NBA draft 2011: winners and losers
NEWARK, N.J. – The Sacramento Kings need a new arena and they need to start winning. But if the Kings’ owners are serious about trying to keep the franchise in Sacramento, they also need a star who can help them build back their fan support.
They think they found one in Jimmer Fredette.
The Kings acquired the rights to the former Brigham Young guard in a three-team trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Bobcats during the NBA draft. The consensus national player of the year won over a legion of fans while leading the nation in scoring last season. The Kings, who initially tried to move to Anaheim, Calif., could use the help: They finished second-to-last in the NBA in attendance last season.
By landing Fredette, the Kings helped lead a list of winners on draft night. More importantly, they hope Fredette can help them generate ticket and sponsorship revenue and spearhead support for a new arena in Sacramento.
“I know they are going to be there one more year and see how it goes,” Fredette said. “I hope the fans come out and support us. I hope they like our team. I think we will have a very exciting team and I hope we can get more wins. Winning translates to getting more fans out there, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep the organization there.”
The Kings also made a wise move by deciding to play combo-guard Tyreke Evans(notes) off the ball. Fredette will likely open next season as the Kings’ starting point guard after Beno Udrih(notes) was dealt to Milwaukee in the trade. Evans, the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year, certainly has the size and scoring ability to play shooting guard. The Kings also got a steal with the last overall pick in the draft in gritty point guard Isaiah Thomas. Fredette, Evans, Thomas and the likely re-signed Marcus Thornton(notes) give Sacramento a young and talented collection of guards for years to come.
And thanks to Fredette’s arrival, those years could be spent in Sacramento.
“Jimmer was one of the most exciting players in college basketball the last couple of seasons,” Kings general manager Geoff Petrie said. “If not the best shooter in the draft, he was certainly one of the best. He’ll add a new dimension to our team offensively. He’s an exciting player and I think our fans will enjoy him as well.”
Here’s a look at some of the drafts other winners – and losers.
Loser: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers did their due diligence leading into the draft by working out Duke guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams – in addition to also working out Turkish center Enes Kanter, Kentucky guard Brandon Knight and Texas forward Tristan Thompson twice. But the Cavs also let Irving, supposedly the new face of the franchise, nervously wait out their selection without confirming he was the first pick.
The New Jersey native was a near-consensus top pick, so if you’re going to wait that long to tell him, you might as well be daring enough to draft someone else.
“I knew when everybody else knew,” Irving said. “They gave me no indication that they were going to pick me. I was really nervous sitting at that table with my family and my friends.”
Winner: Morris twins
Marcus Morris was expected to be drafted ahead of his twin brother and former Kansas teammate, Markieff. But in a surprise, Markieff was selected 13th overall by the Phoenix Suns. Marcus didn’t have to wait long to also hear his name called: He was picked next by the Houston Rockets. Markieff, who was born seven minutes ahead of Marcus, was drafted seven minutes, 13 seconds ahead of his twin.
“Maybe when I’m 60 I’ll tell him I got one on him,” Markieff said.
Loser: Minnesota Timberwolves
There is no question that Derrick Williams is a talented and athletic combo-forward who has a bright career ahead of him. But the last thing the Wolves needed was another forward, right?
Isn’t Williams more or less the same player as Michael Beasley(notes)? Doesn’t Minnesota have enough players who can play either forward position already in Beasley, Kevin Love(notes), Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster(notes), Anthony Randolph(notes) and Anthony Tolliver(notes)? Minnesota slightly improved its depth at center by trading for aging Band-aid Brad Miller(notes), but Enes Kanter’s talent and potential should have made him a candidate to go No. 2.
The Wolves also tried desperately to trade the second pick, but failed in their efforts to land the type of experienced star they wanted.
“I’m not really focused on that right now. I’m just going to get my body into the best of shape as possible,” Williams said of Minnesota’s logjam at the forward positions.
Winner: Tristan Thompson
There were some raised eyebrows when Thompson left Texas after his freshman year, especially because there were several other players in his class that were regarded higher than him. Even in a down draft, the 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward was expected to be selected in the latter half of the lottery. But the highest-drafted Canadian ever was the surprise of the night when he was taken fourth overall by the Cavaliers. Cleveland now has a talented 19-year-old inside-outside combo to build around for the future in Irving and Thompson.
“I know a lot of people never expected it and neither did myself,” Thompson said. “It just shows the wonders that hard work puts in.”
Loser: Milwaukee Bucks and Captain Jack
The Milwaukee Bucks acquired talented – but often disgruntled – swingman Stephen Jackson(notes) from Charlotte to join young Brandon Jennings(notes) in their backcourt in a three-way trade. While Jackson and Jennings will score a lot of points together, it will be interesting to see how the combustible Captain Jack gets along with stern coach Scott Skiles. Jackson will be playing for his seventh NBA team and third since 2009. The Bucks traded John Salmons(notes), but also acquired guard Beno Udrih and might have landed a steal in 18-year-old Tennessee forward Tobias Harris.
Despite the potential issues, Jennings was excited about Jackson’s arrival.
“Stephen Jackson brings a lot of leadership,” said Jennings, who attended the draft. “He’s won an NBA championship. He plays hard every night. He wants to win. And I think he is going to be that voice in our locker room that we need.”
Winner: Utah Jazz:
The Utah Jazz quietly improved their team by adding Kanter (No. 3) and Colorado guard Alec Burks (No. 12). Kanter proclaimed a day earlier that he is the best player in the draft, and with his size, scoring ability and rebounding he has the talent and potential to prove he is right. While Burks isn’t a household name, he was a proven scorer in college, averaging 20.5 points last season as a sophomore. The Jazz have an intriguing group of young players in Kanter, Burks, Derrick Favors(notes), Gordon Hayward(notes) and Jeremy Evans(notes).
Loser: Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers traded one of the most underappreciated players in point guard Andre Miller(notes) to the Denver Nuggets and sent athletic guard Rudy Fernandez(notes) to the Dallas Mavericks while acquiring point guard Raymond Felton(notes) in a three-team trade. The Nuggets were disappointed with Felton after a lackluster offensive-minded performance in the playoffs and were determined to trade him. While Felton is a solid starting point guard, he’s not as experienced a floor leader as Miller. Friends close to Nuggets coach George Karl said he was thrilled about the return of Miller, whom he hated to see dealt in the Allen Iverson(notes) trade on Dec. 19, 2006. While Fernandez wanted out, the Blazers helped the NBA champion Mavericks and lost an insurance policy for injury-prone guard Brandon Roy(notes).
Winner: Indiana Pacers
The Pacers acquired veteran guard George Hill(notes) in exchange for the 15th selection (Kawhi Leonard), the 42nd overall pick (Davis Bertrans) and the draft rights to Erazem Lorbek. The Pacers not only filled a need for a shooting guard in Hill, but also landed an Indianapolis native who should be a hit with the fans. The Pacers finished last in the league in attendance last season. The former IUPUI star, Darren Collison(notes) and Paul George(notes) give the Pacers a young core of perimeter players. For Hill, the Spurs could’ve sent him to a lot worse places than his hometown team.
“It is tough, but at the same time things happen for a reason,” Hill said in a statement. “My hat is off to San Antonio for opportunity I had here and I’m really looking forward to coming home to Indiana and helping the Pacers win games.”
Loser: Prospects who left college too early
UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt, Georgia forward Travis Leslie, Michigan guard Darius Morris, Kentucky guard DeAndre Liggins and Kansas guard Josh Selby all left school hoping to be taken in the first round. None of them were. Boston College guard Reggie Jackson also looked bad by shunning teams for workouts and interviews because he was promised to be selected 24th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Wonder if he could have been drafted higher if he took part in the draft process?
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