Posted January 31, 2014

Re-drafting the 2013 NBA lottery: Giannis Antetokounmpo the new No. 1 pick

2013 NBA draft, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams, Rob Mahoney, Victor Oladipo
2013 NBA draft

Giannis Antetokounmpo has been one of the few bright spots in a dim class. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

A lottery pick is a valuable commodity in the NBA. It not only allows teams the exclusive right to sign a young talent but it also empowers them to do so on the cheap. Still, that doesn’t guarantee a quality return on investment, particularly upfront.

Only one of the top 14 picks in the 2013 draft rates as even an average NBA player this season based on Player Efficiency Rating. Six lottery picks are shooting below 40 percent. One has not played at all. Two (both selected in the top three) have drawn headlines for the fact that they should really be logging minutes in the D-League, while several more would likely be helped by a D-League assignment. Even more alarming, nine of the top 14 picks failed to make the rookie team for the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend.

With so many top picks underwhelming and a few later picks exceeding expectations, it seemed a fitting time to re-examine the 2013 draft. Assuming that NBA decision makers knew all that they know now, how would they go about selecting players from this year’s woeful rookie class? We took a stab at the new lottery below. Feel free to chime in with your new version of the first 14 picks in the comments section.

Note: For the sake of simplicity, all draft-day trades will still be reflected in the re-draft order. It’s certainly possible that the Timberwolves wouldn’t have traded the No. 9 pick to the Jazz for No. 14 and No. 21, having evaluated Shabazz Muhammad more thoroughly, but walking back that deal and others would then begin to unwind status quo rosters in other ways.

1. Cavaliers – Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG
Original pick: Anthony Bennett

By no means am I ready for initiation into the Cult of Giannis, but such a remarkable 19-year-old prospect at a position of weakness for the Cavs might be too good to pass up. Anteotkounmpo clearly benefits from substandard competition. There aren’t any immediate stars of this bunch, and thus it seems prudent for Cleveland to make a play for a young, versatile contributor who could well become the best talent of this class.

2. Magic – Michael Carter-Williams, PG
Original pick: Victor Oladipo

The most productive rookie is also one of the most promising. Carter-Williams checks many of the same boxes as actual No. 2 pick Oladipo, though at 6-6 the current Sixer (No. 11 pick) presents an unusual challenge for defenses. He hasn’t figured out all the best ways to use that height to his advantage yet, but already Carter-Williams is slippery enough offensively and pesky enough defensively to project as a franchise cornerstone.

3. Wizards – Nerlens Noel, C
Original pick: Otto Porter Jr.

It says a lot about this rookie class that a player who hasn’t logged a single NBA minute this season would be projected to go third in a re-draft. To be fair, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. Oladipo would be the value pick here if not for his redundancy with guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, and Noel is a prize of a prospect despite his season-derailing ACL tear. Washington has needs elsewhere, but the opportunity to add a long-term defensive piece like Noel is well worth a prime draft pick — particularly in comparison to the other options on the board.

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4. Bobcats – Victor Oladipo, G
Original pick: Cody Zeller

Playing alongside Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson would relieve some of Oladipo’s ball-dominant tendencies, allowing the 21-year-old guard to pick his spots and channel his energies more productively. He still has all the tools necessary to be an impact perimeter defender, and, unlike most every other Bobcats wing, he could soon help space the floor. He fits the franchise’s win-now bent, he complements Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist more effectively than Gerald Henderson does and he could offer Charlotte a touch of needed (and did I mention marketable?) dynamism.

5. Suns – Tim Hardaway Jr., SG
Original pick: Alex Len

The most intriguing prospect left is easily Trey Burke, but drafting a third point guard behind Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic would be an overstretch of the “best player available” framework. Instead, Burke’s college teammate Hardaway Jr. — who went 24th to the Knicks — would fit in nicely running the court for the Suns. He’s not a special talent and doesn’t address any particular need, but Hardaway’s value lies in playing safely and productively within himself.

6. 76ers (via Pelicans) – Trey Burke, PG
Original pick: Nerlens Noel

A better passer than advertised who could be a lot of fun running an offense at Philadelphia’s breakneck pace. Burke has been the second-best rookie this season, but situational specifics and the long-term potential of other prospects nudge him down to No. 6 here.

7. Kings – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
Original pick: Ben McLemore

McLemore is still available, but I like Caldwell-Pope as a similar value and slightly better fit. There’s a chance that McLemore could be an exceptional player if he focuses on improving his off-the-dribble game, but even then it seems unlikely that he’d have a chance to grow in that way alongside DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay. Caldwell-Pope is just as interesting a player but better suited to a more restrained role. That he projects as a better perimeter defender than McLemore is also of high importance to the Kings, who field enough minus-defenders to give coach Mike Malone a perpetual headache.

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8. Pistons – Ben McLemore, SG
Original pick: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

McLemore works fine for the Pistons, who first and foremost need capable NBA players with three-point range. The 20-year-old guard is certainly that, with the aforementioned potential for growth if given room and freedom to operate.

9. Jazz (via Timberwolves) – Anthony Bennett, SF
Original pick: Trey Burke

Bennett’s play hasn’t justified being the ninth pick. But he possesses talent and skill, buried beneath a tough start, a crisis of confidence and poor conditioning. Utah, far more so than Cleveland, is in a position to put Bennett on the floor and allow him to play through his mistakes in hopes that he could turn out to be a nice complement to Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter in the frontcourt. It’s hard to imagine Bennett’s rookie season going much worse than it has, but the guy has played 380 NBA minutes. That’s not enough precedent to doom his career or overwrite the promise he showed in college.

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10. Trail Blazers – Steven Adams, C
Original pick: C.J. McCollum

I could just as easily see the Blazers sticking with McCollum here, but why not opt for a clear upgrade over the Joel Freeland/Meyers Leonard reserve tandem? Adams could be groomed for the Robin Lopez role with the potential to be an even better rebounder.

11. 76ers – Alex Len, C
Original pick: Michael Carter-Williams

Drafting Burke and Len just doesn’t have the same appeal as adding Carter-Williams and Noel, but such is the nature of the hypothetical re-draft for a team that drafted as well as the Sixers actually did. Still, they could do worse than Len. It’s hard to get a bead on Len’s potential because he’s played only 152 minutes, but even in coming off injury he moves well for a 7-footer. There’s room for him to find a place as a quality contributor in a pick-and-roll league. The fact that Len has some solid base-level skills as a 20-year-old makes him all the more promising.

12. Thunder – Cody Zeller, PF
Original pick: Steven Adams

Oh, dear. With Adams and Len off the board and McCollum a needless addition with Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb in tow, Zeller could well be the most sensible pick from a shallow pool of candidates. He hasn’t been effective as a rookie. Stronger opponents have made life difficult for Zeller inside, and he hasn’t managed to catch a groove with his mid-range jumper. That said, there’s a world of difference between operating in Charlotte’s cramped offense and feeding off Kevin Durant. Zeller could give Oklahoma City another rotation-worthy big man in time.

13. Celtics (via Mavericks) – C.J. McCollum, SG
Original pick: Kelly Olynyk

A nice scorer who can play off Rajon Rondo and beside him. That’s not a bad get for the Celtics at this position, particularly when McCollum is a better creator than he’s been given the chance to demonstrate this season.

14. Timberwolves (via Jazz) – Mason Plumlee, C
Original pick: Shabazz Muhammad

Plumlee is a difference-maker with his energy and athleticism. At the very least, he’d be more useful than Muhammad for a team facing pressure to win immediately and choosing between playing undersized (Dante Cunningham, Ronny Turiaf) or overmatched (No. 21 Gorgui Dieng) players at backup center.

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19 comments
DeanHewitt
DeanHewitt

If you don't have the size for the position, you don't have the size.  Bennett is 6'8" maybe and he is heavy.  And he is suppose to compete against bigger and faster guys.  Giannis has size and hops, so does Williams, Oladipo, Noel, Pope.  That's who you draft with a top 5 pick, people who can dominate by size, speed, athleticism.  You can't teach those things.

aberdynaj
aberdynaj

Im sorry. Bennett does not get drafted if the draft was today, let alone go 8. NOT A CHANCE

JamesJoyce
JamesJoyce

I don't understand the point of this exercise - revise the draft selections based on a year of performance??

Why not just say here are the best performers drafted in 2013?

J Diddy
J Diddy

I thought the logic for the Cavs pick of Bennet in the first place was "best available talent/upside"? (He wasn't a "need" for them at any rate...) If that's the case, why wouldn't they take Carter-Williams or Oladipo knowing they can produce?


Everyone slept on Carter-Williams, so no shame there, but drafting Bennet was an awful miscalculation for them. Right now, it literally looks like they could've picked ANYONE else excluding Noel in the top 15 and gotten more out of them. (Not writing Bennet off just yet, but he's not No. 1 overall talent by a mile--not like he's 18 and just learning the game. He's got motivation issues, perhaps on the scale of M. Beasley, and doesn't have the athleticism to fall back on.)


Plus, I think Adams would go in the top 5 even based off of just the short minutes he's getting with OKC. He'd be playing a major role on a lesser team, and he looks like he's going to develop a nice game at both ends of the floor. Active 7 footers with some offensive skill are hard to find. He's going to thrive at the NBA level.

Whatever
Whatever

Noel the third pick? For what, "potential"?!? This is a re-draft piece, supposedly based off of performance for the first half. Noel has none, and the history of 7 footers who come into the NBA with knee problems is mostly one of injury (see Greg Odin). Especially when the Wizards, as admitted, have needs in other areas.


Hardaway Jr. to the Suns? When the Suns have Dragic and Bledsoe? And you admit he is not a special talent, nor does he fill a particular need for the Suns? 


Did you just draw names from a hat for this list?

BenchSplinters
BenchSplinters

I think there's a basic flaw to this list.  Not every lottery team was looking to 2013/2014 results when they made their picks.  Several teams knew full well that the player they chose was going to take a few years to develop, and others drafted players they thought would fit a future team instead of the one they had now.  Some GMs actually have a plan that extends beyond this coming April, and grading their choices based solely upon current needs and current roster profiles is just stupid.

muser
muser

Fairly safe to say that She-bazz would go undrafted...

marcusb2323
marcusb2323

Anthony Bennett is still too high at #9.  He isn't NBA ready and hasn't played like a 1st round pick.  Noel is #3 by default (hasn't logged and NBA minute).

FirstLast
FirstLast

@JamesJoyce  This isn't a list of the best performers of 2013.  Anthony Bennett is not the 9th best prospect.  It is a reranking of prospects with the additional info that is provided by a partial season of action.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@J Diddy  Everyone of the picks EXCEPT for Shabazz Mohammed who was picked at 14.


Look up his stats so far with the Timberwolves....  they'd gladly take Bennet's production over what they are getting from Shabbaz.


Shabazz will be the first one out of the league of the lottery picks taken last year.

bejammin
bejammin

@Whatever  Come back and rewrite your comment after you learn how to spell Greg Oden's name.

FirstLast
FirstLast

@BenchSplinters  I don't think he did make the re-draft based upon current needs.  Hence, Giannis going 1st overall and Bennett going 9th.  This list is still obviously based upon potential, but is much more informed than the actual draft as some of these rookies have already played nearly as many if not more games in the NBA as they did in their entire college career.


I don't agree with everything on this list, but it is clearly not a list based upon short term needs.

geoAZ
geoAZ

@marcusb2323  completely agree...Noel should be an asterisk, * might be a nice selection, but actually have no idea, he hasn't played. As for Bennett, a GM who makes him a 1st round selection after what little he's produced and even suggested, will soon be  asking, "would you like fries with that order" ?. This draft, even after the fact is as poor as the original...next !

T_guy35
T_guy35

@FirstLast @JamesJoyce  if that is true then Anthony Bennett shouldn't even be on this list. His half season of action has proved he isn't a NBA player.

J Diddy
J Diddy

@Sportsfan18 Great point. Shabazz has been the dud of all duds at this point. But we still might be talking about 1a and 1b here. LOL

eddie767
eddie767

@DBrownLV U R so right. Wrong! Stop falling back to the surgery. One can still work out while recuperating,he just decided to eat, and eat well he did. He knew he would get paid well, for 3 yrs,and thought they would still play him. They're not but you seem to want to give him a pass, that he's not entitled to. Number 1 picks are expected, no required, to be good/great. If not,oh well, they are busts. No second chances. Go home. Hope you saved your money,b/c it's the last time you make this much this fast. So stop making excuses for this lazy guy or those he supports, namely Canada. Nothing against them,but their press is blaming the Cavs for his not progressing. Maybe the Raptors will trade for him?

BenchSplinters
BenchSplinters

@DBrownLV @geoAZ@marcusb2323  It might take Bennett two years to work off all that fat he put on.  There's really no excuse for that ... you don't need a good shoulder to watch what you eat and run a few miles each day.