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Re-Drafting The 2011 NBA Draft: Cleveland Cavaliers Would Have Kawhi Leonard And Jimmy Butler

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Re-Drafting The 2011 NBA Draft: Cleveland Cavaliers Would Select

The 2011 NBA Draft features a great variety of players. From amazing superstars to elite role players; this draft was loaded with talent. There is no lack of variety either: you have defensive wings and rim-protecting centers.

In a re-draft, it’s fun to think of the possibilities to come with the potential combinations that would have arisen if the teams just knew the future. There are some shifts in this draft list; obviously, teams don’t necessarily pick the best player every time they have a good pick. Here is a re-draft of the players who entered the league in 2011.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Original Pick: Kyrie Irving

Re-Draft Pick: Kawhi Leonard

Cleveland originally picked up Kyrie Irving: not an awful pick by any means. Any time you can get a multiple time all-star with your pick, that’s pretty good. But what if you could pick up a player who becomes a superstar? Kyrie Irving is a great player, but Kawhi Leonard is the obvious pick here.

Kawhi Leonard is a two-way superstar. Leonard plays good man to man defense has a knack for stealing the ball. Aside from his defensive prowess (DPOY), he is a great scorer on all three levels and has shown he can be the best player on a championship team. A player of Leonard’s caliber is rare, and Cleveland wouldn’t have hesitated to take him with the #1 pick. Leonard could have been the next superstar on the Cavaliers, changing the course of NBA history.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

Original Pick: Derrick Williams

Re-Draft Pick: Kyrie Irving

No-one’s sure why the Timberwolves selected Williams with the #2 pick yet it happened. Kyrie Irving would be the #2 pick here. Irving would be worthy of a #1 selection in most other drafts, but in the 2011 draft, he has to compete with Kawhi Leonard for the mantle of the best player.

Kyrie Irving is a phenomenal point guard: he’s got the best handles in NBA history, he is a 3 level scorer. While he is a score-first guard, Irving also has the vision to set up his teammates as well. No one would fault anyone for taking Irving #1, but there is a historical precedent for it being more difficult to lead a team to the championship as a small point guard. Kyrie Irving hasn’t been able to do it yet in his career, and that’s the only reason he’s the #2 pick instead of the #1 like he was in the original draft.

3. Utah Jazz

Original Pick: Enes Kanter

Re-Draft Pick: Klay Thompson

Enes Kanter is a good player, but he’s not worth a #3 selection. Kanter is a good bruising center, but he isn’t a player that could lead you to a championship. Instead, the Jazz select half of the splash brother duo, Klay Thompson. Thompson being selected here means that he would have a team without Stephen Curry, forcing him to be the star on the team.

Klay Thompson can create on all 3 levels and has a flamethrower jump shot when it’s the right night. If Thompson were selected by the Jazz, he might have had similar usage to stars like LeBron James or James Harden: something that we don’t generally get to see, as he plays second fiddle to Curry.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers

Original Pick: Tristan Thompson

Re-Draft Pick: Jimmy Butler

A trend in the 2011 NBA Draft is that a lot of centers were selected in the top 10. Tristan Thompson is no exception. Perhaps teams didn’t realize the way the league was going: positionless, where centers should be able to shoot. Instead, the Cavaliers select Jimmy Butler here with the #4 pick.

Butler is a great two-way player who can score the ball and facilitate for his teammates. Butler has shown the ability to lead a good team to the Finals, and compete with his team in Miami. Butler can do it all, and a #4 selection may be too low. The players before him have all won a ring and call themselves champions: Butler himself cannot. Butler would have been a good fit for the Jazz defensive culture and playing in a smaller market. The Cavaliers could have selected two future stars in this draft: talk about bad drafting.

5. Toronto Raptors

Original Pick: Jonas Valanciunas

Re-Draft Pick: Kemba Walker

Originally, the Raptors selected Jonas Valanciunas, a bruising big man from Lithuania. Valanciunas is a double-double machine, and in Memphis, he is getting the scoring usage that he deserves. In terms of value, Kemba Walker at #5 is still way better. Walker is a multiple-time All-Star who has shown his scoring pedigree in Charlotte and Boston.

Walker is a great scoring point guard; if he got drafted to the Raptors he would have been in a more solid position to compete in a championship during his prime. In Toronto, Walker would have paired up with DeRozan, and instead of Kyle Lowry winning the championship, it may have been Kemba Walker.

6. Washington Wizards

Original Pick: Jan Vesely

Re-Draft Pick: Nikola Vucevic

Jan Vesely was formerly drafted at this spot; he’s a PF from the Czech Republic who now plays in the Turkish League. Instead, the Wizards re-draft Nikola Vucevic here. Vucevic is a fringe All-Star, having been selected once to the event. Vucevic with John Wall would have been interesting: developing alongside an elite point guard could have altered Vucevic’s career and allowed him to develop faster.

Vucevic currently is a good inside player who can also shoot well from beyond the arc and rebound the ball. Vucevic is a great stretch 5 on high usage and would be a solid third option on a championship team. No team is going to win featuring Vucevic as the centerpiece, but he would be great alongside any superstar.

7. Sacramento Kings

Original Pick: Bismack Biyombo

Re-Draft Pick: Tobias Harris

Bismack Biyombo is a great hustler and rebounder: those are the two main things in his skillset. The Kings would select Tobias Harris here instead. Tobias Harris is a good scorer, but he’s not going to elevate a team to a championship by himself. Harris being selected by the Kings wouldn’t necessarily change their playoff fortunes, but he could be a nice piece.

Tobias Harris is the type of guy that gets traded around because he’s good, but he’s not quite good enough to be the 2nd option on a team. Tobias Harris still scores 16 PPG or more for most of his career though, and if a #7 pick gets any team a player like Tobias Harris then they would be more than happy with that return.

8. Detroit Pistons

Original Pick: Brandon Knight

Re-Draft Pick: Bojan Bogdanovic

Brandon Knight is a point guard who in his prime averaged almost 18 PPG. However, that scoring came from him putting up stats on empty teams. Bojan Bogdanovic is somebody who is a solid piece for any team: a wing with elite shooting and defensive IQ, but subpar athleticism for the 3. Bogdanovic is one of the best 3 point shooters when he’s on the court, and in the modern NBA, he would be a well-drafted pick.

Bogdanovic likely doesn’t move the piece for the Pistons at all in terms of contention but he likely is a good piece when drafted. Bogdanovic can be a good 3rd option and supplement additional scoring around stars by playing off the ball. His off the ball scoring is a particular asset when it comes to being a good role player.

9. Charlotte Hornets

Original Pick: Kemba Walker

Re-Draft Pick: Isaiah Thomas

Amazingly, Isaiah Thomas fell to the 60th pick in the draft. In the re-draft, Isaiah Thomas jumps up to #9. Instead of their original franchise point guard in Kemba Walker, the Hornets give the reins to Isaiah Thomas. While that team would never be a real contender, it would be fun to watch the King of the Fourth put up bucket after bucket in the clutch.

Isaiah Thomas is one of the only All-Stars who is only 5’9”. To reach the All-Star game is an achievement. To reach the All-Star game while being one of the shortest players in the NBA is an even bigger achievement. Isaiah Thomas was always a good scorer who was bad on defense, but his value on the Hornets would outweigh any concerns about his defense.

10. Milwaukee Bucks

Original Pick: Jimmer Fredette

Re-Draft Pick: Jonas Valanciunas

Jimmer Fredette was a great college player: but his game translating over to the NBA was a bit of a reach. Instead, the Bucks would select Jonas Valanciunas here. Valanciunas has got one of the best bruising inside games in the league. These days, it’s kind of a lost art, the inside post-game: but a select few are elite at it, and Valanciunas is one of those few.

Valanciunas is a solid pick at #10 in the re-draft. While he doesn’t provide the type of value that would allow a team to build around him, he is still a good rim protector and a huge presence around the post on both ends. While his physical limitations would make things rough in terms of defending on the perimeter, you can’t win them all.

11. Golden State Warriors

Original Pick: Klay Thompson

Re-Draft Pick: Tristan Thompson

Golden State had Klay Thompson here, an integral part of their dynasty. Without him, they don’t get 3 championships: needless to say, if the 2011 draft class was re-drafted, the NBA wouldn’t have the Warriors being a lock for the Finals for a few years straight.

Tristan Thompson has had a great career and became an NBA champion with LeBron James in 2016. He’s a good rebounder and rim runner and has the athleticism to get rebounds over players that are bigger than him. Having a great role player at pick #11 is a great deal, and Golden State could have done a lot worse here.

12. Utah Jazz

Original Pick: Alec Burks

Re-Draft Pick: Marcus Morris

Marcus Morris is an elite role player who brings size, defense, and shooting. He also can create for himself a little bit but isn’t the best passer. At #12, getting a player who can do a little bit of everything is a steal, and had Morris been drafted on a team bereft of scoring he may have become a fantastic scorer.

Marcus Morris brings grit and grind mentality to any squad that he’s in, and can serve as a scoring option behind the team’s stars. Morris isn’t meant to have a huge usage rate, but rather he should be able to do what he does best: go hard on both ends and be an enforcer of sorts on the court.

13. Phoenix Suns

Original Pick: Markieff Morris

Re-Draft Pick: Reggie Jackson

Markieff Morris was originally drafted here. Markieff Morris has a similar game to his brother Marcus, with a history of being a slightly better shooter. The Suns go with Reggie Jackson here as a point guard who is just fundamentally sound. Reggie Jackson is a slightly above average point guard who can also do a little bit of everything.

Reggie Jackson is well known for being traded after having arguments with Russell Westbrook. If the #13 pick gets you a point guard that can shoot, pass, and defend, then it’s a good pick. Reggie Jackson is your run of the mill modern point guard, but not much else.

14. Houston Rockets

Original Pick: Marcus Morris

Re-Draft Pick: Davis Bertans

Davis Bertans is a sharpshooting big. Originally, Marcus Morris gets drafted here, but the Rockets pick up Davis Bertans instead. Bertans helps them in the future as he is a big that can shoot: a key part of their philosophy. His defense is a turnstile, but they would make do. The 2011 NBA Draft is a pretty strong one in terms of talent and Bertans is no exception.

Davis Bertans is great value here in the middle of the first round. There are a lot of good players before him, but Bertans is valuable to any team as a floor spacer. Especially for a team like Houston.

15. Indiana Pacers

Original Pick: Kawhi Leonard

Re-Draft Pick: Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter is undoubtedly good on the offensive end. Kanter is a great post player who can score against smaller lineups almost at will. That sounds good until you realize that with his bad defense he can’t stay on the floor, and only has use as a situational player.

Enes Kanter is a good player: however his limitations on the defensive end have maligned him for most of his career which drops him down to #15. Kanter going to the Pacers could teach him some defensive discipline, but possibly not.

16. Philadelphia 76ers

Original Pick: Nikola Vucevic

Re-Draft Pick: Kenneth Faried

Kenneth Faried is a great role player who last played for the Houston Rockets. When drafted, Faried had a reputation for being an undersized big who brought the hustle every night. Faried was part of the 2011-2012 All-Rookie teams and finished 3rd in ROTY voting.

Faried was a double-double machine, but he was undersized and couldn’t shoot: two red flags for a big in the modern era. Faried is well known among Nuggets and Rockets fans. Alas, he hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2018-2019 season.

17. New York Knicks

Original Pick: Iman Shumpert

Re-Draft Pick: Markieff Morris

Markieff Morris is the lesser-known Morris brother. Morris can play the 3 or the 4, and he is quite a good shooter (38.6% from 3PT in 2019-2020). Markieff Morris is also big enough to guard the do it all wing players of today like LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo.

While Morris’ defense isn’t as good as his brother Marcus Morris, the lesser known Morris brother can still hold his own and was most recently part of a championship team in the Lakers. Morris is a contributor to a championship team, which is more than others in this draft class can say.

18. Washington Wizards

Original Pick: Chris Singleton

Re-Draft Pick: Alec Burks

Alec Burks is a great 3 and D player. He averaged a career-best 15 PPG last season, but he’s not much beyond a spot-up shooter. Burks spent the majority of his career in Utah before being traded around, making stops in Golden State and Philadelphia.

Burks may be a later pick, but once again he’s the type of player that any team wants. Burks is the type of player who walks in and does his job: shoots 3s and guards the perimeter.

19. Charlotte Hornets

Original Pick: Tobias Harris

Re-Draft Pick: Nikola Mirotic

Mirotic is known for being part of locker room disputes during his time with the Bulls, but the European big man is a knockdown shooter from beyond the arc, especially for his position as the 4.

Mirotic would be a good offensive player for any team, like a less mobile Gallinari. As with many bigs, the concern here is the perimeter defense. Mirotic drops to #19, but he’s a useful piece for any contender.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves

Original Pick: Donatas Motiejunas

Re-Draft Pick: Chandler Parsons

Chandler Parsons is famous for getting a max contract when he didn’t deserve it: no one can fault him for taking the money. Parsons was a good player on the Rockets: he was a good offensive wing who knew how to play his role: he shot 3s and created for himself off the dribble. He wasn’t much for defense.

Parsons goes #20 to reflect his few good years before the injuries. He gets unfairly maligned for being bad post injuries, but before those, he was a very serviceable wing on the offensive end of the ball.

21. Portland Trail Blazers

Original Pick: Nolan Smith

Re-Draft Pick: Iman Shumpert

Iman Shumpert is a good defender, plain and simple. Perhaps the best pure defender in this draft, and it got him an All-Rookie selection. Shumpert had a decent run as a Knick, but perhaps he is best known for being on the Cavalier team that came back up from 3-1 down with LeBron James.

Shumpert played a utility role on that Cavaliers team, playing when the team needed elite perimeter defense, and getting a stop was the priority.

22. Denver Nuggets

Original Pick: Kenneth Faried

Re-Draft Pick: Brandon Knight

Brandon Knight is a solid scorer who can light it up on the right night. Knight isn't necessarily efficient while scoring. Knight has a 2011-2012 All-Rookie selection, but it seems like no team stuck with him as the point guard of their future.

Knight has also been maligned by injury, but his selection at #22 is a testament to his scoring during the start of his NBA career. Knight last played with the Detroit Pistons before becoming a free agent this year.

23. Houston Rockets

Original Pick: Nikola Mirotic

Re-Draft Pick: Justin Holiday

Justin Holiday is a good defender and average shooter. Holiday has been all around the league, from starting his career in Philadelphia to currently playing in Indiana. Holiday has utility as a good role player who can defend 1-3.

Holiday originally went undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, but the fact that he still managed to make it to the league shows who he is as a player: Holiday is determined and gritty like his style of play.

24. Oklahoma City Thunder

Original Pick: Reggie Jackson

Re-Draft Pick: Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo is a center who spent most of his career with the Charlotte Hornets. Biyombo is a great rebounder who is very active inside, but he has almost no offensive game beyond finishing inside.

Biyombo got paid way too much for his limited talents after a good playoff run with Toronto, but at his core, he remains a hustle rebounder who is active all over the court. It is a useful skillset for any team, albeit at a reasonable price point.

25. Boston Celtics

Original Pick: MarShon Brooks

Re-Draft Pick: E’Twaun Moore

E’Twaun Moore is the last player on this list of certain relevance. E’Twaun Moore is elite at one thing: shooting. Shooting kept him around the league as a role player, and his career 3PT% is 39%. Moore is the last role player in this draft that carved out a meaningful career, and as such he is positioned at #25.

26. Dallas Mavericks

Original Pick: Jordan Hamilton

Re-Draft Pick: Shelvin Mack

Shelvin Mack was a backup PG who was bounced around the league and didn’t play more than 20 MPG at most of his stops. He still lasted playing spot limits in the NBA which put him at #26.

27. New Jersey Nets

Original Pick: JaJuan Johnson

Re-Draft Pick: Jon Leuer

Jon Leuer was a backup big who last played with Detroit. Leuer was run of the mill average, but he did possess some shooting ability and had a home in the NBA until the end of the 2019 season. Leuer is essentially a solid 3rd string big.

28. Chicago Bulls

Original Pick: Norris Cole

Re-Draft Pick: Derrick Williams

Despite making the 2011-2012 All-Rookie team, Derrick Williams drops to #28 in this re-draft. Williams had a few good years as a backup big, but other than that, his career is uneventful.

29. San Antonio Spurs

Original Pick: Cory Joseph

Re-Draft Pick: Lavoy Allen

Lavoy Allen isn’t anything extraordinary. But he does have 5 years in the NBA, so that’s still an achievement even for a role player.

30. Chicago Bulls

Original Pick: Jimmy Butler

Re-Draft Pick: Jimmer Fredette

Jimmer Fredette was a college star who was supposed to make it. He did not, currently playing with the Shanghai Sharks of the CBA. Fredette did, however, make a mini-comeback to the NBA for 6 games during the 2018-2019 season with the Phoenix Suns.


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