The 2013 NBA Draft is rapidly drawing closer, and pretty much no one knows for sure what is going to go down in the lottery this year. We know the Cleveland Cavaliers pick first, but we don’t know if that will be the case once the draft rolls around.
Several lottery picks appear up for grabs and this could be one of the more unpredictable NBA drafts in recent memory. That could have a lot to do with the talent pool not being quite as a rich, but there are still some stellar prospects in the top-15 and some NBA teams can still get better by adding the right pieces.
Alex Len is a hot name to be taken number one overall this week, but will he end up being the top dog? Read on for one 2013 NBA Draft mock of the first round:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel, F/C, Kentucky
There’s a really good chance Cleveland trades here, but with such an unpredictable mess of a draft, it’s fruitless to predict trades. I’m going off of player value here, and Noel is the hottest name with enormous upside on the defensive end of the court. He’s a defensive game-changer for whoever holds the top pick.
2. Orlando Magic – Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
The Magic already have a big man to build around. Now they have a stud wing who can help shoulder the offensive load. They could add another post player or upgrade at the point, but why not get the wing player who arguably has the most talent and upside of anyone in this draft class?
3. Washington Wizards – Alex Len, C, Maryland
Washington has some big men, but none are really worth keeping around long-term, and it’s probably time to start over down low. They could also aim for a small forward, but I don’t think they can pass up a center as fluid as Len. He has monster upside.
4. Charlotte Bobcats – Cody Zeller, F/C, Indiana
Zeller isn’t a freak athlete, but he runs the floor extremely well and offers a well-rounded offensive game the Bobcats severely lack inside. He’ll need to get stronger, but he can defend OK and he’ll bring offense right away. Alex Len would fit here, too, but Zeller is more equipped to provide offense inside as a rook.
5. Phoenix Suns – Victor Oladipo, G/F, Indiana
Phoenix is a team that is simply looking for the best talent to add to their team right now. The top big men are gone, so they’ll settle for a stud wing. Oladip is a lockdown defender who has an evolving offensive game. He’ll fit into their up-tempo system well.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
New Orleans is another team just trying to add a talent that can end up making some kind of a difference. Porter has immense upside due to his versatility, length and athleticism. He’s a legit top-five pick, so the Pelicans are getting a bit of a steal here, too.
7. Sacramento Kings – Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
I’m a Jimmer Fredette fan and would love to see him actually get anything that remotely resembles a chance in Sactown, but I doubt it happens. Considering that, the Kings might as well mail it in on him and Isaiah Thomas and get the best PG prospect in this class.
8. Detroit Pistons – Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV
The Pistons seem to be pretty set down low and at lead guard (for now, anyways), but they could use another forward to throw into the mix. Bennett is a bit of a ‘tweener but he has freakish offensive potential. He’s a solid value pick here at the eight spot, as he could easily go in the top-five.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Brandon Roy is just about done and the T’Wolves need to get bigger and more athletic outside. Caldwell-Pope is a natural scorer and brings excellent range to the table. He’ll just need to get more consistent if he wants to make an immediate impact.
10. Portland Trailblazers – Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The Blazers aren’t really lacking at forward in the starting lineup, but they are on the bench. Muhammad is an immensely talented wing player with an extremely high ceiling. He can carve out an elite bench role early and push for a starting job down the road.
11. Philadelphia 76ers – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Andrew Bynum was a free agency bust and Spencer Hawes may have reached his ceiling, so it’s probably time for the 76ers to try again down low with a new center. Adams is still fairly raw, but he has a great combo of size and athleticism to work with.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
Just like the Thunder nabbed Perry Jones III last year, they get another steal with this pick here. McCollum won’t be brought on to be the point guard, but he can play that role as a backup or be a pure scorer/shooter at the two and/or off the bench. He’s a terrific value addition to an already stacked offense.
13. Dallas Mavericks – Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse
Dallas really could use a big man, but if they’re trying to lure Dwight Howard into Texas, drafting one here probably isn’t the best ideas. I also doubt they hold onto this pick, but if they do, grabbing the talented and versatile MCW makes sense. Carter-Williams can man the point or play outside at the two or three, and he brings a great offensive skill-set to the table.
14. Utah Jazz – Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
I’m not too keen on Larkin transitioning to the next level easily, but he does have athleticism and offensive skills worthy of the first round. The Jazz also could use a young PG to groom, so this is a match that makes sense.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Will the Bucks ever stop adding defensive-minded big men? Probably not. Nogueira is raw and doesn’t have a great offensive game, but he’s definitely near the top when it comes to defense. Milwaukee just gets more imposing inside on D as they continue to try to figure out how to improve their offense elsewhere.
16. Boston Celtics – Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
The Celtics are falling apart all over the place, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be competitive in 2013. Adding an athletic big man is a nice way to help keep things from falling apart even more, too. Plumlee has been a pretty underrated prospect, and he could easily make a solid impact as a rookie.
17. Atlanta Hawks – Jamaal Franklin, G/F, San Diego State
Atlanta has been known for having athletic players in recent years, so why stop now? They’re losing a few guys in free agency, but they can get a freak athlete with a nice, improving offensive game in Franklin right here. He could compete for serious minutes on the wing as a rookie.
18. Atlanta Hawks – Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Gonzaga
Olynyk has fallen far enough. He’s not an elite athlete, but he has a fantastic basketball IQ and is a fairly versatile big man. He’ll need to work on getting a little quicker, but the Hawks can certainly use his size, passing and shooting with Josh Smith leaving.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers – Rudy Gobert, C, France
Here’s another pick Cleveland could easily just trade away, as they’re more interested in winning now than rebuilding some more. Still, Gobert is a tower with nice potential. He could be a stash player for a couple of years while he continues to develop overseas.
20. Chicago Bulls – Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
Hardaway Jr. isn’t the best athlete in this draft class, but he’s an elite shooter with good size and excellent range. He’s also displayed strong ability in the clutch, and fills a big need the Bulls need – outside shooting.
21. Utah Jazz – Glen Rice Jr., SG, Georgia Tech/NBADL
Rice is another strong outside shooter, but much more versatile than Hardaway. He probably doesn’t have a true position, however. Regardless, the three-point starved Jazz could make him their pick here at 21.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Gorgui Deng, C, Louisville
A national champion and elite defensive stopper, Deng offers little on offense but is going to be someone not to be messed with inside. The Nets already have a fine center in Brook Lopez, but Deng will play better defense and make the Nets stronger down low.
23. Indiana Pacers – Ricardo Leo, SG, Providence
The Pacers are pretty set down low and at the point, so they’ll just grab some shooting and offense here. They could easily grab an overseas player to stash, as well.
24. New York Knicks – Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Schroeder is an elite athlete with developing PG skills. He could slip due to his raw ability and the fact that he has a long ways to go, but he has limitless upside, it seems. The Knicks did lose Jason Kidd, so they could use some depth at the point.
25. Los Angeles Clippers – Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
The Clippers keep dangling DeAndre Jordan in trade rumors, but even if they keep him it can’t hurt to add a shot-blocking machine like Withey. They really don’t have many huge holes, but they can at least be sure to improve their defensive depth with this pick.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves – Ryan Kelly, F, Duke
Kelly is probably more of a second rounder, but he’s got a unique skill-set, in that he is a big man who shoots the ball extremely well. He needs to get stronger and work on consistency, but he can help stretch the court even as a rookie. That’s a valuable asset the T’Wolves don’t have enough of currently.
27. Denver Nuggets – Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Crabbe isn’t the most consistent performer, but he’s a lights out shooter. The Nuggets have a pretty solid offense and he fits their M.O., so this pick makes some sense.
28. San Antonio Spurs – Nate Wolters, G, South Dakota State
Wolters is vastly underrated, and no other system would fit him better. He’s not an elite shooter, but he does have solid range, while he is a quality point guard with excellent versatility. He’d be a solid backup PG and could be groomed behind Tony Parker.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
This could be another steal, as Mitchell is a small school guy with big-time talent. He’s a bit of a ‘tweener, but has a great combination of skills and athleticism.
30. Phoenix Suns – Pierre Jackson, PG, Baylor
The Suns like to push the pace and shoot the ball – both of which Jackson can do at a very high level. He’s improved as a lead guard and I think in the right situation he can at least be a very solid backup. Phoenix makes as much sense as any place, and I think he’s talented enough to sneak into round one.