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2013 NBA Mock Draft: Big-Time Picks That Will Shape the NBA's Future

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2013 NBA Mock Draft: Big-Time Picks That Will Shape the NBA's Future
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A weak draft does not equal one that is completely void of talent. 

The 1998 draft, which featured Pacific superstar Michael Olowokandi as the No. 1 pick, still produced two future Hall of Famers, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce, and quite possibly a third—Vince Carter.

The 2001 draft, aka the Kwame Brown draft, gave us all-stars such as Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph and Tony Parker (and, of course, Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje).

The worst class of the 2000s—judging by number of all-stars—was 2006, but it still churned out studs like LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo.

While everyone and their sister will tell you that this year's draft is a feeble one, rest assured that it will still produce stars who will help alter the landscape of the NBA in the very near future.

In my newest mock draft—see ya, Doug McDermott and Isaiah Austin—I'll take a closer look at players with that kind of potential (they are in italics). 

 

1. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Magic are in a compelling position. If the odds are ever in their favor and they win the lottery, there will be a spot that is a little early for Trey Burke, who would fill the only position in their starting lineup that isn't set up nicely for the future.

Reaching for the electric point guard wouldn't be shocking, but McLemore—an elite athlete with a gorgeous shooting stroke—has the potential to be a dangerous scorer if he isn't the No. 1 option. 

 

2. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky

I understand that Nerlens Noel's ACL surgery will scare some people away, but that's no longer an injury that you can't recover from.

At 19 years old, there is very little doubt that he will hastily return to his dominant form. 

The former Kentucky star has the tools to be an absolute stud in the NBA. His initial years in the league will see him strictly as a defensive player, but he will do so at an elite level. 

Before suffering his injury, Noel led the country in blocks per game and was 31st in steals per game. He has the size (6'10", 230 pounds), athleticism, explosiveness and instincts to protect the rim with consistency.

While his offensive game is still incredibly raw, his ability to run in transition or score via put-backs will keep him from being a liability on that end of the court. 

Think Larry Sanders, but with a lot more potential.

 

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

The Cavaliers need a small forward, and Otto Porter just so happens to be the best one available—and arguably the top-ranked overall player on the board. 

Porter isn't elite at any one thing, but he has perfect NBA small forward size (6'8" with a wingspan of 7'1") and is the best all-around player in this draft. 

 

4. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

The Suns ranked second to last in offensive efficiency this season and would be well-served to land a perimeter player capable of scoring in bunches from the wing. 

That isn't Oladipo, but at this position it would be a huge mistake to pass on the Indiana superstar. Simply put, he makes your team better—at any level. 

Oladipo's greatest strength lies on the defensive end. He combines his imposing physical traits—trampoline athleticism, elite quickness, chiseled frame—with an endless motor and active hands, and as a result, he is able to cause havoc both in the passing lane and as an on-ball defender. 

He can't really create his own offense off the dribble, but he is an absolute freight train in transition and has improved his jump shot immensely as a junior.

The 20-year-old is getting lots of comparisons to Tony Allen. That's certainly not a slight, but I see the room for him to exceed those expectations. He just has the "it" factor (you know, along with all the other gaudy attributes).  

 

5. New Orleans Hornets: Alex Len, C, Maryland

I'm not wild about Alex Len's inconsistency and propensity to disappear against lesser players, but as the saying goes, you can't teach 7'0" (or 7'1", in his case). 

That can be an infuriating cliche, but when someone combines that size with a smooth offensive skill set and multiple back-to-the-basket moves, they are worth paying attention to.

Len is a true offensive center in every sense of the word, and while he serves as a project, he fits well next to Anthony Davis. 

 

6. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

Toney Douglas and Jimmer Fredette aren't future fixtures at point guard, and I think the Kings would rather bring Isaiah Thomas off the bench in a sixth-man, instant-offense type of role. 

Drafting Trey Burke would give them the true point guard they need—someone capable of making everyone around him better.

College basketball's top player may be undersized (6'0"), but he makes up for it with a 6'5" wingspan, lightning-quick speed and ball-handling, marvelous play-making ability off the pick-and-roll, deadly shooting and top-notch vision and passing. 

As the engine behind America's most efficient offense, Burke proved to be unstoppable in nearly every facet of the game—all the while taking care of the basketball and shining brightest in the biggest moments.

Burke is going to be a star at the next level, and he's going to be a steal at No. 6, should he drop this far. 

 

7. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV

Bennett lost a considerable amount of steam with an underwhelming performance in the NCAA tournament, but this is still a 6'7", 240-pound behemoth who has staggering athleticism and can put the ball on the deck or step outside and shoot it.

He may be a bit of a tweener, and sometimes loses focus, but Bennett has the potential to be an explosive scorer at the next level—and at a position of need for the up-and-coming Wizards. 


8. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA

As owners of the most promising young frontcourt duo in the league, the Detroit Pistons organization can now focus squarely on its perimeter players.

Point guard could be an option with Jose Calderon hitting free agency, but Muhammad will be too enticing to pass up here. The former Bruin doesn't have overwhelming athletic ability, but he's a hard working, mature player who can score from anywhere on the court. 

 

Where should Cody Zeller be drafted?

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9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana

Zeller's dreadful performance against the size and speed of Syracuse left everyone with a bad taste in their mouths, but it's unlikely that a seven-footer who can run the court and knock down the mid-range jumper will fall much further than this, regardless of his need to add strength. 

Minnesota could very well be losing Nikola Pekovic to free agency this summer, and Zeller would help fill that void. 


10. Portland Trail Blazers: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke

The Blazers' starting lineup is set (pending J.J. Hickson testing the free-agent waters), but depth is still a problem. 

Plumlee doesn't have a ceiling as high as others around him but his size (6'11", 240 pounds) and athleticism will allow him to contribute in a specific role off the bench right away. 

 

11. Oklahoma City Thunder (From Toronto Raptors): Rudy Gobert, C, France

The Thunder don't have any glaring needs, but if anyone is replaceable in the starting lineup, it's Kendrick Perkins. 

While it will undoubtedly take some time for Rudy Gobert to adjust to the American game, it's tough to ignore a guy who is 7'1" with a ridiculous 7'9" wingspan. He could stand to add some significant bulk, but Gobert's size, athleticism, mobility and shot-blocking prowess will be difficult to pass up. 

 

12. Philadelphia 76ers: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 76ers finished 26th in the league in offensive efficiency and desperately need to find someone who can fill it up.

There are few fits better than this one. 

McCollum, who can handle the ball or play off it, is an electric scorer who could immediately step in next to Jrue Holiday to give the Sixers a dangerous backcourt duo. 

 

13. Dallas Mavericks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga

The Mavericks are in a position to take the best player available. The only players guaranteed (read: no player option or qualifying offer) to return at this point are Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Jared Cunningham and Jae Crowder.

A lot is bound to change between now and the draft but for now, Kelly Olynyk serves as a compelling option. 

The man with the best hair in America isn't a great defender for a seven-footer, but he has a unique offensive skill set that allows him to score from anywhere on the court.

 

14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

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The Jazz are another team that's difficult to pinpoint, as Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams are all headed for free agency this summer.

Nevertheless, with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter in town, point guard is clearly priority No. 1.

Carter-Williams can be erratic, but he is a burgeoning talent with rare length and excellent vision. 

 

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

There's a possibility the Bucks could lose Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and J.J. Redick in the offseason and as such, they are somewhat difficult to project at this point. 

For now, we'll fill one of those potential departures with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has NBA size (6'5", 205 pounds) and the ability to score in bunches.


16. Boston Celtics: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville

The whispers about a Kevin Garnett retirement have begun again, and while I think that's poppycock, he only has two years left on his current contract.

Sooner or later, the Celtics will have to start grooming his replacement.

At 6'11" and 245 pounds with a 7'6" wingspan, Gorgui Dieng is one of the country's best rim protectors and rebounders. What makes him such an intriguing prospect, though, is his unique passing ability and improving offensive game 

 

17. Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia, Johan Petro and Anthony Tolliver are all hitting free agency this summer and as such, addressing the frontcourt depth will be a major priority for the Atlanta Hawks this offseason. 

Withey doesn't have a ceiling that extends to the clouds like some of the prospects around him, but he is arguably the best interior defender in this draft and will be able to contribute right away. 

 

18. Atlanta Hawks (From Houston Rockets): Giannis Adetokunbo, SF/PF, Greece

After grabbing someone like Withey, who is a low-risk player, look for the Hawks to spend their second pick in a row on the future.

Giannis Adetokunbo is a 6'9" small forward with the versatility to handle the ball and play a little bit of point guard. Throw in his potential as a defensive stud, and it's not surprising to see the point forward skyrocketing up draft boards. 

 

19. Cleveland Cavaliers (From Miami Heat, Swap With Los Angeles Lakers): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

After grabbing a small forward with their first pick, the Cavaliers could easily go a number of different ways here.

Drafting Adams would not only give them an elite rebounding pair with Tristan Thompson—it would make it easier to trade Anderson Varejao, who was at the center of trade rumors before getting hurt this year. 

 

Rob Carr/Getty Images

20. Chicago Bulls: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State

Jimmy Butler's emergence on the wing complicates this pick a little bit, but Marco Belinelli and Richard Hamilton could both easily depart this summer, making depth on the perimeter an issue. 

Franklin, who has the size, intensity and athletic ability to be a pesky defender at the next level, is a comfortable fit with the Bulls. 

 

21. Utah Jazz (From Golden State Warriors): Tony Mitchell, SF/PF, North Texas

It was a disappointing year for Tony Mitchell, but there's still no denying that he has the physical attributes that could make him a force at the next level. 

This is a pick for depth, so the Jazz can afford to take a slight risk when the potential payoff is this massive. 


22. Brooklyn Nets: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia

This is a selection strictly made for the future.

The 19-year-old Saric is a prospect, through and through. He has intriguing physical attributes and a nice feel for the game, but his jump shot and defense still need work, meaning he may be a year or two away from playing in the NBA. 

Nevertheless, the Nets have very little coming off the books next season and will likely enter the 2013-14 season with a roster very similar to this year's. 

 

23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

D.J. Augustin is hitting free agency, and the Pacers will need to find a backup point guard for George Hill. 

Larkin, who just recently put his name into the NBA draft, may be small in stature, but he's an electric playmaker. Not only does he serve as a nice change of pace to Hill, but he has the on-ball defensive ability that Indiana would welcome.   


24. New York Knicks: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany

The Knicks have a lot of depth with no major contributors hitting free agency, and as such, the veteran squad would be wise to plan for the future. 

Schroeder, a 19-year-old point guard from Germany, put his name on the map at the Nike Hoop Summit, pouring in 18 points and six assists against the likes of Andrew Harrison and Kasey Hill. 

The youngster is lightning fast, can run the pick-and-roll, is effective in both the half-court and transition game and plays very good on-ball defense. The Knicks would be wise to snatch him up as an eventual replacement for Raymond Felton. 


25. Minnesota Timberwolves (From Memphis Grizzlies): Allen Crabbe, SG, California

After grabbing a big man earlier in the draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves' greatest weakness lies at the shooting guard position, where Luke Ridnour and Alexey Shved played for most of the season. 

Crabbe is one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He has ideal size (6'6", 205 pounds) and is a terrific, smooth shooter—especially coming off screens. 


Grant Halverson/Getty Images

26. Los Angeles Clippers: C.J. Leslie, PF, North Carolina State

Leslie has the talent to be a top-10 pick, but has never consistently produced at the level that he is capable of. He always shows flashes of brilliance, only to disappear for the next 10 minutes of the game.

Nevertheless, he's an enticing player who would be another incredibly fun piece to add to the Lob City puzzle. 

 

27. Denver Nuggets: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan

The Nuggets need a shooter who is capable of stretching defenses; unfortunately, there are no true specialists who make much sense at this point.

Hardaway is a polarizing prospect who shot just 37.4 percent from deep on the season, but he has proven he can light it up when he gets going.

 

28. San Antonio Spurs: Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia

Karasev was incredibly impressive at the Nike Hoop Summit, and many believe that even at 19, he is one of the most polished international players in the draft.

The Spurs don't have a ton of pressing needs, but this seems like their kind of pick. 

 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Erick Green, PG/SG, Virginia Tech

The Thunder already have two capable point guards in Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson, but they could very well lose Kevin Martin to free agency.

Erick Green and Andre Roberson will be first-round picks.

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Enter Green, who has the ability to play the 2 and proved to be one of America's best pure scorers this season. He could fill the role of instant offense off the bench. 


30. Phoenix Suns (From Los Angeles Lakers): Andre Roberson, SF/PF, Colorado

Many project Roberson as a second-round pick now that he has declared that he is turning pro, but I have him rated much higher. He's a tweener at 6'7", but the energy that he plays with more than makes up for his lack of size.

Getting one of the draft's best rebounders and defenders would be a major coup here for the Suns, who would instantly have a new identity with him and Oladipo on the wing. 

 

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