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Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Updated: May 19, 10:45 AM ET
Who would you pick in the NBA draft?

ESPN.com

Jimmer Fredette
Will Jimmer Fredette's prolific scoring game transfer to the NBA? Our experts weigh in.

For a dozen NBA teams, Tuesday might be the most exciting night of the year -- and we're not talking about the Western Conference finalists, Dallas and Oklahoma City.

Rather, it's the teams holding lottery picks: Minnesota, Cleveland (two picks), Toronto, Sacramento, Washington, Utah (two picks), Detroit, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Golden State, Phoenix and Houston.

While the NBA draft lottery (Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) doesn't have a clear-cut No. 1 prospect awaiting the winner, it will help decide the future for a number of franchises and players.

To get an early look at how the lottery might play out, click here to see our Lottery Mock Draft app, as programmed by draft expert Chad Ford.

And check back immediately after the lottery to see Ford's latest mock draft, based on the lottery results.

Meanwhile, here are five key questions on the draft:


1. Who should be the top three picks in the draft?

NAME
Irving

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter and Kawhi Leonard should be the top three picks. I know everybody else will say Derrick Williams has to be in over Leonard, but while Kawhi's ceiling is much lower, I think he's much more of a sure thing in terms of contributing value to a team. He'll be a great role player from a weak draft.

Mark Haubner, The Painted Area: (1) Irving. Crafty point guard is the most bankable player in the class. (2) Kanter. Slightly outplayed Jared Sullinger (a similar prospect) at the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit. (3) Williams. Although I'm seriously tempted by the superior upside of Bismack Biyombo.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered: (1) Irving. The reward for landing an elite PG is simply too much to pass up. (2) Williams. His athleticism and work ethic should help make him an immediate contributor. (3) Kanter. Mix of size and post game will be tough for any team to pass on.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Outside of Washington, the lottery winner should choose Irving. He's the closest thing to a legit star that this weak draft has to offer. Most teams would then use the second pick on Williams after his impressive display in March. Brandon Knight could go third, but there's a steep drop-off in talent after the top two.

Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook: In my opinion, no matter the lottery result, the top three picks shouldn't change (although the order might). Right now, it is a toss-up between Irving and Williams as to who the best player in the draft is. Meanwhile, rounding out the top three is Brandon Knight, who has his flaws but also has tremendous potential.


2. Who is the biggest sleeper in the draft?

NAME
Morris

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Darius Morris from Michigan could end up being a huge sleeper toward the last third of the first round. He's one of those players who doesn't do anything great but can do just about anything on the court. Could be an excellent combo guard for a lot of teams in need of backcourt depth.

Mark Haubner, The Painted Area: To American fans, it has to be collectively the five international players who all could go in the top 10. Kanter is highly skilled but with questionable athleticism. Biyombo could be a defensive force but is still raw. Jonas Valanciunas produced eye-popping Euroleague numbers. Jan Vesely has NBA athleticism, but his production is inconsistent. Donatas Motiejunas is a skilled 7-footer with toughness concerns.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered: Reggie Jackson from Boston College. A big, athletic point guard who shot 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3? Why isn't he a top-five prospect? I'm convinced that had he played at a more well-known basketball school than BC he'd be considered a lock for the lottery.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: I'm a big fan of Kenneth Faried's game. Rebounding is the one skill that translates best from college to the NBA, and there's no better rebounder at the college level than Faried. He'll never be a star and he doesn't have much polish on the offensive end, but he'll be the "hustle guy" on a great team some day.

Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook: Tristan Thompson. Thompson already has a solid body, possessing a 7-foot-2 wingspan and a 235-pound frame, and while he isn't an elite athlete, he has enough bounce and energy to make plays around the rim. He also does well to get to the open spot working off the basketball. If he develops a post game, he can be scary.


3. Which player(s) do you wish had stayed in school another year?

NAME
Knight

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: I'd like to see Knight at Kentucky for another year. I know that doesn't mesh well with the revolving door for freshmen in the starting lineup there, but I didn't see him develop much as a point guard in his time there. It would be nice to see him running a team for another season.

Mark Haubner, The Painted Area: Tough to answer because these are personal decisions for players, and it's hard to question anyone entering this exceedingly weak draft. That said, I think Knight -- with his 34 percent field goal shooting in March and 4-3 assist-turnover ratio overall -- has a long way to go to become a quality NBA point guard.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered: Two fringe first-round guys who could fall into the second, Nikola Vucevic, a junior out of USC, and Morris. As it stands, both could turn out to be steals in the late 20s or early second round. One more year in school, and both would be first-round locks.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: It was a sound financial decision, as he'll likely go in the top five, but Knight should have waited another year. Knight's inconsistency at Kentucky was well-documented, and without some extra seasoning, Knight will struggle with decision-making and turnovers early in his career.

Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook: After a pretty solid freshman season, Jordan Williams didn't really step up his game to the next level. Despite that, he decided to enter the draft, where he is projected to be a second-round pick. With this season offering plenty of intriguing foreign bigs, it would have made sense for Williams to stay an extra year and improve his game.


4. What's your take on Jimmer Fredette as an NBA prospect?

NAME
Fredette

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Fredette is a legitimate NBA player. He's not a star. He's not a franchise changer. He's not going to justify the college hype. But he'll score at the NBA level and be a deadly weapon off someone's bench. I don't know that he can run a team, but he definitely can change a second unit into a power.

Mark Haubner, The Painted Area: Expectations are key here. Jimmer is not going to be an NBA star, but with his unlimited shooting range, upper-body strength and creativity with the ball, he can become a potent bench scorer in the right situation. Defense remains a significant concern, though.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered: He's not following Stephen Curry on the small-college-star-to-future-All-Star path, but if Fredette becomes more comfortable as a primary ball handler and improves his shot selection, I think he has a future as a very good offensive contributor as a combo guard off the bench. His range will certainly translate to the NBA.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Once Jimmer realizes there's no 4-point shot and doesn't settle for 32-footers off the dribble, he'll probably carve out a niche as a player who can carry the load for the second unit on a fringe playoff team. That's not much, but it's an upgrade over "doesn't make the 12-man roster."

Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook: In the right situation, Fredette can step in and have a solid rookie season. Fredette is a tremendous shooter, and he uses that shooting ability to help get in the lane and work the midrange (although he struggles to finish at the rim). To be a starter-level player, he is going to need to improve his defense and passing.


5. For the NBA as a whole, what's the best possible lottery outcome?

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Not only to get the city of Sacramento another win, but I'd love to see the Kings end up with the first pick in the draft. The idea of drafting Irving, re-signing Marcus Thornton to play the 2 and having Tyreke Evans shift over to the 3 could be an extremely fun lineup to watch as this city fights for its team.

Mark Haubner, The Painted Area: Since this season has proved that collections of stars and player-movement intrigue translate to huge interest, let's say Washington. The Wizards having a budding star in John Wall, and since they don't need a point guard, the No. 1 pick might be up for sale if they're able to conquer beautiful Secaucus, N.J., for the second straight year.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered: A competitive team beats the odds. The Bucks, Rockets, Suns, Jazz, Pistons and Warriors are not far off from playoff contention. If any one of those teams adds an impact player at the top of the draft, an already exciting league will have another young, up-and-coming team in the mix.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: It's a long shot, but I think the most interesting scenario is if Phoenix (0.6 percent) struck gold. With Steve Nash rumors already persistent, do the Suns trade him to make room for Irving? Would they take Irving and bring him off the bench for a while? Do they take Williams instead, or perhaps trade the pick? With them, anything is possible.

Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook: If the Phoenix Suns somehow get themselves a top-three pick, allowing them to take Williams. Not only did Williams go to Arizona, but he fits the Suns' game and style well, and could be a good way to keep Nash around and help make another run at the playoffs next season. Anytime Nash's teams are relevant, that is a good thing.