Klay Thompson projected to be a great three-point shooter coming out of Washington State, but even the Golden State Warriors have to be surprised just how amazing he turned out.
The sharpshooting guard and young-half of the Splash Bros would never fall all the way down to 11th-overall in a re-draft, another great pick from the Warriors. Their ability to make the right picks outside of the top-five has been instrumental to their success.
Let’s take a look at where the 10 players who were taken ahead of him are now, which features a pretty solid group of talent, but only one true superstar.
1. Kyrie Irving- Cleveland Cavaliers
There’s little doubt that Kyrie Irving would still be the Cavaliers’ pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He’s now an NBA champion, has seen the NBA Finals twice, and delivered the knockout-blow to the Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
Say no more, Kyrie is that dude. The only question here is whether the Cavaliers would go back and take Kawhi Leonard – who went 15th-overall – given the chance.
2. Derrick Williams – Minnesota Timberwolves
A versatile scorer in college, Derrick Williams was like an alpha version of the ever-popular combo forward these days. He never quite panned out for the the Timberwolves and has become an NBA journeyman since.
That has its perks, though, as he’s found himself on the defending champion Cavaliers. Cleveland’s fingerprints are all over this lottery class, as we’ll see.
3. Enes Kanter – Utah Jazz
Enes Kanter is a unique talent. To say he didn’t translate into a productive NBA player is false, but he never quite became the transcendent talent a franchise hopes for with a top-three pick.
Kanter was traded to the Thunder in 2015 and that’s where he remains, currently riding the Russell Westbrook triple-double train to the playoffs as an off-the-bench frontcourt scorer.
4. Tristan Thompson – Cleveland Cavaliers
Here the Cavaliers are again, and it looks like they “hit” with both of their 2011 lottery picks. Tristan Thompson isn’t a wow-ing player, but he’s a solid big man that Cleveland won a championship with.
Would he viewed in such a positive light producing the way he does if the Cavaliers weren’t winning with LeBron James again? Porbably not, but as a roleplayer who helped deliver a title, it’s hard to argue here.
5. Jonas Valanciunas – Toronto Raptors
Jonas Valanciunas remains the starting big man in Toronto, one of the reasons the Raptors have been able to surge into relevancy over the last several years. His numbers have never been flashy, but he’s one of the most skilled bigs in the NBA and is still just 24.
Would he still go fifth-overall? It’s hard to imagine him going lower, and there’s an argument to be made that he could deserve to go ahead of everyone above him besides Kyrie.
6. Jan Vesely – Washington Wizards
There’s really no argument that Jan Vesely is the biggest bust out of this lottery. Going sixth-overall, expectations are that a player will, at a minimum, be a rotation guy. Instead, Vesely was rotated right out of the NBA after three short years.
He’s currently playing with Turkish club Fenerbahce, and plays on the Czech Republic national team.
7. Bismack Biyombo – Sacramento Kings (draft-trade to Charlotte)
Bismack Biyombo has managed to make a career for himself despite putting up forgettable numbers. He’s carved a niche as a budget big man who can provide some size in the frontcourt.
He’d probably fall a bit further down in a re-draft, but at least he’s managed to find his way as an NBA player.
8. Brandon Knight – Detroit Pistons
Brandon Knight was drafted as a point guard but it quickly became clear he’s more suited as a combo-guard focused on scoring. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks to partner with Monta Ellis, and has since found his new home off the bench with the Phoenix Suns.
Unfortunately for him, his career highlight is getting posterized into oblivion by DeAndre Jordan:
9. Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets
Here’s our (second) biggest jump from this particular list. Kemba Walker is the rare undersized scoring point guard who dominated in college that actually translated. He’s the master of the stepback jumper and has been the Hornets’ foundational pillar since joining.
Just enjoy this compilation of sweet stepbacks. We know what you’re here for:
10. Jimmer Fredette – Milwaukee Bucks (draft-trade to Kings)
Everyone’s favorite random guard who scored a bunch in college by shooting from zones only Stephen Curry braves is no longer in the NBA, but Jimmer Fredette had opportunity after opportunity before finally falling out.
He’s now hooping it up in China, scoring in bunches for the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks club.
This concludes the lottery picks that were taken ahead of the Splash Brother. Klay had a smooth stroke coming out of college and would absolutely jump into the top of this crop of talent.