2013 Draft Revisited: The 14 Who Passed


Time machines are fascinating in science fiction. Wouldn’t it be nice to go back in time to fix a mistake or go forward to a perfect future? Thankfully, the Bucks don’t need one. That’s because they correctly picked Giannis Antetokounmpo 15th in the 2013 draft. What about the first 14 picks? To demonstrate how much the rest of the league wishes to meet H.G. Wells, it would help to examine those picks and judge them with a ranking of one to ten antlers.

#1 Cleveland: Anthony Bennett

Two Antlers

The LeBron interbellum Cavs had few choices with no obvious top talent. UNLV’s best success is many years past, but Bennett was a decent enough player. Unfortunately, he averaged just 4.2 points a game before Cleveland traded him, beginning a forgettable bit role team-bouncer. Not too long ago, he did put up some nice stats – in the G-League.

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Why two antlers? Bennett’s awfulness put the 2014 Cavs back in the lottery. The surprise top pick helped entice LeBron’s return and led to the trade that brought Kevin Love to Cleveland.

#2 Orlando: Victor Oladipo

Seven+ Antlers

By himself, Oladipo is a nine-antler player. But the Magic aren’t concerned with his ability in Indiana. Oladipo played three solid years for lottery Magic teams before Orlando traded him to OKC for Serge Ibaka. Ibaka also did better elsewhere after a trade to Toronto. In exchange, Orlando received Terrence Ross and a 2017 first round pick. Ross by himself greatly aided Orlando, contributing two and a half solid years. He helped his team finally return to the playoffs last season.

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Better still, Orlando traded the 2017 pick to Philadelphia for a top-20 protected 2020 selection, meaning the franchise may continue to collect benefits from 2013.

#3 Washington: Otto Porter

Seven+ Antlers

Washington did well with the Georgetown product and, unlike Orlando, experienced postseason success. His best games came in the 2017 second round against Boston. He started all seven games and averaged 14.1 points a game.

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The Wizards came up a bit short in the effort to end the DC sports curse, and unfortunately, the franchise quickly fell into the cellar. Thankfully, Washington traded him to Chicago for a good sum: Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis, and a protected 2023 second round pick.

#4 Charlotte: Cody Zeller

Four Antlers

The Indiana prospect recorded six just OK (gasp!) years for a Hornets team that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2002. His best play was a blooper steal from Giannis leading to a dunk, and he has several odd good games.

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But Steve Kerr barely noticed, and neither has anyone else.

#5 Phoenix: Alex Len

One Antler

The Maryland player played five blah years for the Suns, never averaging double-figures in points. He left to Atlanta in free agency, leaving Phoenix with nothing. He had a nice dunk, though.

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In 2014, Phoneix missed the playoffs by one game, which is as close as Len’s ever been to making it.

#6 New Orleans: Nerlens Noel

Nine+ Antlers

The Pelicans immediately traded Noel to Philadelphia for Jrue Holiday and Pierre Jackson. Jackson was a bust, but Holiday was a fantastic acquisition. He averaged 19 and 21.2 points a game in 2018 and ’19, respectively. Holiday also had an insane 41 points to seal New Orlean’s last playoff series win.

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He now is in trade rumors to further improve the Pelicans.

#7 Sacramento: Ben McLemore

Two Antlers

Perhaps the Kansas recruit can be excused for playing for a terrible franchise. He played six years in the NBA, cracking double scoring figures in one.

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Did he have the “highest ceiling” in the draft? Giannis and his 60 wins disagree.

#8 Detroit: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Four Antlers

The player from Georgia played four solid years in Detroit before leaving as a free agent. He played well in a losing effort in the 2016 playoffs. Against Cleveland, he averaged 15 points and a team-high 40 minutes a game.

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Pope is a decent enough player. The problem was, the pre-Dwane Casey Pistons weren’t competitive.

#9 Minnesota: Trey Burke

Six Antlers

Minnesota quickly traded Burke for picks that would become Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Both had decent, short careers for the Wolves, and Dieng has one contract year remaining. As with Detroit, the problem isn’t talent; it’s surrounding talent.

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#10 Portland: CJ McCollum

10 Antlers

Finally, a specimen worth his place on the wall! The player from Lehigh, of all places, was 2016 NBA most improved player and has averaged more than 20 points a game each year since. His incredible 37 points in Denver sealed the Blazers’ berth in the west finals.

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Not as good as Giannis, but surely a smart choice.

#11 Philadelphia: Michael Carter-Williams

Unknown Antlers

MCW played 111 games in a solid stint for “the process” Sixers. When relinquished in an epic three-team trade, all Philly received in return was a protected 2015 pick. Philadelphia included it in the trade to Boston that earned the 76ers the #1 pick and Markelle Fultz. Fultz may be a complete bust, but Boston had to return the pick to Philly. The Sixers used it in 2018 to select Mikal Bridges, who the Sixers quickly turned to Phoenix for Zhaire Smith and a 2021 selection. Smith is just a small role player, but potentially that 2021 pick could be even better than Giannis.

But probably not.

#12 Oklahoma City: Steven Adams

Eight Antlers

The New Zealand pick may not have the best numbers, but he’s an underrated big-man contributor for the Thunder. Cruelly, he had a seeming game-winning playoff shot waved off, even though TNT’s Brian Anderson proclaimed, “count it! Oklahoma City has won it!” (Whatever happened to the announcer hedge?)

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KD’s departure from the Thunder makes them a pretty good team, but not a genuine contender. However, Adams is a more than serviceable, consistent NBA starter, and therefore a no-regrets selection.

#13 Dallas: Kelly Olynyk

Four Antlers

Dallas traded Olynyk to Boston for Lucas Nogueira and two second-round 2014 picks. Nogueria was then to Atlanta for 2013 #16 pick Shane Larkin. Dallas eventually sent Larking, and one of the two 2014 picks to New York for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. (The other pick became forgettable Ricky Ledo). Chandler had one decent season for the Mavs, with Felton delivering two reputable years. The problem is, that’s an awful lot of work with a future MVP two picks away.

#14 Utah: Shabazz Muhammad

Five+ Antlers

Muhammad switched hats with the 76ers in the Trey Burke trade. Burke did play three respectable seasons in Utah.

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Unfortunately, all the Jazz received after his trade to Washington was a 2021 second-round pick. Sometimes second-round picks are stars.

More often, they aren’t.

2013 Draft Recap

To summarize, the full results from the 2013 draft won’t be known for years. Some players, like Bennett and Len, are unequivocally busts. Some teams still have picks to use. And Portland, New Orleans, and OKC did very well. But that makes just three of fourteen teams who one can excuse for missing the Greek Freak. But for those 11 doubters? On the way to the rim, Giannis won’t miss them.

About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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