Make your pick: NBA draft's first five

Originally Published: June 17, 2011
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network

Enes Kanter/Brandon Knight/Jonas ValanciunasAP Photo/Getty ImagesIf Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight and Jonas Valanciunas are available at No. 3, who should Utah choose?

The 2011 NBA draft is just days away, but a lot is still up in the air.

Should the Cavs start anew with Kyrie Irving at the point? Is Derrick Williams a lock at No. 2? What about the Jazz?

Check out who our five-man team selected with their first five picks:


1. Who should the Cavaliers take with the No. 1 pick?

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Jay Aych, The Painted Area: Kyrie Irving. He's the best player in the draft and fills a need in Cleveland, considering Baron Davis' advanced age. The Cavs also need help on the front line, but they can address that with the fourth pick in the draft.

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Hayes Davenport, CelticsHub.com: Irving. He finishes at the rim at a comparable rate to Derrick Rose, and while he can't get there as easily, he's got superior point guard skills. Great fit for a Cleveland team whose players need a lot of help generating offense. Little mustache, big talent.

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Patrick Hayes, Piston Powered: Derrick Williams might end up being a really good player, but finding a really good point guard is a lot more valuable than finding a really good small forward. Or power forward. Or whatever Williams is. The No. 1 spot has been Irving's to lose since the draft lottery, and nothing has happened since then to change that.

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John Krolik, Cavs: The Blog: Kyrie Irving. Two players in this draft have really exciting athletic tools and produced extremely well in college. Only one of them has a definite NBA position, and that player is Irving. Williams may be a bit more exciting, but Irving seems ultra-safe; it's hard to envision a scenario in which Irving doesn't become an above-average NBA point guard. In my eyes, that makes him a fairly easy pick.

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Michael McNamara, Hornets 247: Kyrie Irving. The logic for going with Williams here is that Cleveland can probably get Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight at No. 4. But Irving is the surer thing, and Cleveland can't afford to miss on this pick. Take Irving.


2. Who should the Timberwolves take with the No. 2 pick?

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Jay Aych, The Painted Area: Derrick Williams is the second-best player in the draft, but a poor fit in Minnesota. Williams is much better-suited to play power forward than small forward, so even if they dump Michael Beasley, he makes little sense. If the Wolves think they might lose Kevin Love in free agency, then take Williams. Otherwise, they should be shopping this pick.

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Hayes Davenport, CelticsHub.com: There are deals available for this pick that the Wolves should take, but no matter where it ends up, the guy is Williams. If Minnesota does keep him, he'd slot in nicely at small forward next to Beasley, giving the TimberDubs yet another big who can shoot 3-pointers. That's great, because none of their guards can.

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Patrick Hayes, Piston Powered.com: It's unclear whether the Wolves really want the second pick, but if they stay here, Williams is the best prospect. If Ricky Rubio is indeed going to be Minnesota's starting point guard next season, adding a weapon with Williams' skill set on the wing will undoubtedly help ease Rubio's transition.

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John Krolik, Cavs: The Blog: Williams. He doesn't fit a need for the Timberwolves, but he's clearly one of the top two players in the draft, and it would be foolish for Minnesota to pass on him, whether they end up trading him or not. Williams is a 3 defensively and a 4 offensively in my eyes, but his combination of athleticism and scoring ability make him a very, very good prospect anyway.

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Michael McNamara, Hornets 247: Minnesota is packed with young talent, but it is not clear if its pieces fit. Ideally, Minnesota would trade this pick for a young vet (Granger, Gay, etc.), but if the Wolves have to pick somebody they should go with Williams and start gauging the market for Beasley.


3. Who should the Jazz take with the No. 3 pick?

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Jay Aych, The Painted Area: Utah should go for Jan Vesely, a great athlete, solid defender and good ball handler for his size. Erratic shooter, but his form is correctable. He's a good fit with the Jazz, particularly if they continue to run flex sets offensively, as Vesely is a great finisher off cuts and a reliable post-up threat off of cross-screen action.

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Hayes Davenport, CelticsHub.com: Enes Kanter. They want a point guard, but Brandon Knight's future as a distributor is iffy at best; Kanter's a much safer pick in a draft in which safety is an exotic resource. He's huge with a shooting touch, and his rebounding and free throw rate translate well. Plus, John Calipari, Knight's own college coach, prefers Kanter. He's trustworthy, right? No?

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Patrick Hayes, Piston Powered.com: The Jazz have talented players under contract in the frontcourt in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, but unfortunately, both are undersized. Jonas Valanciunas makes them significantly bigger and, hopefully down the road. His hands and ability to catch and finish in the paint would be a nice complement next to Millsap or Jefferson.

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John Krolik, Cavs: The Blog: Kanter has serious skills, and a Derrick Favors/Kanter frontcourt could be an exciting foundation to build around. This recommendation comes with the hopes that the Jazz can find some way to get rid of Al Jefferson, who destroys every defense he touches, and that local favorite Jimmer Fredette will be available for the Jazz at the No. 12 spot.

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Michael McNamara, Hornets 247: Most people will say Knight or Walker here, but I am not a fan of going strictly for need with a top-three pick. I know that Utah already has a nice trio of big men, but it never hurts to add another one. I'd take Enes Kanter and grab a point guard with pick No. 12 or on the free-agent market (Mario Chalmers?).


4. Who should the Cavaliers take with the No. 4 pick?

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Jay Aych, The Painted Area: Close call for Cleveland between Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas. I'd take Kanter since he is the better scoring threat to help improve the woeful Cavs offense. Kanter is more polished than Valanciunas and more adept at creating shots for himself in the post.

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Hayes Davenport, CelticsHub.com: Valanciunas. If Kanter's available, he goes here. But he's not, and Cleveland might actually be better off. Valanciunas is a unique combination of height, finesse and energy, and he's undercooked enough for the Cavs to mold him into a player that fits their needs. He's skinny, but I saw the "Captain America" trailer: We have the technology.

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Patrick Hayes, Piston Powered.com: Enes Kanter doubters wonder if he's athletic enough to be a major impact player up front. In Cleveland, with active, athletic bigs J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao already on the roster, Kanter's limited athleticism would be less of a factor, and his potential back-to-the-basket game a major addition to the Cavs' frontcourt.

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John Krolik, Cavs: The Blog: Valanciunas. I love Jonas' game. He has true center size, loves playing defense and hitting the glass, rolls to the basket and looks to finish, and knocks down free throws as well as any center at any level of basketball. I think this is a no-brainer pick for the Cavs if he's available.

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Michael McNamara, Hornets 247: Like Minnesota, I think Cleveland would love to move this pick for a young vet. But if the Cavs stay here I think it's a three-man race between Jan Vesely, Jonas Valanciunas and Kawhi Leonard. I would take Vesely, the most NBA-ready of the three, and plug him in as a starter from Day 1.


5. Who should the Raptors take with the No. 5 pick?

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Jay Aych, The Painted Area: Toronto needs to bolster its front line, so I'll take Valanciunas here. Great rebounder and finisher. Not sure he's a perfect fit for the defensively challenged Raptors, due to suspect post defense. Valanciunas does alter some shots with his length, but needs to add weight. A case for Brandon Knight could be made since Toronto needs help at the PG spot.

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Hayes Davenport, CelticsHub.com: Kemba Walker. The Raptors have plenty of amorphous superathletes like Brandon Knight; they're better off with Walker running the break, because he's just as likely to get the ball to a teammate as to finish himself. He's not a great defender, but nobody in this draft is going to stop the Raptors from three-peating as the league's worst defensive team.

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Patrick Hayes, Piston Powered.com: The Raptors could use a lead guard to pair with DeMar DeRozan in the backcourt, and the options are Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight. Knight's shooting ability and youth should make him the pick, and perhaps Jose Calderon's presence on the roster can help him learn the finer points of taking care of and distributing the ball.

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John Krolik, Cavs: The Blog: Bismack Biyombo. This would be considered a huge reach, but hear me out for a little bit. By all accounts, Biyombo is a special, special defensive talent, and could be one of the best defensive players in the NBA almost right out of the gate. The Raptors finished dead last in defensive efficiency last season, and Biyombo is a player whom a defense could be built around.

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Michael McNamara, Hornets 247: In this scenario, Toronto has its choice of point guards and I think the pick here should be Knight. Toronto has enough quality young scorers on its roster; what the Raptors need is an athletic PG who can feed those guys in transition. Knight fits the bill.