With the 2013 NBA draft less than two months away, 60 of the world's top prospects will make the transition to the professional ranks and become rookies. During the first round, however, the need for value is at a premium.
The question is, how would the first round transpire if value was of the greatest importance?
There are countless situations in which the teams drafting will see the factor need take precedence over raw ability. In that same breath, general managers can invest their future into players based off of their upside and skill.
It's all about defining value.
1. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas Jayhawks
According to Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops, the Orlando Magic "covet" Kansas Jayhawks shooting guard Ben McLemore. This comes after McLemore has seen his stock fluctuate throughout the season, going from a lock to go No. 1 to a potential fit at No. 4.
When it comes to his landing with the Magic, however, the move certainly makes sense.
Orlando needs a long-term answer at the point guard position, as Jameer Nelson is 31 years old and is coming off a season in which he missed 26 games due to injury. With that being said, Nelson did average 14.7 points and 7.4 assists in 2012-13.
With that being said, point guards such as Andrew Harrison and Dante Exum are eligible for the 2014 NBA draft and appear to possess higher upside than the crop of 2013 lead guards.
McLemore makes the leap to No. 1 over Nerlens Noel mainly due to the presence of Nikola Vucevic. Noel is the better fit, at the end of the day, as Vucevic is an elite rebounder but lacks a defensive presence.
Unless the Magic unload Vucevic or find a way to move him to the 4, however, McLemore appears to be the player they "covet."
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky Wildcats
The Charlotte Bobcats ranked 29th in scoring defense, 27th in rebounding and 25th in opponent points in the paint during the 2012-13 NBA regular season. As long as Nerlens Noel is on the board, there isn't even the slightest possibility that Charlotte could rationally pass on him.
Defense wins championships, but for the Bobcats, it's losing games.
The Bobcats address their most glaring need by drafting one of the best defensive prospects we've seen in quite some time. Much like Anthony Davis, Noel is a dominant interior presence with the versatility to step out and pick up a ball-handler off the pick-and-roll.
In the paint, Noel utilizes his massive wingspan and anticipation to alter every shot that comes his way.
With Kemba Walker leading the offense and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist locking down the opposition's top perimeter scorer, Charlotte may just find their trinity with those two and Noel leading the team for years to come.
For those skeptics, Noel is not a project player—he's a polished defensive product.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown Hoyas
The Cleveland Cavaliers have failed to fill the glaring left at small forward since LeBron James departed. Seeing as it's been three full seasons since LeBron signed with the Miami Heat, there's only one way to evaluate this.
Cleveland needs a small forward.
It just so happens that Otto Porter is one of the most well-rounded small forwards we've seen in quite some time. From his diverse skill set to his supreme size and length, Porter has all of the tools to be a high-quality player at the next level.
As for where he projects, Porter could be a player along the mold of Danny Granger and Luol Deng.
Porter is a consistent three-point shooter that can take his man off of the dribble and finish in traffic. Perhaps most importantly, Porter can facilitate and play the role of point forward for a team that lacks point guard depth behind Kyrie Irving.
Outside of a lack of elite athleticism, Porter has virtually every tool ready for honing at the next level.
4. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana Hoosiers
The Phoenix Suns have plenty of voids to fill within their rotation, with everywhere but point guard available for improvement. By matching need with talent, however, the Suns come to the selection of Naismith award finalist Victor Oladipo.
A pick that could alter the face of their franchise.
Oladipo is an elite defensive prospect with tremendous athleticism and tenacious physicality. He rebounds at a high level for his position and is one of the most explosive leapers in the nation.
If that's not enough for you, Oladipo was often praised for having the best motor in all of college basketball.
Offensively, Oladipo is a game-changing playmaker that has significantly improved his jump shooting. Furthermore, he's dangerous off the dribble and finishes with power in traffic.
The truth of the matter is, Oladipo's greatest gift is his mind—like every great superstar, he's always a step ahead of the competition.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan Wolverines
The New Orleans Pelicans aren't as poor at the point guard position as their fans make them seem, but this is an easy pick. They are a franchise that invested everything into point guard Chris Paul and have been in rebuilding mode since losing him.
It's time they land the long-term replacement in Naismith award winner Trey Burke.
Burke could go as high as first overall, but regardless of where he ends up, he's a safe draft choice. Not only is he a dynamic playmaker, but he's an unquestioned leader both on the floor and in the locker room.
That's exactly what this young Pelicans team needs.
Burke can take it to the basket himself or step back for a jump shot from any distance. As a facilitator, he's precise with his passes and always seems to be in control of the ball and where it's going.
Burke could be the franchise player the Pelicans so desperately need running point.
6. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV Rebels
The Sacramento Kings could go in a variety of directions, including point guard with Michael Carter-Williams. When it comes down to it, however, the Kings have a rare opportunity to build a physically dominant interior.
By pairing Anthony Bennett with DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento can now move forward with a potentially elite low-high attack.
In terms of raw ability, there's a case to be made that Cousins is the most dynamic center in the NBA. He's a physical monster at 6'11" and 270 pounds, but also possesses the athleticism and scoring skills to stretch a defense.
Bennett isn't much different.
He has a powerful frame and is more than capable of attacking with his back to the basket. The greatest strength here, however, is Bennett's ability to space the floor with his shooting.
Sacramento could go with Carter-Williams, but few teams have a two-headed monster in the frontcourt—the Kings can join that class with this one.
7. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse Orange
The Detroit Pistons have their frontcourt set with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Unfortunately, they're young or underwhelming at every other position on the floor.
In this point guard driven league, there is no chance that Detroit lets Michael Carter-Williams slip by here.
Jose Calderon is a high-quality facilitator, but Carter-Williams matches him in that regard and has youth on his side. Perhaps most importantly, MCW is an elite defensive prospect as a 6'5" point guard with active hands and a lanky wingspan.
Calderon's defense isn't quite a strength.
Brandon Knight is panning out as much more of an off-ball player, which is something Detroit acknowledges in this draft. After ranking 22nd in assists and 18th in scoring defense, the Pistons will look to rebuild their franchise starting at the point guard position.
He's no Isiah Thomas, but Carter-Williams can slash, facilitate and defend at high levels—there's no rationale in a team desperate for a point guard letting him slip by.
8. Washington Wizards: Alex Len, C, Maryland Terrapins
The Washington Wizards have their backcourt of the future established with the pairing of John Wall and Bradley Beal. The question here, however, is whether or not they believe their frontcourt is set for the future.
Shabazz Muhammad is a legitimate option here, but Emeka Okafor's defensive brilliance is met with an average of 26.0 minutes per game—they need a 5 of the future.
Alex Len is a risk, but the need for an instant impact is minimal with the Wizards. Okafor anchored the NBA's eighth-ranked scoring defense and led Washington to a placement of ninth in total rebounding.
Len would step in to provide the offensive fireworks, as his face-up game is solid and back-to-the-basket game rapidly developing.
Len is inconsistent, but he'll be playing with a star playmaker in Wall. This will help Len to score close to the basket, thus decreasing his learning curve.
Local familiarity is also a key here.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA Bruins
To put it simply, the Minnesota Timberwolves are in need of a player that can create their own shot and provide instant offense. They ranked 20th in scoring offense in 2012-13 and 30th in three-point field-goal percentage.
Shabazz Muhamamd's positional versatility certainly fits the bill here.
Muhammad is a powerful scorer that thrives in taking his man off of the dribble and finishing in traffic. With his feet set, Muhammad can also be an effective three-point shooter.
With Ricky Rubio running point, he would have an abundance of opportunities to catch-and-shoot.
Muhammad is not the explosive athlete that we'd once believed, but his physical gifts are not to be ignored. With quality size and length, Muhammad can play at a high level at small forward or shift down to shooting guard.
Regardless of where he plays, Muhammad has all the makings of a second-tier scorer at the next level.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh Mountain Hawks
The Portland Trail Blazers finished the 2012-13 NBA regular season in dead last in terms of second unit scoring. That's a major reason why their playoff-caliber starting lineup collapsed during the second half of the season.
The only option here is to land a player that can provide instant offense.
C.J. McCollum out of Lehigh can be that player, as he's a player with limitless range while shooting the basketball. Perhaps most importantly, McCollum is dangerous when taking his man on off the dribble and creating his own shot.
For a Portland team that lacked that type of player in 2012-13, McCollum could be the cure-all.
McCollum isn't an elite facilitator, which has been a knock on him amongst some scouts and analysts. With that being said, he's also not a point guard and distributes at as quality a level as any 2 can be asked of.
McCollum can anchor this second unit for years to come.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana Hoosiers
The Philadelphia 76ers need to create depth at center, regardless of what happens with Andrew Bynum. With that being said, the 76ers cannot pretend as if center is the only void they need to fill in their rotation.
Fortunately, the best player available is Cody Zeller out of Indiana.
Zeller is a capable scorer around the basket, finishing with both hands and being able to take contact. At the free-throw line, the super-efficient big man shoots at a clip of 75.7 percent.
Refreshing, isn't it?
Zeller should be an effective NBA player if he can add bulk, as his face-up skills are reliable, to say the least. In terms of his back-to-the-basket scoring, Zeller is significantly better than he was in 2011-12.
Zeller fits a need and he's of the best value here.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville Cardinals
The Oklahoma City Thunder need a center, and there is no way around that truth. They are a pure jump-shooting team that struggles to produce offensively from the low or high posts.
Fortunately, there is a well-rounded option that can serve in a variety of roles for the Thunder in Gorgui Dieng.
Dieng can be the long-term replacement for Kendrick Perkins, as he's an elite defensive prospect that can block shots and step out onto the perimeter. The key here, however, is that Dieng has developed his offensive game by a significant margin since the 2011-12 season.
With an improving jump shot and intriguing back-to-the-basket potential, Dieng is a perfect fit here.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
The Dallas Mavericks are in dire need of a point guard, but the chances they find a franchise player at No. 13 is slim. Instead, they'll likely look for one via free agency as they are attempting to win right now and not in future seasons.
With the window closing on Dirk Nowitzki's illustrious career, the Mavericks go value
Schroeder could drop down draft boards, but there is no better value at this stage of the draft. He's a lethal dribble-penetrator with a paralyzing hesitation move and an uncanny ability to draw contact in the lane.
Dallas needs playmakers that can create their own shot and Schroeder can be just that.
14. Utah Jazz: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia Bulldogs
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could go as high as No. 9, but he drops here based on matches of value and need. With that being said, Caldwell-Pope is a lethal jump shooter with quality size for the shooting guard position.
Utah was eighth in three-point field-goal percentage in 2012-13, but came in at 23rd in three-point field goals made.
Caldwell-Pope could help in that regard, as he has limitless range on his jump shot. Mo Williams and Randy Foye are both solid options as three-point shooters, but Utah needs depth in terms of shooting the basketball.
Caldwell-Pope can be a sixth man or become a starter, at some point.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
The Milwaukee Bucks are in an interesting predicament, as they have a budding star at point guard in Brandon Jennings. With that being said, the Bucks have a glaring need at small forward and appear to favor a lineup with dual ball-handlers.
Fortunately, the best player available is point forward Dario Saric.
Saric is a skilled wing player that handles the ball well and has the key ability to improve the players around him. Whether he's facilitating or taking it himself, Saric has the abilities necessary to make an instant impact.
It doesn't hurt that Saric is 6'10" with a 6'11" wingspan.
16. Boston Celtics: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas Jayhawks
The Boston Celtics are a team that accepts nothing less than contention for an NBA championship. In order to get back to that level, Boston will need to find a defensive anchor that can protect the rim.
Who better than Jeff Withey?
Withey is an intimidating defensive presence with endless length and marvelous anticipation skills. He's nothing close to an elite athlete, but Withey is reliable in defending the pick-and-roll.
Boston had no resistance at the rim in 2012-13, but Withey can step in from day one as a defensive anchor and improve their chances at competing for a title.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Atlanta Hawks have committed to moving Al Horford to power forward, but they'll need a reliable center to do so. Landing a rim protector would be ideal, but the Hawks can find an all-around product in Kelly Olynyk at a much lower place than his talent suggests.
That's too good of an opportunity to pass over.
Olynyk is a quality offensive player already, as he pairs a transition presence with improving skills around the basket. As for how much he's improved, Olynyk averaged 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 2011-12 and 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 2012-13.
The upside is there for the 7'0" and 238 pound Olynyk.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Jamaal Franklin, SG/SF, San Diego State Aztecs
The Atlanta Hawks may have landed their starting center for the future in Kelly Olynyk. The next step for Atlanta is to find the player that can hold down their perimeter, specifically as a defender.
Jamaal Franklin has that upside as a supremely athletic wing with enticing length.
Franklin was a do-it-all player at San Diego State, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Franklin was also second in blocked shots, which displays how proficient he is as a defensive playmaker.
You can't find much better value at No. 18.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Suns, from Heat): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh Panthers
The Cleveland Cavaliers addressed their biggest need early on, landing Otto Porter at small forward. With their second of two draft choices, Cleveland seeks out their second-biggest issue as they secure a rim-protecting big man.
Steven Adams of Pittsburgh is the perfect candidate.
Adams finished the 2012-13 season with averages of 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 23.4 minutes per game. In case the numbers don't tell you, Adams is an aggressive rebounder and an already effective shot-blocker.
As a young team, the Cavaliers can bring Adams along slowly and allow the 19-year-old to develop into the star 5 they need—he certainly has the potential.
20. Chicago Bulls: Allen Crabbe, SG, California Golden Bears
In a perfect world, the Chicago Bulls would land a center that can step in as an energy player behind Joakim Noah. In a realistic world, the Bulls cannot reach for a player that stands no chance at overtaking Noah in the starting lineup.
Without a viable option here, the best value can be found along the perimeter.
Allen Crabbe is a physical defender with deep three-point range and high-quality ball-handling skills. At 6'6", Crabbe also has quality size for the 2 and can play small forward in pinch situations.
Crabbe is the caliber of player that could be a consistent rotational option for years to come if groomed in the proper manner.
21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Rudy Gobert, PF, France
The Utah Jazz have their frontcourt in place for the better part of the next decade, as 21-year-old Derrick Favors teams with 20-year-old Enes Kanter. With both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap entering free agency, however, depth could be of issue.
Fortunately, Utah can use their second first-round draft choice to land a project player with extraordinary upside.
Rudy Gobert is an intriguing prospect with a jaw-dropping 7'9" wingspan. With explosive leaping ability and steadily developing skills around the basket, Gobert could be a star-caliber player.
If he ever does reach that plateau, Utah will either have a valuable trade piece or a potential replacement for their bigs they fail to pan out.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke Blue Devils
The Brooklyn Nets are one of the deepest teams in the NBA, boasting star power and quality reserves. With that being said, their power forward position is solid with quality rebounders but lacks an offensive presence.
Mason Plumlee could be that player.
Plumlee could be a lottery pick, but there is a strong possibility that he drops down draft boards. If he does, the Nets would be wise to pick up the skilled offensive player as he can run in transition or finish off the pick-and-roll.
With a developing back-to-the-basket game, Plumlee could be a high-quality complementary piece to Brook Lopez at center.
23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami Hurricanes
The Indiana Pacers don't have very many holes in their rotation, as they have depth and youth on their side. With that being said, they could stand to improve at the point guard position by adding a second-unit floor general.
Not only is Shane Larkin available, but he's your quintessential Indiana Pacer.
Larkin is a tenacious on-ball defender that dominates the passing lanes and received All-ACC All-Defensive Team honors. Larkin also posted averages of 14.5 points and 4.6 assists on 40.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
He can shoot, defend and facilitate—in other words, Larkin is exactly what Indiana needs.
24. New York Knicks: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
The New York Knicks have committed to moving Carmelo Anthony to power forward and working a three-guard set. With that being said, two of their point guards are above the age of 35.
Landing a big man is important, but Giannis Adetokunbo is simply too intriguing to pass up on.
Adetokunbo is a 6'9" point forward that has a strong presence defensively. Not only is he active in the passing lanes, but he can block shots and create scoring opportunities.
For a team that thrives on ball movement, Adetokunbo is an undeniably intriguing option.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky Wildcats
The Los Angeles Clippers were bounced out of the 2012-13 NBA playoffs during the first round. This comes after they were expected to step in and serve as legitimate title contenders.
So what went wrong?
The Clippers have two elite ball-handlers in Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford. Both men can create their own shot and score in a variety of ways.
Unfortunately, that's all L.A. has in that regard—landing Archie Goodwin makes a lot more sense now.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Sergey Karasev, SG, Russia
The Minnesota Timberwolves ranked 30th in the NBA in three-point field-goal percentage during the 2012-13 regular season. Landing Shabazz Muhammad could help in that regard, but one player is not the answer.
The T-Wolves need to improve their perimeter and Sergey Karasev is the perfect player to do that.
Karasev stands at 6'7" and has the rare combination of slashing skills and floor-spacing shooting abilities. He can take it off of the bounce and facilitate, or step out for a three if his balance is proper.
The upside is here for the Russian swingman.
27. Denver Nuggets: Erick Green, PG, Virginia Tech Hokies
The Denver Nuggets are coming off a season in which they led the league in scoring offense and ranked third in assists. With that being said, they were 25th in three-point field-goal percentage and their second unit is led by a 37-year-old point guard.
It's time to address both of those needs.
Erick Green led Division 1 basketball in scoring with 25.0 points per game during the 2012-13 season. Surprisingly, he did so while posting a slash line of .475/.389/.816.
Green should be able to step in as a rotational option sometime down the line, providing efficient play and a big body at 6'3" with a 6'6" wingspan.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
Manu Ginobili is at the stage of his career in which his regular-season playing time will be limited. For that reason, it's imperative that the Spurs find a player that can step in as his long-term and regular-season replacement.
Spanish shooting guard Alex Abrines appears to be a low-risk option to become that player.
Abrines has improved his jump shot and converts from beyond the arc when his feet are set. On a team that preaches ball movement, the catch-and-shoot approach would fit Abrines well.
As a quality ball-handler that can penetrate off of the bounce, Abrines appears to have the skill set necessary for Gregg Popovich to mold him into a high-quality player.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Bullock, SF, North Carolina Tar Heels
The Oklahoma City Thunder's second unit is a glaring weakness, as their defensive presence is only as strong as their offensive production is weak. That derives from Kevin Martin being the only reserve that can shoot or create their own shot.
Adding Reggie Bullock would offer an upgrade in both regards.
Bullock has deep three-point range and a strong frame that permits him to bulk up and become a powerful defender. The offense is the key here, however, as OKC needs a player that can shoot when Kevin Durant is on the bench.
Bullock can do just that.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Cavs, from Lakers): Tony Snell, SF, New Mexico Lobos
The Phoenix Suns landed their franchise shooting guard in Victor Oladipo earlier in this scenario, but that doesn't change their need for a three-point shooter. They ranked 28th in three-point field goal percentage and 26th in three-point field goals made.
To address that need, they land three-point marksman Tony Snell out of New Mexico.
Snell stands at 6'7" and is an intriguing athlete both laterally and running in transition. At the next level, he has every trait necessary to be a consistent rotational option.
For a Phoenix team that lacks any sense of consistency shooting the ball, this is beyond ideal.
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