Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2013 Normative Mock Draft

I know it's not 2006, don't send me angry mail.
By Jeremy Conlin

In economic terms, a normative statement expresses a judgment of something that ought to be. This is different from a positive statement, which concerns what is, was, or will be, with no expression of approval or disapproval.

For example (and I'll put this in basketball terms so it will hopefully be easier to understand), "Ray Allen makes a high percentage of his three-point attempts" is a positive statement. It simply describes a part of reality as it exists. Conversely, "Ray Allen should attempt more three-point shots" is a normative statement.

Most mock drafts are based on positive statements, with information gleamed from various sources in front offices and scouting staffs. I have no interest in assembling a mock draft this way. This is partly because I have no sources of my own, so the only information I'd be able to offer would be akin to throwing darts at a draft board and hoping I hit the right names.

So I'm ditching that idea. I'm doing a normative mock draft. I am not concerned at all with who the teams are rumored to pick, I only care about two things - what the pressing need(s) of the team is, and how various players address those needs.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers
Need: Rim protection, rebounding, wing depth

This one is pretty easy - Cleveland needs shotblocking and rebounding, and the presumed best player in the draft is a shotblocker and rebounder (and could develop into a nice pick-and-roll partner for Kyrie Irving).

The Pick: Nerlens Noel; F/C; Kentucky

2. Orlando Magic
Need: Offensive creativity, shooting, someone to draw fouls

Orlando already has some talent in the frontcourt with Moe Harkless, Tobias Harris, and Nikola Vucevic, and it's unclear what their long-term plans are for Arron Afflalo. The move here is clearly a guard, but it's too high to take Trey Burke (the only relevant point guard in the draft). So that makes this another easy decision.

The Pick: Ben McLemore; G; Kansas

3. Washington Wizards
Need: Skill on the wing, a forward who can score

The Wizards had a rather perplexing offensive season - they finished dead last in offensive efficiency despite finishing either 25th or 24th in each of the offensive four factors (eFG%, TOR, ORB%, and FT/FGA). They didn't completely suck at any one thing, they were just pretty bad at most things. Thus, they should be looking for a player that can plug multiple holes and has a varied skill set.

The Pick: Otto Porter; F; Georgetown

4. Charlotte Bobcats
Need: NBA talent

The Bobcats need help everywhere. The only position that isn't a pressing need for them is point guard, where Kemba Walker improved enough to convince me that he's a long-term starting option. Last year's top pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, had a strong rookie season, but he's never going to be a central star. In theory, the Bobcats should be looking for that type of player, but it seems like such a player doesn't exist in this draft. The best course of action would be to take a player who probably isn't going to help right away but could be a valuable piece down the road. That way they can roll over their inept roster for another year and try to grab that central piece in 2014's loaded draft.

The Pick: Victor Oladipo; G; Indiana

5. Phoenix Suns
Need: Shooting, Michael Beasley demanding a trade

Their most pressing need is shooting (28th in 3PT FG% in 2013), but the only real shooter on the board in this spot is C.J. McCollum, and he doesn't justify the 5th pick, even in this draft, and he'd be tough to play at shooting guard next to Goran Dragic. If Oladipo or McLemore were to fall to them here, it would be inexcusable for the Suns to not take them. In this instance, however, they should just take the best player on the board. However, this being such a crappy draft, it's a bit difficult to identify who that is. To make it easier, they should take someone who doesn't conflict at a position where Phoenix already has a serviceable player (point guard or center).

The Pick: Anthony Bennett; PF; UNLV

6. New Orleans Pelicans
Need: Perimeter defense, interior defense

Interior defense was a huge weakness last year for the Pelicans (then the Hornets), but they're (rightfully) hopeful that Anthony Davis will begin to develop into the KG-like force on that end that he was billed as. If he does, they can shore up their paint defense without adding anyone.

With that in mind, their most pressing issue is perimeter defense. However, like Phoenix, nobody that fills that need is of value in this spot (and, like Phoenix, if Oladipo somehow falls to them, they HAVE TO take him). They should transition to a specific positional need, which for them is point guard.

The Pick: Trey Burke; PG; Michigan

7. Sacramento Kings
Need: Rebounding, defensive discipline

The guy I have the Kings taking doesn't totally fill the needs outlined above. He's a poor rebounder for his position and he plays the same position as Sacramento's best player (DeMarcus Cousins). However, Cousins (via his agent) has been putting the word out that unless the Kings offer him a max extension, they should look to trade him. Now that they're under new management, I can't imagine Sacramento doing that, which means they could be looking to take a center. And even if not, he's fallen far enough that they have to just take him and somehow make it work.

The Pick: Alex Len; C; Maryland

8. Detroit Pistons
Need: Backcourt creativity, athleticism on the wings

Michael Carter-Williams is probably the best fit here, because he offers solutions to several of Detroit's problems - he's a point guard with size, which would allow the Pistons to shift Brandon Knight to shooting guard and cross-match on defense, and he's a superior athlete as well as a natural point guard. After starting Kyle Singler for much of last season, the Pistons can upgrade their perimeter play a great deal.

The Pick: Michael Carter-Williams; G; Syracuse

9. Minnesota Timberwolves
Need: Shooting, wing depth

All the Wolves really need is a human being that can make threes. C.J. McCollum does that, but he's undersized at shooting guard (which was a big problem for Minnesota last year with Luke Ridnour spending a lot of time there). If they're looking to upgrade shooting and size on the perimeter, they should look somewhere else.

The Pick: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope; G; Georgia

10. Portland Trail Blazers
Need: Depth of any kind, rim protection

The Blazers had one of the worst benches in NBA history last year. Outside of their starting five, they gave 6367 minutes to players who had PERs ranging from 2.4 to 12.1. 6367 minutes is the equivalent of playing 26 and a half games with only those players on the court. That's how miserable their bench was. They should probably take the best player available, although skew that towards big men, with J.J. Hickson likely departing and rumors of a LaMarcus Aldridge trade.

The Pick: Steven Adams; C; Pittsburgh

11. Philadelphia 76ers
Need: Someone to draw fouls, perimeter upgrades

It's tough to judge exactly what Philadelphia needs, considering we don't know the future of Andrew Bynum. Whether or not he's even fit to play basketball is up in the air, let alone whether or not he'll re-sign with the Sixers. However, Philly's needs seem to be more concerned with a scoring punch on the perimeter, preferably someone who can help alleviate their comical inability to draw fouls (their pitiful .146 FT/FGA ratio was the worst in NBA history). Luckily, still on the board lies a scoring guard with a robust foul rate.

The Pick: C.J. McCollum; G; Lehigh

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto)
Need: Upgrade over Kendrick Perkins, another shooter

Shooting could quickly become an issue if Kevin Martin turns out to be too expensive for their tastes, but there aren't too many shooters who present requisite value in this draft spot. The Thunder have seemed stubborn in their resistance to amnesty Kendrick Perkins, but that decision might be more palatable if they have a young center to replace him, especially one with some good offensive skills.

The Pick: Cody Zeller; F/C; Indiana

13. Dallas Mavericks
Need: Best player available

It doesn't quite make sense to look at the 2013 Mavericks and project what they might need in 2014, because so many players are going to be skipping town. The only holdovers project to be Dirk, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, and a collection of young role players (Jared Cunningham, Jae Crowder, and Bernard James). They should just take whoever the best player on the board is and cross their fingers in free agency.

The Pick: Kelly Olynyk; F/C; Gonzaga

14. Utah Jazz
Need: Perimeter creativity, shooting

Utah's two top forwards (Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap) are both free agents, but they have Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors waiting in the wings. Rid of the Mo Williams/Randy Foye/Earl Watson/Jamaal Tinsley disaster, now is the time to upgrade their backcourt. Alec Burks appears to be the shooting guard of the future, so point guard is the pressing need.

The Pick: Shane Larkin; PG; Miami (FL)

15. Milwaukee Bucks
Need: Efficient scorers, backcourt defense

The biggest problem for Milwaukee is their lack of size in the backcourt (and subsequently, how that lack of size manifests a defensive deficiency. Of course, of the three free agent guards Milwaukee can potentially bring back, they'll bring back the two smallest and defensively challenged ones. Naturally.

The Pick: Reggie Bullock; G/F; North Carolina

16. Boston Celtics
Need: Offensive rebounding, youth

This one is easy - the Celtics were the worst offensive rebounding in the league last year, and they were the 5th-oldest as well. So, they take a young big man.

The Pick: Lucas Nogueira; C; Brazil

17. Atlanta Hawks
Need: Best player available

Like Dallas, Atlanta has almost nobody under contract for next season (just Al Horford, Lou Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, John Jenkins, Mike Scott, and Shelvin Mack - the last four all $2 million or less). They don't have "needs" as much as they have an imperitive to fill their roster.

The Pick: Mason Plumlee; F/C; Duke

18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston)
Need: See above


The Pick: Shabazz Muhammad; F; UCLA

19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers)
Need: See above

They got their rebounder and rim protector with Noel at the top of the draft, so now is the time to address their wing depth.

The Pick: Sergey Karasev; F; Russia

20. Chicago Bulls
Need: Perimeter depth, shooting

Given the obscene amount of minutes that guys like Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler had to play last season, any NBA-ready wingman will do.

The Pick: Giannis Adetokunbo; F; Greece

21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State)
Need: See above

They already got their point guard, now's the time to grab a shooter.

The Pick: Tim Hardaway, Jr.; G; Michigan

22. Brooklyn Nets
Need: Perimeter defense, depth at all positions

They need depth everywhere, but particularly on the wing. With any hope, someone that might be able to take over for Gerald Wallace. Only one guy really fits that mold.

The Pick: Jamaal Franklin, G/F; San Diego St.

23. Indiana Pacers
Need: Backcourt creativity, wing depth

Can you play the pick-and-roll? Indiana might pick you. Anyone is probably an upgrade over D.J. Augustin at this point.

The Pick: Dennis Schroeder; PG; Germany

24. New York Knicks
Need: Youth, ballhandling

The Knicks were at their most dynamic when they played two point guards (Felton, Prigioni, and/or Kidd). With Kidd retired and Prigioni likely not far behind him, they should look for a young, creative guard, preferably one who can play both backcourt spots.

The Pick: Erick Green; G; Virginia Tech

25. Los Angeles Clippers
Need: Frontcourt depth, Wing depth, shooting

Any and all Kevin Garnett trades are dead-on-arrival. So if they can't upgrade their frontcourt via trade, they can bolster their depth in the draft. Luckily, there are plenty of big men available. The Clippers are looking to win now, so they need the one that's the most NBA-ready.

The Pick: Jeff Withey; C; Kansas

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis)
Need: See above

They grabbed shooting and wing depth. If some is good, more is better, right?

The Pick: Allen Crabbe; G; California

27. Denver Nuggets
Need: Shooting, perimeter defense

There isn't much shooting left in the draft (well, unless you want to take a guy where shooting is his only NBA skill), so Denver should be looking for a guy that can defend and occasionally make threes. 

The Pick: Tony Snell; F; New Mexico

28. San Antonio Spurs
Need: Best player available

The Spurs don't have any particular needs, they're set pretty much everywhere. They might have some concern that they won't be able to afford Tiago Splitter in free agency (or, after his performance in the Finals, they might not even want him back, so they'll go big here.

The Pick: Gorgui Dieng; C; Louisville

29. Oklahoma City Thunder
Need: See above

They already picked up a big with their first pick, and they could use a shooter. However, with so few shooters on the board, it might be a good idea to roll the dice and try to replace James Harden with another guard that can serve as a secondary ball-handler to take pressure off Westbrook.

The Pick: Ricky Ledo, G; Providence

30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami)
Need: See above

They just need talent wherever they can get it. Their best move is to just take the best guy on the board.

The Pick: Isaiah Canaan; PG; Murray State

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