Just as the 2013-14 NBA season concludes and the the 2014 NBA Draft approaches, I thought it would be a good time to launch into a 2013 NBA Draft review.
Widely castigated as one of the worst draft classes of all time before the season even began, a lot of factors transpired to really stifle any chances this group had to surprise.
Preseason injuries or surgeries to four out of the top six picks and six of the top 10 really hampered these rookies’ abilities to get acclimatised to their new teams and to the rigors of an NBA preseason.
With a full and healthy preseason on the cards, the opportunity to prove a lot of the doubters wrong rests solely in these players hands and this next season could be career defining for a number of the players.
Let’s go through the 60 picks, one by one and see how they fared (or didn’t) after being selected in the 2013 Draft, starting with the first 10 picks.
1. Anthony Bennett, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers — 52 games, PER 6.9, 13 mpg
4.2 ppg, 0.3 3pm, 3.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.2 bpg, 35.6 FG%, 63.8 FT%, 0.9 tpg
Fantasy Rank — 405
It took Bennett until his fifth game to register his first made field goal — not an auspicious start for a number one overall pick. Bennett was widely derided for his, let’s be honest, abysmal rookie season. But, it wasn’t without reason. Diagnosed with sleep apnoea and asthma after missing preseason due to shoulder surgery, Bennett just couldn’t get himself going and constantly looked out of breath.
He was the number one pick for a reason and in his only season an UNLV, Bennett averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in just 27 minutes, posting a PER of 28.3 and a true shooting percentage of 60.9 percent. I’ve got Bennett just sneaking into my early top 150 and with his health issues hopefully a thing of the past, the time could be now for Bennett to show why Cleveland invested so much into him.
2. Victor Oladipo, PG/SG, Orlando Magic — 80 games, PER 13.6, 31 mpg
13.8 ppg, 0.9 3pm, 4.1 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.5 bpg, 41.9 FG%, 78.0 FT%, 3.2 tpg
Fantasy Rank – 136
From the disappointment of Bennett, to one of the good stories from this rookie class. Oladipo started 44 games, shifting between point guard and shooting guard, and in general, looked completely at home in an NBA backcourt. The major upshot of his first NBA season, is that Orlando doesn’t seem comfortable playing him as a point guard as they seem to be targeting either Dante Exum or Marcus Smart at pick four this year. That bodes well for fantasy owners though, as having a shooting guard who handles the ball and can average close to five assists as well as the boards and blocks is worth it’s weight in gold.
A definite top 100 player for next season, he could easily find himself in the top 70 by season’s end.
3. Otto Porter Jr, SF, Washington Wizards — 37 games, PER 6.0, 9 mpg
2.1 ppg, 0.1 3pm, 1.5 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 36.3 FG%, 66.7 FT%, 0.4 tpg
Fantasy Rank — 425th
To put Otto Porter’s season in perspective, 446 players played in NBA games this season. On a per-game basis, only 21 player fared worse than Porter did fantasy-wise. Perhaps shielded by all the criticism that befell Anthony Bennett, Porter was arguably worse than the much-maligned Canadian. Bennett had his moments, notching a few double doubles and showing some glimpses, but Porter failed to score in double digits once all season. He scored nine twice in April, but as the number three pick it was unacceptable.
As with Bennett, Porter’s offseason was lost to injury and that played a massive part in his wipeout of a rookie campaign. As a sophomore at Georgetown, Porter averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and almost two blocks and one steal per game with a PER of 27.3. He is not without talent. But missing some much preseason time would effect anybody making the transition from college to the pros and Porter felt the full brunt of it. With Trevor Ariza an unrestricted free agent, minutes may open up for Porter at the three this coming season, and like Bennett, I can see him turning things around in the next two years and being a solid, but not spectacular NBA season. Would I take a flyer of Porter in a dynasty league? Yes, but only if I’m paying rock-bottom prices.
4. Cody Zeller, PF, Charlotte Hornets — 82 games, PER 13.1, 17 mpg
6.0 ppg, 0.0 3pm, 4.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 42.6 FG%, 73.0 FT%, 1.1 tpg
Fantasy Rank — 287
Zeller looked like he had all the opportunity for a decent rookie campaign. Playing the power forward position next to free-agent acquisition Al Jefferson, Zeller would be a guy to look at for 11-12 points and 7-8 boards. It all would’ve worked out if not for that pesky Josh McRoberts.
We all know McRoberts isn’t the future in Charlotte, but can Zeller supplant him this coming season? His per-36 numbers were impressive, averaging 12.5 points and 9.0 rebounds with a steal and a block and if he can get up around 30 minutes a game, I think Zeller can be a fantasy factor in 2014. There’s a lot of hate for Zeller, as well as the rest of this group, but I don’t feel it’s warranted just yet. Give him some time and we should see a player develop in the teal of the new look Hornets.
5. Alex Len, C, Phoenix Suns — 42 games, PER 7.3, 9 mpg
2.1 ppg, 0.0 3pm, 2.4 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.4 bpg, 42.3 FG%, 64.5 FT%, 0.6 tpg
Fantasy Rank — 402
Len is the third player in the top five with a PER under eight and coincidentally, or perhaps not, he is also the third player who missed signficant chunks of his first preseason and battled injuries all season.
Len had ankle problems all summer and they ended up limiting him to only 42 games. Like Porter and Zeller above him, Len seemed to be going into a team with a clear opening at his position. In Phoenix, it was a most unlikely candidate to steal Len’s sunshine (see what I did there?) with Miles Plumlee lobbing in the Valley of the Sun and starting the year as the team’s pivot.
Plumlee faded considerably down the stretch and probably won’t be an NBA starting centre for long, so Len will get his chance to show how dominant he can be. Len played two seasons at Maryland and in his second season, showed show real talent, enough that he was rumoured to go number one at some stage. He averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in his sophomore season as a Terp,posting an impressive 24.5 PER.
Len will probably never be a dominant offensive centre, but he can be a guy who grabs double digit boards and blocks over two shots a game. 2014 may not be his year, but I’d watch out for the big Ukrainian in 2015 and beyond.
6. Nerlens Noel, C, Philadelphia 76ers — 0 games
No NBA statistics
Are you seeing a trend yet? Noel couldn’t even get on the floor after tearing his ACL during his freshman season at Kentucky and we may have been robbed of a legitimate defensive impact player. As a college player, Noel averaged an insane 4.4 blocks per game and that sort of tantalising production could be coming to the Sixers this season.
Is he worthy of being drafted in standard leagues? Probably only as a late round flier, but by January, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Noel averaging a double double with over two blocks per game and being firmly entrenched as a top 100 fantasy player. Just watch his first couple of games and pounce if he’s available.
7. Ben McLemore, SG, Sacramento Kings — 82 games, PER 7.7, 27 mpg
8.8 ppg, 1.2 3pm, 2.9 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.2 bpg, 37.6 FG%, 80.4 FT%, 1.2 tpg
Fantasy Rank — 267
McLemore struggled mightily and it wasn’t for lack of opportunity. He started 55 games and was only benched because he struggled to get things going for such a long stretch in the middle of the season.
The bright spot for McLemore is the way he finished the season. Over the season’s last month, McLemore regained his starting spot, played an extra 10 minutes a game, and bumped his scoring average up 13.6 points. If he can play as he did down the stretch and improve his field goal percentage into the low to mid 40’s, McLemore could be a decent shooting guard option, late in drafts. As it is now, he’s only worthy of a late round flier, but that could pay off.
8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Detroit Pistons — 80 games, PER 9.4, 20 mpg
5.9 ppg, 0.7 3pm, 2.0 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.2 bpg, 39.6 FG%, 77.0 FT%, 0.4 tpg
Fantasy Rank — 236
Like a lot of the rookies in this class, KCP started about half of his games — 41 to be exact. He is never going to be a huge scorer, although he did drop 30 points with five triples in the season finale, but his defense is wear his NBA bread will be buttered. Per 36 minutes, KCP averaged 1.7 steals per game, a fairly decent number for a rookie playing the two and if he can keep those numbers near two, hit a triple per game and be a decent contributor in other categories, he could be a serviceable fantasy player.
As it stands now, KCP can safely be avoided in most leagues and even in dynasty leagues, He’s not someone I would be targeting, because his real basketball worth greatly exceeds his fantasy worth.
9. Trey Burke, PG, Utah Jazz — 70 games, PER 12.6, 32 mpg
12.8 ppg, 1.6 3pm, 3.0 rpg, 5.7 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 38.0 FG%, 90.3 FT%, 1.9 tpg
Fantasy Rank — 165
Yet another top 10 pick who missed significant portions of preseason, Burke was troubled by a broken bone in his hand before he even suited up for an NBA game. When he finally did return, he was impressive, but not impressive enough to stop the Jazz considering selecting a point guard at number five in year’s draft. Burke’s poor shooting harpooned his fantasy value, but he wasn’t alone. Six of the top nine selections shot below 40 percent from the field and if each of these players could get those numbers to 42 or 43 percent, their value would improve dramatically.
Burke showed an ability to run an NBA team and didn’t appear overawed by the experience. He’s a player who will no doubt go in all fantasy drafts, but he’s someone I’d be leaving to other owners. As a dynasty player, his future is semi bright — he could turn into a Jeff Teague, he could be worse. That’s his ceiling. But being Jeff Teague is not an insult and Utah’s developing squad coud all help each improve together.
Burke needs to improve his assist and steal numbers, as well as his field shooting, and if he can, the top 80 beckons. Just don’t go drafting him there.
10. C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Portland Trail Blazers — 38 games, PER 9.0, 13 mpg
5.3 ppg, 0.8 3pm, 1.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 41.6 FG%, 67.6 FT%, 0.9 tpg
Fantasy Rank — 368
Rounding out the top 10 of misery, C.J. McCollum was another player to have an injury interrupted debut season. Suffering a broken bone in his foot before the season kicked off, McCollum didn’t suit up until January, and even when he did, wasn’t impactful. McCollum can be a dynamic scorer and with Mo Williams‘ likely departure this offseason, minutes can open up to be the Blazers’ first guard of the bench. That role will be unlikely to lead to fantasy relevance, but he is definitely a guy I like for dynasty purposes. He could be a mid to deep sized league player this season, but 2015-16 is the season that we should see C.J. McCollum announce himself as a player in the league.
It’s the story of the first 10 picks — missing your first preseason, impacts your ability to perform. Let’s hope all of these guys, as well as the incoming rookies, can have an injury run and start to show what they can do come October.