The NBA draft may be 11 months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the future.
The 2013 draft is shaping up to be full of one-and-done players, with a large chunk of sophomores that have the potential to be top picks as well.
The theme with this class is young, taller players that have loads of athleticism, with only a few upperclassmen and guards projected to be a first-round selection next year.
As we go through this mock, the emphasis is on outstanding athletes who are on the fast track to NBA success.
Draft order courtesy of NBAdraft.net.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, PF, Kentucky
While he may have to take summer school classes just to ensure he stays eligible at Kentucky, there is no question Noel is a special talent.
At 6’10’’, he is an elite shot-blocker that possesses the sort of anticipation that puts him ahead of similar players in his class. He has great touch around the rim and has the sort of explosiveness that will allow him to standout in the NBA.
The freshman will likely be the No. 1 option rather quickly at Kentucky, so he’ll have plenty of hype and followers from the jump.
While I don’t think he has the versatility of Anthony Davis, there is no question Kentucky is capable of having the best shot-blocker in the nation for a second-straight year.
2. Washington Wizards: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
This guy can jump out of the gym.
Destined to be one of the best athletes in all of college basketball, this incoming freshman is going to make plenty of highlight reels as a member of the Bruins.
Combine that with a mechanically sound jumper and high basketball I.Q. and you have a player who can be a difference-maker on both ends of the floor.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Michael McAdoo, PF, North Carolina
He may have only averaged 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 15.6 minutes a game last season, but now that John Henson is gone he’s projected to be the full-time starter.
McAdoo showed marked improvement as his freshman season wore on, and scored 15 points in the Tar Heels loss at the NCAA regional final against Kansas and their star Thomas Robinson.
At 6’9’’, he projects to be an outstanding wing player with the ability to score inside, while also holding the capacity to shoot the three.
McAdoo is going to be the most versatile player in the ’13 draft class if he declares.
4. New Orleans Hornets: Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
Zeller is very versatile power forward who has outstanding footwork and an overall grasp of the fundamentals that he must have learned in the backyard against his older brother Tyler—who was the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Expect Zeller to be one of the best scorers in the nation for Indiana in his sophomore season with the Hoosiers.
5. Sacramento Kings: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Withey is a 7’0’’ center that has exceptional body control and has shown stark improvement in his three years in Lawrence.
He is a high percentage shooter who averaged 3.6 blocks in only 24.8 minutes last season. Withey is on track to be a star in college basketball this season with more playing time.
6. Brooklyn Nets: Adonis Thomas, SF, Memphis
An outstanding finisher who can absorb contact and still get the bucket, Thomas is going to be a star this upcoming season for Memphis.
He showed flashes of brilliance in his freshman season, and I expect the 40-percent three-point shooter to take a monumental step forward in the 2012-13 season.
You can’t teach a 7’0’’ wingspan on a 6’7’’ player.
7. Golden State Warriors: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas
He is an incredible athlete that runs the floor like a gazelle in transition. He is an exceptional rebounder and shot-blocker despite standing at 6’8’’.
Mitchell is an all-around strong defender that has also become a sound mid-range jump shooter as well.
While his weak competition is a concern, Mitchell has huge upside entering the new season.
8. Toronto Raptors: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
After averaging 9.7 points, 6.8 rebounds while shooting 52 percent from the floor, expect Porter to improve across the board in the upcoming season to solidify his status as a lottery pick.
He moves without the ball extremely well and has shown sound improvements on the defensive end. He is very coachable.
Porter still has some work to do with his jumper, but expect this talented forward to have a breakout season for the Hoyas.
9. Detroit Pistons: Rudy Gobert, PF, France
Gobert is incredibly raw, but at 6’11’’ with an incredibly athletic build, the future is bright.
He has the skills to be the next great European center if given the proper time to develop.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
At 7’0’’ and 240 pounds, he is the prototypical size for a center in the NBA.
Adams has soft hands and doesn’t get pushed around in the post by stronger defenders.
The Panthers have a gem in Adams that is capable of pulling down double-digit rebounds in his very first collegiate season.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Alec Brown, C, Wisconsin Green-Bay
The good news: He is 7’1’’. The bad news: He weighs 212 pounds.
If Brown can add some serious bulk to his frame in the next year, his ability to score in a variety of ways around the basket will land him in the upper half of the first round.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky
He’ll be an offensive star for the Wildcats with aggressiveness around the basket that will translate well at the NBA level. He has a high motor and strong leaping ability that gives him a terrific advantage inside.
His defense is improving, and expect him to get enough attention with the Big Blue to land inside the lottery.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
This guy is a pure scorer who is coming off a freshman season with the Bulldogs where he averaged 13.2 points on a team that provided him with little help.
He scored 18 against Brandon Beal and Florida, and scored a career-high 25 against Mississippi. Expect him to average around 20 points next season as one of the best scoring guards in the nation.
14. Houston Rockets: Alex Len, C, Maryland
The Terps haven’t had many stud prospects in the past decade, but Len will be bucking that trend.
The 7’1’’ center from the Ukraine has great touch in the paint, and is great at creating room in the post and not losing his ground.
While he is still raw defensively, Len’s offensive game is enough to believe he has a very promising future ahead of him.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: C.J. Leslie, PF, North Carolina State
The Wolfpack are going to be one of the big surprises in the ACC this year because of Leslie.
He improved tremendously throughout last season and ended up being one of the most dangerous players in the entire NCAA tournament.
He can jump out of the gym, and is very active on the glass. Leslie is a capable ball-handler who has shown marked improvement with his jump shot.
Lots to be excited about with Leslie.
16. New York Knicks: Rakeem Christmas, PF, Syracuse
He is undersized at 6’9’’, but makes up for it with explosiveness that can be jaw-dropping.
Christmas dunks the ball with some real nastiness, and has the sort of motor that suggest he could potentially be the next Kenneth Faried.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Ryan Harrow, PG, Kentucky
Another Kentucky player that is incredibly athletic and filled with upside, Harrow has ridiculous quickness with the ball and is a terrific ball-handler to boot.
18. Utah Jazz: Isaiah Canaan, PG, Murray State
Canaan is the first senior drafted because of his understanding of the pick-and-roll offense. It’s something a good point guard has to know at the next level, and because of that, Canaan will be worth a first-round selection.
A prolific scorer, Canaan is coming off a junior season where he averaged 19 points while shooting 46 percent from the field. Expect the Racers to be the mid-major nobody wants to play next March thanks to Canaan.
19. Orlando Magic: Ian Miller, PG, Florida State
Miller has a very high ceiling. Like Russell Westbrook potential.
He is a playmaking scorer that has unreal speed and a long wingspan for a player who stands at 6’3’’. Miller has a deadly pull up and can finish strong as well.
He averaged 10.3 points last year in 23.5 minutes, but is now going to be one of the leaders of a promising Seminoles team.
His crossover is something special, and it’s going to take him places in the NBA. Remember the name Ian Miller.
20. Denver Nuggets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
When you shoot 14.6 shots and make 60 percent of them a game…you are an efficient scorer.
McDermott averaged a shade under 23 points while also collecting 8.2 rebounds last season. He can score in a variety of ways, and hit 48 percent of his threes a year ago.
He will be a Kyle Korver (Creighton grad) clone in the NBA.
21. Boston Celtics: Trevor Mbakwe, PF, Minnesota
Mbakwe has morphed into a legit NBA prospect after transferring from Marquette.
He averaged 14 points and 9.1 rebounds while shooting 60 percent last year, and is going to be one of the best players in all of the Big Ten this upcoming season.
22. Los Angeles Clippers: Lorenzo Brown, PG, North Carolina State
Brown is a strong playmaker that can beat his man off the dribble with ease. His ability to penetrate led to an outstanding 6.3 assists last year.
As long as he learns to protect the ball more frequently (3.2 turnovers last year), this is a traditional point guard who can average 10 assists in the NBA.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
He is a 6’9’’ hybrid forward who has exceptional ball-handling skills for a player of his height. He is a versatile player that will make his mark on the league with his ability to fill whatever need a team may have.
24. Los Angeles Lakers: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Burke exploded onto the scene as a freshman last year, averaging 14.8 points and 4.6 assists as one of the most promising young guards in the nation.
Another year of polish will make him a coveted guard entering next year’s draft.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Patric Young, PF, Florida
Young has the potential to go much higher, but at almost 250 pounds he needs to cut down on his weight to ensure scouts aren’t scared off.
He is an efficient shooter that made 61 percent of his shots last season, and is sure to increase his 10.2 point average of a year ago.
26. Indiana Pacers: C.J. Fair, SF, Syracuse
Coming off averages of 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds, Fair is poised to make a big jump his junior season as one, if not the go-to scorer for a potent Syracuse lineup.
27. Miami Heat: C. J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
Wilcox is a proven scorer who averaged 14.2 points his sophomore season. He attacks the basket, which is a good thing considering he connected on 84 percent of his free throws a year ago.
28. Oklahoma City: DeWayne Dedmon, C, USC
There isn’t a whole lot of info on Dedmon, but he is pegged to be a starter in his first year and will have every opportunity to excel for a Trojan team that needs him to be a strong player instantly.
Seven-footers don’t grow on trees.
29. Chicago Bulls: Solomon Hill, SF, Arizona
His experience will be valuable for an NBA team that has championship aspirations and needs a quick fix.
He has averaged at least 25 minutes a game in all three years at Arizona, and has become a standout rebounder who is developing into an offensive force as well.
Lots to like with Hill.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Erick Green, PG, Virginia Tech
The Hokies are going to go as far as their senior point guard this year.
He averaged 15.6 points last year, and can score in a wide variety of ways to keep defenders on their toes.
Green needs to work on his passing and anticipation, but he has enough skill to warrant a first-round selection.