

The main benefit is clear: the Blazers have a very difficult cap situation next season, thanks to a mini-max contract for guard Brandon Roy, who is apparently no longer capable of reaching his previous All-Star level of play. Saving the $15 million owed to Roy, as well as the $10.5 million owed to aging center Marcus Camby, would be a tempting proposition for most small-market owners. Money aside, saving the miles on Roy's knees wouldn't hurt either.

Blazers owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, however, has dealt with serious health problems in recent years and is clearly in spend-big, win-now mode. He would cut a check tomorrow for five times his team's total salary cap if it meant a shot at the NBA Finals, no questions asked. It's difficult to imagine a financial enticement that would make it worth Allen's while to take a year off. 

Aside from Roy, the other big question is center Greg Oden. Missing an entire NBA season doesn't play in Oden's favor, as he hasn't taken the court for an NBA game since December 2009. A lost season means his layoff would extend nearly three full years to October 2012. That's a long, long time to be away from basketball. Complicating that further for the Blazers is the fact that Oden is a restricted free agent this summer. The Blazers would retain matching rights on Oden if a season was lost but they would be forced to offer him an extension without being able to see whether he recovers fully to be able to take the court and, more importantly, withstand injury once he's out there. Oden could command a mid-level type of offer on the open market, which would be a major investment for Portland, because the Blazers have already committed to nearly $80 million in salary for next season, with contracts to Roy, forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace and guard Wesley Matthews already on the books into the future. Without another center on their roster who is in their long-term plans, though, the Blazers wouldn't have a choice. They'd have to pay up. Given that situation, you want as much information as possible; a lost season would mean no information.

Finally, the Blazers have a big question at the starting point guard position. His name is Raymond Felton, and he was acquired in a draft day trade for previous point guard Andre Miller. Felton is in a contract year and hasn't played meaningful minutes with any of his current teammates, except for a stint in Charlotte with Wallace. Felton will require a good-sized contract extension next summer as well and the Blazers would surely like to see how he gels with their core, particularly Aldridge, before they commit to him long-term. Without any starting quality options on the roster, they would again find themselves stuck in a corner, forced to do what it takes to retain Felton without a readily available back-up plan.

To boil it down: the Blazers have enough questions without a lost season. Missing a full season would simply create an array of complications and made some tough roster decisions that much more difficult and, potentially, costly. 

DENVER Nuggets

Sure, the Denver Nuggets lost franchise forward Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, but they did an excellent job of stripping their roster down to allow for a quick bounceback rebuilding effort. The Nuggets, somewhat like the Thunder, are in a financial position where their salary cap situation makes it more advantageous for next season to take place unhindered. The Nuggets currently don't have a truly horrible contract on their books, although the mid-level deal for Al Harrington and the $15 million or so left to be paid to Chris Andersen over the next three years are regrettable. Indeed, the Nuggets have committed to less than $40 million in salary for next season, pending a potentially major financial commitment to big man Nene, who has decided to test the free agency waters, and a decision on guard J.R. Smith.

The biggest risks for Denver would be missing out on the value of point guard Ty Lawson on his rookie deal and managing whatever concerns might arise about Denver's ability to use its salary cap flexibility to continue work on its rebuilding situation. Most analysts believe teams with salary cap room will be in a position of strength, regardless of how the new CBA shakes out, so perhaps that uncertainty is more of an annoyance than a true concern. 

The Nuggets have a lot of questions. How will they spend their money? Who will they bring back? Who will they let go? Are the players under contract currently good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference next year or is it better to continue slashing and burning for another season? These are good questions to have because they all point to one fundamental truth: The Nuggets have flexibility thanks to their young, cheap assets. The worst case scenario is that Nuggets fans have to wait a year to watch a promising, athletic upstart group entertain. That's not too bad. 
 
UTAH Jazz

If I'm the Jazz, I'm totally cool with taking a year off. A lost season means that Utah would save $14 million owed to Al Jefferson, $10.9 million owed to Mehmet Okur, $9.3 million owed to Devin Harris and $8.1 million owed to Paul Millsap. While Millsap is probably worth his number, the other three certainly aren't worth theirs, especially on a team that lost its foundational identity when it shipped franchise point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets at the trade deadline.

Right now, Utah's finances are pretty tight, with $61.5 million already committed for 2011-2012. Look ahead just one year, though, and that number drops to $48.7 million. To make things even nicer, Jefferson, Harris and Millsap will all be expiring that season. The Jazz will be poised to take advantage of their new-found flexibility, keeping the parts that fit (probably only Millsap) and dispensing with the rest.

The biggest risk in a cancelled season for Utah would be the lost development for younger guys like Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and 2011 first-round picks Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. In Favors, they have a potential franchise forward who needs to start enjoying a loose leash so he can blossom into the player the Jazz expect him to be. Forcing him to take a year off does him no good and, depending on how he responds, could do him some harm. Kanter, meanwhile, looks like an even bigger risk on paper because he was forced to sit out last year at Kentucky, his only year at the college level, due to eligibility issues and because he hasn't yet tasted the NBA game. A lost season would mean two full years away from competitive basketball, not an ideal situation for someone the Jazz selected with the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft. As for Hayward and Burks, they are lesser concerns. Both have shown promise and clearly have room for improvement. Losing a year wouldn't be critical, but it would be better for them individually if it could be prevented.

On balance, the financial rewards seem to outweigh the development risks for the Jazz.

Salary numbers courtesy of StoryTeller's Contracts.
Posted on: June 27, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 3:16 pm
 

Derrick Williams is Rookie of the Year favorite

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams is the odds-on favorite to win 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year. Posted by Ben Golliver.

derrick-williams-large

Derrick Williams might have been the No. 2 selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, but he's sitting in the pole positon to win the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year award. 

Bodog.com
has released its early odds for which member of the Draft Class of 2011 will take home the Rookie of the Year award. Williams, a dynamic combo forward out of Arizona, leapfrogged one-and-done Duke point guard Kyrie Irving, drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers, to claim the No. 1 spot. The No. 10 selection, BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, selected by the Sacramento Kings, also finished ahead of Irving.

Here's a look at the top 10. Strictly for entertainment purposes only.

Why does Irving slide? Two reasons. To win Rookie of the Year, you must be as NBA-ready as possible and have the opportunity to play boatloads of minutes so that you can accumulate stats.

In Irving's case, he missed a good chunk of his rookie season at Duke, raising questions about how ready he is to be an impact player in the NBA from Day One. Second, the Cavaliers have a muddled point guard position with Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions and Boobie Gibson hanging around. That will likely get sorted out before next season rolls around, but it will be difficult to trade Davis, who is sure to get some serious burn.

Williams, on the other hand, is arguably the best physical specimen in this year's class. The Timberwolves have nothing to lose and, while Michael Beasley is on the roster and has a similar game, Minnesota has every incentive to turn Williams loose. With Rubio in the fold, look for the Timberwolves to continue to play an up-tempo game, with Williams given the green light to shoot and attack as often as he likes. One possible area of concern: Williams and Rubio, by virtue of playing on the same team, could cancel each other out.

Fredette represents the dumb money on this list. With no limit on his shot attempts in college, he compiled absurd scoring numbers. While he enters Sacramento figuring to get plenty of minutes, Tyreke Evans will command a very large chunk of the team's possessions, as will emerging big man DeMarcus Cousins. If Fredette doesn't defer, he will be marginalized. Ownership might be infatuated with him, but winning over his teammates is far more important.

Kanter appears to be more NBA-ready than most, but he enters a very crowded frontcourt in Utah. Surely he will carve out a solid role. But will it be enough to put up real numbers?

One solid dark-horse candidate: Kemba Walker. While he might not start from Day One because of D.J. Augustin, Walker will find plenty of available minutes in Charlotte's torn-down backcourt. The Bobcats are entering Year One of a major rebuild and thus will have Walker's development as a top -- perhaps the top -- priority. He enters the NBA after three years in college, and he proved that he was a star on that level. 

Ultimately, I would expect this to boil down to a three-man race between Williams, Irving and Walker. Williams is a worthy early favorite.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:29 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 10:52 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: Top 10 Analysis

Here's a rundown of all of our analysis on the top ten picks of the 2011 NBA Draft.

No.1: Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke University

Irving has been the top pick since last summer and despite a brief dip after his injury in the winter, he returned to the top spot in a flurry of offensive firepower in the NCAA tournament. Irving gives Cleveland not just an athletic playmaking point guard with a jumper, but a franchise quality player with a humble attitude and great basketball IQ.

The question will be who the Cavs will build around Irving. Anderson Varejao is rumored to be being moved and with the No. 4 pick is expected to be used on a big man such as Jonas Valanciunas or Enes Kanter if available. Irving will function as both scorer and distributor for the team. He volunteered for a thorough physical to remove doubts about his toe and has been completely cleared.

Irving's closest comparison is Chris Paul, though he's not the player Paul was when he was drafted. Still, Irving is described by nearly every analyst as "special" and the kind of player the Cavs needed to get in order to kick off their rebuilding project. Landing the top pick with the lottery selection they got in a trade of Mo Williams to the Clippers, Irving represents what the Cavaliers hopes will be a change of luck for a notoriously fate-challenged franchise.

Irving's athleticism isn't of Calipari-point-guard caliber, but he also has a polished jumper and excellent vision. He's not elite at the level of John Wall, but he does have a great overall mix of abilities. Derrick Williams would have been a solid choice here, but Irving was simply the best player available. The question will be if he will reflect the overall quality of this draft, or if he truly is their franchise player to help rebuild the broken kingdom LeBron James left behind.

No. 2: Minnesota Timberwolves select Derrick Williams, F, Arizona

After weeks of posturing and talking, the Minnesota Timberwolves ended up doing pretty much what we all expected them to do: They drafted Derrick Williams from Arizona.

(Now, before I really get into this, keep in mind the Wolves could very well trade Williams later. Maybe by the end of the night, maybe tomorrow. Just want to get that out there.)

I think everyone agrees that the second best player in this draft was Williams, with some even seeing him as maybe the best. So to take him second overall makes sense. What didn't make sense for the Wolves, and the reason they shopped the pick so hard, is how Williams fits within the already jumbled roster David Kahn has assembled. It makes sense to move Michael Beasley now and clear room for Williams to play. But if that doesn't happen, the Wolves rotation is a total mess of raw talent without any rhyme or reason.

Which is what makes the most sense. A core of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Williams isn't a bad trio. Love and Williams are a bit similar and with Williams kind of being a tweener forward, there could be some awkwardness in the two fitting together, but you have to go with him here.

It still makes a lot of sense for the Wolves to move Williams if a deal comes along, but for now, the idea is for Kahn to clear out the clutter a bit and really let his core of young, talented players take over. That's how the Thunder built around Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and at the same, Jeff Green. Those guys had room to fail, then grow and most importantly, develop. Give Williams and company room to breathe and the Wolves might eventually start to make some progress.

In all honesty, Williams may have the most star power of any player in this draft. Love is a very good player -- an All-Star. But I'm not sure he's a true building block star that can carry you. Williams very well might be. He shot 57 percent from 3-point range last season, can play above the rim and score the ball. It's a question of his defense at the next level and a question of where he plays.

There was talk of Enes Kanter at No. 2 as well, but that would've been a copout "fit" pick. Not necessarily a bad selection, but when you're the Wolves, you can't afford to potentially miss out on a star player. Williams was the obvious choice, and the right one.

Now we've just got to see if they hang on to him.

No. 3: Utah Jazz select Enes Kanter, F/C, Kentucky

In a lot of ways, the Jazz sort of held the keys to this draft. What direction were they going to go and where would the chips all fall behind them? Well, they went the direction of Enes Kanter and not Brandon Knight.

Not necessarily a surprise, but a month ago, that definitely wasn't a sure direction for Utah. Kanter is a true center, a 6-11 post player with soft hands and a good touch. Which is what they already have in Al Jefferson.

How does Kanter fit alongside Paul Millsap and Jefferson? We'll see. But it's hard to turn down a player of his caliber in that spot, especially when the Jazz had another pick to use in the lottery. Taking Knight made a lot of sense in a lot of ways, but now the Jazz can fill that spot later on down.

The Jazz are looking at a bit of a rebuild with this roster and in order to do that, you have to take talent. Kanter's got that. He's a bit of a mystery as he didn't play at all at Kentucky, but he was a top college recruit, was excellent in Turkey and by all accounts, will translate well to the NBA.

No. 4: Cleveland Cavaliers select Tristan Thompson, F, University of Texas

Tristan Thompson had made a meteoric rise throughtout the late draft season.  He went from being a mid-teens pick all the way to the fourth pick. His length and size started to catch eyes in the combine and in workouts. His frame and body give him the ability to out-muscle other players, which is rare in a draft low on size. 

Cleveland now has a power forward to pair with Kyrie Irving. The other option, Jonas Valanciunas, won't be available until 2012. Thompson can make an immediate impact. Defensively Thompson's got good ability as well. There are questions about his touch and face-up game, but he showed enough in workouts to convince GMs... like Chris Grant, obviously.

This may have been a reach, but in a weak draft this fills a need. With a surefire lock in Irving, the Cavaliers were able to gamble on who they thought was the best big in this draft. The question will be how he translates to the NBA and if he can put some polish on the raw athletic game he brings off the bat.

The question now turns to whether the Cavs will trade J.J. Hickson, who disappointed last season and who rumors said clashed with Byron Scott. Hickson will likely gather interest on the open market.

No. 5: Toronto Raptors select Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lietuvos Rytas

There were a lot of directions for the Raptors to go with the fifth pick. Bismack Biyombo, Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker were all talked about in this spot.

But with the cards falling where they did, the Raptors simply couldn't pass up an upside player in Jonas Valanciunas. Bryan Colangelo loves himself some international players and Valanciunas was the highest ranked international on the board. Really, it's a match made in heaven.

He probably won't be able to help Toronto next season -- if there is a next season -- as Valanciunas has a complicated buyout to settle that will likely keep him in Europe another season. Which honestly, is probably a good thing. Valanciunas needs more seasoning, needs a little more weight to his frame and a little bit of time to mature and progress.

It's good that the Raptors realize that rebuilding takes time. Instead of trying to land someone that helps now, the Raptors elected to stay patient and hope that Valanciunas can develop into a post presence alongside Andrea Bargnani. Some see Valanciunas as a young Pau Gasol, which might not be a good thing though. The Raps are extremely soft inside and if Valanciunas is going to play with Bargnani, he's going to have to toughen up a bit. He's extremely young and as they say, has that whole upside thing working for him.

Which is what Toronto is banking on.

No. 6: Washington Wizards select Jan Vesely, F, Parizan Belgrade

So the rumors were true. Aggressive. Athletic. Raw. Not the terms usually used with a Euro, but Vesely is not the usual type of Euro. Vesely shows a rare  combination of fierceness in attacking the rim. 

Vesely joins John Wall as a running mate on the break. With the ability to rebound and defend, Vesely has an underrated post game. He knows how to finish in traffic and yes, he's going to make a ton of highlight reels. It matches perfectly with the direction of the Wizards. 

The question will be if Vesely's lack of a jumpshot, comined with Andray Blatche's Blatche-like-ness and JaVale McGee's lack of touch makes for too raw of a front court. Also, should Vesely wind up as a PF at 6-11, things would get crowded down low for the Wiz. As long as the team is going  young and athletic, though, this is a great choice, and Flip Saunders should be able to get a ton out of this kind of weapon.

For all the talk of Kanter, Valanciunas, and Biyombo,Vesely has a decent chance of being the Euro steal of this draft.

Also, upon getting drafted, Vesely's very attractive lady friend planted a huge kiss on him, and later Vesely told ESPN: "I like the John Wall game." Pure Euro gangster.

No. 7: Charlotte Bobcats (from Sacramento Kings) select Bismack Biyombo, F/C, Congo 

The Kings picking seventh, completed a three-way trade with the Bobcats and it was for Charlotte to move up for Biyombo.

What are they getting with the great unknown from Congo? A defensive presence, an athlete and someone that has a lot of room to improve. They aren't getting someone that can score. They aren't getting someone that's going to be part of any offensive set they have. A lot of people have compared Biyombo to Ben Wallace and that's probably pretty accurate.

There are questions about Biyombo's real age, a potential buyout complication and if he really is as good as he showed in a couple showcases. A few months ago, he was a total unknown. But he wowed scouted and GMs in Portland, didn't look great in workouts but because of an ability to change games defensively, Biyombo went high in the lottery.

How does he fit in? I don't think he's a starter from day one, but with Tyrus Thomas alongside in that frontline, the Bobcats definitely have some jumpers. They've got athletes. Biyombo said he thinks he can lead the league in rebounding and blocks, which is what the Cats are looking for. They could've looked for an offensive impact player, but Michael Jordan and new GM Rich Cho are defensive minded people, and Biyombo fits right in with that.

No. 8: Detroit Pistons select Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

Most projections didn't have Brandon Knight slipping, but he fell right into Detroit's lap eighth. I suppose Joe Dumars said, "We've got to go best available here."

Because just a week ago, the Pistons extended a qualifying offer to Rodney Stuckey who is a yonug, talented point guard that by all appearances, is part of the process with the Pistons. Now, they've got two talented young point guards.

The feeling was that Detroit would go big and liked Bismack Biyombo. But with him coming off the board a pick earlier to the Bobcats, the Pistons had to weight their options. And it was a best available situation and Knight was best available.

Potentially, there's a chance that the Pistons could move the pick elsewhere to someone for Knight. They were involved in a lot of talks leading up to the draft and I'm sure there's a team that was eyeing Knight that could be willing to make a play for him. Knowing the Pistons' situation, offers will probably come in. And maybe Detroit is open to moving their pick.

If not, Detroit's got a young, solid point guard to work with. That's a roster that needs some talent and some youth. There were other options there that might've been a better fit (Kawhi Leonard, Chris Singleton, Klay Thompson) but Detroit couldn't say no to Knight.

We'll see what happens next.

No. 9: Charlotte Bobcats select Kemba Walker, PG, UConn

So... I guess D.J. Augustin didn't show enough last year? Augustin had a career season and looked to be developing nicely, but instead the Bobcats took an undersized scoring point guard who is more of a scorer rather than a distributor. That makes sense.

It's not a terrible pick, especially when paired with their seventh pick in Bismack Biyombo. The Cats have two fairly big reach rookies, and the odds are that one of the two will work out. Either Biyombo's insane athleticism or Kemba's will to win will make them special players, if both of them don't succeed. Meanwhile, Augustin has to go on the trade block, and with Corey Maggette now on roster, the Bobcats will have a lot of shots coming from the back court starting next season... whenever that is.

Walker's defensive questions are considerable considering his size, but there's no denying his pedigree. If Biyombo was the pure athleticsm, pure tangibles selection, then Walker is the opposite, the pure-polish, pure-intangibles lock. He brings a fierceness that owner Michael Jordan is obvioiusly drawn to, and with his pedigree, he'll help the ticket sales department. Walker's translation to the NBA isn't a sure thing, but his popularity and resume is. 

The freak of nature and the unconquerable hero. Not a bad haul for Rich Cho's first draft.

No. 10 Sacramento Kings (from Milwaukee Bucks) select Jimmer Fredette

It's officially Jimmer Time, Sacramento.

The feeling earlier today when the Kings moved back to 10th in a three-way trade that also brought them John Salmons was that they had Jimmer Fredette in mind.

They got him.

The questions with Jimmer obviously start with his defense and where he'll play. But with the Kings moving Beno Udrih and basically committing to Tyreke Evans off the ball at shooting guard, Jimmer will likely start from day one at point guard in Sacramento. In reality, that's a pretty fun, dynamic backcourt in Evans and Fredette.

What kind of pro will Jimmer be though? Is he good with becoming a Steve Nash pass-first type of player or does he want to keep scoring and firing long distance shots? Jimmer is the type of player though that's willing to fit in. He's coachable, smart and has the ability to learn. Can he guard Derrick Rose? Can he guard Russell Westbrook? Heck, can he guard guys like Jose Calderon and Derek Fisher? We'll have to see.

But the Kings have added some punch and some excitement to the roster. With Jimmer, Evans, Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins, they've got a pretty exciting young core of talent.

Now, can they win? Jimmer will bring a bit of excitement and energy to a fanbase that needs it as the Kings hang on for dear life in Sacramento. But that near car smell will wear off quickly if the team doesn't start winning. Jimmer will bring a little jolt of excitement, but ultimately, winning is what really gets people buying tickets.

And that's what the Kings drafted Jimmer to do.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 7:56 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 10:10 pm
 

NBA Draft: Jazz select Enes Kanter No. 3

Posted by Royce Young

In a lot of ways, the Jazz sort of held the keys to this draft. What direction were they going to go and where would the chips all fall behind them? Well, they went the direction of Enes Kanter and not Brandon Knight.

Not necessarily a surprise, but a month ago, that definitely wasn't a sure direction for Utah. Kanter is a true center, a 6-11 post player with soft hands and a good touch. Which is what they already have in Al Jefferson.

How does Kanter fit alongside Paul Millsap and Jefferson? We'll see. But it's hard to turn down a player of his caliber in that spot, especially when the Jazz had another pick to use in the lottery. Taking Knight made a lot of sense in a lot of ways, but now the Jazz can fill that spot later on down.

The Jazz are looking at a bit of a rebuild with this roster and in order to do that, you have to take talent. Kanter's got that. He's a bit of a mystery as he didn't play at all at Kentucky, but he was a top college recruit, was excellent in Turkey and by all accounts, will translate well to the NBA.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 3:53 pm
 

NBA Trade Rumor: Josh Smith for No. 2 pick?

The Atlanta Hawks are reportedly targeting Enes Kanter and want to trade Josh Smith to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 2 pick. Posted by Benjosh-smith Golliver.

Earlier this week, we noted that the Atlanta Hawks and forward Josh Smith could be on a path to parting ways.

On Thursday, hours before the 2011 NBA Draft, Yahoo! Sports reports that the Hawks are pushing Smith on the Minnesota Timberwolves, in hopes of landing the No. 2 overall selection.
In a lust to draft center Enes Kanter, the Atlanta Hawks are trying to engage the Minnesota Timberwolves in discussions to trade Josh Smith for the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

Hawks GM Rick Sund has been hugely interested in Kanter throughout the pre-draft process, sources said, and has clearly been looking to find a deal for Smith. Under the salary cap, the Wolves could absorb the $13 million-plus owed him next season without sending back corresponding contracts.
The presence of power forward Kevin Love in Minnesota makes a straight-up Smith trade questionable, however the Timberwolves could always send him elsewhere or turn this into a three- team deal, using their cap space to facilitate player movement. If he was there to stay, he'd swing to a wing position, prompting mismatches with his size and length but causing headaches any time he attempted a shot from the perimeter.

The Hawks' pursuit of Kanter also comes with questions, as Arizona forward Derrick Williams has been the consensus No. 2 overall pick in the lead up to the draft. Most analysts have Kanter going No. 3 overall to the Utah Jazz, but the Jazz don't have much room in a crowded frontcourt to add Smith. Meanwhile, the Hawks already have a franchise center in place in Al Horford. At 6-foot-11, 260 pounds, Kanter is generally projected as a five but could possibly be shifted to the four. 

The primary motivation for any Smith trade is financial. From Atlanta's perspective, being able to dump his contract outright on a team with cap space, like the Timberwolves, would be ideal.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com