Although the 2013 NBA Draft that took place in Brooklyn Thursday night lacked in star power at the top, it made for a raucous (and for some fans, flat out shocking) turn of events involving trades, falling prospects, more trades, and a stunner as the #1 overall pick. The biggest action, as usual, happened before the draft even began when the team who plays in the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets, swung for the fences to win now and made a mega deal with the Boston Celtics to get Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. The Nets also found a way to rid themselves of Gerald Wallace’s awful contract that they signed him to last year, but the deal still came with quite the price. Not only did they give up three first round draft picks over the next five years and a good player on an expiring deal in Kris Humphries, Nets ownership is estimated to have to play $80 million in luxury tax in order to put this squad together. This is an unprecedented bill to foot in the NBA under the new and more punitive collective bargaining agreement.
Then came another shocker only 15 minutes later when the Cleveland Cavaliers who reportedly were bouncing between Nerlens Noel and Alex Len, took neither guy and went with Anthony Bennett. Bennett was not projected at #1 by any mock draft on the internet not made by UNLV fans. The ten main players that were invited to the green room did get picked before the lottery was over, but it was the order that threw everybody for a loop. Nerlens Noel, in what seemed like just crazy luck, went to the New Orleans Pelicans, who took another top big man from Kentucky in Anthony Davis last year. I was in a room full of Pelican fans loving this steal of a pick. Then as Andy Katz trickled out reports of a trade with the Sixers where the Pelicans give up Noel for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, the feeling was delayed and, for some, indifferent. The Pelicans had a potentially great center fall into your lap and in a shrewd and almost panicky move, held him hostage in order to get a proven player. Even on teams as middling as the Pelicans, even they feel the pressure to win now. Time will tell to see if the Pelicans, and the five teams before them, made a mistake by passing on Noel.
Here’s my breakdown of how I thought each of the teams did overall, including draft day trades that may or may not have involved the actual draft. Bill Simmons was right last night when he called bullshit on Chad Ford giving the Sixers glowing reviews in their draft class without factoring in the fact that you just lost your starting point guard and best player in the process. If you align the stars correctly, the Sixers came out decently at best with a rebuild on the way. It is a common mishap by draft gurus because they are so obsessed with talking about the rookies and the upside that they forget about what all these teams gave up in order to get there.
First round: Lucas Nogueira (PF Brazil), Dennis Schroeder (PG Germany)
Second Round: Mike Muscala (C Bucknell), Raul Neto (PG Brazil)
Via Trade: Jared Cunningham
It is very international-friendly, meaning you have to wait and see on a lot of these guys, but I actually liked this haul by GM Danny Ferry and new head coach Mike Budenholzer. Nogueira (nicknamed Bebe) can become a terrific rim protector to replace Josh Smith and take the load off of Al Horford while Schroeder has great potential with his crafty style of play in case Jeff Teague leaves in free agency. Muscala is a fantastic outside shooter for a guy his size, so he can come in immediately and give good minutes. And we are going to write a rain check on Neto, a solid point guard who is going to stay overseas for now. Cunningham barely played in Dallas, but he is really athletic. If they can sign a couple of good players with all that cap room to go with these two first-rounders in the next couple of seasons, the Hawks are in good shape.
First Round: Kelly Olynyk (C Gonzaga)
Second Round: Colton Iverson (C Colorado State)
Via Trade: Gerald Wallace, Marshon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans
Man, there is a lot to sort out here. Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett are all officially gone from Beantown, leaving Danny Ainge with a total rebuild behind Rajon Rondo, who is recovering from a torn ACL, and a ton of future draft picks. They used two picks this year to get some legit size in Olynyk, whose main skill is scoring and having light touch around the rim, and Iverson, who prefers to settle under the rim but snags a lot of boards that way. Wallace is one of the worst contracts in the entire league, so the Celts had to take it in order to get rid of Pierce and Garnett’s salaries. Humphries is a great catch because he has an expiring contract and he is a great rebounder. Shengelia played well in the D-league, and Evans and Bogans are hard working, team-first role players. But how far will the C’s have to fall, though, in order to make the most out of all those draft picks in the coming years?
First Round: Mason Plumlee (C Duke)
Via Trade: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry
The message is clear from Nets ownership: Time to win now. Jason Kidd is getting thrown straight into the fire with a team that looks on paper like a very formidable playoff opponent in the Eastern Conference. The luxury tax payout is going to be lucrative beyond belief, but the Nets are willing to do it for a year or two in order to try to unseat the Miami Heat. I am very worried, though, about all the draft picks they gave up in the next few years to make this happen because by 2018, when they give a first round pick to the Celtics, Pierce, Garnett, and Terry will likely not even be playing anymore. The trade was so big that it totally got lost that the Nets still had a pick, and they took one of the last good centers available in the first round in Plumlee. He is really athletic in a Gumby sort of way and will help Brook Lopez with protecting the paint now that Humphries has been sent to Boston. They also got rid of Gerald Wallace. That alone gets a passing grade.
First Round: Cody Zeller (C Indiana)
First Round: Tony Snell (SG/SF New Mexico)
Second Round: Erik Murphy (PF Florida)
The Bulls affirmed one of their strengths by getting a rangy guard with sneaky athleticism in Snell and addressed a weakness by getting a big man who can stretch the floor in Murphy. Snell is being criticized as a bit of a reach, but then again, so was Jimmy Butler, and he worked out beautifully for the Bulls. I really wished they had taken Jamaal Franklin from San Diego State, but Snell’s size probably won them over. Murphy is a guy that is always in the shadows waiting for his number to get called, and who else does Chicago have in their frontcourt to hit open jumpers outside of Boozer?
First Round: Anthony Bennett (PF UNLV), Sergey Karasev (SG Russia)
Second Round: Carrick Felix (SF Arizona State)
The first couple of minutes after Bennett went #1 to Cleveland had Twitter so abuzz about such a forgettable draft class that people were immediately hammering the Cavs for this pick. I don’t want to hammer them as much as shake them against the wall a little bit. It is definitely a reach to pick Bennett at the top when you already have Tristan Thompson at the power forward spot unless you either have given up on Thompson or you want to turn him into a center, which may prove very difficult. Bennett is a really active guy at his height and weight, a shorter version of Larry Johnson, another UNLV Rebel. I hope it works out for the Cavs, because I have my doubts. He is seen as the most solid scorer available in the draft, but I think they may have passed on some guys that could become better if they gave them time. Karasev is loved by some experts, but I think he is similar to another guy who played in Cleveland, Omri Casspi. If he is as slow as the other Russians I have seen come in the league the last couple of years, I think his peak is being the next Beno Udrih. I don’t think Felix is anything more than a bench guy who can come in on defensive assignments.
First Round: Shane Larkin (PG Miami FL)
Second Round: Ricky Ledo (SG Providence)
By the end of the day, the Mavericks did more moving and shaking on the draft boards than a Harlem Shake video, but they did just right here. They did give up on rookie Jared Cunningham to get Larkin, whose stock rose quickly after a really good combine, who might wind up playing back-up minutes immediately depending on what Mark Cuban can bring over in free agency. They also got a nice player without a guaranteed contract in Ledo, whose stock also rose to first round territory leading up to draft. Larkin is really good at pick-and-roll and Ledo can work in the isolation game, so you get the best of both worlds here. Let’s be serious, though: The Mavs’ game plan here was to clear cap room and convince Dwight Howard to sign.
Second Round: Erick Green (PG Virginia Tech), Joffrey Lauvergne (PF France)
Via Trade: Darrell Arthur
I didn’t really get this one. They originally took Rudy Gobert, the French Javale McGee with incredible wingspan, then traded him to fall back and took Lauvergne, the next best French big guy. I know nothing about Lauvergne, and he isn’t ready yet anyway. Green is an excellent scorer (led the nation in scoring) although he is undersized as a shooting guard. He will have to do what Nate Robinson eventually did and become an attacking two-guard who is willing to pass off of double teams. The Nuggets also traded Kosta Kuofos, who is liked in some circles, for Arthur, who is a tough and solid traditional power forward from Memphis. I’d call that a wash.
First Round: Kentavious Caldwell Pope (SG Georgia)
Second Round: Tony Mitchell (SF/PF North Texas), Peyton Siva (PG Louisville)
I want to love this draft class like some already do, but I merely like it. Caldwell Pope is seen as one of the best shooters in the draft and he soared up the boards pretty quickly (I had him in the teens going to the Celtics in my mock). He’s also very athletic, and the Pistons needed a taller guard, so there you go. Mitchell might be a steal, but he is a tweener just like Greg Monroe. If Andre Drummon does not fully develop, that is an itty bitty frontcourt, although both guys are good rebounders. The problem I had with it was that Detroit could have used a point guard like Trey Burke or C.J. McCollum and they went with the athlete instead and, by circumstance, committing to Brandon Knight as their starting point guard. It’s a risk, but at least you got two good players to try it out. Siva was one tough cookie in college, but I don’t even know if he can make the roster.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
First Round: Nemanja Nedovic (PG/SG Serbia)
The Warriors did not even have a draft pick going into the night until they made some phone calls, had Malcolm Lee for approximately 10 minutes in the process, and settled at the end of the first round where Stern announced his final pick as acting commissioner. Nedovic is similar to a guy the Timberwolves have, Alexey Shved. He is a small but athletic combo guard from Europe who wants to come stateside now. He will go to summer league and show what he can do. He might be insurance in case Jarrett Jack leaves in free agency, which is likely given the Warriors’ impending salary cap logjam.
Second Round: Isaiah Canaan (PG Murray State)
This is the calm before the storm that will be Houston desperately trying to sign away Dwight Howard similar to the Miami Heat trading most of their picks in the 2010 Draft before getting LeBron. The Rockets had one pick, a non-guaranteed one, and took yet another three-point shooter in Canaan. He was getting first round looks, so it might be a bit of steal here. Canaan is really small, but he is tough and makes open shots. If Dwight goes there with fellow All-Star James Harden on the attack and their endless array of three-point marksmanship, look out.
First Round: Solomon Hill (SF Arizona)
The Pacers must be afraid that David West might leave in free agency, so they took the next best finesse power forward in their eyes. What I did not like was that there were a ton of other guys on the board that fit that bill who they passed on. Hill is not terrible, but he will not wow you on the court, that’s for sure. They really need to get a good back up point guard in free agency now.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
First Round: Reggie Bullock (SG North Carolina)
In his first move as head coach and in a managerial role, Doc Rivers took one of the best pure shooters available. Bullock has the advantage of also being taller than average shooting guards so he can defend two positions if you need him to. Rivers probably loves his self-confidence and took that for toughness. I thought Doc would go big to give the Clippers a defensive anchor inside, but you are losing a lot of shooters on that team with guys like Eric Bledsoe, Chauncey Billups, and Matt Barnes on the market. Unlike the Nets, the Clippers have a few years to get this right, but the process to win a ring begins with this pick, followed by re-signing Chris Paul.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Second Round: Ryan Kelly (PF Duke)
This makes little sense to me. The last thing the Lakers need is a stretch 4, and I don’t think the NBA is for a guy like Ryan Kelly anyway. He moves very methodically, has had two major injuries to his feet, and never had to be the best player on his Duke teams. People like the pick in other circles because he will be a shooter in the Mike D’Antoni offense. I don’t even know if Mike D’Antoni will be coaching the team by July.