What the heck happened this year?
The 2013 NBA Draft was incredibly unpredictable and it all began with the first pick. While most experts speculated the Cavaliers to trade the pick or draft Alex Len or Nerlens Noel, the Cavaliers not only kept the pick, but selected Anthony Bennett out of UNLV. While Bennett might be a quality starter in the future, signs point to him being nothing more than a starter. With the first pick, franchises expect a game changer, but at least to the knowledge of experts and scouts, Bennett is not the man. With all the praise given to Victor Oladipo during this draft with analysts saying Oladipo is going to be the first all-star in this draft class, why was he not the first pick. He would’ve been a good fit to man the backcourt with Kyrie Irving. Dion Waiters would be bumped to small forward with Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao playing in the frontcourt. The Cavaliers are looking to make a playoff push, so why didn’t they take the most NBA ready player?
Meanwhile, a mere rumor came to fruition and resulted in a blockbuster trade. The Boston Celtics unloaded the last two pieces of their “Big 3″ and promptly began their rebuilding phase by shipping Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn for scrap players and draft picks. The Nets, with their “Big 5″ are now serious title contenders. You can imagine LeBron James is getting some nightmares about this Brooklyn squad. As for Boston, a half decade of playoff supremacy has now come to a close as the team begins surrounding their new leader: Rajon Rondo. The Celtics drafted Kelly Olynyk to fortify Boston’s new front court that will also boast Gerald Wallace and Jeff Green. Expect the Celtics to be cellar dwellers for the next couple years.
The biggest surprise of the day is the course of action taken by the Philadelphia 76ers. With a gaping hole at the center left by Andrew Bynum, the 76ers traded off their franchise player in Jrue Holliday. Granted, they got a first rounder in return, but it’s top 5 protected so it only helps them so much. In return they did get Nerlens Noel, who slipped to the 6th pick in the draft. The issue lies in Noel, who may be a spitting image of Andrew Bynum: a high ceiling center marred with injury problems. Frankly, I don’t know why the 76ers took this gamble here. The 76ers proceeded to use their original draft selection to take Holliday’s replacement: Michael Carter-Williams. I don’t know if the 76ers really trust Carter-Williams to be as good as Holliday was, but it is sure as heck a giant gamble to take the unproven prospect over the seasoned veteran.
This may not be a big surprise, but Michael Jordan blew it again. With the fourth pick in the draft, the Bobcats opted to reach (and boy do I mean reach) for Cody Zeller. Zeller is a great player don’t get me wrong, but they should’ve traded down if they wanted to take this guy. He wasn’t even in the conversation to be a top 8 pick. Alex Len would’ve been a much better pick for the Bobcats with this pick, but Michael Jordan, once again, let college success be the final judgment in their draft selection (Adam Morrison and Brendan Wright ring a bell?). How much of an impact will Zeller make in Charlotte? Is he a franchise player? Will he turn around the franchise? Hell no. The Bobcats passed up the opportunity to pick that player by passing on Nerlens Noel. Once again, MJ strikes out on draft day. Stick to playing the game, not the front office stuff.
Ben McLemore, after some unimpressive workouts, fell all the way to the lap of the Sacramento Kings. The problem is the Kings are basically a purgatory for guards. Among the players trapped include Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette, Toney Douglas and John Salmons. Despite that fact, I think McLemore will not only become the starting shooting guard, but a damn good one for the Kings. What McLemore has the other guards don’t have is potential. McLemore was originally slated to be a top three pick before his uninspiring workouts. What the Kings can’t ignore is his ability to score from all over the court, something none of these other players have (how often have you seen Evans rain threes?). He will put numbers on the board and become the lethal scorer the Kings have been looking for. Watch out for the core of Evans, McLemore and DeMarcus Cousins to slowly rise.
As a Pistons writer, I was advocating for Detroit to take homeboy Trey Burke with their draft selection, but they surprised not only me, but the masses of hometown fans taking Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with the pick instead. I can see why Detroit made this selection given the hiring of Mo Cheeks as coach and having him transform Brandon Knight into a pure point guard, but Trey Burke has certain intangibles that make him a lot more valuable than Caldwell-Pope. First off he is a leader, and you can’t teach leadership. Burke also played in the state of Michigan so he also has some fan control. Frankly, I think Cheeks should try to mentor a player who is naturally more than a floor general. Let Brandon Knight be the off guard who cuts to the rim more than dishes the ball off. This is not me saying I thought Caldwell-Pope was a bad selection, just not the right one for Motown.
Burke ended up getting picked by the Minnesota T’Wolves. I was scratching my head about that pick until I heard about the trade. Burke was sent to Utah for picks that ended up becoming Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. I think this is the only trade in the entire draft that benefited both teams in the process. The Jazz have been in the market for a point guard for a long time and they finally got a guy that can run the floor. It will be interesting to see him feed the ball low to the big men of Utah. As for the T’Wolves, they finally got a deadly scorer at the wing position. I know Muhammad got many red flags after a mediocre season last year, but if there’s one thing this man can do, it’s score. Picking Dieng also added a safety net if Nikola Pekovic were to take his services elsewhere. If not, he provides defensive relief for the frontcourt of this team.
The Hawks have a bit of a conundrum on their hands. Dennis Schroeder was selected by the Hawks with the 17th pick by the Atlanta Hawks. Jeff Teague is the current starting point guard of the Hawks and he does a mighty fine job at what he does. So why the hell did Danny Ferry make this pick? Beats me. I can see three different scenarios with this pick. Either one starts and the other doesn’t or vice versa or they both start and Teague slides over to becoming the starting shooting guard. I don’t know what the Hawks have in mind, but one things for sure: the Hawks are gearing up for a superstar via free agency.
About the Author
Written by Mark Kim
A student at the University of Missouri-Columbia looking to major in Sports Journalism.