This year’s NBA draft is considered “weak” for two reasons. One: there is no bona fide future all-star, franchise messiah or even sure-fire day one starter for that matter (depending on who you ask). And two: next years draft class is going to be huge, like ’03 and ’08 huge. It will include most likely all 6 of Kentucky’s Super Six, a handful of other current HS seniors (like Aaron Gordon and Chris Walker), and two guys who could potentially save/run/change a franchise in Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. What I’m trying to say is this years draft is getting a bad reputation and it’s a little unfair. Though it won’t be as good as the ’14 draft, and though it isn’t very top heavy, this draft is unusually deep. Generally draft grades looks something like this: A,A-,B+,A-,B+,A-,B-,D,B,B-,C,C+,C+ etc… Now if I were to hold my B key down for about 15 seconds you would see what this years draft looks likes. No A’s, but also not very many C’s and D’s going first round. This is of course good news for good teams – someone on the playoff fringe (like the Jazz) could end up with a guy like Trey Burke. But it is also bad news for bad teams – someone like Charlotte who desperately needs a franchise player a la Wiggins or Parker, will have to settle for Ben McLemore, good, but in all actuality a second or third option on a good team.
So lets get to the rankings already. Keep in mind I am biased towards both Detroit and Minnesota (my two teams) and towards State grads (I didn’t include Gary Harris because I know he’s going to stay.) Also, I did my draft based on MY opinion of who teams should take based on need and how good I think a player will be. This isn’t some compilation of popular draft boards – although some will line up – it’s me acting as GM for every team in real team. Basically my wet dream.
[As boos rain down on a smirking David Stern] With the first pick of the 2013 NBA draft…
1. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets – Ben McLemore, Kansas, SGLike I mentioned above, this spot kind of sucks for the soon to be Hornets. I have them taking McLemore because he’s probably the best scorer in the draft and though the cats need everything, beyond Kemba they’re atrocious when it comes to scoring. Plus, with their starting 2 Gerald Henderson most likely moving on this summer, McLemore could slide right in and try his best to be like Mike.
2. Orlando Magic – Otto Porter, Georgetown, SF
Pick number two and we already have an upset! A lot of people think Marcus Smart will go #2 to the Magic. If he has a big tournament he definitely will. But it’s my mock draft and if I’m picking for the Magic here I’m taking the wing out of Georgetown. Porter is the poster boy for this draft class. Solid, skilled, but doesn’t project to be an all-star. I like him here because although Smart may have a higher ceiling, I’d rather trot out Jameer Nelson – Aaron Afflalo – Porter – Andrew Nicholson – Vucevic on opening day then that same lineup, minus Porter, with Smart splitting time. Maybe I’m thinking too much into it, but as a GM clearly on the hot seat, I play it safe. Also, Brandon Jennings might look damn good in blue and white pinstripes. And that lineup with Jennings plugged in over Nelson? Orlando can make a case for a low playoff seed.
3. Washington Wizards – Anthony Bennett, UNLV, F
Porter (off the board) and Nerlens Noel are popular picks here but I’m going with a guy who I think has the highest ceiling in this draft. Bennett has a real chance to be a next generation Larry Johnson (and I’m not just saying that because of the UNLV tie). He’s a perfect tweener forward and he can even shoot (almost 40% from 3)! The only reason I pass on Noel here for the Wiz is they have Okafor and Nene locked up for a few more years so they’ll have another chance to draft a center. Wall, Beal and Bennett would make a great core going forward.
4. New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans – Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, C
I can’t resist putting Noel and predecessor Anthony Davis on the same team. Would anybody ever get a shot off within 10 feet? Debatable. Smart would be an option here but I’ve (sadly) watched many NOLA games this year and as much as it pains me to say, Grevies Vasquez has turned into a very good pro. And I’d rather bring the lesser Lopez off the bench, than Vasquez/Smart.
5. Phoenix Suns – Marcus Smart, Oklahoma St., PG
I know I know, they’re best player Goran Dragic also plays point, I’m well aware of that. But with Nerlens off the board, Cody Zeller being a glorified 6/7 man at best in the league, and no other post players (beyond the project Alex Len) anywhere to be seen, I pick the best available player. In my opinion, the Suns are the second worst team in this draft behind Charlotte, even though they’ve played above their record. So they need pieces and can figure out positions later. I know this sucks, but it sucks to suck.
6. Detroit Pistons – Cody Zeller, Indiana, PF/C
I kind of screwed over my own team by taking Porter and Bennett off the board already – although at this point Detroit will have to luck out with a top 3 pick to land Porter – because those are the two guys I think the Stones need the most. And even though I trashed Zeller in the previous pick I think he makes sense here. Detroit has been so bipolar this year, at times looking playoff bound, at others top-5-pick-bound, but what they really need is a 3 or a 4 (hence Porter and Bennett) and instead of taking Shabazz Muhammad here (who has a higher ceiling) I have to go with Zeller. But because this is a positional pick, it totally depends on free agency. If Detroit can land say JJ Hickson, maybe they go wing here, and if they can land a wing (Andre Iguoudala anybody!?), then they go forward here. But in my draft, I’d rather go into the season with a big man rotation of Monroe-Drummond-Zeller. Filthy.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers – Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, SG/SF
My draft is kind to the Cavs who can scoop up a possible 20 ppg scorer to slide in next to a super star point guard (Kyrie Irving) and rapidly improving two guard (Dion Waiters). Round out the lineup with Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejo next year and the Cavs actually have a chance at the post-season. Throw in Lebron the year after and you might have a team BETTER than the current Miami Heat. Gulp…
8. Sacramento Kings – CJ McCullum, Lehigh, G
Two reasons I have the Kings picking the mid-major guard. Number one: I want Victor Oladipo to drop to the Timberwolves. Number two: they missed on Damian Lillard last year and will try to overcompensate this year. This of course is a mistake. I would take the project Alex Len here, but with DeMarcus Cousins basically owning this team, Len wouldn’t get enough run to make the pick worth it. And since the Kings are basically the Raiders of the NBA, why wouldn’t they take another small scoring guard to help their present and future team?
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Victor Oladipo, Indiana, SG
Rubio – Oladipo – AK47 – Love – Peckovic. Playoffs. Throw in JJ Barea, Chase Buddinger, Derrick Williams and FA/later-draft-pick off the bench and you have a pretty decent team. I’m not saying they make a run at the ship, but I don’t think making the playoffs is too much of an expectation for that lineup. And the karma of this injury-plagued season has to make a 180 next year right? Please?
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Alex Len, Maryland, C
This was another tough one with the Andrew Bynum situation up in the air. But whether or not they keep the kid, he’s injured a lot and Len is a project. He’s probably about a season and a half away from being decent, much less effective. His ceiling is extraordinarily high though. But he’s a risk: he could be the next Darko or the next Pau Gasol. There’s just no way to tell. But why not backup a risk with another risk? What can go wrong?
11. Oklahoma City Thunder – Willie Cauley Stein, Kentucky, C
Fuck OKC. Phew, glad I got that out of my system. I almost had them pick Michael Carter Williams out of ‘Cuse here just out of spite, hoping drafting a PG would piss off Westbrook so much he would go all Kobe-style on the GM and demand he or Durant be traded. But I wanted to save the ounce of credibility I have left (although drafting a project PG who can actually pass wouldn’t be the worst move – but wouldn’t work for the before mentioned hypothetical team implosion). So, they take Stein here because they just miss on Len and backup Kendrick Perkins with a project big that has the potential to take over when Perkins’ deal dies, but can actually play offense. Fuck OKC.
12. Portland Trail Blazers – Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, PF/C
Even though I’m not in love with Olynyk as a player, this would be a great pick for Portland who can’t seem to find a center. They reached on Myles Leonard last year because they knew they struck gold with Damian Lillard just a few picks prior. They should lose their current center, JJ Hickson, to Detroit, ahem excuse me, “free agency” this offseason, which opens up the block for Olynyk to slide in. And he could be the dark horse ROY pick with his combination of skill and the minutes he would get alongside LeMarcus Aldridge.
I haven’t seen one mock with this pick, which seems so obvious to me! The Mavs biggest need is PG (Darren Collison is NOT a starter in the NBA) and Burke is easily the best PG in the country. While Smart has more potential, Burke can do his thing now and I have no doubt he could start day one alongside OJ Mayo and make everybody on the Mavs a little bit better.
14. Utah Jazz – Michael Carter Williams, Syracuse, PG
Everyone in Utah hates me for taking Burke off the board one pick before them, but I can live with that. They get a nice consolation prize in a PG that a lot of scouts think will be better than Burke. And MCW is a better passer than any PG in the draft. Which is good as the Jazz appear to be going big for the foreseeable future and somebody needs to get Jefferson, Millsap, Favors and Kanter the ball down low.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Glen Robinson III, Michigan, SF
Now that we’re out of the lottery I’ll be more concise. Assuming Jennings is gone they’d love a PG but with the top 3 gone, they go talent and take the overrated athletic wing out of the overrated top-10 program.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers – Isaiah Austin, Baylor, PF/C
Not sure how they get this pick, but the mock I’m following (for structure) has them here. They take the project big who can stretch the floor just in case James shows up in 2014. And even if he doesn’t Irving can penetrate and find Austin in the corners. Easy-peesey-Japenese-y.
17. Atlanta Hawks – Mason Plumlee, Duke, PF/C
Atlanta goes big and fundamental under their new Spurs-protégé GM. Not much else to say about this pick.
18. Atlanta Hawks – James McAdoo, North Carolina, SF
That’s not a mistake; the Hawks apparently have two in a row. They gamble on an athletic wing after playing it safe with a polished big. The only issue here is whether or not the two can get past their collegian “differences.”
19. Boston Celtics – Myck Kabongo, Texas, PG
I’m convinced that after this post-Rondo-ACL-injury-run that the Celts will deal Rondo next season. Unfortunately their current success hurts their chance to land a solid rotation player for next year, but Kabongo has some real potential and could take over the one once Rondo packs his bags.
20. Chicago Bulls – Doug McDermot, Creighton, SF
The Bulls are in win now mode and McDermot has the potential to be another Kyle Korver for Rose to find off penetration. Could go Tim Hardaway here for similar reasons, but if you’re going to go shooter, pick the best shooter.
21. Utah Jazz – Alex Poythress, Kentucky, SF
Even though he says he won’t leave, he just needs to take a look at the incoming Kentucky class and he’ll be on the next flight to NYC. The Jazz luck out and get an athletic wing to bury on the bench while he develops.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Rudy Gorbet, France, C
The international owner influences the pick and Gorbet sits on the bench behind Lopez and Kris Humphries so much he decides to quit the league and open up a croissant cart in Times Square. “Who knew NY was so diverse,” he thinks.
23. New York Knicks – Archie Goodwin, Kentuck, PG
Same as Poythress – ends up leaving. The Knicks luck out and get a pretty talent guard with size who can back up Felton and possibly challenge him in a season or two.
24. Indiana Pacers – Dario Saric, Croatia, SF/PF
I know the Pacers usually don’t go foreign, but he’s the best white player left on the board.
25. Denver Nuggets – Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan, SG
As deep as the Nuggets are, they really don’t have a “real” two guard. Iggy, Corey Brewer, Jordan Hamilton, Evan Fournier all play it, but are more natural at the SF. Enter Hardaway who can play the JR Smith role of a few years back – that is streaking shooting once or twice a month.
26. LA Clippers – Tony Mitchell, North Texas, SF
Clippers luck out with a guy who’s been ranked in the lottery most of last year and this year. He can bide his time between old-as-hell Caron Butler and old-as-the-earth Grant Hill.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves – Gorguie Deng, Louisville, C
If they don’t get Oladipo early, they go with a SG here (probably Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out of Georgia). But because I have them taking Victor, here they go with a backup shot-blocker with a tiny bit of upside.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Markel Brown, Oklahoma St., SG
With their (criminal) second pick of the first round, the Thunder take the hometown shooter to back up Jeremy Lamb, who backs up Kevin Martin, who backs up Thabo Sefelosha. Fuck OKC.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Jeff Withey, Kansas, C
I was as surprised as anyone to learn how small the Spurs are. Father time Tim Duncan is 7 ft, Tiago Splitter is 6’11” and some bench warmer who I’m not even going to bother looking up how to spell is 6’10”. That’s it. Enter a perfect Spurs system guy who has a perfect niche role (shot blocking) and is smart enough to play within himself. If I hadn’t wasted my expletives on OKC, you know what I’d be saying about the Spurs right now.
30. Phoenix Suns – Mike Muscala, Bucknell, C
Because I gave them Smart early, they go big here with the stretch 5. If they don’t land a guard in the top 5, they may consider Isaiah Canaan out of Murray St. here.
 All three of “the big three” in Miami, Melo, Kirk Hinrich, David West, Kendrick Perkins, Mo Williams, Kyle Korver, Leandro Barbosa and of course, Darko Milicic.
 Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love (that was just the top 5, in order), Danilo Gallinari, Eric Gordon, DJ Augustine, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee, JJ Hickson, Ryan Anderson, Serge Ibaka, Nicholas Batum, Nikola Peckovic, Deandre Jordan, Goran Dragic and of course, Joe Alexander (#8 overall!!).
 But in all actuality he should leave. There’s no way he projects top 10 next year. I just hope he doesn’t read footnotes.
 Remember when Day Day hit that awesome (yet questionable) baseline game winner, just to have Vasquez run the length of the court and hit his own game winner? Setting up one of the greatest game winners in MSU history when Korie Lucious hit a three off a pass that almost hit Delvon Roe in the head (he used his magical powers to duck under the pass without even seeing it!). Ahh, memories.
 This is MY draft remember? I think I’ve made that pretty clear.
 You can tell this is a rough draft when we can’t even fill out a decent top 10. But, again, for teams with the next 10 picks, this draft is awesome.
 Did I say ounce!? I meant a gram. No?
 Lot of projects in this draft – which is why good teams that have time/patience win.