The bright lights of the Barclay’s Center have dimmed as the NBA Draft 2013 has come to a close. We had a shocker of a No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Anthony Bennett and we witnessed some slides by guys with character and injury issues. Who were the five biggest winners and losers from draft night?
5. Milwaukee Bucks
Yes, there is a possibility that Giannis Antetokounmpo can turn into a Kevin Durant-type player. Too bad that chance is slim-to-none and slim has one foot out the door. One can’t blame the Bucks for trying to make a big splash in the draft, as they have trouble attracting free agents. Still, I can’t understand wasting a first-round pick on a guy who has no proven success against top competition on his resume.
4. Detroit Pistons
They badly needed a point guard. They had a tough decision between Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams. So of course, they took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. It’s not that Pope is a bad player, because he really isn’t. It’s that they had a glaring need and completely ignored it for a player that might be marginally better than the alternatives. Now, they’re still stuck with Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey.
3. Rajon Rondo
As soon as Doc Rivers left town for smoggier pastures, the Boston Celtics decided it was time to light the C4 and blow the whole stinking team up. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry are moving on to play for the Brooklyn Nets and will compete for the Eastern Conference championship in 2013-14. Rondo gets the poo-poo platter of Avery Bradley, Gerald Wallace and Jeff Green. Maybe Rondo should have been a bit more affable. Karma’s a bitch.
2. Ben McLemore
The Sacramento Kings never dreamed they’d see McLemore at the No. 7 spot and were smart to take him. They needed a scoring shooting guard and got one of the best in the draft. There’s just one thing. Sacramento is where basketball players go to die these days. Who will mentor McLemore? Who will be his role models? There aren’t any on the roster. Look at DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans if you need proof of that.
1. Nerlens Noel
The advent of the “Noel Sad Face” was the big happening of the first round of the draft. We went from believing he’d be the top overall pick a week ago, to having a bit of doubt to wondering if he’d be there at No. 9. Noel’s drop was 90 percent injury and 10 percent based on his potential to be a bust. He had to put on 10 pounds of muscle to get to 216 lbs. Is that a center? No way. He’s lean and skinny and I don’t see him putting on more weight. Now he goes to Philadelphia, which hasn’t hosted a winner since Allen Iverson left.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Trading back made sense for the Timberwolves, as they really didn’t need another point guard. It’s surprising that no teams would bite on the Derrick Williams, No. 9 pick and No. 26 pick but as it turns out, the Wolves are happy about it. They got Shabazz Muhammad to score from the wing and Gorgui Dieng to block shots and rebound to go along with a win-now roster. That’s a win in my book.
4. David Stern
I couldn’t have enjoyed Stern’s last pick any more than I did. The fans did the right thing by giving him a standing ovation instead of the years-long booing that had become commonplace. Then, for the NBA to bring in Hakeem Olajuwon to pose with Stern was awesome. How great must it have been for Bennett to get to pose with Stern and The Dream? Good luck in your future endeavors, Mr. Stern. You will be missed.
3. Cody Zeller
If I simply read “Zeller gets drafted by Charlotte Bobcats”, I would have thought they traded back. I would have been wrong. Although Michael Jordan and the Cats have been horrible in past drafts, they made a choice, stuck with it and took their man. Will Zeller ever be a 20-and-10 guy? No, probably not. Could he be a 17-and-8 guy? Yeah, absolutely. Add in a steal and a block and you’ve got a complete player.
2. New Orleans Pelicans
When the Pelicans drafted Nerlens Noel, I immediately thought of my early 2000’s Minnesota Timberwolves and their “21-feet-of-fun”. They had Kevin Garnett, Loren Woods and Rasho Nesterovic blocking shots like it was going out of style (at least that’s how I choose to remember it). With Noel next to Anthony Davis, who would dare enter the lane? Then, they found a way to pick up Jrue Holiday while shipping Noel off to Philly. Still a big win for NO.
1. Brooklyn Nets
Ok, so we’ve got a couple of spare parts lying around. We’ve got some first-round draft picks that almost certainly won’t be in the lottery. We’ve got a horrible contract to get rid of. Let’s call the Celtics and see if they’ll give us Pierce, Garnett and Terry to pair with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. THEY SAID YES?!?!?!?