It’s Like Winning the Lottery

By on June 28, 2013

 

Nerlens Noel (3) dunks the ball over Alabama Crimson Tide center Moussa Gueye (14) during the first half at Coleman Coliseum. (photo USA TODAY Sports Images / Kelly Lambert)

So you missed the 2013 NBA draft. You didn’t miss much, except quite possibly the craziest draft in years. Sure there wasn’t a LeBron James-like talent taken, but there were trades, boos, shocking moves and drama. There were some fireworks like a budding war of words between ESPN Columnist Bill Simmons and new Clippers coach Doc Rivers after Rivers left Simmons’ beloved Boston Celtics. Then there was retiring NBA commissioner David Stern in his final draft and he was thoroughly enjoying it. The Lottery, the top 14 picks from all the teams who missed the playoffs, wasn’t as much a golden ticket for 14 franchises as it was a chance to build for the future and invest in young talent, but there was no shortage of excitement at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn Thursday.

 

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers- Anthony Bennett, Power Forward UNLV

You have to love it when the experts are shocked with the number one pick. The experts had a rotation of it being Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter, Jr., Alex Len or Ben McLemore to go number one. Everyone was wrong. Bennett is a good prospect, a big man who can face up and score with his strength or with a soft shooting touch. He is a good athlete on the fast break. However, the Cavs did not fill a desperate need at small forward with this pick.

 

  1. Orlando Magic- Victor Oladipo, Shooting Guard Indiana

One of the safest picks in the draft, taking Oladipo is a good move for Orlando. He played three years at Indiana and really came into his own last season shooting about 60% from the floor including an impressive 44% from behind the arc. And offense is considered to be his weak point. Oladipo is known as a lock down defender with tremendous athleticism. He will make his opponent at the 2-guard work for everything and his offense continues to grow: solid pick.

 

  1. Washington Wizards- Otto Porter, Jr., Small Forward Georgetown

I believe he’s the best 3 in the draft. He can score from anywhere with his increased ability to hit jumpers. His strength is midrange and has decent enough handles to create offense for himself and others. He’s long and lanky and was a good defender at Georgetown. If for nothing else Washington took Porter because of his basketball IQ. His dad is a high school legend and his mom played as well. Also, playing at Georgetown, he played under basketball royalty in John Thompson III.

 

  1. Charlotte Bobcats- Cody Zeller, Center/Power Forward Indiana

The second of Tom Crean’s Hoosiers taken in the first four picks. After watching him his freshman year you may be surprised he was picked after teammate Oladipo. Zeller was tremendous his freshman season averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds per game, but digressed a little averaging 15 and 6 his sophomore year. Zeller has good size at 7’0” tall and 240 pounds, but disappeared in some of Indiana’s bigger games in his two seasons. He is already built well and has a soft shooting touch, but needs to add some more weight to his frame. He’s like the guy you watch in the NFL combine run the fastest 40-yard dash. He can be 2009 Chris Johnson and light it up or be 2011 Chris Johnson and not make a difference to his team.

 

  1. Phoenix Suns- Alex Len, Center Maryland

Probably the best true center in the draft, Len has good athleticism and isn’t a goofy 7-foot guy. He moves well on his feet and has good balance that tracks back to his days growing up in the Ukraine. He did have ankle surgery and has injury concerns, which is a big deal with NBA big men. I don’t like the pick because Phoenix doesn’t need a center as much as it needed the best player available and Ben McLemore was still on the board.

 

  1. New Orleans Pelicans- Nerlens Noel, Center Kentucky

And this is where things get crazy. No, I’m not talking about the ridiculous name change from “Hornets” to “Pelicans”. The first trade of many in the 2013 draft took place. Rather than making it a Bourbon Street Block Party pairing former Kentucky players Noel and Anthony Davis or making “Nerlens Pelicans” or “New Orleans Noel” stick (credit to @JonYe_West_ for the nicknames) the 216 pound center was traded to Philadelphia along with a 2014 top-5 protected pick for Jrue Holiday. I love the move for New Orleans. Get a solidified 23-year-old All-Star point guard to pair with a solid 2-guard in Eric Gordon for a questionable big man with a knee injury and one other draft pick. That protected pick will remain with New Orleans if they miss the playoffs and the pick falls into the top-5 in the lottery. The Pelicans also got the 42nd pick in the draft (second round) which became Baylor’s Pierre Jackson.

 

The Philadelphia 76ers gave up Holiday, a top-10 possibly top-5 point guard, for a center that isn’t 7-feet, doesn’t have a good offensive game, weighs less than 220 pounds and is coming off of a knee injury. And you made fun of the Sixers for trading Andre Igoudala for Andrew Bynum. If Noel does pan out and the 2014 pick, which has to be 6 or worse, turns out to be a good player I as a passionate Sixers fan will gladly eat crow. It’s just that right now all indications seem to point to me having to prepare a long, sad, “I told you so” speech.

 

  1. Sacramento Kings- Ben McLemore, Shooting Guard Kansas

DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and now Ben McLemore: this is the most talented team you’ll never see. There is no shortage of talent on the Kings’ roster, but they need leaders. Another extremely talented guy in McLemore was added. He can shoot from range, has a polished offensive game and tremendous athleticism. But he was available at seven for two reasons, his checkered past and his inability to lead. He was only a freshman surrounded by seniors at Kansas this past year, but he never really took over games as was expected. He was the most talented guy on the team, but had a tendency to disappear at times. As for his past, he grew up in poverty and lived in some bad areas so the questions about his friends and associates back home were beat to death during the draft process. He was also a part of a controversy with his AAU coach who said money was involved to get McLemore to Kansas. I think McLemore is a humble kid who will stay out of trouble and is the most talented player in the draft. I just don’t think this is a good fit. McLemore needs veteran leadership and so do the Kings.

 

  1. Detroit Pistons- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Shooting Guard Georgia

I mean, they did pick Darko Milicic with the second pick when they could’ve had Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh. Hell, even Kirk Hinrich, Mickael Pietrius, Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins were still on the board at that point in 2003. But back to Caldwell-Pope, who was a good scorer at Georgia averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds per game as a two-guard. He shot a not-so-impressive 43% to do it including 37% from three. He seems like a project pick and does have potential, but he struggled against the good teams in the SEC, which wasn’t a basketball powerhouse in 2012-2013. The Pistons are one of those teams that should’ve taken the best player available rather than focus on a need. Well, not sure they got the best available, but only time will tell.

 

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves- Trey Burke, Point Guard Michigan

They traded this pick to Utah for the numbers 14 and 21 picks so I’ll analyze those picks here and Burke with Utah on pick 14. They have Ricky Rubio and something like 30 other point guards so picking Burke wouldn’t have made sense. The guys they got for Burke will fit well, Shabazz Muhammad at 14 and Gorgui Dieng at 21. Muhammad came into the draft with all sorts of questions. His father lied about his age in AAU, so he’s actually a year older, and his dad is currently under house arrest. Muhammad was considered to be a prima donna at UCLA, thoroughly enjoying the L.A. lifestyle, but aside from his dad and enjoying Los Angeles like every other human being he seems to have been humbled by his year at UCLA. Coming into 2012 it was said if he was eligible for last year’s draft he would’ve been a top-3 pick for sure. Minnesota got a guy who may not do one thing great, but does everything well and is a gifted lefty scorer to play alongside Rubio who is a gifted passer and a good young leader. Dieng from Louisville was the centerpiece of an NCAA championship, literally not figuratively. He played center. But Dieng was a solid player with the Cardinals averaging 9 rebounds and 2 blocks per game and is also a decent passer. 6’11” and 245 pounds he can stand to add some weight as well, but has the type of length you want to see in an NBA big man.

 

  1. Portland Trail Blazers- C.J. McCollum, Point Guard Lehigh

His official position at Lehigh was “strong man” because he did some heavy lifting carrying that entire team on his back during his four years. He averaged 20 points per game in his career including 24 ppg in 12 games last year. He broke his foot last year, but it looks like he will be more than OK as he considered the experience to be beneficial calling it a “blessing in disguise” in a USA Today article. McCollum was shooting 50% from three last season and 49% from the field and really polished his offensive game. He had great speed before the injury and as long as that isn’t affected to go with a new, effective, shooting stroke he can have a big year playing the 2-guard next to last year’s Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard.

 

  1. Philadelphia 76ers- Michael Carter-Williams, Point Guards Syracuse

He’s not Jrue Holiday. I’ll try to let that go as I break down this pick. The Timberwolves must’ve known about the Holiday trade. Why else would they use their number nine pick to draft a position they don’t need? To hold Burke for ransom and see how much they could get out of them, perhaps. Still, once Burke was traded to Utah, Philly took the second best pure point guard in the draft in Michael Carter-Williams. Likely the best passer averaging 7 assists per game in 2012-2013 and also added 5 rebounds per game. He is 6’6” with long arms and was tremendous defensively with 2.8 steals per game though a lot of that can be credited to Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. He’s not really a scorer, needs to cut down on turnovers and only weighs 185 pounds, but has the essentials to be very solid: length, quickness and the ability to dish the rock.

 

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder- Steven Adams, Center Pittsburgh

Many considered this the last chance for OKC to make the James Harden trade not look like the Houston Rockets robbed the Thunder blind. Well, Adams isn’t James Harden and he ain’t exactly Shaq. The 7-foot New Zealander has the best NBA body of all the big men taken, but lacks the agility of a Zeller or the skill of a Len. Basically the Thunder drafted a big bruiser comparable to a Kendrick Perkins. We all know those Pitt guys are tough, but with the 12th pick in the NBA draft you may be looking for more than 7 points per game and 6 rebounds per game. Adams did average 2 blocks per game in his only season at Pitt.

 

  1. Dallas Mavericks- Kelly Olynyk, Center Gonzaga

This pick was traded to the Boston Celtics for the number 16 pick, Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira from Brazil, plus two 2014 second-round picks. Of the two Olynyk seems to be the better pick averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds last season. Olynyk has a good face-up game and soft shooting touch. He and Jared Sullinger inside will be a good duo for Rajon Rondo if his future is still in Boston. The Celtics got the better big man right now, no debate. But who got the better head of hair is up for grabs as Olynyk rocks the flow and Nogueira has the crazy afro going for him. Somewhere between Nogueira finally getting his draft cap to sit on his hair and leaving the building the Mavs traded him, Jared Cunningham and the 44th pick (Mike Muscala of Bucknell) to the Atlanta Hawks for the 18th pick, Shane Larkin. Yes, that Larkin as in son of MLB Hall-of-Famer Barry Larkin. Larkin played two years at Miami after transferring from DePaul before the start of his freshman season. Larkin is a great athlete with above average speed, incredible instincts and is a prototypical drive-and-dish point guard, but can shoot really well when needed. He is the type of playmaker at point guard Dallas needs.

 

  1. Utah Jazz- Shabazz Muhammad, Small Forward/Shooting Guard UCLA

Remember, he was traded to Minnesota for Trey Burke. The Jazz found their replacement for Deron Williams (finally) in Burke. Michigan’s point guard was the National Player of the Year and led his Wolverines to the Championship Game. Burke has that rare ability in a point guard to be the best passer, shooter and athlete on the team. Averaging 18 points and nearly 7 assists still doesn’t do justice to just how dominate a player he was at times. He averaged 1.6 steals per game and a very impressive 3-1 assist to turnover ratio. For a guy who had the ball in his hands more than 90% of the time he was on the court he always seemed to make the right play. Burke has what you desperately want in a point guard: athleticism and wits. As an Ohio State Buckeye, I’ll always be salty that basketball coach Thad Matta decided not to take the Columbus, Ohio, native (and best friend/high school teammate of OSU’s Jared Sullinger) and he instead went to Michigan. Though the feeling I get in my stomach pales in comparison to his nasty abilities on the court. Burke may have been one of the most overlooked players in the draft, even as the number nine pick.

So there you have it, the lottery dissected. There were many other fun moments from the draft. In addition to Bill Simmons’ displeasure with Doc Rivers he saw the Celtics gutted as they traded Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets for Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Kris Josephs, Marshon Brooks, Gerald Wallace and first round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The deal isn’t official until July 10. The Nets got a little better, but certainly older with Pierce and Garnett, even Terry is on the plus side of 30. Brooklyn was already a decent team, the 4th in the East last season, and now adds three proven players to a situation with new coach Jason Kidd. The Nets, good or bad, will be interesting. They can be like the 2008 Celtics, combining older talent to win, or like where the L.A. Dodgers or L.A. Angels seem to be headed and watch these moves blow up in their face and cripple the franchise for years to come. Either way, should be fun. For the Celtics it’s time to build and find good talent, plus they have the cap space to sign just about whoever they want. It may sound bad now Celtics fan, but by 2015 this team will be very good again. By 2018 the Celtics may be the best in basketball depending on the draft picks they make.

Hope this helped clear up the fun that was the NBA draft. To your favorite team: good luck. To my 76ers: let’s all pray.

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