NBA draft 2013: Needs for all 30 teams
New Orleans Pelicans | First-round pick: No. 6
Needs: A starting-caliber small forward, a long-term solution at point guard
You have to pity the Pelicans a bit given that they are drafting at No. 6 when the one surefire small forward prospect at the top of the board, Otto Porter, is unlikely to make it past the Wizards at No. 3. What’s more, they are sitting at the top of what feels like the draft’s second shelf, picking sixth when the top-five players (Noel, McLemore, Porter, Victor Oladipo and Alex Len, in some order) seem a cut above the rest of the class. Might that be enough to compel New Orleans to move up? Deciding between Burke, Carter-Williams and C.J. McCollum represents the worst-case scenario should they stay put, and that’s not too shabby at all. Greivis Vasquez had a breakout campaign this year but a set-up man that could be groomed for the full-time job down the road would make a nice addition to a backcourt that also includes score-first guys in Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon. Although the fit might be a bit tricky with Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson expecting to log big minutes for the foreseeable future, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett has a strong case for being the best player available at No. 6, and the Pelicans need talent regardless of form.
New York Knicks | First-round pick: No. 24
Needs: Point guard(s), energy-oriented power forward
Put me in the camp that believes J.R. Smith is back, no matter what. That leaves Jason Kidd’s departure and the uncertain futures of Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland as topics to address. New York is already capped out thanks to big-dollar deals for Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, and that problem isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s difficult to imagine coach Mike Woodson turning over the point guard duties to Raymond Felton with only a rookie behind him, thus paving the way for a possible frontcourt target with the No. 24 pick. A productive rebounder with some offensive game like Mitchell or Jackie Carmichael could be a fit if the Knicks are willing to let Copeland depart.
Oklahoma City Thunder | First-round picks: No. 12, No. 29
Needs: A 2-guard who can do the best possible imitation of James Harden without opening up old wounds
Sam Presti’s brilliant roster alignment has the Thunder entering the 2013-14 season with one of the league’s deepest, most talented teams, even if regret over the James Harden trade is in full bloom following Russell Westbrook’s knee injury and the subsequent early postseason exit. Harden’s departure, and Kevin Martin’s impending free agency, make the designated scoring 2-guard role the Thunder’s clearest need. Unless they move up, the three best candidates — McLemore, Oladipo and Caldwell-Pope — will likely all be gone. Plan B: another cheap big man to throw into the mix. For some reason, this draft has “Cody Zeller slides to 12 and Presti gets called a genius for snapping him up” written all over it. Oklahoma City could afford to wait on the development of less-polished bigs like Gobert or Lucas Nogueira, too, in the event that either is still on the board at No. 29. Really, this is the last team in the league that needs two first-round picks, with the likes of Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones already struggling to get burn.
Orlando Magic | First-round pick: No. 2
Needs: Star-caliber building blocks, long-term solution at point guard
No team screams “Trade!!!” quite like the Magic. Trading Afflalo to totally open the door for either McLemore or Oladipo while addressing other roster holes makes sense, as does keeping Afflalo and trading down a few spots to take Burke while banking an extra asset in the process. Assuming no trades, I like McLemore over Oladipo for the Magic, barely, as the former looks like a better complement to Afflalo on the offensive end.
Philadelphia 76ers | First-round pick: No. 11
Needs: Center … some other stuff, too, but mostly a center
New GM Sam Hinkie made it clear when he was hired that his world doesn’t revolve around Andrew Bynum. Given that stance and Philadelphia’s thin frontline rotation, it’s no surprise that the major mock drafts have the Sixers targeting a big man. Despite the fact that he’s not cut out to be a traditional center, Zeller has been a very popular name at No. 11, perhaps because his strong advanced stats might pique the analytically minded Hinkie’s interest. Zeller or not, the Sixers will have a number of bigs to choose from at No. 11: Adams, Olynyk and Mason Plumlee are all in range.