By Jon Rothstein
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FIVE QUESTIONS AFTER THE 2013 NBA DRAFT
1. WHY DID CLEVELAND GO WITH ANTHONY BENNETT?
Just like they did last year with Dion Waiters, the Cavs went for the best available talent instead of overall need. While many believed that Cleveland would opt for a center in either Alex Len or Nerlens Noel, the Cavs took Bennett, a blue chip power forward with serious upside. He may play the same position as Tristan Thompson, but that doesn’t mean the two of them can’t play next to each other at the “4” and “5.” Basketball has changed recently due to a lack of traditional big men, and Cleveland acknowledged that with this pick. Why take a player based on need if you can get a potential all-star in his place? Look for Bennett, who didn’t play with a pure point guard at UNLV, to flourish alongside Kyrie Irving.
2. WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST REACH IN THE LOTTERY?
Cody Zeller to Charlotte. Look, I like Zeller and love his motor. He’s a high energy competitor that should be a solid rotation guy in the NBA for a very long time. But taking him over prospects like Ben McLemore, Alex Len, and Nerlens Noel is just plain foolish. Michael Jordan hasn’t had the best track record in the NBA Draft, and it didn’t improve with this selection. Zeller is a major reach this high.
3. IS PHILADELPHIA A GOOD LANDING SPOT FOR NERLENS NOEL?
Once he gets healthy, Noel’s shot blocking prowess and defensive mindset should deeply resonate with Sixers fans. The problem is, it’s going to be a long time before Philadelphia becomes competitive. The Sixers don’t have a coach, traded their starting point guard in Jrue Holiday and replaced him with Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams. Still, the Sixers picked up a 2014 first round pick in the deal with New Orleans, and that should be another key piece in what will be a long rebuilding period.
4. WHAT WAS THE MOST UNDERRATED FIRST-ROUND PICK?
Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Knicks at 24. New York needed insurance in case they lose J.R. Smith in free agency and they got it with this former Michigan star. Hardaway Jr. became a more complete player last season, can rebound his position, and is also a capable shot maker. This is a very solid pick for Mike Woodson’s team.
5. WHICH PLAYER IS THE MOST KNOWN COMMODITY?
Otto Porter. This was an easy choice for Washington at three, and the former Georgetown forward should be the missing piece for the Wizards alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal. Porter doesn’t do one thing great — but he does do every thing really well. Don’t be surprised if he spends the next decade in our nation’s capital.
THREE TEAMS THAT MAXED OUT:
MINNESOTA: The Wolves added two quality pieces in Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Muhammad gives Minnesota the scorer they’ve been missing on the wing, and Dieng should be ready to contribute immediately. Flip Saunders didn’t hit a home run, but these are two solid singles for a franchise that is a few pieces away from the postseason.
PORTLAND: One year after Blazers general manager Neil Olshey selected NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard with the sixth overall pick, he used his lottery selection on another mid-major guard —Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum. While McCollum should add instant offense to Portland’s second unit, the Blazers also added two other quality young players in Allen Crabbe and Jeff Withey. Crabbe is a big time shooter, and Withey is a shot blocker that should have the chops to be a capable backup for quite some time.
DALLAS: We thought the Mavericks would have a quiet night. Ha! Mark Cuban made two shrewd moves, first tabbing Miami point guard Shane Larkin, and then selecting Providence’s Ricky Ledo in the second round. Ledo, a big time talent is a gamble that could pay major dividends a few years down the road thanks to his uncanny ability to score the ball.
THREE TERRIFIC FITS:
TONY SNELL, CHICAGO BULLS
THE SKINNY: Active wing will flourish under Tom Thibodeau. Snell can guard multiple positions and will make open shots when he has the opportunity.
REGGIE BULLOCK, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
THE SKINNY: Doc Rivers will love this former North Carolina Tarheel. Bullock emerged last season as a capable defender, and his deep range will help take pressure off Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
TREY BURKE, UTAH JAZZ
THE SKINNY: The Jazz have been searching for a top flight point guard since they lost Deron Williams. They finally got one in Burke, who should become an instant starter.
TWO PLEASANT SURPRISES:
ARCHIE GOODWIN AND ANDRE ROBERSON
THE SKINNY: Congratulations to these two, who both worked their way into the latter part of the first round. Goodwin got snatched by Oklahoma City at 29, and Roberson was also acquired by the Thunder after being taken 26th overall. Many including myself wondered if these two made the right choice by leaving school early, but they proved they made the right decision by being selected among the top 30 picks.
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