The 2011 NBA Draft is widely viewed as the most undesirable collection of talent since the 2000 draft, which is rated the weakest in league history.
This week's less-than-appealing event, fittingly enough, will take place in Newark, N.J.
While examining this year's talent pool, presumably front-office executives studied next year's draft closely. With so few desirables on this year's board, teams will try to swap 2011 picks for 2012 picks and beyond. Good luck getting other teams to bite.
Here's how we see Thursday night's draft shaping up – barring trades, of course:
2011 MOCK DRAFT1. Cleveland (from LA Clippers) – PG Kyrie Irving (Duke), 6-4, 191: Not a Derrick Rose or John Wall, but pretty darn good.
2. Minnesota – PF Derrick Williams (Arizona), 6-9, 249: Has improved immensely in a very short time. Could become a beast.
3. Utah (from New Jersey) – C Enes Kanter (Turkey), 6-11, 260: Picking Kanter makes it possible to get local hero at No. 12.
4. Cleveland – C Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania), 6-10, 230: Look at this pick. This is exactly why the Cavs are trying to trade up.
5. Toronto – PG Brandon Knight (Kentucky), 6-3, 177: Jose Calderon playing the point and Knight used as a combo guard.
6. Washington – PF Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), 6-11, 240: Could help form a decent frontcourt alongside McGee and Blatche.
7. Sacramento – SF Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State), 6-7, 228: Between him and Cousins, there might not be any rebounds left.
8. Detroit – PG Kemba Walker (UConn), 6-1, 184: Solid pick at an important position. Walker showed great leadership at UConn.
9. Charlotte – PF Bismack Biyombo (Rep. of Congo), 6-9, 243: Could be a risky selection this high, but the Bobcats need length.
10. Milwaukee – SG Klay Thompson (Washington State), 6-7, 206: Seems like a good successor to bombardier Michael Redd.
11. Golden State – PF Marcus Morris (Kansas), 6-9, 230: The Warriors simply can't pass on Morris if he's still on the board here.
12. Utah – PG Jimmer Fredette (BYU), 6-3, 196: A potential risk, but it's a good way for struggling Jazz to win back its fan base.
13. Phoenix – PF Tristan Thompson (Texas), 6-9, 228: Would be good frontcourt complement to Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye.
14. Houston – PF Kenneth Faried (Morehead State), 6-8, 225: With questions surrounding Yao and Hayes, Rockets need rebounds.
15. Indiana – SG Alec Burks (Colorado), 6-6, 193: Pacers look for outside scoring threat to go along with their solid frontcourt trio.
16. Philadelphia – PF Markieff Morris (Kansas), 6-9, 241: Sixers need defense; might choose hometown kid Morris over Singleton.
17. New York – SG Marshon Brooks (Providence), 6-5, 195: Big East product would add even more points to Knicks' scoring attack.
18. Washington (from Atlanta) – SF Jordan Hamilton (Texas), 6-9, 229: The Wizards require points, and Hamilton sure can score.
19. Charlotte (from New Orleans via Portland) – SF Chris Singleton (Florida State), 6-9, 230: Bobcats will pick Singleton or Morris.
20. Minnesota (from Memphis via Utah) – PF Donatas Motiejunas (Lithuania), 7-0, 220: Now with Rubio, Timberwolves look inside.
21. Portland – C Nikola Vucevic (USC), 7-0, 260: Trail Blazers turn the page on Greg Oden and get a wide body with some potential.
22. Denver – PF Tobias Harris (Tennessee), 6-8, 223: Is a multi-dimensional player, which is a good fit with the up-tempo Nuggets.
23. Houston (from Orlando via Phoenix) – PG Darius Morris (Michigan), 6-5, 190: Would give Rockets some needed size at guard.
24. Thunder – SF Nikola Mirotic (Montenegro), 6-10, 226: Could be a steal three years from now, and the Thunder can afford to wait.
25. Boston – C Jeremy Tyler (San Diego/Tokyo), 6-11, 263: Looking for a center, Celtics nab a young project – a la Kendrick Perkins.
26. Dallas – PG Josh Selby (Kansas), 6-3, 195: With unrestricted free agent J.J. Barea likely gone, the champs take a chance on Selby.
27. New Jersey (from LA Lakers) – PG Reggie Jackson (Boston College), 6-3, 208: Jackson is a wise pick with Deron Williams pouting.
28. Chicago (from Miami via Toronto) – PF Justin Harper (Richmond), 6-9, 228: An athletic stretch 4 who will fit right in with Bulls.
29. San Antonio – SF Kyle Singler (Duke), 6-9, 228: Spurs once again get a player who will make other teams regret not taking him.
30. Chicago – SG Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA), 6-8, 188: A No. 2 guard who is long, smart, unselfish, plays defense and can pass the ball.
Next five: PG Norris Cole (Cleveland State); SF Davis Bertans (Latvia); PG Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech); SG Nolan Smith (Duke); PF JuJuan Johnson (Purdue).
1. PF Bismack Biyombo (Rep. of Congo): Serge Ibaka's intriguing fellow countryman has been listed anywhere from No. 5 through No. 20.
2. SG Klay Thompson (Washington State): The more he shoots, the more scouts like him. Nice height (6-foot-7) and great range on jumper.
3. SG Marshon Brooks (Providence): His unfathomable 7-foot-1 wingspan on a 6-foot-5 frame has people studying this big-time scorer.
4. PF Kenneth Faried (Morehead State): Stat gurus have proclaimed him the third-best rebounder in the last 30 years of collegiate ball.
5. PG Josh Selby (Kansas): He sure didn't show much as a college freshman, but his athleticism has shown up in NBA workout sessions.
1. PG Reggie Jackson (Boston College): Long and athletic, could be the fourth point guard picked – or he could be the eighth.
2. PF Marcus Morris (Kansas): The emergences of Biyombo, Faried and Tobias Harris might push Morris out of the lottery.
3. C Nikola Vucevic (USC): Once considered a potential lottery selection, this is the guy who all the rising players are passing.
4. SF Chris Singleton (Florida State): Teams are taking an extra-close look at last year's foot injury he suffered, just to be certain.
5. SG Nolan Smith (Duke): Though he excelled at point guard in place of No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving, Smith is looked at as a tweener.
- John Rohde
ESPN to video conference with Thunder
ESPN will have video conferencing from the headquarters of 16 teams, including the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, for its NBA Draft coverage at 6 p.m. Thursday. The video conferencing will provide immediate access to key team personnel.
The network will use a “Draft Cam” from the draft rooms of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz, the teams holding the top four picks.
Stuart Scott will host ESPN's coverage with analysts Jay Bilas, Jeff Van Gundy and Jon Barry. Additionally, Fran Fraschilla will offer analysis on the international prospects, with as many as eight expected to be drafted in the first round.
Additional contributors will include: Mark Jones, conducting interviews with the NBA draftees; Heather Cox, interviewing key figures in the green room; Tom Penn, offering perspective on salary cap situations; Ric Bucher, covering breaking NBA news, including trade talks, and Andy Katz, reporting on breaking draft news. Jeannine Edwards will report from Cleveland, with the Cavaliers holding the first and fourth picks in the draft, and Rachel Nichols will report from Tarrytown, N.Y., site of the New York Knicks practice facility.
NBA Network will provide a draft recap at 11 p.m.- By Mel Bracht, media writer