NBA Draft: Lottery may not bring much luck

When asked to assess the 2013 NBA Draft, one general manager said he liked it just fine. He just wouldn’t want to possess the first or second pick.

That particular GM doesn’t need to worry. His team made the playoffs and has no chance of winning Tuesday night’s draft lottery.

Everyone else … well, they too may be praying to end the evening with the rally cry of, “We’re No. 3!”

Not that finishing first is a nightmare. You can always trade the pick.

Or you can keep it and draft a guy who hasn’t played since February and isn’t expected to take the court again until around Christmas.

Yes, Kentucky center Nerlens Noel appears to be the biggest prize. He once blocked 12 shots in a game. Of course, he also scored 0 points in that game, but hey, let’s not get picky.

We’re only talking about a guy who’s supposed to help change the course of your crummy franchise.

Oh, the reason for the delayed start to Noel’s pro career? He underwent surgery for a torn ACL

Is Noel the next Kwame Brown? We don’t know.

Is he the next Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? We don’t know that, either, but probably not.

Like every other prospect in this draft, Noel is pretty much a mystery. We know he can block shots at the collegiate level. But that’s about all we know.

Still, that’s gotta be worth something, right? Right.

Then again, when a scouting report reads like that, usually the guy is considered a top-10 pick — not necessarily the No. 1 pick. More like 5, 7 or 9.

Anyway, Noel has enough gifts (namely, height and jumping) to make GMs and scouts forget about an injury that can drastically offset certain aspects of his game (namely, height and jumping).

So let’s assume whoever wins the lottery holds the keys to the Noel sweepstakes. Which prospect then emerges from behind door No. 2?

It was once thought to be Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore. But following the draft combine in Chicago last week, one scout summarized McLemore’s game this way: The less you see of him, the better he looks.

And the more you analyze this draft, the more you can understand what the GM meant when he said the top two draft slots create a conundrum.

After all, if you own a top-two pick, most people expect you to select someone who becomes, if not the face of the franchise, at least the neck, shoulders and chest.

Meanwhile, if you’re selecting third … well, there’s a little more wiggle room there. Yes, if you miss on a guy at No. 3, you’re still scorned. Just not quite as much as if you miss at No. 1.

Or let’s put it this way: When the player drafted ninth turns out to be as good as the guy drafted first, it’s typically the GM of Team No. 1 who ends up applying for a job as a receptionist at the local dentist’s office.

Most mock drafts have Georgetown forward Otto Porter Jr. going third. He compared himself to former Detroit Pistons and current Memphis Grizzlies forward Tayshaun Prince.

Prince is all arms and legs, a strong defender, a decent perimeter shooter and a respectable finisher who was drafted back in 2002 — with the 23rd overall pick.

Granted, he would go a lot higher in this draft, and most people would accept a guy with his talents as a lottery selection. Unless, of course, he was taken first or second.

Then there’d likely be at least some minor unrest.

So is winning Tuesday’s lottery pointless? Hardly. Again, you can do more with the No. 1 pick than actually use it to draft someone.

But will winning the lottery or finishing second solve your problems? If so, there’s a lot of fibbing going on. Because the skinny entering the draft is there are plenty of capable players who can come in and help your team.

There just isn’t one who will single-handedly lift you to new heights. And in theory, that’s what winning the lottery is all about.

Double Dribbles

• Michigan shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was perhaps the biggest winner at the combine. Not only did he destroy people in games of 4-on-4, the prevalent opinion was he gave the best individual interviews with team personnel.

• Entering the combine, draft experts had Hardaway going anywhere from the early 20s to the early second round. Now, it seems more likely he’ll be selected anywhere from 12-17.

• Also, this is expected to be a good year for international players in the first round. Several scouts agreed that, skill-wise, Russian forward Sergey Karasev is every bit as promising as Porter. But unlike Porter, Karasev comes with some baggage. He’s not only had a few minor off-the-court issues, he is considered an indifferent defender.

• Indiana center Cody Zeller was extremely impressive in drills that tested athleticism and agility, and off the charts for a 7-footer. One team executive said, while more stock is placed on individual workouts, Zeller has climbed to No. 2 on his team’s draft board.

• Zeller’s IU teammate, shooting guard Victor Oladipo, also gave a strong showing and may have secured his spot in the top five. Oladipo wowed scouts and GMs with his athleticism and smarts, as well as one-on-one conversations. That said, several teams remain concerned with his lack of fundamentals.

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO