It’s surely fair to say that the current batch of NBA players is as talented as any that have represented the Association over the past few decades. From top to bottom the league is chock-full of elite, talented superstars at every position. As a result, NBA fandom is currently as strong as ever. And when you couple all these LeBrons, KDs, DRoses, Kyries etc. with the group of uber-impressive youngsters that are set to turn pro as part of the 2014 draft class…. well…. your average NBA fan may just find it hard to contain his excitement. Lock in your league pass subscription folks.
But what of our current crop of rookies? These sad, sorry saps must feel like the forgotten men of American pro hoops. It feels like every man and his cute fluffy dog has had a go at telling me how poor this draft class is. ESPN’s draft expert Chad Ford, for one, believes that the group contains no future all-stars. None. Not one.
Could the entire group be that mediocre? Surely… surely… there is a diamond in the rough there somewhere.
Over the past couple of weeks an elite group of fantasy basketball minds set out to sort through this current crop of NBA Rookies to separate the wheat from the chaff. These minds are all GM’s in one of the world’s deepest of deep fantasy leagues. In the Eternal League, almost every NBA player is owned. Here’s the breakdown:
- 16 teams
- 20 man rosters
- 18 keepers
- A 2-round annual rookie/free-agent draft
Thus these elite fantasy minds recently embarked on the 2013 Eternal draft. 32 picks were made and 28 of them were spent on blokes who have not yet played a minute in a real NBA game. 28 picks spent on members of the 2013 rookie class, each resting on the hope and dream of finding a diamond in the rough.
It was a tough ask…. here is what transpired:
1. Victor Oladipo – PF Orlando Magic (2013 NBA Draft pick 2)
“Oladipo has a work ethic that is second to none and has the potential to be Dwayne Wade 2.0. My only concern is that he’s more Tony Allen. At worst, due to his resolve, he could prove to be a hybrid of the two. Has displayed continued development throughout his college years and taking into account how he conducted himself in the summer league, I’m convinced he’s the best pick at no.1. With his motor and athletic abilities, he should improve on the offensive end. Close enough to a lock down defender at the age of 21.” (Kennedy)
2. Trey Burke – PG Utah Jazz (2013 NBA Draft pick 9)
“Trey Burke came up pretty high in all the preseason rankings. There was a lot said about his summer league play which clearly puts peeps off… but I was happy to take him at #2 overall. I wanted a solid shooter and passer who is going to get minutes straight up and Trey meets that criteria.” (Huze)
3. Anthony Bennett – PF Cleveland Cavaliers (2013 NBA Draft pick 1)
“By the numbers, he’s a beast. What’s not to like about a player who has been compared to grandmamma. Can play the pick and pop, stretch 4 role. Has range out to the 3. Scores on put-backs and cuts. Has basically no weaknesses on paper. His athleticism and shooting ability is what separates him from the big men of this draft. My only concern would be his one-on-one ability and post play - both things that will come with time. Really looking forward to the Kyrie and Anthony show.” (Kennedy)
Bennett, the NBA’s #1 pick, might be the most talented player in the draft: a big guy who can post-up, attack the hoop, and shoot from deep. There’s questions about his weight, but, as Santa Claus and Dom DeLuise have proven, the world loves a jolly fat man.
4. Ben McLemore – SG Sacramento Kings (2013 NBA Draft pick 7)
“I think he has the highest ceiling of anyone in the draft and I rated him a top 2 pick along with Oladipo.” (Hersz)
5. Alex Len – C Phoenix Suns (2013 NBA Draft pick 5)
“This was undoubtedly a huge homer pick for me. With Bledsoe also on my roster I now have the Suns’ two most promising young players which gives me something to feel good about whilst watching Phoenix mail-in in the 2013/14 season, or as I like to call it, Tankapalooza! Len’s ankle issues are an obvious concern but the big man has shown enough to make me believe he could become the Suns’ primary C for the foreseeable future (once The Polish Hammer has been moved on this season). He’s very mobile for his size and possesses excellent fundamentals, soft hands and good touch. His college numbers were not all that impressive but much of that can be blamed on his situation as Maryland’s offensive structure, floor spacing and guard play left much to be desired. The 23 pts, 12 boards and 4 blocks he put on Nerlens Noel (who had 4/9/3) last November was impressive and many had him touted as the #1 pick overall. I tried to trade down the board a little before I made my selection as I figured I probably could’ve nabbed Len around 10/11 but I couldn’t make that happen. I also considered Zeller and Olynyk with this pick but, ultimately, I’m very happy with the big Ukrainian.” (Santamaria)
6. Nikola Mirotic* – PF Chicago Bulls (2011 NBA Draft pick 23)
“I have an unhealthy man crush on Mirotic and I own him (as a stash) in another dynasty league where he counts against my salary cap. Mirotic is the closest thing to Dirk Nowitzki since Dirk himself. He is 6’10”, broad shouldered, has legitimate 3pt range, can put the ball on the floor, post up, rebounds well, and plays solid positional defense. He can play the 3 or the 4, and has really become a focal point on a team full of stars (Real Madrid) even though he is by far the youngest member of the starting 5. He won the Euroleague Rising Star Award 2 straight years (never before done), and then followed that up this past year by making the All-Euroleague 2nd team, and winning the MVP of the Spanish ACB. This is all before his 23rd birthday. He will likely come across to the NBA next year and start at PF for the Bulls, replacing Carlos Boozer. Sure, there’s a risk he won’t adapt to the NBA game, hence the unhealthiness of my man crush, but he has all the tools to become a star, and I’ve obviously bet that he will.” (Hersz)
7. Nerlens Noel – C Philadelpia 76ers (2013 NBA Draft pick 6)
“Contrary to belief, his player comparison is not Hasheem Thabeet. Averaging 4.4 blks a game, some say he’s a Larry Sanders clone. He has mastered the art of shot blocking and shot changing, whilst fouling at an impeccably low rate. The amount of steals he generates is tremendous for a big man, while he also rebounds at a decent clip. Was touted as having the highest upside in the entire draft. Obvious flaws are little to no offensive game. IMO, a steal at #7 on talent/upside alone.” (Kennedy)
8. CJ McCollum – PG/SG Portland Trailblazers (2013 NBA Draft pick 10)
“For mine, it came down to a straight choice between McCollum and Dennis Schroder. By the time the 8th pick came around, I was simply hunting for the surest thing I could get from the 2013 NBA draft; while Schroder’s form in Summer League has been solid and comparisons to Rondo are enticing, guards who shoot are far more valuable in fantasy leagues than those who don’t. You really can’t have enough of it - thus, McCollum, even though I suspect he’s liable to backup Lillard this year rather than sharing the backcourt with him.” (Wood)
9. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – SG Detroit Pistons (2013 NBA Draft pick 8)
“Being a situational stats ‘boss’ coupled with the eye test led me to this pick. His versatility and athleticism is also impressive. With good size for his position he contributes on the glass and has an excellent steal rate. I think his ceiling could be Rip Hamilton with greater defensive capabilities and range out to the 3. His quick release, drive and shooting capabilities are incredible. Has an innate understanding of how to use ball screens effectively. Only concern is little to no scoring around the rim.” (Kennedy)
10. Dennis Schröder – PG Atlanta Hawks (2013 NBA Draft pick 17)
“A silky smooth point guard from Germany with vision and range to boot. He could quite possibly end up starting for the Hawks this upcoming season. He also could quite possibly be outta the league quicker than you could say Roddy Beabouis.” (Big Ed)
11. Cody Zeller – PF/C Charlotte Bobcats (2013 NBA Draft pick 4)
“Ideally pre-draft I was hoping for Len or Zeller, but was very unsure I would get either. At Pick 11 Zeller was too good to overlook. He has been drafted into a rebuilding situation where apart from Al Jefferson there is nobody else is ahead of him on the depth chart. He should start straight away, was impressive in the summer league, and looks like his shooting touch will develop. Initially he might have patches where he is overpowered - he is physically underdeveloped for an NBA big, but few 20 year old 6 ft 11 guys aren’t.” (Staples)
12. Kelly Olynyk – C Boston Celtics (2013 NBA Draft pick 13)
“I probably would have taken this dude if I had pick 3 or 4, so the fact that he dropped to me at 12 was amazing. Killed it in the summer league, and is gonna start for a Celtics team that is pretty mediocre. He’ll get 25-30 mins a game, and you really can’t ask for more than that from a rookie. There is also the Brad Stevens factor, I think a guy like Olynyk will excel under his tutelage. Instant impact!” (Bob)
13. Tony Snell – SF Chicago Bulls (2013 NBA Draft pick 20)
“I was hoping that Schroeder or Olynyk fell to me here, but more than happy with Snell, who can shoot & play D (a must for Tibs) and will I think eventually settle at the 2 with Butler at 3 as the long term wings for the Bulls.” (Prosser)
14. Steven Adams – C Oklahoma City Thunder (2013 NBA Draft pick 12)
“My squad is generally in need of bigs, particularly offensive rebounding ones. I think i have the luxury of allowing a bench spot for a developing player. Mainly I like the competitive spirit and toughness of Adams. I fear his offensive game will take a long time to develop, or won’t develop at all given his early move to the pros.” (Auntie Paul)
15. Giannis Antetokounmpo – G/F Milwaukee Bucks (2013 NBA Draft pick 15)
“Watch the tape.” (Stifler)
“Perhaps the worst thing you can do in a nerd-league draft is get too obsessed with a highlight video. You do that, you might end up trading Evan Fournier and a bunch of picks to reach on Nikola Mirotic at #6; or think that Mirza Teletovic’s NBA career will resemble his Euro-league YouTube reels of 30-foot threes and dunking on dudes’ heads. Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the bros I had my eye on from the drop: in a weak draft, going for the high-risk talent beats settling for the low-risk, low-ceiling ‘winner’. When I owned pick #10, he was definitely, definitely in the mix. When a few casual inquiries about the availability of pick #14 turned into a roaring trade discussion, I made the mistake of watching some Antetokounmpo highlight reels; of seeing this 6’10-and-growing stringbean block a shot, go end to end, then dunk on some 6’0 teenager’s head. After that, I started feeling desperate about making a deal; always a weak position to negotiate from. I ended up not getting a deal done, but, who knows, I may’ve dodged a bullet. Antetokoumpo could be the next Kevin Durant; odds are, more likely, he’s the next Jonathan Bender.”
16. Shane Larkin – PG Dallas Mavericks (2013 NBA Draft pick 18)
“In possibly the only league ever, I had to cut a current head coach in point guard Jason Kidd. Add to that the aging Dre Miller and the PG spot needed to get younger. Enter Shane Larkin of the Miami Hurricanes with a scouting report boasting a fondness for the pick and roll and pull up jumpers, both key NBA PG skills. Added to that, good decision making skills and an ex professional athlete for a father. Pity i didn’t check much summer league action until after this pick!” (Camo)
Like Michael Jordan before him, you wonder if Camo has been spending too much time on the golf course, and not enough scouting. Larkin has the skills and athleticism, but he’s tiny, and reminds many scouts of D.J. Augustin. The fact that he’s already hurt, and buried on the Mavs’ depth chart at 4th-string PG, makes his selection over Michael Carter-Williams genuinely baffling.
17. Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira – C Atlanta Hawks (2013 NBA Draft pick 16)
“Go the Fro!!!! Obviously Bebe isn’t coming to the NBA this season, he is really raw but looks to have the tools to stick in the NBA. If he hits Noah or Varejao levels then I will be more than happy.” (Big Ed)
18. Michael Carter-Williams – PG/SG Philadelphia 76ers (2013 NBA Draft pick 11)
“He is going to play…. a lot. He’s big for his position (6’6), he is a proven passer (which pairs really well with CP3 and Rondo on my squad) and I think his biggest weakness, being his jump shot he can improve as his form is good (he hits his FT’s) and he can get in the lane - a lot. Expectations? I’m hoping he ends up more like Brandon Knight/J’rue Holiday, than Jonny Flynn, any of which wouldn’t surprise me - but at Pick 18, gotta roll the dice!” (Illan)
19. Otto Porter – SF Washington Wizards (2013 NBA Draft pick 3)
“Seriously, a joke at #3. But at #19? I’ll have a piece of that. Potentially a very good defensive player who has shown improvement on his jumper in college. I think he’ll end up being an exceedingly rich man’s Devean George (solid shooter with D and athleticism) who will have a solid 10+ year career as a starting SF with at least 1 season where a writer inexplicably tries to campaign him on to an All Star roster. Think Kochie for Logie type hype.” (Prosser)
To me Otto Porter’s an insane bust: self-described as a poor-man’s Tayshaun Prince. He has no discernible NBA skill or specific role to play. he is unathletic as all hell —he ran a slower combine sprint than Tiago Splitter, was less agile than Troy Murphy, and had the same vertical reach as Brian Scalabrine— and is coming off a summer-league where he put up a glittering 6.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 30% FG, 0% 3PT, and 1.0 HIPG (hamstring injuries per game). If you want those numbers turned into horrid, horrid video, check the amazing montage late in this breakdown where they cut together his horrendous bricks, wild forced runners, and laughable offensive attempts where the defense just eats him alive:
In short, I think Otto Porter is going the way of fellow draft-day-reach, and top 4 big east sf, pick Wesley Johnson: bust city, population many. Oh, and, Porter may’ve shot 42% from three at Georgetown as a soph, but he shot 22% as a freshman, and if you look at his form, it’s ghastly. i think, like Derelict Williams (another busty top 3 pick), he’s gonna go from hitting the three in college to laying bricks in the big leagues.
But there’ll be no laughing. Not at 19. The draft has entered crapshoot territory, so, like, whatever, pick the dead man walking, the wizards third-string small forward, the guy who’s closest comp at Georgetown isn’t Jeff Green, more an unathletic Brandon Bowman.
Mostly what I really want to say is: I’m proud of this league! I feel like if we’d have been doing this in 2009, #2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet wouldn’t have gone in the top 20, and the fact that so many of us saw bust where the wizards apparently didn’t (or maybe just reached to pick a hometown kid who wasn’t going to get in anyone’s way out there) makes this grumpy old commish smile with tender joy.
20. Archie Goodwin – SG Phoenix Suns (2013 NBA Draft pick 29)
“He is super young (the youngest American in the draft), long, athletic, and can play a little combo guard. Calipari called him a young Westbrook which is clearly a stretch, but if he becomes 80-85% of RW, then at 20 in THIS draft, it was worth it. He may be more Tyreke than Rusty, but I figured he had as much upside as any of the other guys still available, and he was going to play right away meaning his game will develop faster. Seems a lot of people wanted him and were hoping he would fall to them in the mid-20s. The Jughead - who knew?” (Hersz)
21. Sergey Karasev – SG/SF Cleveland Cavaliers (2013 NBA Draft pick 19)
“As an Australian, this pick was a little bittersweet for me. You may have missed it at the time but it was Karasev that led the Russians to victory over the Aussies in the final of the World University Games last month. Sergey was MVP of the tournament – a nice follow up to the bronze medal he earned as a member of the 2012 Russian Olympic team. Not bad for a bloke who is still only 19 years old. Karasev is 6’7” and can flat-out shoot the shit out of it. He has that kind of lefty, euro, natural feel for the game that reminds you of Manu Ginobili and Toni Kukoc. He can put it on the floor and can score effectively with pull-ups, fadeaways and runners in the lane. He is also a very good facilitator and he possesses a high basketball IQ. His old man coached him at Triumph Lyubertsy in Russia as well as at the World Uni Games and was himself a former PG for the Russian national team. He has pedigree, potential and he looks like Brad Hill so it was a no-brainer.” (Santamaria)
Ukrainians and Russians don’t often get along, but after drafting Alex Len at pick 5 Santamaria threw caution to the wind with the addition of Karasev at 21. Karasev is young and talented and has great experience with the Russian national team, and was a solid second-round get.
22. Ian Clark – G Utah Jazz (Undrafted)
“Monta Ellis v2 or Lou Wlliams? Summer league final MVP pouring in 33 points effortlessly. Jazz in desperate need of outside shooting, he could conceivably start and play a key role. Or he could be a one dimensional scorer that has very little fantasy value.” (Big Ed)
Did Ian Clark get overrated due to just getting hot in the summer final in Las Vegas? Or can he really play? You know in Utah, he’ll get the chance to show us.
23. Reggie Bullock – SF Los Angeles Clippers (2013 NBA Draft pick 25)
“I love this guy! It’s one of those feelings that I can’t explain, but get a flutter every time I see him play. Great shooter & underrated athlete. He’s the black Paul Maley. I miss my North Melbourne Giants.” (Prosser)
24. Shabazz Muhammad – SG/SF Minnesota Timberwolves (2013 NBA Draft pick 14)
“Muhammad can flat-out put the ball in the hoop. Despite being short for his position, older than most of the guys he played against in high school and perhaps even the guy on the grassy knoll, the dude has more ability to make buckets against serious competition than anyone else available this low (with the possible exception of Patrick Beverley). The hope is that he can grab Minnesota’s starting small forward spot; if not this year, then next.” (Wood)
Muhammad is a scorer who was overhyped coming out of high-school, and the fact that he can’t dribble, pass, or defend seem like sure-fire signs of a short career. But if he puts the ball in the hole, he’s an outside chance to stick, and his nickname —Shabazz Palaces— is already one of the league’s best.
25. Greg Oden [Free Agent] – C Miami Heat
“Why not? I was being offered Splitter for the #13. Tiago’s 28 years old & averaged 10/6 in 25 mins. If (yeah OK, IF!!!!) Oden plays 25 mins on that team he’s a lock for 12/8 with close to 2 blocks. Seriously, LeBron will feed him dunks and do you think Bosh is going to steal a lot of boards off him?” (Prosser)
26. Rudy Gobert – C Utah Jazz (2013 NBA Draft pick 27)
“Rudy Gobert is likely the best shot blocker in the draft, standing at 7’2″, with a ridiculous 7’9″ wingspan: Go-Go Gadget Arms! Hailing from France, he was touted as a potential top 10 pick at one point, but fell to 27 in the NBA Draft, and 26 here. He is athletic, but needs to bulk up to succeed and hold his ground on the block in the NBA. He is a project, but the shot blocking ability is unquestioned, which is what I needed to replace after trading away Ibaka.” (Hersz)
27. Tony Mitchel – PF Detroit Pistons (2013 NBA Draft pick 37)
“Uber athleticism. Mitchel’s summer league highlights were block-tastic! Shot the three ball in college which is gold for fantasy value. Should eventually work his way into the Pistons rotation as first big off the bench.” (Big Ed)
28. Ray McCallum – PG Sacramento Kings (2013 NBA Draft pick 36)
“Another killer summer league performer, overshadowed McLemore who went 24 picks before him. The fact that he plays for the Kings scares the crap out of me, but he’s gonna get burn and could be starting over McLemore before the season is out. Also, I really like dudes who excel in lesser college conferences. They often slip in the draft because scouts don’t rate the competition they played against. See Kenneth Faried.” (Bob)
29. Isaiah Canaan – PG Houston Rockets (2013 NBA Draft pick 34)
“The little round man (think Ty Lawson) can flat out play and is a competitor. I see him as hopefully turning out somewhere between Dana Barros and Mo Williams. A scoring point guard that had no teammates at the college level and thus had been labelled a hog. He has high bball IQ, is tough, can stroke it from deep, can play D and has good handles.” (Dallas)
30. Patrick Beverly [Free Agent] – PG Houston Rockets
“With a pick as late as 30 in a draft as shitty as this, with all the rookies with real potential long gone, you’re best looking for someone who will play but who’s young enough that you don’t have the dirty, creepy feeling you’d get from drafting, like, Jason Terry. I actually owned Patrick Beverley last season and, well, he had some moments, but nothing resembling his playoff performance vs OKC, when he was given major burn and an extra dose of confidence. I’m not expecting anything like that this year, but he shoots a lot of threes, has a really high steal rate, and is an outside chance —a very long long-shot— of stealing Jeremy Lin’s starting PG gig. Coming the pick after Dallas took Isaiah Canaan, likely to be buried on the bench behind Beverley, it seemed like a good get for the right price.” (Commish Carew)
31. Brandon Rush [Free Agent] – SG/SF Utah Jazz (Stifler)
Tore ACL in left knee in 2007. Tore ACL in right knee in 2012. the old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be, Ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be.
32. Jordan Hamilton [Free Agent] – SG Denver Nuggets
“After receiving some cursory interest for the 32nd pick and a few already rostered players going in the preceding picks I decided to try and find someone on the scrap heap who may be in a good situation heading into training camp. After all, are 30 odd rookies going to make an impact in the NBA this year? Highly unlikely. Enter the Denver Nuggets and small forward Jordan Hamilton. Iggy Diggy has taken his talents to the bay and Gallo is coming off a torn ACL meaning hopefully increased minutes at the 3 for the career 37% 3pt shooter.” (Camo)
So… are there any future all-stars in this motley crew? Role-players in championship calibre teams? I say yes and their names are Alex Len and Sergey Karasev (hopefully!). Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.