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Sixth Pick Tournament Finals: Otto Porter, Jr. vs. Alex Len vs. Ben McLemore
The New Orleans Pelicans are just minutes away from going on the clock in the 2013 NBA Draft, and it looks like Alex Len, Ben McLemore, and Otto Porter are still on the board. That is the premise our writers are working with in this final piece of the Sixth Pick Tournament. You, the readers, are GM Dell Demps. All the other debates in the Sixth Pick Tournament have led to this. Listen to the final arguments and make the decision on what name we write on the card.
The Case for Otto Porter, Jr. (McNamara)
We were both captivated by the NBA Finals. It is fresh in our mind now, so I want you to take a second and visualize those games. I want you to think of the skill sets that shinned brightest over those seven games and the ones that faded. I want you to think about the guys who thrived in those games and the guys who disappeared. You and I watched a versatile, do it all type in Kawhi Leonard thrive in a series that featured tons of length on the wings. We saw a high IQ glue guy in Shane Battier play a huge role in Game 7. Meanwhile, we saw Danny Green and Tiago Splitter completely taken out of the game late in the series once the Heat locked in on them. We saw Joel Anthony register DNP after DNP, because there was no need for a “true center” in a series that featured so much skill and such a high pace.
I want you to think about that because it applies to tonight. You have a decision to make, and that decision should be based on one thing and one thing only: Which one of these guys gets me closer to a title? The regular season and the early rounds of the playoffs are nice, but they are all foreplay. This is about winning a title, and the last two years have given us the formula – you need versatility and scoring on the wings, along with a guy who can defend the guy we will have to go through to win the West (Durant) and the Finals (LeBron). We want that guy and we need that guy. Lucky for us, that guy is here for us at number six. His name is Otto Porter, Jr.
Porter showed his versatility at Georgetown this year, giving them anything and everything they needed. In games where they needed scoring, he gave them that at an efficient clip. When they needed a playmaker, he could do that too. Syracuse doubled and tripled him at every turn two weeks after he lit them up for 33 of Georgetown’s 57 points. What did Otto do? He had his season high in assists that night. The kid doesn’t force anything. he does whatever the team needs to get that victory. The way Kawhi did all series, the way Shane did in Game 7.
Otto Porter is taller than Leonard, with a similar wingspan and the same standing reach. Coming from Georgetown, we know he has the basketball IQ and a team-first concept. And unlike Kawhi coming out of college, the stroke is already there. Porter shot over 42% from three (Kawhi shot 29%) and also has a better assist, block, and steal rate when compared to Leonard. Lane agility? Bench Press? Vertical leap? All three of those go to Otto as well.
You are looking at a kid who is further along and more athletically gifted than a guy we just watched become a breakout star in the NBA Finals. He fits in with our philosophy and our team culture, and on top of all that, he just happens to be an exceptional basketball player as well. Meanwhile, I have looked into these two other kids that you are contemplating taking instead of the guy who is a perfect fit in nearly every way, and I honestly don’t get it.
On one hand, you have Alex Len. Now I am not going to bring up the medical, because our doctor’s can speak better to that than I can, but what I will bring up is his production. Or actually, his lack thereof. Again, we are looking for a guy who can play at the highest level, and all I see is a guy who had a hard time standing out in college, being defended by guys three or four inches smaller on most nights. How do we expect him to shine on the biggest stage if he was mediocre on that one?
Again, who does he look like that played in this years’ Finals? Or even the Finals the year before that? The series we just saw featured two teams thriving because they were able to create space by spreading the floor, and from that came exceptional ball movement. Len congests the lane for us on the offensive end, a death sentence to guys like Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers whose best skills are wasted if we put a plodding, offensively limited big man next to Anthony Davis. And when Oklahoma City puts Durant and Ibaka at the 4 and 5 or Miami puts Lebron, Bosh, and 3 shooters on the court, what do we do with Len? Will he be able to hurt those teams as much on our end as they will hurt us when he has to try and defend in that situation? Again, need I remind you that he was mediocre in a league that saw him matched up against guys 3-4 inches smaller. Why should we expect the future to be any different than the past?
Which finally brings me to Ben McLemore. I get why you might be excited about this guy; He’s athletic and he can get hot and shoot the lights out at times. In theory, it sounds great, but let me hit you with the harsh reality of who Ben McLemore the player really is. He is a guy who can’t create his own shot, you know a lot like that Danny Green guy who we saw go 2-19 in Games 6 and 7 of the Finals. What is all that athleticism and shooting going to do when a defense locks in on him and forces him to create his own shot? He tried creating on his own last year, and hit just 32.2% of his pull-up jumpers. Of all the shooting guards in this draft, he was dead last in isolation usage and second to last in pick and roll usage. Repeat: DEAD LAST in iso, 2nd to Last in pick and roll.
If you are drafting McLemore at 6, the numbers say you are taking a glorified spot-up shooter, plain and simple. We can get those guys in free agency or pull them out of the D-League. Heck, we can get spot up shooters overseas. There’s no way we can pass on the guy who gives us everything we need for a spot-up shooter who is plummeting down draft boards because he can’t stay in shape during the most important three months of his career. And we can’t take a big man who will be sitting on the bench when the big games are on the line either.
There’s only one guy we can take, so let’s thank our lucky stars that the perfect player is sitting right for us. Don’t over think it, just turn in the card with the name Otto Porter, Jr on it. You’ll thank me later.
The Case for Alex Len (Pellissier)
Dear Dell Demps,
I implore you to take Alex Len with the 6th pick in this year’s draft.
I hear a lot of people argue about his “lack of production” in college, and I don’t understand where it’s coming from. Alex Len averaged 26 minutes per game and still put up 12 points and 8 rebounds per game while playing on a bum ankle. On a per 40 minute production level, this translates to roughly 18 points and over 11 rebounds per game. This kind of production doesn’t scream “project” to me. Len also did this with terrible guards who wouldn’t feed him the ball and while he faced heavy double-teams. Was he dominant? No. Guys like Roy Hibbert, Larry Sanders, and Derrick Favors weren’t statistically dominant college players either, and neither were Al Horford and Joakim Noah.
The tape shows the truth. Let’s play a game.
Question 1: How many 7 footers in the NBA can defend the perimeter without being a liability?
Question 2: Of those, how many are strong enough to hold their own in the paint versus big centers?
We should already be down to very few centers at this point. Not enough for you?
Question 4: How many of these can hit free throws?
Okay, we should be left with almost no one. The two that stand out in my mind are Joakim Noah and Marc Gasol. The combination of Len’s size, athleticism, ability to slide on defense, and his budding mid-range game is extremely rare. Is Len the next Shaq? Heck no. But think about the reasons that big centers get pulled from games in fourth quarters.
1. They get exposed defending pick and rolls on the perimeter.
2. They cannot contribute on offense.
3. They cannot hit free throws and are targets for the Hack-a-Shaq strategy.
Len projects to have none of these problems. He slides well on defense and can recover to the roll man after hedging on a pick and roll. He can finish at the rim (73%), hit free throws (68%, with room for improvement), and has an emerging mid-range game. What if the other team wants to go small ball and put a thin big or a power forward on Len? He can finish over the top or seal position for offensive rebounds.
There is one area of interest that I believe needs to be emphasized: rim-protection. Alex Len blocked 2.1 shots per game in college (again, in only an average of 26 minutes), but perhaps more importantly, opponents shot 29% at the rim against him. Consider that the average NBA player shot roughly 65% at the rim last year and you have an idea of how effective he was altering shots. Will NBA players shoot 29% at the rim versus Len? There is almost no chance. But his presence at the rim proved to be an extraordinary deterrent in college, and there’s no reason to think that someone with Len’s size, wingspan, and mobility can’t change shots at the NBA level.
Perhaps most importantly, imagine how suffocating a defense with Len and Davis would be. Having Len as a safeguard at the rim would afford Davis more chances to take chances in getting in passing lanes and going after shots; after all, even if he overcommits or takes an unnecessary gamble, Len will be waiting at the rim for the opponent. Want to draw out Len to the perimeter? Okay then, we’ll have Davis at the rim.
I didn’t forget about Ryan Anderson. Anderson could also play alongside Len to give Davis a breather. Is it a perfect match? No, but Anderson stretches the floor for Len to play pick and roll offense with our guard. Complement Anderson and Len with an athletic 3 who can rebound, and then you really have something cooking.
Re: Ben McLemore
My first question regarding Ben McLemore is, “Why is he slipping down draft boards?” McLemore is clearly an excellent athlete and can also shoot from deep.. don’t teams love guys like this? McLemore has been compared to Ray Allen, and teams don’t want that? Oh, maybe it’s a loaded draft. Wait, it isn’t? So McLemore is slipping down the board in a weak draft?
McLemore reportedly bombed in his Phoenix visit, and it’s hard to believe that Phoenix has the strictest qualifications. They need a star. In fact, McLemore’s skill set is an excellent fit in Phoenix. Dragic is a driver and complementing his skills with McLemore’s shooting seems like an excellent idea, yet Phoenix wasn’t impressed. Hmm..
In drafts, sometimes GMs see what they want to see. If their teams lack a shooter, for instance, maybe they will reach and grab someone who hasn’t proven he can shoot yet. Phoenix is full of holes, and if they are rubbed the wrong way by McLemore’s visit, that doesn’t exactly encourage me. He was reportedly out of shape in workouts, and how encouraging is that? This seems like the time that he would be in excellent shape. If he can’t stay in shape during the most important time of his basketball career so far, how will he fare in an 82 game season? Maybe he can hold up, maybe he can’t, but considering the pace and competitiveness of the NBA game, I don’t want to bring in a loafer, no matter how talented he is. His conditioning could be due to distractions, like dealing with the people that surround him, but isn’t that also a knock on him? Some serious investigating needs to be done.
Re: Otto Porter
Otto Porter hustles and does whatever his team needs him to. He possesses a versatile skill set on offense and has the length to affect the defensive end of the floor. Wait, am I arguing for Porter in an argument against Porter?
Okay, so Porter has great intangibles.. but that’s not what worries me. For someone who is being billed as an excellent defender, Porter has some weaknesses that could seriously impair his impact at the NBA level.
- Quickness- Otto Porter made impact plays on defense, but on rotations, his lack of quickness became very apparent. When closing out, Porter lacked the requisite quickness to challenge the shot without the would-be shooter faking and blowing by him on the dribble. Quickness is an essential skill for a perimeter player to have, particularly one as thin as Porter.. does he have the quickness to make the same sort of impact on defense in the NBA? And if he’s not an impact defender in the NBA, then what is he?
- Creating for Himself- Porter improved his outside shot substantially at the college level, but is he ready to shoot 3s? If not, how is he going to be a threat at the NBA level? His passing is great, but if defenses don’t respect his outside shot, they can sag off of him and other defenders can cut off his passing lanes. Porter struggled to create his shot at the college level, lacking the burst to go by his defender and the ball-handling creativity to fake his defender out.
Dell, I urge you to consider these things when you and your staff are making the decision on whom to draft. If you believe that Alex Len is a good kid (and we KNOW Monty Williams does), you have to be excited about his potential as a player and as a frontcourt partner to Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson. This versatile frontcourt could beat opponents both outside and inside and could help the Pelicans rule the Western Conference for years.
The Case for Ben McLemore (Calmes)
The 2013 NBA Draft has been so maligned because there is no clear-cut, once-in-a-generation kind of player in it that the tone of the discussion has changed to everyone in the Draft being so close that it’s impossible to if a player will go in the top 1 or the top 10.
We both know this is ludicrous. Not every Draft features a clear first pick that is markedly better than the first pick the year before. So many great players have been taken outside of the top 5 that it is foolish to judge Drafts or players by these standards: It’s time for General Managers to be judged by their misses that allow this talent to fall precipitously.
One player, Nerlens Noel, that was a possible first pick suffered an ACL injury, which logically should not affect his Draft position even if he misses a season, which he should not, as these are the risks you take on players with such talent when you can lock them into reasonable, tradeable contracts for 4 to 9 years.
Fine, GM’s are getting squeamish because of that and some behavioral red flags. Let’s take that without argument.
Then why is Alex Len rocketing up the Draft boards when he is suffering from stress fractures, a situation worse than the stress reaction the your first pick, Anthony Davis, suffered from last season? Moreover, his larger frame of the same age as Davis’ is potentially more likely to continue to suffer these impairments, especially after not seeking and getting the diagnosis or rest he needed to keep from aggravating these injuries and potentially this condition.
Why does this injury and this red flag have the opposite effect of those associated with Noel?
And what does any of this have to do with Ben McLemore?
In that article, Tom Ziller suggests the Kings should take McLemore there despite their guard investments, and the same logic applies to the Pelicans. If the 2013 NBA Finals taught us anything, it’s that scoring being initiated away from the paint is both how to challenge for titles and win titles.
The Pelicans’ investment in Eric Gordon is significant, but the team’s other main guards are Greivis Vasquez and Austin Rivers. Vasquez is not a great scorer, and Rivers has yet to show his best. A team-dependent guard like McLemore would fit well with the fantastic distributor that Vasquez is, especially given that he shot over 87% for 1, over 55% for two, and 42% for three. The 6’5″, 190 lb. shooting guard from Kansas is taller than Eric Gordon, but is about 30 lbs less than Gordon. He is also 4 years younger, so there is time for him to put on weight. Playing in relief of Gordon as he develops, once you draft McLemore that is, will give the team a different look while providing some rest to the oft-injured Gordon and insurance for the team against the still oft-injured Gordon.
Long thought to be the top shooting guard prospect and worthy of at least the second pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, his fall is not due to the kind of injury that hurts his stock (like Noel’s), as opposed to the pixie dust kind that cause stock to rise somehow (like Len’s), but is due, rather, to poor workouts.
While this can be a potentially serious issue, in this case, it’s not. His poor showings at works seem to be a result of a power struggle between a long-time adviser and his new agency. This is not only a temporary situation, it’s something that a 20-year-old is not necessary equipped to deal with, especially one that has had such an unstable life up to this point that such advisers have undue power. McLemore played at 3 different high schools, one of which closed down, actually, and ended up with academic transcripts that sidelined his basketball career for a year at Kansas. Now, he’s headed to the NBA where he will have the first stability (maybe) since becoming a teenager.
Problem solved. Coach Williams was brought here in part on his reputation for player development, but he also runs a tight ship and works on the character of players. He’ll have teammates like Austin Rivers, the consummate professional, and Anthony Davis, the super-talented player who is learning his role, that will give his as much chance to actualize his potential as on any team in the NBA.
He will not have to carry the Pelicans like he might some weaker team. It is thought he lacks this capacity by some, which is just fine, because you drafted that guy last season, and he’ll be in New Orleans for a while. He’s the same age as Anthony Davis, and coming in the NBA just one season later, both can play through their first two contracts together. If this pans out, you’ve got a core corps locked up for the better part of a decade while having assets and cap room to use to get better now while preparing to make a move for a second (or third?!) real star.
The above has completely ignored Otto Porter, Jr. The small forward prospect is no slouch, to be sure, but he is another player who has risen up the board in recent weeks, though not due to injury, like Alex “No Need to Workout” Len. Rather, Porter is a solid player who is now considered to be a potential pick by Washington (third). Like McLemore and Len, he is not working out against other top talent, and yet he rises.
Why does he rise? Frankly, it’s hard to fine things he does wrong. The issue is, instead, what he will never do right. Porter is not athletic by NBA standards, and not so by a good margin. This is in contrast to McLemore whose athleticism sets the standard in this Draft. Porter is a safe pick and a solid pick. There are Otto Porters in every Draft, and they are available well past pick 6, where the Pelicans will not be again.
The McLemores of the world, fall as they may, will not fall to the Pelicans in upcoming seasons.
In the ultimate trade, Dell, you can turn the sixth pick in the Draft into the second pick in Draft, or perhaps the first. All you have to do is give up the opinions of the Cleveland “Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters” Cavaliers and the Washington “Gilbert Arenas” Wizards.
Please watch this Mclemore workout and you will want him badly. His shot is so amazing. Strokes like his can't be tought.
Pelicans interested in signing Copeland from Knicks?
What are the odds of us getting the 5th pick from phx for Eric Gordon?? I would love to be able to pick 2 of the 3 of these guys. I actually like Oladipo the most. Give me dipo and porter!
Few thoughts on the arguments
- disagree strongly with making a big case out of mclemore s low usage rate on ISo, bounce. This is a 19 yo college freshman we're talking about. Go back and look at Michael Jordan's usage at unc. Rather have someone who needs to get more assertive than a chucker who forces it. The shooting %s speak volumes
- don't see heats lineup as a reason not to draft a c. First of all Monty clearly desires a true 5. I like to think in a year or two our 5 is able to guard bosh ( or other 4 playing 5) and Anthony can guard a big 3 lebron or other, giving us a sizable advantage on the boards
- like the comparison between Otto and kawhi. Don't buy into the myth, just because George goes @ 10, kawhi @ 15, shumpert mid 1st, and finds like jimmy butler happen, that good 3s can be found anywhere or even d and 3 guys like Danny green, butler. If so, every team would have one.
Love porter and would be ecstatic if we got him, but have to go with the shooter with star potential, voted mclemore
Love Porter (and Oladipo).
See McLemore as huge problem. Why did he attend three high schools? Have an AAU coach take $10k to steer McLemore to an agent? Make such a bad impression on at least one NBA visit? Where there is smoke there is fire, and we have a lot more than smoke here. To me, these three stories scream "Danger! Danger! Danger!" (Will Robinson). If we draft McLemore we deserve to be "Lost in Space".
It looks like Otto Porter in this years tournament will be the Damian Lillard of last years 10th pick tournament. We all wanted him last year, but he didn't stick around long enough for us to actually draft him.
I'll do backflips if Porter, McLemore or Oladipo are still sitting there at 6.
Good job to all three writers. I came in thinking Porter and it wouldn't be close but I was seriously at a three way tie when I finished. What did it for me was the comparison of Porter to Leonard, I'd kill to have Leonard on this team.
Pel made an awesome case for Len and he was actually my second option. What scared me off the most for him were injury concerns. If we didn't have Gordon, I'd be more inclined to go with the higher risk/higher reward, but having two key contributors out for any significant amount of time is a scary though. The domination of our front court if he stayed healthy and panned out would be unmatched.
Lastly, Calmes made a good point that the reason he could be slipping could be a non-issue. Even if not, I'll go with a season's worth of information over a few workouts. McLemore has the potential to be the best two way player in this draft, maybe even star potential.
When it comes down to it, if we pick either of these guys at 6, I'll be ecstatic. All have been seen as possibilities to go #1, you can't ask for better value than that. They all bring something special to this team, whichever one we end up with (assuming they don't all go top 5). Sounds like a win/win situation to me.
Any thoughts on the rumors of picking up Shawn Marion and the #13 pick for a 2nd rounder? I think that'd be an awesome deal for us, since we can easily absorb the salary cap hit.
who do y'all think the Pelicans will realistically get at 6? I feel like Bennett will have to jump up into the top 5 to push McLemore to us at 6, which I would be thrilled about. Since the end of the tourney, Burke's star has lost some of its shine, just from him not being in the news IMO.
Do you think he could be a legit PG?
I don't see Porter falling to us in any scenario. Len I'm pretty Meh about.
"Now I am not going to bring up the medical, because our doctor’s can speak better to that than I can"
So sneaky! Michael eludes to an argument that he himself doesn't attest to (at least in comparison to CJ).
I voted McLemore even though I dislike the idea of taking a guy because he was once thought of higher. If he can hit the three like his comparisons from Shwan and Michael (Jefferson and Ross) then sign me up. He plays so well off the ball.
Look at this:
If Ben has the IQ to be able to perfect plays like that with Anderson, Davis, and a ball-handler, then we have two knock-down three point shooters of nearly Peja level added with Davis' Rolling and baseline jumper to accompany whatever SF and PG offensive skills. That is the beginning of a pretty legit offense. McLemore has also been hailed as a good defensive player as well. He helps shore up our lack of perimeter D while providing athleticism on the wing that can shoot the most efficient shot in the game efficiently.
Porter is a close second. In all honesty we'd be in a good spot if we draft any of them although I don't like the idea of not being able to put your best five players on the floor at the same time and I don't see us successfully pulling off a three big lineup of Anderson, Davis, and Len. If Len isn't one of your best five players, then why spend a top six pick on him?
Of the 3, I would go:
The more I've seen and read, the more I think Porter is the guy who'll make the most difference in whatever team he goes to. Not necessarily the biggest star (I think Burke or Noel or even McCollum will end with that title) but the guy you hear as a key part of a title challenger for the next decade.
If he's gone (#3 to DC), then I'd take McLemore. Am I concerned about his slide or weight issues? Not as much as that he needs someone else to create his shot for him. But even so, we need shooters. McLemore is a shooter. And in a 3-guard set, there'd be enough diversity that he'd feast on kickouts from Davis while defenders collapse on Ryan Anderson.
Len? I'll admit it. Anyone over 7 feet with foot issues scares me. The NBA is littered with big guys with feet of iron and clay. Look at the issues we're having with EG. Can we have two cornerstones have injury concerns?
I like Len and McLemore.Porter can handle the bigger SF's in the NBA he'll be an rag doll against LeBron
Wow! This is unexpected. If McLemore slips we have to grab him. Even if we retain Gordon, we'll have McLemore coming off the bench to score. They could even play Gordon at the 1 along w/ McLemore. Between Len's injury and Porter's lack of athleticism for his position, I'll have to take McLemore.
@thebetterdirtybirds Watch that and then watch Oladipo afterwards and you will see a distinct difference in their work ethic, intensity, and focus. McLemore has a pretty stroke but I dunno if he has the drive to be great in the nba. (Granted Oladipo will probably be gone at 6 but...)
Good write up on cope land summer training plan - improve atrocious d and rebounding by training with Ben wallace
Like cope lands game but don't think he's quick enough to guards 3s on on a reg basis. He's like a slightly smaller Ryan Anderson. Lets hope this is not a prelude to some deal shipping out ryan
Reverse poison pill, heavy on 1st yr and leveling out would make a lot of sense as Knicks can't match this year
@mazonmafia Gordon can't be traded to Phoenix till June 14th. Could there be an agreement in principle? Yes. But that could also collapse.
@Houpgarou Hibbert gave the heat hell in the conference finals. Obviously, the heat ended up winning, but that was because of lack of wing scoring. Having a true center to alter shots doesn't hurt you. Len would be my pick...if I could have insurance that he isn't injury prown.
@504ever One thing I know about McLemore is that he endured severe poverty growing up, and I'm pretty sure that's a big reason why he moved schools a bunch. There are red flags for all of these players, but we don't know enough about his background to make a decision on whether or not he's someone we should stay away from.
We've had two interviews with him and I'm sure queried everyone possible about his background. If dell vets him I'm not worried
@spatching3 My top 3!!! That would be sick
@j_diggs Who would you like at 13 if this does happen?
Have been saying that I hope we'll get that done for some time now, of course want the pick but having a pro like Marion around for a year is nothorrible.
Unfortunately, I thing someone (Cleveland?) may swoop in with a better offer
@Houpgarou We already have a problem child (at times) in eric Gordon. We don't need another. But I still would be happy with McLemore.
(McLemore's) Actions speak louder than words.
@Houpgarou I've heard about that Cleveland deal too. Def sounds like a better offer, since we could only offer a 2nd rounder. They have so many picks they could give up, plus all that cap space!
That's a tough call as to who to pick.
On one hand, assuming we don't get Porter at 6, I'd be kind of excited by the Greek SF (Giannis Antetokounmpo) with lots of upside (but I'm also terrified that he'd be a bust). Or another one of those Euros (isn't the unknown always more appealing? lol) like that Russian SF Karasev, who has some high-level experience.
On the other hand, I could see maybe grabbing a PG either who slipped, or one like Dennis Schroeder from Germany. Might be a bit high for him, but he could be a poor-man's Rondo with better perimeter shooting.
What do you guys think?
@Houpgarou Tough break. I still expect to see him traded at some point this year. He clashes way to much w/ Coach Williams.
oh, ok, thought it was june 14th and you didn't realize it passed
july 15th seems like a tough draw as if gordon being traded is in our plans, it holds up other dominoes from falling.
on the flipside, it could benefit us if we don't have a deal yet, as we might be able to entice a team that cleared their cap space deck but came up short on landing the biggest fishes
@Houpgarou you're right. My bad. July 14th.
@Houpgarou MCW would be the ideal pick at 13 with porter or len or mclemore at 6... but I really don't see him falling that far. Crazier things have happened thought and I would be fine with Schroeder. His passing will need to change or all those cross court passes will turn into fast breaks for our opponents.