The 2011 NBA Draft introduced our league to some of the best players in the game today. It may have took a few seasons for fans to realize the gold that was stashed in the that draft class, as some guys who went late in this draft turned out to be top tier NBA stars. Along with all of the talent that was in this draft, the 2011 class was filled with players who never produced like they were projected to, as awesome college careers transformed to decent NBA careers. If teams were able to go back and re-draft, the order would look much different than it did back then.
In this article, we will be looking at 16 NBA players who were drafted in the 2011 draft, 8 of them being stars in the league today and 8 who turned out to be busts. Considering the draft wasn't too long ago, some of the guys on the bust list have time to take their name out of this article, but it has been six years, and some teams are certainly wishing they took another player.
As always, feel free to leave any thoughts you have on this in the comment section below. We would love to hear your opinion.
16 Star: Nikola Vucevic
Drafted: 16th overall, Philadelphia 76ers
Nikola Vucevic has developed into one of the better big men in the NBA, and while his stats have dropped over the past few seasons, he was turning heads in 2015.His best season, Vucevic averaged over 19 points per game for the Orlando Magic. The Sixers were the original team that drafted the center from USC, but Nikola turned into a star with Orlando a few years later. Philadelphia took him with the 16th pick, which turned out to be a great pick at that spot. However, Vucevic was traded to Orlando just a season later in the four-team deal involving Dwight Howard going to Los Angeles.
Vucevic definitely turned out to be one of the best players picked in the 2011 NBA Draft.
15 Bust: Jonas Valanciunas
Drafted: 5th overall, Toronto Raptors
Jonas Valanciunas is a solid starting center for the Toronto Raptors, but considering he was drafted with the 5th overallpick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Raptors organization is without a doubt disappointed in the play so far of their center. With that pick, they could have taken the aforementioned Vucevic. Jonas's best season was two seasons ago where he averaged about 13 points and 9 rebounds per game. Those numbers aren't terrible like some of the other busts on this list, but the stars that were drafted behind Jonas makes him a bust for sure. His stats are just nowhere near a top 5 draft selection should be if everything works out well, sadly.
14 Star: Reggie Jackson
Drafted: 24th overall, Oklahoma City Thunder
It took Reggie Jackson a few years in the NBA to find his footing, but he is now looking to be one of the better point-guards in the league for Detroit. He was drafted 24th by Oklahoma City, and ended up playing four seasons for them.
He has since blossomed with the Detroit Pistons, as he even averaged 19 points per game two seasons ago. He is a good scorer on the NBA level, and has solid court vision as well as he has even touched over 9 assists per game one season. His defense still needs work, but he is still a young player and has room to grow. He's somebody the Pistons will definitely try to build around for the foreseeable future.
13 Bust: Nolan Smith
Drafted: 21st overall, Portland Trail Blazers
You probably don't know the name Nolan Smith, and you really have no reason to. Nolan was drafted with the 21st pick by the Trail Blazers back in 2011, but his career just sadly never panned out. He only played two seasons for Portland before he was out of the league completely. Only playing 84 games in his career, Portland front office personal have definitely lost sleep over this one, as Smith turned out to be a total bust. The Trail Blazers have hit big on a few of their picks with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but Nolan Smith was just a complete miss. Hey, it's not as if Portland isn't used to disappointing first-round picks, right?
12 Star: Kemba Walker
Drafted: 9th overall, Charlotte Bobcats
Kemba Walker is an all-star caliber NBA player, and he has carved out a nice place to play in Charlotte as he is the franchise player there. Back when the Hornets were called the Bobcats, they made a solid choice by selecting Kemba Walker to be their point-guard with the 9th pick in the 2011 Draft. While a few better players were selected behind, considering their were a lot of players who didn't pan out, grabbing Walker with the 9th pick is nothing to be ashamed of. Walker still has yet to take the step to superstardom in the NBA, but he still has time to progress his game. Poor Walker had to spend his early years on a hapless Bobcats team, but things seem to be looking up for the Hornets.
11 Bust: Tristan Thompson
Drafted: 4th overall, Cleveland Cavaliers
Despite being a starting center on one of the league's top teams, Tristan Thompson is so far not the franchise center that Cleveland hoped they were acquiring with the 4th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. For his career, Thompson averages about 9 points and 9 rebounds per game. He has made a few big defensive plays here and there throughout his time with Cleveland, but Thompson is definitely still hoping there is another step for his career. Thompson was supposed to be the dominant center to pair up with Kyrie Irving, but so far it looks as though Tristan Thompson just doesn't have what it takes to be a top tier center in the NBA. Thankfully, LeBron's carrying the team.
10 Star: Klay Thompson
Drafted: 11th overall, Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson is up there with the greatest shooters in NBA history. Scoring 70 points in three quarters of play is special to say the least, and the fact that 10 guys were selected before him in 2011 is remarkable. A true catch and shoot marksman, Thompson can light it up on any given night and put up huge numbers in a hurry. While his play has dropped since the Warriors signed Kevin Durant last summer, he will find his stride alongside the other Warriors stars soon. If not, he would be the best scorer on pretty much every other team in the league, as he really does have all the offensive and defensive talent to compete with the best.
9 Bust: Enes Kanter
Drafted: 3rd overall, Utah Jazz
Enes Kanter has shown flashes of being a premier power-forward, but his career just haven't taken off the way the Jazz thought it was going to. Obviously high on the Freshman center from Kentucky, Utah took Kanter with the 3rd pick in 2011. He spent four seasons in Utah, and while his stats improved season after season, his time spent in Utah was underwhelming for a top 3 draft selection. He had a great first season with the Thunder, but his stats have dropped over the past few seasons. Kanter is a great option for the Thunder off the bench, but he was supposed to be the next best scorer down low and he has not yet lived up to being a top 3 pick at all.
8 Star: Isaiah Thomas
Drafted: 60th overall, Sacramento Kings
Easily one of the biggest steals in NBA history, the Kings had no idea they were selecting one of the league's next best point-guards when they took Isaiah Thomas with the final pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Thomas played three seasons for the Kings, even averaging over 20 points per game his third season there. He was then traded to the Suns however, where he spent a season before he was then dealt to the Boston Celtics. Boston is where Isaiah hit his prime, as he is now a top point guard in the NBA, averaging 28.9 points per contest this last season. Now playing for the Cavaliers, it will be interesting how he plays alongside LeBron James in Cleveland.
7 Bust: Bismack Biyombo
Drafted: 7th overall, Sacramento Kings (Traded to Bobcats)
Bismack Biyombo should not have been taking with the 7th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft let along even being taken in the lottery. Biyombo was given over 27 minutes of playing in his second season of play with the Bobcats, and he averaged just under 5 points per game. Those numbers right there show that Biyombo has almost no offensive game to work with, and while his defense does make up for it a tad, he has not done much in the league for me to not think of him as a bust when talking about the 2011 NBA Draft. A good defensive player, his lack of offense is what really has hurt his chances of becoming a really good player.
6 Star: Jimmy Butler
Drafted: 30th overall, Chicago Bulls
Jimmy Butler is a top NBA player due to his excellent defensive and offensive abilities. A great slasher to the basket, Butler also has a great shooting touch and can defend the best player on the other team if needed. Drafted with the last pick of the first round by the Chicago Bulls, the Bulls made a great pick as they got themselves a franchise corner stone. He has since been traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves where he is starting a new chapter, but Chicago really did select a awesome player with Jimmy Butler. It will be something to see this season in Minnesota as he teams up with the young talent they have built there.
5 Bust: Jimmer Fredette
Drafted: 10th overall, Milwaukee Bucks (Traded to Kings)
Jimmer Fredette was one of the best scorers in college basketball during his days at BYU, but his struggle to translate his college success to the NBA was hard to say the least, which is why he finds himself on the bust category of this list. Taken 10th by the Bucks, the Kings liked what they saw in Jimmer and traded for him. He averaged 7.6 points in his rookie season, which would end up being his career high, as his stats dropped and dropped since then. Other than the Kings, Jimmer has played for the Pelicans, the Bulls, and the Knicks. Fredette is a classic example of a player succeeding in college but not being able to compete with NBA talent.
4 Star: Kyrie Irving
Drafted: 1st overall, Clevealnd Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving was taken with the number 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was able to grow and develop his first few seasons there, as he became one of the leagues best young stars while playing for a awful Cavaliers team. Then comes LeBron James, and Kyrie steps up his game to another level, as he and King James were able to bring Cleveland their first NBA championship ever back in 2016. A dynamic scorer on the offensive end, Kyrie Irving is a point-guard that all NBA teams would love to have on their roster. He surprised many when he wanted out of Cleveland, and Boston sure did give up a lot for him so hopefully he plays to the level they need him to play at to win games.
3 Bust: Jan Vesely
Drafted: 6th overall, Washington Wizards
Jan Vesely was simply a wasted pick by the Washington Wizards. Drafted with the 6th pick, Washington would never have taken Vesely with that pick if given another chance, as his career in the NBA has been over for a while now. He played three seasons in Washington before playing a season in Denver, which would turn out to be his final season in the NBA. He just didn't have what it took to be a solid big man, and his lack of production on the court is what pushed him out of the league so quickly. Washington definitely wishes they cashed in with this pick, as they could have added a superstar to their roster if picked right.
2 Star: Kawhi Leonard
Drafted: 15th overall, Indiana Pacers (Traded to Spurs)
Even with all the talent stashed in the 2011 Draft Class, Kawhi Leonard was the real diamond in the rough. Kawhi Leonard is the definition of an NBA superstar, as he does it all for the Spurs as has kept them a championship contending team with his awesome play. Taken with the 15th pick, the Pacers should have held on to the young player from San Diego State, as he really has developed into one of the NBA's best players.
Dominant on both ends of the basketball court, Kawhi Leonard is all business as he looks to stay competitive in the growingly dangerous Western Conference. The Spurs definitely swindled the Pacers in this trade. Good ol' Pop does it again!
1 Bust: Derrick Williams
Drafted: 2nd overall, Minnesota Timberwolves
Derrick Williams spent two good seasons at Arizona, as he really was one of the best players in college basketball back then. So good in fact, that Minnesota thought he was the guy to use their valuable second overall pick on, and sadly he turned out to be the wrong guy. He played three seasons for the Timberwolves before being traded to the Kings, but by that time he was already starting to be considered an underwhelming player.
A stop in New York, Miami, and now a year spent in Cleveland, Williams will continue to look for his home in the league. Never living up to being a number 2 draft selection, Derrick Williams was the biggest bust of the 2011 NBA Draft.