The 2013 NBA Draft was shocking to say the least, with two of it’s projected top picks (Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore) dropping out of the top five. It takes a lot for rookies to have fantasy value right away, but like always, anything is possible in due time.
The biggest winner of the draft was Jrue Holiday, who’s on his way to New Orleans to throw lobs to Anthony Davis and kick out to Eric Gordon. Holiday showed incredible efficiency in the paint last season and should only improve upon his numbers with a better supporting cast around him. Here’s what you need to know about the guys who were actually drafted last night.
*** *** ***
ANTHONY BENNETT, Cleveland Cavaliers
With a backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, and a frontcourt of Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao already locked up, Cleveland rounded out their roster by taking Bennett with the first overall pick. He’s the highest drafted Canadian ever, but is the polar opposite of Steve Nash. At 6-7, he uses his explosiveness to blow by bigger defenders and his strength to overpower smaller ones. In Cleveland, Bennett should see time at both forward positions, getting plenty of run from day one.
VICTOR OLADIPO, Orlando Magic
Oladipo’s hustle should have an impact on the defensive end of the floor right away, and since he represents the first step of the post-Dwight, he’ll have plenty of time on the floor to do it in. His offense may struggle as he becomes accustomed to a higher level of basketball, but his heart will keep him on the floor, collecting hustle stats. Oladipo is the kind of guy that might be worth taking in the late rounds of your fantasy draft, and may put up stats lines akin to the ones of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
OTTO PORTER, Washington Wizards
Porter will do a little bit of everything at the three for Washington and could start from day one if he beats out Martell Webster over the summer. He may not be the most explosive athlete, but he’s certainly one of the most efficient, shooting 48 percent from the field last year while upping his scoring average by over six points. Porter still has a lot to learn, but his high motor should make him a great fit in Washington. He’s definitely worth a late-round flyer.
CODY ZELLER, Charlotte Bobcats
Zeller dominated the measurables at the draft combine, but might struggle initially against the amount of athleticism in the NBA. His fundamentals indicate that he should translate well to the NBA, but there are the same worries about his ceiling in the fantasy game as there are in the real one. Zeller should get plenty of opportunities in a Charlotte frontcourt headed by Byron Mullens and Bismack Biyombo last year, but I still wouldn’t waste a fantasy draft pick on him.
ALEX LEN, Phoenix Suns
Len won’t have an immediate impact on the fantasy game (especially because he’ll miss the beginning of the year due to injury), but down the road he could morph into a stud. He has the size to play the five and should be effective on the glass from day one. Len is only 20 years old, so there’s plenty of time to build on his already massive 7-1, 255-pound frame. If he shows the same progression in Phoenix that he did at Maryland, then the Suns have a legitimate center for years to come. For now though, his injury makes him undraftable in fantasy.
NERLENS NOEL, Philadelphia 76ers
At first it was going to be a Kentucky Wildcat block party in New Orleans, but as part of the Holiday deal, Noel landed in Philadelphia. The 76ers lost Andrew Bynum for the entire season last year because of recurring knee injuries, but they still weren’t afraid to make the splash on the torn ACL of the nation’s best shotblocker. While Spencer Hawes will man the five to start, Noel will be eased into the rotation. Certainly the 76ers will be more cautious with Noel than they were with Bynum, making him unworthy of a fantasy draft pick.
BEN McLEMORE, Sacramento Kings
After speculation of him landing among the top-three picks, McLemore slipped all the way to seven, where the Kings were happy to snatch him up. As long as he stays aggressive, he’ll be able to put the ball in the hole and keep things spread for DeMarcus Cousins in the paint. Expect him to roughly have a fantasy season like Bradley Beal had last year. With the futures of Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton in Sacramento up in the air, he should get plenty of run and is worth a late-round selection.
KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE, Detroit Pistons
Caldwell-Pope is a lethal shooter and has a lanky body that should make him a staple in the steals department. He’s not the type of fantasy player that you want to target on draft day because shooting guards and small forwards who only hit threes and steal are a dime a dozen, but with the lack of offense in place in Detroit right now, Caldwell-Pope could develop into their best scorer. His impact might be minimal this year, but don’t rule him out in the future.
TREY BURKE, Utah Jazz
Burke earned his draft spot by leading Michigan to the national championship game, and he’ll need to play with that same intensity while manning the show for the Jazz. A 6-5 wingspan and tons of energy should equate to tons of steals for him. If he improves his efficiency and shows he can distribute at the next level, Burke can become a fantasy force. Think Kemba Walker, but remember how he looked in his rookie year.
C.J. McCOLLUM, Portland Trail Blazers
Portland continued their small-school scorer trend by taking McCollum with the 10th overall selection. Despite playing against lesser competition, McCollum was considered one of the nation’s best at putting the ball in the hole. His ability to score should translate to the pros and he’ll have the pressure off of him while defenses scheme around Damian Lillard. McCollum’s presence on the glass makes him more intriguing to draft in fantasy than most other rookie shooting guards.