NBA Draft Projections 2013: One Bold Prediction for Each Team on Draft Day
It's NBA Draft week, and you know what that means: Great moves and horrible decisions.
There is never any sure-fire way to know what will happen once the draft starts. Each franchise has made its series of excellent and bone-headed choices. Looking at the past track record of the decision makers gives some idea of what to expect, but even the best make poor selections while even a broken clock is right twice a day.
That said, I already know what is going to happen.
Here is how each team will fare during the 2013 NBA Draft.
The teams at the top of this year's draft are in a rough spot. Nobody knows if even half of the first 10 picks will turn into worthwhile NBA players, but the teams that select those prospects will have to pay them high salaries—especially those in the top five—regardless of how well they produce.
GM Danny Ferry and the Atlanta Hawks, on the other hand, are in the enviable position of having two picks right outside the lottery. And the future rookies that the Hawks will get with picks 17 and 18 will only make roughly $1.5 million apiece in their first season.
Expect Atlanta to hit a home run (maybe Giannis Adetokunbo?) with one of these picks—like the Indiana Pacers have done in recent years by selecting both Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger with the 17th pick.
Paul Pierce has played his last game as a member of the Boston Celtics. Without its era-defining coach, it makes no sense to keep the team's longest-tenured player around anymore during a rebuild, regardless of the potential PR fallout.
But rather than waive him for the savings (Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe reports that only $5 million of Pierce's $15.3 million salary for next year is guaranteed, giving Boston a get out of jail free card on two-thirds of the salary cap hit), the Celtics will find a trading partner before the draft ends.
It may not net them much in return, but Boston will move Pierce for something.
The Brooklyn Nets have capped themselves out more than any other team in the NBA. They have virtually no salary room to improve this summer, so the draft is of critical importance.
Unfortunately, it is very hard to find a reliable contributor with the No. 22 pick, and the Nets have no other selections.
So Brooklyn, which is hosting the draft at Barclays Center, will come away with next to nothing. No NBA team will have a worse night than the Nets.
They have locked themselves into their current roster, and karma won't allow it to happen any other way. Your team is already on the floor, Jason Kidd. Anyone else added will be practice fodder.
In the boldest move of the night, the Charlotte Bobcats double down: "With the fourth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft," David Stern will read, "the Charlotte Bobcats select ... Adam Morrison??"
The soon-to-be ex-commissioner will then explain to the team that Morrison cannot be drafted again.
"Fine," the Bobcats rep will say. "We'll take the other Adam guy then."
Stern will interpret this as Steven Adams. It will end up being the best draft pick in Bobcats history.
The Chicago Bulls trade Luol Deng on draft day. They are reportedly exploring a deal that would send the All-Star wing to the Washington Wizards for the number-three pick, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.
It may not be this deal that gets done.
But now that other teams know that Deng is on the market, one will make an offer the Bulls can't refuse.
The team remains in a state of flux until the 24-year-old Derrick Rose proves he can play back near MVP-level. As good as Deng is, the Bulls have a lot of salary committed elsewhere.
The team will cash in its best asset now for a cheaper, younger option.
Dan Gilbert's team has a new coach (Mike Brown), one of the most promising young players in the NBA (Kyrie Irving) and the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
What could go wrong?
Nothing will "go wrong," per se, but the team will emerge from this draft disappointed.
With few sure things at the top of this draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly been exploring trade options, but nothing has come together yet.
This all leads to the likelihood that the team will come away from draft night with something that is easy for the team to write a fawning press release about (like Nerlens Noel) but hard for fans to truly get excited for.
The Dallas Mavericks trade their first-round pick—and every asset that's not nailed down—in an attempt to further lighten their salary cap load.
The dream of acquiring Dwight Howard may be just that, but until he signs somewhere else, Mark Cuban will continue to do everything he can to not start fully rebuilding before the Dirk Nowitzki era ends.
In a world-shocking move, the Denver Nuggets, with the 27th pick in the draft, select the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year.
But as soon as the season concludes, they immediately do everything to ensure that he does not return to the team for the following year.
As they do.
He does not let this experience deter him from looking across the Atlantic again, however.
With no great options available at pick No. 8, the Detroit Pistons trade down and select the "Greek Freak" Giannis Adetokunbo, someone they hope can develop next to Andre Drummond in the years to come.
Golden State Warriors
With no picks in this draft, the Golden State Warriors will be non-factors.
The team is looking to acquire a pick, according to Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News, but there are two reasons Golden State is unlikely to give up any assets to enter this weak draft.
For one, every executive of every team that lacks a pick always says this. It keeps the fans interested, and there is always some hypothetical scenario in which the team would trade something to get a pick.
But more importantly, the Warriors have enough young players already.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green should all be rotation staples for the foreseeable future. The team will not get into this draft and instead focus on finding veterans who can help the young core advance further in the playoffs in years to come.
With only one second-round pick, the Houston Rockets seem unlikely to be major draft-day players.
But through a One Red Paperclip-like deals, GM Daryl Morey turns that pick into eight first-rounders, the 2029 number-1 overall pick and a clone army of Dwight Howards.
With his eight 2013 picks, he selects seven point guards and a Finnish reindeer breeder named Leevi—and trades them all for Kyle Lowry and a basket of sweet potato fries.
The Indiana Pacers make a trade with the Dallas Mavericks to move up to take Michael Carter-Williams, the babyface point guard from Syracuse.
They have holes on the bench at virtually every position.
But with D.J. Augustin unlikely to return, few good free-agent point guard options and a salary cap situation that makes getting a good backup lead guard on a rookie deal essential, the team will leap at the chance to solidify its core for the future.
Los Angeles Clippers
With the 25th pick in the first round, the Los Angeles Clippers take someone who will be playing in a foreign country by 2016.
I'm not sure what his name will be nor which country he will play in—but it won't be Nerlens Noel, and it won't be the United States.
Los Angeles Lakers
As long as the Los Angeles Lakers can acquire someone who isn't injured, they can upgrade their roster from the squad that got swept in the playoffs in April.
Unfortunately, they have no first-round pick. Their only selection comes at No. 49 overall.
Which is no place to find a rotation player.
So the Lakers get nothing.
The Memphis Grizzlies have two late picks (Nos. 42 and 55) and really need to find a diamond in the rough. Their payroll concerns already forced them to trade away Rudy Gay, so if Memphis' brain trust can unearth a minimum-salary contributor with a late selection, that would do wonders for the team's long-term planning.
They will find someone.
That someone won't be Chandler Parsons or Lance Stephenson—two second-round steals from recent drafts. Think Patrick Beverley or Jodie Meeks.
Still, in a small market with aging, expensive veterans, every little bit helps.
The Miami Heat have no draft picks.
Which should please most fans who think if there is one team in this league that deserves no further improvement, it's these guys.
The Heat won't be involved in the 2013 NBA Draft. Pat Riley has ring polishing to do anyway.
Every guard in Milwaukee Bucks' franchise history—including Oscar Robertson—is a free agent this summer.
So the Bucks take a guard, probably Barry Larkin's kid.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the worst shooting teams in NBA history.
They shot 30.5 percent from three-point range last season, which easily ranked last in the league. They were so bad that even the second-worst three-point shooting team in the NBA, the Orlando Magic, shot a head-and-shoulders better 32.9 percent.
Quite the irony for a team that plays in the Target Center.
So on draft night, the Minnesota Timberwolves address this concern and select Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a slick-shooting wing from Georgia who hit 37.3 percent of his three-pointers in college.
New Orleans Hornets
The soon-to-be Pelicans have trouble controlling their laughter as they select Trey Burke with the sixth overall pick.
While other teams ahead of them try to find that golden gem who may be able to develop beyond his flaws or fill a specific role on their roster, New Orleans will just take the guy who ripped the NCAA to shreds all year.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks do something hilarious that their fans hate.
Boos will ring throughout the Barclays Center in Brooklyn so loudly that onlookers will swear they've been transported to Madison Square Garden in the mid-2000s.
Unbeknownst to both, Mike D'Antoni and Isiah Thomas will share a simultaneous smile.
Oklahoma City Thunder
To revive a former Oklahoma City/Seattle draft-day tradition, Thunder GM Sam Presti takes one of the many unexciting big men available.
Unlike Robert Swift, Johan Petro or Mouhamed Sene, however, the pick supplants Kendrick Perkins as starter before the All-Star break.
Nick Collison continues to play limited minutes.
Few teams are salivating over their high picks in the 2013 NBA Draft. There just isn't a banner crop of exciting, can't-miss prospects.
But the Orlando Magic, with the number-two pick, become the team that gets the most of out this draft.
After the Cleveland Cavaliers select Nerlens Noel, or perhaps Alex Len, the Magic ignore the agent-related concerns and scoop up Ben McLemore, a guard out of Kansas who may be the best player in the field.
When we look back on this draft in five years, it will be obvious. But right now, the Magic look like the savvy team that best navigates the risks at the top of an underwhelming draft to wind up with the player who should go first overall.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the most boring, middling teams in the NBA ever since they traded away Allen Iverson.
Nothing changes on draft night.
The 76ers, expecting to lose Andrew Bynum in free agency, select Cody Zeller—who will become a fine, boring, goofy NBA player who people often confuse with his worse, boring, goofier brother Tyler.
This is the draft when the Phoenix Suns turn the franchise around.
They have been in a full-on tail spin for years, making bad decision after bad decision.
The picks they make won't seem to herald the coming of a new day, but they will all buy in to Jeff Hornacek's philosophy and mark the start of a less-depressing era of Suns basketball that emerges in the months to come.
Portland Trail Blazers
Having decided to cancel everybody's least-favorite reality show, "The Wesley Matthews Experience," the Portland Trail Blazers take a shooter to replace the underwhelming wing they plan to move in the near future.
They won't trade Matthews on draft day, but they will select his replacement in C.J. McCollum, who shot a blistering 51.6 percent from three-point range at LeHigh University last season.
Their new general manager, Pete D'alessandro, had his first day of work last week, so it's difficult to predict what the Sacramento Kings might do.
It is a franchise in flux with so many questions to be answered.
But instead of doing anything new, they stick to Kings tradition and take another mediocre forward—to join the 89 others on the roster.
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs don't always get a good player when they draft in the late first round. But their success rates dwarfs that of every other team.
Tony Parker (taken 28th overall), and Manu Ginobili (57th) are the poster children of the Spurs' savvy drafting success, but there are others: Luis Scola (55th), Beno Udrih (28th), Ian Mahinmi (28th), Tiago Splitter (28th), George Hill (26th) and Dejuan Blair (37th).
This year, despite only having the 28th and 58th picks, San Antonio GM R.C. Buford plucks at least one player who becomes a rotation staple next season.
With all the teams eager to unload their picks, the Toronto Raptors—a team with no selections in this draft—trade for multiple picks/players.
The team just hired former Denver top executive Masai Ujiri as its new general manager, so you know he wants to immediately put his own imprint on the roster.
He will fall short of unloading Andrea Bargnani's bloated contract—the franchise's white whale chase—but Ujiri will acquire a mid-first-round selection and find a quality player.
With Cody Zeller off the board, the Utah Jazz take Mason Plumlee or Kelly Olynyk because of course they do.
They have spent recent years with a big-man log jam (Al Jefferson/Paul Millsap/Derrick Favors/Enes Kanter), so why would they do anything but ensure that similar question marks remain?
In the 2013 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards select Georgetown product Otto Porter, Jr.
He becomes the second-most-well-known Otto in U.S. history, following only Otto the bus driver from the Simpsons. Both continue to outrank Otto von Bismarck since ain't nobody got time for that.