NBA Draft 2013: Mock Draft – Pre March Madness Edition

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Keep checking back for continued coverage of the 2013 NBA Draft!

It’s that time again! The NCAA tournament is about to begin and as the NBA season winds down, the focus will turn to the next crop of talented youngsters set to make the jump into the 2013 NBA draft.

This will be the first in a series of mock drafts, tracking the draft stock of the players predicted to go in the first round of the draft. It will take into account team needs and prospects’ performances in the NCAA tournament. Presently, the mock should simply be used as a guide to where players’ stock is as of right now and what teams will be looking for in the upcoming draft. As we inch closer to draft day and have a chance to assess full NCAA careers as well as combine results the picture will become clearer.

1.      Charlotte Bobcats – Ben McLemore, SG
6’4”, 195 lbs, Kansas, Freshman

With no clear-cut top prospect at this early stage, the NCAA tournament will swing open the door for a number of prospects to prove they should be the No. 1 overall pick come June. As of right now, Kansas freshman Ben McLemore has shown a tantalizing mix of production and potential that could well see him be the first player off the board on draft day.

McLemore is an elite athlete with tremendous range and perfect form on his jump shot. He is a great finisher in transition and has the ability to get to the basket off the dribble. His versatile offensive game and go-to scorer potential would mesh perfectly with Bobcats’ cornerstones Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Depending on his tournament performance, McLemore is a likely lock for a top three pick.

2.      Orlando Magic – Marcus Smart, PG
6’4”, 200 lbs, Oklahoma State, Freshman

The Orlando Magic have done an outstanding job amassing young talent since the departure of Dwight Howard. They have solidified a young frontcourt and their attention now turns to finding a guard to lead the team into the next phase of their rebuilding effort.

Marcus Smart has separated himself from the other lead guards in the draft class, proving to be both a good decision maker and a capable scorer. With great size for a point guard, he has the ability to make the right play whether it be setting up teammates or scoring himself. His competitive drive, feel for the game and vision make him the ideal pick for a Magic team in search of their next leader.

3.      Washington Wizards – Nerlens Noel, PF/C
6’11”, 216 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman

Despite just undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL, Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel is still likely to declare for the 2013 NBA draft and warrant a top selection in what is regarded as a weak draft class. Prior to his injury, Noel had displayed all the athleticism and defensive abilities that had him touted as the No. 1 prospect.

The Wizards, now set in the backcourt with guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, will be looking for a young big man to build around and there would be few better than a defensive anchor such as Noel. His offense is still developing but his speed running the floor and ability to finish inside with force would mean playing with a point guard such as Wall would be a tremendous help for the young big man. His shot blocking, ability to get his hands on the ball for steals and rebounding will instantly translate to the next level.

4.      Phoenix Suns – Shabazz Muhammad, SF
6’6”, 223 lbs, UCLA, Freshman

Shabazz Muhammad was widely regarded as a superstar prospect in high school but has not lived up to expectations in his first NCAA season. A talented scorer with great length at the wing position, the potential for Muhammad to become a star is still there, but he will need to work hard to reach his ceiling.

The Phoenix Suns are now rebuilding and are looking for their next star player to build the team around. Muhammad offers them the natural ability of a franchise player and the potential to be the face of the team going forward. Playing in a high tempo offense and alongside a talented distributor such as the Suns’ Goran Dragic could allow Muhammad to shine very early on in his professional career.

5.      New Orleans Hornets – Cody Zeller, PF/C
7’0”, 240 lbs, Indiana, Sophomore

An accomplished, versatile offensive big man at the NCAA level, Cody Zeller will lead a talented Indiana squad into the tournament with national championship aspirations. The focal point of the Hoosiers offense, Zeller has good foot work, decent range on his shot and an array of moves around the basket.

With the selection of Anthony Davis No. 1 overall in the 2012 draft, the Hornets could take the opportunity to pair up a long, defensive anchor such as Davis with a versatile offensive big man like Zeller. With talents that seemingly mesh perfectly together, the Hornets could find their front court pairing for the next decade and allow them to develop together as the young team continues to grow.

6.      Detroit Pistons – Otto Porter, SF
6’8”, 200 lbs, Georgetown, Sophomore

The Detroit Pistons are in a great position going forward with a young, talented front court to build around in Greg Monroe and rookie Andre Drummond. With Drummond, Monroe and point guard Brandon Knight, the Pistons will now look to amass a group of complimentary players to develop alongside their young studs.

There would be few players that would suit that role better than Georgetown small forward Otto Porter. Porter has outstanding length, defensive potential and the ability to finish. He is a versatile player on both ends of the court, capable of contributing in a number of ways which is exactly what the Pistons need from their now vacant small forward position. Porter still carries with him enough natural ability to potentially be a star, but at worst he would be an elite complimentary player to a team already well set for the future in Detroit.

7.      Cleveland Cavaliers – Anthony Bennett, SF/PF
6’7”, 239 lbs, UNLV, Freshman

An imposing physical specimen, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett has shown an expansive offensive game to compliment his powerful ability to finish inside. A player with great intensity and focus, Bennett has outstanding physical gifts with a 7’1” wingspan, huge vertical leap and powerful frame.

Bennett is somewhat of a tweener with the ability to play both forward positions due to his shooting range; however, he will likely play the majority of his minutes in the NBA at power forward. He would offer the Cavaliers an imposing bench replacement for starter Tristan Thompson, but long term could well become the star to partner Kyrie Irving in bringing the Cavs back to the playoffs. Bennett is an outstanding offensive player at the NCAA level and commands a great deal of attention, he needs to work on his defensive abilities but there is little doubt that with his natural gifts he can be a productive, and potentially dominant NBA player.

8.      Sacramento Kings – Victor Oladipo, SG
6’5”, 210 lbs, Indiana, Junior

The culture within the Sacramento Kings’ organization has come under fire over the past few seasons. With little in the way of team success, young players failing to reach their potential and the recurring disciplinary issues with cornerstone big man DeMarcus Cousins are all cause for concern.

Victor Oladipo is an elite athlete with the versatility and attitude to become an All-NBA level defender. His intensity and commitment on the defensive end would be a welcome change in Sacramento and his selection could go a long way to changing the culture within the team. As well as his defensive abilities, he is an outstanding finisher offensively and is capable of scoring consistently when called upon. A good decision maker and focused team player, Oladipo will be a valuable NBA player.

9.      Minnesota Timberwolves – Archie Goodwin, SG
6’5”, 195 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman

Archie Goodwin is a talented, versatile offensive guard with the confidence to take a lead scoring role when required. He is comfortable handling the ball from the point guard position but will be most effective as a scoring two guard in the NBA. He has an improving outside shooting stroke which he will need to continue to develop but has a tremendous ability to get the ball inside and finish.

The Timberwolves are in desperate need of a wing player capable of creating their own shot. Goodwin would form an outstanding three guard rotation with the Timberwolves’ young starting backcourt of Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved and his ability to create for himself and others off the dribble would be a welcome addition to a Timberwolves team needing to expand their offensive options.

10.  Philadelphia 76ers – Alex Len, C
7’1”, 255 lbs, Maryland, Sophomore

Alex Len has been one of the most productive and consistent big men in the NCAA this season and looks likely to continue his contributions in the NBA. A center with great size and strength, Len has the rebounding ability and inside presence all coaches want from their big men.

With the uncertainty around Andrew Bynum’s future in Philadelphia, the 76ers could look to a player with Len’s abilities as either a productive back up or potentially a replacement starter for the oft-injured Bynum. He would form a great inside-outside combination with All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and in a league starved of dominant big men he could quickly become a productive starting center.

11.  Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto) – Kelly Olynyk, C
7’0”, 238 lbs, Gonzaga, Junior

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in a perfect position. They are a favorite in the Western Conference to again reach the NBA Finals and due to an offseason trade will be in possession of the Raptors’ lottery selection. The new collective bargaining agreement will make it difficult for the Thunder to keep their team intact and they will likely search for cheap replacements for current starting center Kendrick Perkins.

Kelly Olynyk has great size, feel for the game and the ability to score from a number of positions on the floor. His back to the basket offense would be a welcome addition to a Thunder team that lacks a big man capable of scoring on the low block with any consistency. Olynyk is a capable shooter and a useful pick and pop option who would get countless open looks playing alongside the likes of Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook.

12.  Portland Trail Blazers – Willie Cauley-Stein, C
7’0”, 245 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman

Willie Cauley-Stein was initially seen as a longer-term project when he first joined the Kentucky program, but with the injury to Nerlens Noel he has been given a chance to shine. Cauley-Stein has taken the opportunity to start for the Wildcats with both hands and has likely played himself into a surprising lottery selection in the 2013 Draft. A long, super athletic, mobile big man, Cauley-Stein has unique physical gifts and an ever developing understanding of the game after primarily being a football player in his youth.

His athletic ability to finish inside, his shot blocking, rebounding and length would be a great compliment to the Trail Blazer’s All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge and he could develop with an already impressive young Blazers core. In need of a rim protector and likely to lose incumbent starter J.J. Hickson, Portland could have immediate minutes in the rotation available for Cauley-Stein to battle it out with Myers Leonard for the starting role.

13.  Dallas Mavericks – Michael Carter-Williams, PG
6’6”, 185 lbs, Syracuse, Sophomore

Michael Carter-Williams has a unique mix of physical gifts and a feel for the game that will intrigue scouts right up until draft day. At 6’6” he has tremendous size for a point guard and is among the NCAA leaders in assists. He has outstanding vision, feel for the game and offensive control which should all translate to the next level. Also capable of scoring when needed, rebounding the ball due to his length and troubling opposing guards defensively, he could prove to be a steal if he reaches his full potential.

The Mavericks will be completely revamping their roster again this offseason with cap space to spare and the majority of the team off contract. O.J. Mayo has become the team’s primary ball handler and scorer, but after an impressive season will likely command a great deal in his next contract. The Mavericks could pick up a true pass-first, creative point guard capable of leading the offense in Carter-Williams, something they have lacked since the departure of Jason Kidd. Regardless of other personnel moves, a player with the unique gifts of Carter-Williams will be an asset to whoever selects him.

14.  Utah Jazz – Trey Burke, PG
6’0”, 190 lbs, Michigan, Sophomore

The end of the season will signify the start of a new era for the Utah Jazz. They have two talented, top-five selection big men waiting in the wings to take over from the veterans currently in the starting lineup and their inevitable ascension into the lineup will signify the next step in the rebuilding effort in Utah. Alongside the cornerstone frontcourt of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, the Jazz have talented swingman Gordon Hayward but are in need of a young point guard to lead the offense and grow alongside the existing group of youngsters.

Trey Burke, the Big Ten Player of The Year, is a confident, talented point guard with the ability to set up teammates but also create his own shot. He is extremely quick with ball in hand, has the mentality of a leader and has the perfect mix of attitude and abilities to lead this talented Utah Jazz squad.

15.  Milwaukee Bucks – Mason Plumlee, PF
6’11”, 240 lbs, Duke, Senior

A versatile offensive big man, Mason Plumlee has had an outstanding NCAA career and will likely be able to make an immediate contribution in the NBA. The Duke senior has impressive range on his jump shot and is a reliable option out to near the three point line. Capable of positing up, knocking down shots, hitting the offensive glass and playing in the pick-and-roll, Plumlee would be an excellent compliment to the Milwauke Bucks’ defensive anchor, center Larry Sanders.

With his offensive abilities, Plumlee would serve as the perfect back up for starter Ersan Ilyasova and the Bucks would lose little in the way of offensive spacing by inserting Plumlee into the line-up. Despite being a senior there is still room for Plumlee to grow as a player and he could be a viable starting option alongside Sanders down the road.

16.  Phoenix Suns (via L.A. Lakers) – Glenn Robinson III, SF
6’6”, 210 lbs, Michigan, Freshman

The Phoenix Suns are in search of the next star player to bring excitement back to the team and will likely reach on the highest available potential with their second pick.

Glenn Robinson III is a raw, athletic freshman with the physical tools to develop into a great player if he reaches his immense potential. With great length, athletic finishing ability and speed, he would benefit greatly from the playmaking of point guard Goran Dragic and would likely find minutes on a relatively thin group of wing players in Phoenix. Has the ability to create shots, make good decisions and is solid on the defensive end. Robinson III has the added advantage of growing up around the professional game with his father, Glenn Robinson a former number one pick and ten year NBA pro.

17.  Atlanta Hawks (via Houston) – James Michael McAdoo, SF/PF
6’9”, 226 lbs, North Carolina, Sophomore

An exceptionally smooth and talented forward, James Michael McAdoo offers great upside with a pick in this range. A versatile offensive player with a decent shooting stroke, ability to finish inside and post up on occasion, McAdoo is still a work in progress but has consistently shown flashes that he could be one of the best players from this draft class if he reaches his potential.

The Atlanta Hawks seem set to lose long time starter Josh Smith to free agency which will free up a great deal of minutes and opportunities for a young forward like McAdoo to prove himself.

18.  Boston Celtics – Alex Poythress, SF/PF
6’8”, 239 lbs, Kentucky, Freshman

If the Boston Celtics retain the majority of their current squad along with the return of All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, they will again be looking to be a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. While trying to remain competitive, the team has done a great job of amassing young talent to build around Rondo once the team’s veterans decide to move on.

Alex Poythress has all the physical gifts and natural ability you could want in a young forward prospect and if he was more assertive this season could easily be considered as a top selection. A strong, athletic frame with great size and wingspan at either forward position, Poythress is physically ready to compete in the NBA and just needs to gain confidence in his abilities to do so. Learning from veterans like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, as well as joining an increasingly athletic young squad in Boston could be the ideal situation for Poythress to reach his potential.

19.  Chicago Bulls – Jeff Withey, C
7’0”, 235 lbs, Kansas, Senior

With the return of Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls will be looking towards the playoffs next season and will have little time to develop or play any inexperienced rookies.

Jeff Withey, the four-year defensive anchor of the Jayhawks, could immediately come in and provide valuable minutes backing up All-Star center Joakim Noah. The Bulls have missed the inside defensive presence of Omer Asik off the bench this season and Withey, with his shot blocking and rebounding could instantly contribute to what should be one of the East’s strongest squads.

20.  Atlanta Hawks – Rudy Gobert, C
7’1”, 235 lbs, France

A defensively imposing center with great size, France’s Rudy Gobert is one of few international prospects that will warrant first-round consideration in the 2013 NBA Draft. Still very raw, Gobert has only played a limited role at the professional level but has been impressive in junior camps and competitions.

His immense length and size makes him an intimidating shot blocker and rim protecting big man that with further coaching could become a true defensive anchor. Still needs a lot of work offensively and on the glass to become a contributor, he will be selected on potential in hopes he can one day reach the ceiling that his natural gifts allow him.

21.  Utah Jazz (via Golden State) – C.J. McCollum, PG
6’3”, 190 lbs, Lehigh, Senior

Despite missing a great deal of his senior season due to a broken foot, point guard C.J. McCollum has proven throughout his NCAA career that he has exceptional scoring abilities from the point guard position and a solid understanding of the game. With good size for his position, experience and confidence, McCollum will be working hard post injury to regain the natural speed he possesses.

The Jazz, covering their bases here take a chance on another point guard to try and ensure they find the right leader for their young and talented team. With four years of college experience, McCollum would not be intimidated by immediately being thrown into a big role on a developing team and could continue to develop his playmaking abilities with better offensive options to work with in Utah.

22.  Brooklyn Nets  – Dario Saric, SF/PF
6’10”, 225 lbs, Croatia

A uniquely talented big man out of Croatia, Dario Saric at 6’10” is a versatile offensive threat with good range on his jump shot and the size to compete in the paint. Capable of handling the ball, making the right pass or creating a shot for himself, Saric displays impressive basketball fundamentals and skills for a man his size.

The Nets are currently trying to construct a contending team and will likely have little time available for rookies, but they could use depth at both forward positions and Saric could slowly develop behind the teams’ veterans as he adjusts to the NBA.

23.  New York Knicks – Tony Mitchell, SF/PF
6’8”, 235 lbs, North Texas, Sophomore

A relentless rebounder with impressive athletic abilities, Tony Mitchell has all the physical gifts to become a great player in the NBA. Yet to establish himself at either forward position, he has the size to play power forward but has also displayed the skills to play on the wing. A capable scorer, who finishes well inside but is also willing to take a jump shot, Mitchell moves well without the ball and will likely adjust quicly as a valuable role player even as a rookie.

With the ongoing health concerns of Amare Stoudemire, the workload of Carmelo Anthony and the lack of an athletic, skilled back up for either forward, Mitchell could be the ideal candidate to bring off the bench in New York and learn from their two star forwards.

24.  Indiana Pacers – Myck Kabongo, PG
6’1”, 180 lbs, Texas, Sophomore

An exceptionally gifted passer and playmaker, Myck Kabongo is a pure point guard with high offensive awareness and the speed to match even the fastest of the NBA’s point guards. An excellent ball handler both in the half court and transition, Kabongo has great dribble penetration and the ability to find his teammates consistently for open looks.

The Indiana Pacers are currently one of the league’s best teams despite being without a true, pass first point guard. Having Kabongo’s playmaking ability off the bench with the calibre of finishers and athletes they have in Indiana would prove to be an extremely valuable addition.

25.  Denver Nuggets – Tim Hardaway Jr., SG
6’6”, 190 lbs, Michigan, Junior

A great scorer with ideal size for the NBA shooting guard position, Tim Hardaway Jr. is a promising late round prospect with a good all-round skill set. He has good range which will extend out to the NBA three point line, a solid ball handler who can make the right pass and is also capable driving to the rim.

The Nuggets are in need of a consistent outside scoring threat and with the attention other players on the team command, Hardaway Jr could become a knock down shooter in Denver’s fast paced offense. A great fit off the bench for the Nuggets, Hardaway could instantly become a valuable role player with the natural abilities to develop into a starter down the line.

26.  Los Angeles Clippers – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
6’5”, 205 lbs, Georgia, Sophomore

A consistent long-range shooting threat, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will instantly be able to contribute in the NBA with his shooting and ability to play off the ball. He has been a volume shooter in his college career which has affected his efficiency, but as a role playing, spot up shooter he could excel as a pro.

With the talent on the Clippers’ roster and the ball dominance of All-NBA point guard Chris Paul, there will always be room for a player who can space the floor and knock down the open shot. With Matt Barnes a free agent and both Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill in the last stages of their career, Caldwell-Pope could find himself contributing immediately to a contending team.

27.  Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis) – Isaiah Austin, C
7’1”, 220 lbs, Baylor, Freshman

Isaiah Austin has an impressive mix of size, ability and fundamentals that, if developed correctly could see him become a special player. A true seven-footer with a huge wingspan, he is a shot blocking threat, a capable rebounder and is also able to knock down the mid-range jump shot.

Still extremely raw, the Timberwolves could allow Austin to learn and develop from their talented front court pairing of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, in time Austin could prove to be an imposing third big man for the Wolves.

28.  Oklahoma City Thunder – Lucas Nogueira, C
7’0”, 220 lbs, Brazil

A great athlete and physical specimen at the center position, Brazilian Lucas Nogueira is an ever improving prospect with the raw talent to be something special. Has great coordination for a man his size, good footwork and rebounding ability. His physical gifts allow him to contribute while he continues to develop his basketball skills and understanding of the game.

Another cheap center option for the Thunder as they search for a long term option, Nogueira could be a high reward pick if they allow him to develop in a winning culture such as Oklahoma City and he could reward them with an extremely productive career for someone taken this late in the first round.

29.  San Antonio Spurs – Gorgui Dieng, C
6’11”, 245 lbs, Louisville, Junior

The Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Gorgui Dieng has an imposing mix of size, rebounding ability and tenacity that will make him a valuable role player in the NBA. With three years of NCAA experience and countless tournament games under his belt, Dieng should be able to contribute immediately as a defensive role player.

The Spurs are still one of the West’s elite teams and will again be competing next season. Other than legend Tim Duncan, who plays limited minutes anyway the Spurs front court is pieced together by numerous role players and Dieng would get an opportunity to prove himself on a championship contender.

30.  Cleveland Cavaliers (via Miami) – Markel Brown, SG
6’3”, 190 lbs, Oklahoma St, Junior

A solid all-around shooting guard with immense athletic ability, Markel Brown makes up for his lack of height with a huge wingspan and tenacity on both ends of the floor. An improving shooter and finisher, he has shown a consistent development through his NCAA career that should continue at the next level. A solid defender at either guard position, he should be able to contribute as a defender at either guard spot.

The Cavaliers could use a back up, and some competition for recent draft pick Dion Waiters and with All-Star Kyrie Irving continuing to lead this Cavaliers team back from the basement, Brown could provide a solid back court partner for either starting guard off the bench.