2013 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Entire 1st Round, Pre-Combine Edition
We're just a week away from the 2013 NBA draft combine in Chicago. This is officially when all the action picks up.
The combine allows scouts and executives to get a better look at the prospects in one gym. From the combine, teams ultimately pick and choose who they'd like to bring in for workouts, which are essentially like final interviews.
Remember, international prospects have until a week before the draft to withdraw their names. Otherwise, the field is set.
Here's our latest mock draft, although some changes should be expected once the combine is complete and workouts get underway.
1. Orlando Magic: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, 6'11'', C
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We're sticking with the logic that says the top overall prospect should go No. 1 overall.
And now with Alex Len and Anthony Bennett potentially out of commission for the next four months, Nerlens Noel's challengers are decreasing by the day.
I wouldn't argue against Trey Burke here, but until we hear he's Orlando's guy, Noel remains the pick. I don't think the presence of Nikola Vucevic will force the Magic to pass on a want for a need.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, Kansas, 6'5'', SG
Ben McLemore Pro-Player Comparison
Ben McLemore projects as the top scoring guard in the field, and he'll have the opportunity to prove this in a workout setting.
Assuming he participates at the NBA combine, McLemore should shine during the fast-break and shooting drills, as well as the athletic testing. And because of his athleticism and long-range accuracy, there isn't much risk associated with him.
There's legitimate risk with many of the big men, while Trey Burke doesn't fit a need, Otto Porter seems overly safe and Victor Oladipo might be a reach.
McLemore makes sense here as the best prospect on the board while filling a need as a shot-maker.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, Georgetown, 6'8'', SF
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If the lottery odds stand and Nerlens Noel is off the board, you'd like to imagine the Cavs will be looking at Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett.
But with Bennett unavailable for the combine, workouts and NBA Summer League, Cleveland might want to settle on the safer option.
Otto Porter fits a need here as a versatile wing who can score, create, rebound and defend. The Tayshaun Prince comparison is as apt as it gets.
4. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett, UNLV, 6'7'', SF/PF
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Although Anthony Bennett will miss the pre-draft process to undergo surgery on his shoulder, his upside is just too much for the Suns to pass on.
Bennett's injury won't knock him down too many boards, especially after the first three picks. He averaged 16 points and eight boards during the regular season, and scouts seem confident with their pre-injury evaluations.
Victor Oladipo could be an option here, but his ceiling only reaches Bennett's shoulders.
Phoenix's wing and frontcourt are uninspiring. Bennett makes sense here for too many reasons.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, Michigan, 6'0'', PG
Trey Burke Pro-Player Comparison
The Pelicans will likely be deciding between Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Shabazz Muhammad or a big man, although taking a center at No. 5 might be considered a reach here.
I like Burke as the top prospect on the board, and despite Greivis Vasquez's strong year, his presence should not prevent the Pelicans from pulling the trigger on a great point guard.
New Orleans has some talent on its roster, and a true floor general could help put it all together. If the Pelicans get Burke at No. 5, I'd say they had a successful 2013 draft.
6. Sacramento Kings: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, 6'6'', PG
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Based on who's left, I think this would be the opportune time for the Kings to address the point guard position.
Unlike Isaiah Thomas, who is an undersized scorer forced to run the point, Michael Carter-Williams has the size of a wing with natural point guard instincts.
He's bound to shoot better in workouts than he did during the regular season. Carter-Williams is a capable shooter but cannot be counted on for any consistency at the moment.
The No. 2 point guard on the board, Carter-Williams' upside justifies this pick. With the Kings in need of a new quarterback, these two seem like a match.
7. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, 6'7'', SG/SF
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If it gets to this point, the Pistons will likely be deciding between Shabazz Muhammad—a high-risk, high-reward option—and Victor Oladipo, a safety pick.
Detroit could ultimately use an extra scorer in the lineup, and Muhammad's offensive skill set fills a need that Oladipo's doesn't.
Muhammad can shoot, finish at the rim and slash from the wing, but he still needs to work on his dribble creativity.
8. Washington Wizards: Cody Zeller, Indiana, 6'11'', PF/C
Cody Zeller Pro-Player Comparison
Cody Zeller's stock gets a slight boost with Alex Len out for the pre-draft process.
Zeller is bound to impress during workouts thanks to his refined offensive skill set. He has a number of polished post moves and a reliable jumper that he just didn't rely on enough during the season.
With his speed, agility and seven-foot frame, Zeller should test strongly at the combine in terms of athleticism and measurements.
After choosing Bradley Beal last year, the Wizards will likely pass on Victor Oladipo if he's still available. Zeller makes sense from a team-needs standpoint in terms of his position, post play and talent level.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Victor Oladipo, Indiana, 6'5'', SG
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Victor Oladipo would be the ultimate fit for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who could use his athleticism in the backcourt, defensive tools and all-around motor.
Without even knowing who will be available, Oladipo should immediately be highlighted on Minnesota's board.
He doesn't project as a scoring guard, but every undisciplined team could use an efficient producer like Oladipo. He'd be an immediate upgrade at the off-guard position from day one and offers safety with regard to his risk-reward ratio.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, 6'3'', PG/SG
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More of a scorer and secondary ball-handler than a natural point guard, C.J. McCollum could provide Portland with some offensive firepower and a sixth man off the bench.
He's a versatile scorer who can generate offense with or without the ball in his hands. Despite breaking his foot in January, his draft stock remains stable. He averaged at least 19 points per game in all four years at Lehigh, so scouts are confident they know what he's capable of.
In terms of talent, McCollum should be considered a top-10 pick. Portland had success taking a mid-major guard in the lottery last year; why not start a trend?
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Alex Len, Maryland, 7'0'', C
Alex Len Pro-Player Comparison
With an injury that will prevent him from showing up the other centers during workouts, Alex Len is in jeopardy of losing draft position in the lottery.
He won't slip past No. 11 to Philly, which is probably his worst-case scenario.
With Andrew Bynum's future uncertain, the 76ers could use another big man like Len to protect the rim and score around it. Len would likely ease some of the pain caused by Philly's decision to let go of Nikola Vucevic so easily.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto): Mason Plumlee, Duke, 7'0'', C
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I've had Mason Plumlee to Oklahoma City here for the past couple of months, and the more I watch Kendrick Perkins, the more I'm comfortable with the projection.
Plumlee's size, speed, coordination and hops would give the Thunder some easy points off finishes, lobs, tip-ins and fast breaks. He makes up for a physical post presence with his mobility and ability to play above the rim as a shot-blocker, so there's no need to think the Thunder will be downgrading defensively.
Plumlee projects as a strong workout prospect whose upside goes hand in hand with late-lottery value.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Schröder, Germany, 6'2'', PG
I like the German point guard as my No. 2 international prospect on the board when I combine his NBA readiness, physical tools and upside.
Dennis Schröder turned heads at the Nike Hoops Summit and should turn a few more once he's invited for individual workouts with teams.
He's fast, quick and electric, with the ability to break down the defense, knock down long- and mid-range jumpers and create scoring opportunities for teammates.
The German connection between him and Dirk Nowitzki is just a cherry on top.
Dallas lost confidence in Darren Collison and should be looking to upgrade the point guard position. If not Michael Carter-Williams or Schröder, expect Dallas to go big.
14. Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert, France, 7'2'', PF/C
Rudy Gobert is considered raw, but you can't teach a guy to get longer or faster.
Considering his 7'2'' size and unprecedented 7'9'' wingspan, Gobert should own 50-50 balls, get some easy buckets and protect the basket, even if his offensive game never develops.
He's an off-ball playmaker and a potential secret weapon for a team that lacks a diverse arsenal. With Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap impending free agents, Gobert should be a target if he slips to No. 14.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, 6'5'', SG/SF
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Jamaal Franklin has been a hot name as of late, and it's only going to heat up more with workouts and the combine coming up.
He's an exceptional athlete capable of playing either wing position, and he has really improved his half-court scoring repertoire over the past year.
His versatility should allow him to do whatever is needed from day one, while his work ethic should give him the chance to earn minutes from the start.
The only player in the country this year to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals, Franklin is a personal favorite, and I expect a team like the Bucks to reach on him in Round 1.
16. Boston Celtics: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, 7'0'', C
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The Celtics need a frontcourt scorer whether Kevin Garnett stays or not. Between Kelly Olynyk's 7'0'' size and polished offensive game, he's a sure bet to contribute at the NBA level.
I've had Giannis Adetokunbo here for the past few weeks, but after watching him closely, it's clear that he won't be ready for another few years.
Olynyk would be able to come in right away and put some points on the board for Boston at the center position. With only one full season under his belt as a regular starter, there's still plenty of room for offensive growth in Olynyk's game.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece, 6'9'', PG/SF
I've watched enough of Giannis Adetokunbo over the past few weeks to get a good feel for where he stands as a prospect.
There's no denying his potential. Adetokunbo is a legitimate 6'9'' athlete with an incredibly comfortable handle. But don't mistake ball-handler for point guard.
If we're talking about ultimate ceilings here, the Scottie Pippen comparison is the best I've seen. Adetokunbo attacks the rim and can weave in and out of defenders on the way.
He appears to be a willing and visionary passer as well, like Pippen.
But he's still years from figuring out the game with regard to when and how he should approach facilitating, scoring and positioning.
Regardless, his upside is through the roof, and with a field that lacks valuable prizes, Adetokunbo has the chance to be one of the few.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston): Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, 6'11'', C
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Atlanta needs to go big with one of its two picks here, and if Kelly Olynyk and Mason Plumlee are off the board, Gorgui Dieng would be a viable Plan B.
Dieng impressed a lot of people during Louisville's national championship run, scoring down low and in the mid-range while protecting the basket as the defensive anchor.
Steven Adams would be another big man to consider here. He offers a high ceiling but a longer road to get there.
Dieng is a safe, reliable option who would fill a need up front for Atlanta.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: Steven Adams, Pittsburgh, 7'0'', C
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The NBA is likely to be an easier environment for Steven Adams to flourish in, given the up-and-down freedom it allows.
Though Adams is still years from finding his niche and learning the game, his upside is exceptionally high thanks to his elite athleticism for a 7-footer.
Adams would fit well with other athletes like Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving, and with Anderson Varejao's contract nearing its expiration date, he'd be a potential long-term replacement.
20. Chicago Bulls: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, 6'6''
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The Bulls shouldn't take a shooting guard just to take one, but if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is on the board, he would be an ideal fit. With 6'6'' size and smooth athleticism, Caldwell-Pope has the perfect physical build for an off guard.
His ability to stretch the floor as a long-range threat, as well as lock down opposing perimeter scorers, should allow him to thrive as a complementary wing in between Luol Deng and Derrick Rose.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Shane Larkin, Miami, 5'11'', PG
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It's not a matter of if the Jazz are going to target a point guard, it's when. If Utah can't land one with its first pick, Shane Larkin is bound to be a target with its second.
Mo Williams and Jamaal Tinsley have to be the slowest one-two point guard punch in the league. Larkin is ultra-quick with breakdown ability and could give the Jazz a spark as a lively playmaker.
Isaiah Canaan and Lorenzo Brown will also likely get looks here if Dennis Schröder and Larkin are gone by No. 21.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Sergey Karasev, Russia, 6'7'', SF
I'm going to play the Russian card that says Mikhail Prokhorov will stick with his roots. Sergey Karasev is one of the top international prospects available, and you can be sure that Prokhorov will be familiar with him.
But it's more than just that. His skill set fits a need in Brooklyn's lineup as a long-range shooter and ball-mover on the wing.
The Nets offense needs balance between its ball-dominant scorers like Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, not to mention a 3 who can shoot. Gerald Wallace missed a lot of threes over the course of the year.
Karasev would improve the team's spacing and give the Nets a weapon they don't currently have.
23. Indiana Pacers: Erick Green, Virginia Tech, 6'4'', PG/SG
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After watching Game 2 of their second-round matchup against New York, the Pacers backcourt needs to be addressed.
Although George Hill is not the problem, the depth behind and alongside of him is.
Erick Green led the country in scoring while handling the ball for Virginia Tech. He can put points on the board himself or create scoring opportunities for teammates based on his ability to make things happen off the dribble.
Although a natural point guard does sound more ideal, Indiana's offense lacks an offensive punch. Green can inject the Pacers lineup with a lethal scoring touch as the combo guard off the bench.
24. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey, Kansas, 7'0'', C
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It's no secret the Knicks need depth up front, particularly at the 5 position. Jeff Withey has backup center written all over him, with his ability to protect the rim, score around it and clean the glass.
Withey is a much-improved offensive player who can finish inside with either hand. His timing and defensive instincts are unteachable.
With the Knicks in win-now mode, finding a long-term prospect may not be a priority unless there's a can't-miss option on the board.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Tony Mitchell, North Texas, 6'8'', SF/PF
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Based on the Clippers' style of play and Tony Mitchell's strengths, these two are a match late in Round 1.
Mitchell struggled playing half-court basketball this year without a point guard to put him in scoring position. And although Mitchell didn't do anything to help himself, the spacing at the pro level will make his scoring opportunities easier.
He has big-time upside if he finds a niche and keeps himself from getting stuck in between positions. I had Mitchell as a top-10 guy before the year. He could be a steal this late if we find out his statistical regression was caused by the overly methodical college game.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis): Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10'', SF/PF
I'm not as high on Dario Saric as everyone else, primarily because of his defensive limitations. But I understand his offensive upside given he's a 6'10'' wing who can put it on the deck.
At 19 years old, Saric probably won't come over right away and is unlikely to contribute for at least a few years. But the prize is worth the reward this late if Saric is able to make the transition.
27. Denver Nuggets: Allen Crabbe, California, 6'6'', SG/SF
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Allen Crabbe is a shot-maker, which is what the Denver Nuggets were missing and will miss thanks to Danilo Gallinari's ACL tear.
Crabbe emerged as one of the top scorers in college basketball this season after expanding his offensive arsenal while maintaining his touch from behind the arc.
At 6'6'', Crabbe has the athleticism, size and length to handle either wing position.
Whether Andre Iguodala opts for free agency or not, Crabbe's mid-range and long-range jumper could be used in this lineup.
Reggie Bullock would be another option if Denver is looking for a shot-maker on the wing.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Archie Goodwin, Kentucky, 6'5'', SG
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The Spurs need to think about planning for the future, and they could start by selecting Kentucky's Archie Goodwin.
He has the upside to be a lottery pick, though he's so raw for a guard that teams might feel hesitant to pull the trigger, unwilling to wait for his development.
Goodwin is a top-notch athlete, which the Spurs backcourt lacks. There aren't many explosive guards who can get to the rim and finish over traffic. It's the rest of his offensive game that he must refine.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mouhammadou Jaiteh, France, 6'11'', C
The big man from France has the physical tools to swim in first-round waters.
Recently measuring in at 6'11'', Mouhammadou Jaiteh has a strong, muscular upper body with long, toned arms. And for a team like Oklahoma City which is unlikely to find a contributor who can help it win tomorrow, Jaiteh makes sense as draft-and-stash candidate.
During the Nike Hoops Summit, he showed that he can score around the rim, but he's fairly limited elsewhere. As an interior presence on both sides of the ball, Jaiteh is likely to find a role in the NBA whether his game comes around or not.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami): Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan, 6'5'', SG
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The Suns could use a scorer, and although Tim Hardaway Jr.'s stroke has been erratic, he can fix it over time. And to be frank, Phoenix just needs a few guys who can put the ball in the hole.
Hardaway Jr. is likely to impress during workouts given his athleticism and rhythm shooting. He has upside, but he'll have to find a way to neutralize his bad shooting days. Too often his success is dictated by his jumper, which will be unacceptable at the pro level if he has any intention of landing regular minutes.