Did you hear the joke about the 2013 NBA Draft? Most media pundits and basketball scouts thought it might be the worst since 2000. Others said it lacked star power and supreme court-controllers.
But following the historic rookie performances by Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and Philly’s Michael Carter-Williams, we may have to tweak that statement to say that the 2013 Draft might be the worst overall draft-analysis job in NBA history.
In a head-to-head matchup between the No. 2 and No. 11 picks, Oladipo and MCW became the first rookies in history to record triple-doubles in the same game.
MCW had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Oladipo brought the ruckus with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 dimes in a 126-125 double-overtime win for the 76ers. According to researchers at Ball Don’t Lie, the two triple-doubles marked the ninth time since the 1985-86 season that two players have recorded a triple-double in the same game, and the seventh time it’s been accomplished by players on opposing teams — the most recent being Caron Butler and Baron Davis on November 23, 2007.
Oladipo was widely considered the most pro-ready of a busted bunch. MCW—whose game is definitely more pro-ready than college-killing—was a huge question mark for squads. How else do you explain a point guard with his multi-faceted game and 6-6 height dropping to No. 11 in an uninspiring draft?
ESPN’s Jay Bilas, considered one of the best basketball analysts in the game, said there wasn’t a “no-brainer” in the first round. He had Oladipo as the sixth-best player and MCW barely made his top 10. He was jocking Kansas’ Ben McLemore and Nerlens Noel as the potential first picks.
In January, longtime college basketball writer Mike DeCourcy summed things up by tweeting how NBA insiders he’d spoken too felt about the draft: “NBA scout I know says league should postpone 2013 draft. Be better for the league, better for college hoops. Everybody needs work.”
Hoopsworld.com cosigned that statement. The article went on to say there was no consensus No.1 pick and the pickings were slim for major talent.
“Teams are going to have to do their homework because there is no “sure-fire” pick in this draft, let alone many players who can even be impact players from Day One.”
Prior to the Draft, ESPN's draft guru Chad Ford put all the prospects into tiers, and he left Tier 1 (projected superstars) and Tier 2 (projected All-Stars) completely empty. In an article by businesstrader.com, Ford’s draft report says the NBA teams he spoke with listed Nerlens, McLemore and Anthony Bennett as the closest things to the real deal.
Since being inserted into Sacramento’s starting lineup on Nov. 13 McLemore has been showing out. Less than a week later, he got 19 points and 5 rebounds in a win against the Suns. He had another 15-points against the Lakers, placing him third among all rookies in scoring. The draft’s No. 7 pick is defecating on prior pessimism and making teams sick for fronting on his skills.
The piece went on to say, “the one player that everyone seems to love is Victor Oladipo. But he is considered more of a Kawhi Leonard-type role player than a primary scorer. Kawhi Leonard is a great player. But if he's the best player in an entire NBA Draft, that's a pretty terrible draft.”
I could quote endless coaches, experts and draft analysts who straight up punked this draft and its players. The best thing most people could say about this year’s draft was the fact that next year’s draft is supposed to be one for the ages with super college freshman Jabari Parker (Duke), Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) and Julius Randall (Kentucky) expected to attain instant NBA stardom. Folks were more intrigued with discussing the 20-year anniversary of the Chris Webber/Penny Hardaway draft day swap in 1993 than predicting All-Stars from a weak crop.
Most people were just ready to get it over with. Even after players were drafted, they were traded and thrown around like Wednesday’s garbage getting picked up off the curb.
TSL‘s draft-night story described it perfectly:
“The NBA became the Wild Wild West, and the players were disposable bullets flying in all directions. It was a telling sign that scouts and NBA owners don’t project this draft crop to amount to much more than crap on an ice cream cone.”
If cats want to start claiming that they knew Oladipo would be this nice, then what’s the excuse for MCW? The knock on him was that he was enigmatic, couldn’t shoot and didn’t have the “pro body” to bang with the big boys or finish drives.
MCW’s looking like a young Magic Johnson—with better D—through the first 15 games of his NBA career. He possesses the same captivating smile and diverse hoop service. The leading Rookie of the Year candidate is averaging 17.7 points, 7.3 assists and 5.8 boards per game, and has Philly battling Boston and Toronto for the top spot in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division at 7-12. Oladipo’s Magic shares a similar record at 6-12, but play in a much tougher Southeast Division and are in last place looking way up at the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
The former Indiana Hoosier, who out-worked his way to the top of the college game, is doing the same thing as an NBA rookie, averaging 13.9 points, 3.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. It’s clear that they will be the centerpieces of winning teams one day and have only scratched the surface of their potential.
Seems to me like these guys are clearly the best two players in the draft. MCW is going to make at least 9 other teams smack themselves in the face, like when Joe Dumars drafted Darko Milicic in 2003, passing up on Melo, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Former Piston Chauncey Billups dogged Dumars for that move last June. According to the website HoopsRumors, Billups said the Pistons could have won far more titles had general manager Dumars not screwed up the draft.
With the Allen Iverson Era officially ending and the town still reeling from the failed Andrew Bynum Experiment, Philly’s front office was due to hit a lick. MCW fell into their laps and put it down in his first pro game as emphatically as it can be done, with 22 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds and 9 steals.
The Shadow League’s Ricardo A. Hazell wrote the following about the young phenom's NBA debut:
“MCW played the passing lanes like a phantom, seemingly appearing out of nowhere to pick pockets on numerous occasions… being able to finish after contact on multiple occasions and shoot the three point shot with the confidence of a grizzled veteran. He even displayed a steely coolness by hitting critical free throws late in the game.”
Carter-Williams' obvious star-power makes it unfathomable that any scout felt he was lacking insane NBA game. The Inspector Gadget-guard has one of those next-level packages that can’t thrive in a pedestrian college atmosphere. Even Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s loosey-goosey college environment and free-wheeling offensive strategy was like handcuffs to MCW. NBA star is his birthright, but these fine-tooth-combing scouts never checked his hospital records.
No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett will forever be tied to the draft in which MCW fell to No. 11. I mean, Bennett might go down with Michael Olowokandi (No. 1 to LA Clippers in ‘98), LaRue Martin (No. 1 to Portland, 1972) and Kwame Brown (No. 1 to Washington in 2001) as the worst No.1 picks of all-time.
MCW is looking like the basketball God’s gift to the city of Philadelphia. Oladipo is looking more like a franchise player than the projected “complementary dude.” Every franchise needs some luck (often at another team’s expense) to get back on top. If this draft was poker, most NBA scouts folded. Philly and Orlando hit with straight flushes.