The story surrounding the 2013 NBA draft class pertained to the fact that it lacked potential star power. Throughout the NBA season prior, there was more talk about the 2014 draft and just how loaded that draft class is predicted to be, with up to SEVEN(!) surefire all-stars including Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle.
Yet, after half a season of this rookie class, one could venture to say that there are zero, yes zero, all-stars in the 2013 draft class.
That would be unheralded. A draft class without one all-star is unheard of, and essentially impossible. But that’s what people are saying could be the case, and so far, it’s hard to disagree.
Of the top 10 picks in last year’s draft, only four have played nearly every game and not missed significant time due to injury. Three of those are Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (8th overall), Ben McLemore (7th), and Cody Zeller (4th).
Caldwell-Pope was drafted by the Pistons to be a lockdown defender and a knockdown three-point shooter, something the Pistons lack more than anything else. While his defense has been respectable, his three-point shooting has left much to be desired, leaving many Detroit fans upset with general manager Joe Dumars once again.
Ben McLemore is in a very similar boat when it comes to expectations. While not the lockdown defender that Caldwell-Pope was expected to be, more than anything McLemore was supposed to be a dead-eye three-point shooter. McLemore even drew comparisons to Ray Allen. While he is shooting 34% from behind the arc, the frequency of his shots isn’t enough to make him an actual threat. And his 36% shooting percentage overall is too poor to justify giving him sufficient playing time, and thus three-pointers, to make him effective.
Then there’s Cody Zeller. Even with Caldwell-Pope and McLemore disappointing, Zeller tops the list of mediocre top 10 picks who have actually played. Just he always seems to always do in the draft, Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan reached for the star college player rather than draft somebody with NBA-star potential. Through 42 games this year, Zeller has yet to prove he can earn a starting spot, failing to jump Josh McRoberts in the rotation, who is essentially the epitome of NBA mediocrity. Playing only 17 minutes a game, Zeller is averaging just five points and four rebounds while shooting just 37%, far below what an organization is looking for in a big man and top draft pick.
While last year’s draft was littered with injuries and players such as the three noted above, there are a few, and I stress few, bright spots.
The big men drafted have been underwhelming to say the least, but there are a trio of guards who have shown enough potential to warrant positive attention, something lacking greatly from the rest of this class.
Victor Oladipo (2nd), Trey Burke (9th), and Michael Carter-Williams (11th) have all shown flashes of brilliance while healthy.
Oladipo, despite being quite inefficient in his shot selection, has been a bright spot for the Orlando Magic this season and, as of now, is the front runner for rookie of the year. He’s managed to play every game this year, a rarity for the 2013 draft class, and has been putting up good numbers while being asked to carry a heavy load for this young Magic team.
Carter-Williams and Burke are in the same boat in terms of where they stand in respect to the rest of the rookies. If either of them had been healthy for the entire year, that respective player would most likely be the front-runner for rookie of the year. Many times when a team puts such a heavy load on a young point guard, disaster is expected. And while both of these young guns have struggled shooting the ball, when on the court, they lead their team in a way that is usually non-existent in first year starting point guards.
While there are a few bright spots, it’s hard to see a future all-star coming out of this bunch at this point. Oladipo is most likely going to win rookie of the year, and he’s currently the sixth man on a team that is headed for another top 5 pick. Burke and Carter-Williams surely have the potential, but with how much young star power there already is in the league, Burke and Carter-Williams have a lot of work to do to jump the likes of Lillard, Westbrook, Irving, or the like.
The bottom line is that last year’s draft is too littered with the likes of Anthony Bennett, Nerlens Noel, and Cody Zeller. Who knows, maybe five years down the line this group could have 10 all-star appearances. The NBA is weird like that.
But until they prove us otherwise, the 2013 NBA draft class is going to be remembered as one that, expectedly, underwhelmed.