Victor Oladipo

The NBA Lottery 2013

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After going back and watching last night’s draft in its entirety, I could only come up with one word to describe it: Awkward. From Anthony Bennett going number one overall to the Cavaliers, to the awkward exchange between Doc Rivers and Bill Simmons , it was a draft night that I want to forget. For starters, let’s never have Rece Davis and Jay Bilas work a draft night with Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons again. The commentary was all over the place and the two pairs clearly have a different style on covering the draft. The whole night was one big awkward mess.  It certainly did not get any better after the news of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s trade to Brooklyn either.  Next year’s broadcast just has to be better.  Based on the talent in this draft it is certainly a weak one, but by no means is it the worst in history. That award goes to the 2000 NBA Draft whose top three picks were Kenyon Martin, Stromile Swift (who reportedly hated basketball), and Darius Miles (who is probably best remembered for his cameo in Van Wilder). Nevertheless, here is my breakdown and grades of the lottery picks in 2013.

Cleveland Cavaliers, Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

anthony Bennett

No one saw Anthony Bennett going number one.  And I mean no one. With the speculation and predictions about the 2013 Draft seemingly changing every minute since March, not one mock draft I saw had Bennett going number one, as tweeners (between the 3 and the 4 positions) rarely do. However, I’ve long believed that Bennett was one of the top 5 players in this draft and was one of the best bets in this draft as long as he could stay healthy. I think that Bennett’s size and versatility can really help Cleveland on the offensive end, especially if he can improve on his jump shot and keep the extra pounds off. Imagine Bennett and Kyrie Irving in a high screen pick and pop scenario. Bennett could 20 and 10 guy. Cleveland fans have reason to be excited.                   Draft grade: A-

Orlando Magic, Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

Oladipo is a guy with a motor that’s always running and that is exactly what the Magic will need down the road. He appears to be one of the most NBA ready prospects and will make a difference on the defensive end from day 1. If the Magic want to truly get the most out of this pick they do have to be patient with the way his offensive game develops. Oladipo is one of the few players I could see becoming a legitimate superstar in this draft. I love Bill Simmons’ worst case scenario of Oladipo as a Tony Allen type player with a better offensive game.                    Draft grade: A

Washington Wizards, Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

This seemed to be the only predictable pick of the entire night. Porter has immense upside and with his 6’9” frame, he can be plugged in right away at the 3 and help John Wall and Co. make a push for the playoffs. He’s a perfect fit for the Wizards from a basketball standpoint and from a personality standpoint. Look for Porter to have a long career in the capital.                   Draft grade: A+

Charlotte Bobcats, Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana

After the Bennett pick, this was my next biggest WTF moment of night. The Bobcats need help all over the floor and with potential All-Stars like McClemore, Noel and even Len still available, this move just left most scratching their head. Zeller will have to make the transition from the 5 to the 4 and will have to improve his toughness and motor if he wants be effective. Here are some other “notable” first round picks by the Bobcats: Sean May, Adam Morrison, DJ Augustin, and Bismack Biyombo. I think Zeller will soon join this list of misfits. The Bobcats miss the mark for yet another year. The Bobcats will continue to have the worst roster in basketball. All Charlotte fans can do now is cross their fingers for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes. P.S. Adam, wherever you are, I’m sorry.                   Draft grade: D

Phoenix Suns, Alex Len, C, Maryland

This is an OK pick for the Suns considering what was left on the board. Beyond the top 6-8 picks there were really no clear cut choices remaining, so Phoenix went with one of the few options they had and chose Len. However, once again, McClemore and Noel were still on the board. I can see Len becoming a future version of Brook Lopez, so long as he works on his positioning and moves with his back to the basket. He also needs to improve on his consistency. There were times last year for Maryland in which Len would disappear for game long stretches and be a non-factor. Phoenix can’t afford another poor draft pick if they intend on rebuilding in the near future.                   Draft grade: C+


New Orleans Pelicans (traded to Philadelphia) Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky

You always feel bad for the guys who slide. In this case, I felt like much of Nerlens Noel’s slide could have been avoided.  In a lot of pre-draft reports, it was said that Nerlens Noel and his camp had been difficult to get ahold of for pre-draft interviews and no one really knew who was representing Noel. That’s never a good sign. Those issues, combined with his injured knee, caused concern to grow and thus his slide to number 6. I think it was a stretch for Philadelphia to trade their young All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday for a young, potentially damaged 7 footer, who apparently weighed in at 206 lbs at a pre-draft camp. Noel will have to add muscle to his wiry frame and an offensive game if he wants to validate his potential as a prospect.                                    Draft grade for PHI: B                   Trade grade for NO: A+

Sacramento Kings, Ben McClemore, SG, Kansas

By far the best value pick in the 1st round of the draft. McClemore, who had been projected as going as high as 1, fell right into the Kings lap at pick 7. While there are some concerns about McClemore’s desire and killer instinct, there is no denying his fantastic shooting stroke and superb athleticism. I think he has one of the highest ceilings of any player in the draft given those attributes. Hopefully McClemore can help the Kings franchise steer the ship in the right direction.                  Draft grade: A

Detroit Pistons, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, SG, Georgia

Not many people saw Caldwell Pope in action last year at Georgia. While I thought that the Pistons might stretch and take McCollum with the 8th pick, this one makes sense too. The Pistons have been back and forth on where to slot Brandon Knight in the future and this pick all but solidifies his spot and the PG position. Caldwell Pope will provide a great shooter for the Pistons and will combine with Knight for one of the better young back courts in the league in the future.                  Draft grade: B

Minnesota Timberwolves (traded to Utah), Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

I think that this pick/trade worked out great for both sides. Minnesota got the guy they wanted in Shabazz Muhammed and Trey Burke found his ideal situation with Utah. The Jazz gives Burke the opportunity to start right away with a young and talented team. There will certainly be some growing pains along the way, but Burke, the best point guard in the draft will have no problems with the learning curve. He was arguably the fiercest competitor in the country last year and will continue to put that competitiveness into his game at the pro level. As a guy playing with a chip on his shoulder, Burke should be feared.                   Draft grade for MIN: B+                                    Draft grade for UTA: A+

Portland Trailblazers, CJ McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh

This pick left me scratching my head a bit. The Blazers currently have a very talented combo guard in Damian Lillard, who is very proficient on the offensive end. My feelings tell me that they just drafted the same guy in McCollum. Starting those two together gives the Blazers a pretty undersized backcourt and has virtually two PGs on the floor at the same time, given that McCollum starts right away. With issues at the center position, Steven Adams made more sense here. From a talent standpoint it’s a good pick, but from a needs standpoint, not so much.  Draft grade: B

Philadelphia 76ers, Michael Carter Williams, PG, Syracuse

After the trade sending Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans, this pick made the most sense for the 76ers. They are now clearly committed to a rebuilding effort around the young core of Noel, Turner and Carter Williams. Carter Williams will get big minutes right away, but will need to work on his scoring if he wants to join the ranks of the upper echelon of point guards in the NBA. I still think it was a stupid trade to give up a talent like Holiday especially for someone as unproven as Noel. We’ll just have to wait and see.                   Draft grade: B-

 Oklahoma City Thunder, Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

Given what this pick was supposed to be, I’m not happy. The Thunder gave up Harden for this?! A raw 7 foot big man who is still clearly learning the game of basketball (see Bismack Biyombo)?! This must be what it’s like to be a Charlotte fan (again, sorry Adam). I’m not buying that trade nor will I ever. Now, time to be logical. At this point in the draft, with the talent remaining, I’m OK with this pick. I desperately wanted to see Sam Presti and the Thunder front office go out on a limb and take Jamaal Franklin, who will end up being the steal of this draft, but that was wishful thinking. Giving Adams some time in the D-League to get a better feel for the game will be beneficial and hopefully he develops enough to find a spot in the Thunder’s starting 5 (I’m still hoping the same about Jeremy Lamb).                   Draft grade: B-

James Harden trade: F—- (bitter much?)

Dallas Mavericks (traded to Boston), Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Gonzaga

There’s not a whole lot to say about Olynyk. He’s a decent big man who can run the floor, face up in the high post and get to the basket. His game lacks in almost every other area. While it is the “sensible pick” at 14 and might have been the best available for the Celtics, I don’t see Olynyk making much of a splash in Boston or anywhere.  Picture Raef Lafrentz, but not as tough (if you can imagine that).

shabbazz muhhamad

Utah Jazz (traded to Minnesota), Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA

I think this is a decent fit for both parties. The combination of Rubio, Love and Pekovic will hopefully allow for Muhammad to feel less pressure on the offensive end and just do what comes naturally, something he was seldom allowed to do at UCLA, being the primary scoring option. He’s offensive rebounding prowess will also continue to bolster the Minnesota front court and add more size to their rotation. I think if Muhammad can grow up a little bit more, he may turn some heads in Minnesota.  Draft grade: B+

So that wraps my take on the lottery picks of the 1st round. Before I wrap up I figured I should give some credit where credit is due. Today, I applaud David Stern. Stern turned the NBA into the marketing monster it is today. While many were critical of his methods and approach to handling players, he grew the NBA more than arguably any other professional sport during his 30 year tenure. The NBA and its players owe him gratitude. Even more so, we, the fans, owe him thanks. Thank you, David Stern. How’s about you bring back that killer stash for retirement?

Tommy Randolph