2013 NBA Mock Draft: Showcasing Players with Highest Ceiling at the Next Level

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2013

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 22:  Nerlens Noel #3 of the Ketnucky Wildcats celebrates during the game against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Rupp Arena on December 22, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The most productive college players are not always the top men taken in the NBA draft. Instead, the top picks are the prospects with the highest ceiling.

Scouts love players with a lot of potential, mostly because no one wants to be the one who passes on the next great thing. While not all of these players pan out, the chance that they do is often worth the risk.

This mock draft highlights those players with high ceilings who could end up being great at the next level.

Note: Draft order based on standings as of Feb. 11. Highlighted players with the highest ceiling are italicized.

1. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

The Bobcats have a couple of backcourt scorers, but there are few long-term options outside of Kemba Walker. Ben McLemore has shown with Kansas this season that he can be a go-to player on a good team.

His combination of athleticism and shooting ability will allow him to be an ideal shooting guard at the next level.

2. Washington Wizards: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

Washington has actually been pretty good defensively this year, but Nerlens Noel could make them even better. Emeka Okafor certainly is not a long-term solution in the middle.

3. Orlando Magic: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA

Although Orlando might look for a point guard in this draft, Shabazz Muhammad will be too tough to pass up.

The freshman wing is already an elite scorer, averaging 18.5 points per game with a three-point shooting percentage of 42.9.

He also has great athleticism for the position and knows how to use it to get to the basket.

Although he might end up being moved to guard at the next level, Muhammad will provide the Magic with some much-needed points. 

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alex Len, C, Maryland

This depends on the future of Anderson Varejao. If he is unable to come back healthy, or if the team decides to trade him, they will need someone else to take over at center. 

Alex Len has a much higher ceiling than Tyler Zeller and has a complete offensive skill set that will allow him to succeed in the NBA.

5. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

Anthony Bennett is a little bit on the smaller side for a frontcourt player, but he has every other tool you want in a power forward. He can rebound well and score in multiple ways to help out a rebuilding Suns team. 

6. New Orleans Hornets: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

The Hornets are building a solid base of young players, but they still need a small forward to bring it all together. Otto Porter fits perfectly onto this roster as someone who can play great defense and very efficient offense.

7. Sacramento Kings: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

There is some debate as to who is the best point guard in this class. However, Michael Carter-Williams has the size and vision to make him an ideal option for any team looking to upgrade at the position.  

8. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Toronto Raptors): Cody Zeller, C, Indiana

Someone who can run the floor and score in the post will always be welcome on a championship-level team. Cody Zeller no longer seems like someone who will make a huge impact in the NBA, but he can make a good team even better.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

From one Indiana player to another, few players are rising on draft boards faster than Victor Oladipo.

Following the team's loss to Illinois, the guard came up huge against Ohio State with 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting. This is yet another example of Oladipo being one of the most efficient players in the sport.

On the season, Oladipo is shooting 63.5 percent from the floor and 53.8 percent from three-point range. He is also athletic enough to be a solid defender in the NBA.

If he starts to be more aggressive, he could be one of the top shooting guards in the entire class.

This is exactly what the Timberwolves need at this stage. 

10. Detroit Pistons: Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky

Detroit needs someone to replace Tayshaun Prince at small forward. Alex Poythress is a long, athletic player from Kentucky who can shoot and rebound well and is very unselfish on offense.

Remind you of anyone?

11. Dallas Mavericks: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma

Marcus Smart is one of the top point guards in this class with athleticism, scoring ability and good vision. He needs to improve as a passer, but he would certainly be able to help the Mavericks right away.

12. Philadelphia 76ers: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor

Few players in the class bring more to the table than Isaiah Austin. The 7'0" forward can stroke it from the outside and can rebound well on the defensive end.

The only downside is that he must add strength before he can excel in the NBA. 

13. Phoenix Suns (from Los Angeles Lakers): Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky

With their second draft pick in the first round, the Suns need to provide more balance. Archie Goodwin has struggled as a shooter this season, but he has shown that he can score in other ways. 

If he can ever find his touch from outside, his stock will rise in a hurry.

14. Charlotte Bobcats (from Portland Trail Blazers): Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke

While many forwards want to pretend they are guards, Mason Plumlee instead perfected his skill as an inside player. He is an exceptional rebounder and can score with his back to the basket. 

In addition, he is much more athletic than his brother, Miles, which should make him a much better prospect.

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Rudy Gobert, PF, France

Rudy Gobert is 7'1" and has a 7'9" wingspan. Even if he has to work on technique, his size will allow him to be a very good rebounder and likely a good offensive player. 

16. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston Rockets): C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh

With Josh Smith likely leaving the team after this season, the Hawks will have to replace his scoring. C.J. McCollum is arguably the best true scorer in the class and will make Atlanta very difficult to defend next season. 

17. Utah Jazz: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

There are two issues with Trey Burke that keep him away from the Top 10.

One is his size, where he is listed at just over 6'0". The other is his defensive ability, which has lacked at times.

However, whoever drafts the talented point guard will be getting an incredible steal. He is everything you look for at the position, from scoring ability to court vision to leadership on a great team.

Burke's basketball IQ alone will make him the type of savvy player who stays in the league for a long time.

Utah would do well by selecting the Michigan man with this pick.

18. Boston Celtics: James Michael McAdoo, PF, North Carolina

There are many question marks on Boston's roster, but the squad needs help in the frontcourt in both rebounding and inside scoring.

James Michael McAdoo would provide this, plus the athleticism that the team lacks.

19. Atlanta Hawks: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan

Although Glenn Robinson III is a little undersized for the position, he is an explosive player and plays much bigger than his listed 6'6" height. He also can spread the floor with his shooting ability. 

20. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas

Jeff Withey might be the best defensive player in college basketball, and he will be able to take this ability to the NBA right away. What he lacks in potential, he makes up for in readiness. 

21. Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors): Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

Willie Cauley-Stein is one of the rawest players in the entire class. However, he is already good defensively and has the great size necessary to compete with the world-class athletes at the next level.

22. Chicago Bulls: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State

When Derrick Rose is healthy, shooting guard is the only position of weakness in the starting lineup. Jamaal Franklin could provide the scoring and quickness that Richard Hamilton has not provided in years. 

23. Indiana Pacers: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia

Dario Saric can be a game-changing player in the NBA as a scoring forward who fills up the box score. However, this is more of a long-term vision for the Croatian wing.

24. Denver Nuggets: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas

There are a few reasons why Tony Mitchell will drop down draft boards.

He plays for North Texas, which is a bad team even for the Sun Belt conference. His numbers have also dropped since last year despite facing weak competition.

However, he is one of the more athletic players in the nation. He can rebound well and is also very good defensively, getting an average of 2.6 blocks per game.

Mitchell is also still developing his outside game, but he has already shown an ability to score from deep.

Denver has plenty of depth and can wait for the wing to develop the rest of his game. At that point, he could be a very talented player. 

25. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis Grizzlies): C.J. Leslie, PF, North Carolina State

If Minnesota is able to get a guard like Oladipo early in the draft, the team must look to draft a frontcourt player who can provide depth.

C.J. Leslie is very different from the rest of the players on the roster, but he can score around the basket as well as anyone in the draft.

26. New York Knicks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga

The Knicks have plenty of backcourt depth, so they should try to find a big man at the end of the first round. Kelly Olynyk is physically and mentally ready for the league and will help the contending team right away.

27. Los Angeles Clippers: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville

Gorgui Dieng is one of the top defensive players in the draft but has a long way to go on the offensive end of the floor. Still, the Clippers could use someone with this type of expertise. 

28. Cleveland Cavalier (from Miami Heat): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

The 7'0" New Zealand native has struggled in his first year of college ball, and it would not be surprising for him to spend another year at Pittsburgh.

On the other hand, he has the size and motor that you cannot teach, and he might be worth a late pick.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Lorenzo Brown, PG, North Carolina State

Lorenzo Brown's quickness and ball-handling ability allows him to play very fast on the court. This would fit in nicely on Oklahoma City's bench. 

30. San Antonio Spurs: Le’Bryan Nash, SF, Oklahoma State

Le'Bryan Nash is certainly a boom-or-bust prospect at the end of the first round. He is inconsistent, turns the ball over and does not shoot that well.

However, his size and athleticism give Nash a high ceiling that could turn him into a solid NBA starter. 

He is also already a very good defender and has the strength to remind people of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in last year's draft.

At this point, he is worth the risk. 

For the latest projections and information leading up to the NBA draft, follow me on Twitter.


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