The 2011 NBA Draft is over two months away, but, much like the NFL, that won't stop the mock drafts from coming. Luckily, the NBA Draft is only two rounds long, so fans don't need to dig deep to find "sleepers." And SB Nation has its first 2011 NBA mock draft out. Thanks to the Nuggets clinching a playoff spot for the eighth year in a row, they do not appear in this mock because it covers just the lottery selections (top 14 picks).
Duke point guard Kyrie Irving, despite playing only eight regular season games, is the first pick overall. He returned for three NCAA Tournament games and looked good out there. He capped off the season with 28 points in a loss to the Arizona Wildcats. He's the top point guard should he enter the draft, which is a good bet to happen.
Absent from these lottery selections is Colorado Buffaloes sophomore Alec Burks, who should be a lottery pick whenever he declares for the draft. He led the Buffs to the NIT semifinals on the strength of his 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds this past season. In DraftExpress' latest mock draft (April 1), Alec Burks is the No. 14 overall selection to the Houston Rockets. In NBADraft.net's mock (March 31), has Burks as the fifth overall pick to the Sacramento Kings. Burks could be one of the more intriguing players in 2011 if he declares.
As for the Nuggets, they would probably like Alec Burks, but picking in the 20s will put him out of their reach. While SB Nation has yet to go beyond the lottery, the other two mocks both have the Nuggets selecting a small forward--what with Carmelo Anthony gone. Right now Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler have played the position for the Nuggets. DraftExpress has Vanderbilt's Jeff Taylor go to the Nuggets at No. 22, but believes he is a role player in the end with a better defensive game than scoring one.
The 2011 NBA Draft takes place on June 23.