The basketball world may have been shocked to see the Cleveland Browns (oops!) … I mean the Cavaliers use the No. 1 overall pick on Anthony Bennett, but back in March OneManFastBreak.net slotted the UNLV freshman forward as the top prospect in the draft. In case you’d like to check, click here.
Even though there is no LeBron James or clear-cut game changer in this year’s draft pool there are still plenty of potential standouts who could turn out to be gems. Some teams know how to find talent and some teams wouldn’t know talent even if it hit them in the head. Those teams that do their homework will be rewarded handsomely. Here are the winners and losers from the 2013 NBA draft:
Cleveland Cavaliers — Anthony Bennett is a great fit for the Cavs. He is a 6-8, 240-pound power forward who can slide down and play some small forward. He complements Cleveland’s guard-heavy squad led by Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Cavs coach Mike Brown won’t have to run plays for Bennett, who rebounds well in traffic. Between Bennett and Anderson Varejao, the Cavs should clean up a lot of Irving’s and Waiter’s misses. If Bennett turns out to be another Larry Johnson, then the post-LeBron Cavaliers are back in business. The Cavs also bolstered their outside shooting by selecting Russian 6-7 guard/forward Sergey Karasev later in the first round.
Philadelphia 76ers — Getting Nerlens Noel from New Orleans is great value for the Sixers even though they gave up point guard Jrue Holiday and a second-round pick to get him, league sources told Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. The look on Noel’s face when he dropped to the No. 6 spot in the draft was priceless. He’ll be extra motivated to prove to everyone that he should have been the top pick.
Orlando Magic — One NBA assistant general manager says Victor Oladipo can defend multiple positions. He has improved every season in college, and has a great work ethic. The Dwyane Wade comparisons is a bit of a reach, but Oladipo is a fearless competitor. His only real weakness is his jump shot. But knowing how hard Oladipo works, he’ll turn his weakness into a strength. Orlando needs help everywhere, and Oladipo is a nice starting point and will mesh well with Orlando’s other young studs like Tobias Harris and Nic Vucevic.
Portland Trail Blazers — The Blazers’ sad draft history has been well documented. This is the team that selected Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, and picked Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. Last year the Blazers hit the jackpot with Weber State point guard Damian Lillard, who went on to become the rookie of the year. The Blazers feel they hit the Powerball numbers again with the selection of Lehigh’s high-scoring guard C.J. McCollum.
Washington Wizards — Otto Porter Jr. may be the safest pick in this year’s draft. He has all the physical tools, as well as the mental capacity to handle the rigors of being a professional. He plays within himself and has a high basketball IQ. Porter adds another piece to the Wizards’ youth movement, and gives point guard John Wall another young perimeter player to run with.
Charlotte Bobcats — Michael Jordan can’t screw up every pick, and he got this one right. Cody Zeller tested extremely well during the NBA draft combine in Chicago, ranking first in all the agility drills among the big men. Zeller helped rebuild the Indiana Hoosiers program, and Jordan is hoping he would do the same for the Bobcats.
David Stern — Almost 900 names later, the NBA commish made his final draft announcement at the end of the first round and was showered with cheers from the Barclays Center crowd. Deputy commish Adam Silver surprised Stern by bringing back the first name he called in the 1984 draft: Hakeem Olajuwon. It was a real nice touch by the league, giving Stern the proper sendoff after 30 years at the helm.
Boston Celtics — You know the Celtics were having a bad day when Doc Rivers had to step in and defend his former team. ESPN’s Bill Simmons made several jokes about the Celtics’ rebuilding project, which irritated Rivers. Doc fired back by telling Shelley Smith that Simmons is an “idiot” for pounding the C’s on TV. Way to stay classy, Doc. Simmons was basically telling the truth. The Celtics are in total rebuilding mode. They reportedly traded their two best players in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and three future first-round picks. And to put the icing on the cake, the Celtics acquired Gonzaga stiff Kelly Olynyk through a draft day deal with the Mavericks. Olynyk in Canadian means “bust.”
Dallas Mavericks — The Mavs wanted no part of the No. 13 pick, so much so that they got rid of the pick even before Commissioner Stern could say Kelly Olynyk. The Mavs could have taken point guard Dennis Schroeder from Germany. That would have made Dirk Nowitzki happy. Instead they’re clearing the books to make a serious run at All-Star center Dwight Howard, who could be headed to Dallas … or not. You never know with Dwight. He seems to change his mind like a 12-year-old girl shopping for shoes. The Mavs seem to be putting all their tickets in the D12 sweepstakes.
Oklahoma City Thunder — As part of the James Harden deal, the Thunder were awarded the 12th overall selection. This could have been a golden opportunity for general manager Sam Presti to mask the mistake of trading away one of the best young stars of the game. Instead, OKC took Steven Adams. The New Zealander played one unspectacular year in Pittsburgh. He posted pedestrian numbers and the only reason why he climbed in the draft was because of his impressive workouts. Adams is a major-league project, and you don’t take projects with the 12th overall pick. Spanish guard Alex Abrines (taken in the second round) better be good because right now the Harden deal keeps getting worse by the minute for Presti and the Thunder.
Phoenix Suns — Picking Maryland center Alex Len could mean the end of the Marcin Gortat era in Phoenix. Len is an intriguing prospect because of his size and unlimited potential. Len, who turned 20 in June, was a standout for the Ukrainian under-18 squad but he’s no Gortat. Gortat may not be a star, but he is a very good NBA center. Len is still unpolished and probably not ready to start. The Suns are basically back where they started.
Sacramento Kings — For someone who was pegged to go 1-3, Kansas’ Ben McLemore can’t be too pleased he fell this low. And he couldn’t have landed in a worst situation. The Kings are loaded at shooting guard and unless they trade Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Tony Douglas, and Jimmer Fredette for a big guy they could easily field a starting five of shooting guards. No wonder the Maloofs wanted to sell the team.
Philadelphia 76ers — After hitting a home run with Noel, the Sixers struck out with their other first-round pick in point guard Michael Carter-Williams. First of all, MCW can’t shoot. That could be a problem. Secondly, he comes from Syracuse and history shows that players from the ‘Cuse struggle in the NBA — with the exception of Carmelo Anthony, of course. Need proof? How about Jonny Flynn, Fab Melo, Hakim Warrick, Wesley Johnson, and Donte Greene. And those are the most recent guys. The bad luck started with Pearl Washington in the early 1980s.
Joel Huerto is the editor and publisher of OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @onemanfastbreak.