My thoughts on the NBA draft are simple. You draft the best player available, especially in the lottery. Chances are, the reason your team is drafting in the lottery is because they aren’t any good (unless you’re the Thunder, then you’re drafting in the lottery because the Raptors were run by a moron.) So don’t draft for need, you have too many and there are only two rounds. Draft the best player available and fill needs through free agency via trades.
That being said, there is an exception to that rule, if the best player available plays a position/style that you’re franchise player plays (clarification, not every team has a franchise player) in that case draft the next best player.
So here’s how I would draft tonight and since these are my picks you can guarantee that the exact opposite will happen.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Otto Porter.
Personally, I think that Trey Burke is the best player in this year’s draft, but the Cavaliers already have a franchise player at the PG position in Kyrie Irving. So it works out perfectly that Otto Porter is a SF, he’s the next best player in the draft and fills a big need for the young, talented Cavaliers. Much like MKG was looked last year, Porter is NBA ready right now. He’s capable of contributing on both the offensive and defensive side of the basketball starting day one. He’s player that presumably has a high floor and a high ceiling.
Orlando Magic – Ben McLemore.
McLemore is probably the biggest boom/bust potential player in the 2013 NBA draft, and while it’s always a risk drafting a player like that, the Magic have to take that chance. Their best player is Jameer Nelson, but he is the PG and has no scoring options to dish the ball to. If McLemore can capitalize on his athleticism and improve his shooting he could be star in this league and you can’t pass on that, especially if you’re team is nowhere near making a playoff push in the next year or two.
Washington Wizards – Alex Len.
The Wizards already have a star PG that needs to gain experience and learn how to slow things down and a potential star SG than needs to become a more consistent shooter and improve on the defensive end of things. Alex Len is a far more complete player than Noel, and could benefit with a SG spreading the court and PG that knows how to get his teammates the ball. Len will allow the Wizards to establish a much need half court offense.
Charlotte Bobcats – Nerlens Noel.
The Bobcats have needs at every position and it doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon. What Noel needs the most is an opportunity to develop by playing, and the patience and time that only a bottom dweller with no improvement in sight can provide. The advanced metrics prove out that Noel is a very effective and efficient defensive player, but he has no offensive game and needs coaching, time and the work ethic required to develop into a NBA player. His incredibly high ceiling makes it difficult for the Bobcats to pass on him at four.
Phoenix Suns – Anthony Bennett.
Bennett’s versatility and athletic ability make him the ideal pick here, considering who’s already been drafted. The suns have a log jam and PG, and while I maintain that you draft the best player available, a fifth PG would just be absurd. Bennett can play in transition and in the half court, and his ability to play both in the post and perimeter will give the Suns some much needed depth. He’s not a player you build your team around, but it seems that the Suns are attempting to recreate the Steve Nash days around Goran Dragic and Bennett could fit that style pretty well.
New Orleans Pelicans – Trey Burke.
This is a best of both worlds situation for the Pelicans. Burke is not only the best player in the draft he fills a major need for the Pelicans. The Pelicans have a decent grouping of players that could be made better by a PG that has the ability to both create his own shot and create offense for his teammates. Burke is a lights out shooter, from NBA range, has great court vision and is an excellent on ball defensive player. He’s a Chris Paul clone, and for those that say he’s too small, they should note that he is bigger now than Chris Paul was coming out of college.
Sacramento Kings – Victor Oladipo.
The Kings have talented players at PG and C, but they lack direction and discipline. Oladipo gives them a defensive presence on the perimeter, but also a mature player with experience and talent. He also provides the Kings with a legitimate scoring option at the SG position.
Detroit Pistons – C.J. McCollum.
The Pistons have an excellent combination at C/PF with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, they also have a good scorer in Brandon Knight who should be playing SG and not PG. McCollum is a very good player, and best scorer in the draft. He can create for himself and with his high basketball IQ can create for Drummond and Monroe both of whom are athletic and can spread the floor out along with Brandon Knight.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
With a stud at PG and PF and developing Derrick Williams, the best player available at an open position for the Timberwolves is SG Caldwell-Pope. His length gives him a high ceiling on the defensive side and his shooting ability pairs him perfectly with Rubio and Love.
Portland Trail Blazers – Michael Carter-Williams.
Take the best player available! Damian Lillard was this year’s Rookie of the Year award winner, and will remain the starter at the position, but in a changing NBA where we are seeing more teams playing multiple players that play the same positions together, having two PG who can score and distribute isn’t a bad thing. Carter-Williams has great court vision and his length would make him a nightmare for anyone trying to guard him, or trying to take him off the dribble.
Philadelphia 76ers – Cody Zeller.
With Noel and Len off the board, Zeller is the most athletic and talented Center left. With Bynum a massive question mark, Zeller’s defensive skills, his ability to play both in the half court and move in transition would make him pairing with Jrue Holiday and could potentially create a very athletic front court with Hawes and Zeller.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Sergey Karasev.
Seriously Toronto, WTF bro?! Here is the other exception, already a championship contender what the Thunder have the flexibility to do is fill needs, and what they need is a third scorer after Durant and Westbrook. The 19 year old Russian is a prolific scorer, and a sniper from beyond the arc. Will his game translate to the NBA, I don’t know. Very few European players can, not because of their ability but because of style of play. For all the fans that complain about the NBA being soft, it is not, it’s a very physical league and international basketball is a finesse game.
Dallas Mavericks – Steven Adams.
This team seemingly has stopped trying since winning a title, but I have to assume a future Hall of Famer like Dirk Nowitzki won’t go away with a whimper. I expect the Mav’s to fight hard this season and to make a playoff push. Center is a need for the Mavericks, and luckily for them Adams happens to be the best player available and 19 year old 7 footer gives the Mav’s what they need, second chance opportunities. Adams offensive rebounding ability should translate well to the NBA, and if you can get Darren Collison and Dirk Nowitzki more opportunities to create and score, it’s going to make your team dangerous.
Utah Jazz – Mason Plumlee.
There is literally no one on this team that I like as a player, and with no PG left on the board and with Jefferson and Milsap likely leaving for greener pastures, Plumlee is best player available at a position of need. Plumlee is experienced, athletic and Duke graduate, so I’m assuming he’s smart. The Jazz are likely going to get a lot worse before they get better, but Plumlee will add depth to their bench in the future. Also Lucas Nogueira could go here, if the Jazz just say screw it and hope for boom in this boom or bust 20 year old Center from Brazil.
Milwaukee Bucks – Lucas Nogueira.
J.J. Redick will serve as Ellis’ replacement, and the Bucks will remain a volume shooting team. “Bebe” will serve as their version of Noel. With Dalembert, Nogueira could be a potential menace in the low post and his rebounding ability can create multiple opportunities for a back court that doesn’t know the meaning of passing up a shot for a better shot.
Boston Celtics – Dennis Schroeder.
The Celtics are blowing things up; Doc is gone and Pierce and Garnett could be next. Chances are the Celtics will ask Schroeder to stay overseas one more year, thus keeping him off of the salary cap, letting him develop and giving them the opportunity to try and move Rondo during the season.
Atlanta Hawks – Shane Larkin.
Larkin is exciting and he was fun to watch in Miami. The Hawks have not shown that they have any philosophy or plan in building their team, so why not take a guy that will at least be fun to watch. He’s a talented player, but might be too small and light of frame to be able to play in the NBA. However, he is talented and at the end of the day I believe that talent and hard work will always win out.
Atlanta Hawks – Shabazz Muhammad.
This is not a typo. The Hawks previous pick was attained from the Rockets. It’s all about risk vs. reward, and this is about the point where the reward of Muhammad’s scoring ability outweighs his character risk and lacking athletic ability.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Tim Hardaway Jr.
I believe that the Cavaliers are headed in the right direction, and surrounding your stud PG with shooters and scorers is always a good idea. Hardaway has excellent pedigree, solid work ethic and can shoot from NBA range. Another option could be Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 18 year old from Greece is a 6’9” 215 lbs SF. If the Cav’s do draft Antetokounmpo, they would most likely stash him away overseas for the next 2 – 4 years and allow him to develop and wait for his body to mature, and bring over to the NBA in a time when they feel they will be ready to compete in the playoffs.
Chicago Bulls – Reggie Bullock.
Now that Derrick Rose is finally ready to play, the Bulls will look to add shooters around him. This would spread the court out and open up the lanes allowing Rose to do what he does best, drive and dunk or drive and dish. Most likely the Bulls will try to move up and draft Karasev, but if they can’t they will take Bullock and his 44% shooting from 3-point range.
Utah Jazz – Isaiah Canaan.
Canaan is the last PG left that is good enough and has enough of ceiling to be drafted by a team like the Jazz. I had them taking big man Mason Plumlee at 14, so adding decent depth to the PG would be the next logical move.
Brooklyn Nets – Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk needs to add weight to his body, but he’s only 22 so he has plenty of time to do just that. He was a good scorer and rebounder at Gonzaga and if that can translate to the NBA this could be a steal at 22. If he can show strength at the NBA level the Nets could have quite a prolific combination in the front court.
Indiana Pacers – Jamaal Franklin.
This is a tough one, I think Tony Mitchell would be a great fit for this team, but with a log jam at SF with Granger, George and Green what they need is PG and SG. Franklin fits the Pacers philosophy of gritty, versatile players. They need a better shooter, but if they stay at 23 spot and Franklin falls to them, the Pacers mostly likely won’t pass on him.
New York Knicks – Ricardo Ledo.
The Knicks will add another shooter to their ranks. It’s the Knicks, it’s what they do and with J.R. Smith likely gone the Knicks will need a replacement. Ledo is best scorer available and the only reason he would drop this low is because of his off the court issues, something the Knicks never seem to take into consideration. South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters could be an option here too, because after all they are the Knicks.
Los Angeles Clippers – Tony Mitchell.
With his size, body, tools and elite athletic ability Mitchell would fit right in with Lob City.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Allen Crabbe.
You can never have too many shooters. Crabbe and Caldwell-Pope could be two excellent additions to go along with Rubio, Love and Williams. It’s small ball, but its offensively centric and could be fun as hell to watch.
Denver Nuggets – Tony Snell.
Losing Igoudala’s length on the perimeter will hurt, but adding a lengthy shooter will fit in perfectly with their transition heavy offense. What the Nuggets lose in defense more than make up for in shooting with Snell.
San Antonio Spurs – Gorgui Dieng.
The Spurs need to add size and while Rudy Gobert is bigger, his lack of athletic ability makes him a poor fit in an offense and defense that are constantly moving. Dieng will likely drop here because of his bad knees, but the Spurs have shown before that they aren’t worried to take a risk like that.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Nate Wolters.
The Thunder is already great and need to add another scorer so why not give Nate Wolters a shot, what’s the worst that could happen? His scoring doesn’t translate to the NBA? Fine, then you just dump and lose nothing, but if it does translate the Thunder just drafter a legitimate scoring option off the bench.
Phoenix Suns – Rudy Gobert.
The Suns have shown a proclivity to add guys with size to their roster, and no chance you can pass on a guy that’s 7’2” and only 20 years old with the 30th pick. Phoenix can stash him away overseas so that he doesn’t impact their salary cap until they feel he’s ready to contribute to an NBA team.