Like most other draft classes, the 2011 NBA Draft produced its fair share of All-Stars, busts, and second-round steals. Hindsight is of course 20/20 and it’s easy to go back and laugh at some of the worst picks of the draft while simultaneously marveling over certain players falling down draft boards.
If you could go back in time knowing what you know now, how would the 2011 NBA Draft lottery unfold?
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
Original pick: Kyrie Irving
New Pick: Kawhi Leonard
You really can’t go wrong with picking Irving again here as he is certainly one of the best NBA point guards in the league today. However, if I have a choice between Leonard and Irving, I’m taking the Klaw more times than not.
Already a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year at just 28 years old, Leonard is a lockdown defender with a fantastic offensive skillset to match.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
Original Pick: Derrick Williams
New Pick: Kyrie Irving
Yes the Timberwolves would finally get to see Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio in action in 2011 but as we all know, Rubio wasn’t quite the player that he was cracked up to be.
Regardless, the T-Wolves would be happy to land a bonafide star at point guard with the second overall pick. Irving has been named an NBA All-Star in six of his nine seasons in the league and when you compare it to the incredibly underwhelming career of Williams, this pick becomes even better.
3. Utah Jazz
Original Pick: Enes Kanter
New Pick: Klay Thompson
It was incredibly difficult to choose between Thompson and Jimmy Butler for this pick but you really can’t go wrong with either so I went with Thompson seeing as he is already one of the best shooters in NBA history.
Kanter is a great role player but certainly wasn’t worth the third overall selection. Now, the Jazz has Thompson to pair with young stars Gordon Hayward and Paul Millsap.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Tristan Thompson
New Pick: Kemba Walker
The only reason I’m choosing Walker over Butler for this pick is that the Cavs already drafted a wing in Leonard with the first pick. Nonetheless, Walker is no consolation prize and in his nine NBA seasons, the former UConn star has developed into a scoring machine at point guard.
Walker keeps the Bobcats/Hornets afloat for years and maybe he’d have a better chance of success next to Leonard for this new Cavs squad.
5. Toronto Raptors
Original Pick: Jonas Valanciunas
New Pick: Jimmy Butler
The Raptors picked a really solid center in Valanciunas with this pick but it’s hard to believe that the team wouldn’t prefer the talents of Butler.
In our timeline, Butler is one of the better two-way players in the league and I have no reason to believe that things wouldn’t turn out the same if the Marquette star ended up in Canada.
6. Washington Wizards
Original Pick: Jan Vesley
New Pick: Tobias Harris
I feel like people don’t talk about how much of a bust Vesley was for Washington. Regardless, with a second chance, the Wizards right the ship by taking Tennessee forward Tobias Harris.
Harris has been one of the more underrated scorers in the NBA over the past few years as he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game — way better value at pick No. 6.
7. Sacramento Kings
Original Pick: Bismack Biyombo
New Pick: Nikola Vucevic
It looked like Biyombo was going to carve out quite the career but after a breakout season, things fell apart for the Congolese big man.
As for Vucevic, playing in Orlando has hurt his reputation as one of the best better men in the NBA today. A constant 20-10 threat, Vucevic would prepare the Kings for the eventual departure of DeMarcus Cousins.
Original Pick: Brandon Knight
New Pick: Isaiah Thomas
If this article was written after Thomas’ breakout 2016-17 NBA season with the Boston Celtics, the undersized point guard would be much higher on this list. Unfortunately, a hip injury has derailed Thomas’ career as of late.
Still, Thomas has put together three seasons of 20-plus points per game in his career and is a much better option than Knight.
9. Charlotte Bobcats
Original Pick: Kemba Walker
New Pick: Jonas Valciunas
While the Bobcats (now the Hornets) don’t get Walker in this scenario, they do get a consistent and underrated big man. He’ll probably never be an All-Star but he’s a fantastic supporting piece.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Original Pick: Jimmer Fredette
New Pick: Bojan Bogdanovic
Setting aside Fredette’s failure of an NBA career, Bogdanovic has very quietly developed into a top-notch scorer in the NBA.
This past season, Bogdanovic averaged over 20 points per game through 63 games and obviously provides a much bigger impact than Fredette did at the pro level.
11. Golden State Warriors
Original Pick: Klay Thompson
New Pick: Marcus Morris
While the Warriors are certainly getting a downgrade here by missing out on Thompson, Morris has become a really solid NBA player in recent years.
It took a while for Morris to show his full potential in the league but in the last few seasons, Morris has shown the ability to be an impact scorer and all-around player. His nearly 20 points per game in 43 games with the New York Knicks this season prove that.
12. Utah Jazz
Original Pick: Alec Burks
New Pick: Enes Kanter
Turns out, the Jazz still ends up with Kanter. Except for this time, it’s with the 12th overall pick. Despite Kanter’s reputation as a defensive liability and questionable fit in today’s perimeter-centric NBA, you can’t deny that the Turkish big man fits his niche very well.
A fantastic rebounder and post scorer, Kanter offers solid value at No. 12.
13. Phoenix Suns
Original Pick: Markieff Morris
New Pick: Tristan Thompson
While he may not be fourth overall pick good, Thompson is a serviceable big man in the NBA and has proven to be a solid piece for any team.
Markieff Morris is also a solid role player but Thompson has been a consistent double-double threat for most of his career and provides good defense despite being undersized.
14. Houston Rockets
Original Pick: Marcus Morris
New Pick: Nikola Mirotic
Despite opting to voluntarily return to the EuroLeague this season, Mirotic has had quite a successful six seasons in the league.
Mirotic wouldn’t actually join an NBA team until 2014 but after that, career averages of 12.3 and 5.9 with an excellent outside shot prove that the 6-foot-10 power forward deserves to be considered one of the better players in the 2011 draft class.