The 2013 NBA Draft is still just over four weeks away. While NCAA games have been over for two months and the annual Draft Combine is in the books, we just figured out the draft order.
Now the NBA's worst teams can start honing in on single players at their pick with full knowledge of who's ahead of and behind them. While there's plenty of talk of trading away picks and moving up and down a few spots to get the right value, the likelihood is that the top 5 picks will go to the teams who currently hold the top 5 picks.
Because this is the NBA, and individual talent is king. Only five guys play at one time, and a single player can mean the difference between winning and losing. Talent trumps all. You can't win with marginal players. So why would a team drafting in the top 5 trade away their pick?
It's happened, but almost never to the benefit of the team that gave away that top pick. Boston traded the #5 overall pick in 2008 to acquire Ray Allen. Memphis and Minnesota swapped the 3rd and 5th picks a few years ago. Minnesota traded the #5 overall pick to Washington for a couple of role players. Sacramento traded it's #5 pick seven months later to the Rockets for a bag of beans and a lint ball.
There's a couple more examples, I'm sure, but the point is that teams keep their top-5 picks almost all the time.
So let's look at the team needs at the Top 5 of the Draft. I am going primarily with the adage that with a top-5 pick you don't draft a position where you're already boasting a young up-and-coming player who projects to be just as good.
The Cavs have gotten lucky with the ping pong balls lately, but that has yet to turn into wins. Drafting #1, let's only look at the best 6 players in the draft: C Nerlens Noel, SG Ben McLemore, SF Otto Porter, SG Victor Oladipo, PF Anthony Bennett, PG Trey Burke.
Really, for the #1 pick you have to narrow down to Noel, McLemore and Porter. Maybe Burke, but probably not.
With former #1 overall Kyrie Irving at PG, former #4 overall Dion Waiters at SG and former #4 overall Tristan Thompson at PF, I am guessing that the Cavs will not draft at those positions when they pick #1. This rules out SG Ben McLemore and PG Trey Burke.
I assume the choice is down to two players: Noel and Porter.
Noel is the better top-end talent, but he's injury-prone.
Porter is healthier and appears to be a great fit with big-time scorers already on the wings in Irving and Waiters.
My pick: Nerlens Noel
The Magic did a huge tear-down last summer and brought in a number of young player who performed well last season, showing promise that will continue to flourish in the years to come.
With young Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless at SF already, the Magic are unlikely to look hard at Otto Porter.
With Nikola Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson at PF, the Magic are unlikely to zero in on Anthony Bennett.
But C, SG and PG are currently being manned by veterans who won't be around when the Magic start winning again. With Noel off the board, that leaves McLemore, Oladipo and Burke as the choices for the #2 overall pick.
Given McLemore's talent, youth and upside, I have to go with McLemore here.
Secondary option would be PG Burke - who just may end up being the younger version of the guy already starting at PG for them: Jameer Nelson.
But still, McLemore has the highest upside. Gotta take him.
The Wizards look to be in great shape right now. They jumped up from the #8 spot while enjoying a playoff-caliber second-half run on the backs of former #1 PG John Wall and former #3 SG Bradley Beal.
With those two already on hand, I will rule out McLemore, Oladipo and Burke.
Otto Porter would be a great fit at the SF, just like he would have been for the Cavs. Putting Porter in there to do everything except dominate a game would be a nice compliment to scorers Wall and Beal.
A secondary option for this team would be PF Anthony Bennett. The Wiz need front court scoring, and Bennett can provide points galore.
Still, I go with Porter. Perfect fit, and the best remaining talent on the board.
Poor Bobcats keep getting terrible records and keep losing out in the lotto. After missing out on Anthony Davis a year ago, they drop to the fourth position here in 2013.
The Bobcats still need everything, though they do have youth at certain spots that's not worth drafting to replace right now.
The Cats (soon to be Hornets) boast a good young PG in Kemba Walker, a good SG in Gerald Henderson and last year's #2 overall pick in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The presence of MKG rules out Porter if he's still available.
The remaining options on my version of this draft are Anthony Bennett, Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo.
Oladipo would be a great fit if the Bobcats decide to let go of Gerald Henderson. But for a team that would struggle to sign free agents, why let a 25-year old SG leave just to replace him with a rookie? Better to fill other holes than to create one that doesn't already exist.
The Bobcats need talent at the PF or C position. If Noel is somehow still on the board, they take him for sure. Maybe you even bring a new name into this mix here: C Alex Len. Len won't be working out for anyone in the next month, so I have no idea how his stock would rise this high, but it could.
Still, the best fit at this spot, given who's already been taken, is PF Anthony Bennett. Bennett can give the Bobcats a legit front court option to go with their talent on the wings.
The best remaining, in my humble not-a-scout opinion: SG Victor Oladipo. PG Trey Burke. C Alex Len.
To me, Alex Len is just a younger version of Marcin Gortat. Maybe a bit tougher, but otherwise he's at least 2-3 years away from proving he's even close to a double-double machine that Gortat already is. And the Suns have proven that a double-double center doesn't win you basketball games.
With Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall already in the fold, the Suns have to pass on Trey Burke.
The downside of Oladipo is that GM Ryan McDonough said the Suns need what we all know the Suns really, really need: shooting. Oladipo isn't a shooter. He may be everything else, but he's not a pure shooter or shot-creator. It's quite possible that a C.J. McCollum jumps all the way to #5 to the Suns because of just that - shooting. But the mark against McCollum is that he's a combo guard who profiles best as a scoring PG, and the Suns already have one of those in Goran Dragic.
Like the Bobcats who don't need to replace Henderson when they have a lot more holes to fill, the Phoenix Suns don't need to replicate Goran Dragic already.
Time to fill a hole that's already deep at a position of need with the best remaining talent.
Drum roll please...
Phoenix Suns take Victor Oladipo!
Celebrate, Suns fans. And hope that Oladipo develops a consistent outside shot.