I feel rather badly for the team that receives the #1 pick on Tuesday. Not because of some misguided notion that it is a bad position to be in, but because no player in the 2013 NBA draft is the standout first selection. That is not to say that there aren’t any talented prospects, just that there is little to no drop off.
Usually there is a player or two held in consensus above the rest. Last year it was Anthony Davis, and the year before it was Kyrie Irving. Even the Blazers had their choice between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant in 2007 (but we don’t speak of that anymore). However; this year the curve is not so steep.
Kentucky center, Nerlens Noel, and Kansas shooting guard, Ben Mclemore, are the favorites to be taken first, followed shortly by Georgetown small forward, Otto Porter. It almost seems wasteful to receive the 1st pick when the 2nd and 3rd are arguably just as good. Can we really say that the difference between Ben Mclemore and Otto Porter is as pronounced as the difference between Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams?
The Orlando Magic have the best chance (25%) to receive the #1 pick in this year’s draft. They finished the season with a horrid 20-62 record, only 4 losses worse than the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are likely to receive the 3rd pick. So why does it seem so imbalanced that their picks could be nearly identical? Well, the Cavs feature NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving as well as would-be NBA All-Star Anderson Varejao, in comparison to Orlando’s… Nikola Vucevic?
That’s not a knock at the Magic, it’s just that the difference in draft compensation for either team does not match the obvious separation between the talent of their respective rosters. The #1 pick is a rarity to be celebrated by a starving fan-base, but in a decidedly weak draft class, the allotment is bitter-sweet. It’s like rummaging through a pile of money and settling on the shiniest quarter, despite the hope for a dollar. The next kid to purge the pile may have to clean his coin to make it sparkle, but in the end, each quarter is worth the same.
Perhaps it is not so bad that Portland is staring down the barrel of the 10th pick. There is no player in the 2013 NBA draft I strongly lament being unable to select. Sure, it would be great to luck into a better draw, but the middle of the pack is not without its dimes.