With just over two weeks until the 2013 NBA draft, organizations are in the midst of narrowing down their big boards to a few prospects that fit their needs and should be available when they’re on the clock.
A few front offices are under more pressure than others and can’t afford to mess this year’s draft up. Failing to capture a top prospect who turns into a star with an early-round pick can be extremely detrimental to a franchise, especially if the team is already far from contending.
Smart decisions must be made in order to prevent a failing team from falling further from the top of the NBA standings. With that being said, here are a few teams that have to come out of the draft feeling good about their draft picks, selecting players that are bound to turn the franchise around.
Let’s analyze why each organization must impress at the draft, the players the front office is targeting and which prospect is the most likely to get taken.
The Pistons have quite the dilemma on their hands. Detroit holds the No. 8 pick in the first round of this year’s draft and desperately needs to find a star that knows how to put the ball in the basket. Outside of Greg Monroe, the Pistons don’t have a lot of talent for the future.
Monroe led the team in scoring this year, with Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight following. However, the pair of guards only contributed an average of 24.8 points per game combined on the year. Stuckey is going to be a free agent after next season and if Knight doesn’t start to score more often, he won’t be the starter much longer.
Detroit will likely go with a guard with its top pick in the draft, but could also go with a small forward. The Pistons dealt Tayshaun Prince during the year and struggled to get much production from the position with and without him on the roster.
Needing help in basically all three perimeter positions, the Pistons will have a lot of options with the eighth pick in the draft. The problem, however, is that most of the big-name prospects will likely be off the board by then, leaving Detroit to choose from a pool of fine, but not fantastic players.
What the Pistons should do is to take the best perimeter shooter on the board with their eighth pick and focus on capitalizing on their pair of second-round picks. If Detroit can get good value at No. 8 and then get two solid role players in the second round, the Pistons would be in good shape heading into 2013-14.
Predicted Top Pick: C.J. McCollum, PG, Lehigh
With two picks in the first round and a late-round pick in the second, it would be tough for the Suns to mess this year’s draft up. But you never know with Phoenix, which has the fifth overall selection and will likely use it a prospect that has a lot of potential.
Phoenix had six players averaging in double figures a year ago, but no one averaged 15 points per game and that’s a problem. The Suns don’t really have a guy to rely on to carry them through the game and help them contend within the Western Conference. The No. 5 pick should allow them to find a star that can fill the void.
For now, the Suns don’t have much of a future and will likely be a dweller within the conference for the next couple of years if things don’t change. Step 1 is drafting good prospects that will be able to contribute immediately. Phoenix cannot select a player or two that’s going to need a year to develop into a starter.
It will be interesting to see who is still on the board when the Suns are on the clock because a lot can happen with the first four picks that can really shake things up for the rest of the lottery picks. The two most intriguing prospects that fit what Phoenix needs are Ben McLemore from Kansas and Trey Burke from Michigan.
Whether both are still on the board when the Suns are on the clock remains to be seen, but they would both be great picks. The No. 30 pick is also very important, and if Phoenix can get Jeff Withey from Kansas that late, he could become the future replacement for Marcin Gortat, whose contract expires after next year.
Predicted Top Pick: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
The Magic will be choosing second in this year’s draft and then waiting a while until they’re on the clock again with the No. 51 pick. The No. 2 pick might be one of the most important decisions that the franchise makes for a long time. Orlando failed its test to replace Dwight Howard in Year 1.
Will things get better for the Magic in Year 2? Well, that depends on who Orlando takes at No. 2 and what it can do during free agency. But if the Magic are confident that their draft pick will be a star, that will make things considerably easier once they start to bid on other top talent.
Assuming that Cleveland takes Nerlens Noel with the first overall pick in the draft, the Magic will have plenty of options to choose from with the second. In the most recent mock draft from ESPN’s Chad Ford, he reported that sources are saying Orlando has nine players who the team is considering (insider subscription required).
There really should be just four players: Victor Oladipo from Indiana, Otto Porter form Georgetown, Trey Burke from Michigan and Ben McLemore from Kansas. Those are likely four of the nine players—who the other five are is up to your imagination—and any one of them could help turn Orlando around.
If the Magic decide to go with someone else at No. 2, they could be in trouble. Orlando needs a safe pick that’s definitely going to be worth it in the long run. If the Magic take a risky player, things might not work out the way they think things will. That’s the worst-case scenario. Orlando needs a star, not a bust.
Predicted Top Pick: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown