The rule barring high school players from entering the NBA Draft has removed some of the developmental approach from the draft process, but it has spawned the one-and-done phenomena.
Many of the prospects still aren't quite ready to shine from Day 1. This dynamic makes prospects that are ready to contribute early even more appealing.
There is no consensus No. 1 pick this year. Even once the college basketball season is done we may not know who has the edge.
In fact, the first real clue won't come until we see which team lands the top selection in the NBA Draft Lottery on May 21.
For now, I've structured a mock draft based on current record. Protected picks are recognized according to each team's current spot in the standings.
In the mock, I've spotlighted the players that are ready to make an immediate impact. These players will be featured with an image and stat line.
(stats from Statsheet.com)
1. Charlotte Bobcats—Ben McLemore, Kansas
Weight: 195 pounds
There are only a few players in this draft that have superstar potential, and McLemore tops the list. The fact that he's already averaging 16.8 points as a freshman—and that's just grazing his potential—is quite impressive.
Athletically, he is the smoothest, most graceful prospect in this draft class, and one of the best in those regards I've seen in a while. His jump shot is textbook, and he has explosive hops to finish spectacularly at the rim.
If he indeed was drafted by the Bobcats, he would be my favorite to win Rookie of the Year. He would be a good bet to average 17 or 18 points per game, while shooting nearly 40 percent from three and possibly winning the NBA Slam Dunk contest.
That may sound a little far-fetched to some, but this young man is one of the better shooting guard prospects in years.
2. Orlando Magic—Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Weight: 240 pounds
Bennett has proven he's a capable scorer inside and out. His bulk might suggest that he can play the power forward spot, but I believe he'd be more of a matchup problem at the 3 position.
He's quick and he can shoot the ball from three-point range.
His game could use some improvement on the defensive end, but Bennett is ready to score in the NBA right now.
The Orlando Magic are only scoring 94.3 points per game. If they took Bennett, he would get a good amount of touches early in his career, and he could a building block for the franchise.
Jon Rothstein @JonRothstein
So much Larry Johnson in Anthony Bennett....2/10/2013, 3:31:21 AM
3. Washington Wizards—Cody Zeller, Indiana
Weight: 240 pounds
Zeller doesn't scream future NBA star, but he seems destined for a very solid NBA career. He's physical, hard-working and an above-average athlete.
He could play the 4 or 5 positions, but power forward is the best spot for him.
The more he improves his touch out to 15-feet, the more effective he'll be. He's already a willing defender and a solid shot-blocker.
Zeller could step in and help the Wizards contend for a playoff spot in the 2013-14 season.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers—Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky
If Noel hadn't torn his ACL on Tuesday night, there is a chance he could have gone as high as No. 1. With a serious knee injury now a reality, his draft stock will likely suffer.
All is not lost, though.
Torn ACLs aren't the death sentence they once were, just look at Adrian Peterson. Noel won't slip too far.
The Kentucky big man would be a great fit in Cleveland once he's healthy. The team desperately needs someone to protect the rim, and that is Noel's forte.
BREAKING - Kentucky freshman standout Nerlens Noel has torn ACL & will miss the remainder of the season.2/13/2013, 6:46:52 PM
5. Phoenix Suns—Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Weight: 225 pounds
The Suns are desperate for star power, and someone to become the face of their franchise. If you combine the mental and physical qualities required to carry that title, there may not be a player better suited for the role than Muhammad.
He plays under tons of scrutiny because he is one of the most well-known freshman in the nation, plays for UCLA and is extremely gifted.
Muhammad wants the spotlight and the ball at crunch time. He wants it so much so that he gets upset when he doesn't get it with the game on the line, even when his teammate sinks the game-winner.
By now, most have seen the footage of a less-than jubilant Muhammad bypassing the celebration after teammate Larry Drew II drops the clincher.
I chalk that misstep up to immaturity.
Muhammad is the best pure scorer in the draft. He's not the athlete or shooter McLemore is, but he finds a way to score, and he's an intense and focused competitor.
He'd be a perfect fit for the Suns.
6. New Orleans Pelicans—Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
I love Smart's size, athleticism, defense and leadership qualities.
All of those traits make him a solid piece on Monty Williams' team. However, he must improve his outside shot (40 percent from the field, 29.7 percent from three point range) to really make an impact.
7. Sacramento Kings—Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
The Kings desperately need some high-character players in their locker room. Porter is just that, and he's a solid defender as well. His presence could be part of changing the culture for the franchise.
It especially makes sense if the team is relocating.
8. Detroit Pistons—Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Weight: 185 pounds
Carter-Williams needs to get stronger and improve his outside shot, but his combination of size, athleticism and playmaking may ultimately make him a top-five pick.
For now, I have him here. The Pistons should be falling all over themselves to select him.
Matched with the exciting young frontcourt of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, Detroit could be well on their way back to relevance in the Eastern Conference.
MCW defends and distributes the ball at an elite level. If he adds a dependable jump shot, he could become a star.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder (From Toronto Raptors)—Alex Len, C, Maryland
I'm not a big Len fan, but the Thunder need a true center.
He would be lucky to land on a team where all he's expected to do is rebound and rotate on defense to protect the basket.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves—Isaiah Austin, PF/C, Baylor
Austin's length and outside shooting ability could be an asset for the Wolves in several ways. He is a legit seven-footer, so there is the possibility he plays in the middle. But he's rail thin, so that isn't something he's ready for just yet.
He's better suited as a stretch 4.
If the team trades Kevin Love (who has been unhappy with management, per SLAM) Austin could ultimately be the replacement. Either way, he could thrive playing with Ricky Rubio.
11. Dallas Mavericks—Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
The Mavs are old across the frontcourt positions; they need to get younger fast. With Noel going down for Kentucky, Cauley-Stein is in a good situation to improve his draft stock.
By the time the draft rolls around, he could be out of the Mavs' reach.
Chad Ford @chadfordinsider
Consensus from NBA scouts: Noel's injury could propel Willie Cauley-Stein into lottery if he plays well in Noel's absence.2/13/2013, 8:32:55 PM
12. Philadelphia 76ers—C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
Weight: 190 pounds
Yes, the 76ers already have Jrue Holiday, and yes they would be crazy to part with him. But this team needs scoring in the worst way.
They are 29th in the NBA in that category at 92.3 points per game. With such a solid defense (ranked seventh at 95.4 points allowed) offense is what's keeping them out of the playoffs.
McCollum can fill it up from everywhere on the court. He can get his own shot, and he can create. His abilities as a combo guard makes it possible for he and Holiday to co-exist in the backcourt.
In addition to all of that, McCollum is from nearby Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. This is a perfect match for the Sixers.
13. Phoenix Suns (From Los Angeles Lakers)—James McAdoo, SF/PF, North Carolina
I'm not high on McAdoo as a complete player. His offensive skills may never come around, but you know you'll get solid defense and good athleticism from him if nothing else.
If the Suns take Muhammad with their first pick, McAdoo is a decent selection.
14. Charlotte Bobcats (Portland Trailblazers)—Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
I really like Plumlee.
He's improved a ton over his college career and he has a nastiness to his game. With Byron Mullens possibly leaving via free agency, the Bobcats will need to add depth along the frontcourt.
15. Milwaukee Bucks—Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
Goodwin has some talent as a scorer, but he could stand another year to refine his game. The Bucks could finally part ways with Monta Ellis, and that would open a spot for Goodwin at shooting guard.
16. Boston Celtics—Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
At only 18 years old, Saric is raw, but he shows a great feel for the game, good size (6'10") and good range on his jump shot.
He has an NBA buyout option on his contract for the summer of 2014 (per Sportando.com), so the team that drafts him will likely have to wait until then.
He could be part of the new-look Celtics moving forward.
17. Atlanta Hawks (From Houston Rockets)—Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
GRIII is one of the most talented players in the nation, but he hasn't demonstrated the ability or willingness to take over games.
That sounds like a perfect fit for the Hawks.
18. Utah Jazz—Trey Burke, Michigan
Weight: 180 pounds
Burke is lightning quick, he's a solid shooter and a decent creator. He has struggled a bit with aggressive on-ball defense, but he's a solid fit for a Jazz team that is likely going to be looking to get younger in the backcourt.
He has improved in almost every category since his freshman season, and he'll likely receive a good number of Player of the Year votes.
Burke could start for the Jazz next season as Mo Williams is set to become a free agent.
19. Atlanta Hawks—Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
This is one of my sleepers for the 2013 NBA Draft. Oladipo is very efficient, athletic, physically strong and he gets after it on the defensive end.
The Hawks could be getting the steal of the draft if he's available here.
20. Brooklyn Nets—Alex Poythress, SF/PF, Kentucky
The Nets would love to grab a power forward in the first round, but there won't be a true 4 available. Poythress can play either forward spot, but he's a bit undersized for the power forward.
He has explosive hops and a developing offensive game. He could be a nice bench contributor for the first few seasons in Brooklyn behind Gerald Wallace.
21. Utah Jazz (From Golden State Warriors)—SF, Doug McDermott, Creighton
McDermott may be the best pure shooter in the draft. Even though he's not athletic, he isn't a lifeless player on defense.
He gives maximum effort in nearly every aspect, and he'd be a good fit with a young Jazz team. He's averaging 23 points per game and making 48 percent of his three-point shots this season.
Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops
I've been saying Doug McDermott is my POY for last 2 weeks. Tonight he showed why by scoring 39 pts in a win at Missouri St.1/12/2013, 2:53:16 AM
22. Chicago Bulls—Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG, Georgia
The Bulls continue to look for a reliable shooting guard to pair with Derrick Rose. KCP is long, athletic and I can see him thriving in Tom Thibodeau's defense.
I'm not sure he's a big enough scoring option to end the Bulls seemingly endless search.
23. Indiana Pacers—Tim Hardaway, Jr. SG, Michigan
Indiana is the only team scoring less per game than the 76ers, but they should get a boost from the return of Danny Granger. It is possible Granger could be moved as he is heading into the final year of his contract.
He's set to make $14 million next season.
Paul George is a building block back at small forward, so the team could start Hardaway, Jr. at shooting guard.
24. Denver Nuggets—Rudy Gobert, C, France
The Frenchman is very long and athletic, but he is extremely raw. It would be safe to say that it could take a few years before he's ready to make an impact.
He could at least add significant depth at center with the human poster, aka Timofey Mozgov, heading into free agency.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (From Memphis Grizzlies)—Tony Mitchell, SF/PF, North Texas
Mitchell is one of the best pure athletes in the draft.
He could be a very effective defensive player and his offense could receive a boost by playing with Ricky Rubio.
26. New York Knicks—Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Tyson Chandler is 30 years old and he's had some back problems. The Knicks backup centers are even older than Chandler (Kurt Thomas 40, Marcus Camby 38). The team needs some youth in the middle.
Withey is an excellent low-post defender and shot-blocker. He'd be a great backup for Chandler.
27. Los Angeles Clippers—Jamaal Franklin, SG/SF, San Diego State
Chauncey Billups is at the end of his career, and Jamal Crawford is better served as a sixth man.
Franklin is a potentially dynamic scorer. The strong and athletic wing player could be a great get for the Clippers late in the first round.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers (From Miami Heat) —Gorgui Deng, PF/C, Louisville
Deng has almost no offensive qualities, but he has exceptional timing as a shot-blocker. He has the ability to anchor the second unit by protecting the rim and cleaning the defensive glass.
Late in the first round, this would be an excellent pick.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder—Isaiah Canaan, PG, Murray State
Eric Maynor is going to be a free agent and Reggie Jackson hasn't proven himself to be a reliable backup for Russell Westbrook.
Canaan is a solid scorer and could give the Thunder's second unit a offensive weapon.
30. San Antonio Spurs—Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Tiago Splitter is a free agent at the end of the season. The Spurs will need depth and insurance once Tim Duncan calls it a career. Olynyk is a solid young big man with a nice back-to-the-basket game.
He could develop well with a few years in the Spurs organization.
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