For teams that missed the NBA playoffs and for those that have been eliminated or are soon to be, the offseason represents a time of hope.
Let’s take a look at what each franchise could do in the first-round of the 2013 NBA draft, which includes some quick-hitting analysis on each of the prospective picks and how they would fit with their new team.
1. Orlando Magic: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Noel is still the top candidate to come off the board No. 1 overall, despite the fact that he’s rehabilitating the left ACL he tore back in February.
Because of his shot-blocking skills, immense athleticism, non-stop motor and upside on offense, the Magic would draft him as a forward to pair in the frontcourt with the blossoming Nikola Vucevic.
Orlando still needs to find a point guard to complete its youth movement, so don’t be surprised if GM Rob Hennigan swings a trade prior to the draft or on the day itself in order to land another first-rounder.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
The Bobcats need to find a franchise scorer and an elite prospect to place in the backcourt with Kemba Walker, who is finally blooming as he gets set to enter his third year in the league.
McLemore is the right piece, as his unconscious three-point shooting and quick release make him ideal for lighting up the scoreboard in a hurry. He has to work on his consistency and working to get to the cup more often, but that should come in time.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
With Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters in place, the Cavs have some bright, young talent to shoulder the scoring load for the foreseeable future.
This gives them the luxury to nab Porter here, as he is a perfect third-option that would take efficient, open shots, defend the top perimeter option, hustle hard on every possession, clean the glass on both ends and more.
4. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Bennett is a bit of tweener, which makes him valuable for a squad without a consistent, proven lineup—such as Phoenix.
The Suns could use him as an undersized but strong power forward that out-muscles his opponent in the paint under either basket, or as a bulky small forward that can defend the position well, shoot three-pointers and post-up against small defenders.
5. New Orleans Hornets: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
While Greivis Vasquez put together an awesome season in NOLA, the Hornets would be hard-pressed to pass on Burke here.
The Michigan star is an elite passer and scorer who possesses intangibles that would help New Orleans rise from the basement of the league. There are also plenty of available minutes for both Burke and Vasquez to share the floor and play off one another.
6. Sacramento Kings: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
The Kings may have plenty of guards on the roster, but none of them have Oladipo’s commitment to defense and ability to impact a game without the ball in his hands.
This Hoosiers star uses his incredible athleticism to shut his man down, races up and down the floor, works relentlessly for extra possessions and takes efficient shots from both distance and close to the hoop.
7. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
With Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond forming a frontcourt tandem worth building around, expect the Pistons to select a swingman that can simply score.
While Muhammad’s stock is down a bit after the discovery of his true age, he’s still a lights-out marksman that could eventually become a 20-plus points per game guy in the NBA.
8. Washington Wizards: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Although Len will be out for four-to-six months after undergoing ankle surgery, he’s still worth a shot early on in this weak draft class.
The Wizards need to land a high-upside, young big man to augment the frontcourt rotation. Their backcourt is already set with John Wall and Bradley Beal, leaving the door open for this 7’1” behemoth and his impressive low-post maneuvers to land in D.C.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh
The T’Wolves have constantly sought out ways to fill the shooting guard position, but they have often come up empty handed.
They can change that by selecting McCollum in the lottery, as the young star out of Lehigh is capable of making shots from anywhere in the arena and is unafraid to hoist them up at any time. His size may be an issue, but don’t sleep on him finding a way to succeed at the next level, even as an top-tier sixth man coming off the bench.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Portland needs to bolster its bench in order to become a serious playoff contender.
Zeller would be a major upgrade to the second unit and could potentially even start, depending on what the Blazers do in free agency. J.J. Hickson is set to hit the open market and isn’t likely to return, leaving a major hole at the 5 that Zeller could fill.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
With Andrew Bynum dancing around in Spain, there should be no reason the Sixers bring the former All-Star back after missing the entire 2012-13 campaign.
If the two sides part ways, expect Philly to address the gaping hole at center via the draft. Olynyk is the best option available after Len and Zeller, as his offensive firepower via a face-up and low-post game are impressive.
His defensive capabilities and athleticism are questionable, but the ‘Zags star should be able to soak minutes in the City of Brotherly Love.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
The “Greek Freak” has been flying up draft boards lately, as he looks capable of playing any position from the point to the power forward. He has a huge 6’9” frame and a ton of upside, as he can handle the rock and pass extremely well.
He has to work on adding some weight, extending the range on his jumper and defending, but the Thunder can afford to stash him in Europe until he’s ready to make the leap.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Saric is the top international prospect on my big board, although his upside isn’t as high as Adetokunbo. Regardless, the Croatian has a decent chance of actually making it to the NBA in the near future, as his facilitating, shooting touch and basketball I.Q. are top-notch.
The Mavs haven’t been shy with gambling on high-risk foreign prospects in the past, and you only must look at the impact that Dirk Nowitzki has had on this franchise in order to see that.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Jazz have the unique problem of having too many serviceable bigs and hardly any playable guards that can get them the rock.
Carter-Williams instantly changes that, as the former Orange guard is one of the best passers in this class and can play great defense with his 6’6” frame. His shooting and handling need work, but the value and need is too great for Utah to pass up here at the end of the lottery.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Because Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick could all be on another roster by the time next summer concludes, it’s time for the Bucks to start bolstering the backcourt.
Franklin is arguably the best athlete in this class and is an incredible rebounder at the 2. He has to improve his jumper in order to become a serviceable weapon in the Association, but his ceiling makes him worth a selection here.
16. Boston Celtics: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Dieng proved that he is a winner that is capable of stepping up in big games, which is exactly the kind of intangibles the Celtics should be looking for in a big as they try to replace Kevin Garnett.
The Louisville star is a bit raw offensively, but his athleticism and rim-protecting skills make him a perfect fit in Beantown.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
After getting eliminated in the first round, the Hawks desperately need to bring in a high-energy player that can motivate the team to play defense, help them earn extra possessions and do all the little things that winning organizations require.
Plumlee may not have the upside that many of these other bigs do, but his work ethic and motor are amongst the best in the class.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Adams is a raw big man that is showing great promise on defense, although his offense is a long way from being ready for the NBA.
Regardless, the club needs to find an elite center that will allow Al Horford to return to his natural power forward position. Adams could be that guy, but it will will take some time.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Glen Rice Jr., SF, D-League
Rice has been lighting it up with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and is primed to become the first D-Leaguer to get selected in the first-round of the draft.
If he succeeds, it may open the door for more players to skip college and join the equivalent of the minor leagues in the NBA. As a prospect, Rice is an elite shooter that is also capable of passing and rebounding well for someone at the 3.
Cleveland should take a stab at him here, as he could come off their bench and fill a number of roles. Add in his NBA pedigree, and it will be hard to pass on Rice Jr. here at No. 19.
20. Chicago Bulls: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
The Bulls backcourt could look drastically different next season with Derrick Rose healthy and Caldwell-Pope playing off him at the 2.
This young man is a great shooter that can stretch the defense, while also possessing the athleticism and mentality to succeed on defense in coach Tom Thibodeau’s system. That is all Chicago needs from its shooting guard at this juncture.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Karasev is a high-upside international prospect that can absolutely shoot the lights out.
With the Jazz selecting MCW earlier in this mock, they’ll need a three-point sniper to offset the Syracuse star’s inadequacies in that department.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
The Nets are no stranger to looking overseas for prospects, as both Mirza Teletovic and Tornike Shengelia made the active roster this season.
Abrines is a deadly shooter that could wind up becoming one of the top scorers in this draft when all is said and done. If he pans out, the Spaniard would greatly bolster the guard rotation in Brooklyn.
23. Indiana Pacers: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Crabbe is another sharpshooter that should go in the mid-to-late portion of this round.
He’s a bit streaky, but when he’s feeling it, the youngster can make a shot from anywhere on the court and help a second-unit bury the opposition.
24. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
The Knickerbockers constantly struggled with injuries in the frontcourt, mostly due to age and wear-and-tear on their key players down low.
That can change with Withey’s presence, as the four-year Jayhawk has plenty left in his legs, immense shot-blocking abilities and a knack for defending. On a team with Carmelo Anthony, his lack of offense shouldn’t be an issue.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
Until Goodwin figures out a way to shoot and play with more control, he’s not going to be able to find many minutes during competitive NBA games.
However, because of his otherworldly athleticism and ceiling, a team like Minnesota—which is starved for production at the 2—could take a flier on him.
26. Los Angeles Clippers: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Schroeder is a big point guard that lit it up at the Nike Hoops Summit in Oregon in late April. He has great size, slashing ability and—most importantly—a knack for facilitating, which is critical in becoming an elite point guard in the NBA.
If the Clippers plan to trade Eric Bledsoe, or want insurance in case they lose Chris Paul in free agency, this is the pick.
27. Denver Nuggets: Rudy Gobert, C, France
The Nuggets fell short in 2013, but it wasn’t because of any particular player on the roster.This team simply lacks a superstar, despite having plenty of depth all over the court.
With that said, Denver will likely select an international prospect like Gobert that can be stashed overseas in order to develop. This way they can utilize him down the line on the court, or—more likely—as a chip in a trade to bring in a franchise player.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
The Spurs could always use another player that helps keep the pressure off their stars and spaces out the floor. Considering Hardaway Jr.’s main issues are his shot selection and handle, his weaknesses shouldn’t remain present for long.
Coach Gregg Popovich can coach him to only take efficient shots, while his handle won’t be needed when he’s only firing up open three-pointers from the corner.
Factor in his great size and athleticism—which should help him as a team defender—and you are staring at a perfect Spurs draft pick.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
With Russell Westbrook going down in the postseason, the Thunder should look to bring in insurance at the point guard position.
Kabongo reminds me of Rajon Rondo, as he’s an athletic, pass-first point guard that can penetrate with ease and kick it out to open teammates.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Phoenix is getting a steal here in Mitchell, who never panned out as the elite scorer that many expected him to be during his time with the Mean Green.
Regardless, as an athletic specimen that can rebound well and defend either forward spot, he’s a slam-dunk pick at No. 29. The Suns would also benefit greatly if he ever reaches his ceiling as a scorer, but that could take some time.