It usually takes four to six seasons to finally understand everything a player can do. Can he score? Rebound? Can he absorb pressure? Is he a contact player, tough at the rim? Can he take physical punishment and still score? How is he built mentally? Does he shy away from moments of consequence or attack like a soldier? These are questions that make the NBA draft one of those puzzles you don’t really solve until years pass and players let you know who they are.
In the 2011 draft, Kyrie Irving was the number one pick and nothing in his career so far refutes that. He can drive to the rim and finish. He’s a quality perimeter scorer and a mid-range shooter. He can change directions at the rim and is explosive enough and athletic enough to bypass rim protectors. He is a face of a franchise…well sort of, until LeBron James came back to Cleveland. Kevin Durant, (was he drinking something?), said Kyrie is better than Allen Iverson. But, still, Kyrie is a true number one pick, a player who is arranging the building blocks for a Hall of Fame career punctuated with game winners.
But after the first pick and Kyrie Irving, the draft gets particularly dicey. The last pick in the draft was Jimmy Butler. He was the 30th pick. 30th. Kawhi Leonard, 2014 Finals MVP, was traded on draft night by the Indiana Pacers. Imagine Leonard and Paul George in the same starting lineup.
Other curiosities: Klay Thompson, the best pure scorer of the 2011 draft lottery class was taken 11th. He played college at Washington State and was a scorer there too. So what happened? Team scouts couldn’t stay up late and watch his games on the west coast? Tobias Harris was out of the lottery and he should have been in it. Same with Kenneth Faried who could jump out the gym and has the third most rebounds of anyone in this draft class. The second best rebounder in this draft class, Nikola Vucevic, was thought to be blah.
So if we were doing the 2011 draft lottery again, given what we know now, this is how it would look. (Actual draft selections in parentheses).
1. Kyrie Irving (Kyrie Irving): 381 games. 21.6 points. 5.5 assists. Four time All-Star. NBA Champion
2. Kawhi Leonard (Derrick Williams): 398 games. 16.4 points. 6.2 rebounds. Two Time All-Star. NBA Champion. NBA Finals MVP. Two Time Defensive Player of the Year.
3. Klay Thompson (Enes Kanter): 464 games. 19.1 points. 3.3 rebounds. Three Time All-Star. Two-time NBA Champion.
4. Jimmy Butler (Tristan Thompson): 399 games. 15.6 points. 4.8 rebounds. Two Time All-Star.
5. Kemba Walker (Jonas Valanciunas): 443 games. 18.4 points, 5.4 assists. All-Star.
6. Jonas Valanciunas (Jan Vesely): 363 games. 11.5 points. 8.5 rebounds.
7. Tristan Thompson (Bismack Biyombo): 466 games. 9.4 points, 8.6 rebounds. NBA Champion.
8. Enes Kanter (Brandon Knight): 445 games. 11.3 points, 6.7 rebounds.
9. Nikola Vucevic (Kemba Walker): 399 games. 14.6 points, 9.9 rebounds.
10. Kenneth Faried (Jimmer Fredette): 409 games. 11.9 points. 8.5 rebounds.
11. Tobias Harris (Klay Thompson): 384 games. 13.8 points, 5.6 rebounds.
12. Reggie Jackson (Alec Burks): 403 games. 12.2 points, 4.3 assists.
13. Chandler Parsons (Markieff Morris): 374 games. 13.6 points, 4.8.rebounds.
14. Markieff Morris (Marcus Morris): 448 games. 11.9 points, 5.6 rebounds
Most Minutes Played:
1. Klay Thompson
2. Kemba Walker
3. Tristan Thompson
4. Kyrie Irving
5. Jimmy Butler
Best 3- Point Shooters (%)
1. Klay Thompson, 41.9%
2. Kawhi Leonard, 38.8%
3. Kyrie Irving, 38.3%
4. Chandler Parsons, 37.3%
5. Alec Burks, 36.0%
1. Tristan Thompson (4,027)
2. Nikola Vucevic (3,954)
3. Kenneth Faried (3,480)
4. Jonas Valanciunas (3,085)
5. Enes Kanter (2,997)
Most Points Scored
1. Klay Thompson, (8,854)
2. Kyrie Irving, (8,232)
3. Kawhi Leonard (6,508)
4. Jimmy Butler (6,208)
5. Brandon Knight (5,820)
1. Kemba Walker, (2,381)
2. Kyrie Irving, (2,114)
3. Reggie Jackson, (1,748)
4. Brandon Knight, (1,629)
5. Jimmy Butler (1,254)
photo via llananba