With the Elite Eight kicking off today, NBA draft boards have definitely been shaken up. Surefire top prospects may not be so high on the big board anymore, and scouts have definitely taken notice.
So many questions have presented themselves that it's not even funny. Is Cody Zeller still a top 10 pick following Indiana's early exit? And what of Victor Oladipo?
More importantly, what of Ben McLemore's struggles?
The fact is that this year's draft is going to be incredibly exciting, and, as someone who looks at the event with great admiration, I'm excited to bring you this latest mock first round.
* Draft order is based off of NBA standings as of Friday, March 29, 4 p.m. ET
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
His tournament may be forgettable, but the freshman is still the best prospect available in this year's pool. He has good size for his position at 6'5", 185 pounds and has proven able to make shots from virtually anywhere on the floor.
Given the Bobcats' need for a shooting guard who can do it all, there's no reason to believe they will not take McLemore if they receive the top pick.
2. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, SG, Oklahoma State
With J.J. Redick gone, Orlando needs a guard who can be a scoring threat and can play some good defense as an added bonus. Smart is just that, having posted 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and three steals per game on the season.
At 6'4", 220 pounds, he has the size to play both the point and the 2, and he can drive the lane just as well as he can shoot jumpers. The only concern is that his long-range game is still developing, as he is a slasher first.
Once he learns how to shoot the three, however, Smart is going to be a fine NBA player.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, F/C, Kentucky
Anderson Varejao gets hurt too often, and Tyler Zeller doesn't have a very high ceiling, so the Cavs would be wise to bring Noel aboard even if his torn ACL forces him to miss most of his rookie season.
Despite his injury, the freshman still has great size at 6'10", 228 pounds. Moreover, it's hard to ignore his 4.4 blocks per game. His offense is still raw, as he thrives in the paint and doesn't have much of a jump shot. But if he's going to be playing center in Cleveland, that's not going to be a major problem.
4. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV
Bennett's Runnin' Rebels may not have done well in the tournament, getting axed in the round of 64 by California, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he has talent, and the Suns need an explosive forward.
A lot of this depends on what direction Phoenix chooses to go in the offseason, but the fact remains that Bennett is a great low-post presence who can be a great dunker too. His jump shot is not bad either.
Be it at the 3 or the 4, look for him to become a strong option, a la Paul Millsap, in the coming years.
5. Detroit Pistons: Otto Porter, F, Georgetown
The Pistons could use a solid defensive 3 now that Tayshaun Prince is gone, and Porter is the perfect replacement. He's on the skinny side at 6'8", 205 pounds but showed great improvement with his jump shot his sophomore season and is an excellent on-ball defender, having posted 1.8 steals per game.
His Hoyas may have been a victim of the Cinderella run of Florida Gulf Coast University, but that doesn't take away from Porter's talent. He's a fine finisher with an ever-developing offensive game, and he's going to be a fine contributor and eventual leader on this young Pistons team, should they select him.
6. New Orleans Hornets: Shabazz Muhammad, G/F, UCLA
Muhammad plays like a shooting guard but is built like a smaller small forward at 6'6", 225 pounds. As a freshman, he showed great scoring abilities to the tune of 17.9 points per game, both as a slasher and jump-shooter.
New Orleans could use this at the 3, as Al-Farouq Aminu's offense is not going to cut it once the team becomes the Pelicans in 2013-14. With his natural scoring talent and ability to be explosive, Muhammad is going to be a great fit once he can become a good teammate and not just a me-first type of guy.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana
Minnesota has had problems at the 2 for some time now, and Oladipo should be selected with this pick since Brandon Roy's knees are likely to keep him off the court. Oladipo is not at all a bad choice, as he can drive the lane and finish with explosiveness and also hit the occasional jump shot.
In his junior season, the man posted 13.6 points, 6.3 boards and 2.2 steals while shooting 60 percent from the field.
However, Oladipo is not going to be an impact player until he learns how to create off the dribble in the mid-range. He's fun to watch, but his inability to find his own shot without the help of a point guard or teammate getting him the ball is going to hurt him.
Once he can incorporate his three-point game more on top of that, he's going to be a great defensive 2 who can also be a great scoring threat, a la James Harden.
8. Washington Wizards: Alex Len, C, Maryland
The Wiz Kids need a young big man, and GM Ernie Grunfeld need look no further than Len. Blessed with great size and length at 7'1", 255 pounds, Len has shown a fine knack for finishing above the rim and scoring via a jumper or with his back to the basket.
He'll have to be sure to demand the ball on the court if he's going to make an impact, but let's not forget that he has a fine point guard in John Wall getting him the ball. The two can become a great guard-center tandem and, with a little help from Bradley Beal, can get the Wizards back in contention.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Toronto Raptors): Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
OKC needs a dominant center who isn't named Kendrick Perkins, and a seven-footer in Cauley-Stein could be the answer for the help the team needs at the 5. He posted 8.3 points, 6.2 boards and 2.1 blocks per game in his freshman season at Kentucky and showed a knack for being a great finisher at the rim.
Cauley-Stein's only issue is that, despite his 7'0", 244 pound frame, he does not seem fully aware of how much damage he can do with his body. He hesitates to create his own shot, preferring to let teammates find it for him.
That won't be a problem in OKC, with guys like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant getting him the ball, but it's still something he'll need to work on to become a complete player.
10. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The Kings have a solid center in DeMarcus Cousins, but there's no point man to help make him and the team better as a whole. Enter Burke, a Michigan sophomore with a bright future as a scoring point guard, who could make his team better in the blink of an eye.
Despite being on the smaller side at 6'0", 190 pounds, Burke led Michigan with 18.8 points and 6.7 assists per game, plus 1.6 steals while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 39 percent from long range.
Unlike the Kings' present corps at the point, Burke is going to actually make an effort to get his teammates involved and not just be a shooter (that's right, Isaiah Thomas, I'm talking to YOU). At the same time, he will also be willing to put in his fair share of work in the scoring department. Coaches dream about this type of floor general, and Burke should do a fine job of taking the Kings forward, be they in Sacramento or Seattle next season.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Gonzaga
Since the Andrew Bynum experiment was a complete and utter failure, Philly would be wise to use the draft to find its next center. Fortunately, Olynyk would be a great option.
He has the size at 7'0", 238 pounds, and the fact that he can sink jump shots on top of manning the post with authority makes him a great option for the Sixers and any team in need of a player with his skill set. Once he can improve his on-ball defense, he's going to be all the more dangerous.
12. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
Portland's starting lineup is set, but they could still use a spark off the bench. McCollum can certainly help them in that area, having averaged 23.9 points while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 52 percent from long range his senior season with the Mountain Hawks.
A broken foot put him out of action early, but the fact remains that he can score points—and well. He isn't the biggest at 6'3", 200 pounds, but just watch. In time, McCollum is going to become as good a shooting guard as Bradley Beal.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
Plumlee did a great job of stepping up his effort his senior season, averaging 17.2 points and 10 rebounds as the unquestioned leader of the Blue Devils. On the NBA level, he's going to continue being a solid presence in the paint on both ends of the floor.
The only concern is his size. He has the height at 6'10", but his 235 pound frame could use some beefing up. Otherwise, he's going to get tossed around by more athletic centers.
In time, however, look for him to become a less injury-prone version of Chris Kaman.
14. Utah Jazz: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
Utah really needs an upgrade at the 3, and Robinson III has the size and explosive nature to be one. At 6'6", 210 pounds, he has the toughness of Andre Iguodala and the dunking abilities that make fans jump out of their seats in a frenzy.
There's just one problem: When it comes to offense, Robinson III is a one-trick pony. Far too often does he choose to slash to the hoop and, if the opportunity is available, throw down a dunk.
Until he improves his jump shot and adds some meat onto his 6'6", 210 pound frame, he's going to be little more than a role player in the pros.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Assuming that Brandon Jennings proves to be too expensive in restricted free agency, Milwaukee is going to need a man to run the point—preferably one who cares more about creating plays than padding his own stat sheet with scoring.
Enter Carter-Williams, whose unique size at 6'6", 185 pounds makes him an excellent option to run an offense. He is averaging 12.1 points (albeit on 40 percent shooting), 7.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game and has been the Orange's X-factor in the tourney thus far.
Over the team's three games, he has posted 13.3 points, 5.3 assists and 2.6 steals while making 50 percent of his field-goal attempts. The man is a pure pass-first point guard, and, given the state of the Bucks, that's going to be a godsend should Jennings not return.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Miami Heat): Daro Saric, F, Croatia
Saric has good size at 6'10", 220 pounds but still must learn what type of forward he's going to be in the NBA. Will he be the scoring type, a la Dirk Nowitzki, or the versatile one, a la Andrei Kirilenko?
Chances are he won't be in the league for at least a year, so Cavs fans won't need to concern themselves too much with his status at this point.
17. Boston Celtics: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
I hate to say it, folks, but Zeller's tournament was so bad that his stock has dropped to the point that he'll fall this far in the draft. He has good size at 7'0", 240 pounds, but his lack of overall athleticism was exposed in the tourney.
Over the Hoosiers' three games, he posted just 12.3 points and 6.3 boards while shooting just 44 percent from the field. That's unacceptable for a center, but Zeller simply couldn't get past the attacks of tougher interior players.
The Celtics may seem like an odd fit for him, but hear me out. If there's anyone who can improve his overall game, it's Doc Rivers. With some time in the weight room and plenty of hard practices, Zeller has what it takes to become a solid NBA center, but only if he addresses those very weaknesses that damned him in the tournament.
18. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston Rockets): Giannis Adetokoubo, F, Greece
Adetokoubo likely won't be in the NBA for at least a year, like most international prospects, but his talent still speaks for itself. He has the height for the position at 6'9" but needs to add some weight to his 205-pound frame.
Apart from that, he drives the lane well and can rise up for dunks, and that spells success in Atlanta coach Larry Drew's system.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Doug McDermott, G/F, Creighton
Atlanta is going to need a pure scorer now that Josh Smith is almost definitely going to leave via free agency, and McDermott fills that role perfectly. At 6'8", 225 pounds, the team can immediately slot him at small forward and expect great results.
This is because, unlike most scorers, McDermott is a good rebounder who is a lock to hustle on every single play. He posted 23.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season and shot 55 percent from the field while also making 49 percent of his threes.
He'll need some time to adjust to the NBA and isn't overly athletic, but look for him to become an immediate impact player in Atlanta and a perfect go-to guy in Drew's offense.
20. Chicago Bulls: Rudy Gobert, C, France
Chicago could use a backup center who isn't named Nazr Mohammed, and Gobert has the height for the position at 7'1". His being 20 years old is just an added bonus.
He'll need to add some muscle to his lanky 230-pound frame but should figure to be a solid fit in head coach Tom Thibodeau's system, be it this coming season or whenever he joins the NBA.
21. Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors): Nate Wolters, PG, South Dakota State
With the two best point men off the board, the Jazz will pick another scoring point guard with their second first-round pick. Wolters is just that, having averaged 22.3 points and 5.6 rebounds, plus 5.8 assists his senior season.
He has exceptional size for the point at 6'4", 190 pounds, and his scoring touch speaks for itself. Wolters made 48.5 percent of his attempts and shot 38 percent from long range this past season, and he also played decent on-ball defense to the tune of 1.7 steals per game.
This young man has a lot to learn but could easily become a solid fit in Utah depending on the franchise's direction come the offseason.
22. Brooklyn Nets: C.J. Leslie, F, North Carolina State
The Nets could use a better power forward, and Leslie fits the bill perfectly. He's a bit skinny at 6'9", 200 pounds, but he still managed to average 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds his junior year with the Wolfpack.
Once he beefs up, he can man the 4 with authority and give Brooklyn the electrifying young presence it needs at the position in order to keep moving forward.
23. New York Knicks: Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
Defense is becoming the name of the game in New York, and that's why Mitchell would be a perfect fit in head coach Mike Woodson's offense. His scoring game is incredibly raw and needs work, but his performance in the paint is what's going to make the fans in the Big Apple fall in love with him.
The sophomore is not the biggest at 6'8", 235 pounds, but he averaged 13 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks for the Mean Green this season. There's room for improvement on offense, but does he really need to improve if the Knicks need him for defense?
Either way, one thing is certain: The man can play in the paint—and well.
24. Indiana Pacers: James McAdoo, F, North Carolina
The Pacers are one of the league's best defensive team, and they'll look to stay that way by drafting McAdoo with their pick. He has the size at 6'9", 230 pounds, and he is a great interior player on top of a fine on-ball defender.
In his sophomore year, he posted 14.4 points, 7.3 boards and 1.5 steals while shooting 44.5 percent from the field. That number may seem low, but it can be attributed to him not staying in the paint as much as he should have on offense.
If head coach Frank Vogel can find a way to keep him there and improve his free-throw shooting, then the Pacers should be set to continue competing for years to come.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis Grizzlies: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
In the highly unlikely event that Nikola Pekovic signs elsewhere, the 'Wolves are going to need a solid body to man the middle. Withey is raw offensively, but it's hard to look past his 7'0", 235 pound frame, not to mention his 13.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per contest.
He'll need time to develop his scoring game, but his interior defense is top notch and will only help Minnesota.
26. Denver Nuggets: DeShaun Thomas, F, Ohio State
Denver runs a dribble-drive offense, which would be ideal for Thomas. At 6'7", 225 pounds, he has the size to be both a great outside shooter as well as a fine dunker, and he showcased both skills quite a bit his junior season.
This year, he has led Ohio State with 19.7 points and six rebounds per game, shooting 45 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from long range. In the tournament, he has been in pure scoring mode to the tune of 22 points per game and shooting 57.5 percent from the field.
Once he improves his defense, he's going to be one special player in head coach George Karl's system.
27. Los Angeles Clippers: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
Hardaway Jr. is streaky, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he's a great shooter and phenomenal dunker when hot. If you ask me, that's the perfect combination for Lob City.
Just how much playing time he'll get as a rookie remains to be seen, but it's hard to not see him doing well as a member of the Clippers.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Erick Green, SG, Virginia Tech
Having an extra scorer off the bench is never a bad thing in OKC, so why not have GM Sam Presti land the nation's leading scorer in this year's draft? Green averaged 25 points per game this season and shot 39 percent from long range, and he could easily play a key role as a shooter his rookie season.
Don't let his relatively small size (6'4", 185 pounds) fool you. This young man can score—and well.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Adreian Payne, F/C, Michigan State
Payne has the size at 6'10", 240 pounds to be a force in the middle but still needs to work on his footwork before making an impact in the pros. San Antonio would be a dream situation for him, as he would have both a fine coach in Gregg Popovich and a great mentor in Tim Duncan.
Under the tutelage of these two, Payne would slowly become one of the best young big men in the league, not to mention a dominant defender as a whole.
30. Phoenix Suns (from Los Angeles Lakers): Allen Crabbe, SG, California
The Suns could also use some help at shooting guard, and Crabbe is the perfect man for the job. The junior averaged 18.4 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Golden Bears this year and shot 46 percent from the field.
Crabbe drives the lane well and is a decent jump shooter, but his long range game needs improvement. Assuming Phoenix takes him, he'll need to work extra hard in that area if he is to succeed with the team.
Otherwise, he has a good head on his shoulders and is a natural-born leader, and that can only help the Suns if they draft him.