2013 NBA Mock Draft: Selections to Drastically Improve Every First Round Team
In less than two months, the world's elite prospects will become rookies at the 2013 NBA Draft. At the annual selection process, every team will be looking to find either an instant impact player or a long-term project that can one day help carry their franchise.
The question is, where would every first-round team look if they were hoping to drastically improve their current squad?
There are teams that have fallen into unfavorable draft position in terms of being able to draft an All-Star. With that being said, those teams do not need to find a star in order to significantly improve their every day rotation.
So where should the first round teams be looking?
1. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan Wolverines
Assuming the Orlando Magic win the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery and retain the rights to the first overall draft choice, there's a strong possibility they trade down. They have young players at multiple positions and aren't in a position in which the best player available is the proper fit.
If they do stay at No. 1, expect Orlando to go with Trey Burke out of Michigan.
There is a deeper class of point guards in 2014, which suggests they could wait. With that being said, Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris produced at an extraordinary level after the All-Star Break and Nikola Vucevic is a force at center.
The question is, where do the Magic go? Do they replace 31-year-old point guard Jameer Nelson or shooting guard Arron Afflalo, who was a key in the Dwight Howard trade?
Afflalo is faring well and there is urgency to land a point guard, so waiting a calendar year for what could be isn't an option if they choose to remain in this position.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky Wildcats
The Charlotte Bobcats luck out in this situation, landing the best player on the board in Nerlens Noel out of Kentucky. Contrary to the belief that Noel is a project player, he's actually a complete product defensively and a developing prospect offensively.
Noel can start from day one and be a force along the interior.
In 2012, the Bobcats landed small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to improve their perimeter defense. Even as Bismack Biyombo displays potential, the Bobcats need a defensive anchor that has right now abilities.
Noel can be that player.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, Small Forward, Georgetown Hoyas
Regardless of what transpired at first and second overall, there is no chance that the Cleveland Cavaliers allow Otto Porter to slip by them. Not only is Cleveland without a reliable option at the 3, but Porter is, arguably, the most well-rounded player in the draft.
There's no reason that Cleveland would pass up on this opportunity.
Porter is an elite on-ball defense with magnificent length and a versatile offensive player. He's an above 40.0 percent three-point shooter, a high-quality ball-handler and a point forward type of facilitator.
This is the perfect pick for Cleveland.
4. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas Jayhawks
The Phoenix Suns are in a luxurious position here, as they're in dire need of a shooting guard and Ben McLemore has dropped into their laps. With this in mind, there is absolutely no chance that Phoenix passes up on this opportunity.
They need a 2 that can produce offensively and McLemore can be that player.
McLemore has quality size at 6'5" and possesses the build necessary to become a powerful force physically. McLemore is also a high-quality athlete that has the potential to be a 20-point per game scorer at the next level.
Phoenix needs shooters after ranking 28th in three-point field-goal percentage and an every day shooting guard that they can build with. McLemore is that caliber player.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse Orange
The New Orleans Pelicans have numerous options here, and they all involve their perimeter. With no adequate center, the options are point guard, shooting guard and small forward.
Expect the Pelicans to select Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse.
According to John Reid of The Times-Picayune, the Pelicans are not ruling out trading Eric Gordon this upcoming summer. If they do trade Gordon, they'll likely attempt to use him as leverage for a higher draft choice.
If they stay, think of it this way—Carter-Williams shares size and elite facilitating abilities with current Pelicans point guard Greivis Vasquez. The difference between the two?
Carter-Williams has the potential to be an elite on-ball defender with his size, length and active hands.
6. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV Rebels
The Sacramento Kings have an abundance of needs entering this draft, but no area of weakness is as significant as their questions at small forward and power forward, respectively. This creates a decision to make between power forward Anthony Bennett and small forward Shabazz Muhammad.
With the potential to build an elite young interior, the Kings will go with Bennett.
Bennett would complement DeMarcus Cousins and create an interior based on pure power. While Patrick Patterson's presence will help Cousins due to their familiarity, Bennett can be a powerful interior or perimeter presence.
Positional versatility is attractive and Bennett has as much as anyone.
7. Detroit Pistons: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana Hoosiers
The Detroit Pistons are a decorated franchise that have won three NBA championships embracing a defensive philosophy. With this in mind, it's likely that they look to improve a perimeter led by underwhelming offensive players.
Who better than Victor Oladipo out of Indiana?
Oladipo has superstar potential with effortlessly explosive athleticism and an extraordinary basketball IQ. Not only does he dominate while defending on-the-ball, but he shoots the three-ball well and attacks the basket with relative ease.
This would be a perfect fit for both Detroit and Oladipo.
8. Washington Wizards: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA Bruins
The Washington Wizards are on the brink of reaching the postseason after ranking eighth in scoring defense and going 24-25 upon John Wall's return from injury. The key from this point onward is to land a scoring presence in the frontcourt.
That includes small forward, where Shabazz Muhammad is of an extraordinarily intriguing build.
Muhammad is a powerful player that attacks the basket and finishes in traffic with poise and consistency. With his feet set, Muhammad can also shoot from beyond the arc and provide a drive-and-dish weapon for Wall.
The Wizards have the opportunity to build their perimeter for the future by adding Muhammad to the dynamic duo of Wall and Bradley Beal, so why pass up on this chance?
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh Mountain Hawks
The Minnesota Timberwolves have an abundance of guards, but they lack any form of consistent three-point shooting. For those hoping to debate that truth, Minnesota was dead last in three-point field-goal percentage.
Minnesota needs a scorer that can shoot at a high rate and C.J. McCollum is the perfect player for them.
McCollum can handle the ball and facilitate in pinch situations, but his true strength is his creativity and scoring ability. Whether creating his own shot or working off of screens, McCollum has the potential to be a high-quality scorer.
Alongside Ricky Rubio, the development process should be expedited.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia Bulldogs
The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off a season in which they ranked dead last in second unit scoring. They also placed 20th in three-point field-goal percentage, which is concerning seeing as they were fourth in three-point field-goal attempts.
Where else would they look than to find a sharpshooting perimeter player that can step in as a sixth man?
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, can step in as a scorer from the opening tip. With his ability to space the floor and Will Barton's dynamic athleticism, the Blazers' second unit perimeter would be one to marvel.
If Caldwell-Pope can score in an adequate manner, he can be the rest-providing reserve that enables Portland to avoid a second consecutive collapse due to fatigue.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Alex Len, C, Maryland Terrapins
Even if Andrew Bynum is to re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers, the team needs to create depth at the center position. As a team that has been built to play as a low-high squad, there are few options as attractive as Alex Len.
The former Maryland Terrapin may not be an elite scorer, but his ability to create for others is quite intriguing.
Len is a quality passer both out of the high and low posts, which should help a 76ers team that failed to generate consistent offense. With a budding star in Jrue Holiday at point guard and a dynamic slasher in Thaddeus Young, Len would fit in nicely.
His ability to protect the rim is just an added benefit.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Cody Zeller, C, Indiana Hoosiers
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a full crop of centers to choose from here, as they need a big man who can score out of the post. While Cody Zeller may not be a star interior prospect, he's a capable playmaker with his back to the basket.
That's exactly what OKC needs to be able to overtake the Miami Heat—no guarantees, of course.
Zeller has a rapidly developing face-up game, but his ability to work along the interior is the key. He can finish with both hands around the basket and has a quick first step when taking his man off of the bounce.
For what it's worth, Zeller was Indiana's go-to clutch scorer.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Regardless of what they do during the upcoming period of free agency, the Dallas Mavericks need a point guard. It just so happens that the floor general with, arguably, the most potential in this draft appears to be available at this point.
Dennis Schroeder from Germany.
In terms of playing style, Schroeder is very similar to Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson. He's explosive in the open court, attacks the basket well in the half court and finishes in a variety of manners around the rim.
In terms of his build, however, his massive wingspan likens him to Boston Celtics floor general Rajon Rondo—intrigued yet?
14. Utah Jazz: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
The Utah Jazz are in an interesting predicament, as they are preparing to lose their starting power forward and center to free agency. With top five draft choices at those positions in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, however, Utah can be flexible here.
Why not pick the most intriguing player available in point forward Dario Saric out of Croatia?
Saric is a point forward with a diverse skill set along the perimeter and in transition. Not only can he facilitate at a high level, but Saric is a dynamic scorer that can light it up from beyond the arc when he gets his feet set.
Saric has as much upside as any prospect in this draft and Utah would be wise to gamble on him in a low-risk position.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
Giannis Adetokunbo has been generating headlines lately, as the 6'9" point forward puts scouts on full alert. With that being established, it's quite likely that a team in need of a dynamic perimeter player will bite.
Milwaukee Bucks, anyone?
Adetokunbo must improve his perimeter scoring, but paired with Brandon Jennings, he could create a dynamic duo. Both players can handle the ball and facilitate, which presents Milwaukee with a rare dynamic.
They need a small forward and there are few as intriguing as Adetokunbo, who could either play the 3 or the point.
16. Boston Celtics: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas Jayhawks
The Boston Celtics are in dire need of a rim protector and there are few better than Jeff Withey out of Kansas. Whether or not Kevin Garnett retires is irrelevant here, as the Celtics need a player to defend the paint.
They lacked one in 2012-13 and are thus watching the rest of the playoffs from their couches.
Withey is an experienced player that thrives on utilizing his length and anticipation skills. Not only would the true 7'0" footer provide a presence that slashers must go over, but he can step out to the perimeter in pinch situations.
Withey certainly fits Boston's defensive-minded culture.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin, SG/SF, San Diego State Aztecs
Jamaal Franklin could be a lottery pick, but since he isn't, the Atlanta Hawks jump on the opportunity to land an athletic dynamo to add to their perimeter. Not only can Franklin step in as a do-it-all offensive player, but he a dominant rebounder with the potential to be elite on defense.
With marvelous length and powerful athleticism, Franklin has true star potential.
Even if he is to develop into more of a role player, Franklin's athleticism and versatility is beyond intriguing. Not only can he play multiple positions, but he can serve several purposes on the court.
Atlanta needs a big man, but this is a value pick.
18. Chicago Bulls: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Chicago Bulls have missed the energy of former backup center Omer Asik since he departed for the Houston Rockets. In order to find a replacement, they need not look any further than Kelly Olynyk out of Gonzaga.
Olynyk has a terrific motor and has improved as much as any player in the entire country over the past season.
Olynyk has gone from a non-factor on Gonzaga's roster to one of the best players in college basketball in the span of one season. With great size at 7'0" and the frame to turn into a powerful player, Olynyk has it all physically.
With non-stop energy and a rapidly developing offensive game, Chicago could find Asik 2.0 with better offensive skills at No. 18.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Suns, from Heat): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh Panthers
The Cleveland Cavaliers hit the jackpot early, landing versatile small forward Otto Porter out of Georgetown. Up next, they must acknowledge their lack of interior defense by drafting a rim protecting center.
Steven Adams out of Pittsburgh can be that player.
Adams stands at 7'0" and 240 pounds, which is encouraging seeing as he's still just 19 years old. On top of his NBA body, Adams is an established shot-blocker with the potential to be a high-quality player on offense.
With Kyrie Irving running the show, scoring baskets will certainly come easily for him.
20. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville Cardinals
In my humble opinion, Gorgui Dieng is the best center in this draft class not named Nerlens Noel. Unfortunately, his draft stock does not currently reflect that status and we must evaluate him as such until that changes.
The Atlanta Hawks would have it no other way, as they draft the rim protecting big man they so desperately need to move Al Horford back to power forward.
Atlanta attempted to play Horford at the 4, but their options at the 5 were limited to the likes of Johan Petro and the injured Zaza Pachulia. By drafting Dieng, the Hawks would land a potentially elite interior defender.
Dieng has also improved his face-up game, can pass as well as any big in this draft and anchored the national champion Louisville Cardinals.
21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke Blue Devils
The Utah Jazz landed the best player available in Dario Saric at No. 14 overall. Their next move will require them to create depth in the frontcourt by landing a player who should be going in the lottery.
Why even hesitate to take Mason Plumlee as low as No. 21?
Plumlee was once the National Player of the Year front runner, but saw his stock drop significantly during the course of the season. Even still, he's an intriguing prospect with a strong presence on the boards.
As a versatile scorer, Plumlee could be the reserve big that Utah needs to continue making strides as an organization.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Rudy Gobert, PF/C, France
The Brooklyn Nets could be looking at a shooting guard, but MarShon Brooks remains on the roster. Until his ship has sailed, there's no reason to believe he can't help Joe Johnson recover and lead Brooklyn in 2013.
It's time to take the best player available in Rudy Gobert.
Gobert could go significantly earlier, but he is a bit of a project player coming over from Europe. With a 7'9" wingspan, however, there is no denying how intriguing a player he truly is.
Brooklyn has depth at power forward but lacks a franchise 4, which makes Gobert the easy choice here.
23. Indiana Pacers: Allen Crabbe, SG, California Golden Bears
The Indiana Pacers have a long-term starter at shooting guard in Lance Stephenson. They also have a dynamic perimeter player in Paul George, who could play the 2 but has performed significantly better at the 3.
Next on Indiana's agenda is to improve their perimeter shooting and still maintain their defensive integrity.
Allen Crabbe out of California is the perfect fit here, as he can create his own shot or work off of the ball. Crabbe is also a physical defender that presses well and maintains a solid base when defending quicker players.
Danny Granger is the X-Factor here, but Crabbe is the rational choice here.
24. New York Knicks: Mouhammadou Jaiteh, PF, France
The New York Knicks need to get younger all over the floor, specifically at point guard. With that being said, their interior must be a focus as players such as Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby are on the wrong side of age.
With Amar'e Stoudemire's future uncertain, the Knicks make a move here to bring over Mouhammadou Jaiteh from France.
This gives the Knicks the ability to use Jaiteh as a stashed prospect or use him as a prospect in 2013-14. This provides rotational versatility and enables STAT to rediscover his role in the Knicks' rotation.
New York needs interior depth and no big man is better than Jaiteh here.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky Wildcats
The Los Angeles Clippers were exposed during the postseason as a team without scoring depth. While their reserves step up when needed, they lack players outside of Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford that can create their own shot.
That makes Archie Goodwin out of Kentucky the easy option here.
Goodwin would be able to step in from the opening tip to provide depth along the perimeter. He can attack off of the bounce, is physical on defense and has the athleticism to permit development into a starting 2.
With Eric Bledsoe and Chris Paul's future in L.A. undetermined, landing a player that can create their own buckets is huge here for the Clippers.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Sergey Karasev, SG, Russia
The Minnesota Timberwolves landed a high-quality scorer in C.J. McCollum with their first pick in this scenario. With that being said, they ranked dead last in three-point field goal and finding one prospect doesn't change that.
Adding Sergey Karasev can.
Karasev can shoot the ball, take it off of the bounce or facilitate the offense. Most importantly, he has superb size at 6'7" and fits in with Minnesota's perimeter duo of Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko, who also come from Russia.
Familiarity is key for a young team, but so is talent—Karasev has both.
27. Denver Nuggets: Erick Green, PG, Virginia Tech Hokies
Andre Miller isn't getting any younger and the Denver Nuggets still can't shoot the basketball. Both of those issues were exploited during Denver's first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors.
They can kill two birds with one stone here by landing NCAA Division I scoring champion Erick Green out of Virginia Tech.
Green can run point or play off of the ball, as his ability to create for others or shoot the basketball permits a wide variety of approaches to the game. This enables the Nuggets to play Green alongside Ty Lawson or put Green in as a backup point guard.
Despite throwing up 17.2 field-goal attempts per game, Green finished with a slash line of .475/.389/.816.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Matthew Dellavedova, PG/SG, Saint Mary's Gaels
This pick comes down to one of four players, as the San Antonio Spurs balance positional needs with overall requirements. Those players include small forward Tony Snell, shooting guard Alex Abrines, point guard Ray McCallum and combo guard Matthew Dellavedova.
With Manu Ginobili set to become a free agent and his regular-season availability limited, it's Dellavedova that gets the nod.
Dellavedova is an elite pick-and-roll facilitator at 6'4", combining size with precision on his passes. He's also a dynamic scorer that can attack the basket or step back for the three-ball.
It doesn't hurt that he has international experience as a member of the Australian national team at the 2012 London Olympics.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Bullock, SF, North Carolina Tar Heels
If the loss of Russell Westbrook has proven anything about the Oklahoma City Thunder, it's that they lack depth offensively. Westbrook and Kevin Durant can carry the load, while Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin are reliable options, but nothing screams consistency outside of the stars.
OKC's bench needs to be able to score and in order to do so, they land versatile perimeter shooter Reggie Bullock.
Bullock has the strength to play small forward but the athleticism necessary to play shooting guard. Regardless of where he is, the man can shoot at a high clip and significantly improve the Thunder's second unit.
With another pick coming early in the second round, OKC can be flexible here and Bullock is the ideal choice.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Cavs, from Lakers): Deshaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State Buckeyes
Having landed a franchise shooting guard, the Phoenix Suns can gamble here on a player they feel will benefit them most. Although he could slip into the middle of the second round, the perfect selection here would be Deshaun Thomas out of Ohio State.
Thomas has big stage experience, can score in a variety of ways and serves the same purpose as Michael Beasley—you know, without the character issues.
Thomas receives credit for his versatility, as he can score as a jump shooter or take it inside with his powerful frame. In the post, Thomas uses constant movement and strong shoulders to gain position and score against taller opponents.
Thomas looks like a player that could have a long NBA career.
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