Consistency is the key when it comes to this year's NBA draft.
Many NBA fans and experts are discussing how weak this year's draft class is. It's hard to argue with that frame of mind. Teams are not going to find any transcendent players near the top of the draft. There isn't a player who's going to take the league by storm in his first season.
This draft does not lack value, though.
The key for teams this year is to try to get the players who offer the most value. They might not turn into All-Stars, but they're the kind of players night in, night out who will give you something positive on the floor.
Here is how the first round of the 2013 NBA draft plays out, with some of the safest picks in italics.
*Note: The lottery order is ranked by each team's odds. Full draft order via ESPN.com.
1. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
With the way that Nikola Vucevic asserted himself in the post for the Orlando Magic, the need to take Nerlens Noel isn’t there. Noel could be a good addition, but Ben McLemore makes more sense. Arron Afflalo is a good player, but the Magic would be smart to get a more long-term option.
McLemore is the best guard in the draft. He didn’t have a great NCAA tournament, but it’s unfair to judge him on five games alone. He’s an athletic guard who can knock down shots. McLemore is not a great shooter, but he’s good enough to complement his ability to get to the basket. Although this draft is a bit thin, the Magic would be getting a potential All-Star in McLemore.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, PF, Kentucky
The Bobcats don’t have much of a threat inside. Right now, Charlotte’s best options are Byron Mullens, Bismack Biyombo and Josh McRoberts. Noel has the wingspan and defense necessary to provide a huge upgrade defensively for the Bobcats.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Slowly but surely, the Cavaliers have assembled most of the pieces for an emerging young team. Kyrie Irving’s the point, Dion Waiters the 2, and the combination of Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller make up the post. All that’s left is a 3, and that’s where Otto Porter comes in. He does a little bit of everything on the floor and would be a nice addition.
4. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV
Anthony Bennett has taken quite a leap up the board in the space of a year. He was little more than an afterthought when the season started, but he’s made major improvements to his game. Bennett’s got great length, but at 6’7”, he projects as a 3 in the NBA.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The New Orleans Pelicans are in need of a point guard, and Trey Burke is the best one on the board. In terms of overall performance, Burke didn’t have a great tournament. But his 30-footer that tied the game against Kansas was evidence of the confidence he has in his game. Burke is a good combination of scorer and distributor.
6. Sacramento Kings: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Although he’s got plenty of upside, Alex Len is a bit of a risk in the top 10. He is a very skilled big man at both ends of the floor. There were some games, though, where he disappeared. At 20 years old, Len has a lot of time to grow. He may struggle for the first couple of seasons, but he’ll start to grow into his game in a few years.
7. Detroit Pistons: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Cody Zeller is an interesting pick. He possibly could have used another season in college, but the argument that he might not have added much in that season is valid. Zeller is the best offensive big man in the draft, but he’s not very strong. Zeller needs to bulk up or else he’ll get bullied around in the post.
8. Washington Wizards: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
John Wall became the franchise point guard again this season. He and Bradley Beal make up a very good offensive duo. Victor Oladipo would bring some much-needed perimeter defense. He was one of the best in the country last year and did a great job of shutting down Trey Burke. Oladipo runs all around the country and is a very athletic guard. He’d be a nice addition for the Wizards.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Shabazz Muhammad had a poor on-court and off-court end to the season. He shot 33.3 percent from the floor as his UCLA Bruins were dumped in the first round of the tournament by Minnesota. There was also the news he was in fact 20 years old, not 19, as previously believed.
That’s caused him to slip a little bit, but in the buildup to the draft, teams will see Muhammad’s talents on display again. Muhammad is an extremely skilled basketball player. He’s a very good scorer.
Playing a season in college didn’t do anything but hurt his draft stock. Playing in the NBA will help him get that motivation back to become the kind of player he looked like in college. Some might consider him a risk. Have no fear: he’s going to be one of the best players in the draft.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Kelly Olynyk has a very polished offensive game that has improved a lot over the past few seasons. He averaged 12 more points last season than he did in his sophomore season. In addition, he shot 62.9 percent from the field. Olynyk isn’t a great athlete, but the moves he utilized in college will come in handy in the NBA.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
Mason Plumlee isn’t a great big man, but he works extremely hard in the post. He was under the microscope last season, and for the most part, he did well. The Andrew Bynum trade was a disaster for the Philadelphia 76ers and they should let him sign elsewhere in the offseason. If Bynum does go, Plumlee will fill the hole left in the post.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Michael Carter-Williams is not going to be an offensive force in the league. That’s why he’ll fit in perfectly with the Thunder. Russell Westbrook’s injury shows how thin OKC is at point guard. MCW would be a nice foil for the offensive-minded Westbrook when he returns to the court.
13. Dallas Mavericks: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh
If C.J. McCollum can play the point, this would be a great pick for the Mavericks. Dallas bet a lot on Darren Collison, and he didn’t look like a starting NBA point guard. If McCollum doesn’t work out at the point, the Mavs would still be getting a talented 2-guard.
14. Utah Jazz: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope really benefited from another year in college. His offensive game grew a lot. His shooting was not much in doubt, but he was able to illustrate that he can score in an efficient manner.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
When it comes to defensive big men in the draft, they don’t come much better than Gorgui Dieng. He’s not going to offer much on the offensive end of the floor, but Dieng’s size and length make him a force in the paint. While his rebounding could improve, Dieng can be a shot-blocker immediately at the next level.
16. Boston Celtics: Rudy Gobert, C, France
The Boston Celtics need a big man. It was their Achilles’ heel this season. Rudy Gobert would be a massive help. He’s got great length and size. With the right coaching, Gobert should be able to turn his raw potential into real results.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Jamaal Franklin is a good scorer, but his shooting will hold him back. He only shot 41.1 percent from the field last season, including 27.2 percent from three-point range. In the middle of the first round, he’s worth a gamble.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
The Atlanta Hawks would get flexibility with back-to-back picks. Dario Saric has nice ball skills, but he still needs to become a bit more mature. His decision-making is questionable. And, like most international players, his game still needs polishing. The pieces are there, though, for a potential All-Star.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Lucas Nogueira, PF/C, Brazil
Lucas Nogueira is still pretty raw, but his offensive game has grown a lot over the past couple of years. The Cavs are well off enough in the post for the time being, so they can wait a season or two before Nogueira is more ready to make the jump to the NBA.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tony Mitchell, SF/PF, North Texas
Tony Mitchell could play at power forward, but he doesn’t have the kind of inside game to handle opposing 4s. Instead, he may fit much better at the 3. Mitchell is an explosive player with a lot of length.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Jeff Withey doesn’t have a ton of upside. But there’s something to be said about a college player who has improved so much over his career. Teams know exactly what they’re getting with Withey.
Withey became a force on the defensive end of the floor at Kansas. While the Jayhawks’ biggest stars were struggling, it was Withey’s rebounding and blocks that saved the team.
His ceiling isn’t all that high, but his floor isn’t that low, either. He can be very good rotating in and out of the lineup.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Steven Adams might not be ready for the NBA, but this weak draft class means he’s a potential first-round pick. Kris Humphries was a big disappointment this season. The Brooklyn Nets could use depth inside. Adams is a good pick because at 20 years old, he can learn and develop behind Brook Lopez.
23. Indiana Pacers: Sergey Karasev, PG/SG, Russia
Although he has a funky shot, Sergey Karasev finds a way to score. At 19 years old, he’s much more polished than you’d expect from an international point guard.
Athleticism is the big question mark with Karasev. He’s not overly fast, and he’s yet to adapt his game to handle quick, talented guards on the defensive end of the floor.
24. New York Knicks: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor
Much like the Baylor Bears as a whole, Isaiah Austin didn’t live up to preseason expectations. If you watched the NIT Championship, though, you were treated to a virtuoso performance from Austin.
He had 15 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. It was the kind of all-around game that made scouts take notice. He’s got a lot of potential, but he’s still a big risk at this point.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
Trey Burke got the headlines, but Tim Hardaway Jr. was a consistent threat for the Michigan Wolverines as well. The Los Angeles Clippers are set at point guard with Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe. Getting another 2 would be nice this offseason.
Jamal Crawford’s been fantastic this season; the team could find an upgrade from Chauncey Billups. Hardaway is a dependable shooter, hitting 36.7 percent of his three-pointers.
He’s not a high-volume scorer, but Hardaway would be a good player to bring on in certain situations. With so many stars on the Clippers, he could take a minor role on the team.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Erick Green, PG/SG, Virginia Tech
The question is whether or not Erick Green can be a point guard in the NBA. He scored a ton at Virginia Tech, but he was played a bit out of position for the Hokies as they asked him to be a point guard.
Green did well at the position. He’s not used to being the floor general, though. It may be a hard transition in the pros.
27. Denver Nuggets: Giannis Adetokoubo, SF, Greece
If there’s one big wild card in this first round, it’s Giannis Adetokoubo. He’s put together one nice highlight reel. Anybody can look good on a highlight reel, though. Adetokoubo is just 18 years old. A team could very well snatch him in the top 10, but the more and more scouts critique him, the further he’ll fall.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Dennis Schroeder looked great at the Nike Hoop Summit. His quickness and ball-handling skills were there for all to see. When defenses sagged off him to prevent him from driving, he made enough shots to make the most of the space. Learning behind Tony Parker would be great for his career.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: DeShaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State
You watch DeShaun Thomas and wonder how it does it. He looks about 31 years old instead of 21. Yet time and again, Thomas knocked down shots and put himself in a position to score. There’s something to be said for his scoring ability. He would be a nice option off the bench for the Thunder.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Mike Muscala, C, Bucknell
This is the most questionable pick of the first round. The Suns need to find a replacement for Marcin Gortat, so they’ll reach to find a big man. With the best all off the board, Muscala will be the benefactor.
He showed a nice offensive game in college, but there’s clear limitations to his game. How much value, though, will Phoenix be getting this late into the first round?
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