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Re-Drafting The 2011 NBA Draft Class: Cleveland Could Have Had Big Three Of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, And Jimmy Butler

Re-Drafting The 2011 NBA Draft Class: Cleveland Could Have Had Big Three Of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, And Jimmy Butler

The 2011 Draft Class changed NBA history because it produced some of the game’s best players in the league right now that went on to win NBA championships. The first names that immediately come to mind are Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and Kyrie Irving. Leonard won championships with the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors, solidifying himself as a top-5 small forward ever.

Of course, Klay Thompson helped form a Golden State Warriors dynasty that changed the game. Alongside his Splash Brother Stephen Curry, Thompson created the best shooting duo in NBA history as they led the Warriors to 4 Finals appearances. Kyrie Irving also hit one of the most clutch shots in NBA history against Thompson and the Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals. Beyond these three talented stars, there were a host of other big names in the 2011 Draft that should have been taken much earlier. Without further ado, here is the 2011 re-draft knowing what we know now.


1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Original Pick: Kyrie Irving

Re-Draft Pick: Kawhi Leonard

Nobody will bash Cleveland for taking skilled point guard Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick, because they needed a surefire star as their franchise player with LeBron James out of town. There was no doubt that Irving was the most talented rookie, and he proved his worth by winning Rookie of the Year and averaging 18.5 PPG. Of course, Irving’s value came to light once LeBron came back to Ohio. But with the re-draft, Cleveland would have selected Kawhi Leonard to lead their franchise and form possibly the best duo ever with LeBron James in the future.


2. Minnesota Timberwolves

Original Pick: Derrick Williams

Re-Draft Pick: Kyrie Irving

The Timberwolves went for size and athleticism, and it backfired. Williams was a solid NBA player, but averaging 8.8 PPG in his first year pales in comparison to what Kyrie Irving did for Cleveland. In the re-draft, Minnesota would have taken superstar Kyrie Irving to lead their franchise and possibly form one of the most talented little-big duos with Karl-Anthony Towns in just 4 years. If there is a team that wished they could have the re-draft, it is the Timberwolves.


3. Utah Jazz

Original Pick: Enes Kanter

Re-Draft Pick: Klay Thompson

Big men would go on to get drafted over the next 5 selections, and none of them were the right moves. Firstly, the Utah Jazz made a solid but unspectacular decision to take Enes Kanter at No. 3. The Turkish big man averaged 4.6 PPG in his rookie season, failing to make a legitimate impact until he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the re-draft, the Jazz select sharpshooter Klay Thompson to completely change history as we would never have seen the Golden State Warriors superteam get created.


4. Cleveland Cavaliers

Original Pick: Tristan Thompson

Re-Draft Pick: Jimmy Butler

Considering Tristan Thompson was one of Cleveland’s best players during the 2016 championship run, the decision to take a rebounding machine with a top-4 pick will not be criticized. There is no doubt that Thompson was invaluable because he brought size and rebounding at an elite level for a team built around LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. But in the re-draft, Cleveland would have taken their chances on Jimmy Butler, which would have been the start of the best Big-3 ever in terms of two-way dominance. My word, what could have been…


5. Toronto Raptors

Original Pick: Jonas Valanciunas

Re-Draft Pick: Nikola Vucevic

Another big was taken in the top-5, this time in the form of Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas. He was not a bad pick by any means, as the big averaged 8.9 PPG and 6.0 RPG in his first year while making All-Rookie Team. He would be a solid starter for the team, but Toronto would have been better off with Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic is a far more talented scorer and rebounder who has made a total of 2 All-Star Teams in his career.


6. Washington Wizards

Original Pick: Jan Vesely

Re-Draft Pick: Tobias Harris

Considering star John Wall was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft prior, the Washington Wizards would have been happy with Tobias Harris with their top-10 pick. Harris has not made an All-Star Team in his career yet, but he has developed into a solid third-option for a championship contender, putting up over 18 PPG over the last 5 seasons. With Harris and Wall on the roster, they would have a solid core that would have seen Bradley Beal join them as well.


7. Sacramento Kings

Original Pick: Bismack Biyombo

Re-Draft Pick: Kemba Walker

Even if Sacramento would end up with De’Aaron Fox in the 2017 NBA Draft, they would have selected an offensive-minded point guard 6 years prior in Kemba Walker. Walker would make 4 straight All-Star Teams between 2017 and 2020, also placing his name as one of the best Hornets players ever. An All-Star scorer, Kemba would have brought excitement to a franchise lacking anything to look forward to.


8. Detroit Pistons

Original Pick: Brandon Knight

Re-Draft Pick: Isaiah Thomas

A Pistons team that was far off their 2004 championship side, Detroit needed a player that could make a difference for them. That would come in the form of 5’9” point guard, Isaiah Thomas. The miniature guard would make All-Rookie Team, and would of course become a 2-time All-Star and a 2017 All-NBA performer. Thomas would blossom into a top-3 MVP candidate in 2017, putting up 28.9 PPG. For the Pistons, Thomas’ offensive capabilities would have been exciting for their fans.


9. Charlotte Hornets

Original Pick: Kemba Walker

Re-Draft Pick: Jonas Valanciunas

The Hornets lucked out with Kemba Walker at No. 9, because the point guard blossomed into a bonafide All-Star player that had a great career with the franchise. It will be hard for Hornets fans to accept any other player, even if Jonas Valanciunas became a solid starter in the league. But there is no doubt that Charlotte would have been left shorthanded had the re-draft occurred.


10. Milwaukee Bucks

Original Pick: Jimmer Fredette

Re-Draft Pick: Tristan Thompson

Considering Jimmer Fredette was “only” taken in the top-10 of the draft, the shooting guard has seemingly avoided the heavy “bust” label even though he was. An exciting college player with great scoring ability, Jimmer was expected to parlay that into a long career in the NBA despite his slender physique. But Fredette never prospered at all, failing to put up at least 8 PPG in a season of his career.


11. Golden State Warriors

Original Pick: Klay Thompson

Re-Draft Pick: Kenneth Faried

An absolute steal in the draft, the Golden State Warriors selected Klay Thompson with the No. 11 pick. A choice that would give the franchise their greatest core ever, Thompson would form the best shooting duo in NBA history alongside Stephen Curry. In the re-draft, the Warriors probably do not form a dynasty and possibly do not win NBA championships. Instead, they would have selected active forward Kenneth Faried, a capable big who competed in 8 seasons in the league.


12. Utah Jazz

Original Pick: Alec Burks

Re-Draft Pick: Marcus Morris

Alec Burks was a decent selection at No. 12, but the re-draft would have gifted the franchise, Marcus Morris, instead. Morris is generally a more impactful player than Burks at this time because of his confidence with the ball in his hands and could have possibly helped Utah improve on both ends of the floor.


13. Phoenix Suns

Original Pick: Markieff Morris

Re-Draft Pick: Enes Kanter

The Suns went for Markieff Morris, a solid scorer and defender at the power forward position. But Morris was not necessarily a star player, and could not crash the boards like Enes Kanter, the player Phoenix would have taken in the re-draft. Kanter has had a couple of great seasons as a rebounding center in the paint and could have helped the Suns improve their interior depth while crashing the boards at an elite level.


14. Houston Rockets

Original Pick: Marcus Morris

Re-Draft Pick: Bojan Bogdanovic

A decent but unspectacular pick by the Houston Rockets at No. 14, Marcus Morris did not impact the franchise that much. Fast-forward 10 years later, Morris is a solid starting-caliber player who can defend and also create his own shots at times. But Bojan Bogdanovic is a more consistent shooter and defender, making him a perfect player for the Rockets system.


15. Indiana Pacers

Original Pick: Kawhi Leonard

Re-Draft Pick: Reggie Jackson

Indiana are constantly criticized for not believing in Kawhi Leonard, a star player that would have completely changed the team’s fortunes for good. But they never give Kawhi a chance, as the forward would go on to have a great career with the San Antonio Spurs. In the re-draft, the Pacers would have been happy to select Reggie Jackson, a confident point guard to improve their depth.


16. Philadelphia 76ers

Original Pick: Nikola Vucevic

Re-Draft Pick: Markieff Morris

Philadelphia lucked out with Nikola Vucevic, a big man that would become a 2-time All-Star in his career. In the re-draft, the 76ers would not have benefitted, as they would have had to take Markieff Morris instead. Morris was a solid role player who could hit the mid-range shot, but he was not on the level as Nikola on the boards or with the ball in his hands.


17. New York Knicks

Original Pick: Iman Shumpert

Re-Draft Pick: Chandler Parsons

The Knicks did well with Iman Shumpert, a defensive-minded swingman that helped the team improve on both ends of the floor; but they would have preferred Chandler Parsons instead. Even if Parsons’ injuries killed his career later on, he made All-Rookie Team before putting up over 15 PPG for 3 straight seasons. The Knicks could have used Parsons’ shooting ability as they tried to make the Eastern Conference Finals with Carmelo Anthony as their main star.


18. Washington Wizards

Original Pick: Chris Singleton

Re-Draft Pick: Nikola Mirotic

The Wizards hardly had much luck in the draft recently, and the 2011 Class was not an exception. Chris Singleton, a 6’8” forward, only averaged 4.1 PPG over 3 seasons and was not the answer at No. 18. Nikola Mirotic, a sharpshooting big man, would have had a much greater impact even though he would play his first game in the NBA in 2015.


19. Charlotte Bobcats

Original Pick: Tobias Harris

Re-Draft Pick: Iman Shumpert

Even if Tobias Harris did not end up playing a season for the Charlotte Hornets, he was a great choice at No. 19. There is no way he was the 19th best player in the draft, and he eventually became a solid scorer as he gained more experience in the league. In the re-draft, the Bobcats could have used Iman Shumpert’s elite defense as they tried to get back to winning ways.


20. Minnesota Timberwolves

Original Pick: Donatas Motiejunas

Re-Draft Pick: Alec Burks

Donatas Motiejunas was an unspectacular draft choice because he would not play for the franchise and instead started with the Rockets in the 2013 season. A 7’0” big man with below-average floor spacing, he hardly moved the needle. The Timberwolves would have done a lot better by taking Alec Burks, a 6’6” shooter with a career average of 10.5 PPG on 37.5% from deep.


21. Portland Trail Blazers

Original Pick: Nolan Smith

Re-Draft Pick: Cory Joseph

The Trail Blazers should have selected Cory Joseph when they had a chance because even if he was not a star player by any means, he was an upgrade over 6’2” point guard Nolan Smith that only played for two seasons and averaged 3.3 PPG. Joseph has appeared in over 700 games so far in his career, not bad for a role player.


22. Denver Nuggets

Original Pick: Kenneth Faried

Re-Draft Pick: Bismack Biyombo

Denver had a great selection in Kenneth Faried, an active power forward who hustled every second on the floor. A fan-favorite and also a coach-favorite, Faried was a solid role player for the Nuggets. The Colorado-based franchise would have ended up with Bismack Biyombo in the re-draft, a shot-blocking center with extreme defensive potential.


23. Houston Rockets

Original Pick: Nikola Mirotic

Re-Draft Pick: Davis Bertans

The Rockets found a very solid player at No. 23, although Nikola Mirotic never played a game for the franchise. Instead, he started his career with the Chicago Bulls where he made All-Rookie Team in 2015. Instead, the Rockets would have had to take another sharpshooting big man in Davis Bertans, a man with one of the worst contracts in the league right now.


24. Oklahoma City Thunder

Original Pick: Reggie Jackson

Re-Draft Pick: Brandon Knight

The Oklahoma City Thunder, as usual, lucked out with their draft pick. At No. 24, Reggie Jackson proved to be a steal because he had the confidence and offensive game to be a solid backup for Russell Westbrook early in his career. In the re-draft, the Thunder would have had to select Brandon Knight instead, a point guard that had a few great seasons although injuries cut short his career.


25. Boston Celtics

Original Pick: MarShon Brooks

Re-Draft Pick: E'Twaun Moore

The Celtics went for MarShon Brooks, even if the shooting guard never played a game for them. Instead, Brooks had his first season with the Nets, averaging 12.6 PPG and making the All-Rookie Team. Unfortunately, Brooks suffered steep declines over the rest of his career. E’Twaun Moore would have been a nice selection for the Celtics, as he is a career 38.8% shooter from deep.


26. Dallas Mavericks

Original Pick: Jordan Hamilton

Re-Draft Pick: Norris Cole

The Mavericks figured a 6’7” swingman with some shooting ability would be a solid choice, but Jordan Hamilton never played a game for Dallas. Instead, Dallas could have taken 6’2” point guard Norris Cole, an average player that competed every night while on the floor. Still, neither player would have changed much for the Mavericks anyways.


27. New Jersey Nets

Original Pick: JaJuan Johnson

Re-Draft Pick: Justin Holiday

The New Jersey Nets would have benefited from Justin Holiday’s presence over JaJuan Johnson because Holiday is actually an above-average defender and shooter for his position. So far in his career, Justin is averaging 8.7 PPG and 1.0 SPG on 36.6% shooting from three. The Nets could have had a solid role player at the least.


28. Chicago Bulls

Original Pick: Norris Cole

Re-Draft Pick: Derrick Williams

The Bulls did well with Norris Cole, although he went directly to the Miami Heat. As a backup point guard, Cole ended up winning 2 NBA titles with Miami and was a solid defender and scorer considering his level of ability. In the re-draft, Chicago would have taken No. 2 overall pick flop, Derrick Williams, an athletic forward without much of an all-around game.


29. San Antonio Spurs

Original Pick: Cory Joseph

Re-Draft Pick: John Leuer

The San Antonio Spurs had an outside shot at a decent player with their No. 29 pick, and they did well by taking consistent two-way point guard Cory Joseph. The point guard played in over 200 games with the Spurs, but he would not be taken in the re-draft. John Leuer would have been chosen by San Antonio, a 6’10” big man who had some range in his arsenal even if he did not move the needle much in his career.


30. Chicago Bulls

Original Pick: Jimmy Butler

Re-Draft Pick: Lavoy Allen

Other than the Warriors selecting Klay Thompson at No. 11 and Kawhi Leonard falling to No. 15, the biggest steal in the draft was Jimmy Butler falling to No. 30. Butler only averaged 2.6 PPG in his rookie season and 8.6 PPG in his second year. But Butler won Most Improved Player in 2015 by averaging 20.0 PPG and making his first of 6 total All-Star Teams. Developing into a superstar two-way player, the Bulls had one of the biggest breaks in their franchise history.

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