The Ideal 2013 NBA Draft Prospect for Every Lottery Team
As the 2013 NBA draft approaches, draft boards will continue to be shuffled as general managers and scouts try to identify the prospects who represent the perfect fit for their rosters.
While you never know for certain who will rise or fall on draft day, we'll try to keep these ideal picks within reasonable and realistic range. For example, we're sure that Nerlens Noel would be an ideal fit for the Bobcats, but we all know the Bobcats aren't allowed to have nice things.
Here's a look at the ideal player for each of the 14 lottery teams.
Picks: First, 19th, 31st, 33rd
Team Needs: First and foremost, the Cavs need to fix an awful defense that ranked 27th in the league in defensive efficiency last season, 27th in the league in field-goal percentage allowed at the rim, 25th in defensive rebounding percentage and 29th in blocked shots. They need a rim protector to build a defense around, and they need it badly.
The Cavs also have a need for wing shooting and scoring, as they were just 23rd in three-point percentage last year even with C.J. Miles unexpectedly going nuts from behind the arc. To be a contender, though, defense has to come first.
Pick One: Kentucky center Nerlens Noel should stabilize the Cavs defensively, and his mobility, athleticism and finishing ability should jive well with Kyrie Irving on the break and in the pick-and-roll. There are a few promising "3-and-D" wings near the top of the draft board, but the Cavs can't pass up a defensive menace like Noel.
Pick 19: SDSU SG/SF Jamaal Franklin isn't an effective perimeter shooter yet, but he's legitimately one of the best rebounding wing prospects in draft history. Franklin's incredible length and ability to cover a ton of ground would give the Cavs a boost defensively and on the glass.
Pick 31: Virginia Tech PG/SG Erick Green is a big-time scorer who shot over 37 percent from behind the arc his last two years in college. With no backup point guard on the roster, Green could provide symmetry between the starting and second units by scoring much in the same way Irving does.
Pick 33: North Carolina State PF/SF C.J. Leslie is an incredible athlete with the size and upside to be a steal at this point in the draft. With multiple picks, the Cavs can swing for the fences a bit and take a chance on Leslie putting it together in the pros.
Picks: Second, 51st
Team Needs: Orlando has a bevy of promising young talent in the frontcourt with Tobias Harris, Mo Harkless, Nik Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson, but the backcourt is still run by the old guard of Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo. That will need to change at some point during this rebuilding process.
Orlando was bad on both ends of the floor last year (27th in offensive efficiency, 25th in defensive efficiency), but they were also the league's worst team at generating turnovers. Orlando was also 29th in three-point percentage and free-throw rate, a clear indication that they badly needed someone who could penetrate.
Pick Two: Indiana SG Victor Oladipo is a disruptive defensive force that creates a ton of extra possessions, something Orlando desperately needs. Oladipo has the athleticism and bounce to be a nightmare in transition, and his first step and speed will allow him to get into the paint with ease. Kansas SG Ben McLemore is an intriguing option here as well, but he projects to be a similar player to Afflalo. Oladipo brings an entirely different element.
Pick 51: Texas PG Myck Kabongo is a pure passing point guard who could get those talented bigs the ball where they like it. With Jameer Nelson likely in his last season with the Magic, it's time to start grooming his successor.
Picks: Third, 38th, 54th
Team Needs: Incredibly, the Wizards were fifth in defensive efficiency last year, and they seem to have found the backcourt of the future with John Wall and Bradley Beal. There's a lot to like here, despite Washington's dead-last rating in offensive efficiency.
The Wizards could definitely use some help at the 3/4 spot, particularly with Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor coming off the books next season.
Pick Three: UNLV SF/PF Anthony Bennett may be a surprising choice over Georgetown SF Otto Porter, but Bennett is a far superior offensive talent and athlete. Porter is safer and should become a wonderful glue guy, but the Wizards should aim higher with the third pick. Bennett's defensive issues are troubling, but he could be a perfect running partner for Wall in an offense that should get up and down. Bennett would also provide some stretch and explosiveness in the half court that's currently missing.
Pick 38: New Mexico SF Tony Snell would have to fall a bit, but this is more in line with where you'd want to take a solid role player. Snell is a good athlete who works hard defensively, and he could fill the corner three-point shooter role that Martell Webster occupied successfully for the Wizards last season.
Pick 54: USC C Dewayne Dedmon is a big body who cleans the glass and blocks shots. Having him learn the tricks of the trade from a similar player in Emeka Okafor might make some sense for the Wizards.
Team Needs: The Bobcats wanted to bottom out, and now they're here. Charlotte was dead last in defensive efficiency and 28th in offensive efficiency under first-year head coach Mike Dunlap, and it's very well possible that Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are the only players who would be worthy of rotation time on a good team.
The Bobcats are in true "best-player-available" mode, with point guard being the only real position they don't need to try and upgrade. Scoring, rebounding, defending...the Bobcats need it all.
Pick Four: Kansas SG Ben McLemore isn't the star to turn this thing around overnight, but you have to walk before you can run. McLemore's spot-up shooting ability and transition scoring is desperately needed, particularly if the Bobcats want to stick with Kidd-Gilchrist and his hideous jumper at the 3 instead of using him as a small-ball 4. Alex Len is an intriguing option because of his potential, but McLemore is a perfect fit next to Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist and is generally a much safer bet.
Picks: Fifth, 30th, 57th
Team Needs: The Suns might have been the most brutal team in the league to watch last year, but with a new coach and general manager, the healing process can begin. Phoenix desperately needs a capable, efficient offensive player on the wing who's the exact opposite of Michael Beasley, but they could also use a promising young center to replace Marcin Gortat and his expiring contract next season.
Goran Dragic is a building block, and the Morris twins may pan out, but it's slim pickings going forward for Phoenix after that. Phoenix is in a situation similar to Charlotte in which they can take the best player available that's not a point guard, or to a lesser extent, power forward.
Pick Five: Indiana SG Victor Oladipo or Kansas SG Ben McLemore would both be great fits here as efficient, athletic, capable defensive players to pair with Dragic. It's unclear what kind of style Phoenix will play next season and beyond, but elite athletes like these two can usually fit in just about anywhere. If neither were available, Maryland C Alex Len would be a good project pick who would be ready to contribute once Phoenix sheds some of their more unsavory contracts.
Pick 30: Brazil C Lucas Nogueira is an incredibly mobile big man with a huge wingspan who can provide some badly needed athleticism and shot-blocking ability to Phoenix's floor-bound frontcourt.
Pick 57: Long Beach State SF James Ennis is a willing defender who can spread the floor and take very little off the table. He may not represent a swing for the fences, but any reason not to play Wesley Johnson or Beasley should be exercised without hesitation.
New Orleans Pelicans
Team Needs: Those saying New Orleans needs a point guard must not have seen Greivis Vasquez play some great basketball last year. What the Pelicans really need, surprisingly enough, is to fix their 28th-ranked defense.
Drafting Austin Rivers and not picking up Al-Farouq Aminu's option look like two errors made by the front office, but New Orleans at least has a stylistic identity under Monty Williams, which is to play slow, half-court basketball.
Pick Six: Georgetown SF Otto Porter would likely make the Pelicans leap for joy, as he's a smart half-court player with great court vision, a knack for cutting offensively and plenty of length defensively.
While Porter dropping to the sixth pick would be the likely best-case scenario, New Orleans will more realistically have to choose between UNLV SF/PF Anthony Bennett and Michigan PG Trey Burke. Unfortunately, neither player stands to make much of an impact on the defensive end, which is what makes Porter so appealing with this pick.
Team Needs: Sacramento had the 12th-ranked offense last season...but the 29th-ranked defense. Addressing that end is the primary reason why new head coach Mike Malone was brought in from Golden State, so you better believe he'll be pushing for some defensive talent come draft time.
The Kings also had the league's worst defensive rebounding percentage last year, so going big would make some sense—especially with the uncertain future of DeMarcus Cousins.
It may be tempting for the Kings to get the best point guard available, but committing to Isaiah Thomas (he has a 17.6 career PER in his first two seasons) and drafting a player who can make an impact defensively would be the wiser move.
Pick Seven: Maryland C Alex Len has the length and rebounding ability to shore up Sacramento's frontcourt defensively. Cousins simply has to be paired with a rim protector, and the two might actually complement each other well offensively, as Len has shown in a small sample size that's he comfortable stepping out a bit. The key to any great defense starts with a defensive anchor of a big man, and Len has the potential to be just that.
Picks: Eighth, 37th, 56th
Team Needs: Detroit teetered on the brink of mediocrity in most statistical categories, but it was a season worth having solely for Andre Drummond's arrival. Despite not getting much burn, Drummond proved to be a dominant force who should solidify the center spot for Detroit for years to come.
Greg Monroe and Drummond make for a scary tandem, but the Pistons need someone who can get them the ball. That doesn't appear to be Brandon Knight, as his skill set translates better to a sixth-man role. That leaves Detroit's future with a big hole at point guard, but the chips may fall their way.
Pick Eight: Michigan PG Trey Burke would be a dream come true for the Pistons. He'd sell tickets, he'd be lethal with Drummond in the pick-and-roll and he'd stretch the floor with that deep range. Burke is a scorer, but he's also an underrated distributor with an NBA-ready offensive game. If Burke is gone, Lehigh PG C.J. McCollum is a pretty good consolation prize.
Pick 37: Kentucky SG Archie Goodwin probably has the highest potential of any projected second-round pick. The Pistons can afford to live through some of Goodwin's bad games, as they're in the midst of a full rebuilding project.
Pick 56: Montenegro PF/C Bojan Dubljevic is a big man who stretch the floor with his jumper out to three-point line, something the Pistons could really use going forward considering the limited range of Drummond and Monroe.
Picks: Ninth, 26th, 52nd, 59th
Team Needs: Any and all discussion of team needs for the Timberwolves should start and end with perimeter shooting. Minnesota nearly shot under 30 percent from three-point land as a team, ending up at 30.5 percent on the season. That's more than 5 percent below league average, which is a massive amount of points given up. You can't expect to compete offensively without perimeter shooting, and while the return of Kevin Love will help, it won't solve everything.
Aside from shooting at nearly every position, Minnesota needs another wing who can create scoring opportunities for himself.
Pick Nine: Lehigh PG/SG C.J. McCollum might be the best available shooter at this point, as the natural scoring guard hit 51.6 percent of attempts from behind the arc in a shortened senior campaign. McCollum is certainly adept at freeing himself up for buckets, and he'd give Minnesota's offense a late shot-clock bailout option that they currently lack. A good rebounder and an incredibly smart player, McCollum could certainly work next to Ricky Rubio in a very fun backcourt.
Pick 26: UNC SF Reggie Bullock is a three-point specialist who is great at coming off screens and spotting up. With an elite passing point guard like Rubio, Bullock could be an effective weapon off the bench for Minnesota.
Pick 52: Florida PF Erik Murphy would provide spacing when Kevin Love needs a breather, and he could learn some tricks from one of the best the league has to offer while he's at it.
Pick 59: Serbia PG/SG Nemanja Nedovic is a stash candidate for the Wolves, who likely don't want to hold four rookies on next year's roster.
Picks: 10th, 40th, 41st, 45th
Team Needs: Portland's second unit was one the least productive bench units ever, contributing nearly nothing on a nightly basis. Portland's early season success in spite of this was pretty impressive, but all things told, the Blazers did finish 26th in defensive efficiency despite having two very good perimeter defenders in Wes Matthews and Nic Batum.
How Portland views last year's first-round pick of Meyers Leonard probably has a lot to do with what direction they go with this pick, but interior defense is a huge need with LaMarcus Aldridge not providing much in that area.
Pick 10: Trade. It may sound silly, but there probably won't be a great fit here for the Blazers at No. 10, unless they want to go with another center project and take someone like Pittsburgh C Steven Adams. But if Portland wants to win now? It might make sense to shop the pick for an already established player, or package the pick with a few second-rounders to move up a slot or two.
Pick 40: Kentucky SG Archie Goodwin fits here. Blazers GM Neil Olshey once told me that the second round is where you swing for the fences, and Goodwin's fantastic athletic ability and upside matches up with that line of thinking.
Pick 41: France SF Livio Jean-Charles could play right under fellow French forward Nic Batum and learn the craft. Jean-Charles has incredible length and should be a plus defender much in the same way Batum is.
Pick 45: Bucknell C Mike Muscala is a big man capable of cleaning up the defensive glass, making smart rotations defensively and scoring on the block with solid post moves. He could be a big-time sleeper and a nice fit next to LaMarcus Aldridge.
Picks: 11th, 35th, 42nd
Team Needs: Philadelphia has hired Sam Hinkie from the Houston Rockets to be their GM, which seems to be a sign that the franchise is ready to reboot and build the team from the ground up the right way. Philly will also have a new coach soon, which should help an offense that lived on awful mid-range jumpers most of the year.
If the Sixers are going to use the Houston model, they'll have to fix an offense that got to the free-throw line less often than any other team in the league.
Pick 11: Indiana F/C Cody Zeller got to the foul line a whopping 7.2 times a game last year at Indiana, and his skilled post game would allow Philadelphia another course of action on offense rather than pull-up jumpers off the dribble. Zeller may not have a big impact on the defensive end, but he's a very mobile and athletic big who is skilled enough to make an impact offensively right away.
Pick 35: Virgina Tech PG/SG Erick Green could finally give the Sixers a backup point guard capable of scoring. That spot was a revolving door all last year for Philadelphia.
Pick 42: Rio Grande Valley F Glen Rice played for Houston's D-League affiliate, where he made great strides as a shooter and completely turned the prospects of his career around. Rice is the son of former Hornets and Lakers sharpshooter Glen Rice, but Hinkie will be more familiar with him than most.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Picks: 12th and 29th
Team Needs: There aren't many areas of need for a 60-win team that had a great chance of going to the Finals before Russell Westbrook got hurt, but the Thunder could upgrade from Kendrick Perkins at No. 12. With a PER of just 8.2 and declining contributions defensively, Sam Presti and the Thunder front office might want to save Brooks from himself by giving him a different option at the 5.
Outside of the center position, the Thunder could use some more bench scoring, particularly since Kevin Martin's future with the team is up in the air.
Pick 12: Pittsburgh C Steven Adams is the type of high-ceiling talent the Thunder could afford to bring along slowly. If his jumper ends up being for real, Adams could combine many of the strengths of Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins into one player. With good size and athleticism, Adams should be a rotation big in the future, at the very least.
Pick 29: Greece SF Giannis Antetokounmpo would be a very appealing stash candidate for a team that already has a young forward in Jeremy Lamb waiting in the wings. Antetokounmpo's ball-handling talent at his size is rare enough to let cook overseas for a few more years.
Team Needs: The Mavericks look like they want to make one last go of it with Dirk Nowitzki, and will put on the full-court pressure in free agency for Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. With that said, Dallas may end up trading this pick to avoid the guaranteed salary, but they could also draft a foreign talent and stash him overseas.
As far as actual needs go, the Mavericks could use a young, energetic perimeter defender to cause turnovers and create extra possessions for Dirk Nowitzki to put to good use.
Pick 13: German PG Dennis Schroeder has the German connection with Nowitzki, but he's also regarded as the best international player in this draft. At just 19 years old, Schroeder can stay overseas for the time being while Dallas attempts to maximize cap space. With a good jumper and a solid understanding of how to run a team, Schroeder can be an impact player down the line for the Mavs once the rebuilding process starts.
Picks: 14th, 21st, 46th
Team Needs: Utah turns the ball over way too much for a team that plays pretty slow, scripted basketball in the half court. In need of a point guard for the future, Utah should have their choice of a few good ones at pick No. 14.
Surprisingly enough, Utah wasn't a great defensive rebounding team last year (21st in DREB percentage) despite one of the deepest frontcourts in basketball. Losing Al Jefferson should be addition by subtraction on that end, but replacing Jefferson's scoring may have to come from somewhere else.
Pick 14: UCLA SF Shabazz Muhammad needs an old-school type of team for his old-school game. No offense better utilizes post players than Utah's version of the flex, and Muhammad could have success in an offense where passing is more of a requirement than a decision. With Gordon Hayward floating between the 2 and 3, Muhammad's physicality and aggressiveness could fit right in with a Utah team where he could function as a top scoring option.
Pick 21: Miami PG Shane Larkin could help bring the Jazz into the year 2013 by pushing the ball and allowing athletes like Alec Burks and Derrick Favors to get loose in transition. Larkin may not be a natural distributor, but he's a great spot-up shooter who can help space the floor in the half court as well.
Pick 46: Murray State PG Isaiah Canaan was one of the more prolific three-point shooters in college basketball last year, firing up 8.4 threes a game and connecting on 37 percent. Canaan is a shoot-first guard who could provide Utah with the backcourt scoring pop they've been missing.