With the NCAA tournament behind us and the NBA playoffs at our doorstep, for the 14 teams that miss out on the postseason, the attention now turns to the NBA draft. Many of the top prospects have already declared they will be entering the 2013 NBA draft and for many, in what is perceived as a weak draft class, it is their opportunity to be selected much higher than they would in a deeper draft class. The NCAA tournament delivered its usual share of amazing moments and did wonders for the draft stock of certain players. With the NCAA season over, let’s take a look at the latest edition of our 2013 NBA mock draft.
1. Charlotte Bobcats – Nerlens Noel, PF/C
6’11”, 216 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman
It is seemingly becoming more and more likely that despite concerns over his ACL injury, Nerlens Noel will give coach John Calipari and the Kentucky program back-to-back No. 1 picks in the NBA draft. With his surgery behind him, the 6’11” Noel has turned his focus to a vigorous rehabilitation that could potentially leave him questionable for the start of his rookie season.
Noel’s size, defensive abilities and the athleticism he displayed prior to his injury make his selection with the top overall pick worth the risk in a draft lacking any real sure-fire stars. There is even a silver lining in his potentially long recovery time, in that the team that selects him can be patient bringing him along slowly, knowing the immense talent that will be available in the 2014 draft.
2. Orlando Magic – Marcus Smart, PG
6’4”, 200 lbs, Oklahoma State, Freshman
If any other team lands the second pick in the draft lottery, the most likely selection will be Kansas guard Ben McLemore. However, if the Orlando Magic retain the No. 2 position as they are currently slated, they could not find a better long-term fit for their young team than Marcus Smart. The Magic have found some great young pieces to build around this season and are in a great position going forward. They will not likely get another draft selection this high in the lottery for a number of years so it will be essential that they get it right.
3. Phoenix Suns – Ben McLemore, SG
6’4”, 195 lbs, Kansas, Freshman
There have been a number of scouts and NBA teams comparing McLemore to a young Ray Allen and if he has even close to that level of potential he is a no-brainer selection in the top three. Even without the comparisons to a future Hall of Famer, McLemore displayed an impressive combination of athleticism and natural shooting ability that will make him one of the most coveted players in the draft. Whoever the Suns select could immediately become the face of the team and an exciting scorer and finisher like McLemore would be a great addition to a young team starting a rebuilding phase.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Shabazz Muhammad, SF
6’6”, 223 lbs, UCLA, Freshman
Shabazz Muhammad’s draft stock did little other than drop during his first and only season in the NCAA, with most sites or scouts believing he will land in the eight to 10 range. Despite his less than stellar season at UCLA, when the clock is ticking and a player with the potential of Muhammad is on the board he will be hard to ignore. Especially in a draft seemingly light on potential all-stars he will likely regain his status as a top five player and what better situation for him to move to than a Cleveland team with young superstar Kyrie Irving and a roster full of youthful talent.
5. New Orleans Hornets – Trey Burke, PG
6’0”, 190 lbs, Michigan, Sophomore
The NCAA championship game had it all and that was also certainly the case for Trey Burke. After scoring the first basket of the game, Burke spent the majority of the first half on the bench with foul trouble while backup point guard Spike Albrecht had one of the most astonishing and unlikely offensive explosions in NCAA history. As the second half wore on and Albrecht’s miraculous shooting touch had worn off, Burke displayed all the tools in his offensive arsenal, getting into the paint, finishing through contact and showing unbelievable range on his three point shot.
Despite his Michigan Wolverines losing the championship game to Louisville, Burke did no harm to his draft stock and helped to alleviate any concerns that were raised in a quiet performance against Syracuse in the Final Four. Burke finished the game against an impressive Louisville defense with 24 huge points, shooting 7-from-11 from the field, including 3-from-5 from deep. He also contributed four rebounds and three assists but the Wolverines were in desperate need of offense and he did everything he could to carry his team.
Burke became the most talked about NBA prospect in the entire NCAA tournament and has officially declared that he will be entering the draft. He brings an excellent mix of offensive talents with the ability to create for himself or others. If not for concerns over his size and potential deficiencies on the defensive end Burke would be a top three selection, if the right team lands high in the lottery and Burke impresses in workouts he could still improve upon his already inflated draft stock.
6. Detroit Pistons – Otto Porter, SF
6’8”, 200 lbs, Georgetown, Sophomore
Otto Porter has yet to declare himself eligible for the 2013 NBA draft, but it is seemingly a certainty that Porter will capitalize on the perception that this is a weak draft and lock himself in to a top 10 selection. There are a number of teams that would love to add the athletic, versatile Porter to their rosters but the Pistons still seem to have the most likely mix of draft position and roster needs that would make Porter the perfect pick. If he lasts this long on the draft board it is almost impossible that the Pistons would overlook Porter.
7. Sacramento Kings – Victor Oladipo, SG
6’5”, 210 lbs, Indiana, Junior
The 2013 offseason will be a big one for the Sacramento Kings. The team has gone through its fair share of turmoil recently with an at times dysfunctional roster as well as question marks over the teams’ future in the city. Whether the Kings are in Sacramento or Seattle next season, they will be looking to add high-character young players to change the culture of the team. Oladipo’s defensive mentality and experience on a successful Indiana team make Oladipo the ideal selection.
8. Washington Wizards – Anthony Bennett, SF/PF
6’7”, 239 lbs, UNLV, Freshman
The Washington Wizards, and especially point guard John Wall, continue an impressive end to season since Wall’s return to the lineup. The Wizards have seemingly locked up one of the youngest, most talented backcourts in the league and will turn their attention to replacing the veterans that currently man their frontcourt. Anthony Bennett would give Washington an outstanding frontcourt scoring option and an elite finisher for Wall to use in transition. If Bennett impresses in workouts, depending on the lottery order he could see himself shoot up into the top five.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Cody Zeller, PF/C
7’0”, 240 lbs, Indiana, Sophomore
The Minnesota Timberwolves will be one of the most interesting teams to watch coming in to the 2013 draft. They have an impressive young roster and if they can stay healthy are likely to make a huge jump in the standings next season. They would love to score a talented young wing scorer to complete their roster but in this position the best candidates are all off the board. They could take a chance and reach on Glenn Robinson III, but in this scenario the uncertainty around Nikola Pekovic’s free-agent status could see them take the best player available in Cody Zeller.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto) – Alex Len, C
7’1”, 255 lbs, Maryland, Sophomore
Things just keep looking better for the Thunder. Now sitting atop the Western Conference, they are favorites in the West to return to the finals and have a top 10 draft pick up their sleeve. We have long considered the Thunder’s primary need as a center to potentially replace big man Kendrick Perkins due to salary cap concerns and this edition is no different. Alex Len has a great mix of imposing size, length and defensive potential that would make him the perfect candidate if he continues his development in the NB A. It may take some time for him to become a big minute contributor but if he reached his potential and the Thunder kept their core intact we would be looking at an even more imposing, dominant team for a long time.
11. Philadelphia 76ers – Glenn Robinson III, SF
6’6”, 210 lbs, Michigan, Freshman
Michigan freshman forward Glenn Robinson III was solid throughout the Final Four and the NCAA championship game. He scored in double digits on both occasions with 10 points in the win against Syracuse to go with six rebounds. He backed that up playing all but two minutes in the championship game while scoring 12 points in a hard-fought loss to Louisville.
The experience of such a deep tournament run and having a crucial role in his teams’ success has only added to the excitement around Robinson’s potential as a pro. He already had exceptional physical gifts and having the chance to play so many high pressure games in his freshman season will help him dramatically in the long run.
There are still some question marks about his offensive consistency and he will need to learn to be more aggressive as he matures, but his defensive potential is immense and he is versatile enough to adapt his game to whatever his team requires. With an All-Star point guard in Jrue Holiday at the head of the team, Robinson III would have a great opportunity in Philadelphia to run and finish the opportunities that Holiday is able to create.
12. Portland Trail Blazers – Rudy Gobert, C
7’1”, 235 lbs, France
It is becoming more and more likely that the Trail Blazers and current starting center J.J. Hickson will be parting ways in the offseason. Due to his impressive rebounding numbers, Hickson will likely receive some large offers from around the league and the Blazers desperately need to use that money to assemble an NBA-quality bench unit.
The Blazers will search the draft for the best possible option at center and there are a number they could select from. There are more experienced players such as Mason Plumlee or Kelly Olynyk, but neither are an ideal fit alongside All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. The initial surprise over Steven Adams’ announcement he would declare for the draft has passed and while he is still an intriguing prospect, Rudy Gobert provides many of the same physical gifts, defensive potential but may prove to be the more likely to contribute immediately. Workouts and measurements from the draft combine will be a huge help in separating this talented group of big men.
13. Dallas Mavericks – Michael Carter-Williams, PG
6’6”, 185 lbs, Syracuse, Sophomore
Michael Carter-Williams had a nightmare finish to the NCAA season when his Syracuse Orange were eliminated by Michigan in the Final Four. Carter-Williams struggled throughout the game, hitting just one shot of the six attempts he took in 35 minutes of game time. He also had trouble creating for his teammates with just two assists, while he committed five turnovers. It all came to a head in the final minutes as Carter-Williams fouled out of the game in what was a forgettable end to his college career.
While his performance in the Final Four could be cause for concern, Carter-Williams remains one of the most unique talents in the draft and an ideal target for the Dallas Mavericks who desperately need a primary ball-handler to carry the team into the future. While his stock may have taken a temporary hit, Carter-Williams’ measurements, physical gifts and unique talents will almost certainly ensure a lottery selection.
14. Utah Jazz -C.J. McCollum, PG
6’3”, 190 lbs, Lehigh, Senior
Somewhat of a forgotten man when discussing the draft due to his injury early in the season, C.J. McCollum is one of the most proven and experienced guards in college basketball and general managers will be well aware of his abilities despite the lack of any recent activity. The Jazz are in a wonderful position to rebuild around a talented, young front court of recent top five draft selections and need to find a young guard to grow with them and provide outside scoring. McCollum has the confidence, the experience and the high octane offensive game to make a huge, instant contribution to the Jazz.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Archie Goodwin, SG
6’5”, 195 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman
It was a disappointing season in Kentucky, with Nerlens Noel lost to injury the team failed to make the NCAA tournament and was eliminated in the first round of the NIT. The disappointment inspired fellow Wildcat freshman Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein to return for their sophomore year, but the same cannot be said for Goodwin, who will enter the draft despite being all over the place on mock drafts.
Some view Goodwin as the most physically talented guard in the draft, with great size, speed and ability to get in the lane he has many of the gifts you simply cannot teach. However others see him as too erratic, that his jump shot is simply not good enough to keep defences honest and he would have significantly benefitted from another season in college. The Bucks are in desperate need of some firepower and security in the backcourt with the majority of their guards dealing with free agency. If the Bucks were to pass on Goodwin here, he could suddenly free fall down the draft board into the late 20s.
16. Boston Celtics – Steven Adams, C
7’0”, 250 lbs, Pittsburgh, Freshman
The Celtics have been searching for a starting center since the trade of Kendrick Perkins two seasons ago. They will be in the ideal situation in the 2013 draft with a number of talented big men available throughout the first round and seemingly the one with the most upside could be New Zealand-born Steven Adams. While Adams had an up-and-down freshman season for Pittsburgh, the talent and physical tools are undeniable. If the Celtics were able to get Adams some significant time learning from Kevin Garnett before he retires, he could turn into a dominant post defender.
17. Cleveland Cavaliers (via L.A. Lakers) – Kelly Olynyk, C
7’0”, 238 lbs, Gonzaga, Junior
The future in Cleveland just continues to get brighter and if the Lakers manage to make the playoffs they will receive another bonus with an extra first-round selection. Kelly Olynyk was possibly the most dominant player in college basketball this season and is the most offensively gifted big man in the draft. He would give the Cavaliers another consistent option on offense and would be a great fit alongside some of their more athletic, defensive orientated front court players.
18. Chicago Bulls – Mason Plumlee, PF/C
6’11”, 240 lbs, Duke, Senior
Regardless of what happens with Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls this season, it will be the 2013-14 season that the team targets to try and compete for the NBA title. With the return of Rose and another year of experience under the belts of their key players, the Bulls will be one of the strongest teams in the East and will gear themselves towards a deep playoff run. Mason Plumlee would be able to contribute immediately with his high motor, rebounding ability and experience in big games. He is perfectly suited to being a high-energy role player and the Bulls would love to add him to an already imposing frontcourt.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Giannis Adetokunbo, SF
6’9”, 198 lbs, Greece
One of the most unique talents in the draft and with one of the highest potential ceilings, Giannis Adetokunbo has NBA scouts travelling all over the world to see him play and will generate a great deal of interest prior to the draft. With two selections in quick succession, the Hawks would have the ideal situation to gamble on Adetokunbo’s talent, even if it took some years to develop.
20. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston) – James Michael McAdoo, SF/PF
6’9”, 226 lbs, North Carolina, Sophomore
Despite a less than spectacular sophomore season, James Michael McAdoo remains one of the most naturally talented players in the draft and his stock will likely gain some positive momentum once workouts begin. The Hawks are in an interesting situation, they will again compete in the Eastern Conference playoffs but are not a championship caliber team and one of their most important players, Josh Smith, will likely leave via free agency. With a number of roles to fill and questions over the teams direction, a talented, versatile player like McAdoo would be great to develop regardless of who else the Hawks bring in during the offseason.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State)- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
6’5”, 205 lbs, Georgia, Sophomore
The Jazz will have a second opportunity to add more young talent to their roster when they receive Golden State’s first round pick. Utah has a great deal of young talent and will continue to search for long-term options in the backcourt and consistent scoring options. Caldwell-Pope has the potential to be an explosive, streaky scorer ideally suited to a sixth-man role off the bench.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Jeff Withey, C
7’0”, 235 lbs, Kansas, Senior
The Nets have had a successful debut season in Brooklyn and will be rewarded with home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. With veteran stars on the roster and an aim to further improve their chances at an eventual championship, the Nets could gain an instant contributor in Kansas senior Jeff Withey. Withey would provide instant rim protection and rebounding to a Nets team that can often struggle in both areas. With Andray Blatche likely looking elsewhere for a larger deal the Nets could replace him immediately in the rotation with Withey’s experience.
23. Indiana Pacers – Tim Hardaway Jr., SG
6’6”, 190 lbs, Michigan, Junior
Tim Hardaway Jr. did everything he could to try and will his Michigan team to an NCAA championship and despite falling just short in the deciding game, Hardaway did his draft stock no harm and displayed a great deal of competitiveness and leadership in the final rounds. It was simply his shooting stroke that let him down in the final two rounds shooting just 9-from-29 overall.
Despite the poor shooting, Hardaway contributed all over the court for the Wolverines and showed his ability to adapt to whatever the team needed on the night. In the win over Syracuse he scored 13 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists. He was active defensively and took over a great deal of responsibility moving the ball in an attempt to break down the Syracuse zone.
In the championship game he was active all over the court, scoring 12 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists and two steals. One of the most impressive facets of Hardaway’s game is that despite having the size and shooting ability to play the shooting guard position in the NBA, he also has the ball handling and passing to run the offense which will allow him to contribute immediately off the bench in the NBA. Hardaway displayed great leadership throughout the tournament, his attitude and aggressiveness combined with his physical tools will ensure he can make an impact in the pros.
24. New York Knicks – Gorgui Dieng, C
6’11”, 245 lbs, Louisville, Junior
The New York Knicks have had their most successful regular season in over a decade and will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Next season they will look to continue their ascension to the NBA’s elite and will look for immediate contributions from free agents as well as potential draft picks. Gorgui Dieng, a defensive minded, experienced big man coming off an NCAA title would immediately provide the Knicks with a defensive center to spell All-Star Tyson Chandler.
Dieng was instrumental in Louisville’s championship run and was especially important in the championship game. Dieng scored just eight points on 4-from-6 shooting but contributed all over the court for the Cardinals. He had eight rebounds, six assists, a steal and three blocks while containing Michigan big man Mitch McGrary who had been dominating opposing teams throughout the tournament. Dieng has proven for years that he is an imposing force on the defensive end and will likely carve out a successful NBA career off that alone. Any further development he can make to his offensive game will be an added bonus, but you can easily see Dieng having a long career defending the paint and learning from Chandler would be the perfect situation for him to develop in.
25.Los Angeles Clippers – Isaiah Austin, C
7’1”, 220 lbs, Baylor, Freshman
The Clippers are already one of the strongest teams in the West and the majority of their team is still extremely young. While continuing to develop their existing talent, the Clippers could look even further towards the future by adding another imposing front court prospect in Baylor big man Isaiah Austin. Austin has immense physical gifts and seems to have a great natural feel for the game for a player of his size. With a deep frontcourt already, there would be no pressure on Austin in the short term and he could be developed slowly in the D-league.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis) – Dario Saric, SF
6’10”, 220 lbs, Croatia
Dario Saric is obviously still not sure about his status in the NBA draft, he had previously announced that he would not be part of the 2013 class but has now changed his mind declaring that he will. There is just as much uncertainty over Saric when it comes to just how long it would take for him to be a contributor in the NBA. The Timberwolves are searching for a long term, high impact player on their wings and the international group in Minnesota may make Saric’s transition to the NBA an easier one.
27 .Denver Nuggets – Lucas Nogueira, C
7’0”, 220 lbs, Brazil
With so much depth on the roster in Denver, it will be hard to find any player in the draft that will be able to contribute any time in the near future. Nogueira offers the opportunity to take a prospect with immense physical talents, but leave him overseas to develop while the team continues to compete in the playoffs. He could one day come over and be a major contributor, he may not but he is the perfect high-reward, low-risk selection a team like Denver can make.
28. San Antonio Spurs – Tony Mitchell, SF/PF
6’8”, 235 lbs, North Texas, Sophomore
The Spurs continue to be one of the most dominant teams in the league while they add impressive young talent to the roster. With young players like Kawhi Leonard showing the benefits of working with San Antonio’s champion veterans and coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs prepare for the future while still competing for titles. Tony Mitchell has great talent and a physical game that could make him a steal if he is given the chance to reach his ceiling. What better place than San Antonio.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Allen Crabbe, SG
6’6”, 210 lbs, California, Junior
The Thunder would love to add an experienced big man with their second selection, but without one left on the board they opt for one of the best pure shooters in the draft. Allen Crabbe could provide knock-down shooting and floor spacing to a team where Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant command all of the attention. He could carve out an important role as a spot up shooter almost immediately.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami) – Mouhammadou Jaiteh, C
6’9″, 220 lbs, France
By inheriting the last selection in the first round, the Phoenix Suns have an opportunity to swing for the fences and could do so on the raw, athletic Mouhammadou Jaiteh. Jaiteh is still developing his skills, but there is no questioning his athletic ability or impressive length. The Suns could take a chance on Jaiteh, allow him to continue his development overseas and hope he reaches his immense potential.
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