In a matter of months, the 2013 NBA draft will call Madison Square Garden home as the league introduces the stars of tomorrow. From collegiate stars coming off of masterful seasons to upside-ridden athletes with much to prove, we'll see it all.
The question is, how would the draft go if we were filling every team's biggest need?
The truth of the matter is most teams will fall victim to the mentality of selecting the best player available. While this comes with a form of logic, it's also a method that can lead to overcrowding specific positions.
For that reason, we must acknowledge what every team would do if they were focusing on need above all else.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky Wildcats
The Charlotte Bobcats are in need of help along the perimeter and in the frontcourt. With this in mind, we approach the rare situation in which the best player available approach is actually applicable.
As poor as their three-point shooting may be, the Bobcats are the 29th ranked scoring defense—they need an anchor.
Bismack Biyombo has promise and Byron Mullens has displayed flashes of brilliance, but neither have been consistent. With this in mind, the Bobcats are in a position in which they need a player to protect the rim.
Pairing Nerlens Noel with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gives Charlotte two of the best motor players and young defenders possible—why hesitate?
2. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Orlando Magic could explore landing Ben McLemore here, as he could be their franchise shooting guard. In that same breath, the Magic are in need of a point guard of the future and Marcus Smart could be just that.
If not, Smart could be their off guard—the versatility is key here.
Smart fills two voids within the rotation, which is too good of an opportunity to pass on. Although Jameer Nelson is performing at a world-class level, he's also 31 and battling injuries.
Landing Smart could solve those woes, all the while keeping Nelson active in a two guard set due to Smart's positional versatility.
3. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas Jayhawks
The Phoenix Suns are thrilled to see Ben McLemore fall to them here, as they are in dire need of a franchise shooting guard. Jared Dudley is a quality all-around player and Shannon Brown is a dynamic athlete, but neither are star scorers.
McLemore could be, and that's a risk worth taking for the Suns.
Phoenix is currently 29th in three-point field goal percentage and 26th in three-point field goals made per game. With Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall running point, McLemore could play off the ball and thrive in catch-and-shoot situations.
This offers the former Kansas star a progressive entrance into the NBA, thus resulting in a higher upside.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown Hoyas
It's no secret that the Cleveland Cavaliers will be looking to land LeBron James during the 2014 NBA period of free agency. It's even more well-known that the Cavaliers are devastatingly weak at small forward.
With no center worthy of a pick here, we play the need game and see that Otto Porter is the obvious choice.
The Cavaliers have one of the top point guards in the NBA in 21-year-old Kyrie Irving. They also have a ball-dominant off guard in 21-year-old Dion Waiters and a rapidly developing power forward in 22-year-old Tristan Thompson.
What they're lacking is an elite perimeter defender who can handle the ball and shoot the rock. As rare as that combination may be, it's exactly what Porter has proved to be.
This need pick is as smart as they come.
5. Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan Wolverines
The Detroit Pistons have a potentially elite frontcourt tandem with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. They also have two quality off guards in Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey.
As nice as it would be to land a small forward, this is a point guard-heavy league—Detroit needs their franchise lead.
It just so happens that in-state product Trey Burke is available for the Pistons in this scenario. Burke can step in as a dynamic playmaker from day one, capitalizing on the team's interior presence and kicking it out to Knight along the perimeter.
Detroit will need to add more shooters to placate Burke's style of play, but this is a step in the right direction for the Pistons.
6. New Orleans Hornets: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana Hoosiers
At the beginning of the year, there was talk of the New Orleans Hornets receiving the top draft choice and pairing Anthony Davis with Cody Zeller. Now, the Hornets receive that opportunity in the six spot.
There are better players available, but there is no bigger need on New Orleans' roster and no better fit for it.
Zeller is a work in progress, but he's virtually current Hornets center Robin Lopez with star potential. Not only has Zeller been Indiana's go-to scorer in clutch situations, but he's a far better rebounder than his numbers suggest.
Zeller's work ethic would make him a perfect fit alongside Davis and Ryan Anderson.
7. Sacramento Kings: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse Orange
The Sacramento Kings have a deep crop of point guards with Isaiah Thomas, Toney Douglas and Jimmer Fredette. With that being said, Thomas is 5'9", Douglas is a pending free agent and Fredette has yet to develop as a facilitator.
If that's not enough, the Kings rank 25th in assists per game and 29th in percentage of field goals assisted—in other words, Sacramento needs a real point guard.
The Kings could find the facilitator of their future by selecting Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse. Not only is Carter-Williams elite as a distributor, but he is a rangy defender with outstanding size at 6'5".
Carter-Williams could help turn this franchise around.
8. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV Rebels
The Washington Wizards are an elite defensive team—eighth in scoring defense, eighth in rebounding and fifth in opponent field-goal percentage. A major reason for that is their supremely athletic perimeter and the interior tandem of Nene Hilario and Emeka Okafor.
Unfortunately, Nene has been battling injuries throughout his career and this season has been no different—they need a long-term answer.
Anthony Bennett is a risky pick no matter where he goes, but this is as perfect a fit as you'll find. The Wizards have an elite point guard in John Wall and a sharpshooter in Bradley Beal, but lack a go-to third scoring option.
With Bennett's power post game and three-point range, he could serve as just that.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana Hoosiers
The Minnesota Timberwolves need perimeter players that play any position other than point guard. Fortunately for the T-Wolves, Indiana product Victor Oladipo is still on the board.
Oladipo has a marvelous motor, an undying will to win and the highest ceiling of any player in this draft—this is the perfect pick for the Timberwolves.
Oladipo strokes it consistently from beyond the arc when his feet are set, although he does struggle as a jump shooter off of the bounce. Fortunately, Ricky Rubio continues to make strides as a facilitator and should alleviate that pressure.
With Rubio working screen games and kicking it out to the perimeter, Oladipo could be the shooting guard that Minnesota needs to kick start their offense. On defense, Oladipo could team with Andrei Kirilenko to create an elite pairing.
This is a dream pick, but Oladipo is not going to fall this far.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Alex Len, C, Maryland Terrapins
The Oklahoma City Thunder are in dire need of landing a go-to player in the post. Serge Ibaka has developed a face-up game and the Thunder thrive as jump shooters, but they'll only top the Miami Heat once they develop an interior game.
Drafting skilled big man Alex Len could go a long way towards achieving such.
Len is very similar to Pau Gasol in the sense that he has a solid face-up game with range and a versatile back-to-the-basket attack. He passes well out of the post, can finish with both hands around the basket and blocks shots at a high rate.
The Thunder don't need a star at the 5, they just need someone who can work out of the post—Len can serve as that player with complementary star upside.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF, UCLA Bruins
The Philadelphia 76ers are a team who lost their will to compete this season, going on a nosedive as they've lost 20 of 29. With that being said, Philly has witnessed point guard Jrue Holiday make the leap to elite this season.
Why not solidify the perimeter with another UCLA product in the high-motor Shabazz Muhammad?
Muhammad has great handles and crashes the boards hard on both ends of the floor. He's also a lethal shooter with his feet set and a powerful player with versatility as a defender.
Whether he's at the 2 or 3 spot, Muhammad would instantly improve the Sixers.
12. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh Mountain Hawks
The Portland Trail Blazers need to improve their second unit. The progression of center Meyers Leonard and perimeter man Will Barton should help to a certain extent, but Portland ranks 30th in bench scoring, efficiency and defensive efficiency.
Portland needs a player who can step in and contribute right away—that's C.J. McCollum out of Lehigh.
McCollum is an efficient scorer who thrives with the ball in his hands. He can attack the paint off of the dribble or step back and convert from three-point range.
McCollum could become Portland's sixth man of the future.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville Cardinals
The Dallas Mavericks have suffered in the two years in which they've been without Tyson Chandler at the 5. For that reason, the Mavericks must find a way to land an athletic big man who thrives on the defensive end of the floor.
Enter Gorgui Dieng of the national champion Louisville Cardinals.
Dieng is an elite interior defending prospect, pairing explosive leaping ability with high-quality mobility and world-class anticipation. He can block the shots of driving scorers or step out to defend jump shots.
If that's not enough to convince you, note that Dieng's massive wingspan is met with the ability to pass at a top-tier level for his position.
14. Utah Jazz: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State Spartans
The Utah Jazz have significantly improved their perimeter from an offensive perspective. Mo Williams and Randy Foye are lights out from beyond the arc, while Gordon Hayward has made marvelous strides as an all-around player.
With that being said, the Jazz need a two-way player who can pick up elite scorers defensively. They need Gary Harris out of Michigan State.
A player who will likely go higher than 14th.
Harris is a physical defender who is more powerful than his frame may seem at first glance. He's also a quality offensive player who thrives as a spot-up shooter.
Harris is everything Utah needs with star potential to boot.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan Wolverines
The Milwaukee Bucks are a team that is preparing for a massive roster overhaul entering the 2013 NBA offseason. Regardless of whom they lose, the Bucks will still have a void to fill at small forward.
Who better than Glenn Robinson III?
GRIII is the son of former Bucks great Glenn Robinson Jr. More importantly, he's a dynamic athlete who makes plays in the passing lanes and rebounds at a high rate.
Upside is debatable in this instance, but Robinson III is as good as they come at No. 15.
16. Boston Celtics: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas Jayhawks
The Boston Celtics are a team that thrives on defensive pressure and rim protection. Unfortunately, the Celtics have struggled to protect the rim in 2012-13 as Kevin Garnett is finally beginning to experience the ways of Father Time.
One way or another, the Celtics need to draft a shot-blocking center. It just so happens that few thrive in that capacity quite like Kansas center Jeff Withey.
Need we explain this any further?
17. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Heat, from Lakers): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh Panthers
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the right to swap first-round draft choices with the Los Angeles Lakers if they make the playoffs. It's hard to imagine that they will pass up on that opportunity, as they go from No. 30 to No. 17.
By way of this model of a mock draft, the Cavaliers fill their biggest remaining need by going after center Steven Adams.
The Cavaliers need a shot-blocker and Adams has proved to be a dominant one. Not only does he have an NBA frame, but Adams is rapidly developing in every facet of the game.
He may not be Nerlens Noel, but Adams could be one of the better players to come out of this draft class.
18. Atlanta Hawks: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
The Atlanta Hawks have an abundance of holes in their rotation. From the departure of stars in free agency to the trades that general manager Danny Ferry has made to blow this team up, Atlanta is run thin.
Where better to start than at small forward, where Josh Smith is set to depart?
Dario Saric is a 6'10" small forward with wide open court vision and supreme passing abilities. His length and activity should be welcome in Atlanta as they attempt to reload on shooters.
Size has been an issue at times for the Hawks, so this addition would be welcome.
19. Chicago Bulls: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia Bulldogs
The Chicago Bulls still need a shooting guard who can shoot off of the catch. They'd certainly benefit if that player could create his own shot when Derrick Rose isn't on the floor.
SEC Player of the Year and Georgia Bulldogs shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fits that bill.
Caldwell-Pope is a rangy shooter with strong handles and a commitment to the glass. Not only can he space the floor, but he can take it inside and crash the offensive boards.
Caldwell-Pope is everything Tom Thibodeau could ask for.
20. Atlanta Hawks (via Nets, from Rockets): Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga Bulldogs
One way or another, the Atlanta Hawks need to move Al Horford back to power forward. They can achieve that by drafting Kelly Olynyk, thus placing a mobile big body in the paint.
For a Hawks team with six players under contract, there are holes everywhere—center just so happens to be the most significant remaining.
Olynyk may not be a star, but he's a big body with loads of energy. His presence down low will be valuable and his upside is significant, as Olynyk has gone from a non-factor to one of the nation's most efficient players in the matter of one season.
At No. 20, this is a low-risk selection that could provide Atlanta with a quality role player for years to come.
21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke Blue Devils
The Utah Jazz addressed their perimeter with their first pick and now need to create interior depth. With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson both pending free agents, the sense of urgency is large.
Fortunately, Mason Plumlee has dropped this far and he fits Utah's every need.
Plumlee is a mobile big man who finishes well around the basket and rebounds at a high rate. As a backup to Al Jefferson and Enes Kanter, that's all Utah could ask of him.
This is the easy pick based off of fit and need.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Isaiah Austin, PF/C, Baylor Bears
The Brooklyn Nets need a power forward for the future. Andray Blatche is playing at an absurdly high level, Reggie Evans is a rebounding monster and Kris Humphries is as undervalued as they come, but each have their factors going against them.
Landing 7'0" athlete Isaiah Austin could put an end to the search.
Blatche could be the answer, but his minutes have been inconsistent. Humphries and Evans, meanwhile, are either in or past their prime and have carved out specific roles in the NBA.
Austin, meanwhile, has powerful star potential with a rare combination of size, length and athleticism.
23. Indiana Pacers: James Michael McAdoo, PF, North Carolina Tar Heels
With David West set to enter free agency, the Indiana Pacers will begin their search for a new franchise power forward. This makes Indiana's biggest need the 4 spot, which brings us to a reach.
James Michael McAdoo out of UNC.
McAdoo has come under fire due to his inability to perform at the level expected of him. He's proved to be less explosive than previously assumed and could struggle at the next level because of his size.
With that being said, few players have McAdoo's upside—this is a low-risk, high-reward type of move.
24. New York Knicks: Rudy Gobert, PF, France
The New York Knicks are desperate for youth in the frontcourt. New York's current reserves, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin, are all older than 35.
Although a majority of the Americans are off of the board, the Knicks can go international and land Rudy Gobert of France.
Gobert is a massive individual, standing at 7'1" with a 7'9" wingspan. This is the type of player that the Knicks need along the interior, as their length and youth is limited at best.
Iman Shumpert is the only player on the roster younger than 27—Gobert is 20.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Allen Crabbe, SG, California Golden Bears
There aren't very many weaknesses in the Los Angeles Clippers' current makeup. If they do struggle in one area, however, it's defending the three-point line.
L.A. is currently 25th in opponent three-point field-goal percentage. In order to cure said woes, they'll need to find a player who can defend the perimeter and shoot the ball himself.
California shooting guard Allen Crabbe fits the bill.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis): P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina Tar Heels
Even with the addition of Victor Oladipo, the Minnesota Timberwolves are short on shooters and legitimate 2-guards. They add more depth here by drafting sharpshooter P.J. Hairston out of UNC.
A move that could help the NBA's worst three-point shooting team.
Minnesota is currently shooting 30.3 percent from beyond the arc as a team. That's worst in the NBA, right behind the 29th-ranked Phoenix Suns who sit at 32.9 percent.
The T-Wolves need shooters—desperately.
27. Denver Nuggets: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State Aztecs
The Denver Nuggets are a dominant open court offensive unit. They get out in transition at will, have limitless depth at every position and will win nine out of 10 scoring battles.
With that being said, the Nuggets are weak in the half court—having a player who can take it off the bounce is a great way to improve.
Franklin can take it to the rack, crash the boards at an elite level, facilitate or play lockdown defense. Although he struggles with consistency, the ability is there for stardom.
Denver would land a steal here.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Matthew Dellavedova, PG/SG, St. Mary's Gaels
The San Antonio Spurs are beginning to see the reality that Manu Ginobili will not be around forever. He's been battling injuries throughout 2012-13 and, at 35, is due for a long-term replacement.
Who better than combo guard sharpshooter Matthew Dellavedova?
Dellavedova fits what San Antonio does to perfection, as he thrives in the screen games due to his superior size at 6'4". He can also play off-ball and stroke it from well beyond the arc.
Dellavedova's familiarity with current Spurs point guard Patty Mills doesn't hurt.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton Bluejays
The Oklahoma City Thunder made a drastic improvement when they landed Alex Len in this scenario. They improved their greatest weakness and must now turn their focus to solidifying another area of concern.
Small forward, where they are in dire need of depth behind Kevin Durant.
OKC's second unit is rather one-dimensional, as their defensive pressure is respectable but their offense inconsistent. If Kevin Martin's shot isn't falling, it's rare that anyone else's will follow a different pattern.
For that reason drafting Doug McDermott is the ultimate cure-all, as they land a 3 who can shoot the three.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Lakers, from Cavs): Reggie Bullock, SF, North Carolina Tar Heels
The Phoenix Suns hit the jackpot early on, landing Ben McLemore as he slid down the draft board. With their second first-round draft choice, they address that need to a further extent by drafting Reggie Bullock of North Carolina.
Pairing Bullock with McLemore would go a long way towards improving the NBA's 29th-ranked three-point shooting team.
Bullock is a powerful player with an NBA body and the type of frame that should fill out in time. Once it does, he should be able to make a significant impact on the defensive end.
At pick No. 30, Phoenix lands a player that could transform their offense.