2011 NBA Mock Draft: Is Kyrie Irving Or Nick Gilbert Top Story At The Lottery?

2011 NBA Mock Drafts will start in earnest now that the lottery is set, and while Kyrie Irving appears to be the top prize, the award from Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery goes to Nick Gilbert.

Kyrie Irving is the best player in the 2011 NBA Draft, and is expected to be the top overall pick.  However, some wonder if a toe injury will hurt his draft status.  He missed all but 11 games of his Freshman year at Duke with a toe and was absent as the Blue Devils won the ACC Tournament.  He did attend the lottery in Secacus, NJ though.  After all, it is just 20 miles from home.

While Irving was expected to command most of the attention at the NBA Draft Lottery, Nick Gilbert ended up stealing the show.  The 14-year-old son of Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert was born with a nerve disorder (neurofibromatosis) that causes tumor growth.  The elder Gilbert had his “good luck charm” represent the team at the NBA Draft Lottery.

ESPN reporter Heather Cox introduced Nick Gilbert as an Ambassador for the National Children’s Tumor Foundation.  When she asked him about being at the lottery and being his dad’s “own personal hero”.  His reply was well-received by those in attendance…”Well, I mean, what’s not to like?”  After pausing for the laughter from the crowd, he continued “I’m the oldest of five. I have a good life.  I’m going through this disease, but I’m going through it well.  I’m getting better. Research is [helping] with all the money people are donating. Yeah, everything’s going good.”

Gilbert’s response was poignant in addition to being funny.  “What’s not to like” has become a new mantra for the Cavs organization and fans, showing up on T-Shirts and receiving a push to appear on billboards.

Dan Gilbert’s good luck charm worked wonders for the Cavs, as they were awarded with the first and fourth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.  After the picks were assigned he stated “I guess you couldn’t do any better than this. I guess you could [get] one and two, but we’ll take one and four.”

The Cavs received a second lottery pick after making a considerable financial investment in point guard Baron Davis.  A February trade with the Los Angeles Clippers netted Baron Davis and the Clippers’ lottery pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Given Davis’ presence and other needs, is it possible the Cavaliers opt to go a different direction and fill one of their many other needs?

While possible, it is extremely unlikely.  A source from the Cavs’ front office confirmed the primary target in the February trade wasn’t Davis, but acquiring the Clippers’ draft pick.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source told ESPN.com “we know we’re going to have to build this team through the lottery.  We hope Baron works out, but our primary focus was the pick. We really wanted two top-10 picks to infuse the team with young talent.”

The Cavs are devoid of star power, and Irving can step in from day one and run the floor.  For Cleveland to rebuild the team, they need top-tier players, not “good enough for now.”

Irving is the kind of talent a team can be built around.  The overall talent pool is depleted in 2011, thanks in large part to fewer underclassmen entering the draft due to labor uncertainty.  But Irving is a top prospect in any draft, and Cavalier fans should revolt if he isn’t the first pick.  That said, I can see a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, allowing them to grab Enes Kanter and Brandon Knight.

Now that the lottery picks are assigned, here is my initial 2011 NBA Mock Draft:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, PG Duke

2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Enes Kanter, PF/C Turkey

3. Utah Jazz: Derrick Williams, SF Arizona

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jan Vesely, SF Czech Republic

5. Toronto Raptors: Brandon Knight, G Kentucky

6. Washington Wizards: Bismack Biyombo, C

7. Sacramento Kings: Jonas Valanciunas, F Lithuania

8. Detroit Pistons: Kemba Walker, PG UCONN

9. Charlotte Bobcats: Donatas Montiejunas, PF

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Alec Burks, SG Colorado

11. Golden State Warriors: Marcus Morris, F Kansas

12. Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, PG Brigham Young

13. Phoenix Suns: Kawhi Leonard, SF San Diego State

14. Houston Rockets: Lucas Nogueira, C Brazil

15. Indiana Pacers: Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State

16. Philadelphia 76ers: Tristan Thompson, F Texas

17. New York Knicks: Markieff Morris, PF Kansas

18. Washington Wizards: Tyler Honeycutt, SF UCLA

19. Charlotte Bobcats: Jordan Hamilton, SG/SF Texas

20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Darius Morris, PG Michigan

21. Portland Trail Blazers: Nikola Mirotic, PF

22. Denver Nuggets: Trey Thompkins, PF Georgia

23. Houston Rockets: Reggie Jackson, PG Boston College

24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kenneth Faried, PF Morehead State

25.Boston Celtics: Nolan Smith, PG Duke

26. Dallas Mavericks: Kyle Singler, SF Duke

27. New Jersey Nets: Josh Selby, SG Kansas

28. Chicago Bulls: Tobias Harris, SF Tennessee

29. San Antonio Spurs: Davis Bertans, SF

30. Chicago Bulls: Chris Singleton, F FSU

This article is a continuation of Darin Pike’s article on Bleacher Report:

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