By Eli Cooper
I must say, part 2 of this series of NBA re-drafts was much more difficult than I anticipated. This class had a lot of swings and misses in the top 10, but this class actually produced a lot of high quality players. Including perennial all-stars, NBA champions, and even a 2 time finals MVP. Most of the best players in this class didn't go in the top 8. So this one will be quite the shake up. Let's see how the 2011 class should have gone.
Pick 1: Cleveland Cavaliers
-Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State (original pick: Kyrie Irving)
Again, the benefit of these re-drafts is hindsight, and the best player from this draft class has clearly been Kawhi Leonard. Honestly he's one of the top 7 players in the NBA as he has now won 2 NBA titles, and 2 finals MVP's. However, one could argue had he actually gone number 1 here, we don't know he would have developed into the player he is today. The Spurs were the perfect fit for him because they gave him time to develop offensively, which is a luxury he would not have had with Cleveland.
And who knows how drafting Kawhi may have impacted the return of LeBron James, and the eventual trade for Kevin Love. But assuming Kawhi would have still become the player he is today, it's safe to say this would have been a no brainer.
Pick 2: Minnesota Timberwolves
-Klay Thompson, Washington State (original pick: Derrick Williams)
Boy did Minnesota drop the ball in 3 straight drafts, which really could have changed the franchise forever. Let's recap shall we? 2009, they take two back to back PG's not named Steph Curry. 2010, they took Wesley Johnson over Boogie Cousins, Gordon Hayward, and Paul George. And this draft this missed badly taking Derrick Williams over Kawhi, Klay, Kemba, Jimmy Butler, and many other players who had much better careers. What a dynasty they could have created.
But anyway, not gonna lie, pick two was extremely difficult since Kyrie Irving is still on the board. Although if I'm building a team, I want Klay Thompson on it. He's arguably one of the top 4 shooters of all-time, and of those shooters he's by far the best defender. He also doesn't need the ball in his hands all game to score. An attribute that's super valuable in an era of ball dominant guards.
Klay fits into any starting 5 because of these attributes, and in today's NBA he is the ultimate 3 and D wing at worst. At best he's the second best player on a championship caliber team and 20 ppg scorer.
Pick 3: Utah Jazz
-Kyrie Irving, Duke (original pick: Enes Kanter)
Kyrie would've been a dream fit for Utah who had just lost Deron Williams the prior offseason. They get a young scoring PG who could replace that production, and would've formed a playoff caliber team with Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson. Kyrie probably never gets the chance to win the title he did in Cleveland, but this still would've been a nice fit for him.
Pick 4: Cleveland Cavaliers
-Kemba Walker, UConn (original pick: Tristan Thompson)
It's funny that in hindsight I'm making this pick because before this draft I was on record saying the Cavs should've taken Derrick Williams first overall, because they could have gotten Kemba with this pick. Now that we know Kawhi is actually who they should've taken #1, they still can get they're scoring point guard at #4.
Kemba Walker for his career only averages two less points than Kyrie and only trails him by 7.3 win shares, and he didn't get to play with LeBron. It did take Kemba longer to reach all star status, but at this point in his career he's about as good as Kyrie. And pairing him with Kawhi Leonard, gives Cleveland an excellent start to their rebuild, and maybe still allows for the return of LeBron James in 2014-2015.
Pick 5: Toronto Raptors
-Jimmy Butler, Marquette (original pick: Jonas Valanciunas)
So far, 4 all star players have come off the board, and 3 of them have championship rings. However Jimmy Butler, is the one who leads this draft class in win shares with 74.6. One of the best two way players in the league, Butler leap frogs 25 spots in this re-draft, and gets paired up with Demar DeRozan in Toronto.
Jimmy Butler, much like Kawhi started as a role player who was relied on mostly for defense with a Bulls team lead by Derrick Rose, but has devloped into a regular 20 ppg scorer who can still be relied on to guard every teams best player. That invaluable two way ability sees him move up to the 5th pick in our re-draft.
Pick 6: Washington Wizards
-Nikola Vucevic, USC (original pick: Jan Vessly)
With how much Jan Vessly was hyped up coming into this draft, I don't entirely blame the Wizards for missing so badly on this pick. They were comparing this guy to Blake Griffin, who at the time was a rising star. So we're gonna help the Wizards out here and make the correct pick for them.
Vucevic has developed and transformed his game to become a valuable stretch 5. He stil has the ability to play with his back to the basket, but now excels in pick and pop situations. His 3 point percentage has steadily increased throughout his career, and so have his attempts. Not an elite rim protector, or someone who can switch out on guards, but he's a very good rebounder. Per 36 minutes, Nikola is just about a 20-12 big man, so the Wizards get very good value with the 6th pick here.
Pick 7: Sacramento Kings
-Tobias Harris, Tennessee (original pick: Bismack Biyombo)
We've reached the segment where I get to discuss the Sixers (kinda). The current Sixer forward goes 7th here to the Kings, to pair with Boogie Cousins, and maybe helps Sacramento a tad in getting out of the gutter of the west a little sooner. Harris has jumped around a lot in his 8 year career, playing for 5 different teams already, but has seemed to find a home in Philadelphia.
One thing about Harris, the guy can score from all areas, mid range, at the rim, and from 3. And he does it with pretty solid effeciency. It took him a few years to figure it out but has really evolved into a fringe 18-20 ppg scorer since being traded to the Clippers in 2017 and philly in 2018. Harris is a solid 2nd or 3rd scoring option on good teams, but even showed the ability to be the go to guy with LAC before being traded to Philly. Of course, they had a multitude of other scorers, but Tobias was their main option. So the Kings get a complimentary scorer here at the 7th pick.
Pick 8: Detroit Pistons
-Isaiah Thomas, Washington (original pick: Brandon Knight)
The only player left from this draft with an All-star appearance, is Thomas who made it twice. He's also the only one left with a top 5 MVP finish after that incredible last season in Boston. Brandon Knight didn't work out for the Pistons, but I think "Mr. Irrelevant" from this draft would work out better.
Isaiah probably isn't a franchise changer here, but he is 8th in win shares from this class, so he certainly helps more than Brandon Knight did. He also at his peak, was the best player on a playoff team, and who knows what happens if he never has that hip injury that has derailed his career since. Even with his defensive issues, Thomas makes the most sense for the Pistons here.
Pick 9: Charlotte Hornets
-Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania (original pick: Kemba Walker)
Sorry Charlotte, you're one of the few teams who hindsight actually hurts in these re-drafts. Instead of getting an all star caliber lead guard, you're getting Jonas Valanciunas. However, its not as bad as it may seem. Jonas is 5th from this draft class in win shares, trailing Kemba by only 2.5.
Jonas has had a very solid career averaging about 12 points and 9 boards a game. His inability to defend on the perimeter, shoot from the perimeter, and most of all, play heavy minutes, have capped the fromer 5th overall pick from being more than a roll player. However he's still a very solid starting or backup center depending on your options, and was actually pretty great after being traded to Memphis last year. And per 36 minutes, he's averaging about 18 points and 13 boards. So he's certainly worthy of a #9 selection here.
Pick 10: Milwuakee Bucks
-Tristan Thompson, Texas (original pick: Jimmer Fredette)
The last impact player from a championship team in this draft, is who rounds out the top 10 here. Tristan Thomspon drops 6 spots from his original pick, but gives more value here to the Bucks at #10. He ranks 11th in win shares amongst this group so this is a safe spot.
Since there isn't anything left but role players on the board, you want a guy who really excels at a valuable aspect of the game. In Tristan's case, that is offensive rebounding. He's 9th among active players in total offensive rebounds, but 2nd in offensive rebound percentage at 13.6%. For his career, he ranks 8th in offensive rebound percenatge. Pretty remarkable for an undersized center, and is why Cleveland signed him to such a huge contract after winning the title in 2016.
He's not quite as good of a defensive rebounder, but he makes up for that with his ability to switch onto guards on the perimeter and hold his own. These attributes (and the fact that he avoided the Kardashian curse) give you a solid starting, or backup center on championship caliber teams
Pick 11: Golden State Warriors
-Marcus Morris, Kansas (original pick: Klay Thompson)
Pick 12: Utah Jazz
-Markieff Morris, Kansas (original pick: Alec Burks)
Pick 13: Phoenix Suns
-Bojan Bogdanovic, Bosnia (original pick: Markieff Morris)
Pick 14: Houston Rockets
-Enes Kanter, Turkey (original pick: Marcus Morris)
Pick 15: Indiana Pacers
-Davis Bertans, Latvia (original pick: Kawhi Leonard)
Pick 16: Philadelphia Sixers
-Nikola Mirotic, Montenegro (original pick: Nikola Vucevic)
Pick 17: New York Knicks
-Kenneth Faried, Morehead State University (original pick: Iman Shumpert)
Pick 18: Washington Wizards
- Reggie Jackson, Boston College (original pick: Chris Singleton)
Pick 19: Charlotte Hornets
-Chandler Parsons, Florida (original pick: Tobias Harris)
Pick 20: Minnesota Timberwolves
-Bismack Biyombo, Republic of Congo (original pick: Donatas Motiejunas)
Pick 21: Portland Trailblazers
-Cory Joseph, Texas (original pick: Nolan Smith)
Pick 22: Denver Nuggets
-Alec Burks, Colorado (original pick: Kenneth Faried)
Pick 23: Houston Rockets
-Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech (original pick: Nikola Mirtoic)
Pick 24: Oklahoma City Thunder
-E'Twaun Moore, Purdue (original pick: Reggie Jackson)
Pick 25: Boston Celtics
-Brandon Knight, Kentucky (original pick: Marshon Brooks)
Pick 26: Dallas Mavericks
-Derrick Williams, Arizona (original pick: Jordan Hamilton)
Pick 27: New Jersey (Brooklyn) Nets
-Jon Leuer, Wisconsin (original pick: JaJuan Johnson)
Pick 28: Chicago Bulls
-Shelvin Mack, Butler (original pick: Norris Cole)
Pick 29: San Antonio Spurs
-Norris Cole, Cleveland State University (original pick: Cory Joseph)
Pick 30: Chicago Bulls
-Kyle Singler, Duke (original pick: Jimmy Butler)