2011 NBA Draft Depth Could Lead to Surprise No. 1 Selection

The depth of the 2011 NBA Draft has created a situation where the No. 1 overall selection might not be known till draft day. The order still has a few weeks before it becomes officially set, as the lottery portion of the draft will take place during the NBA Playoffs. At that point the real debate about which eligible player should be drafted at No. 1 will really kick into high gear. It may depend on what that team needs the most, because right now there are several players who have the talent to be taken with the first selection.

ESPN’s Chad Ford echoes the sentiment that there is no clear favorite to become that No. 1 pick. He laid out three players who are in the running. Duke’s Kyrie Irving, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, and now Arizona’s Derrick Williams lead a draft class that seems to be getting deeper by the week.

With each game in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, there were new players showing the rest of the country what they could do. We have talked about how talented Williams is on the Yahoo! Contributor Network a number of times this year, but success against both North Carolina and Duke in the tournament made him a household name for college basketball fans.

Someone who doesn’t closely follow college basketball or the NBA might ask why it is surprising that the No. 1 pick of the 2011 Draft can be determined. The fact is, usually the No. 1 overall selection is a consensus pick, where just about every analyst in the country agrees about which player should be drafted first. There might be debate about who goes second or third, but that first overall selection is usually more obvious. Last year it was point guard John Wall from Kentucky, the year before it was Blake Griffin from Oklahoma State, and before that it was Derrick Rose from Memphis. There was no debate to be had in any of those three drafts.

The last time that there was really a debate was in 2007, when Ohio State big man Greg Oden was taken ahead of Texas small forward Kevin Durant. Portland would probably like to make that pick differently, but Oden was a huge force down low, and there was no way to predict he would suffer from so many injuries. That is the risk that comes with a forced decision at the top of a draft board, but it becomes even harder when a team has to weigh the pros and cons of several players. The future of a franchise could be on the line this June, and it could come down to getting lucky with which player is selected first.

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