Friday, June 28, 2013

NBA Draft Day Winners And Losers

Shocking many NBA fans, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected
UNLV forward Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick.

     Most analysts considered this year's draft a weak class, but the 2013 NBA Draft was definitely exciting and intriguing in a number of ways. From selections, to trades, to the exit celebration for commissioner David Stern, it was a great night for most NBA fans. Let's examine the winners and losers of this year's hectic draft day.

Winner - Anthony Bennett

Why: Here's one of the more obvious winners of the night. Bennett even said himself that he was shocked to be taken first overall. Cavaliers fans might be worried, but Bennett is a young prospect with high potential. There are weight concerns, but if Bennett sheds some pounds, he can be a nightmare for traditional small forwards and bigger, slower power forwards. Bennett has special offensive versatility because he can shoot from the outside and post up in the paint. Out of all the prospects in this year's draft, he has arguably the highest potential.

Loser - Indiana Pacers

Why: This was simply a weird draft for the Pacers. In the first round, they selected Arizona small forward Solomon Hill. There is no denying Hill's talent -- I did see him play in several games this season and during the NCAA Tournament -- but the consensus of most draft experts was that he would be picked in the second round. Another concern is that Hill is a small forward, where the Pacers already have Paul George and Danny Granger filling that slot. To make things even more head-scratching, Indiana traded their second round pick to Boston. The Pacers may know something that other teams and fans don't, but selecting somebody they probably could have gotten later in the draft who doesn't fill a position of need is a fairly questionable decision.

Winner - Brooklyn Nets

Why: Duke center Mason Plumlee is a solid value pick for the Nets, but that's not the only reason why Brooklyn is one of the biggest winners of Draft Day. As most fans are well aware, the Nets pulled off a blockbuster deal with Boston to acquire Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. Now, the Nets boast arguably the best starting five in the entire Association. The Nets are clearly in win-now mode under owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Billy King. From winning only a dozen games three years ago, the Nets are now legitimate title contenders.

Loser - Golden State Warriors

Why: At the end of the first round, the Warriors selected Serbian point guard Nemanja Nedovic. In most drafts, Nedovic was projected to be taken in the second round. With free agents Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry set to earn a bigger pay day if they decline their player options, the selection of an international prospect who won't contribute immediately is a bit underwhelming. Draftees that the Warriors passed on include Jamaal Franklin, Lorenzo Brown and Tony Mitchell, among others.

Winner - New Orleans Pelicans

Jrue Holiday becomes New Orleans' first franchise
point guard since Chris Paul.
Why: Another significant trade that was overshadowed by the Boston-Brooklyn deal involved Philadelphia 76ers All Star point guard Jrue Holiday being dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans for 2013 first round pick Nerlens Noel and a 2014 protected first round pick. Holiday, 23, is just starting to scratch the surface of his perennial All Star potential and gives New Orleans a legitimate star floor general for years to come. His modest salary of $11 million per year gives the Pelicans flexibility in attracting free agents to play with he and 2013 All-Rookie First Team member Anthony Davis. If the Pelicans can acquire a highly skilled small forward and an offensive-minded center to play next to Davis, they might be able to push for a playoff spot in their inaugural season as the "Pelicans."

Loser - Boston Celtics Fans

Why: Well, for this year at least. It's been a tough summer so far for Celtics fans. With three years left on his contract and mulling his options, head coach Doc Rivers fled Boston to become head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers via trade. Last night didn't make things much better once faces-of-the-franchise Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were dealt to Brooklyn, an Atlantic Division rival. All Star point guard Rajon Rondo is still in Beantown, but he's recovering from a torn ACL and likely will be out for a lengthy portion of the season. This is probably a year to forget for a proud Celtics franchise, but there are better days ahead, especially in the summer of 2014.

Winner - Detroit Pistons

Why: Detroit is one of the young, up-and-coming teams in the NBA and they improved even more last night in an impressive draft by general manager Joe Dumars. With the eighth overall selection, the Pistons selected former Georgia swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The shooting guard has bright potential and can step in to contribute right away. He can shoot the ball from the perimeter and attack the basket aggressively. His length and quickness helps him on both sides of the ball. But, Caldwell-Pope isn't the only reason that Detroit is a Draft Day winner. In the second round, Detroit selected Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva. Mitchell, a power forward from North Texas, is a strong athlete that was projected to be drafted in the first round by most experts. Siva was the floor general catalyst for Louisville during their championship run. Both Mitchell and Siva were solid value picks that will help round out their young, growing roster.

Incomplete - Philadelphia 76ers

Why: What general manager Sam Hinkie did wasn't exactly confusing, but it was certainly a gamble. Some, notably ESPN analyst Bill Simmons, believe that the Sixers obtained great pieces/assets in this draft, but I'm not so sure. The Sixers traded the one player that kept them competitive last season in point guard Jrue Holiday to obtain Nerlens Noel, a very skinny center who has injury concerns, major offensive deficiencies and all the ingredients to become a draft bust. With the eleventh overall pick, their selection of Michael Carter-Williams was a smart one, but it's clear that this team is essentially succumbing this season in an effort to land a high draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, which is regarded as one of the strongest classes in recent history. They also acquired a top-five 2014 protected pick from New Orleans in the trade, but depending on how competitive the Pelicans are in the upcoming season, that pick could be mid-lottery, late lottery or even out of the entire lottery if they make the playoffs. Things may or may not pan out, but only time will tell for this franchise.

Winner - Minnesota Timberwolves

Why: Minnesota had arguably the best draft out of all 30 NBA teams. Flip Saunders was cunningly strategic by drafting Trey Burke, the best point guard prospect, at ninth overall knowing that he could flip Burke to a point guard desperate team for extra selections. Saunders did exactly that, flipping Burke to Utah for the 14th and 21st picks, which were used to draft Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Muhammad, a Co-Pac 12 Freshman of the Year, is heralded as a cold-blooded scorer and an exceptional work ethic. Dieng, the defensive stopper for Louisville's championship team, blocks shots and gets on the glass often. He also has a decent, developing mid-range game. In the second round, Minnesota selected North Carolina State point guard Lorenzo Brown, who was projected as one of the better point guard prospects, to presumably play behind Ricky Rubio.

Steal of the Draft: Memphis Grizzlies - Jamaal Franklin

Why: Franklin was widely considered a first round prospect and worked out for a number of first round teams, so it was surprising to see him fall all the way to the 41st overall selection. The main knock on Franklin is his lack of a perimeter shot, but otherwise, he is a solid, all-around role player who is very similar to Memphis guard Tony Allen. Franklin could attack the basket to score, defend, run and rebound the ball extremely well. Memphis is a gritty, tough team that Franklin's style of play meshes with perfectly. This is a fantastic value pick for Memphis because Franklin fills a need on this Grizzlies team and fits within the roster better than any of the other prospects that were available at that point of the NBA Draft.

     How do you think your team fared in this year's NBA draft? What did you think of all the activity and trades during the draft? Voice your opinion in the comments section below!

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