Updated 2013 NBA Mock Draft After NCAA Tournament Round of 32
With three rounds of the NCAA tournament complete, we've updated our latest first-round projections for the 2013 NBA draft.
There's no doubt that the microscope is intensified this time of year. Strong or disastrous performances can move the needle.
We've eliminated Kentucky's three freshmen, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein, who have all expressed their desire to return to school. I'm also operating under the assumption that Pittsburgh's Steven Adams, Michigan State's Gary Harris and Syracuse's C.J. Fair will declare in 2014.
If the Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs, which they're currently slotted to do, the Cleveland Cavaliers will swap places with them using the Miami's Heat's draft pick (which Cleveland acquired in the LeBron James sign-and-trade) as part of the deal that sent Ramon Sessions to Los Angeles.
And once the Lakers get moved to the Miami Heat's drafting spot, that pick goes directly to the Phoenix Suns as part of the Steve Nash sign-and-trade.
Oklahoma City gets Toronto's first-round pick, which the Thunder acquired in the James Harden deal from Houston (originally gained in the Kyle Lowry trade).
If Portland lands in the bottom 12, which it is currently slotted to do, it keeps the rights to its 2013 first-round pick.
The Atlanta Hawks receive Houston's top-14 protected pick, which they obtained from the Brooklyn Nets in the Joe Johnson deal.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, Kansas, 6'5'', SG
With mostly everyone else on the board playing themselves out of the No. 1 spot, Ben McLemore could afford to have games like the one he had against North Carolina.
He just couldn't get anything going and was ultimately pulled in the second half. Good thing for McLemore that Kansas won, so he should get his opportunity to bounce back.
Charlotte will likely be deciding between Nerlens Noel and McLemore. At the end of the day, McLemore offers the same amount of upside, but with less risk. The Bobcats need players who can put the ball in the bucket, and McLemore has proven that's something he does as well as anyone.
One game shouldn't reflect on his long-term outlook as an NBA player.
2. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4'', PG/SG
Marcus Smart just couldn't find the bottom of the net in Oklahoma State's loss to Oregon. Yet it's his ability to impact the game even when his shot isn't falling that makes him such an attractive NBA prospect.
He shot 5-of-13 from the floor, but finished with nine rebounds, four assists and five steals to go with his 14 points.
This is the first year Smart is playing the point guard position full-time, so there's plenty of room for him to grow as a facilitator.
In the meantime, he's a top-notch defender, a physical scorer and a fearless leader. He should be targeted by any team in need of a new floor general, like the Orlando Magic.
3. New Orleans Hornets: Otto Porter, Georgetown, 6'8'', SF/PF
Despite Georgetown's ugly loss to FGCU, Otto Porter's draft stock remains steady.
Porter doesn't project as a go-to scorer, so nobody should be too concerned over his inability to take over in the loss.
He's the most versatile prospect in the field, and without any legitimate question marks surrounding his style of play or physical tools, he's also the safest bet.
Porter would be a perfect fit in New Orleans. It could use him as a complementary scorer on the wing who can create, finish and defend.
4. Phoenix Suns: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, C, 6'11''
After McLemore, Smart and Porter, everyone left on board presents a hint of risk.
We had Anthony Bennett at this spot last week, but his disappointing showing exposed some of the uncertainties surrounding his game.
Of the remaining prospects, Nerlens Noel offers the most upside as an impact player with his ability to change the mood of a game defensively.
The Suns need a long-term building block, and what better way to start than by grabbing an elite rim protector. Even if he misses the majority of next year, the Suns aren't going anywhere soon anyway.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Bennett, UNLV, 6'7'', SF/PF
Anthony Bennett didn't have his best showing in UNLV's loss to California, looking passive and hesitant on offense. At times, he even shied away from contact instead of initiating it.
Still, he's got the look of an NBA star. You won't find a more potent combination of athleticism, explosiveness and power at the college level. But there are legitimate question marks about his natural position.
If Bennett can avoid the tweener label, he should pose as a serious mismatch with the agility of a 3 and strength of a 4.
The Cavaliers need offense on the wing and some life on the interior. Bennett offers both, as well as big-time NBA upside.
6. Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke, Michigan, 6'0'', PG
Trey Burke is making it awfully difficult for us to nitpick at his deficiencies.
We've had him lower on the board for the majority of the year, simply because there aren't many teams in the lottery looking to reach for a point guard.
Now that the Detroit Pistons have found out Brandon Knight is much better off the ball, they need someone next year to play on it as a primary ball-handler. (Will Bynum and Jose Calderon are impending free agents.)
Burke handled VCU's pressure defense effectively, leading Michigan to a 25-point beatdown.
He's creating for teammates, finishing at the rim, converting in the mid-range and knocking down three-pointers. I'm not even sure what his deficiencies are at this point other than his size. I wouldn't bet against him making an impact at the NBA level.
7. Washington Wizards: Cody Zeller, Indiana, 6'11", F
The Washington Wizards should be focusing on acquiring a scoring option in the post.
Cody Zeller had his ups and downs in Indiana's third-round win over Temple, but with room to operate, nobody can stop him from getting a bucket or getting to the stripe.
Though he can be frustrating, his 6'11'' size and advanced offensive skill set should help ease some of the concerns scouts have over his ability to play against a physical front line. He'll get stronger in time.
Once he's got the confidence to step out and knock down mid-range jumpers, Zeller should make a similar impact as Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets.
8. Sacramento Kings: Victor Oladipo, Indiana, 6'5'', SG
The Sacramento Kings can't afford to swing and miss here. Victor Oladipo is a surefire NBA contributor with a basement floor of Tony Allen if things don't work out.
Oladipo hit the game-winning three-pointer against Temple, finishing with 16 points and eight boards.
He's showing NBA teams that he can defend at the highest level and contribute a few easy baskets a game both in the half court and transition.
Sacramento's roster lacks discipline. The addition of Oladipo would give this lineup a more serious and mature look.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, 6'6'', SG/SF
Shabazz Muhammad's draft stock is slipping.
UCLA got smoked by Minnesota, with Muhammad making little impact on the game (20 points on 6-of-18 shooting).
He's being viewed now as a shooter and finisher instead of a go-to option for points. Without the ability to create, he doesn't do much to make his teammates better, either.
Still, he's an excellent finisher both at the rim and on the perimeter; it's the in-between game he needs work on.
Muhammad's athleticism and shot-making abilities could slide right into the middle of Minnesota's lineup.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Alex Len, Maryland, 7'1'', C
Remember that Nikola Vucevic guy Philadelphia just handed to Orlando? Taking Alex Len would be a good way to replace him.
Maryland missed out on the dance this year, and Len hasn't been much of a factor in the team's first two NIT wins.
But this pick is all about upside. At 7'1'' with long arms and fluid athleticism, Len possesses all the things you can't teach yet has room to grow in areas you can.
He's got a refined skill set in the post, but he just needs to smooth it out. Over time, he will. Len has the chance to be an NBA team's long-term starting center.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto): Mason Plumlee, Duke, 6'11'', C
Mason Plumlee would be able to come in right away and help the Oklahoma City Thunder. The only immediate upgrade they can use is adding an above-the-rim presence at the center position.
Plumlee would give them easy baskets in the half court as a finisher off the ball and an option in the post as a back-to-the-basket or face-up threat.
He won't be relied on to generate his own offense in the Thunder's lineup, which is a good thing. They will play to his strengths and let him make plays off the ball instead of create with it in his hands.
12. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, 6'3'', PG/SG
If Portland finishes in the bottom 12, it gets to keep its first-round pick.
Though C.J. McCollum hasn't played since January, there are three-and-a-half years' worth of game film that shows he's an NBA-caliber scorer.
He's averaged over 19 points per game in all four of his seasons at Lehigh, and he projects as a combo guard who can light up the scoreboard.
McCollum could be that spark off the Blazers bench that they don't currently get from any of their reserves.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, 7'0'', C
Kelly Olynyk scored 26 points in Gonzaga's letdown loss to Wichita State.
He's just got a knack for putting the ball in the hoop and can do it through various avenues of offense. His ability to play with his back to the rim or facing it on the perimeter helps negate some of his athletic limitations.
Olynyk is a half-court scorer at 7'0'', which is just what the Dallas Mavericks need. Without a center under contract for 2013-14, they should be targeting one with the lottery pick they'll receive this June.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, 6'6'', PG
The Utah Jazz should be looking to snag whichever point guard slips to them with their first pick.
While Michael Carter-Williams has had his issues, his ceiling as a 6'6'' natural facilitator is too high to pass on.
He's got work to do picking and choosing his spots on the floor, but once his jumper improves, he won't feel obligated to try to split the defense and ultimately force the issue.
Carter-Williams hasn't stood out in Syracuse's first two wins of the NCAA tournament, but we've seen enough this year to know what he's capable of.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Glenn Robinson III., Michigan, 6'6'', SF
Glenn Robinson III has been awesome so far for Michigan in March, scoring 21 against South Dakota State and 14 against VCU.
He's incredibly effective off the ball, scoring on cuts, slashes and spot-up opportunities behind the arc.
Robinson bares a glaring resemblance to Andre Iguodala, and at 6'6'', you can slide him into either wing position.
Once his jumper becomes a consistent threat (and with smooth mechanics, there's no reason it shouldn't), Robinson will be an athletic two-way wing who can make big-time plays on both sides of the ball.
He's got legitimate upside, and with Milwaukee's uninspiring crew of small forwards, Robinson would be a nice fit. The Bucks, of course, took his father with the first overall pick in 1994.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Lakers): James Michael McAdoo, UNC, 6'9'', SF/PF
James Michael McAdoo wasn't very sharp in North Carolina's loss to Kansas, missing on 14 of 19 shots and only scoring 11 points. He's still learning the game and his role in it.
Right now, teams should view McAdoo as an elite athlete with the substance needed to play at a high level. They just have to mold that substance into the right shape.
His versatility will allow him to log minutes at both the 3 and 4, and Cleveland could use help at both.
McAdoo should be considered one of the high-risk, high-reward options in the field.
17. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston): Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, 6'5'', SF
Jamaal Franklin finished with 21 points, eight boards and five assists in San Diego State's win over Oklahoma—a game that highlighted his strengths as a versatile offensive weapon.
He followed with 20 points, 11 boards and four assists against FGCU, but it wasn't enough to stop the Eagles' magic.
Franklin has improved as a shot creator in the half court, knocking down step-back jumpers and fadeaways in the post. With elite athleticism, he's able to make plays off the ball as a rebounder and finisher above the rim, but now has made himself a legitimate threat with it in his hands.
With Kyle Korver starting at the 3-spot for Atlanta, Franklin's electric athleticism could be used on the wing.
18. Atlanta Hawks: Rudy Gobert, France, 7'1'', PF
I've had Rudy Gobert pegged to Atlanta for a while now, but that could change once pre-draft workouts are underway.
Right now, he's just a measurement—a 7'1' mobile big man with an unprecedented 7'9'' wingspan. It's likely to translate to plenty of easy baskets and defensive challenges.
He isn't given the opportunity to create his own offense overseas, nor does he project to be someone that will in the NBA. Gobert should be viewed as a guy who can finish above the rim, run the floor, tip in misses and disrupt opposing offensive sets.
19. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, 6'5", SG
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has stated he's still undecided on his future, but it would be hard to imagine him returning as a junior for a team that's unlikely to compete.
He finished the season on a high, and this would be the time to sell with his stock up.
At 6'5'', he's a tough perimeter defender and excellent long-range shooter. He projects to play a similar role as Wesley Matthews for Portland—someone who can score off the ball and lock down opposing guards.
Utah has no size, length, athleticism or shot-making in its backcourt. Caldwell-Pope would be an immediate upgrade.
20. Boston Celtics: Isaiah Austin, Baylor, 7'1'', PF
Isaiah Austin is currently playing in the NIT with Baylor, finishing with 13 points and six boards in both of his first two games.
His appeal as a prospect stems from his upside. At 7'1'', you just won't find many big men who can comfortably operate like Austin on the perimeter.
He's also confident in the post, knowing what he wants to do and getting his shot off with ease.
However, despite his size, he's only 220 pounds and is vulnerable to getting pushed around inside. I've compared him to the pre-Detroit Charlie Villanueva because of his size, shooting ability and skill set in the post.
21. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway, Jr., Michigan, 6'6'', SG
Tim Hardaway, Jr. looks awfully good when his jumper is falling. He's 8-of-12 from downtown in Michigan's first two NCAA tournament games, finishing with 21 against South Dakota State and 14 against VCU.
He's also an explosive finisher off the ball with the ability get high above the rim. In between, Hardaway is able to separate in the mid-range, which gives him a go-to scoring weapon.
The challenge is for him to find a way to contribute when the jumper isn't dropping.
Regardless, the Chicago Bulls should be targeting an athletic 2-guard who can play on and off the ball, and Hardaway Jr. fits that bill to a tee.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'7'', SF
The Brooklyn Nets are desperately missing a three-point specialist to spread the floor for their ball-dominant scorers.
Doug McDermott is the best shooter in college with his incomprehensible 49 percent three-point stroke, but he actually adds more to the table than just a jump shot.
He scored 27 against Cincinnati, but struggled against Duke in the third round of the NCAA tourney. McDermott just bares too much responsibility in Creighton's offense, something he won't have to deal with at the NBA level.
Worse comes to worst, he gives a team a reliable three-ball at the wing, but he's much more advanced offensively than a guy like Kyle Korver. His shot-making ability can help a playoff team tomorrow.
23. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey, Kansas, 7'0'', C
Jeff Withey has been brilliant in Kansas' first two games of the tournament. He went for 16 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks against North Carolina and totaled 17 points and seven blocks against Western Kentucky.
He's got excellent finishing instincts to make up for his lack of athleticism. Withey knows when to adjust, when to fake and what steps to take to avoid the contest.
Defensively, he's outstanding. Outside of Nerlens Noel, Withey is the next most promising rim protector in the field.
With New York's aging and banged-up front line, Withey would be a solid addition and reliable backup to Tyson Chandler in the middle.
24. Indiana Pacers: Erick Green, Virginia Tech, 6'4'', PG/SG
Erick Green missed the NCAA tournament, but that shouldn't take away from what he did his senior year.
Green led the country in scoring at 25 points per game while serving as the team's primary ball-handler. He's a combo guard without the size to play the 2 or the mindset to run the 1 on a full-time basis.
But Indiana's backcourt lacks depth at both positions, and Green's shooting hand and ability to generate his own offense should be a welcomed addition off the bench.
25. Denver Nuggets: Allen Crabbe, California, 6'6'', SG
Allen Crabbe went for 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists in Cal's upset win over UNLV. He struggled against Syracuse's zone defense without anyone capable of getting him open half-court looks.
Crabbe is a pure scorer with excellent size at 6'6'' and a sweet perimeter stroke. He averaged over 18 points a game his junior year and should be able to provide a team with reliable shot-making off the bench.
Denver has depth at every position except the off-guard and power forward slots, but there aren't many 4s on the board more promising than Crabbe.
Crabbe would be a safe pick this late in the first round, and someone who'd be able to contribute sooner rather than later.
26. Los Angeles Clippers: Tony Mitchell, North Texas, 6'8'', SF/PFT
Tony Mitchell was the first to announce he'll be declaring for the NBA draft, which means he'll be selling with his stock down.
Mitchell regressed in nearly every department and will be leaning on his remarkable athletic capabilities to remain in the first round.
Great athletes with questionable skill sets typically need playmaking point guards to be effective. The Los Angeles Clippers have surrounded Chris Paul with explosive athleticism, which happens to be Mitchell's specialty.
Right now, he's got appeal as a finisher and weak-side shot-blocker. If he develops an in-between game, he'll be a steal this late in the draft.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis): Adreian Payne, MSU, 6'10'', PF
Though still raw offensively, Adreian Payne has come on strong for Michigan State as a junior. Payne was huge for the Spartans in their third-round win over Memphis, going for 14 points, 10 boards and five blocks.
He's got a monstrous NBA frame with exceptionally long arms. Payne still has to refine his post game, but he's a powerful finisher inside and shows off effective footwork for a big man his size.
Payne is also stepping out and knocking down spot-up three-pointers. After only making one shot from downtown over his first two seasons, he is 15-of-37 from behind the arc as a junior.
Portland has no depth up front, with Jared Jeffries backing up LaMarcus Aldridge. Payne's impressive play down the stretch of the season has put him on the first-round radar.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, 6'1'', PG
Oklahoma City will likely be looking for depth at the center and point guard positions. I suspect it'll grab a big man with its first pick and target a playmaker with its second.
Isaiah Canaan would be a solid option here, with his lethal three-point stroke and breakdown ability off the dribble. He reminds me of Raymond Felton because of his strong frame and toughness attacking the rim.
Ultimately, it's his reliable stroke and ball-handling ability that should make him an upgrade over Reggie Jackson.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10'', SF
Dario Saric has been on NBA radars for years now because of his intriguing skill set for a 6'10'' wing.
He's got the ability to create off the bounce and shoot on the move. Saric is turning only 19 in April, so he's more of a long-term project, but the San Antonio Spurs are unlikely to find anyone capable of helping them win a championship next year.
San Antonio loves going overseas and will likely have done its homework on the Croatian prospect.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): B.J. Young, Arkansas, 6'3'', PG/SG
B.J. Young is a scorer who handles the ball, and though he lacks a true position, NBA teams will target him for offensive firepower.
Young averaged 15.2 points per game as a sophomore, though he saw his three-point shooting take a huge drop-off from 41 percent to 23 percent.
Young has the talent for the lottery, but he is likely to slip in the draft as a potential tweener. He'll be used as a combo guard off the bench to put points on the board.
DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State, 6'7'', SF
DeShaun Thomas has been the man for Ohio State, scoring 24 and 22 points, respectively, in the team's first two NCAA tournament wins. In the second round of the draft, teams can forget that he's a defensive liability. Someone with a lackluster bench will target his ability to create and make shots on the perimeter.
Seth Curry, Duke, 6'2'', SG
Again, Round 2 is a time to ignore the details. Seth Curry dropped 26 points on Albany and came up huge in the second half against Creighton, finishing with 17 points and leading the Blue Devils to the Sweet 16. He's just too good offensively to let a couple of inches kill his NBA dreams.
Solomon Hill, Arizona, 6'7'', SF
Solomon Hill's numbers might not stand out, but the individual plays he's making have. He's shooting lights out and attacking and finishing with authority. He may not have first-round upside, but there's no way 30 teams pass on him twice.
Reggie Bullock, North Carolina, 6'7''
He didn't have his best game against Kansas, but Reggie Bullock has been extremely reliable as a shot-maker all year. His role in the NBA will be exactly what it is in college—spread the floor, knock down threes, attack in line drives and defend the perimeter. The first round isn't out of the question for Bullock, either.
Carrick Felix, Arizona State, 6'6'', SG
Carrick Felix is making his case to the NBA late in the season. Arizona State lost in the NIT second round to Baylor, but Felix was impressive, going for 23 points and eight boards after going for 21 and seven two days earlier. He's got NBA size and athleticism, and with a much-improved jumper, he has landed on NBA radars.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State, 6'4'', PG
Nate Wolters was exposed by Trey Burke, finishing just 3-of-14 and getting blown out in the process. This was a chance for Wolters to show he can play with the big boys, but it just didn't work out. The first round now looks off limits.
Mike Muscala, Bucknell, 6'11'', PF/C
Mike Muscala was brutal against Butler, shooting just 4-of-17 against 6'11'' Andrew Smith. It wasn't a good way to go out, with scouts likely paying close attention. The issue in the NBA will be physical play, which is exactly what threw him off in the NCAA tournament.
Andre Roberson, Colorado, 6'7'', SF
Andre Roberson's inability to impact a game offensively could damage his draft stock. He's an excellent rebounder, but I'm not sure that's what you want your core strength to be auditioning for an NBA small forward position.