Desperate Teams That Must Hit a Home Run in the 2013 NBA Draft
There are about eight teams drafting in the lottery who can be considered desperate for a homer.
The problem is that the NBA draft ballpark in 2013 is suited for pitchers. Home runs will be hard to come by, particularly at the top of the order.
But every team should have one or two guys at the top of their boards that they pray slips into their lap. This is a guy who can impact the direction of the franchise and who offers services the current lineup does not.
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Need: Best Player Available
The only specific need the Charlotte Bobcats have is finding a guy they can build around. Unfortunately, there aren't many, if any, true centerpieces in this projected draft class.
However, there are guys you can build with. And the Bobcats need to find a fixture at one of the five positions.
Nerlens Noel would be a fixture at the center position, and Ben McLemore would be a fixture at the shooting guard slot. Don't tell me they already have Bismack Biyombo and Gerald Henderson. These are expendable pieces who can work as seventh men.
But the Bobcats need a player whom they can confidently start year after year, and someone they want to invest in long-term.
Noel or McLemore would be home runs for the Bobcats, if there is such a thing in the 2013 draft pool.
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Need: A Floor General
The Orlando Magic acquired some promising pieces through the Dwight Howard and J.J. Redick trades. Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless all look like long-term pieces.
However, the Jameer Nelson era has run its course. It's time for a changing of the point guard.
For the Magic to hit a home run, they'll need to acquire a new floor general to lead the troops into the future.
Marcus Smart and Trey Burke are both viable options here. The Magic seem pretty set at the wings and center position, at least for now.
But Smart or Burke could be Orlando's long-term answer at point guard. And every team looking to rebuild needs to find an on-court decision-maker.
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Need: Frontcourt Scoring Option
The Cleveland Cavaliers have built their backcourt through the draft, and though Dion Waiters projects as a better sixth man than starter, the team's needs center around their uninspiring frontcourt.
Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett should all be considered home runs here.
Porter and Bennett are both versatile athletes who can play the 3 and 4 positions. And with Alonzo Gee, Omri Casspi and Tristan Thompson as the team's current small and power forwards, an upgrade is badly needed.
Bennett has the most offensive upside of the group, while Porter presents the least amount of risk.
Nerlens Noel would be a home run simply because he's the top prospect on the board. Anderson Varejao's contract is running out, not to mention he hasn't been the poster boy for reliability.
Any one of these three players should be considered a home run at the top of this particular draft.
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Need: Floor General
Isaiah Thomas is a nice player, but he's no floor general.
The Kings need someone to get the ball to the top scoring options in the right spots at the right times.
Marcus Smart or Trey Burke would be the home runs here. These guys would give Sacramento a need and a want as mature leaders with high basketball IQs, something the Kings are desperately missing.
The argument that Sacramento already has a number of guards doesn't work when none of them can play. Thomas' skill set is best used as a spark off the bench, not for dominating the ball for 35 minutes.
If the Kings wind up with Smart or Burke, fans should be able to rest easy.
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When the Phoenix Suns run their half-court sets, there aren't many reliable options for points. Wes Johnson, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris are just not starting-caliber players.
The Suns need someone who can score the ball—a long-term player they can count on.
If I were general manager Lance Blanks, I'd be targeting Anthony Bennett or Marcus Smart here. Of course, Nerlens Noel would be an option, but that's likely the case for almost every other team as well.
With Smart, the Suns can get a guy who can play on and off the ball. He can back up Goran Dragic or play alongside him at the 2 spot.
Bennett would give them an explosive athlete up front who can generate his own offense in the half court. The Suns' forwards aren't exactly threatening with the ball in their hands. Bennett has tremendous upside if he can maximize his strengths as a versatile scorer.
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Need: Frontcourt Scoring Option
The Wizards have their point guard of the future and a promising shooting guard who just needs to get healthy.
But that's it.
Washington needs some type of scoring option for Wall to go to for easy buckets.
Anthony Bennett has the most upside of the scoring 3s and 4s, and his ability to get up and down the floor will mesh well with John Wall's style.
Another option could be Indiana's Cody Zeller. Though he has his flaws, he'd immediately step in and become one of Washington's top frontcourt scoring options.
Based on fit and upside, Anthony Bennett would be the home run here (along with Nerlens Noel, though it's unlikely he'll be available if the standings remain the same), although Cody Zeller and even Otto Porter or Alex Len could be considered doubles and triples.
Bottom line: The Wizards need a guy they can count on to be a routine scoring option up front.
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Need: Floor General or Scoring Wing
The Detroit Pistons are learning that Brandon Knight's skill set might be better used off the ball, meaning there's an opening at the point guard position.
This team needs a floor general. Marcus Smart would be the home run here, which would give Detroit a sizable and incredibly versatile backcourt. Both Smart and Knight can play on and off the ball, maximizing each other's strengths as combo guards.
A scoring wing would be plan B. Detroit doesn't have any scoring option at the small forward position. Otto Porter seems like a fit, though his lack of upside reflects more of a sacrifice fly than a home run. Anthony Bennett would also be an option, though with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe clogging the middle, the Pistons would be better off with a pure wing instead of a combo forward.
Unfortunately, they'd have to reach for one in the top five, although I really do like Glenn Robinson III as a long-term investment.
If Detroit can come away with Marcus Smart or even Trey Burke, it would be as close to a home run as you can possibly get in 2013.
New Orleans Hornets
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Need: Odd-Numbered Position
The Hornets have needs at the 1, 3 and 5 positions, making it very difficult for them to screw this draft up.
The ultimate home run would be Nerlens Noel, who could give them the top prospect on the board and fill a need at the center position. Noel would offer the Hornets athleticism up front that Robin Lopez knows nothing about.
The Hornets also have a hole at the wing. Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett would be excellent fits in this lineup. Either one of these guys would be an immediate upgrade to what they currently have. Depending on where they end up picking, these guys may not be considered home runs, but definitely RBI.
And though Greivis Vasquez has exceeded expectations as the team's point guard, I'm not sure he's the long-term answer as a starter. If the Hornets came away with either Trey Burke or Marcus Smart, the rotation would be better off.
Noel would be the home run, but any of the guys previously mentioned would be an upgrade.