2011 NBA Mock Draft: Round 1, Picks 1-5

| by Alex Groberman

With the conclusion of the NBA Finals fast approaching and the NBA draft just around the corner, now is as good a time as any to take a look at what direction the teams with the five top picks are learning towards. Although this draft isn’t loaded with talent per se, the difference-makers are there at the top – particularly in Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams.

Here is how the top-five is shaping up as of now:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, PG -- Whether or not the Los Angeles Clippers will come to rue the day they sacrificed this pick by dumping Baron Davis’ inflated salary depends on how good of a player Irving is. Although the Cavaliers haven’t confirmed it -- and despite the fact they did acquire Davis -- Irving is hands down the best prospect available in this whole draft, and he is the player they want to build around. His shorter-than-expected season at Duke leaves a lot to be desired. However, with teams becoming increasingly point guard-focused in recent years, Irving appears to fit the desired mold.
  2. Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Williams, F -- This is an interesting selection because the Timberwolves are fairly stacked at the forward spots. With Kevin Love and Michael Beasley being arguably the best players on the team, the Wolves’ quandary is picking for need or picking the best available player. If Williams is picked at this point, it will be worth watching to see what happens to Beasley. Plus, David Kahn is still in control of what Minnesota does, so he’ll probably just toss conventional wisdom out the window and select a point guard.
  3. Utah Jazz – Brandon Knight, PG -- With the departure of Deron Williams, the Jazz are obviously in the market for a franchise point guard. The team has a number of holes, so really they could pick the best player available at another position given the opportunity, but Knight seems to be a nice fit for them on all counts. He’s a better prospect than any of the other players that would be left at this point, and the fact that Utah management isn’t entirely sold on Devin Harris is anything but a secret.
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Enes Kanter, C -- Kanter is the best big man available, and theoretically, could go to the Jazz. In fact, recent reports have indicated that the Jazz are particularly interested in the center. That being said, a lot of people -- myself included -- see Knight as the better potential prospect, and it’s reasonable to assume that Utah will come around to that thought process as well. That would leave Kanter on the board for the Cavaliers to gobble up.
  5. Toronto Raptors – Kemba Walker, PG -- This is a tough pick because Walker left such a great taste in viewers’ mouths during the NCAA tournament. At one point, there was even talk of him being a potential No. 1 pick. The problem with Walker is that he may not fit the current design plan that the Raptors have in mind for the team. Conventional wisdom says Walker is the pick here, but conventional wisdom also says the Raptors would be making a play for New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni, which the team reportedly is not.