The 2013 NBA draft picture is much clearer in the aftermath of Tuesday evening's draft lottery, where the Cleveland Cavaliers emerged with the No. 1 overall pick.
This particular crop of prospects is considered rather weak, lacking a surefire, no-brainer selection at the top of the heap. However, those choosing in the top five are in desperate need of impact players. With the way the draft could fall, all of them could address vital needs to build for the future.
Below is an analysis of the best possible scenarios for the five teams at the top of the order, and how each choice will fit in with their new pro squads.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers—Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
If not for Noel's torn ACL, he would have been the clear choice for Cleveland here. That unfortunate setback, though, makes this a dicey situation for GM Chris Grant and Co.
The last time the Cavaliers used a No. 1 overall pick on a player without a full collegiate season under his belt due to injury was Kyrie Irving. That's worked out darn well so far, though he's missed time with various physical ailments already.
It appears that Noel's recovery is going relatively well, if his recent personal testimony is any indication:
Noel averaged 4.4 blocked shots per game in his brief time with the Wildcats, and has the athleticism to match up with any center in the NBA.
Head coach Mike Brown occupies the sideline for the franchise for a second tenure, and the key to his past successful Cavalier squads was an emphasis on defense. Inserting Noel as the centerpiece would be a dream for Brown, and would help the Cavs immensely on that end of the floor.
Brown's impact was felt from his first full campaign in 2005-06, when Cleveland made the postseason for the first time in seven seasons. The Cavs won their first playoff series on that occasion since 1993 (h/t Basketball-Reference.com).
HOOPSWORLD.com's Alex Kennedy sees the value in Noel that the Cavaliers should covet:
I believe the Cavs will draft Nerlens Noel with the first pick. Even though he's hurt, he has the most potential of anyone in this class.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) May 22, 2013
This is a big opportunity for Grant, who also has selections at Nos. 19, 32 and 33. Having a frontcourt rotation that would include Noel, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller would make Cleveland formidable on the interior.
Combine that with the guard tandem of the future in Irving and Waiters, along with any other assets the Cavs obtain later in the draft, and the outlook will be much more optimistic moving forward.
2. Orlando Magic—Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
With Jameer Nelson headed for the twilight of his career in terms of top-notch production, GM Rob Hennigan should look hard at taking a point guard.
Perhaps a trade down is a better solution here. However, Michigan's Burke not only fills a significant need from a positional standpoint, but he also provides outside shooting that the Magic could desperately use.
As a team in 2012-13, Orlando shot just 32.9 percent from long distance—29th out of 30 teams in the Association.
FOX Sports Ohio's Zac Jackson is familiar with Burke's background as an undervalued prospect due to his size, and conveys that the fit between the Magic and Burke makes a lot of sense:
How bout this? Trey Burke, a kid from Columbus so many thought was too small, is probably going to be the 2nd pick in the NBA Draft.— Zac Jackson (@FSOhioZJackson) May 22, 2013
Burke simply makes those around him better, with the ability to create off the dribble and either make the proper pass or finish at the rim.
The return of Arron Afflalo will give the Magic an extremely exciting, dynamic backcourt if Burke is brought to the fold. As long as Hennigan can surround Burke with another spot-up shooter, immense improvement could be on the horizon for Orlando in the near future.
3. Washington Wizards—Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown
Porter may not be worthy of the top overall pick, and that may trigger a trade between the Wizards and Cavs, especially since Noel is a medical red flag and Porter fills a need at the 3 for Cleveland.
ESPN expert Chad Ford even asserts that Cleveland may take Porter without trading down:
One dark horse for No. 1 pick? Georgetown's Otto Porter.Cavs love him. Perfect fit. Helps right away.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 22, 2013
In that context, Washington would be fortunate to pick up Porter at No. 3, whose local ties from Georgetown boost his standing amongst the Wizards fans as it is.
But it's far from a mere sentimental pick. Perimeter defense is something the Wizards could still stand to improve, and Porter adds significant athleticism to the wing. A starting lineup featuring John Wall, Bradley Beal and Porter prospectively arms Washington with an intriguing trio.
What makes Porter so intriguing is not necessarily his ceiling, but rather how polished of a prospect he already is.
His defensive prowess is complemented by a versatile offensive game, and his high basketball IQ and knack for making the proper decision helps him project even better as an instant starter.
4. Charlotte Bobcats—Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
This is simply one of the sorriest squads in recent memory, and the Bobcats are in dire need of both scoring help and defensive assistance.
Oladipo is the type of all-around dynamo that can bring much-needed stability to this turbulent organization. Despite being roughly 6'4", the ex-Hoosier star snagged 6.3 rebounds in his junior campaign while shooting an incredibly efficient 59.9 percent from the floor.
Charlotte needs a change in culture that promotes winning, and the supreme effort and relentlessness Oladipo brings to the hardwood is the type that can inspire that type of dynamic shift. Additionally, he doubles as the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, which will strengthen the Bobcats in that regard.
As Michael Lee of the Washington Post documents, Oladipo's intensity is something even he himself can't succinctly explain:
Indiana & DeMatha alum Victor Oladipo on his relentless workouts: “I’m just abnormal. I’m a weird dude. I’m not gonna lie to you.”— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) May 17, 2013
Gerald Henderson is a nice player, but is a restricted free agent and not necessarily a franchise cornerstone 2-guard, which Oladipo has the potential to be. Though size is a bit of a concern, all the makeup and intangibles are there for Oladipo to overcome that and become an All-Star.
5. Phoenix Suns—Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
The Jayhawks' freshman sensation began to fade down the stretch after breaking out as one of the country's most prolific scorers. That changed in his final game, when McLemore put up 20 points in a Sweet 16 overtime loss to the Michigan Wolverines.
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Effortless athleticism, incredible shooting range and experience of being highly scrutinized at one of the nation's premier college basketball programs all give McLemore a great shot at making a big splash as an NBA rookie.
That's especially true in Phoenix, who lack a legitimate star at McLemore's position and a shooter in general of his caliber.
McLemore may draw concerns over his lackluster play down the stretch of the NCAA season, but he's certainly not removing himself from gaudy comparisons, per Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com:
Ben McLemore DX NBA Combine Interview: “I think that’s a great comparison, me and Ray Allen.”youtu.be/Qddd80N1i3U— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2013
Likening oneself to Ray Allen certainly doesn't give the impression of someone who will shy away from the spotlight. Should he even approach that level, the Suns will be getting a steal in selecting McLemore at No. 5 overall.