Tag:Kyrie Irving
Posted on: June 25, 2011 3:59 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 6:41 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: Top 3 point guards face logjams

Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker -- the top three point guards in the 2011 NBA Draft -- face logjams of varying degrees on their new teams. Posted by Ben Golliver.

walker-irving-knight

NBA executives talk all the time about drafting the "Best Player Available" rather than targeting a particular position of need. The logic goes that NBA roster turnover happens at such a pace that it's better to collect talented players, letting them beat out incumbents for a spot, rather than compromising on upside simply to complete a jigsaw puzzle that could change quickly due to injury, chemistry or other factors.

One of the most unusual aspects of the 2011 NBA Draft is that the top three point guards that went off the board -- Duke's Kyrie Irving, Kentucky's Brandon Knight, Connecticut's Kemba Walker -- all went to teams with an incumbent option or options at the one.

Starting from Day 1 has proven to be a blessing for recent point guard prodigies like Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Getting NBA reps at the earliest age possible -- with a support staff and management structure that trusted in their abilities -- was vital in the development for both. Last year's No. 1 selection, John Wall, followed that same track for the Wasington Wizards. But Irving, Knight and Walker could face slightly different circumstances. Let's take a look at each.

Kyrie Irving -- Cleveland Cavaliers

The No. 1 overall pick, Irving, out of Duke University, is the most NBA-ready point guard prospect in this year's group. He goes to a team that needs a new face, a new identity and a new direction after an awful season that resulted from the departure of LeBron James. He's got the size, smarts, scoring instincts and play-making ability to start from Day 1. He should start from Day 1.

The only problem? The Cavaliers have former All-Star Baron Davis and capable back-up Ramon Sessions already on the roster. Sessions' agent made it clear earlier this summer that something would have to give if Cleveland drafted Irving, but nothing gave on draft night. Neither Davis nor Sessions was traded. Daniel Gibson looms too, as he played a fair number of backcourt minutes last year as well.

The ideal scenario long-term would be to move Davis and the remaining money on his contract, however possible. That would allow the Cavaliers to turn the keys over to Irving immediately, with Sessions, a very capable and fairly paid back-up, able to step in and play big minutes as needed behind Irving or alongside of him. Gibson, if his $4.4 million salary for 2011-2012 couldn't be moved, would then provide depth.

The only problem? Davis is on the books for $13.9 million next season and has a $14.8 million player option for 2012-2013 so there may not be any takers until he becomes an expiring contract at the end of next season. Theoretically, the Cavaliers could make him an amnesty clause casualty, depending on the terms of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If Irving and Davis are both on the roster, Cleveland will need to get to work on Davis, making sure he understands his role as a veteran on a rebuilding team. At 32, Davis' job now is not to lead Cleveland to the playoffs. His job is to help mentor Irving into a franchise, All-Star caliber player.

Brandon Knight -- Detroit Pistons

The Pistons were a dysfunctional mess last season under coach John Kuester, who tried all sorts of different things at point guard, including a Tracy McGrady experiment. 

Brandon Knight -- a very talented, intelligent prospect who has done his best to shake off the "combo guard" label since finishing his one season at Kentucky -- enters the mix on a roster that currently has Rodney Stuckey, who was recently extended a qualifying offer for next season, and the undersized but capable Will Bynum. Knight is not as ready as Irving this year or as ready as Wall was last year, so turning the keys over to him immediately would mean a long, painful journey.

The biggest question for the Pistons is what to do with Rodney Stuckey. Knight's presence certainly makes the team less dependent on Stuckey, so if someone makes an offer that is too rich for Detroit's blood, they won't be in a position where they will be forced to overpay to retain him. With that said, keeping Stuckey around if possible is worth doing. He is talented and will draw trade interest down the road, especially if he's retained on a reasonable deal, once Knight develops. 

Assuming Stuckey returns, which would be the best case scenario, Knight should plug in as the second string point guard, playing as many minutes as he can handle and given every opportunity to prove himself to be a starter. In that scenario, Bynum becomes expendable. He's on the books for $3.25 million for each of the next two seasons and there should be a decent market for his services at that number.

If Stuckey either isn't retained or is moved in a sign-and-trade, Bynum becomes the Day 1 starter, with Knight as the back-up. In an ideal world, Knight responds to that role well and potentially works his way ahead of Bynum by the middle or latter half of the 2011-2012 season. If the learning curve happens to be steeper, Bynum remains in place. If the Pistons fall totally out of the Eastern Conference playoff chase given that rotation, Knight could take on the starter role, allowing the Pistons to get to work on the future.

Kemba Walker -- Charlotte Bobcats

On Draft night, the Bobcats executed a complicated three-way trade that shipped out forward Stephen Jackson and guard Shaun Livingston to land an extra top 10 pick and Corey Maggette. An under-reported highlight of this trade was getting out of Livingston's contract, as he was owed $3.5 million for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Clearing Livingston not only moved his salary but it also opened up plenty of minutes in Charlotte's backcourt.

Enter Kemba Walker, the star of the 2011 NCAA tournament and a potential franchise guard. He joins a stripped-down team that is clearly looking for a slash-and-burn style rebuilding project after the trade of Jackson and the 2011 deadline move of Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trail Blazers. Walker will join a backcourt that currently includes last year's starting point guard, D.J. Augustin, and two guards Gerald Henderson and Matt Carroll. That's it. Those are the only guards currently under contract for the 2011-2012 season.

In other words, Walker will be given free rein, likely as a third guard, to both score and distribute. He should have the ball in his hands plenty and should be encouraged to take as many shots as he wants. He'll be playing in a pressure-free environment as he learns the ropes. The Bobcats will surely encourage him to push Augustin for the starter's job, but anything past playing major minutes in a back-up role this year will be gravy. Augustin will become a restricted free agent following the 2011-2012 season so the Bobcats will have plenty of flexibility in terms of how they handle his future with the team. 

Going forward, new GM Rich Cho will have the luxury of shaping Charlotte's roster to fit Walker's skillset. Those moves will begin soon as the Bobcats clearly need to fill out their roster. Regardless, this is an excellent landing spot for Walker. He can move into a starter's role at his own pace while getting plenty of playing time immediately. The best of both worlds.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 7:29 pm
 

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

Posted by Royce Young



When people say things like, "It's never too early to talk about..." what they really mean is, "It's way, way too early to talk about this but I'm trying to at least acknowledge that."

So... it's never too early to talk about next season's early contenders for Rookie of the Year (assuming there is a next year blah blah blah). Most everyone proclaimed last night's draft to be of the weak variety and while it very well may be, it's going to have a couple good players. Whether it's the top overall pick or a sleeper taken in the 20s, the 2011 NBA Draft won't go down as a total dud.

Who are the candidates to make a big rookie splash? There aren't a ton of franchise changing guys in this draft, but more a bundle of potential. Someone will be named Rookie of the Year and honestly, this might be one of the most wide open races in a long time. Derrick Williams isn't Blake Griffin. Kyrie Irving isn't Derrick Rose. From picks 1-15 really, there are a lot of guys that could contend. So here are my top five.

1. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavaliers: If the No. 1 overall pick isn't a Rookie of the Year candidate, well, then his name must be Michael Olawakandi. It's hard to really know if Irving is going to step right in and start from day one or if the Cavs want to groom him behind Baron Davis -- don't laugh -- but he's going to get his minutes. This franchise is now his. He's the guy.

He's not John Wall or Derrick Rose, but that just means he's not as flashy. He makes plays everywhere, shoots the ball extremely well and is incredibly composed and mature. It's pretty easy to picture Irving averaging something along the lines of 15 points and five assists per game, which will likely be enough to win the award.

2. Derrick Williams, F, Timberwolves: I think Williams is a fantastic player. A 6-9 guy that's athletic and strong and shot 57 percent from 3? How could you NOT like him?

But I've got questions that almost made me leave him off the list. Where does he fit in with the Wolves? Is he their starting small forward? Does he fit alongside Kevin Love? Does Michael Beasley take too many shots and minutes from him? Does Williams play power forward and Love slide to center? Can Williams play power forward? Is he too much of a tweener, like Jeff Green?

If the Wolves are smart, and of course that's a whole other thing there, Williams sees minutes from day one and Beasley is shipped out so that Williams' growth is never messed with. I don't think the two can co-exist. Give the keys entirely to Ricky Rubio, Love and Williams and see what they can do. If that happens, I think he can put up pretty solid numbers and a few flashy highlights as well.  

3. Jan Vesely, SF, Wizards: Blake Griffin didn't win the Rookie of the Year last year just based off a bunch of crazy highlight dunks. But there's no denying that they certainly helped.

And Vesely is the prime candidate to be 2011-12's official YouTube Party candidate for Rookie of the Year. He has an incredible amount of athleticism, a bunch of flash and some skill to boot. He can score, play and dunk. If Vesely gets minutes, he's going to grab some attention. And in winning awards, sometime attention is all it really takes.

4. Jimmer Fredette, PG, Kings: I'm coming clean -- I'm a total Jimmer junkie. I think he's going to be a great pro. My philosophy is, if you're one of the best at your craft at the highest level you can play, you'll likely be good at the next level too. Adam Morrison excluded, of course.

And Jimmer can score. Yeah, his defense stinks. But I think that was more of a product of the system and structure he operated in at BYU more than anything. BYU's coach Dave Rose knew Fredette couldn't dare pick up a couple early fouls, so he was hidden in a 2-3 scheme and rarely moved his feet or went for a steal. I don't think that's just because Jimmer doesn't understand a simple defensive stance, but more that he was instructed, "Don't you think about picking up a foul." There were similar concerns about Blake Griffin's defense too, but at OU Jeff Capel employed the same mindset to Griffin's defense. And I think that worked out.

The Kings cleared out room for Jimmer to immediately start and run the show. If he's ready for it, he's going to have a chance to put up really nice numbers on an improving team. Is he going to look to score or pass? That's to be seen. But he's a smart guy, has a bunch of talent and knows how to play. He's going to be good.

5. Alec Burks, SG, Jazz: I live in Big 12 country so I'm a bit biased having seen Burks play most of his college games. But let me tell you, that dude tore up the conference. Inside, outside, defensively, rebounding -- he was a one-man team.

The Jazz are slowly transitioning and while Enes Kanter was the No. 3 pick, I think he's going to be brought along more slowly than Burks. There's not a whole lot standing in the way of Burks and playing time, while Kanter has to settle in somewhere around Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur. I don't know what the future of Andrei Kirilenko is but I'm sure Utah isn't that worried about finding room for Burks to play. He's going to likely be in the rotation from the start and might even push C.J. Miles for the starting shooting guard spot.

Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:37 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 11:20 am
 

2011 NBA Draft Winners and Losers



Posted by Matt Moore

It's all over. After an underwhelming crop of draft choices led to a flurry of trades, the dust has settled and the picks are wearing the right hats, finally. Here are your winners and losers of the 2011 NBA Draft:

Winners

Cleveland Cavaliers: Irving is mostly a case of winning by default, but they wouldn't have been the first team to be unable to get out of their own way with an obvious pick. Irving gives them a franchise point guard to build around and was the best player overall in this draft. Going for Derrick Williams would have been sheer hubris in order to burn LeBron by choosing a replacement forward. Then, with the fourth, they could have opted for Valanciunas, which would have been a good pick. But there's a reason so many teams were chasing Tristan Thompson. His workouts showed how he would translate on the next level, and with that kind of athleticism, he provides a good running partner for Irving. They managed to not overcomplicate the combination of two top-five picks. They got good talent both small and big. That's a win right there.

Washington Wizards: The Wizards very quietly had a terrific draft. First Jan Vesely was available, who fits a need for them at slashing forward. With his athleticism and aggression, he makes a perfect partner to run the break with John Wall. Then, miraculously, Chris Singleton tumbled all the way down to No.18 where the Wizards jumped all over him. Singleton is a lottery talent that fell out of the top 14. He gives the Wizards the ability to move Andray Blatche if they can find a taker for his contract. He can rebound and defend exceptionally well. Singleton's length and athleticism, combined with a chip on his shoulder from dropping, makes him a great pick for the Wizards. Shelvin Mack in the second round was a great value pick for backup point guard.

Charlotte Bobcats: In a day, the Bobcats transformed Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, the No.9 and No.19 into Corey Maggette, Bismack Biyombo, and Kemba Walker. That's a great haul. I've never been big on either of the Bobcats' draft picks, but when you consider the balance between an athletic super-freak who is unrefined and an established winner with limited upside, the Bobcats managed to grab two of the most hyped players in the draft. Biyombo provides length and athleticism to pair with Tyrus Thomas. Walker creates a complication at point guard with D.J. Augustin already being an undersized point guard. But Augustin has never won over the Bobcats organization and Walker will be given every chance to compete for the starting role. If his size issues aren't as much a concern as they've been made out to be, and if his shot creation translates to the next level, the Bobcats have just instantly created their foundation for the future while ditching one of their biggest contracts. A great start for the Cho era in Charlotte. 

Denver Nuggets: Raymond Felton got flipped for Andre Miller's non-guaranteed expiring contract and Jordan Hamilton, one of the steals of the draft who inexplicably fell. This for a guard the Nuggets didn't want in the first place. Oh, yeah, and they nabbed Kenneth Faried, who perfectly fits their needs and is a great value pick where they took him. Masai Ujiri is better than you.


Losers


Minnesota Timberwolves: Yes, again. Williams is a great pick, if they were moving Michael Beasley. Or if they were trading Williams. But David Kahn reportedly says they're not moving Williams. They wasted an opportunity to create more assets by moving either one, and instead, will now bullheadedly try to cram two similar players (three if you count Anthony Randolph) into a spot. It's a messy situation and Kahn should have taken one of the other offers made to him for the pick. Then there's the other trade, which was just a mess all over. They pulled in another Euro center to add to their collection, Brad Miller and his too-long, too-expensive contract, and ditched Jonny Flynn. The only redeeming quality is the future first which may or may not be protected into oblivion. Another sterling night for the Wolves. If Williams turns out to be worthy of the No.2 pick, and count me among the people that think he is, and the Wolves recognize that versus burying him as they did Kevin Love, this can be salvaged. From this vantage point, it doesn't look great. 

Update: Wolves wound up swapping Mirotic for the 28th and 43rd picks from the Bulls, then moved the 28th pick to Miami for the 31st pick, which they then sold as well as the 38th pick which was theirs. They used the 43rd on Malcolm Lee, and then traded for the 57th. While not getting Mirotic is a lot better than drafting him, they did all that and wound up with a first later, Malcolm Lee, and Targuy Ngombo. Not a great haul, there. Saved the boss some cash, though.

Golden State Warriors: How many guards can they need? New head coach Mark Jackson and GM Larry Riley constantly talked about defense. Then the Warriors took a shooter. They haven't moved Monta Ellis, so now on the roster they have Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Charlie Bell, Jeremy Lin, Acie Law and Reggie Williams. And they just added Klay Thompson. It was an unnecessary move with bigger players with more defensive presence available. The Warriors have enough talent to not need the best player available. But, again, they opt for the usual. Disappointing.

Portland Trail Blazers: Where did that come from? The Blazers first take a huge reach on Nolan Smith at No.21. Smith had his proponents as the draft got closer, and certainly isn't a terrible pick. But in taking him, they elected to create redundancy after trading too much (Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez) for Raymond Felton. The result is a reformed back court as the Blazers had promised, but not nearly as good as one you would have thought they could carry with the pieces available. Smith may work out well, but he'll never be starter caliber. And, with as many talented guards as there were late in the draft, taking him was a bit of a shock. Jon Diebler is 6-6 and can shoot. That's about it.  


Individual Winners:


Jan Vesely: Underrated as everyone talked about Kanter and Valanciunas, Vesely not only winds up with a good team fit for himself, but stole the highlight of the night with a kiss on the mouth of his lady friend. Then he said "I like the John Wall game" in his TV interview. Vesely came off incredibly cool for a 21-year-old Euro who can't shoot.

Tristan Thompson: Congratulations, Tristan, you cleared about ten spots in three days! It's a marathon, not a race.

Joe Dumars: Lucks into Brandon Knight. Rodney Stuckey problem: solved.


Individual Losers:


Brandon Knight: Plummeted due to his attitude and wound up in dysfunctional Detroit.

Josh Selby: If there was no age limit to the draft, Selby would have been a top ten pick last year. Now he falls all the way to the second round.

Jordan Hamilton: Something really bad must have been found on Hamilton, medically or otherwise. There was a nineteen-pick differential between Hamilton and a player who has rumors of being older than listed with a back issue and a contract problem. That's not a good look for the Texas ex.
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 7:39 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 10:13 pm
 

NBA Draft: Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving

Posted by Matt Moore

For complete draft coverage, check out our Draft Tracker

With the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving, point guard, from Duke University.

Irving has been the top pick since last summer and after 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.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 1:01 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 1:30 pm
 

Trade Rumor: Cavs trying for third lottery pick?

Posted by Royce Young

The Cavs are trying to rebuild post-LeBron and it looks like they are going about it the right way. They already have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in this draft and can add two highly talented future centerpieces to their roster (likely Kyrie Irving and Enes Kanter/Jonas Valanciunas), but they aren't finished there.

According to ESPN.com, the Cavs are working to land a third -- yes a third -- lottery pick.
Sources say the Cavs have been very actively trying to do just that, with a massive $14.5 million trade exception as the device. The offer? Give us your pick and we'll take back a bad contract into our trade exception, which permits the Cavs to take back salary of more than $14 million.

In that scenario, the Sacramento Kings and the Detroit Pistons look like the most intriguing potential partners. Would the Kings be willing to give up the No. 7 pick if the Cavs gave them Ramon Sessions and took back Francisco Garcia? The Kings are already under the salary cap, but Garcia has $12 million over two years on his contract, and Sacramento would love to move him.
Obviously the Cavs are going to have to eat a big contract, but as the report notes, thank LeBron and that giant trade exception.

Who could the Cavs target with a third lottery pick? Maybe Tristan Thompson? Bismack Biyombo? I think Kawhi Leonard might be a nice fit alongside Irving.

They need a lot right now so their options are wide open. But a core including three lottery picks, even if you think this draft is bad, is a pretty solid rebuilding plan. Blow everything up completely and start over. It can work. It takes some time, but the Cavs are going to be on a much better road after tonight. If they can get another top 10 talent, it'll just be that much better.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:46 am
 

2011 NBA Draft LiveChat and Experience

Join us starting at 1PM EST for a marathon NBA Draft LiveChat and Experience, coming to you from Newark, NJ at the site of the NBA Draft. We'll have our NBA bloggers sharing the latest news and taking your questions. We'll also have guest appearances from our college basketball experts at 2PM EST, and we'll talk NFL and labor news at 3PM EST. We'll be talking draft all the live-long day. As the day goes on you'll get the live experience from Ben Golliver who's on the scene of the draft sharing audio, video, and images from the draft. Join us, starting at 1PM EST!

 
Posted on: June 22, 2011 10:42 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 10:55 pm
 

Derrick Williams: Compare me to Dirk, not LeBron

Arizona forward Derrick Williams distances himself from LeBron James but welcomes a comparison to Dirk Nowitzki. Posted by Ben Golliver. derrick-williams

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Derrick Williams would rather be compared to Dirk Nowitzki than LeBron James.
 
In one of the most interesting scenes from Wednesday's NBA Draft media availability at the Westin in Times Square, Williams, a forward out of Arizona who is expected to be the second player selected in Thursday's 2011 NBA Draft, went out of his way to repeatedly distance himself from James.

Williams, who averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Wildcats as a sophomore, has done this through the pre-draft process any time someone asks him what it would like to be taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick. Clearly, there will be a huge burden that goes with filling James' sneakers after he abandoned the Cavaliers to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for the Miami Heat. The storyline takes on added emphasis in Williams' case because he throws down his fair share of highlight reel dunks and because he wore No. 23 -- the number James wore for the Cavaliers -- at Arizona.

"I don’t want to be LeBron, I don’t want to be anything like it," Williams said bluntly. "Whoever gets picked at the No. 1 spot, that’s what the city is going to be looking for. ‘The Next LeBron.’ If they pick me, I don’t want to be labeled next to him. He’s going to go down as one of the top 25 best players to ever play the game. I’m not trying to be like him. I just want to go out and play my game like I’ve been doing my whole career."

While Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving is the favorite to be selected No. 1 overall, Williams told the media that they shouldn't count him out yet.

"I think there’s always a chance," he said. "We’ll never know until that draft pick comes. One or two, it’s an amazing feeling."

As Wednesday developed, "one or two" started to sound less and less like a guarantee. The Minnesota Timberwolves hold the No. 2 pick and are reportedly shopping the pick hard while also giving consideration to Turkish big man Enes Kanter. Williams is considered a clear-cut top two player in this draft by most talent evaluators, but the Timberwolves already have forward Michael Beasley in place, who shares some similarities with Williams in that he is a combination forward who is a versatile scoring threat.

"Me and Mike Beasley probably play a little similar," Williams admitted. "I probably like to shoot a little bit more than him. On the advantage side of that, it’s hard to guard two guys that similar. You rarely have two guys that play similar on the same team."

It's unclear whether having two players who both need touches on the same team with Kevin Love would actually be an advantage or a disadvantage. At least it's clear Williams has given some more thought to questions about his position.

Soon after the Draft Lottery, Williams began steadfastedly maintaining that he is a small forward, even though his body -- 6-foot-9, 250 pounds -- and his college résumé pegs him as at least a stretch power forward, if not an undersized four. On Wednesday, he seemed to concede that his game probably isn't as clear cut as he might have wanted to make it. 

"I don’t want to be labeled as one position," Williams said. "My whole life I’ve been labeled as multiple positions and multiple spots on the offensive and defensive side. 

"There are so many types of different players these days. You look at Dirk Nowitzki, he’s a four but he’s never in the post, he’s on the wing. Lamar Odom, he’s a combo four. Hybrid fours like Antawn Jamison. I think I fit well in this league."

It's strange to hear a high-flyer like Williams compare himself to Nowitzki, and that's probably wishful thinking. There's only one Nowitzki. Physically, the two don't have similar body types and Williams definitely doesn't have Nowitzki's array of jumpers. The Odom and Jamison combinations fit a little better.

Williams knows that regardless of what position he plays, defined or not, he has an adjustment coming. "There’s a lot of bigger guys on the court. Strength-wise, I would probably say that [is my biggest fear]," Williams said. "Just not being as big as everybody else. At the college level I was bigger than most guys. I can’t use that to my strength now.

In this, Williams, who won't fall past the Utah Jazz at No. 3, is correct. If he's worried about his strength at the NBA level, he definitely shouldn't be compared to James.

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