2011 NBA Draft Grades
Eastern Conference: Atlantic | Central | Southeast
Western Conference: Southwest | Northwest | Pacific
Additions: Nikola Mirotic (No.23), Jimmy Butler (No.30)
Needing depth at the wing positions, the Chicago Bulls picked up a player for now in Marquette’s Jimmy Butler and one for later in Montenegro’s Nikola Mirotic.
The deal for Mirotic involved the Bulls obtaining his draft rights in exchange the 28th pick and the 43rd pick. That was a small sum to play for a player that was destined to be a lottery pick if not for the fact that his contract with Real Madrid will keep him overseas for at least two more seasons. At the end of the day, Mirotic has stud-in-the-making written all over him and he will be an instant contributor and possible star when he finally joins the club.
Butler gives the team an above-average defender for both the small and power forward positions, and a serviceable backup to Luol Deng. A true ‘blue collar’ type of forward, it will not be long before Butler is making hustle plays and endearing himself to the Bulls’ faithful.
Additions: George Hill (via trade)
Given the presence of Danny Granger and Paul George on the Indiana roster, many expected San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard to be dealt when the forward fell to the Pacers at No.15. The team did just that and picked up one of game’s most promising guards in George Hill from the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Leonard, the rights to Davis Bertans (No.42) and the draft rights to Ezram Lorbek, a player drafted 46th overall in 2005.
Hill is a great combo-guard talent and will give Indiana not only a complement, but also a backup, to starting point guard Darren Collison. The big question mark here is whether giving up the second round pick, Bertans, will come back to haunt the Pacers down the line.
Indiana could be kicking itself if Bertans, a long 6-foot-10 shooter who has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, becomes just a poor man’s version of the reigning NBA Finals MVP.
Additions: Tobias Harris (No.19), Jon Leuer (No.40), Stephen Jackson (via trade), Shaun Livingston (via trade), Beno Udrih (via trade)
Milwaukee was a participant in the draft’s biggest deal, a three-way trade that involved five players and three 2011 draft choices exchanging hands between the Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings.
When the trade dust settled, the Bucks came away with a pretty nice haul, sacrificing John Salmons, Corey Maggette and the 10th overall pick and receiving the 19th pick, talented swingman Stephen Jackson and point guards Shaun Livingston and Beno Udrih.
The 19th pick was used on Tennessee’s Tobias Harris, an underrated SF-PF who had as good a freshman season as any during the 2010-11 college basketball season. While a bit of a tweener, Harris sports a great range with his shot, does not shy away from physical contact in the post and has the type of body that can easily pack on muscle. In all likelihood he will develop nicely over time.
Picking up Wisconsin Badgers forward Jon Leuer was also a nice get for the Bucks and will give the team depth at the power forward spot and a good shooting complement to center Andrew Bogut.
Additions: Brandon Knight (No.8), Kyle Singler (No.33), Vernon Macklin (No.52)
With the draft’s most talented big men off the board by the time the Detroit Pistons were on the clock at No.8, the team opted to take the best player on the board in Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight. As a consolation prize for missing out on the likes of Jonas Valanciunas, Tristan Thompson and Bismack Biyombo, landing a talent such as Knight had to feel pretty good for the Pistons.
One of the draft’s best playmakers, Knight has the physical skills and intangibles to be an elite scoring point guard at the NBA level. Plus, the kid has proven he is every bit as smart as he is talented.
In the second round, Detroit managed to land two four-year players that will likely make solid contributions next season in Duke’s Kyle Singler and Florida’s Vernon Macklin. By now, most people know Singler brings a solid all-around game and is a long-range threat that can play both forward positions. While not flash, Macklin has an NBA-ready body and can give the Pistons some garbage time at the center position.
Additions: Kyrie Irving (No.1), Tristan Thompson (No.4), Milan Macvan (No.54)
As one commenter put it, the Cavaliers had four picks and blew three of them. The team found its franchise player of the future and a steady hand at the point in Duke’s Kyrie Irving, the No.1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. On the other hand, Cleveland reached at No.4 for Texas’ Tristan Thompson, sold a player that could have helped them next season in Justin Harper and took an unknown international talent, Milan Macvan. All this happened despite the fact that Ben Hansbrough, Isaiah Thomas, Greg Smith and Scotty Hopson were still on the board.
Injury questions aside, Irving has the makeup to be an elite guard and gives Cleveland an excellent point guard and a character player to build around. Thompson has a long reach and wingspan, but his offensive game is light years away from being NBA-ready and he is somewhat short for a power forward at just 6-toot-8. Trading the No.32 pick and a player likely to be a contributor in Harper, who is an excellent shooter with a first round grade, for two future (most likely low) second-round picks made even less sense. Furthermore, the jury will be out for a long, long time on Macvan.
The Cavaliers’ draft is definitely one those that may look great down the road; however, as of right now, it really seems as though, following Irving’s selection at No.1, the team may have missed the mark a bit.
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© 2011 Neal J. Leitereg — All Rights Reserved