Conrad mentioned tonight that he wants more Fanposts and I've been thinking about this idea for a while now. I figure it’s time to put it down in writing now that I have a few hours to spare. This isn't going to be a Fanpost about hypothetical trades or draft picks. It also has nothing to do with the 2013 draft. Looking back to the 2011 draft, who SHOULD have went number 2? We will not take into consideration which team was picking in the number 2 spot.
Before the 2011 draft, it was said that it was a VERY weak draft. Looking back, not even 2 years later, was that really the case? The possible candidates include: Derrick Williams (2nd overall), Enes Kanter (3rd overall), Tristan Thompson (4th overall), Kemba Walker (9th overall), Klay Thompson (11th overall), Kawhi Leonard (15th overall), and Kenneth Faried (22nd overall).
(KEY: MPG-Minutes per game; PPG-Points per game; RPG-Rebounds per game; APG-Assists per game; BPG-Blocks per game; SPG-Steals per game; PER-Player Efficiency Rating)
The case for Derrick Williams.
Derrick Williams was the actual number 2 pick in the draft. He plays both PF and SF and left the University of Arizona after his sophomore season. In his rookie season, he averaged 21.5 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, .6 APG, .5 BPG, .5 SPG with a 12.98 PER. In his second season, his rebounds, assists, and minutes have all went down. His points, steals, blocks, and PER have all increased or stayed the same. He is currently averaging 19.9 MPG, 9.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, .4 APG, .5 BPG, .5 SPG with a 14.82 PER. The general opinion is that he has underwhelmed as an NBA player and may never be the star he was envisioned to be. A change in scenery could do him well. He has been stuck behind Kevin Love his whole career but has not thrived in his brief chances while Love has been injured. Williams has shown flashes of his potential though including a 23 point 7 rebound game in November. Should he have gone number 2 overall?
The case for Enes Kanter.
Enes Kanter was the number 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He plays Center and is originally from Turkey. He was going to play basketball at the University of Kentucky (aka the 31st NBA team) before being ruled ineligible for the season. In his rookie season, he averaged 13.2 MPG, 4.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, .1 APG, .3 BPG, .3 SPG with a 14.52 PER. In his second season, his minutes, points, assists, steals, blocks, and PER have all improved. The only category to decline is his rebounds by .1 per game. This year, Kanter has averaged 14.7 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, .4 APG, .5 BPG, .4 SPG with a 16.04 PER. Kanter has been blocked his entire career by a very deep Jazz frontcourt. He has Al Jefferson ahead of him on the depth chart at Center. Fellow high draft pick, Derrick Favors (2010 Draft #3 pick), has also been blocked by an established veteran at PF, Paul Millsap. Kanter and Favors are supposed to be the frontcourt of the future for the Jazz. Kanter has shown flashes of his potential including an 18 point 8 rebound game in December. Kanter has been consistent and has not had the word "bust" associated with his name the way Derrick Williams has. Should Kanter have gone one pick higher in the 2011 draft?
The case for Tristan Thompson.
Tristan Thompson was the number 4 overall pick. He plays PF and went to the University of Texas but left after his sophomore season to enter the NBA. In his rookie season, he averaged 23.7 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, .5 APG, 1.0 BPG, .5 SPG with a 13.37 PER. Tristan has shown great improvement in his second season. He increased his minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals, and PER. The only statistic which decreased was his blocks per game. This year, Tristan has averaged 31.7 MPG, 10.6 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, .7 BPG, .8 SPG with a 15.11 PER. The improvement this season has been incredible for Thompson, especially in his last 20 games. He has shown great improvement in his FG% and FT%. He was a player coming out who was regarded as a project. Many fans were frustrated when Tristan did not develop as fast as they would like. Now the improvement is showing and many Tristan-haters are silent. There was talk that Tristan was the not the right pick for the Cavs at four. Is that still the case? Should Tristan Thompson have even been on the board when the Cavaliers picked or should he have went two spots earlier?
The case for Kemba Walker.
Kemba Walker was the number 9 overall pick for the Bobcats. He was a Junior out of the University of Connecticut. In his rookie season, Kemba averaged 27.2 MPG, 12.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.4 APG, .3 BPG, .9 SPG with a 14.98 PER. These were very solid numbers for a rookie point guard. In his second season he improved in all major categories except rebounds. So far this year, he has averaged 34.8 MPG, 17.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.7 APG, .4 BPG, 1.9 SPG with a 19.22 PER. Kemba Walker has been a very good young player for a Bobcats franchise in need of some hope. Many fans at Rufus on Fire compare Walker to Kyrie Irving. Though the comparisons are not close, they are not as far as one might have originally thought. A PER of almost 20 for a second year player is impressive. Did the Bobcats get a major steal in the 2011 draft in a player who should have been off the board at number 2?
The case for Klay Thompson.
Klay Thompson was the number 11 overall pick to the Golden State Warriors. He left Washington State University as a Junior and plays SG. As a rookie, Klay averaged 24.4 MPG, 12.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, .3 BPG, .7 SPG with a 14.97 PER. In his second season, Klay increased in all major categories except PER. To date, he is averaging 35.1 MPG, 16.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.6 APG, .5 BPG, .9 SPG with a 12.96 PER. Klay Thompson has been a very good player thus far in his NBA career. He has improved a lot since his rookie year but has dropped in his PER number. I don't claim to be an expert on PER so I can't account for the 2 point drop in PER while all other stats have increased. He has been a major part of Golden State's success this season. He has great size and should continue to improve as a player. I know many fans feel that, in hindsight, Thompson should have gone higher than he did. Should he have? Should he have gone number 2 behind Kyrie Irving?
The case for Kawhi Leonard.
Kawhi Leonard attended San Diego State University and left for the NBA draft after his sophomore season. He was selected number 15 overall by the San Antonio Spurs and plays the SF position. His rookie year, Leonard averaged 24.0 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, .4 BPG, 1.3 SPG with a 16.66 PER. Kawhi was a large part of San Antonio's success last season. This year he has improved or stayed the same in minutes, points, assists, blocks and steals. He has a slightly worse rebound per game statistic and a much lower PER. This year, Kawhi has averaged 28.5 MPG, 9.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.2 APG, .4 BPG, 1.8 SPG with a 14.35 PER. Kawhi has not improved as much this year as other first round picks from the 2011 draft. This does not mean that he still isn't a top 5-10 player from this draft. Leonard has carved out a nice role in the Spurs rotation. He is one of the young players the Spurs will be able to build around when the time finally comes for Duncan and Parker to hang up their shoes and begin the 5 year wait to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Many fans felt during this offseason that the Cavs would have been better off taking Leonard at number 4 than Tristan because Leonard fit a larger need. Should the Cavs have snatched up Leonard at four? Should Leonard have even been on the board at the time or should he have been drafted at number 2?
And finally...the case for Kenneth Faried.
Kenneth Faried attended Morehead State for four seasons. He was drafted number 22 by the Nuggets where he plays SF and PF. During his rookie season, Faried averaged 22.5 MPG, 10.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, .8 APG, 1.0 BPG, .7 SPG with an astounding 21.94 PER. Faried was one of the biggest surprises of the 2011 draft. His second season, he has improved in every category outside of blocks and PER. This season, he has averaged 29.5 MPG, 12.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, .9 APG, .9 BPG, 1.1 SPG with an 18.77 PER. Faried has been a very good player so far in his NBA career. Many fans currently believe he is the second best player to come out of the 2011 draft. There is no denying the excellent statistics Kenneth has put up on a contending team. Minutes are hard to come by on the Nuggets and Faried has been able to carve out a large role in the rotation. It can be agreed that Faried should never have been on the board at 22 for the Nuggets, but should he have even been on the board at number 3 when the Jazz picked?
The 2011 NBA draft was widely regarded as the weakest in years before hand. Many "experts" said that there was no clear cut superstar and it was a horrible year to have the number 1 overall pick. At the time, these analysts had no idea what Kyrie Irving, a player who only played 11 games at Duke, would become. We are still wondering how good Kyrie Irving could become. Many believe the title "Best Point Guard in the NBA" should be his within the next few years. This draft class goes to show that the experts do not always get it right. Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter, Tristan Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Alec Burks, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Iman Shumpert, Kenneth Faried, Reggie Jackson, Marshon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, and Isaiah Thomas have all carved out solid roles (or better) with their respective teams. Not to mention Jon Leuer who proved incredibly valuable to the Cavaliers a few days ago.
So who would have been the best number 2 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft? Who would you have picked? And who would that have left the Cavs at number 4?