If the 2011 draft were held today, how would the top five look? David Thorpe listed his top 20 sophomores. Now our panel puts the second-year players back into the draft pool and divvies them up again.
1. With the first pick in the 2011 redraft, the Cavs select ...
Tom Haberstroh, ESPN.com: Kyrie Irving. Boring, I know. Irving validated the Cavs' intuition after only 11 games in a Duke uniform by putting up monster numbers in the clutch and overall his rookie season -- his 21.4 PER in 2011-12 was the highest mark by a teenager in NBA history up to that point.
Spencer Ryan Hall, Salt City Hoops: Kyrie Irving. It was the right pick at the time, which makes it even more impressive to see Irving exceed expectations. Uncle Drew is one of the best young players in the game, and it's to his credit that Cavs fans are even debating whether they're over LeBron. A great foundation to build a team around.
James Herbert, HoopSpeak: Kyrie Irving. Cleveland's surefire superstar had one of the best rookie seasons ever and seems a lock for multiple All-Star Games and Olympic teams. How much more correct could this pick be? And the answer is none. None more correct.
Colin McGowan, Cavs: The Blog: Kyrie Irving. There was some faint chatter about Derrick Williams going No. 1 overall, but the Cavs got this pick right. Irving burned through the league in his rookie season and already has established himself as one of the league's very best scorers.
Steve McPherson, A Wolf Among Wolves: Kyrie Irving. You don't mess with success. Irving was quick to erase doubts over his limited playing time at Duke and there seems to be little to stand in the way of him becoming one of the top few PGs in the league in the next few years.
2. With the second pick in the 2011 redraft, the Wolves select ...
Haberstroh: Jonas Valanciunas. Nikola Pekovic has been tremendous next to Kevin Love, but I think Valanciunas has more long-term upside (draft buzzword alert!) and can complement Love's game nicely on the defensive side of the floor. He's raw at 20 years old, but he's already productive and plays his tail off.
Hall: Klay Thompson. Only because GM David Kahn is known for his unexpected draft choices, and I want the Wolves to pass on Kenneth Faried for the Jazz. I'm not sure Thompson's game would be a great fit in Minnesota, but they could do worse than a Shved/Thompson rotation. It's been a pleasant surprise to see Thompson shine in the absence of Monta Ellis.
Herbert: Klay Thompson. He's not necessarily the best player on the board, but he's a very good one and he fills a need for the Wolves, who desperately need 3-point shooters to put next to Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic.
McGowan: Klay Thompson would give the Wolves the perimeter shooter they desperately need and one of the longest backcourts in the league. He would fit in perfectly next to Ricky Rubio, who is a brilliant passer but shoots as if blinded by the sun. Thompson isn't a traditional No. 2 talent, but he might be the draft's second-best scorer behind Irving.
McPherson: Kawhi Leonard. Leonard would have provided the Wolves with many of the things Williams has so far been unable to: solid 3-point shooting, defense and a steady sense of who he is on the basketball court. Leonard's 3-point percentage both last season and this one would have ranked second on the Wolves.
3. With the third pick in the 2011 redraft, the Jazz select ...
Haberstroh: Enes Kanter. Still like this pick even though we probably won't truly see Kanter get a shot until next season, when Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson figure to no longer be in his way. Derrick Favors and Kanter are the future in Utah. But to be quite honest, they're probably the present, too.
Hall: Kenneth Faried. The Manimal represents everything the Jazz should aspire to represent. The energy, hustle, and complete chaos he brings to the floor are difficult to quantify, but obvious to anyone watching. The Jazz are on the verge of entering a post-Paul Millsap era, and I would love to see Faried wreaking havoc in a Jazz uniform.
Herbert: Kemba Walker. The Jazz have a surplus of frontcourt talent and, though Enes Kanter has plenty of potential, they might welcome the chance to secure a long-term solution at point guard. In addition to his elite quickness and solid passing ability, Walker has vastly improved as a floor general and finisher this season.
McGowan: Brandon Knight is stuck in Detroit, where he shoulders too much of the offensive responsibility, but he would mesh well with the Jazz's cadre of big men. Mo Williams is having a tremendous season in Utah, and Knight isn't all that dissimilar a player -- the crucial difference is that he could be much better than Williams in a few seasons.
McPherson: Kemba Walker. Although Kanter has played well (and looked impressively buff) this season, the logjam with Jefferson, Favors, Millsap and Kanter in the frontcourt in Utah could have been helped by Walker, who's having a solid sophomore campaign for a still struggling Bobcats team.
4. With the fourth pick in the 2011 redraft, the Cavs select ...
Haberstroh: Kawhi Leonard. The great nurture versus nature debate rages on with Leonard. Would he be this good if he wasn't groomed under the San Antonio Spurs school of basketball? Or would he be even better if he wasn't forced to share the rock with three future Hall of Famers? With the luxury of perfect hindsight, Cleveland should've found out the answer to that by selecting him here.
Hall: Kawhi Leonard. A good rule of thumb with this draft class seems to be "Draft anyone whose name starts with a K." Despite struggling with injuries and missing a lot of games this season, Leonard is still one of the biggest revelations from the 2011 class. The Spurs have shown that Kawhi can be a perfect complementary player to a star. The Cavs would love to have him on the wing with Kyrie Irving.
Herbert: Jonas Valanciunas. It's a pick that requires patience, as Valanciunas stayed in Lithuania last season and still has loads to learn. He looks like a worthwhile investment, though, showing the tools to be a game-changer defensively and a perfect pick-and-roll partner for someone like Irving.
McGowan: Jonas Valanciunas has played only 28 NBA games, but I like what I've seen so far: 7.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and a 56.4 true shooting percentage in 22.4 minutes per game. If he hits the weight room and figures out how to stop fouling so often, he could develop into a very good center.
McPherson: Kenneth Faried. A bit of a tough call because the Cavs could still use help in so many places, but it's hard to argue against wanting to see Faried's relentless energy and athleticism corralled by Irving's steadying hand and alongside his impressive scoring.
5. With the fifth pick in the 2011 redraft, the Raptors select ...
Haberstroh: Kenneth Faried. Can't believe I'm letting the Manimal drop this far, but, hey, at least it's better than letting him slip all the way to 22, right? Hard to imagine a better fit next to Andrea Bargnani and Faried probably would average 50 rebounds because of the Bargnani Effect.
Hall: Jonas Valanciunas, again. Talented young centers are hard to come by, but I'm sure the Raptors don't regret waiting a year for his services after starting the rookie for 20 games before his injury. The Raptors are rolling recently, but Valanciunas will be a huge part of their future.
Herbert: Kawhi Leonard. I'm sorry, Kenneth, but Toronto has searched for a steady starting small forward for years. In Leonard (or Chandler Parsons, who had no business slipping to No. 38), the Raptors would get a dependable 3-and-D guy at the very least. If his offensive game continues to develop, that's a big bonus.
McGowan: Enes Kanter. Though Kenneth Faried and Kawhi Leonard had better rookie seasons, neither one quite fits in Toronto. Kanter is still a bit of a mystery because he gets limited minutes in Utah, but he has all the makings of a solid starting center, and if your team doesn't have LeBron James or Kevin Durant, you still need a quality 5 to compete in this league.
McPherson: Chandler Parsons. This season, Parsons has rounded into the all-around threat who would help the Raptors, especially in field goal percentage, where they're ranked 24th in the league. It's possible they stick with Valanciunas, though, who's still raw but has shown signs of becoming a quality center.
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Tom Haberstroh writes for ESPN Insider and ESPN.com's Heat Index. Spencer Ryan Hall, James Herbert, Colin McGowan and Steve McPherson are part of the TrueHoop Network.
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