Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 Draft Preview

Today is the day of the 2011 NBA draft, which means it is past time for me to put together my annual draft preview. For those of you have missed past editions below are the links:

2010 Draft Strategy for the Timberwolves - review: after one year it doesn't look to be my best plan.
2010 Draft Strategy for the Jazz - review: still up in the air, but I don't think I will look back favorably on this one either.
2010 Draft Player Preview - let's hope I was wrong about Derrick Favors.
2009 Draft Preview - review: positive (except what I wrote about Thabeet and Harden)
2008 Draft Preview - review: very positive.

I plan on addressing both the Jazz and the Timberwolves, which won't be too hard since both teams go into the draft in a similar position. The Jazz have the 3rd and 12th picks, while the Twolves have the 2nd and 20th picks. Here is how I want the draft to work out for both teams:

Utah Jazz
There are a few things I am certain about and a few things I have been fluctuating back and forth on.

Strong Convictions
  • Trading Paul Millsap is a bad idea. He is an efficient scorer, who always improves and has a very reasonable salary ($7M/year). Also, he produced the highest WS/48 among Jazz regulars.
  • Trading the 3rd pick and the 12th pick for the 1st pick and the chance to draft Kyrie Irving is a smart idea.
  • Trading the 3rd pick for Washington's 6th and 18th pick makes a lot of sense for both teams. Washington could get Kanter and Utah could pick up two chances for an impact player. At the 6th pick I would be more ok with the Jazz taking Brandon Knight.
  • Trading *Derrick Favors straight up for the 1st pick (Kyrie Irving) would be an excellent move. *I think Favors has a chance to be really good, but I like Irving more. Also, Irving fills a position of need and trading Favors helps the logjam the Jazz have at the 4/5 position. This also might not be a bad idea for Cleveland, since Favors is the type of talent that isn't in the 2011 draft and point guard is a position of strength for them.
  • Drafting a shooting guard (Klay Thompson or Alec Burks) at the 12th pick is a good idea. I don't know who will be better. Originally I thought Thompson because he has an NBA skill (shooting), but this article helped convince me on Burks.
  • Drafting Jonas Valanciunas makes more sense than Enes Kanter. Jonas is rated higher in John Hollinger's draft rater and has the added bonus of not coming over to the NBA until probably next year. Why is that a bonus? This will allow the Jazz to bank a lottery pick and make their move next year. Next year's draft should be loaded and the Jazz will have the Warriors (top 7 protected) 1st round pick as well as their own. If Jonas doesn't come over this year then they might lose more next year, but that might not be a bad thing. Can you imagine next year adding two top lottery picks in a loaded draft along with Jonas? If Favors and Hayward progress at a decent rate then you are talking about a young, loaded team. It isn't too much of a stretch to see the 2012/2013 Jazz starting lineup of
    • Point: Devin Harris
    • Shooting Guard: Austin Rivers (projected 11th pick next year)
    • Small Forward: Gordon Hayward
    • Power Forward: Derrick Favors
    • Center: Al Jefferson
    • Backups: Jonas Valanciunas, Paul Millsap, Alec Burks (12th pick this year) and Myck Kabongo (projected 9th pick next year) 
    • That would be a really good team with outstanding depth. You could also replace Jonas with Kanter, but I'm not as sold on him.
Other question marks:
  • Klay Thompson or Alec Burks?
  • Brandon Knight as an impact player?
  • Enes Kanter with the 3rd pick?
  • Derrick Williams (since it would probably result in Millsap being traded)?
Minnesota Timberwolves
It is a little bit easier to analyze the Timberwolves draft, since they need so much help. If I was David Kahn I wouldn't think too much and just draft whoever is left between Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving. When you are a 17 win team, you don't really worry too much about displacing other players. Kevin Love is worthy to build around and either Williams or Irving could play with him. Also, I think Rubio and Irving could work in the backcourt in the same way as Kidd and Terry worked for Dallas. With the 20th pick in the draft I would look at a defender like Chris Singleton with the knowledge that the Timberwolves were the 4th worst team in defending the 3 point line. If he isn't available then I wouldn't mind reaching for Charles Jenkins or Norris Cole. Both players look like impact players for the Timberwolves.

Finally, let me write this that the two most intriguing players (who will probably be busts) are Jan Vesley and Tyler Honeycutt. I have only seen highlights of the first and one game of the second, but just from that small sample size I am curious how those two players will work out. Vesley looks like a special athlete, who will be a great fit on a team that needs a small forward who can score in transition. Honeycutt looks like a potential defensive stopper, who could be average on offense. He blocked 2.1 shots a game last year and with his size it shouldn't be hard for him to justify the 20th pick in the draft. Vesley is almost definitely not worth a top 10 pick, but for excitement level alone I want to see him play in the NBA.

There will be more thoughts after the draft as we see what happens with the Timberwolves and Jazz.

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