NBA Draft 2013: Each Team's Top Realistic Target in This Year's Draft
When David Stern steps up to the podium and gets ready to announce the start of the 2013 NBA draft, each and every team will have a top target in mind.
Well, a top realistic target. All 30 teams in the NBA would love to get a shot at Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo or Otto Porter, but not all of them have a legitimate chance of making that happen.
Excluding the Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat, who do not have picks in the upcoming draft, we're going to go through those realistic targets by looking at where each team is picking and what the primary needs are.
For the sake of this article, trades are not possible. That makes everything far too complicated and unpredictable, so while you should feel free to speculate about potential swaps in the comments section, those won't appear here.
It's also important to note that multiple teams can have the same top target. That's the nature of the game, as not everyone leaves the draft feeling completely satisfied.
Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin
Top Draft Pick: No. 17
Team Needs: PG, SG, SF, PF/C
The Atlanta Hawks basically need direction during this offseason. Only Lou Williams, Al Horford and John Jenkins have guaranteed contracts, so the Hawks need help across the board.
Finding a scorer who can play either wing position is the priority during the selection process, and that's where Jamaal Franklin enters into the equation. He has great length and thrives from mid-range, but his shot also expands back to the perimeter.
Atlanta has back-to-back picks at No. 17 and No. 18, so general manager Danny Ferry could go in a lot of directions. But whatever he does, Franklin should be one of the two picks.
Boston Celtics: Steven Adams
Top Draft Pick: No. 16
Team Needs: SF, C
The Boston Celtics need to find replacements for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Whether the two stars are in Beantown or not during the 2013-14 season, replacing them will eventually be necessary.
This draft class is weak at small forward except for Otto Porter, so finding a center is the bigger priority for Boston at No. 16.
Steven Adams is a project, but he has a ton of upside and is already capable of playing quality defense in the NBA. Down the road, he and Jared Sullinger could form a potent frontcourt combination.
The other team just wouldn't be allowed to rebound against them.
Brooklyn Nets: Sergey Karasev
Top Draft Pick: No. 22
Team Needs: SF, PF
Sergey Karasev might not be able to help out the Brooklyn Nets right away, but the team doesn't seem committed to competing for a championship anytime soon after hiring Jason Kidd as the next head coach.
The Russian forward isn't a great defender, although his instincts are solid and could allow him to blossom into a passable player on the less glamorous end of the court. It's his shot that gets all the buzz, and for good reason.
Karasev is a fantastic offensive prospect, and the Nets will need help from the 3 when Gerald Wallace's time is done. He can also play power forward if Brooklyn chooses to go with a small-ball lineup, which is increasingly common in today's NBA.
Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore
Top Draft Pick: No. 4
Team Needs: SG, PF, C
The Charlotte Bobcats can upgrade across the board, although point guard and small forward are lesser priorities thanks to Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
More than anything else, Charlotte needs a scoring punch to complement Walker in the backcourt.
Few players boast more scoring skills than Ben McLemore, who showed off his picture-perfect shooting stroke and jaw-dropping athleticism at Kansas. He would bring excitement to the roster and immediately put up points in bunches.
Charlotte needs to make the right pick in this draft, and no player has a better combination of a high ceiling and a similarly high floor.
Chicago Bulls: Gorgui Dieng
Top Draft Pick: No. 20
Team Needs: SG, backup C
The Chicago Bulls no longer have Omer Asik coming off the bench to spell Joakim Noah, so backup center is a big priority for the team. General manager Gar Forman could still use more quality shooting guards, but Jimmy Butler looks like he could be the future at that position.
Gorgui Dieng fits in perfectly with Tom Thibodeau's system, and he's the defensive center that the Bulls could use.
He doesn't have much offensive upside, but he wont need to score much in this lineup, especially when Derrick Rose returns to action.
Dieng is ready to compete right away, and he'd learn great tendencies just from sitting on the pine and watching Noah.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel
Top Draft Pick: No. 1
Team Needs: SF, C
The two primary needs for the owners of the No. 1 pick are small forward and center. While the former is a more pressing concern due to the presence of Anderson Varejao, this small forward class is remarkably weak.
Otto Porter isn't worth the No. 1 pick because he lacks elite upside due to his relatively lackluster athleticism. He wouldn't be a bad selection, but Nerlens Noel offers far more long-term potential.
Even coming off an ACL injury, Noel will be able to make a defensive impact during his rookie season. He'll need to if the Cleveland Cavaliers hope to have a playoff berth in their near future.
Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Schroeder
Top Draft Pick: No. 13
Team Needs: PG, SG, SF, C
With the notable exception of power forward, the Dallas Mavericks need help everywhere. And despite the many holes in the lineup, point guard is the biggest priority.
Trey Burke is the top floor general in this class, but there's no shot he lasts 12 picks. He won't fall past the Detroit Pistons at No. 8. C.J. McCollum—if you consider him a 1 and not a 2—won't make it to No. 13 either.
That brings in the next tier of point guards comprised of Dennis Schroeder, Michael Carter-Williams and Shane Larkin.
Even though he's the biggest unknown, Schroeder is also the best of the bunch.
Denver Nuggets: Isaiah Canaan
Top Draft Pick: No. 27
Team Needs: Depth
The Denver Nuggets are set at just about every position, leaving them searching for depth with their top draft pick. And that depth shouldn't come at the wing, as the Nuggets still boast an inordinate number of quality options there.
Finding a backup point guard to replace Andre Miller eventually is the best choice at No. 27, and Isaiah Canaan is the top option set to be drafted in that range.
While Denver would love to get its hands on Dennis Schroeder, Michael Carter-Williams or Shane Larkin, that trio will be off the board long before we get to No. 27. It's either Canaan, Erick Green (not really a true point guard), Nate Wolters or Pierre Jackson.
Canaan isn't a great facilitator, but he provides the scoring punch Denver would like off the bench.
Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke
Top Draft Pick: No. 8
Team Needs: PG, SF
While I doubt that Trey Burke lasts to No. 8, there's a chance that he might.
Burke is the top floor general in this draft class, and he'll prove it at the next level when he starts reminding a larger audience of Chris Paul. His ability to control an offense is unmatched, and he's one of the better scorers at his position.
Burke and Brandon Knight would form a tremendous young backcourt, one that would complement the burgeoning frontcourt quite nicely.
Detroit could also think about a small forward here, but Burke is a much safer pick than Shabazz Muhammad, the only logical 3 at this spot in the draft. Otto Porter will go far earlier, and there's a precipitous drop-off among small forwards after Muhammad is off the board.
Houston Rockets: Tony Snell
Top Draft Pick: No. 34
Team Needs: Depth
The Houston Rockets have solid options at every position, so they're one of the lucky organizations that can draft the best player available. That's the positive part of this situation.
However, Houston doesn't have a first-round pick, so its options are much more limited. That's the negative.
Finding a small forward to spell Chandler Parsons and occasionally fill in at power forward is the best option for the Rockets, and no player set to be drafted around No. 34 fits the billing better than Tony Snell. He's 6'7" and has a wingspan that borders on 7'0", so he could line up at the 4 without giving up too much size.
Additionally, Snell has a potent perimeter shot, which is just about a necessity in this Houston offense.
Indiana Pacers: Allen Crabbe
Top Draft Pick: No. 23
Team Needs: Backcourt depth
The Indiana Pacers had trouble putting up points throughout the season, and the offense sputtered to a halt whenever the second unit entered the game.
Backcourt depth was a huge problem for Indiana, as it quickly became apparent that D.J. Augustin was not a quality option.
Enter Allen Crabbe.
The shooting guard isn't particularly athletic or strong, but he's quite skilled and can shoot from anywhere on the court. He's also quick, which allows him to run around screens and score in transition.
Crabbe isn't a terrific defensive player, but he's competent enough on that end to fit in with Frank Vogel's system.
Los Angeles Clippers: Allen Crabbe
Top Draft Pick: No. 25
Team Needs: SG, SF
Allen Crabbe surfaces for two teams in a row, as he'd also be a great fit for the Los Angeles Clippers.
At 6'6" and boasting a 6'11" wingspan, the shooting guard has the size to shift over and play small forward when necessary. He's one of the few players in this portion of the draft with the ability to help solve both of the Clippers' holes.
Crabbe is also a much better off-ball player, which would allow him to thrive alongside Chris Paul or Eric Bledsoe. He would spread the court, threatening defenses with his outside shot and opening up the interior for drives or Blake Griffin's work in the post.
Los Angeles Lakers: Deshaun Thomas
Top Draft Pick: No. 48
Team Needs: SF
The Los Angeles Lakers need scoring help, and small forward is their weakest position by far.
Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard (if he returns) are all settled in at their positions, but L.A. would love to start phasing out Metta World Peace. The Lakers probably wouldn't mind going cold turkey on him either.
Deshaun Thomas was once viewed as a potential lottery option, but his game appeared more and more limited as his collegiate career progressed. He's a tremendous scorer, one of the best in this draft class, but that's about all he brings to the table.
When picking at No. 48, though, a team can't be too picky. Thomas fills a need, and the Lakers can live with his weaknesses.
Memphis Grizzlies: Erick Green
Top Draft Pick: No. 41
Team Needs: Backcourt depth
The Memphis Grizzlies need a quality backup guard who can capably fill in for either Mike Conley or Tony Allen, whom the team will try to bring back now that he's an unrestricted free agent. Jerryd Bayless has a player option, and it seems likely that he'll be seeking more money elsewhere.
Erick Green would solve this problem, and he'd bring a nice scoring punch to Memphis' second unit. He's an efficient volume scorer (no, those descriptors aren't always mutually exclusive) and has a knack for drawing contact and getting to the charity stripe.
The Virginia Tech standout is starting to get a bit of buzz as a potential first-round pick, so there's a chance he won't fall to the Grizz. But if he does, they shouldn't hesitate to snatch him.
Milwaukee Bucks: Dennis Schroeder
Top Draft Pick: No. 15
Team Needs: PG, SG, SF
Drafting Dennis Schroeder would allow the Milwaukee Bucks to forget about Brandon Jennings, who's sure to draw a higher price tag than they'd like. The southpaw is a restricted free agent, and he's going to generate some hype once the moratorium lifts.
On the other hand, Schroeder is a much cheaper option with just as much potential. He's quick and athletic, has great distributing skills and handles the ball as well as anyone in this draft class.
In a lot of ways, he's a German version of Rajon Rondo.
The biggest problem here is that Schroeder, while a realistic option, isn't too likely for the Bucks. He has to fall past the Dallas Maverick and Utah Jazz, both of whom pick directly in front of Milwaukee and also need point guards.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Muhammad
Top Draft Pick: No. 9
Team Needs: SG
Shabazz Muhammad is a small forward by trade, but the Minnesota Timberwolves would line him up at shooting guard to have some size at the position at last.
The Wolves need height and wing scoring out of their 2-guard, and Muhammad has both of those attributes and then some. His stock has fallen dramatically since he showed up at UCLA for the first time, but he's still an intriguing prospect who could make an immediate impact in Minnesota.
With Ricky Rubio, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic (the Wolves aren't letting him get away), the team is just a shooting guard away from competing for a playoff seed. It's either Muhammad or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at No. 9, and the former has way more upside.
New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len
Top Draft Pick: No. 6
Team Needs: SF, C
The New Orleans Pelicans need help at small forward and center above all else. While Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson are both players worth starting, neither of them is a true 5. Moreover, Robin Lopez isn't a desirable starting center on an up-and-coming squad.
Unless Otto Porter inexplicably drops to No. 6, New Orleans has to take a center here. Trey Burke would be another option, but Greivis Vasquez is more than capable of handling the point guard role.
Alex Len is the second-best big man in this draft class, and he's working up the boards as the draft approaches. He'd be both a value pick and a selection made for need at No. 6.
New York Knicks: Reggie Bullock
Top Draft Pick: No. 24
Team Needs: SF, depth
Assuming J.R. Smith is brought back, the New York Knicks are set at every position but small forward, where they can use Iman Shumpert in an undersized lineup. However, good luck finding a starting small forward at this spot in the draft.
The Knicks need to be picking for depth, and Reggie Bullock fits the system perfectly. He thrives when he's allowed to fire away from downtown, something that New York doesn't exactly discourage.
Bullock is also a quality defender and a great pound-for-pound rebounder, which fit into what the Knicks want as well. He may not work his way into the starting lineup, but he'd contribute as a key part of the rotation.
The other small forward options around No. 24 will be Sergey Karasev, Tony Snell and Glen Rice Jr.
Picking Rice seems like a very Knicks move, but unless Karasev drops, Bullock is the best option.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kelly Olynyk
Top Draft Pick: No. 12
Team Needs: C
Russell Westbrook's injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It allowed everyone to realize that the Oklahoma City Thunder don't need to worry about drafting a backup point guard. Reggie Jackson is more than capable in that role.
Finding a center is the biggest priority for the Thunder now, and they'll have plenty of options to choose from at No. 12.
Nerlens Noel and Alex Len will both be off the board, and Steven Adams should be as well. That leaves Cody Zeller, Kelly Olynyk, Rudy Gobert, Mason Plumlee and Gorgui Dieng to choose from.
Zeller is more of a power forward, and Gobert requires too much development. Scratch them off the board.
Plumlee and Dieng wouldn't be great values at No. 12, so that leaves Olynyk as the only sensible option.
Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore
Top Draft Pick: No. 2
Team Needs: PG, SG
The Orlando Magic have intriguing players at most positions, but they could use a scoring threat out of the backcourt.
Ben McLemore is the No. 1 player on my personal big board, and he'd immediately become the No. 1 scoring option in Orlando. He's already capable of filling that role, given his prowess from deep and his mind-boggling athleticism.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have no reason to pick McLemore, so he should be available for the taking at No. 2. Unless Orlando falls in love with Trey Burke, general manager Rob Hennigan would be foolish to pass up on the Kansas shooting guard.
Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller
Top Draft Pick: No. 11
Team Needs: SG, C
The Philadelphia 76ers desperately need some help on the blocks. They need a post presence who can play quality ball on both ends of the court, and that's already going to be tough to find at No. 11.
Cody Zeller is the most complete big expected to be available at this slot, and he's a 7-footer with ridiculous athleticism who was once considered the top prospect in the class.
He'd make Jrue Holiday's job a lot easier, as the point guard wore down toward the end of the 2012-13 campaign. Zeller doesn't have the mentality of a No. 1 option, but he's capable of taking on a secondary role in any offense.
This is another example of a team being able to draft for both talent and need.
Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo
Top Draft Pick: No. 5
Team Needs: SG, SF
Almost every mock draft has Victor Oladipo going to the Phoenix Suns. There's a reason for that.
Oladipo is very much a shooting guard, although he could play the 3 in a small lineup. More than anything else, that's the position that the Suns need right now.
He'd also provide some outside shooting, which can't be found in bulk when you visit the desert. Between that and his outstanding defensive abilities, Oladipo is a safe selection and an intriguing player to build around.
The Indiana product doesn't have an inordinate amount of upside, but he has one of the highest floors in this draft class. At the very least, he'll become a lockdown defender at the professional level.
Portland Trail Blazers: Steven Adams
Top Draft Pick: No. 10
Team Needs: C, depth
It's common knowledge that the Portland Trail Blazers have two primary needs: a center to replace J.J. Hickson and depth across the board.
You don't pick for depth at No. 10, which means that Rip City needs to be looking for a big man. Ideally, they can find a defensive one who can alleviate some of the pressure that LaMarcus Aldridge is feeling on the less glamorous end of the court.
Steven Adams is the likely pick here. He's a big, athletic center with a ton of potential on defense. Most of that potential is unrealized, and Adams is rather raw, but he's still a solid selection to close out the top 10.
No other big man with his level of defensive potential is worth taking in the lottery.
Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke
Top Draft Pick: No. 7
Team Needs: PG, SG, SF, PF
The Sacramento Kings love to draft guards.
While there's a new ownership group in place, that won't change if Trey Burke is still available on Sacramento's turn on the clock. A team doesn't want to pass up on the top floor general in the class when (1) it's not picking in the top five and (2) could use a major upgrade at point guard.
Burke has franchise-changing potential, and that cannot be said about many players in this class. The only guys in that category are Burke, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Anthony Bennett and Shabazz Muhammad.
Even if his stock continues to decline ever so slightly, Burke still shouldn't fall past the Kings at No. 7.
San Antonio Spurs: Jeff Withey
Top Draft Pick: No. 28
Team Needs: Depth/eventual replacements for the stars
At this point, can we just assume that whomever the San Antonio Spurs draft will eventually blossom into a star?
The Spurs are set across the board, unless Tim Duncan chooses to retire. If that's the case, center is an even bigger priority than it already is.
Tiago Splitter is a free agent, and Duncan is aging, so center is already the position of need at No. 28. And there are a number of intriguing choices for the Spurs.
Brazil's Lucas Nogueira has been projected everywhere from the lottery to the second round, so he's an option. Jeff Withey is another choice, especially given his defensive skills and willingness to play in a system instead of taking over a game.
The rest of the choices—Mike Muscala and Mouhammadou Jaiteh—would be reaches here.
I expect Nogueira to be off the board before the Spurs pick, which leaves Withey as the natural fit.
Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder
Top Draft Pick: No. 14
Team Needs: PG
Trey Burke, Allen Crabbe, Ben McLemore, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroeder are the only players to appear multiple times in this slideshow, but the German point guard is the only man who makes it onto the list three times.
Picks No. 13 through No. 15 might as well be called the Schroeder Gauntlet, because he's not making it through that stretch.
The Dallas Mavericks have the first shot at him since they have the No. 13 pick, but the Milwaukee Bucks (No. 15) and Utah Jazz (No. 14) will be waiting to pounce.
As for the Jazz, point guard is easily the biggest priority now that Mo Williams is a free agent. Between Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, Utah has intriguing young options at every other position.
Washington Wizards: Otto Porter
Top Draft Pick: No. 3
Team Needs: SF, PF
It's either going to be Otto Porter or Anthony Bennett for the Washington Wizards, and Porter is the better prospect.
Bennett has more upside, but the Georgetown product is a well-rounded player. At worst, he will become a high-level role player. In a draft class this weak at the top, that type of floor is valuable.
Porter also gives the Wizards more of an ability to space the floor, as he can knock down shots from just about everywhere on the court. Since John Wall can't shoot jumpers, it's even more important that the Wizards pick someone who can work out on the perimeter.
The small forward can, but Bennett's range doesn't quite extend to the three-point arc.
Washington can't go wrong with either forward. Porter is just the better pick.