By Andrew Kahn
After the Miami Heat secured a second consecutive NBA title the focus now turns to the 2013 NBA Draft where players and teams alike are hoping to make a splash and challenge the Heat in the upcoming season. With a few teams having multiple picks in the first round, there are a few notable teams that don’t have a first round pick: the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies. The 2013 NBA Draft kicks off tomorrow and here is our list of potential picks, what each teams weaknesses are and what voids need to be filled.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
Ten years after taking LeBron, the Cavs once again have the No. 1 overall pick. They had it in 2011 as well and took point guard Kyrie Irving. This year’s decision is not as clear cut. The consensus is that they’ll take 7-footer Nerlens Noel from Kentucky, even if they aren’t as high on him as some other teams.
2. Orlando Magic
Orlando has done a really poor job on draft night in recent years. Not since taking Dwight Howard with the first overall pick in 2004 has it landed a star. It would be hard to mess this up, however: the Magic can’t go wrong with Otto Porter, Ben McLemore, or Victor Oladipo.
3. Washington Wizards
The Wizards have a promising young backcourt with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The best players in this draft would fit just fine with that duo. Next season, expect Washington to increase its winning percentage for the fourth year in a row.
4. Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte should probably take the best player available, but who is that? It could be whoever is left from the Noel/Porter/McLemore/Oladipo quartet, or it could be Anthony Bennett or Alex Len. New head coach Steve Clifford mentored Yao Ming and Dwight Howard, so he knows the impact a great center can have, so Len could be the pick here.
5. Phoenix Suns
The Suns are drafting here for a reason; like most of the lottery teams, they have many needs. Point guard is not one of them, however, so expect Phoenix to bolster its perimeter scoring with Kansas’ McLemore, if he’s still here.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
The newly-named Pelicans have Greivis Vazquez and last year’s lottery pick Austin Rivers, but many experts believe they’re interested in another point guard, and Trey Burke is worthy of this draft spot. If Len slides here, New Orleans has shown interest in him as well, despite the fact that they have Anthony Davis. Yeah, trying to figure out the thought process of some of these struggling franchises is not easy.
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7. Sacramento Kings
With a new general manager hired so recently, it is hard to get a good read on Sacramento. Despite using recent draft picks on Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, and Jimmer Fredette, the Kings might be inclined to bring in a true point guard like Burke or Michael Carter-Williams. That line of thinking likely also nabs them the best available player.
8. Detroit Pistons
It’s officially a theme: Detroit is yet another example of a team with a young point guard that might not be a true point guard. And so the Pistons might target Burke, Carter-Williams, or Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum, who is more of a combo guard but could work with Brandon Knight in the backcourt.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put up good numbers in his two years at the University of Georgia, but his team finished under .500 both seasons. Is that enough to keep him under the radar and outside of the lottery? Probably not, and Minnesota—which is set at multiple positions with Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams, and Kevin Love—is in desperate need of a shooting guard.
10. Portland Trail Blazers
There have been reports that Portland might pair point guard Damian Lillard with the player drawing comparisons to the reigning Rookie of the Year: McCollum. Perhaps that’s not the wisest move, especially if Len is still available.
If Cody Zeller is still on the board, Philly should take him. Sure, he struggled in the NCAA Tournament but he was still very productive in his two years at Indiana. He’d bring energy and skill to a weak frontcourt.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
The starting five (assuming a healthy Russell Westbrook) is solid, but a playmaker in the backcourt would help a weak second unit. If they decide Kendrick Perkins isn’t a part of their future, they could go after a versatile big man.
13. Dallas Mavericks
This aging roster has a lot of needs, so the best player available approach might be best. Might that be one of the several talented foreign players? Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk? Shabazz Muhammad? Shane Larkin? Dallas should have several reasonable options in this spot.
14. Utah Jazz
Point guard or center? It depends on who’s available. In addition to the American point guards, Dennis Schroeder could be here. Then there’s Pittsburgh freshman center, Steven Adams, who seems like a major reach even at the end of the lottery, but excelled in individual workouts.
15. Milwaukee Bucks
Depending on how Milwaukee handles its free agents, it could have some holes in its backcourt. There should be plenty of good players available—Larkin, for example, is an explosive athlete who excels in the pick and roll and has a lot of the intangibles you look for in a lead guard.
16. Boston Celtics
We know Doc Rivers won’t be the coach, but we don’t know what players will be on Boston’s roster. Not knowing whether Kevin Garnett (or even Paul Pierce) will stick around makes it tough to predict what they’ll do, but they clearly need another playmaking guard to help Rajon Rondo. They could also use a big to help on the boards.
17. Atlanta Hawks
It’s no secret that Atlanta wants to bring Dwight Howard home—and Chris Paul along with him. They could target a backcourt mate for the emerging Jeff Teague or look for a true center to let Al Horford slide back to the four.
18. Atlanta Hawks
If they keep both picks, expect the Hawks to go with the type of player they don’t take at 17. Adams is a possibility, or Duke’s Mason Plumlee, an energetic, athletic 7-footer.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers
If they take Noel at No. 1, they’d have players at four of the five positions drafted among the top four picks. So maybe they look for the one missing piece, a small forward. If they go in a different direction with the top pick, they probably take one of the aforementioned serviceable big men here.
20. Chicago Bulls
A shooting guard to alleviate some pressure from Derrick Rose might be the play here, and Allen Crabbe could be the target. Another big man—particularly one who can provide some offense—is a possibility as well.
21. Utah Jazz
They have the 14th pick as well, so if they go point guard with that one they’ll likely take a center here, and vice versa.
22. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets could use a back-up for Brook Lopez. But they have other needs as well, so maybe they go with a high-level athlete like Jamaal Franklin.
23. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers were oh so close to reaching the NBA Finals, but their weak bench prevented them from getting there. They could use a guard with some offensive punch, particularly given D.J. Augustin’s struggles in the playoffs. Larkin, North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock, or maybe a risky pick like Ricky Ledo works here.
24. New York Knicks
Tyson Chandler could certainly use a back-up, but in the Indiana series we saw how much the Knicks relied on Carmelo Anthony once J.R. Smith went cold. It depends what the front office views as a more pressing need, and where that scoring comes from—a point guard or a high-risk/high-reward guy like Tony Mitchell.
25. Los Angeles Clippers
It’s still not set in stone what group Doc Rivers will coach next season, but the nucleus is capable of a deep playoff run. Maybe Tim Hardaway, Jr., a good athlete with a nice outside shot, lands here.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves
If they grab an outside shooting threat with their lottery pick, Minnesota can look to shore up its bench. Crabbe, Hardaway, or a foreign guard/wing could be the play.
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27. Denver Nuggets
Will Brian Shaw play as quickly as George Karl did with this bunch? It’s tough to predict what Denver will do with the roster in flux. Jeff Withey and Gorgui Dieng are two rim protectors who may be available here.
28. San Antonio Spurs
If you watched the Finals, you probably noticed that outside of Tony Parker the Spurs lack a consistent driving threat. Kawhi Leonard is developing but Manu Ginobili is too careless and nearing the end of his career. They could use a back-up point guard or a shooting guard/small forward who can create his own shot.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
We’ve seen teams double-up on a position in the first round before—perhaps thinking the odds are in their favor that one will pan out—but most teams try to address both needs, so look for OKC to fill the void not solved by its lottery pick.
30. Phoenix Suns
As noted earlier, Phoenix has a lot of holes. Isaiah Canaan is a possibility and may be a nice value pick here.
Andrew Kahn is a contributor to CBS Local who has written for ESPN the Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about the NBA Draft and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.
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