Headlined at the top by Cleveland’s super surprising selection of combo forward Anthony Bennett at No. 1, the 2013 NBA Draft was full of surprises. That made this piece harder to write than usual. Between the record influx of international players and the never-ending trades, we won’t get an official reading on this draft for a long time.
With that being said, here are my immediate reactions from last night on this draft’s biggest losers and winners.
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For the Philadelphia 76ers, their eyes are steadily focused on the future. GM Sam Hinkie made quite the splash in his first draft with the team. His first move was one that no one saw coming. With projected No. 1 Nerlens Noel slipping pick by pick, the Sixers made their move quickly. They sent their lone All-Star from last season, Jrue Holiday, to the New Orleans Pelicans for the rights to Noel and a first-round pick in the 2014 Draft that only has a top-five protection placed on it.
Then with the 11th pick, they replaced Holiday by selecting former Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams. Once the initial shock of trading Holiday wears off, fans should be able to see how great of a draft their team had. Let’s not kid ourselves, the Sixers were nowhere near being contenders in the East, and after the failed Andrew Bynum deal didn’t really have a direction they were going. Hinkie blew it up and started all over. Noel, Carter-Williams and a potential top-10 pick next year (as well as what’ll probably be the Sixers’ own lottery pick) are all great starting pieces. The Sixers replace Bynum and Holiday, who made a combined $18 million last year, with younger and cheaper players. I’d say that the new management in Philly got off to a great start.
Going into the 2013 NBA Draft, everyone knew that the Utah Jazz were looking to get a point guard. However, with the 14th and 21st overall picks it was assumed that the top two point guard prospects — Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams — would be off the board. They were. Yet, the Jazz management worked the phones and pulled off one of the most equal draft-day trades in recent memory. The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Burke with the ninth pick and then swapped him for the 14th (Shabazz Muhammad) and 21st (Gorgui Dieng) picks. The Jazz were able to get the best point guard prospect in the draft and a player that will perfectly fit into their system.
Burke has the skills and intangibles that will endear him to Jazz fans. He’s no John Stockton, but he may, in time, make people forget about the mess of a situation they were left with when Deron Williams was traded two years ago. The Jazz are notorious for using their point guards in pick-n-roll situations and Burke is the most adept pick-n-roll guard in this year’s draft.