Teams in position to improve in the 2013 NBA Draft failed to earn grades that reflect they did so to their fullest potential.
Many picks on Thursday night should leave fanbases energized and optimistic about the future. For instance, the Orlando Magic selected Victor Oladipo who not only filled a need, but ESPN’s Chad Ford called him the safest pick and the hardest worker in the class. Other fanbases weren’t given similar reason to celebrate.
Here were the three most bone-headed choices of the first round.
3. Anthony Bennett to the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 1
The Cavs’ two greatest needs entering the draft were for a small forward and center. They could’ve even justified selecting a shooting guard to help take the scoring load off of Kyrie Irving. Instead, Cleveland chose a power forward, even though it just picked power forward Tristan Thompson fourth overall two years ago.
Here's Bill Simmons' reaction to the selection.
Thompson and Bennett can’t play alongside each other. Thompson is 6’9” and Bennett is 6’8”. The selection would’ve made sense if the Cavs picked center Jonas Valanciunas like they should’ve in 2011, but they didn’t. Instead of adding Nerlens Noel, Victor Oladipo or Ben McElmore—prospects who not only filled a greater need than Bennett, but were ranked higher than him in Chad Ford of ESPN’s big board assembled by NBA GMs and scouts—they created a logjam at power forward.
2. Cody Zeller to the Charlotte Bobcats at No. 4
Charlotte could’ve started a new trend—effective drafting. It rebounded from its bone-headed acquisition of Bismack Biyombo in 2011 to pick the promising Michael Kidd-Gilchrist last year.
The Bobcats were given a gift on draft night as Noel and McElmore—players with arguably the two highest ceilings in the draft—fell into their lap at fourth overall. If determined to add length and wary of Noel’s knees, they could’ve taken the safe route with Alex Len. Instead they reached for Zeller, the 11th-ranked player on Ford’s big board.
Here's how much Bobcat nation approved of the pick.
“Once again I think the Bobcats have blown it,” said Ford of the selection. Michael Jordan strikes again.
1. Solomon Hill to the Indiana Pacers at No. 23
The Associated Press reported that Larry Bird will return as the Pacers’ president of basketball operations this season (via ESPN). He will officially rejoin the team Monday. It needed him Thursday.
Bird helped build the team that was one game away from eliminating the Miami Heat from the postseason. He took a year away from basketball and Indiana left Pacers fans banging their heads against the wall on draft day without him. It selected Hill, the No. 79 player on Ford’s big board over superior wing prospects like Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, Allen Crabbe and Glen Rice Jr.
The Pacers’ pick of the 22-year-old Hill tells the story that they wanted someone who could contribute right away, but he only averaged 13.4 points per game his senior season.
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.