The DEFEND Cleveland Show

2013 NBA Draft Big Board, the Mike James Edition



Here you go folks, with more amount of time than I’ve ever spent breaking down video, metrics and scouting reports1 due to the fact that this draft is so damn puzzling, here’s my DC Show 2013 NBA Big Board, the top 25 version. The criteria for this particular Draft Big Board is that it’s first and foremost based solely on that of ranking NBA talent from best to worst. In other words, a player needing time to develop or any specific team needs are not a heavy consideration here, only that of who I believe will become the better NBA player. Secondly, next to the players name in parenthesis I have their position as it projects to be in the NBA, which is not necessarily what they might have played elsewhere. In the instances where I have multiple positions in parenthesis, it notes he might play both but the first listed will be his primary spot.

Okay, so how do you use this particular Big Board on Draft Night specific to the Cavs choices?2 It’s designed to work just like a team’s, simply look to see who is left available when the Cavs come a picking, and go with the guy at the top of the list.3 And then be overly elated if they do and overly disappointed if they don’t. You know, apply the standard fan game, and have fun.


1 – Nerlens Noel (C/PF). From the day of the Lottery on I’ve declared Noel the top overall pick. Without question had he played his entire season I believe this would be seen as the universal no-brainer, but given the ACL tear and history of problems with the knee, having a “big man” with knee problems obviously creates room for concern. However, with his surgery having been performed by James Andrews per the recommendation of Chris Grant and the added fact that Noel’s rehab has taken place in the Cleveland area, and considering Cleveland Clinic is even a team sponsor, the Cavs organization would be the first in having the inside track on whether or not further injury is a concern. And there’s been no word at all that there’s concern, and recent rumors are that he’s been cleared by the Cavs doctors, so… go with the guy who clearly is the best talent in the Draft already and stop fretting about it.4

2 – Anthony Bennett (SF/PF). No matter the Draft there’s always risers and the fallers, and with Bennett the more I watch him the more I’ve fallen for him. A little under sized as a power forward who might end up mostly playing small forward, there’s no denying that his athleticism, ability to create, score and rebound will all translate well to the NBA level. Owning a legit jump shot with range to go along with a high level efficiency scoring around the rim, all the while adding that his rebounding rate was even better than 7’1 top prospect Alex Len, there doesn’t seem to be any glaring weaknesses to this guy he isn’t capable to overcome. Sure he needs to take better shots and learn a post-up game, as well as realize that defense is a full time job, but these are all things he should be able to develop.

3 – Alex Len (C). Clearly still a work in progress (an overly strong theme this year for near every pick), Len might have as high a ceiling as anyone. A legit 7 foot big who’s just turned 20 years old, Len’s already demonstrating a developed offense game that looks to only get better as he continues to fill out and get stronger. Very dexterous with good reaction time, hands, and who runs the floor well, to me the big difference of “Len vs Noel” as the best big man is that Noel is so much quicker, more athletic and tenacious. Len should very well become one of the League’s top bigs over the next 3-5 years though, and as far as scoring, there isn’t a better scoring big man at this point in the draft.

4 – Otto Porter (SF). Here’s a guy who for some reason folks seem to be losing sight of while being smitten with the highlight reels produced by the Oladipo’s and McLemore’s of the world. Great size, length and athleticism matched with an all-around game at a level no one else in this draft can equally proclaim, about the only real concern I have with Porter is that his jump shot is still a work in progress (especially at the NBA range of three-town) and most importantly that he hasn’t shown he can knock it down off the dribble. Still only 20 years old though and possessing a great work ethic, as many have said, Porter appears the safest bet this year overall.

5 – Trey Burke (PG). Though undersized (the next most common theme to the tag “work in progress” in this year of the Draft, 2013) Trey Burke looks every bit the real deal with the NBA goggles on. Does his best work in the half court, scores off the dribble, lethal jump shot, doesn’t turn the ball over and operates the pick and roll with the best of them, all equals, can’t miss. Sure 6’1 in shoes might scare a lot of folks away, but given how he performed against the level of talent he went up against all year leading his team to the title game, and how his game on paper translates better than any point guard coming out, Trey more so than any other player should make the biggest immediate impact of any player drafted.

6 – Victor Oladipo (SG). Here’s the deal, I watched many of Indiana’s game and though I did so at first to watch Zeller (like so many others), as that interest faded, in part it was due to the fact that Oladipo quickly, and clearly, was stealing the spotlight. My biggest concern beyond size when translating his game to the NBA, however, is his poor ball handling and overall inability to create his shots. At 6’4”, even with elite athleticism, Oladipo simply will not dominate like some believe he will. At least not offensively. The next Wade you’ve heard? That’s a joke. Even with bad knees Wade has always been so much more than the offensively limited line drive and close out player Oladipo is. Yes, Victor improved his jump shot, which he’ll need to continue to do, but it is his defensive aggressiveness, tenacity and explosiveness that will be his strongest assets at the next level.

7 – Ben McLemore (SG). Sorry college basketball fans and people who read box scores in fantasy land and don’t realize this is the NBA we’re talking about here, but I just don’t see his game translating at a superstar level. Yes, McLemore looks to be the best pure shooter in the draft. Yes, his athleticism is off the charts. But when you look at the fact that at best he looks to be a solid 3andD guy at the NBA level due to his inability to shoot that jumper effectively off the dribble, mostly noting his overall very poor ball handling leads to an inability to create and to get to the basket (which was the case even in college for him), and the fact he’s under 6’5 in shoes, and I can’t figure out any justification to have him rated any higher than this. Plus when you factor in all the concerns about his lack of killer extinct and how poorly he’s graded in interviews, as well as quotes such as, “He’s talented, but doesn’t know how to play. He can’t string good games together. Plus, he’s got the wrong people around him.” which have recently surfaced from League executives, and this darling of the college game just doesn’t look to shine as bright going forward. He will make a few ESPN Top Ten reels though, if that’s all you’re looking for.5

8 – C.J. McCollum (SG/PG). Is he a PG or a SG? In reality he’s a little bit of both but know one thing for certain, McCollum is the best pure scorer in the draft. From breaking down defenders and scoring very well in the half court game, it’s C.J.’s jumper that puts him in the discussion of a top ten selection. What this Canton, OH native has against him beyond being too short to be a pure shooting guard is that he’s about to turn 22, played in the Patriot League, was thee offense on Lehigh which really upped his usage, and played a shortened season due to a foot injury his senior year. He may have hit his ceiling already, but his ability to score and how he does it, will be very effective for him in the NBA.

9 – Cody Zeller (PF/C). Let’s face it, his metrics even after a less than stellar season are still intriguing. Though the consensus is he would have been a higher selection had he not decided to return for what turned out to be a disappointing season, the reality is that Cody should still turn into a very productive big man, especially if he can adapt to playing the 4. His athleticism suggests he can, and if so, the top 5 pick most everyone had him being to start the year will end up looking like an opinion that probably should not have drifted.

10 – Dennis Schroeder (PG). Hello world! My first international player on the Board, and if not for the fact it can be so hard to judge international talent, I’d likely have Dennis even higher. His ability as a PG to create offensively for all those around him at only 19 years old is truly something to behold. With great ability to break defenders down and distribute in transition, and in the half court, Dennis looks to be made in the mold of Rajon Rondo which is why I have him higher on my Board than most. Unfortunately also like Rondo, however, his greatest weakness thus far is his jump shot, but given his youth and developing game, this still looks to be something that can improve.

11 – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG).  Not nearly as athletic as Oladipo or McLemore, his overall game for the position and ability to create and score off the dribble, and work the pick and roll, might actually make him the safer pick at the position overall. Unfortunately it is his lack of above average athleticism that immediately can be seen translating to his poor ability to finish at the rim which pushes him down in the rankings. If he makes up for it though beyond his being a creative offensive scoring threat, he does so with ball control as well as rebounding (7.1 a game) and in averaging over 2 steals a game, all aspects that typically translate very well. That said, if anyone on this board surprises and jumps into the top 5 on draft night and be this year’s Dion Waiters draft night surprise, this 20 year old might be the guy.

12 – Michael Carter-Williams (PG). At near 6’6 with a 41” max vertical, if he had a jumper worth mentioning (at all) we’d likely be talking about Michael in the #1 overall pick discussion. No matter what, leading in assists and steals among all draft prospects in only his first season of seeing real minutes at Syracuse, and given his dominant size for the position, athleticism and one-on-one ability, this guy looks to make any team in need of a point guard improved. Definite starter talent.

13 – Steve Adams (C). Though this draft is considered a weak one missing that of sure bet right out the gate All-Stars, there really should be no question that the big men within it represent one of the strongest years in recent memory. In fact, not since the 2007 Draft where Oden, Horford, Noah, Hawes and Splitter all went in the 1st round have you seen a draft with as many big men with talent going into the league, and Adams being the 4th big already listed here in the top 15 suggests, I like so many others believe this to be a solid draft for bigs.. A legit 7’ who mightily impressed at the combine to see his stock rise, this New Zealand born players in 3-4 years should prove to be a legit starter too.

14 – Sergey Karesev (SF/SG).  At only 19 years old, this 6’7 Russian already possesses an elite jumper, high basketball IQ and the potential to be a shut down defender. He also passes the ball well and overall looks like Schroeder as the best of the best international player offerings in the draft. Also like Schroeder, I’d likely have him even higher if it were easier to weigh the level of talent he faced on a nightly basis overseas. Too often watching the tape on these guys (as for instance with Giannis and Gobert), it looks like they’re playing against division II high school teams where any NBA talent would dominate. Given this though, Karesev and Schroeder both played against pretty strong opponents with all things considered.

15 – Shane Larkin (PG). Pick and roll, pick and roll, pick and roll. To death. Shane Larkin was the best in the business at Miami with this NBA staple, as well as an exceptional athlete and a top shooter. However, 5’11 is a hard sell. Still, his ability to shoot off the dribble and work the pick and roll sells high at the next level and it may even be a surprise to see him still available at this pick.

16 – Jamaal Franklin (SG). Versatility and motor. Franklin might have a weakness still with his jump shot, but defensively and seeing his ability to get to the rim, and subsequently the free throw line, makes Franklin a very interesting NBA prospect. Given that he was the focus of the Aztecs offense and usually had the ball in his hands and the defenses he faced knew it, the spacing of the NBA game and his basketball IQ and tenacity should see his offensive game improve in time. Of course if it doesn’t, his defensive ability as well as being good at pretty much everything from passing to creating, makes him a very interesting and rather safe selection.

17 – Gorgui Dieng (C). Potential, length, defense and helping to lead Louisville to a title all work in favor for Dieng. Working against him is his age of 23, which is solely due to his having been a late convert to the game. Still adding weight and strength, even though his offense is far from standout, his ability to score consistently at the rim and through contact looks to adapt well to the next level. Just like the third most common theme in this Draft though, it will be his defensive presence that sees him going this high or higher in the draft.

18 – Giannis Antetokounmpo (SF). Though it will likely be 2 years before anyone actually sees this guy on an NBA court of play, being in awe with his elite athleticism and size he’s too easy to fall in love with to expect him to go any further on Draft night than this without being selected. Nigerian born and now headed to the NBA via time spent in Greece, this kid reminds me a lot of Christian Eyenga, except people have actually heard of him, seen him play, and on his best days compares to Durant. Who could pass on that? This guy has the biggest buyer beware though, some of the tape I’ve seen of him suggests the level of opponent he faced could make even you and I look like Durant at times.

19 – Mason Plumlee (C). From Duke, 7’ and exceptionally athletic for a big man. Nuff said, right? Granted his ceiling might already have been attained and his lack of lateral movement will only be further exploited at the NBA level as it was even in college, Plumlee is truly an NBA big man with solid pedigree to go along with it. About the only thing that will keep him from being a regular contributing starter would be his inability to knock down shots away from the paint. Still though, no way I see him falling out of the top 20.

20 – Isaiah Canaan (PG/SG). Though mainly a ball handler, the reason I have him listed as a two guard as well as point is that Isaiah is first and foremost a scorer. Shooting the ball off the dribble at a rate second only to Burke, not only does he also excel at catching and shooting, Canaan can score from anywhere on the court as well. Problem is, he doesn’t look to distribute the ball, or at least he didn’t in Murray State’s offense. Will he accept the role at the next level as well as play better defense, we’ll have to see because he’ll likely be forced to, but the main reason I have him as high as 20 beyond his ability to knock down jumpers and get buckets, is his ability to score out of the pick and roll. And that again is what this game in the NBA is ever increasingly all about.

21 – Kelly Olynyk (PF). Okay, I’m not a big fan of his game. Mostly a face up post player, his overall lack of athleticism and T-rex arms will be his death at the next level. However, beyond the 20th pick in any draft and finding a 7’ player who can score in the half court with the efficiency of Kelly, and the bottom line reality is in this range of the draft he represents a solid choice.

22 – Lucas Noguiera (C). Measuring very near 7’ with a long wingspan and good athleticism, Noguiera is a project for sure, but also a good gamble if he’s still around this late in the draft.6 About to turn 21, the upside to his game as a big man still seems to be substantial even if any semblance of an offensive game beyond the paint seems unlikely to ever develop.

23 – Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG). Being the running mate to Trey Burke you think would have helped Hardaway Jr., but it looks as though it might have hurt him as his overall usage rate for someone with the ability to stretch the court with a legit NBA long range shot was shockingly low this past season. With his combination of size, athleticism and shooting though, it will be no surprise given how well he’s reportedly been working out, that his relatively poor year last season when compared to expectations, might have been but a growing pain, and that he’s ready to follow in his father’s footsteps to the next level. Very solid shooting guard option in the back third of the 1st round, no question.

24 – Reggie Bullock (SF). Good size for his position and great shooter, what Reggie doesn’t have in regards to above average athleticism he makes up for in competitiveness on both ends of the court. What truly makes him a late 1st round option though is his ability to catch and shoot, and more than anything, knock down the 3 point shot.

25 – Ricky Ledo (SG). The only thing keeping Ledo from being a Lottery pick seems to be Ledo himself. Possessing unquestionable talent and scoring potential, his overall lack of effort at times, body language, added to the fact that he pinballed from program to program is what clearly keeps Ledo from going high in the draft. He does what so many can’t with the ball though as a fluid scorer with tremendous talent, and it’s more than enough when accompanied by the slight strides he appears to be making with everything else that had raised so many questions about him. Quite a rare talent, at this point in the 1st round a team risks missing out, more than they do anything else.


Wait, no Shabazz, no Mitchell, no Snell and no Gobert?! That’s right, get your own Big Board. Though I will admit, not as much or at all with the others, it was hard to leave Shabazz off.7 And not just because I love his name because I really love Shabazz Palaces…Blowout and Black Up! Palaces riding in my top 5 currently, but that’s a different list altogether.

Go Cavs.


– Mike James


Listen every Friday to “Defend Cleveland Friday with Mike and Joe”  by clicking here, a weekly hour long Cleveland sports podcast companion to the DC Show that’s the best way to end you week, and the only way to begin your weekend.

Listen to last Monday’s “The Defend Cleveland Show” in its entirety by clicking here.

The DC Show with host Mike James airs live every Monday morning from 9am-11:30am on WRUW-FM 91.1 Cleveland, and streams world wide here.


  1. Time I’d like to think was not wasted… []
  2. i.e., yeah, all well and good, but who will they select at 19?! []
  3. Keep in mind that team needs beyond the #1 overall do play a factor, i.e., if the Cavs select Noel, going for Plumlee or Olynyk if they’re atop the Board at the 19th pick, if the Cavs still own this pick, is not the direction they’ll likely go. So then think SF, PG/SG depth first would be in order and proceed accordingly and cautiously. []
  4. One important note I want to add among all the trade rumors involving this #1 pick packaged for Love, Aldridge, the Pelicans, et al, please keep in mind the Cavaliers aren’t looking to dump the pick, rather they’re looking to get the best value possible with any and all options out there. Those that think the Cavs don’t value this pick due to its shopping are simply being mislead by the team’s pursuit to improve by any means. No matter the projected ceiling of these guys might be, it’s still an uncertainty, and trading for an already proven NBA All-Star is a move any team this year with the #1 overall should thoroughly investigate. Go Cavs. []
  5. I confess to being very critical of McLemore, and more so than most others. Honestly I wouldn’t be incredibly surprised if he dropped just out of the top 10. In large this is not due to the fact of what appears to be missing between in his ears and in those he’s surrounded by, that which is most noted for making his stock drop of late, but rather it’s those aspects only added to his main deficiency in that of his overall poor handle and inability create his own shot as well as get to the rim. This is a huge factor of the NBA game, and one that will plague him throughout his career, especially if he goes to a team early in the draft bereft of scoring who will look to lean on him early. That other aspects of my being so outspoken against him going in the top 5, let alone the top 1 or 2 as so many suggest, is that these flaws which are so clearly evident in his game with even but a casual eye-test of his game, and I strongly feel people should know better than to get lost in a catch and shoot guy whose shooting numbers look good on paper. Dribbling, folks, that’s not a skill set you pick up or develop at the NBA level. And he simply can’t do it effectively. []
  6. Remember my statement earlier about this year’s draft and bigs…he’s the 8th I’ve got listed in the top 25, have to say it’s a good day to be big []
  7. Shabazz would be no. 26 if this board went that far, if that makes you feel any better… []

Short URL:

Posted by on Jun 27 2013. Filed under Featured, Show Reports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Log in | Designed by Gabfire themes