2013 NBA Mock Draft: Targeting the Most Likely Future Olympians
The U.S. men's basketball team opened up Olympic play with a tidy, 98-71 win over France on Sunday, getting the tournament going with a solid start.
In examining this year's roster and looking at how it's changed since four years ago in Beijing, one might wonder who will be there in four more years when the Games take place in Rio de Janeiro.
In other words, there are probably at least a few roster spots that will have opened up by then. And those spots would seem to be prime for a handful of players who will be NBA-bound come next summer's draft.
Of course, there may be zero NBA players in the Olympics come 2016. But that's a discussion for another time.
For now, let's delve into next year's draft, with an emphasis on some potential future Olympians.
Note: For our purposes here, this mock draft will utilize the same lottery chance order for each team as they had this year.
1. Charlotte: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Potential Future Olympian
The Bobcats had the worst season in NBA history this past year but still managed to miss out on the No. 1 overall pick in Kentucky's Anthony Davis.
If they get a chance at a guy like Noel, whose game makes him look like a Davis clone, they'll pounce.
Noel, a 6'11" twig like Davis, can also jump out of the gym, block shots at an exponential rate and be a game-changer on defense. He's more limited on the offensive end, again, like Davis, but his 7'4" wingspan and ability to take over at the opposite end should make up for that.
Seeing as how Davis has yet to play a minute in the NBA and still is a member of Team USA, look for Noel to be in Rio come 2016.
2. Washington: James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina
The Wizards have procured themselves a pretty nice looking front court, grabbing Nene from Denver at the trade deadline, then dealing for Emeka Okafor in the Rashard Lewis salary dump.
Neither of these guys are stars, but both are hard working big men who bring a good amount to the table in different, diverse ways.
Getting a guy like McAdoo next summer could completely solidify that mix for Washington.
McAdoo, a 6'9" sophomore super athlete, was overshadowed in his first season as a Tar Heel by Tyler Zeller and John Henson. But with those two now in the NBA, it's his turn.
Already a polished post player, McAdoo looks like the kind of player who could potentially bring the Wizards' inside crew to the next level.
3. Cleveland: Cody Zeller, Indiana
Potential Future Olympian
The Zeller family should book it's next reunion in the Greater Cleveland area. There could well be two of 'em manning the middle for the Cavs come the fall of 2013.
Cody Zeller, younger brother of Cleveland rookie center Tyler, is the more athletic, skilled and polished of the two. He has an impressive inside game but can also shoot, run and defend at a higher level than his older brother.
Between the two of them, given their individual skill sets, they could be perfect complements to one another in the same front court.
And, given the dearth of big men on Team USA's roster, Cody looks like a perfect fit for the 2016 squad.
4. New Orleans: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Potential Future Olympian
The Hornets look to be one of the league's most exciting teams this coming year thanks to the drafting of Davis and Austin Rivers, the re-signing of Eric Gordon and the trade for Ryan Anderson.
What they will need is one more bigger, explosive guy on the wing, and Muhammad fits the bill.
A 6'6"swingman who will be a freshman at UCLA this fall, Muhammad is already built for the NBA. He can score by getting to the basket and is a pretty good shooter, though that aspect of his game could use a little work.
He's also big and physical on defense, capable of guarding both 2s and 3s.
In other words, he looks like a great fit for the Hornets. And maybe for Team USA as well.
5. Sacramento: Adonis Thomas, Memphis
Potential Future Olympian
The Kings are set up front with DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson, and have a slew of gunners in their back court.
What they might be able to use is a talented, athletic 3.
Here's a 6'6", 230 lb., wiry, athletic freak who is known already for a fierce work ethic. He also can shoot jumpers and disrupt on defense thanks to his length.
Sacramento needs wings who can defend at the perimeter and are hard workers. Thomas fits the bill. Right now, he looks like the ideal candidate to fill out the Kings' rotation and a great candidate for a future Olympic team.
6. Brooklyn: Rudy Gobert, France
The top rated international prospect on the board according to CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman, Gobert is 7'2"and, if he's physical at all, more physical than the Nets' current long term choice at center, Brook Lopez.
Gobert is a monster, big and strong with the speed and athleticism of a wing player.
While his body could stand to fill out some more and his game on the block could stand to improve, Gobert, who at 20 is not yet on the French national team, will be an intimidator from the beginning at the center position no matter where he goes.
Forget Dwight Howard and his melodrama. This is the guy they should be looking to get next summer.
7. Golden State: Isaiah Austin, Baylor
Potential Future Olympian
Here's something the Warriors definitely could use: an athletic, long big man.
Golden State drafted Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli with the pick in the first round this year and the Warriors do already have Andrew Bogut after the Monta Ellis trade from last season.
But bigs with the potential of Austin don't come around that often and given the Warriors' luck with centers (Andris Biedrins, come on down!) of late, this one seems like a slam dunk.
Not only is Austin a shot blocker and good post defender, he has three-point range as well. With that kind of weapon in his arsenal, he could likely even play with Bogut or Ezeli.
The Warriors are set on the perimeter. The more big men they can stash, the better. And, Austin has the game, the tools, and perhaps most importantly, the size, to be an attractive potential Olympian.
8. Toronto: Myck Kabongo, Texas
It took Kabongo a while to get going for the Longhorns this past season, potentially hurting his chances to head to the NBA after just one season in Austin.
But he bounced back well after his poor start and showed why he was hyped as one of the best point men in college prior to last season.
Kabongo has a reputation as a play maker who can play defense and shoot. Sounds like a pretty solid acumen for a point guard. Add to that the Raptors need for a young point guard around whom to build, and you have a good match.
Oh yeah, also, Kabongo is Canadian. Sounds like an even better fit than before.
9. Detroit: Ben McLemore, Kansas
Since the Pistons acknowledged their mistake in signing Ben Gordon to a huge deal a couple years ago and shipped him off to Charlotte, they may want to look into a 2-guard/wing player with a little more size to go along with Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey.
McLemore fits the bill. He should be one of the main offensive options for the Jayhawks this season, as he can both get to the basket smoothly and shoot the ball from outside.
At 6'5", McLemore will also likely have an advantage guarding smaller 2-guards on the perimeter. Pistons coach Lawrence Frank will love that about him.
McLemore would give the Pistons some much needed size, in addition to depth, in their back court.
10. Minnesota: Alex Poythress, Kentucky
Potential Future Olympian
After the Wolves failed to get Portland small forward Nicolas Batum and instead settled for Andrei Kirilenko to play the 3 and some at the 4, getting a freakishly athletic wing player like Poythress would probably serve them well.
Poythress is an aggressive offensive player, capable of getting to the basket and reaching around, over and through defenders with ease. He can also shoot the ball well from mid-range and is a very good defender for his position thanks to his size.
This kid would give the Wolves more wing depth as well as push last year's No. 2 pick Derrick Williams, who has been mentioned in trade talks this summer.
11. Portland: Tony Mitchell, North Texas
The Blazers are pretty much set at the 4 with LaMarcus Aldridge. But if Mitchell, a big, strong, super athletic power forward is around when they pick, he could be a huge plus.
Mitchell, who has been in trouble academically for the Mean Green, complements Aldridge nicely. He is known as a strong defender who can guard 3s and 4s and is money around the rim. He also rebounds very well, something Aldridge (7.5 per game for his career) doesn't do incredibly well.
My colleague Tyler Conway likened Mitchell to Gerald Wallace in a previous post. It's an excellent comparison.
12. Milwaukee: Archie Goodwin, Kentucky
The Bucks have two stars in their back court in Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. But those guys are small.
Goodwin could well be a star also. And he's much bigger.
Goodwin is 6'5" and can both shoot and get to the basket with seeming ease. He also has the length and quickness to check and stay with fellow shooting guards, attributes both Jennings and Ellis lack.
Don't be surprised to see a team like Milwaukee make a run at a player like Goodwin.
13. Phoenix: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
After missing out on Eric Gordon, whose offer sheet was matched by his current team, New Orleans, the Suns had to settle for re-signing Shannon Brown at the 2 guard.
They'll be looking for someone to fill that role for the future in next year's draft and Franklin is a super quick, super athletic player who could star for them at that position.
Goodman thinks all that stands between Franklin and the lottery is a more consistent jumper. He'll have a chance to work on that shot this season for the Aztecs.
Also, the fact that Franklin has experience -- he'll be a junior this year -- can only help. He'd be great in a Phoenix uniform.
14. Houston: Otto Porter, Georgetown
If the Rockets don't land Dwight Howard before the season starts, they'll be picking a lot higher than 14th overall. Think top three.
But taking that out of the equation, they'll take the best player available and here, that's Porter.
He's a 6'8" sophomore small forward out of Georgetown who plays the game very smartly and has a smoothness to his play both shooting from the perimeter and slashing to the rim.
Goodman says NBA scouts love Porter. We'll see if any of them work for Houston.
15. Philadelphia: Jeff Withey, Kansas
The Sixers will go to battle this season with Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown manning the pivot.
Not too terribly confidence inspiring, though Hawes is a nice player.
They should be looking to draft size next summer and Withey has just that. He's a big, long shot blocker who could stand to fill out a little bit more but should be able to hold his ground.
A good mid-range shooter, Withey needs to get better in the post. But given the Sixers depth in scoring wings, they won't need his offense all that much.
16. New York: B.J. Young, Arkansas
Potential Future Olympian
The Knicks let Jeremy Lin go in favor of having Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd run the point in 2012-2103.
In other words, the Knicks will be looking for a point guard next summer.
Young is 6'3", sees the floor and can both get to the basket and finish there. He's not a pure point guard, but the Knicks screwed up their search for someone of that ilk so badly, they'll likely be OK with that.
Young has the quickness and athleticism to defend opposing point guards, attributes Felton and Kidd both lack in spades. He'd be a great get for the Knicks.
17. Dallas: LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State
Pretty soon, the Mavs will have to start thinking about what they're going to do without Dirk Nowitzki. If they sign Dwight Howard to a long-term deal next summer, as has been rumored, that may be a first step in that direction.
As far as the draft is concerned, good luck finding anyone, ever, who can play like Dirk. That leads us to Nash, a hugely talented who plays for nearby Oklahoma State and cam impact a game at both ends.
Nash didn't acquit himself too well in his first season with the Cowboys, as problems followed him around on (shooting, defense) and off (attitude) the court.
Still, his upside and size at the 3 will make him very desirable come next year's draft, especially if he has a good sophomore season. He could be a great fit for Dallas here.
18. Utah: Kyle Anderson, UCLA
The Jazz are absolutely stacked up front with Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter and Paul Millsap, so it makes sense that they would go after a wing type player.
Anderson, an incoming freshman who is known as an elite passer from the 3 spot, could help in that role for Utah. The Jazz have Gordon Hayward pretty much ensconced at the 3 right now, but Anderson would give them depth and completely different skill set.
Right now, Utah's got the likes of Marvin Williams behind Hayward on the depth chart.
Having never even played a college game as of yet, your money would be safe taking Anderson over Williams.
19. Orlando: Mason Plumlee, Duke
It's tough to predict just what the Magic will need come next June thanks to the never ending, monstrously unexciting Dwight Howard saga.
So let's start with size and give them Plumlee, the second of the two twins from Duke whose brother Miles went in the first round this year to the Pacers.
This Plumlee is surprisingly athletic and an excellent mid-range shooter. He works hard, will rebound and play defense to the best of his ability and cause no trouble.
After all the trouble caused by Howard in the Magic Kingdom this year, Orlando will love that.
20. Denver: Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
As we saw last season, the Nuggets run two-deep at pretty much every position.
So why not take a chance on a project like Adams, a big man from New Zealand?
Here's a 6'11" power forward already built for the NBA who is strong, rebounds and possesses a lot of athleticism for someone his size.
It will take him some time to getting used to playing in college for the Panthers let alone in the NBA. But again, he already has an NBA body so if he decides to come out after just one year, someone will take a chance on him.
The Nuggets are a prime candidate for that.
21. Boston: C.J. Leslie, North Carolina State
The Celtics addressed their need for size, post play and rebounding to a point in this year's draft with power forward Jared Sullinger and center Fab Melo.
They could always go for another pivot player next summer. Or, they could look into a guy like Leslie, a power forward who is as athletic as it comes on both ends.
Leslie is an explosive athlete, a high-level post player who can jump out of the gym and block shots on the defensive end. He'd thrive under the tutelage of Kevin Garnett.
The Celts multiple wing players who can excel on both sides of the ball. But they need more depth up front and Leslie fits the bill.
22. Los Angeles Clippers: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
The key question for the Clippers now and in the immediate future surrounds whether they can keep Chris Paul.
The answer is as yet unknown.
Therefore, why not look at a point guard, either as insurance or to take over? Canaan has the look of that player.
He's a senior who played for a top 10 team this past year, making him as experienced a floor general as you can get outside of a trade or free agency.
No one is CP3. But Canaan could be either an excellent understudy or a solid consolation prize.
23. Atlanta: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
The player with easily the best name in next year's draft could well be staying close to home.
Caldwell-Pope, a dead eye shooter, plays for the Georgia Bulldogs and should be in play for a Hawks team short at the 2-guard after trading Joe Johnson to Brooklyn.
They drafted a shooter in John Jenkins this past year. But Caldwell-Pope, who ESPN's Chad Ford says could be a lottery pick if he picks up other areas of his game, has to still be given a long look by Atlanta should he be available.
Who could possibly pass up a dude named Kentavious?
24. Los Angeles Lakers: LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
Whether or not the Lakers wind up with Dwight Howard, they have to be strongly considering parting ways with Metta World Peace, who last season went all Ron Artest on them and also is quite limited on the court.
Enter Ross, an incoming freshman who should be the best player on the Buckeyes since Sullinger was drafted. At 6'7", 225 lbs, Ross is the quintessential small forward and can score both inside and out.
The Lakers need to start looking to the future, Howard or no Howard, with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol all approaching AARP status.
Ross would be a good start.
25. Memphis: Dario Saric, Croatia
A perfect fit for a team like Memphis which has depth everywhere.
Saric, just 18, is the closest thing to a Dirk Nowitzki type player potentially in next year's draft. He's 6'11" and plays like a point forward. He will have to fill out quite a bit and refine his perimeter game but the potential is there.
DraftExpress.com notes that Saric, "impressed scouts with the versatility he possesses for a player his size" at the Nike Hoop Summit.
Again, Memphis is deep. They could easily let Saric stay in Europe to polish up for a couple of years if needs be.
26. Indiana: Phil Pressey, Missouri
The Pacers game George Hill a huge contract to be their point guard, shipped Darren Collison to Dallas and brought in underachiever D.J. Augustin to back him up.
In other words, look for Indy to go point guard next June.
Pressey is tiny (5'11", 175 lbs.) but he's very aggressive, can score for a little guy and is a tenaciouos defender. He also has an NBA pedigree; his dad is former Bucks star Paul Pressey.
The pacers are one of the league's most exciting, young teams. Pressey is an exciting, young player.
27. Miami: Gorgui Deng, Louisville
If the Heat needs anything, it's a serviceable big man. He doesn't need to be able to score, just take up space, defend the post, rebound and block shots.
Deng fits all of that criteria. He's served two years under Rick Pitino and is known as a premier shot blocker and defender. Another season playing for the Cardinals should only enhance that reputation.
Any center who can stand up will do Miami just fine. The fact that Deng is so sound defensively is a bonus.
28. Oklahoma City: Anthony Bennett, UNLV
The Thunder are set for years with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook locked up and Serge Ibaka and James Harden next in line.
What they could use, though, is an interior presence who can score in the paint. Bennett, a big time athlete, could be that guy.
Bennett is a beast, a strong, 6'7" power forward who can score inside and out. Bennett is just as comfortable taking someone with his back to the basket as he is stepping out and drilling a three.
With Bennett, it's safe to say the Thunder would be the most athletic team in the NBA. If they aren't already.
29. Chicago: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
McCollum, who shined in Lehigh's first-round NCAA tourney win over Duke with 30 points, would fit a couple of roles for the Bulls.
First, he's a 2-guard who can score, create and rebound extremely well for his size. Second, those creating skills make him a candidate to spell Derrick Rose from time to time.
What the Bulls will likely find most appealing in McCollum is his scoring ability, which extends out to the three-point arc. He's a perfect fit for Chicago.
30. San Antonio: Alex Abrines, Spain
Abrines has the Spurs written all over him.
He's a tough perimeter player and shooter. He's foreign born and plays smart.
He could be the next Manu Ginobili, a star who the Spurs will need to consider replacing soon. Their games are similar.
It's hard to imagine a team like the Spurs letting a European star with a game like Abrines's pass them by. There aren't a lot of prospects in next year's draft class who fit a potential team better than Alex Abrines and the San Antonio Spurs.