Back in 2011, nobody could’ve foreseen how loaded that year’s draft class would look eight years into the future. The first player selected, Kyrie Irving, has lived up to the hype that comes with being the top pick in the draft, but the rest of the top players taken haven’t played up to their draft positions. Players like number three pick Enes Kanter and number four pick Tristan Thompson have had decent careers to this point, but neither player has made it to an all-star game. The draft class also had a number of notable busts taken in the top 10. Second overall pick Derrick Williams is already out of the NBA as is sixth overall pick Jan Veselý. Most of the talent came outside of the top eight picks.
At number nine, Kemba Walker was selected by the Charlotte Hornets and has been their best player. Klay Thompson was selected a few spots later and he’s been a perennial all-star. The steal of the draft was Kawhi Leonard, who was drafted at number 15 by the Indiana Pacers and quickly traded to the San Antonio Spurs. The recent NBA Finals MVP has cemented himself as one of the five best players in the NBA. Other all-stars Tobias Harris, Nikola Vučević and Jimmy Butler were also selected in the first round of the draft. What’s one thing all the above-mentioned players have in common? They’re all about to be free agents.
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2019 Free Agency
For some reason, the basketball gods have made it to where all the all-stars from the 2011 draft have entered free agency at the same time. These players could shape a number of franchises for years to come. If Kawhi Leonard leaves the Toronto Raptors, his new team will be an immediate contender while the Raptors will likely fall into obscurity. The other players won’t necessarily have that same impact but could be the player that puts a solid team over the top. The Los Angeles Laker hope to be in the sweepstakes for almost all of these names after their acquisition of Anthony Davis. While it seems like Leonard and Irving aren’t likely to join LeBron James and AD, Butler or Kemba seems to be in their crosshairs. If the Laker can make the money work, expect them to be big players for those to guys. Klay Thompson could be a perfect fit for the Lakers, but after his injury, it’s highly unlikely he’ll leave Golden State. Leonard could join the Los Angeles Clippers and Irving seems poised to join one of the New York teams, immediately making any of those franchises much more exciting.
As fate would have it, the 2011 NBA Draft class holds the future of the NBA in their hands. Despite not getting much fanfare when first arriving in the NBA, they have all the power now. Out of all the players from the class that are entering free agency, only one seems likely to stay put. With so much movement on the horizon, the NBA could look very different next year. The 2011 draft class is one of the best in the last decade and they’re about to make an even bigger impact come free agency.