Grading Jimmy Butler and the 29 players drafted before him in 2011

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·7 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jimmy B and the 2011 NBA draftees

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

You’d be screaming, too, the way many NBA teams should be as the 2011 draft went on and on… before the Chicago Bulls took Jimmy Butler with the 30th pick. What’s the word n the 29 drafted before him? The grades are based on performance over the entire NBA careers. And some players, of course, never wound up playing for the team that chose them, moving on through trades.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

For all his quirks, Kyrie is a tremendous player. Just, um, eccentric. Grade: A

2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams

Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Williams bounced around the NBA for many seasons. He played in 78 games twice but overall was not worthy of the second pick in the draft. Grade: D

3. Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter Freedom

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Enes Kanter has carved out a nice career playing for multiple teams. He is a force on the boards—offensive, too—and can score. A solid player. Grade: B

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Tristan Thompson has made plenty of headlines. Sadly, most of them deal with pop culture. A good role player for multiple teams. Grade: C+

5. Toronto Raptos: Jonas Valanciunas

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jonas Valanciunas has gotten better as his career has progressed: the last four years have seen him average double-digit rebounds and points. Grade: B+

6. Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jan Vesely spent 2011-14 in the NBA with the Wizards and Nuggets. He has had a far more successful career in the All-Euro League. Grade: D

7. Sacramento Kings: Bismack Biyombo

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Bismack Bayombo never averaged more than 7.4 points per game. A good role player for 20 minutes or so per game. He is as generous as one could be to the Congo, having helped with schools there and donating his 2021-22 salary to help build a hospital. Quite the great acts. Grade: C+

8. Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Knight bounced around the league plenty after being chosen by the Pistons. He has been with six teams and has seen his appearances drop year after year. Averaged better than 17 points per game three seasons in a row at one point and had a career best of 5.4 assists per game in 2014-15 with the Bucks. Grade: C

9. Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Kemba Walker went from UConn to Charlotte. Has averaged better than 19 points and 5 assists per game in his career. Had moments with the Knicks last season but also found himself out of the rotation for extended periods of the season. Grade: B

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jimmer Fredette

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone wanted him to be a star but it wasn’t about to happen in the NBA for Jimmer Fredette. Grade: F

11. Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

A winner and huge part of the Warriors’ dynasty. Still a fantastic, clutch player. Grade: A+

12. Utah Jazz: Alec Burks

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Has been with six teams and is still hanging around the league. Played 23 minutes per game for the Knicks in 2021-22. Stats are always ordinary. Grade: C

13. Phoenix Suns: Markieff Morris

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

An NBA champ in 2020, Markieff Morris brings passion and presence to every team on which he plays. Won’t break the box score but will wreck the other team’s spirit. Grade: B+

14. Houston Rockets: Marcus Morris

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Inspires teams and teammates much like his brother. Same passion, presence and game. Grade: B+

15. Indiana Pacers: Kawhi Leonard

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best players in the game. Grade: A+

16. Philadelphia 76ers: Nikola Vucevic

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Has averaged a double-double over his career. Unfortunately, has been with teams that don’t have a lot to show for it. Grade: B

17. New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Great defensive player who has bounced around the NBA, playing for five teams in his career. Earned a ring with the Cavs. Also has a great presence off the court. Steady, solid… but not a star. Grade: B-

18. Washington Wizards: Chris Singleton

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This pick did not work for Washington. Singleton played in 66 games as a rookie, 57 in his second year, then 25 and out of the league. He has made a go of it in Europe, however, but that doesn’t help his NBA stature. Grade: D

19. Charlotte Hornets: Tobias Harris

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Has played with a quartet of teams and improved as his career has gone on and on. Solid numbers everywhere and has been excellent for the 76ers. He’s a player. Grade: B+

20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Donatas Motiejunas

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Played his first year in Poland and then saw time with Houston and New Orleans before heading to China for a couple of seasons. Resurfaced in 2018-19 with San Antonio for three games. Grade: D

21. Portland Trail Blazers: Nolan Smith

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Started 4 games and played in 84 over two seasons with the Blazers. Then out of the association. Grade: F

22. Denver Nuggets: Kenneth Faried

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Had some good years in Denver, where he played for 7 seasons. Managed to average double figures and corraled a lot of rebounds. Strong force on the boards. Delivered the goods. Grade C+

23. Houston Rockets: Nikola Mirotic

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Quietly averaged double figures in points every season with Chicago, New Orleans, and a coffee cup with Milwaukee. Did a nice job on the boards, too. A guy who you wouldn’t notice but always contributed. Grade: C+

24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Jackson

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Another player who has grown better with time. Reggie Jackson has done nicely for the Clippers, playing great ball in big games. He has played for Detroit, Oklahoma City and the Clippers. Quite impressive all over the court. Grade: B

25. Boston Celtics: MarShon Brooks

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Picked up plenty of frequent flier miles going from team to team in a career that wound down in Memphis in 2018-19. He started 50 games overall, with 47 of them coming as a rookie. You’d expect better longevity and performance out of a first-round pick. Grade: C-

26. Dallas Mavericks: Jordan Hamilton

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Came out of Texas and was drafted by the Mavs but never played for them. An uninspiring career that saw him out of the league in 2015-16 after spending time with four teams. Grade: D

27. New Jersey Nets: JaJuan Johnson

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

An NBA career isn’t for everybody—as evidenced by JaJuan Johnson still playing professionally overseas after washing out with the Celtics. His NBA career was a grand total of 36 games. Ouch. Grade: F

28. Chicago Bulls: Norris Cole

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Norris Cole was a role player in backcourts for 7 seasons with 2 teams. He was consistently ordinary but could be counted on to provide similar stats. Grade: C

29. San Antonio Spurs: Cory Joseph

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There is something to be said for continuing to be in the league after being drafted in 2011. Corey Joseph played with Detroit last season, his fifth team. He spent the first four with San Antonio and then the carousel started to spin every two years. Grade: C

30. Chicago Bulls Jimmy Butler

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

And what is there say about Jimmy Butler— other than it is hard to believe he lasted to the 30th pick. A tremendous player on both ends of the court. He inspires and has a great desire to win, win, win. One of the best players of his generation, a mega-star. Grade: A+

1

1