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2013 NBA Draft: The Lottery Recipients Part II

NBA Draft
NBA Draft

Jun 27, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Nerlens Noel poses for a photo at the Westin Hotel prior to the NBA Draft. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Five picks into the 2013 NBA Draft former consensus #1 pick, Nerlens Noel, was still available. For every player picked ahead of him, the TV coverage would show a close up of Noel’s face looking on in disappointment. I even went as far as telling my associates that he, “looked as if his dog was just shot.” But that is the life of an NBA prospect, especially one who was supposed to go top two, let alone top five in the NBA Draft.

Luckily for him, armed with the sixth pick overall in the draft, the New Orleans Pelicans decided to select him in that slot as a big sigh of relief and big grin shined on Noel’s face. Eventually, Noel would get traded to the Philadelphia 76ers (along with a protected, 2014 first round pick) for All-Star Jrue Holiday. This caused a major uproar, especially for Sixers’ fans who have not only watched Holiday develop into an All-Star, but are still hurting from the Andrew Bynum trade where the former L.A. Laker played in as many games as I did in the most recent NBA season—zero.

Nevertheless, I’ve been impressed with new 76ers GM, Sam Hinkie. Hinkie came with a reputation from Houston as having a “ground-breaking analytic” perspective towards the NBA. And in his first draft, his unorthodox approach to basketball was in full view on Thursday, shocking the basketball world with this trade. But I truly believe that Hinkie must have seen something in Holiday’s game that made him doubt his skills to carry the 76ers into the future. At least Hinkie did not want that scenario to play out under his watch.  Either way, initially it was a surprising trade, but after considering the source, it really shouldn’t have been.

We all know by now the strengths and weaknesses of Noel. He pretty much was the most talked about NBA prospect over the past year or so. But in case you need a recap:

  • Incredibly athletic and equipped with a 7’4” wingspan
  • Defense, Blocking and Rebound attributes will streamline well in the NBA
  • Immense potential
  • Needs more strength (6’11”, but only 206 lbs.).
  • Lacks offensive skillset, including jump shot
  • Knee concerns
  • There was even a concern with his “inner circle.”

Nevertheless, with all the concerns about his lack of offensive game and rehabbed knee, many pundits agreed that he is definitely a future All-Star in this league. NBAdraft.net compared him to Dikembe Mutombo and Larry Sanders, but Slam Online believes he can develop into an Amar’e Stoudemire/Dennis Rodman hybrid. In most years, that potential alone would have been enough to garner top fice, if not top three attention. Unfortunately, this is the unpredictable 2013 NBA draft. And for Noel, injuries do play a major role when it comes to NBA teams selecting a player in the draft. Noel should just be thankful he was picked in the top 10.

Speaking of the top 10, the rest of the draft went as follows:

7. Ben McLemore, 6’5”, 190 lbs out of Kansas was finally selected.Like Noel, McLemore was once considered a top three prospect, but concerns with his past and off-the-court issues—making him the #1 prospect “that scare NBA executives” for this ESPN Insider list (subscription needed)–had his draft stock slip into the seventh slot. As noted previously in Part I, McLemore was my “best player available” coming into this draft as his size and scoring ability made me believe that his game would fit well with the NBA. I became extremely excited at the rumors that the Chicago Bulls would trade Luol Deng for a top three pick as I thought it would be a golden opportunity to draft the Kansas guard and pair him up with former MVP, Derrick Rose. Unfortunately, that didn’t come to fruition.

Nevertheless, there were times where he carried an experienced Kansas Jayhawks’ team on his back—i.e. vs Kansas State.  Conversely, there were other times where the uber-talented McLemore would disappear from games as well, but I would chalk it up to him being a Freshman. Whatever the case may be, he is now a Sacramento King. At first I thought this was the worst place for him to go to, but after discussing the matter with a trusted fan of the Kings, he informed me that enigmatic swingman, Tyreke Evans is a restricted free agent and it doesn’t look like the Kings would be matching any offers. If that’s the case, and if McLemore is given the right opportunity to succeed without looking over his back at other shooting guards that can take his minutes away, then maybe McLemore can flourish with the recently saved Sacramento franchise. Besides Noel, no other NBA prospect has had his game dissected at length before the draft like McLemore’s. Here’s a quick look at his scouting report:

  • High potential stems from his athleticism/jump shot combination
  • His long-range game is what has scouts comparing him to Ray Allen
  • Ideal size for a shooting guard (6’9” wingspan)
  • Can create off the dribble, but needs to work more on his ball-handling and playmaking skills
  • He is still very raw

So he is far from being a finished product, but one cannot help but to look at his physical attributes and current skills without getting enthusiastic about his potential success in the NBA.

2013 NBA Draft

Jun 27, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia) greets NBA commissioner David Stern after being selected as the number eight overall pick to the Detroit Pistons during the 2013 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 6’6”, 205 lbs out of Georgia was selected by the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons have seemingly failed in drafting and developing a point guard as Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight have not progressed into the players they were hoping for. Enter KCP as he will bring size to the backcourt and can be a trustworthy primary or secondary scoring option to a Pistons’ team that ranked 22nd in points per game last season. Along with the scoring attribute, he also comes with a long range shot,—though he’s been criticized for being too liberal with his 3-point attempts—great size (which helps with defense and rebounding), and a major threat in transition. He does lack quickness and his poor ball-handling prevents him from creating his own shot or creating one for others.  This would explain why NBAdraft.net has compared him to Kerry Kittles. He will also need to add bulk to help him on both sides of the court against NBA 2-guards (would love to see him in that first matchup against Kobe Bryant). Nevertheless, I’m high on KCP and I can’t help but believe that he will fit right in with Detroit.  The question will be, who will dribble-penetrate to give KCP constant open looks?

9. Trey Burke, 6’1”, 190 lbs out of Michigan was one of the more fun players to watch in college basketball. Couldn’t help but fume initially at the TV when I saw that the Minnesota Timberwolves had selected him. Another point guard? Or as Bill Simmons quipped, “who’s running this draft in Minnesota? David Kahn?” For those that don’t understand the joke, take a quick look at what the T’Wolves did during the 2009 NBA Draft.

In the end, rationality prevailed as Burke would be dealt to the Utah Jazz; a team that has proven track record of developing point guards. You talk about “hand in glove,” I can’t help but feel completely copacetic about this selection by Utah.  Like I explained, Burke was one of the more exciting players to watch in college hoops as his comps from NBAdraft.net are Kemba Walker and Kyle Lowry.  Just like Walker and Lowry, Burke is very undersized even for a point guard.  Even worse, he lacks quickness, speed, and athleticism that seemingly is now required for all incoming NBA point guards. Because of his height and speed deficiencies, he is predicted to struggle on defense.  So what made him so exciting last season? Whenever Michigan’s offense needed to get going, Burke would be the one that would provide the spark plug that they needed. He can shoot the ball from anywhere and his knowledge of the half-court game along with his handles and lack of turnovers is the perfect mix for this future facilitator.  It’s the primary reason why Draft Express described him as a “creative passer.”  Despite the lack of size, he still is equipped with a wingspan of 6’5” which should also help him make up for a lack of quickness on defense.

The biggest reason why Burke is an exciting player to watch on offense despite the lack of athleticism is because of his intangibles. Had he gone to any other team, I probably wouldn’t be feeling this way about the guard, but going to Utah will help him display his talents, no doubt.  Nonetheless, it’s his heart and determination that will leave the locals in awe. We always hear about things that cannot be easily measured when it comes to potential NBA prospects. Burke is the epitome of that notion.  I’ve seen too many times Burke lead Michigan to what looked to be improbably victories. He basically carried Michigan into the NCAA Championship Game. Now he will be expected to carry the Jazz franchise as well.

10. C.J. McCollum, 6’3”, 197 lbs. Of all the picks that were made Thursday night, this one caused the most controversy among my “NBA inner circle.” We liked him going to the Portland Trail Blazers and teaming up with friend, Damian Lillard. The real conflict began when one of my friends declared that McCollum would easily win the Rookie of the Year Award without much competition. Like a needle being pulled from a turntable, for the rest of the draft, the Internet war that brewed between my “inner circle” was one for the ages. I won’t go into much detail, but I will say that I don’t think McCollum is the heavy favorite to win ROY for the upcoming NBA season.

For starters, McCollum is undersized and I just can’t see him starting alongside Lillard, potentially creating one of the shorter backcourts in the NBA. His short stature plays a part in his defensive game being counted as a weakness as well (nevertheless, he does have a long wingspan of 6’6”).  What he does have is a willingness to be an aggressive scorer armed with a great mid-range jumper.  NBAdraft.net points out that his ability to score off-the-dribble makes him a threat to “score from anywhere.” Just like Burke, McCollum impressed NBA scouts with various intangibles.  Undersized score-at-will guards must have certain immeasurable metrics to get high praise. And although he can seemingly “score from anywhere,” McCollum was penalized for not having a consistent 3-point shot. And even though his ball-handling skills are impressive, he doesn’t possess the ability to make plays for others and certainly do not expect him to finish big around the basket because he lacks hops.

I believe the best way to describe McCollum is that he is a Ben Gordon type player, but without the long-range game and the wingspan to match (Gordon’s wingspan was measured at 6’9”).

With that being said, we take a look back at listed shooting (or combo) guards, 6’3” or below that were taken in the top 10 between 2008 and 2010:

The NBA is a big-man sport and if you’re not gifted with height, you better come equipped with a 3-point shot.

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