We are less than seven hours from the 2011 NBA Draft. According to the experts and anyone with a pulse, this is the weakest draft class and may also be a record-setting draft for international players who hope to be selected in the 1st round.
Here are my thoughts on some hot-button topics pertinent to the draft.
Q: Who are your top 5 prospects irrespective of position?
A: Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Kemba Walker
Q: If you're Cleveland and the draft order among the top 4 stays the same, who do you take with the first pick? Why?
A: Derrick Williams. He is a proven leader, and can score from anywhere on the court. He is also far and away the best player at his position. While I like Irving as a prospect and believe he has the highest upside, Knight's potential is not far behind (and recall how much he improved as a floor general from November to March), and Walker may make the most immediate impact depending on where he lands. At worst, Cleveland would be able to obtain one of the top 3 point guards at pick #4.
Q: Who's your flop prediction?
A: Jonas Valanciunas. From his clips, he looks closer to 215 pounds than what he is listed (240). Not everyone can add the weight. He is highly skilled, but he looks very susceptible to being pushed around.
Q: How far will Kemba slide?
A: I don't buy Kemba sliding out of the lottery. He was top 7 on everyone's draft board less than a week ago . If he does not get drafted in the top 7 (especially if Sacramento trades their pick for Tony Parker), some team between 9 and 13 will
Q: If you're a playoff team that wants to get over the hump, which player who is outside the lottery would you take?
A: Kenneth Faried. The man can rebound, play defense, and doesn't require a lot of shots to make his presence felt. That is a coach's dream.
Q: Which team has the most to gain tonight?
A: Cleveland. The last month has been Christmas for the Cavs. First, they win the lottery with a pick from the Clippers. Second, LeBron plays a key role in the Heat losing the Finals. Third, they can add 3 players to their rotation tonight.
Q: Who'll be dealing?
A: We know Michael Jordan will be, because he announced it (Jordan didn't get the memo that this is not the draft to announce such a thing). Milwaukee too. Cleveland and New York may be buying a pick, as may Miami. I wouldn't be shocked if the Lakers jump into the 1st round - completely unsubstantiated, but they need young legs. They may want to package one or more of their 2nd-round picks and cash for a shot at the top 30.
Q: Which top tier playoff team needs to make an impact tonight?
A: The Heat were already mentioned. They have several players out of contract, but by and large, they will replenish their ranks with veterans, and the guys they drafted last year. The Lakers were clearly exploited, and need young legs at every position.
Q: Who's the most intriguing player?
A: Bismack Biyombo. Check out his YouTube. He's raw, but extremely talented. He could be the next Mutombo ... or the next Yinka Dare.
Q: Who are your top 3 sleepers?
A: JaJuan Johnson, Charles Jenkins, Jordan Williams