The 2011 Draft Class is One of the Greatest Ever

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Feb 2, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Los Angeles Clippers small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) controls the ball against Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

We have seen many great drafts throughout the years. Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, and Charles Barkley were all drafted in 1984. Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash all heard their names called in the historic 1996 draft. However, the 2011 draft class is also one of the best drafts we have seen.

Seven players from the 2011 draft have been all-stars, and the best three players to come out of the draft have already combined for six titles. The draft has already gone down in NBA history and has some future legends. Today, we’ll look at the 2011 draft class and the four best players drafted that year.

Kawhi Leonard

Feb 21, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots a backwards shot as Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) defends in the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi is easily one of the greatest players of this generation. Drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Spurs, Leonard has cemented himself as one of the best 2-way players of all time and one of the best perimeter defenders ever. Additionally, Leonard has a phenomenal resume at the age of 29.

Firstly, Leonard is a five-time all-star, four-time All-NBA member, two-time champion, and two-time finals MVP. Leonard won his rings in 2014 and 2019, with the Spurs and Raptors. Also, his defensive accolades are nothing to scoff at. Leonard has been an all-Defensive team member six times, a DPOY twice, and a steals champion once.

Leonard already has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career before turning 30. He will continue to dominate on both ends of the floor in the years to come.

Leonard’s most noteworthy season was undoubtedly in 2018-2019. Leonard averaged 26.6/7.3/3.3/1.8/0.4 on 60.67 TS% with the Raptors. In the playoffs, however, Leonard upped his game even more. His averages improved to 30.5/9.1/3.9/1.7/0.7 on 61.84 TS%. Leonard would lead Toronto to a championship over Golden State and win his second finals MVP.

Leonard will look to secure his third championship with the Clippers this season.

Leonard’s is arguably the best player to come out of the 2011 draft class. His career has been incredible, and he will most definitely retire as a Hall of Famer and an all-time great.

Klay Thompson

Mar 21, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) reacts after making a three point shot against the Indiana Pacers in the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors selected Klay Thompson with the 13th overall pick in 2011. Thompson is among the greatest shooters of all time, despite only playing eight seasons so far in his career. An integral part of the Warriors’ dynasty, Thompson has had a genuinely staggering career.

Thompson has already had a Hall of Fame-worthy career in just eight seasons. He is a five-time all-star, a three-time NBA champion, a two-time all-NBA member, and a one-time all-Defensive team member. Additionally, Thompson was a key reason why the Warriors could make five finals and secure three titles from 2015-2019.

Klay Thompson’s ridiculous shooting has allowed him to set some staggering feats. Thompson has the record for most points in a quarter, with 37 against the Kings in 2015. Thompson also became the only player to score sixty points in under 30 minutes in a game against the Pacers in 2016. Also, Thompson would famously only dribble the ball eleven times en route to his 60 points. Finally, Thompson recorded an incredible 52 points in 27 minutes versus the Bulls in 2018.

Half of the Splash Bros backcourt, Klay Thompson is one of the most beloved players in the NBA today. Sadly he has dealt with injuries the past two seasons, tearing his ACL and Achilles. However, there is no doubt he will come back strong and add to what is already an incredible career.

Kyrie Irving

Apr 18, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives past Miami Heat forward Trevor Ariza (8) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving was selected first overall by the Cavaliers in 2011. Irving is easily one of the most skilled players of all time and arguably the best ball handler ever. Irving has one of the most flawless offensive games in NBA history, and he is incredible to watch when he gets going.

Like Leonard, Irving also has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career before turning 30. He is a seven-time all-star, one-time NBA champion, and a two-time all-NBA selection.

Irving’s incredible play on the offensive end was a significant reason why the Cavaliers could secure their first franchise title in 2016. He averaged 27.1/3.9/3.9 and ultimately was a big reason they came back from a 3-1 deficit. Irving also hit one of the most iconic shots in NBA history. In the final minute of Game 7, he made a clutch three over Steph Curry to give the Cavs the lead and ultimately secure them.

Kyrie’s offensive skillset is genuinely unmatched. Irving’s Nets are clear title contenders this year, and he will look to add on to what is already a masterful resume. A surefire Hall of Famer, Irving is one of the many incredible headliners for the 2011 draft class.

Jimmy Butler

Apr 16, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) spins the basketball on his finger during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, we have Jimmy Butler, drafted 30th overall by the Bulls. Butler is a scrappy hard worker and a terrific 2-way player who has had a rewarding career.

He is a five-time all-star, a four-time all-defensive selection, and a three-time All-NBA member. Although Butler’s Hall of Fame case isn’t as strong as some of the other players on this list, he is likely to be an inductee by the time he retires.

Jimmy Butler had a historic playoff run in 2020. Butler and the Heat reached the finals as a fifth seed in what was an incredible Cinderella story. They became the first team seeded fifth or lower to make the finals since the Knicks in 1999.

In the finals against LeBron and the Lakers, Butler elevated his game even more. He averaged 26.2/9.8/8.3/2.2 and took the Lakers to six games despite not having a healthy team. Also, he became one of three players ever to record 40/10/10 in a finals game.

At 31 years old, Butler still has a long way to go in his career. He will look to make it back to the finals this season with the Heat and hopefully win it all. Jimmy Butler has had a terrific career and is one of the many players that shows how strong the 2011 draft is.

In conclusion, the 2011 draft is one of the best in modern history. Several other terrific players heard their names called in this historic draft. The Magic selected two-time all-star Nikola Vucevic 16th overall in 2011. Additionally, Kemba Walker, a four-time all-star and arguably the best player in Charlotte Hornets history, was picked ninth.

This is one of the best drafts ever and will become even more legendary when these careers finish.

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