2013 NBA Draft Results: Biggest Winners and Losers
This might have been the most confusing, unpredictable, active and entertaining NBA draft we've seen in quite a while.
A shocker at No. 1 sent waves down the rest of the board, while trades had players switching hats left and right.
We saw reaches and free falls along with a flurry of international flavor.
The creative juices were flowing amongst general managers on draft night. Only time will tell who ended up pressing the right buttons.
Winner: Anthony Bennett
Anthony Bennett was the night's big winner, as he stole first-overall honors from about four other potential candidates.
Throughout the week leading up to the draft, Bennett appeared to be the odd man out, without the ability to work out for teams after undergoing surgery on his shoulder.
But Cleveland shocked the world with Bennett, who might actually have the highest ceiling of anyone in the field.
At 6'7", there are questions regarding Bennett's position at the NBA level. The glass-half-full perspective says he's a versatile mismatch too quick for power forwards and too strong for 3's. The glass-half-empty fan says he's too small for the 4 and lacks the skill set of a 3.
If Bennett is able to exploit his versatility, he becomes one of the toughest frontcourt mismatches around. If not, he might get slapped with a tweener label before his rookie contract expires.
Bennett is your ultimate high-risk, high-reward option. I credit the Cleveland Cavaliers for taking a home-run swing.
Losers: Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons reached on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a safe yet unsatisfying pick given who was left on the board.
Without a true lead guard or floor general, the Pistons passed on Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. McCollum. Brandon Knight hasn't been very convincing as a point guard but showed some promise as a scorer playing off the ball as a 2.
Caldwell-Pope can play, but he lacks creativity off the dribble, which limits his ceiling. He projects as a complementary perimeter scorer and not the featured one he was in college.
This wasn't a bad pick for Detroit, as he's someone who can absolutely contribute. But with a guy like Burke on the board, the Pistons had the chance to find their point guard of the future and passed.
They did get value with Tony Mitchell in Round 2, though there's probably a good reason he fell down the board.
Winners: Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic acquired a guaranteed contributor and positive influence in the lineup. You just can't go wrong with Victor Oladipo.
The Magic are in the process of building a roster with a lot of promising young pieces. But so far, none of them have the chance to be elite in any particular area of the game.
Oladipo has the chance to be that energy specialist—a guy with a contagious motor who can change a game without needing the ball in his hands.
You can confidently say that Oladipo will be a valuable asset throughout this rebuilding process—zero red flags, zero concerns.
The only question with Oladipo is just how good he will eventually be.
Losers: Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers gave up established talent for uncertainty.
After acquiring Noel, the Sixers selected Michael Carter-Williams at No. 11 to replace Holiday, a transition that's unlikely to be seamless.
Clearly, Philadelphia is making a move for the 2014 draft, but without any established talent on the roster, management isn't making it easy for the youngsters to develop.
I understand what Philadelphia is doing, and I'm a fan of building through the draft; I just don't like the blocks it's chosen to build with.
Both Noel and Carter-Williams present too much risk to shoulder the weight of the franchise's future.
Winners: Utah Jazz and Trey Burke
I'm not sure eHarmony could have come up with a better match.
Trey Burke deserved immediate reps, and Utah needed a point guard. Burke was my No. 2 prospect in this year's class and the clear-cut top point guard option.
We've seen him lead a team to a national championship game, demonstrating admirable leadership qualities and a killer instinct.
He's a terrific high ball-screen point guard, finishing his sophomore year with one of the top assist-to-turnover ratios in the entire country. Burke also dropped 18.6 points a game, showing off a sweet stroke from anywhere out to 27 feet from the rim.
Burke has the potential to be a long-term starting point guard, and a pretty darn good one, in Utah. Forget spending in free agency; the Jazz found a captain without having to overbid.
Burke shouldn't worry about falling to No. 9 either. His first contract means nothing if it doesn't allow him to earn a fatter second one. And in Utah, he's with an organization that should allow him to blossom.
The Jazz were also able to acquire Frenchman Rudy Gobert, the 7'2" big man with an unprecedented 7'8.5" wingspan.
Utah came out winners on draft night for sure.
Loser: Nerlens Noel
Nerlens Noel went from the projected No. 1 overall pick to the sixth before getting dealt to Philadelphia.
Forget the money that was lost in the fall. Noel had the chance to play alongside a premier star and playmaker in Kyrie Irving, but will now go to Philadelphia without any established talent around him.
Noel is the type of guy who needs to be set up for buckets offensively. Though Michael Carter-Williams was a nice get for the Sixers, he's no more NBA-ready than Noel.
This certainly wasn't in the game plan for Noel, who just a week ago appeared to be the consensus top option on the board.
He'll be part of a long and likely painful rebuilding process in Philadelphia, a team that gave up its top player on the roster to make this reconstruction possible.
Winners: Sacramento Kings
That's right, the Sacramento Kings came out winners of an NBA draft.
The Kings got serious value with Ben McLemore at No. 7. He's arguably the top prospect in this entire draft, offering an extremely favorable risk-to-reward ratio.
With McLemore, you get a worst-case scenario consisting of a defensive asset, elite shooter and explosive athlete in the open floor. McLemore has an All-Star ceiling as an elite complementary scorer who can drop 20 in a game without using a dribble.
He projects as the most dangerous shooter in the field, and with the ability to play above the rim, he's going to pick up routine easy buckets.
The Kings might be best off letting Tyreke Evans walk in free agency and starting the McLemore era immediately. Building his confidence as a scorer and allowing him to develop off the dribble might propel him to a new level of basketball stardom.
Sacramento was also able to steal point guard Ray McCallum in Round 2, who I like as a better long-term option than current starter Isaiah Thomas.
Losers: Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics played it a little too safe after trading up to grab a guy who might have been there at No. 16 anyway.
Kelly Olynyk is an NBA player with a refined skill set and legit seven-foot size, though his upside stops a few stories short of the roof. He's athletically challenged at a position that's evolving with above-the-rim big men taking over.
Given his short, short arms and underwhelming 29.5" max vertical leap, Olynyk isn't much of a defensive asset either.
With much higher-upside prospects on the board, including Shabazz Muhammad, Ricky Ledo, Giannis Antetokounmpo or Shane Larkin, the Celtics got a 22-year-old unlikely to move the needle.
It's not a bad pick; they just had the opportunity to make a bigger splash.
Winners: New Orleans Pelicans
Assuming the New Orleans Pelicans are looking to make a push for the 2013-14 playoffs, Jrue Holiday should end up giving them a pretty good kick in the backside.
The Pelicans traded Nerlens Noel (No. 6 pick overall) and a top-five protected pick in 2014 to the Sixers for Jrue Holiday and a second-rounder.
The bottom line is that the Pelicans landed a guaranteed long-term point guard and emerging stud in this league. You can't say with certainty that they gave up too much, but you can say with certainty they acquired a big-time talent.
With Holiday and Anthony Davis, along with Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, the Pelicans now have a potent offensive lineup filled with young, promising building blocks.
The Pelicans got Holiday without giving up anyone on the roster. It's tough to argue that one.
Winners: Team International
Seven international prospects were drafted in the first round: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lucas Nogueira, Dennis Schroeder, Sergey Karasev, Rudy Gobert, Livio Jean-Charles and Nemanja Nedovic.
After watching these guys closely all year long, I give them each a first-round stamp of approval. These international dudes can ball, and they'll be playing a significant role in the league once they eventually get settled in.
The pool of talent to pluck from is as strong as ever, and this is a great thing for the game that we've all grown to love.
Winner: David Stern
Say what you want about David Stern, but the old man hung in the kitchen while getting clobbered with heat for years.
Teasing and toying with the crowd throughout the night, Stern eventually earned himself a well-deserved ovation after calling his final first-round selection.
Criticize him all you want, but what Stern has done for the NBA has been undeniable. His moment with Hakeem Olajuwon on stage will be an all-time classic.