The 2013 NBA draft is inching closer and is now just nine days away. With that, it's worth looking at the order of teams and attempting to figure out which franchises in the lottery have the means for an instantaneous turnaround.
This isn't considered one of the better crops of prospects in recent memory, and absent is a true consensus as to who should be the No. 1 overall pick.
Such an instance should lead to plenty of trade speculation and consideration, and also leave general managers of said lottery teams in a precarious position to maximize value in this relatively weak class.
Let's take a look at the complete draft order for the first round. That will be followed by analyzing some of the direst franchises that have all the ingredients to contend for the playoffs if they add a key contributor—or two—on June 27 in Brooklyn, New York's Barclays Center.
2013 NBA Draft Round 1 Order
|6.||New Orleans Pelicans|
|10.||Portland Trail Blazers|
|12.||Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors)|
|18.||Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets)|
|19.||Cleveland Cavaliers (via Suns, from Heat)|
|21.||Utah Jazz (via Warriors)|
|24.||New York Knicks|
|25.||Los Angeles Clippers|
|26.||Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies)|
|28.||San Antonio Spurs|
|29.||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30.||Phoenix Suns (via Cavs, from Lakers)|
With selections at Nos. 1 and 19, the Cavaliers have a golden opportunity to plug in two more prominent pieces to return to being a factor in the Eastern Conference.
The rehiring of head coach Mike Brown should give this young squad a far more defensive identity, and as Brown works his genius on that end of the floor, the current personnel the Cavs sport have a plethora of players who are highly skilled and can create their own offense.
What Cleveland lacks the most is a truly viable small forward, which could cause them to turn to Otto Porter Jr. out of Georgetown with the first overall pick.
However, it seems GM Chris Grant and Co. are going in a rather shocking direction in considering taking Alex Len out of Maryland, per Jimmy Smith of the Times Picayune:
Kentucky's Nerlens Noel is coming off of an ACL tear, and he would otherwise be the clear top big man to take.
Perhaps it's a smokescreen, but either way, the Cavs look to be fortifying the frontcourt with the top choice. At No. 19, a versatile 3 would be an ideal fit—perhaps in the mold of Reggie Bullock from North Carolina.
Whatever Cleveland decides to do, promising cornerstones exist in the backcourt with star PG Kyrie Irving and 2012 No. 4 overall pick Dion Waiters. Anderson Varejao is familiar with Brown's system and should plug in nicely either at power forward or center.
Should all the pieces gel together and Brown's implementation of defense work, the Cavs could experience a big jump back into playoff contention in 2013-14.
On paper, hoops in D.C. look awfully tantalizing, primarily due to John Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal forming one of the most dynamic guard tandems in the Association.
If those two can stay healthy, with Nene playing at the level he's capable of, all the Wizards need to do is pull the trigger on a small forward of the future in the draft.
The fit of Otto Porter Jr. is intriguing for this bunch. He's arguably the most polished NBA prospect in his class and is the classic do-a-little-bit-of-everything type of player who gives maximum effort on both ends of the court and rarely makes the wrong decision.
While Wall creates off the dribble and Beal continues to blossom into a star, Porter can plug in and likely start from the first game of the regular season.
Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico feels strongly about the fit:
Otto Porter!! RT @Jediah23: who do think is the best fit for the wizards at 3rd pick— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 17, 2013
Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza are unrestricted free agents, and it's no guarantee Washington will get either of them back. That makes Porter not only a need pick, but also an ideal fit, and the fact he attended Georgetown will make him an instant fan favorite.
Not to mention, it makes the Wizards a legitimate threat to be in playoff contention in the East as their young nucleus develops.
Which lottery team will improve most in 2013-14?
McDonough has choices at Nos. 5 and 30, and an impressive track record in Boston, so he should be able to maximize the quality of those picks in his first time running the show in the war room.
The Suns have some holes on the roster, but there are some solid core players in Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat, underrated SF Jared Dudley and explosive guards in Shannon Brown and Goran Dragic.
What Phoenix lacks primarily is an outside shooter, as last year's squad finished dead last in three-point shooting in the league. That makes Ben McLemore from Kansas a wonderful choice at No. 5 if he's available.
But the Suns aren't limiting themselves to players of need, per the team's official Twitter page:
"Like I said when I was hired, we're going to draft the best player possible." - McDonough on having point guards in for #SunsDraft workouts— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 6, 2013
Another smart choice would be Anthony Bennett, a rare stretch 4 who can also take opponents off the dribble in addition to sporting a soft touch from the outside. He may have the most upside of anyone in the draft.
Sometimes a new voice in the locker room and the proper additions can concoct an ideal chemistry for a rapid improvement, and Phoenix seems to be cooking up something special for the future.