2011 NBA re-draft: The way it should have been
The 2011 NBA draft has become underrated in the 12 years since it went down, as the class is led by four future Hall-of-Famers and is littered with starter-level depth that remains playing at a high level to this day.
Below, check out our 2011 re-draft, with the players taken in the order we believe they should have gone in.
No. 1 pick: Kawhi Leonard
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Without question the best player from his draft class, Kawhi Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP, a five-time All-Star and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, a player that morphed from being a limited offensive threat with otherworldy defensive potential to one of the best two-way players of all time, and a clutch performer at that. Lest we forget Leonard led his teams past LeBron James in the 2014 Finals and past Stephen Curry in the 2019 championship series.
Actual position: No. 15
Career earnings: $191,133,262
Career stats: 19.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, 49.5 FG%, 38.7 3P%
No. 2 pick: Jimmy Butler
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The final pick of the first round in 2011 goes No. 2 in our re-draft, as Jimmy Butler, like Leonard, will go down as one of the best two-way wings of all time, a high-level scorer on one end and an elite defender on the other. Butler has also shown moments of supreme clutchness throughout his career, getting to the Finals once with the Miami Heat in 2019-20 while going deep in various other playoff runs. When he’s engaged and locked in, Butler is legitimately one of the best players in the league.
Actual position: No. 30
Career earnings: $181,047,328
Career stats: 18.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.2 apg, 46.6 FG%, 32.2 3P%
No. 3 pick: Kyrie Irving
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Two through four in this exercise were brutal to rank, as Butler, Kyrie Irving and the player coming up next are all quite accomplished and will all be remembered for generations to come thanks to their contributions to the NBA. Irving goes No. 3 in our re-draft, one of the best scoring point guards in league history and arguably the flashiest ball-handler the NBA has ever seen. He’s also an elite tough shot-maker with a flair for the dramatic, sinking the most important shot of the 2015-16 season in Game 7 of the Finals that year to help James bring a title to the Cleveland Cavaliers. That Irving went No. 1 in his actual draft class only speaks to his talent, as he played just 11 games at Duke before declaring for the draft.
Actual position: No. 1
Career earnings: $197,857,092
Career stats: 23.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.7 apg, 47.2 FG%, 39.2 3P%
No. 4 pick: Klay Thompson
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Finally, the toughest part of our re-draft culminates with Klay Thompson going No. 4 overall, which one could argue is too low, something we wouldn’t disagree with too vehemently. Thompson will go down as maybe the second-best shooter ever with a picture-perfect form and balance on his jumper, and the ability to get nuclear-level hot from beyond the arc. Two major injuries threatened to end Thompson’s prime but the Golden State Warriors’ 2-guard has bounced back quite nicely this season, looking far from finished as a top shooting guard in the NBA.
Actual position: No. 11
Career earnings: $185,733,241
Career stats: 19.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 45.6 FG%, 41.6 3P%
No. 5 pick: Nikola Vucevic
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Now we go from the Hall-of-Famers to the Hall-of-Very-Gooders (which, in fairness, is often still enough to get players into the actual Hall of Fame). We begin this next tier of players with Nikola Vucevic, an All-Star-level big man with good face-up scoring, shooting and rebounding. Vucevic’s main knock is defensively but at his peak, he was one of the better scoring centers in the NBA and a player who could grab 20 rebounds on any given night.
Actual position: No. 16
Career earnings: $134,209,237
Career stats: 17.0 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 49.5 FG%, 34.8 3P%
No. 6 pick: Kemba Walker
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
A superstar in college who led UConn to a national championship behind an electric run of play, Kemba Walker went ninth overall in his draft class, not going higher due to size-related concerns. Walker made those concerns look foolish, however, locking up four All-Star appearances in his career and a 3rd Team All-NBA. His peak ended a lot earlier than the guys who went ahead of him in our re-draft and his best wasn’t as good as some of the names he’s sitting behind but either way, Walker has had a tremendous career, especially for someone who didn’t even go Top 8 in his draft.
Actual position: No. 9
Career earnings: $161,139,725
Career stats: 19.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 41.8 FG%, 36.0 3P%
No. 7 pick: Isaiah Thomas
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Another undersized point guard who found a lot of success in the NBA, Isaiah Thomas, obviously even smaller than Walker, was the final pick of the 2011 draft, Mr. Irrelevant as they call players with that distinction in the NFL, but had a career that made his draft slot look silly. Thomas finished up as a two-time All-Star, peaking with a 2nd Team All-NBA honor in 2016-17 when he put up 28.9 points for the Boston Celtics. Of course, the detractors were somewhat proven right when Thomas’ prime ended quickly soon thereafter that peak due to injuries slowing him down but even so, Thomas had the career of a first-round pick, even if he never finds his way back into the league.
Actual position: No. 60
Career earnings: $32,220,179
Career stats: 17.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.8 apg, 43.4 FG%, 36.2 3P%
No. 8 pick: Jonas Valanciunas
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The fifth overall pick from 2011, Jonas Valanciunas is still trucking along as one of the better centers in the NBA, a double-double machine with a lot of toughness down low who possesses a throwback post-up game. Valanciunas even adapted his game for what the modern NBA asks of its big men, and that’s to space the floor, becoming a decent outside threat later in his career.
Actual position: No. 5
Career earnings: $106,621,946
Career stats: 13.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 56.2 FG%, 35.6 3P%
No. 9 pick: Tobias Harris
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Tobias Harris came into the NBA as a modern-style frontcourt player, a man with a lot of versatility as a big man with forward skills or a swingman with frontcourt chops, however you want to look at him. Regardless, Harris has been a model role player throughout his career, adapting well to various roles on different teams. Now, on a contending Philadelphia 76ers squad with an MVP at center and a former MVP at 2-guard, Harris has been a great complementary piece, able to space the floor, attack closeouts and finish as a slasher.
Actual position: No. 19
Career earnings: $174,181,672
Career stats: 16.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 47.7 FG%, 36.8 3P%
No. 10 pick: Bojan Bogdanovic
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What this draft class has that so many others lack is durability, as even the 10th overall re-draft pick from a draft nearly 12 years ago remains a starting-level swingman in the NBA. Bojan Bogdanovic was the first pick of the second draft in 2011 but has greatly outperformed that thanks to his spot-up shooting and face-up bucket-getting skills. He was never much of a defender but as a role-playing outside shooter, he was quite effective.
Actual position: No. 31
Career earnings: $84,826,530
Career stats: 15.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.7 apg, 46.0 FG%, 39.4 3P%
No. 11 pick: Marcus Morris
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Coming out of Kansas, Marcus Morris and his twin brother Markieff Morris were billed as solid prospects, with the former Morris winning Big 12 Player of the Year as a junior before declaring for the draft. They have both pretty much lived up to expectations, ranking in our re-draft around where they actually went in the draft. Marcus currently remains the better player, spacing the floor from the power-forward position and providing the Los Angeles Clippers with face-up scoring.
Actual position: No. 14
Career earnings: $74,496,929
Career stats: 12.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 43.5 FG%, 37.7 3P%
No. 12 pick: Reggie Jackson
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On draft night, there were rumors the Miami Heat, then led by James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh but lacking at ball-handler, had made Reggie Jackson a promise to pick him if he fell to 31st, which obviously did not happen. The Oklahoma City Thunder were wise to not let it happen, too, as Jackson turned out to be a very solid NBA player, outperforming his draft position by a decent margin thanks to his scoring and playmaking.
Actual position: No. 24
Career earnings: $81,196,658
Career stats: 12.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.2 apg, 42.2 FG%, 34.5 3P%
No. 13 pick: Tristan Thompson
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Tristan Thompson wasn’t a total bust after being the fifth overall pick, playing a major role as a rebounder and pick-and-roll finisher for the Cavaliers team that won the 2016 championship, but he didn’t quite live up to that draft slot, either. Still, in his prime, Thompson was one of the league’s best offensive rebounders and a good screen-setter.
Actual position: No. 4
Career earnings: $118,643,214
Career stats: 9.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, 51.9 FG%, 26.3 3P%
No. 14 pick: Alec Burks
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It was between Klay Thompson and Alec Burks regarding who would be the best off-ball guard from the 2011 draft class. Looking back, the conversation looks somewhat silly but at the time, there was legitimate debate as to who had more upside. Burks’ career has been nothing to sneeze at, still trucking along as a solid bench scorer, but he obviously hasn’t been anywhere near Thompson as far as impact and accolades.
Actual position: No. 12
Career earnings: $69,072,453
Career stats: 10.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 41.9 FG%, 38.4 3P%
No. 15 pick: Enes Freedom
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Due to his overseas career, Enes Freedom wasn’t able to play for the college he committed to, Kentucky, which was a shame as he was a five-star prospect, a center with high-level post-up moves and rebounding acumen, even as a teenager. Watching him dominate for the Wildcats down low the way DeMarcus Cousins did just before him would have been fun. Regardless, Freedom bounced back from being declared ineligible, posting a solid NBA career as a big man who could score and rebound (though not defend).
Actual position: No. 3
Career earnings: $102,454,224
Career stats: 11.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 54.8 FG%, 28.9 3P%
No. 16 pick: Markieff Morris
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The other Morris twin hasn’t had quite as impactful of a career as his brother, though he does boast a similar skill set as a versatile defender who provides floor-spacing and face-up scoring.
Actual position: No. 13
Career earnings: $49,149,565
Career stats: 10.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.6 apg, 44.6 FG%, 34.3 3P%
No. 17 pick: Nikola Mirotic
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Prior to going back to Europe and joining Barcelona, Nikola Mirotic was a good role player in the NBA, a skilled big man who could dribble, shoot, pass and score as a 4-man without providing much in the way of defense.
Actual position: No. 23
Career earnings: $41,631,175
Career stats: 12.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 42.3 FG%, 35.9 3P%
No. 18 pick: Chandler Parsons
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It’s unfortunate that Chandler Parsons saw injuries end his career prematurely, as he had the makings of a solid swingman, a player with great size for the position, good ball-handling, playmaking and decent enough shooting.
Actual position: No. 38
Career earnings: $127,164,774
Career stats: 12.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 46.2 FG%, 37.3 3P%
No. 19 pick: Brandon Knight
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Brandon Knight had it going in the NBA for a bit, even getting All-Star endorsements from the likes of Charles Barkley in 2015 when he was putting up 17.0 points and 5.2 assists per contest. Knight had some athleticism and wiggle, ball-handling ability and a decent jumper but before he could really hit that star level, he, unfortunately, blew out his knee and never regained that respectable form.
Actual position: No. 8
Career earnings: $82,095,269
Career stats: 14.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.9 apg, 41.1 FG%, 35.2 3P%
No. 20 pick: Davis Bertans
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps underrated in this re-draft, at least Davis Bertans remains in the NBA to this day as an impactful role player thanks to his elite jumper and the deep range he has on his shooting.
Actual position: No. 42
Career earnings: $46,856,082
Career stats: 7.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.0 apg, 42.4 FG%, 39.7 3P%
No. 21 pick: Kenneth Faried
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
A player that came up in the wrong era, Kenneth Faried was a rebounding machine, particularly on the offensive end. Outside of that, he could finish around the basket despite being undersized thanks to his relentless energy and impressive athleticism. But lacking a jumper and at his size, it was going to be tough for Faried to enjoy a very long or fruitful career in this NBA.
Actual position: No. 22
Career earnings: $56,898,674
Career stats: 11.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.0 apg, 54.6 FG%, 22.2 3P%
No. 22 pick: Justin Holiday
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A decent role player, Justin Holiday provides teams with defense and some spot-up shooting, knowing what his role is and performing it well enough to stick around to this day.
Actual position: Undrafted
Career earnings: $28,349,494
Career stats: 8.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 39.8 FG%, 36.4 3P%
No. 23 pick: Cory Joseph
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Another solid role-playing guard, Cory Joseph is far from a star and sometimes draws ire from fans, but he can run an offense off the bench, get guys in the right spots and set up teammates for good looks. He also gives good effort defensively.
Actual position: No. 29
Career earnings: $67,251,153
Career stats: 7.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 44.3 FG%, 34.6 3P%
No. 24 pick: Bismack Biyombo
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It’s actually impressive that Bismack Biyombo has stuck it out in the NBA as long as he has despite having next to no offensive game. He plays with energy, however, and is an elite shot-blocker thanks to an unreal wingspan.
Actual position: No. 7
Career earnings: $88,942,306
Career stats: 5.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 53.2 FG%, 55.7 FT%
No. 25 pick: Iman Shumpert
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Iman Shumpert had some promise early on in his career thanks to having good size and great athleticism for a guard, though he wasn’t skilled enough in any area to really thrive as anything but a role player.
Actual position: No. 17
Career earnings: $48,605,237
Career stats: 7.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 39.1 FG%, 33.7 3P%
No. 26 pick: E'Twaun Moore
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E’Twaun Moore likewise had his moments but he was never much to write home about, providing teams with a solid locker-room presence, spot-up shooting and good effort.
Actual position: No. 55
Career earnings: $43,776,960
Career stats: 7.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 45.5 FG%, 38.8 3P%
No. 27 pick: Jan Vesely
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Making his way onto this list mostly for his exploits in Europe, Jan Vesely used to be called the European Blake Griffin due to his similar playing style as a super explosive pick-and-roll finisher. Vesely never broke out in the NBA but he has been a star overseason for many years now, currently playing for Barcelona with Mirotic.
Actual position: No. 6
Career earnings: $9,884,880
Career stats: 3.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.6 apg, 52.1 FG%, 40.8 FT%
No. 28 pick: Norris Cole
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Because Miami wasn’t able to land Jackson, it went with Norris Cole instead, which wasn’t a bad consolation prize considering what it needed at the time. No, Cole wasn’t as good in the NBA as Jackson, but he was a serviceable backup point guard during James, Wade and Bosh’s tenure with the Heat, giving Miami good minutes off the bench behind Mario Chalmers during two title runs.
Actual position: No. 28
Career earnings: $8,982,899
Career stats: 7.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 40.7 FG%, 32.4 3P%
No. 29 pick: Chris Singleton
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Another player who has done more in Europe than in the NBA, Chris Singleton is a defensive-minded swingman who can hit open shots and score off of slashes. He just wasn’t quick or athletic enough – or skilled as a shooter or ball-handler – to make a mark in the NBA.
Actual position: No. 18
Career earnings: $4,789,080
Career stats: 4.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.6 apg, 37.6 FG%, 31.9 3P%
No. 30 pick: Shelvin Mack
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A star at Butler who nearly won two national titles at the former mid-major power, Shelvin Mack had a long career in the NBA, lasting eight seasons as mostly a backup point guard.
Actual position: No. 34
Career earnings: $17,932,298
Career stats: 6.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.1 apg, 42.3 FG%, 33.0 3P%
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Justin Holiday: From undrafted to No. 22
Isaiah Thomas: From No. 60 to No. 7 (+53)
E’Twaun Moore: From No. 55 to No. 26 (+29)
Jimmy Butler: From No. 30 to No. 2 (+28)
Davis Bertans: From No. 42 to No. 20 (+22)
Bojan Bogdanovic: From No. 31 to No. 10 (+21)
Chandler Parsons: From No. 38 to No. 18 (+20)
Kawhi Leonard: From No. 15 to No. 1 (+14)
Reggie Jackson: From No. 24 to No. 12 (+12)
Highest picks not listed
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Derrick Williams: No. 2
Jimmer Fredette: No. 10
Donatas Motiejunas: No. 20
MarShon Brooks: No. 25