2013 NBA Draft Grades: Bobby C's Take
A surprising draft that’s heavy in questionable talent, grades are going to be interesting here. Here’s my take on how each team fared in the draft:
Atlanta Hawks – C
It seems like C Lucas Nogueira was a draft prospect for ages and he’s finally arrived to the big scene, humongous hair and all. He’s a defense-first, yet lanky seven-footer who could transition into a commendable center alongside Al Horford with the right grooming. But the highlight of the Hawks’ draft was grabbing PG Dennis Schroeder out of Germany. Schroeder is built like Rajon Rondo, runs and passes like him, but already shoots better than him. Schroeder could be the incumbent starter if Jeff Teague – a restricted free agent – moves on. However, I didn’t get drafting another point guard to add to an overabundance of guards on the roster. The second-round pick could’ve gone for a wing player/small forward, but I assume PG Raul Neto will be stashed overseas for a few years.
Boston Celtics – C
As offensively gifted as C Kelly Olynyk (the Celtics’ lone draft pick) is, I’ve had a hard time giving Beantown anything higher than this grade as they do away with the championship-chasing roster of years past. With veteran leaders Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett heading to Brooklyn in a trade, Rajon Rondo stands alone as the franchise player moving forward, albeit slowly as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered earlier this year. Boston is in overhaul mode with several first-round draft picks to boot as a result of the blockbuster trade with the Nets, but Olynyk is a nice piece to help keep things respectable for the upcoming season.
Brooklyn Nets – B
The Nets turned out to be one of the draft’s biggest winners before it was even underway, making the colossal trade to acquire Pierce and Garnett and sending away an overpaid Gerald Wallace, along with other burdensome contracts. C Mason Plumlee is the bonus for their efforts, giving them a quality backup big man to All-Star Brook Lopez who can rebound and is a strong finisher at the basket. Provided the aging Pierce and Garnett stay healthy and new head coach Jason Kidd doesn’t have a rough transition from player to coach, Brooklyn is suddenly in NBA title conversation, with standouts guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson salivating at the possibilities.
Charlotte Bobcats – C
Bobcats fans gagged and booed at the surprising selection of C Cody Zeller, a front-to-basket offensive big man whose ceiling is yet to be guessed. Zeller at No. 4 overall is high, but if he can average a double-double and free space for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker to operate in penetration, this middling grade could bump up a notch.
Chicago Bulls – A
I absolutely loved how the Bulls went about the draft. They not only selected a player that fit their mold (SF Tony Snell, a solid defender and quality shooter), but they also grabbed a frontcourt player who can score (PF Erik Murphy, a stretch four-player with marginal rebounding skills). While questions remain about Murphy’s ability to hang tough under head coach Tom Thibodeau’s gritty system, I believe both can contribute right away. Snell fits the Thibodeau bill; he’ll make key three-point buckets and play grinding defense down the stretch as the returning Derrick Rose floats all over the court, drawing double teams. Murphy is an interesting tweak up front with his perimeter game. Why not give him a shot alongside Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer?
Cleveland Cavaliers – B
The stunner of the entire draft, PF Anthony Bennett as the draft’s top pick (most predicted center Nerlens Noel or Alex Len) paved way for a solid draft for the up-and-coming Cavaliers. Bennett is a tweener at forward (6’8”, 240 pounds), but he’s a very dependable perimeter shooter (.375 clip from beyond the arc last season at UNLV) and can bang around inside for boards (8.1 rebounds per game in 2012-2013). He could be inserted at small forward and make the Cavs’ offense a diversified and dangerous one led by Kyrie Irving. SF Sergey Karasev was another quality pick, a gangly, yet sharp shooter with plenty of big-game experience to bring from overseas (bronze medalist for Russian team in 2012 Summer Olympics). Karasev’s good ball handles and shooting touch will land him a solid rotational spot off the bench. The Cavs could’ve drafted a center to eventually replace injury-prone Anderson Varejao, but they still managed to create some intrigue heading into the upcoming season.
Dallas Mavericks – B
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban did his best to get a low grade in the draft, trading down and down to avoid guaranteed contracts beyond their apparent point guard of the future in Shane Larkin. But the other two selections – SG Ricky Ledo and C Mike Muscala – are two of the more intriguing prospects in the draft and should fit in nicely. Ledo didn’t play a lick of college basketball due to academic issues as he practiced with Providence last season. Ledo has tremendous upside, provided he overcomes reported character issues and is ready to play big-game ball. Muscala, meanwhile, is quite a talented big man who averaged a double-double last season at Bucknell. Yes, he faced lesser competition, but if Dallas’ plan to get Dwight Howard to play alongside Dirk Nowitzki fails, Muscala and Ledo can contribute to its new era. Larkin, meanwhile, is surely bred to become the starter in Dallas. He is dangerous off the pick-and-roll and overcomes his short stature (5’11”) with a dependable jumper and great facilitation.
Denver Nuggets – B
Despite the demoralizing split with head coach George Karl following a 50-plus win season, the Nuggets have seemed to stay afloat with the hiring of Brian Shaw (his time is long overdue) as head coach and two accurate picks in the draft. SG Erick Green carried Virginia Tech with his nation-leading 25 points per game last season, but is a tweener guard at 6’3”. Still, Green could carve a niche at both positions if he’s able to keep his sharp shooting touch in the pros, filling a need at shooting guard for the Nuggets. PF Joffrey Lauvergne appears to be a stash selection overseas, but his versatility and speed could make for a nice addition down the road for the Nuggets’ up-tempo attack.
Detroit Pistons – B
With all the talk about PG Trey Burke staying in Michigan and replacing Brandon Knight on the Pistons, the Pistons gave Knight another chance to show what he’s made of and chose a backcourt mate in SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is a very solid shooter and rebounder. I’m not sure how much longer the Pistons will go with the mediocrity of Rodney Stuckey, but Caldwell-Pope’s arrival may put that question on notice. PF Tony Mitchell is another upgrade on the interior, bringing another rebounding edge (along with scoring prowess) to Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Not only will Mitchell supplant long-time Piston Jason Maxiell, he could challenge for a starting position and blossom in it. PG Peyton Siva should work his way into a bench role because one can’t play as efficient and relentless as he did for Louisville in a National Championship Game this year and not make a squad.
Golden State Warriors – D
The last official draft pick announced by Commissioner David Stern (retiring in March 2014), PG Nemanja Nedovic is a quality guard who should be stashed overseas for some time, but could end up contributing now as Stephen Curry’s backup, as Jarrett Jack looks to stand more as a combo guard and is nearing free agency. Golden State had no picks entering this draft, but traded around to get the 30th pick. It could’ve been used to address the banged-up frontcourt. David Lee suffered a hip injury during the playoffs and Andrew Bogut is one play from missing multiple games with another lingering injury. With Tony Mitchell still on the board at that moment, the Warriors should’ve gone big with their selection. Besides, it’s what did them in against the Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals, as Tim Duncan carved them up smoothly.