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June 23, 2011
NBA Draft
Who should they take?

by Dan Feldman

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This mock draft is based on who I'd choose for each team if I were making the pick. For the most part, I believe in drafting the best player available, but sometimes need plays a part in separating similar prospects. For a closer look at what teams need check out Kevin's posts on West lottery teams and West playoff teams and my posts on East lottery teams and East playoff teams.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving

A no-brainer. Irving is probably the best prospect in the draft, although Derrick Williams could make a case. But when you consider how much more influential point guards are than combo forwards, Cleveland must pick Irving.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves - Derrick Williams

Everyone knows Williams is an explosive scorer from anywhere on the court, but he's also an excellent rebounder. Another no-brainer pick.

3. Utah Jazz - Jonas Valanciunas

The draft gets interesting here. I really like Valanciunas' aggressive interior play offensively. Plus, his wingspan and quick hops should make him at least an adequate defender.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Enes Kanter

Directly, I'm not concerned he sat out a year. Indirectly, I question his decision-making for putting himself in that position. Still, his size and talent are too much to pass up in this weak area of the draft. If John Calipari wanted him, I do too.

5. Toronto Raptors - Brandon Knight

The Raptors need a point guard of the future, and Knight has the tools to become that player. His actual production is disappointing, but he's young and should get better. Jose Calderon is good enough to give Knight a chance to learn the game while playing some off guard.

6. Washington Wizards - Jan Vesely

Washington needs a hustle player, and not only would Vesely provide that, he has the athleticism run with John Wall. Plus, with his European experience, he could start immediately at small forward.

7. Sacramento Kings - Bismack Biyombo

You can never have too much size. Biyombo's athleticism and savvy defensive play should get him on the court immediately. How he develops is a big unknown, but he and DeMarcus Cousins would make an intriguing combination.

8. Detroit Pistons - Kawhi Leonard

The Pistons could probably use another small forward, because Tayshaun Prince and Tracy McGrady are free agents, Jonas Jerebko might be needed more at power forward, and Austin Daye might be a better shooting guard. Leonard would help the Pistons defensively, and he's an excellent rebounder for his position.

9. Charlotte Bobcats - Marcus Morris

Too often, the Bobcats' offense became Stephen Jackson attempting to score with four of his teammates watching him. Morris would bolster Charlotte's frontline, and his ability to put the ball on the floor and pass would add some much-needed skill to the Bobcats offense. Although limited in upside, he's the type of addition that could make everyone else on the team look better.

10. Milwaukee Bucks - Alec Burks

The Bucks need a scoring wing, and although Klay Thompson makes some sense, I'll make it simple. Burks was way more productive in college, so he gets the nod.

11. Golden State Warriors - Tristan Thompson

The Warriors need another big, and Thompson fits the bill. He's defensive-minded, and with Ekpe Udoh, maybe he can begin to change Golden State's identity. His low defensive-rebounding percentage at Texas should raise some concern, though.

12. Utah Jazz - Marshon Brooks

Not many players could score as much as Brooks did and maintain the type of efficiency he did. If Valanciunas doesn't play in the NBA next year, even if the Jazz draft him, they'll have an undersized frontcourt. That means the lengthy Brooks' defensive potential will be key without a player to protect the rim in front of him.

13. Phoenix Suns - Kenneth Faried

When the Suns were at their peak, they showed a toughness against the Spurs that I haven't seen this version of Phoenix approach. Faried would inject a bit of attitude into the team, and if helps the Suns rebound near the middle of the pack, that could make a huge difference.

14. Houston Rockets - Nikola Vucevic

The Rockets aren't far from the playoffs, and Vucevic's size and fairly polished skillset could push them over the edge. His lack of athleticism is a drawback, but Houston has been maximizing the talent of unathletic players for years. If Yao comes back healthy and Jordan Hill develops, having too much size is never a problem.

15. Indiana Pacers - Nikola Mirotic

The Pacers could have a fairly large amount of cap room this summer. Why cut into that with a first-round pick's guaranteed salary when a player as talented as Mirotic can develop in Europe?

16. Philadelphia 76ers - Markieff Morris

The 76ers could use another big man, and although Morris doesn't have ideal height for a center, he can play the position at times. He's a hard worker and should fit in with that team.

17. New York Knicks - Kemba Walker

Walker is an undersized, shoot-first point guard who didn't score efficiently in college. Players like that rarely succeed in the NBA, but at this point, he's worth the risk.

18. Washington Wizards - JaJuan Johnson

Johnson can protect the rim and defend stretch fours - a special defensive combination. His back-to-the-basket game isn't bad, and his 81-percent free-throw-shooting suggests his mid-range shot is developing in case he's not strong enough to play in the post at the next level.

19. Charlotte Bobcats - Klay Thompson

Thompson's outside shooting should help space the floor for the Bobcats, who finished 29th in three-point shooting last year. But what else does he do well?

20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jimmer Fredette

Fredette goes a little lower than Walker, because shown even less of an ability to play within the confines of a structured offense. At BYU, he played as close to street ball as I've ever seen from a Division-I team.

21. Portland Trail Blazers - Jordan Hamilton

Hamilton is a gifted scorer, but he wasn't quite as efficient as you'd like. His ideal size is enough to offset those concerns at this point, though. Portland is fine at small forward, but Hamilton is a value pick.

22. Denver Nuggets - Chris Singleton

When he's engaged, Singleton is a defensive force. But how much value is there in a defensive-minded player who doesn't always go full throttle? His offense is dreck, too. If he improves his motor, he's a steal here. If he doesn't, he won't stick in the league.

23. Houston Rockets - Reggie Jackson

Jackson has a solid frame for an NBA point guard, sees the court well and has a solid outside shot. No wonder he got a promise.

24. Oklahoma City Thunder - Tobias Harris

I just don't see the appeal in Harris, but maybe that's because his game is so balanced and nothing stands out. The Thunder could use Harris as a backup now, though. He's just 18, so if he continues to develop, all the better.

25. Boston Celtics - Darius Morris

The Celtics should be set at point guard for a long time with Rajon Rondo, but Morris would provide them a reliable back up. He has good value at this point, and if he develops into a starting-caliber player, Boston can trade him down the road.

27. New Jersey Nets - Donatas Motiejunas

The Nets need to quickly make a favorable impression on Deron Williams before he enters free agency. Motiejunas has more star potential than most players at this point. The concern is, even if he pans out, his lack of defense and rebounding might keep his team from actually winning.

28. Chicago Bulls - Justin Harper

Chicago's bigs primarily play in the post, so a stretch four like Harper would increase the Bulls' versatility. All the starting-caliber shooting guards--even when the bar is as low as Keith Bogans--are already gone.

29. San Antonio Spurs - Jeremy Tyler

When you have a big man as fundamentally sound as Tim Duncan and can pick a raw, but talented and ideally sized, player to learn from him this late in the draft, you do it. As Duncan ages, the window to have him teach his replacement shrinks. Plus, if Tyler proves a quick learner, the the Spurs, who have an outside chance of contending next year, could you use a big, inside player.

30. Chicago Bulls - Josh Selby

The Bulls can shoot for upside here. Selby could help them at either guard position. Plus, he'd likely benefit from playing somewhere he's not expected to be the star--the opposite of situation at Kansas.

Dan Feldman is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Dan by clicking here or click here to see Dan's other articles.

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