Jazz score big, Timberwolves make puzzling moves, Faried a great fit
The Jazz bolstered its frontcourt with Enes Kanter and also drafted a shooter
The Wizards made three solid picks in Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, Shelvin Mack
The Bobcats reached for Bismack Biyombo, who has a very limited offensive game
NEWARK, N.J. -- Four foreign-born lottery picks for the first time, the fourth straight year a John Calipari-coached point guard (Brandon Knight) lands in the top eight and a ninth straight year the son of a former NBA player (Klay Thompson) has had his name called. Let's break down the 2011 NBA Draft.
1. Jazz. A lot of chatter that the Jazz might go small with Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker with the No. 3 pick, speculation that increased after news of the three-team deal between the Kings, Bucks and Bobcats earmarked Jimmer Fredette for Sacramento at No. 10. Utah refused to reach and instead landed a legitimate low post center in Enes Kanter who, along with Derrick Favors, will form the core of a powerful, athletic frontcourt. And with Jimmer off the board, the Jazz still got a scorer in Alec Burks, a 19-year-old who will get better once his range increases.
2. Mavericks. The Mavs have a handful of key free agents (Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler) to sign, and limited cap space to do it. Enter Rudy Fernandez, who battled through an up-and-down three years in Portland but is far more of a sure thing than any late-round pick would be. Fernandez, 26, brings scoring and athleticism to the Mavs bench, which should keep Dallas in the hunt for another title in 2012.
3a. Bulls. First, Jimmy Butler. The ex-Marquette forward is polished and across-the-board good in a lot of categories. At worst, he's a terrific practice player. Nikola Mirotic, however, is the gem. A lot of international scouts are high on Mirotic, a rangy scorer with unlimited range and a surly style that enables him to play through contact. He doesn't need to contribute next season, and he probably won't; Mirotic has a buyout clause with Real Madrid worth more than $2 million. In a few years, however, look for Mirotic to come Stateside and compete for a starting spot. Said a rival executive, "He's a stud."
3b. Wizards. The Wizards were locked in on Jan Vesely, an NBA-ready Euro who relishes contact and can finish at the rim. And they landed a badly needed defensive stopper at No. 18 in two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year Chris Singleton. Toss in Butler's Shelvin Mack, whose stock soared after a strong NCAA tournament, and the Wiz can pat themselves on the back after this one.
1. Bobcats. Bismack Biyombo, at No. 7, was a stretch. Lots of potential (have you not heard the Ben Wallace comparisons?) but an offensive game that makes Alexis Ajinca look like Hakeem Olajuwon. If he doesn't become a great -- and I mean great defender -- he's going to struggle to stay in the NBA. Kemba Walker is a skilled playmaker, but 'Cats coach Paul Silas and his staff spent most of last season (successfully) rehabilitating D.J. Augustin. Can the two coexist? They made a great value pick at No. 39 with former high school phenom Jeremy Tyler ... and promptly traded him to Golden State.
2. Kings. I like the Fredette pick -- but did the Kings really need to take John Salmons and the remaining three years and $24 million on his deal to move down to get him? Sacramento has the cap space to easily absorb Salmons contract, but is a ball-stopping guard needed on this roster? If Salmons can buy into a backup role, fine. Because this is Fredette and Tyreke Evans' backcourt to rule.
3. Timberwolves. After fielding countless calls for the No. 2 pick, the Timberwolves settled on Derrick Williams, an athletic forward who should mesh well with Ricky Rubio. The Wolves' next pick was Donatas Motiejunas. And they traded him. Then they picked Mirotic. And traded him, too. Finally, they acquired Bojan Bogdanovic. And sold him to New Jersey. Minnesota has a smart and experienced scouting department, which makes it perplexing why they would ship out three high-level international talents.
Kenneth Faried, Nuggets. With the possibility of losing both Kenyon Martin and Nene to free agency, the Nuggets needed a banger. Enter Faried, a 6-foot-7 do-the-dirty-work type player who will rebound and defend voraciously. He doesn't have much of an offensive game but on a team that wants to get out and run, he may not need one.
Reggie Jackson, Thunder. There were a lot of rumors that Jackson, who canceled nearly all of his workouts before the draft, had a first-round promise and that the Thunder was the team that gave it to him. Still, with more accomplished players like Marshon Brooks and Jordan Hamilton on the board, the Thunder grabbing Jackson qualifies as a mild stunner.
Alec Burks, Jazz. Yes, I just ranked Utah as a winner. But the Jazz -- and an energized fan base -- wanted Fredette pretty bad. Burks could turn out to be a very good guard, but he will likely never have the same impact on the community -- or at the ticket office -- that Jimmer would have.
Baron Davis, Cavaliers. Davis played reasonably well (13.9 points, 6.1 assists) in his short time as a Cavalier but with Kyrie Irving on board, his days are numbered. Byron Scott will likely try some two-guard lineups, but this is Irving's team now. If Cleveland can find a take for the last two years and (gulp) $27 million on Davis' deal, he's gone.
Paul Millsap/Al Jefferson, Jazz. The arrival of Kanter and the team's commitment to Derrick Favors means someone will have to go to ease the logjam up front. Both Millsap and Jefferson are under contract through 2012-13 and have been productive players. Utah could shore up a weak backcourt by trading one of its stud bigs.
For more than three and a half hours, French forward Sarra Camara sat in the third row waiting for his name to be called. It wasn't.
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