2013 NBA Mock Draft: First Round Predictions as All-Star Weekend Approaches
With March Madness fast-approaching and All-Star Weekend nearly here, the speculation around some of college basketball's best players and their future in the NBA has begun.
A slew of college players are making a name for themselves this season, but not all of them will make it to the league next season.
So who makes the cut?
Here's an early look at a first-round mock for the 2013 NBA draft.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Averaging nearly a double-double per game, Nerlens Noel would be an excellent selection with the No. 1 pick for the Charlotte Bobcats.
Charlotte needs production from a big man, as its four leading scorers are guards (Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions, Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon).
Aside from a scoring threat, Noel will bring a solid interior defensive presence to the Bobcats, as he's averaging a nation-leading 4.5 blocks per game.
To go with fantastic guard Kemba Walker, Charlotte needs to target a big man with big-play capabilities like Kentucky's Noel.
*Noel's draft stock is pending following the injury suffered on Tuesday night against Florida (h/t ESPN).
DEVELOPING: Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel, considered by many to be high pick in NBA draft, was carried off floor w/ apparent knee injury.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 13, 2013
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
With J.J. Redick's name consistently mentioned in trade rumors, the Magic would be wise to grab a shooter in the draft.
McLemore is certainly a scorer, averaging 16.8 PPG and shooting better than 43 percent from beyond the arc.
3. Washington Wizards: Shabazz Muhammad, SG, UCLA
Already boasting John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt, the Wizards can take that effort a step further by drafting one of the most dynamic shooting guards in college basketball.
At 6'6", Muhammad can play the SF spot as well, averaging five rebounds per game to go with his 18.5 points per game and 46 percent shooting from the field.
He shoots it better than 42 percent from three-point range and owns 10 20-plus-point scoring efforts this season.
Washington could use production from the small forward position and Muhammad could definitely play the position.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Cody Zeller could be joining his big brother in Cleveland.
As the Cavaliers look to build around Kyrie Irving, Cleveland lacks production from its forward spots, which is where Zeller's 16.5 PPG and 8.3 RPG will help.
5. Phoenix Suns: Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor
Marcin Gortat has been decent for the Suns this season, but Baylor center Isaiah Austin could be an immense upgrade.
Austin's 7'1", 220-pound frame would bring a defensive presence to the Suns' interior defense and would give them the edge in the rebounding department, as he's averaging nine per game at Baylor.
6. New Orleans Hornets: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Seven-footer Alex Len would be an upgrade over current Hornets center Robin Lopez, as Len boasts better height, rebounding and blocking abilities.
Coupling Len with Anthony Davis would spell trouble for opposing offenses looking to attack the rim.
7. Sacramento Kings: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
With the Kings using Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas as a SG/PG combo, Sacramento needs a solid point guard to spell Thomas.
Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart can be utilized at both guard positions and is an excellent rebounder for a guard.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Toronto): Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Behind Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City needs a power forward who can score and UNLV's Anthony Bennett fits the mold.
Bennett is averaging 18.3 PPG and grabbing 8.6 RPG to go with a 53 percent field-goal mark and more than a block per game.
The 6'8" forward owns nine double-doubles this season and sports six games with three or more blocks.
With Bennett coming off the bench and providing a scoring option and defensive presence, the Thunder could finally have the piece to push them over the edge toward a championship.
9. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Brandon Knight has been solid for Detroit, but the Pistons need more of a distributor on offense.
Michael Carter-Williams is averaging 8.5 assists per game this year and has nine games of 10 or more assists, highlighted by 16 against Monmouth.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves: Victor Oladipo, SG/SF, Indiana
If the Timberwolves draft Indiana's Victor Oladipo, they can move Ricky Rubio to the point and insert Oladipo at SG to make for more of a balanced offense.
Oladipo is an efficient scorer, sporting a 64 percent FG percentage to go with a 53 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
If he enters the NBA draft, Philadelphia would be wise to snag Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein.
No one knows how Andrew Bynum will fit into the 76ers' offense, but what we do know is that 7'0" Cauley-Stein can play.
He's missed some time with a knee injury this season but the big man can score, rebound and block shots with the best of them.
This all hinges on whether the freshman leaves Kentucky, but as we all know, Wildcats players don't usually hang around campus too long.
12. Dallas Mavericks: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
Double-double machine Mason Plumlee would be an excellent selection for the Dallas Mavericks.
Plumlee is an excellent post player and an absolute workhorse on the glass, which would be a nice change of pace from Dirk Nowitzki at the power forward spot.
13. Phoenix Suns (from Toronto): Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky
The Phoenix Suns need a legitimate small forward who can score and play defense, and Kentucky's Alex Poythress can do just that.
The 6'7" forward shoots it better than 43 percent from downtown and isn't afraid to mix it up on the glass in the rebounding game.
14. Charlotte Bobcats (from Portland): Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
Combining Kemba Walker with a shooting guard like Archie Goodwin could help the Bobcats climb out of the basement in the Southeast Division next season.
Goodwin owns an all-around solid game, chipping in on the glass and averaging 14.2 points per game for Kentucky.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh
C.J. McCollum can score with the best of them and would fit nicely alongside Brandon Jennings.
McCollum dropped 36 against Baylor this season and averages five rebounds to go with a 23.9 PPG scoring mark.
Also sporting a shooting percentage from three-point range better than 50 percent, McCollum should be one of the most sought-after SGs in the draft.
16. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston): Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
With Josh Smith's status in Atlanta up in the air, the Hawks should be looking for a replacement.
While no one can immediately step in and fill Smith's shoes, Otto Porter could come pretty close, averaging 15.3 PPG and 7.9 RPG to go with six double-doubles this season.
17. Boston Celtics: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
According to NBA DraftExpress, Dario Saric can play the power forward position but is better served playing the wing.
He owns excellent ball-handling skills and could turn into a solid small forward under the guidance of Doc Rivers.
With Paul Pierce continuing to climb up there in age, it's not a bad idea for Boston to seek depth at the SF spot.
18. Utah Jazz: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The Utah Jazz should be looking to acquire a pure point guard in the upcoming draft.
Michigan's Trey Burke averages more than seven assists per game and turns it over less than twice per game, all while adding more than 18 points per game, which leads the Wolverines.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
Glenn Robinson is still young and isn't guaranteed to enter the draft, but he has the potential to be an above-average small forward in the NBA.
He can do a little bit of everything and is one of the most efficient freshman in college basketball, shooting better than 56 percent from the field.
20. Utah Jazz (from Golden State): James Michael McAdoo, PF, UNC
The Jazz have a few up-and-coming big men (Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter), but that doesn't mean there's no room for UNC's James Michael McAdoo.
McAdoo has doubled his production from last season, averaging 14.9 PPG and 8.2 RPG to go with eight double-doubles.
21. Brooklyn Nets: BJ Young, SG, Arkansas
As the leading scorer for Arkansas, BJ Young could serve as a solid backup to Joe Johnson for the Brooklyn Nets.
He's a smaller guard, but he has the speed and quickness to get to the rack in the NBA.
He'll need to elevate his shooting percentages—especially from three-point and the free-throw line—but Young has the talent to be a shooting guard in the NBA.
22. Chicago Bulls: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
It's rare that a shooting guard nearly averages a double-double with points and rebounds, but San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin is an excellent rebounder.
The 6'5" guard averages 17.5 PPG and 9.5 RPG and could certainly be a nice addition to one of the Eastern Conference's best teams in the Chicago Bulls.
23. Indiana Pacers: Tony Mitchell, SF/PF, North Texas
Coupling a forward like Tony Mitchell with Paul George and David West could spell trouble for the East.
The North Texas forward owns seven double-doubles this season and blocks more than two shots per game.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis): Rudy Gobert, PF/C, France
The Timberwolves need someone who can protect the rim on defense and score from the paint on offense. At 7'1", Rudy Gobert can certainly do that.
Gobert would be solid if included in a rotation that included a healthy Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic.
25. Denver Nuggets: C.J. Leslie, SF/PF, N.C. State
If Denver is going to seriously contend for an NBA championship, it needs to score in the paint at a high percentage, which is what N.C. State's C.J. Leslie can do.
Leslie owns seven double-doubles this season and posts a field-goal percentage of nearly 55.
He's the leading scorer for the Wolfpack, averaging better than 15 points per contest.
26. New York Knicks: Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Russia's 6'8" forward Sergey Karasev has excellent size for his position and can really stroke it when he gets going.
He'll need to improve his defense, but Karasev has all the traits to be able to spell Carmelo Anthony for some minutes next season.
27. Los Angeles Clippers: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Jeff Withey could provide the Clippers with the interior defense they need to win the NBA title next season.
Withey is the nation's third-leading shot blocker, posting 4.1 blocks per game to go with 13.2 PPG and 8.3 RPG.
The seven-footer has posted eight double-doubles this year and shoots it better than 55 percent from the field.
Already boasting big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the acquisition of Withey could put Los Angeles over the edge in the West.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Lorenzo Brown, PG, N.C. State
Lorenzo Brown could be the ideal point guard to back up Russell Westbrook next season.
He's got excellent size for the position (6'5") and boasts an all-around game of solid scoring, rebounding and passing.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Miami): DeShaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State
The Cavaliers desperately need production from the small forward position and DeShaun Thomas is one of the best in college basketball.
Thomas is averaging more than 20 PPG, shooting 40 percent from three-point range and snatching more than six boards per contest.
He's also excellent at the charity stripe, posting a free-throw percentage of 83.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Le'Bryan Nash, SF, Oklahoma State
With Stephen Jackson slated to hit free agency after this season, San Antonio may want to start looking toward finding a small forward.
Oklahoma State SF Le'Bryan Nash is a key contributor to the Cowboys' offense, putting up 13.1 PPG and 4.3 RPG, highlighted by a 24-point effort against Baylor this season.
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