2011 NBA Draft results

After weeks and weeks of speculation and predictions about the direction of the 2011 NBA Draft, the night was kicked off with a three-team trade involving the Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings and, from there, the activity was non-stop.
Without the star power and fanfare of the past few drafts, this year’s draft still packed some punch late in the first round and into the second. Despite a lack of clear-cut winners like the Wizards (John Wall), Clippers (Blake Griffin) and Bulls (Derrick Rose) over the past three drafts, respectively, some fared better than others on Thursday night. Here is a look at the winners in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Cleveland Cavaliers. Clearly the biggest losers in free agency last summer, when hometown hero (turned Judas) LeBron James bolted for greener pastures on South Beach, the Cavalier rebounded in a big way on draft night.
The selection of Kyrie Irving, arguably the best player in the country prior to a toe injury that relegated him to just three games beyond December 1, was a safe, but solid, use of the first overall pick. Irving stepped into a Duke program that returned seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler – both of whom were picked after Irving on Thursday night – and quickly became the leader of, and best player on, what looked like the best team in college basketball last season.
With the fourth pick, Cleveland took 20-year old Tristan Thompson from the University of Texas. The 6-8 power forward is has a ton of potential, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. A terrific shot-block and offensive rebounder, Thompson struggled with inconsistency in his only season in Austin, but is an athletic big who should complement Irving for years to come.
Irving was widely considered the best player in this draft and Thompson, while still raw as a basketball player, gives consistent effort and energy. The duo of one-and-done players gives the Cleveland fan base something to be excited about moving forward and the Cavaliers front office a pair of young, talented players around whom they can build around.

2011 NBA Draft results
NBA Draft logo.

With the No. 7 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats selected Congolese forward-center Bismack Biyombo. The Bobcats acquired the pick from the Sacramento Kings in a draft day trade.
Biyombo was 2011′s prospect almost no one had heard of in 2010. Hailing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Biyombo zipped from the Yemeni pro leagues to Spain’s top division (the ACB) in just months, knocking down every hurdle in his way with what’s reported as uncanny maturity, leadership and – of course – outrageous athleticism and length. In April – Biyombo became the first player to ever register a triple-double at the Nike Hoop Summit, as the big man rejected 10 shots attempted by American high schoolers.
Questions about Biyombo’s age have circulated, but his agent had made results of a bone age study available, allaying most serious concerns that Biyombo was 22 or older instead of his listed 18. The most popular NBA comparison for Biyombo is Ben Wallace. Skeptics bring up Saer Sene, who has much taller than Biyombo.

With the 16th overall pick in last night’s draft, the 76ers took center Nikola Vucevic from USC. Our pals over at Liberty Ballers more or less hate the pick, but it hasn’t seemed to draw much criticism nationally. Of course, it would seem tough to criticize most picks in this draft given how subpar it really was. Vucevic might be just a ‘meh’ pick, but it was just a ‘meh’ draft. It doesn’t seem likely that this pick was ever going to set the franchise back or move them forward in a significant way. Of course, that doesn’t the team shouldn’t be trying its best. So what are people saying?
Here’s a roundup of what is being said around the net.
Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo’s The Dagger: “There aren’t many true centers in this draft, which is why 7-foot, 260-pound Nikola Vucevic’s stock has climbed steadily, culminating with him going 16th to the 76ers. Vucevic isn’t especially athletic, but he has a sturdy frame, good touch around the rim and the ability to knock down an open mid-range jump shot if his defender doesn’t respect his outside game. He fills a need for a Philadelphia team that started Spencer Hawes at center last year.”
ESPN’s Chad Ford: “The Sixers wanted size and got the biggest player in the draft. Vucevic is huge and skilled. I doubt he’ll become a star, but he’s going to be solid on both ends of the floor.”
Nick Prevenas of Fox Sports: “76ers need size, so why not take one of the biggest guys in the draft? Vucevic wasn’t a hot prospect heading into last season, but posted tremendous measurements at the combine (6-11.75 in shoes) and showed deft touch around the hoop during workouts. Vucevic is tremendously skilled. He can score
with either hand and shoot it out to 20 feet. He’s not very fast or athletic (much like current Sixers Spencer Hawes and Marreese Speights), but he can score and rebound.”
SBNation’s Tom Ziller: “Vucevic was considered a late first-round pick or worse before impressing at the NBA Draft Combine in early May. Vucevic measured as one of the biggest players in the draft and figures to have a quick impact on defense and the glass for a Sixers team without remarkable depth in the frontcourt. Philadelphia has Elton Brand on a long-term deal, but starting center Spencer Hawes is a restricted free agent.”

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