David Stern's final NBA draft, the 2013 version, was almost unanimously one of the weakest he's ever mediated. But that doesn't mean it was impossible to come out a winner.
Even with a dearth of blue-chip, sure-fire, can't-miss prospects, the 2013 draft afforded teams an opportunity to improve greatly. All it takes is a few savvy moves from a deft GM to do so.
Some teams took grand advantage of that opportunity, while others squandered a chance to alter their franchise. Here's a look at how all 30 NBA teams fared:
Atlanta Hawks: B+
Atlanta bought three tickets to the International lottery, and given the talent of Lucas Nogueira and Dennis Schroeder, there's a chance it hits at least one jackpot. Mike Muscala is capable of having a Nick Collison-type impact too.
Boston Celtics: C
Independent of the blockbuster trade (which would have moved them down to an F), Boston played things too conservative on Thursday. Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson are both rotation players AT BEST.
Charlotte Bobcats: C
I don't hate the Cody Zeller pick as much as most people. He's clearly the best in his family, a definite starting-caliber player and one of the safest picks in an unsafe draft. But I wonder how far down they could have traded and still got him?
Chicago Bulls: C-
Tony Snell was a reach and a half at 20. He's a workout wonder who might stick as a D-and-3 type player, but also might fizzle out in a year or two. Erik Murphy feels more like a European player than an NBA player, too.
Cleveland Cavaliers: A-
Cleveland got its guy, and didn't want to risk trading down to get him. In a draft this unpredictable, why conform? If you think Anthony Bennett is the best player, go take him—and that's exactly what the Cavs did. Sergey Karasev will be a big addition, too. Think Omri Casspi if he ever put it all together.
Dallas Mavericks: C
I don't buy the hype on Shane Larkin. He reminds me of a much shorter Austin Rivers, and if the latter struggled as much as he did last season, I can't imagine how the former will fare. Ricky Ledo is a high-upside flier, but may never pan out.
Denver Nuggets: B-
Denver played it smart in a weak draft, selling Rudy Gobert to Utah and saving money for a better-looking year. Don't sleep on Erick Green either; he's a guy that can create shots on a team in desperate need of that.
Detroit Pistons: A
People think Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a hit-or-miss prospect, just because they don't recognize his name. But I think shooting and athleticism are the two safest things you can bank on, and KCP has all three. Tony Mitchell is a huge steal where they got him, too, and why not give Peyton Siva a chance to succeed? Great haul.
Golden State Warriors: C-
Nemanja Nedovic could very never play any meaningful NBA minutes. But at least they were able to save some money...right?
Houston Rockets: B+
Houston had two goals going into Thursday: Save money and get an overlooked player. Check and check. Their only draft pick, Isaiah Canaan, has the makings of an Isaiah Thomas (the Kings version). And that's not a bad thing at all.
Indiana Pacers: F
Indiana wasted its chance to add an impact player to its team. They already have one of the weakest bench units in basketball, and instead of drafting a guy sure to contribute, they took a reach-y flier on Solomon Hill. Some people didn't even think he would get drafted.
Los Angeles Clippers: B
Reggie Bullock is a perfect fit in Los Angeles. He's, perhaps, the draft's best D-and-3 prospect, which is exactly what the Clippers like to foster around Chris Paul. Matt Barnes will be a good mentor for him...on the court, at least.
Los Angeles Lakers: C
Not much L.A. could do with such a late pick, but there were better options on the board than Ryan Kelly. Much like Erik Murphy, he's a good college player who is probably best served playing professional ball in Europe.
Memphis Grizzlies: A-
Good franchises always get the steals. Memphis was waiting around at pick No. 41, non-plussed to see San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin fall that far. So what if he can't shoot? Memphis loves guys like that. He'll shoehorn his way into some minutes at some point in the next few seasons.
Miami Heat: C
Not much to do for Miami, who assuaged its luxury cap woes by trading out of the first round. The Heat don't need any semblance of safety in their prospects, so they took a high-upside guy in James Ennis.
Milwaukee Bucks: B-
The Bucks think they're a near-future contender, which makes the Giannis Antetokounmpo pick a little hard to understand. But in five years he might be Kevin Durant, so we'll see who gets the last laugh. At least they got Nate Wolters, who could be among the draft's biggest sleepers.
Minnesota Timberwolves: C-
Quantity does not equal quality. Minnesota brought in four guys, but there's a good chance none make a (positive) impact on the team next season.
Gorgui Dieng will need to battle for minutes behind Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. Shabazz Muhammad, on the other hand, will see the court early, but he's simply not as advanced as he thinks he is.
He's in for a rude awakening, and so are the Wolves, who missed an ideal chance to build around their young core.
New Orleans Pelicans: A
Here's the deal: If anybody in this draft were guaranteed to make an All-Star game by 23, they would have gone first overall. In a heartbeat. New Orleans traded six overall and one more pick to get a guy who already made an All-Star game by the age of 23. No team got better on Thursday than New Orleans, even if it cost a pretty penny to do so.
New York Knicks: D+
A lot of New Yorkers attend the University of Michigan, but most of them, apparently, weren't in attendance on Thursday night. Those who watched Hardaway Jr. play the past couple of years know that he is nowhere near as good as his dad was.
Oklahoma City Thunder: B-
Safe, sound and predictable. Steven Adams is a divisive prospect, and the Thunder has an awful track record with center projects. But they're gonna keep throwing darts at the board until they hit a bull's-eye. Andre Roberson can rebound at an NBA level already, Alex Abrines could be a plus scored in three years and Grant Jerrett is a pure upside pick that was well worth the price. Not a bad haul.
Orlando Magic: B+
Oladipo was the safest pick in the draft, and an interesting complement to what Orlando already has on the wing. Between him, Afflalo (if he stays next year), Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless, the Magic could actually be kind of explosive.
Philadelphia 76ers: A
Liking the Sixers-Pelicans trade doesn't have to be a one-way street. Philly gave up a lot to start its rebuilding process, but they got a lot back in return. As good as Jrue Holiday is, they were going nowhere with him and their current core.
Nerlens Noel might just turn into a superstar, and if Philly tanks the way it appears it will, Andrew Wiggins could be waiting next season—in addition to the Pelicans' first-round pick.
As the Sixers amass weapons, Michael Carter-Williams will look better and better. He can't score to save his life, but the passing talent is real. They also got a sleeper in Arsalan Kazemi who might be the next Reggie Evans on the glass.
Phoenix Suns: B
One year learning under Marcin Gortat will serve Alex Len well. He could use the time coming off the bench to bulk up, anyway. Archie Goodwin was a bit of a reach, but if he ever learns to shoot a jump shot, he can stick as an NBA rotation player. Big range on how this draft ends up for Phoenix, as none of their draftees resemble "finished products."
Portland Trail Blazers: C
I love C.J. McCollum as much as everybody else does, but I just don't see where he fits in on Portland's roster. Play him with Lillard, and they'll get thrashed defensively the same way Steph Curry and Monta Ellis did in Golden State.
Allen Crabbe is a tad overrated, too, as he's a shooter and nothing else. Jeff Withey, though, might be their most useful player come next season. If Aaron Gray can get NBA minutes, there's no reason this guy can't.
Sacramento Kings: A
Didn't have a tough choice to make at No. 7, but landing Ben McLemore there is a blessing nonetheless. They have a lot of roster work to do around him, but at least their core begins to sharpen into better focus around him. Ray McCallum is an intriguing second rounder too. On a bigger collegiate stage, people would be yelling about how late he went.
San Antonio Spurs: B
Very Spurs draft. Jean Livio-Charles is some anonymous French dude who tore up the Nike Hoops Summit last year. And DeShaun Thomas is an overlooked college player who can compete, shoot and find creative ways to score. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Toronto Raptors: N/A
No players selected.
Utah Jazz: B
Utah gets a B for Burke, the guy who will man its point guard spot for about the next decade. But they also get a B for bust, which is how we'll talk about Rudy Gobert in five years...if we're talking about him at all.
Washington Wizards: C+
Otto Porter Jr. is safe, but Nerlens Noel was on the board. Plain and simple. Even if/when Porter carves out a respectable career for himself, there's a good chance Washington kicks itself over that one. I like the upside of Glen Rice Jr., though, and if nothing else, Washington gave itself two more reasons not to let Chris Singleton ever get back on the floor.
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