As if fans didn’t have enough to be excited about in regards to the NBA—with four epic series ongoing in the second round of the playoffs—the upcoming draft finally has its complete list of early entrants set and a lottery is soon to play out.
With anticipation mounting and fans of the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats and more lottery squads hardly able wait to find out who will land the No. 1 pick on May 21, it’s time to take another look at how the entire first round could shake out in June’s draft.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the first 30 picks, including some quick-hitting analysis on each prospect and how they fit with the organization that selected them.
1. Orlando Magic: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
While the Magic are still employing the aging Jameer Nelson at the point, they won’t be able to get a better value or more enticing prospect at No. 1 than they will with Noel.
Due to his shot-blocking abilities and extreme athleticism, plus non-stop motor, the Kentucky product is a perfect complement to Nikola Vucevic in the frontcourt, and the tandem could anchor the low-post defensive efforts for years to come.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Unlike last year, the Bobcats can’t lose in this draft. Michael Jordan’s club will be perfectly happy landing McLemore at No. 2, as he could pan out as one of the top point producers in this class.
While the Jayhawks star has to become more consistent in order to shoulder the scoring load, he is incredibly dangerous from long-range and is capable of filling it up in a hurry—especially when he’s taking good shots and actively looking to make an impact.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Cleveland and Porter are a perfect match, based on the skills he provides and the needs the Cavs have at the wing.
This swingman is capable of locking down perimeter weapons on defense, nailing wide-open jumpers off Kyrie Irving assists and crashing the boards on both ends. He’s not going to be counted on to generate a ton of baskets, which is the only department this prospect struggles in.
4. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Bennett and his versatility are perfect for a rebuilding Suns squad that has needs all over the court.
The Rebels star is capable of guarding either forward position, as he has brute strength to dominate in the paint and the finesse to take his man out behind the three-point line and blow past him or pull up.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
While the Pelicans shouldn’t make Burke their sole focus—especially not with Greivis Vasquez’s emergence during the 2012-13 season—he’s going to be awfully hard to pass up at No. 5.
He provides winning intangibles and incredible heart to go along with his proven scoring ability and willing passing. If NOLA drafts this kid, coach Monty Williams will find a way to get the most from both point guards.
6. Sacramento Kings: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
This pick isn’t as much about meeting positional needs as it is about changing the culture surrounding the club.
The Kings simply have too many ball-dominant players that want to jack up shots and play matador defense, which is something Oladipo wouldn’t dare do.
He’ll give 100 percent effort on every play, take smart, efficient shots and—most importantly—commit himself to shutting down his man. That sort of attitude is infectious and could result in many wins for Sacramento next season.
7. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Muhammad is the point-producing wing that the Pistons need to spark their offense.
He may not have as much upside after his true age was discovered or project well in any other area besides scoring, but this is the right pick for Detroit.
8. Washington Wizards: Alex Len, C, Maryland
While Len is sidelined up to and possibly after the draft due to an ankle injury, the Maryland big man’s upside and intriguing low-post moves should have him fall inside the top-10.
In this scenario, the Wizards will get a young center that can help take some pressure off their backcourt combo of Bradley Beal and John Wall.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh
McCollum is an elite shooter that can also cut to the basket in order to get buckets. He may be a bit undersized for the 2, but that shouldn’t stop him from knocking down shots from all over the court as he comes off screens and uses his quickness to get open.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Zeller’s upside certainly isn’t as high as some of these other prospects, but he’s a proven commodity that does a few things well.
He’s able to get up-and-down the court in a hurry and can finish strong around the hoop. That should make him instantly playable and a huge upgrade to the second unit in Portland.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
The Sixers have to add a legit center after the Andrew Bynum saga took this team down a peg in 2012-13.
Olynyk is the right guy for the job, especially at No. 11. He’s a capable face-up scorer that can hoist shots up from the mid-range, while also employing a back-to-the-basket game that will only get better with time.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto): Rudy Gobert, C, France
All signs point to Gobert being a major bust, but the Thunder have the luxury of gambling on his ridiculous upside and incredible 7’9” wingspan.
OKC needs size more than anything right now, so—on the slight chance that this Frenchman turns out to be a serviceable NBA player—they could wind up nabbing a rotation player at No. 12. Not bad for a team that will be contending for a spot in the Finals for the foreseeable future.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Dallas is in a tough place, as it is too proud and talented to bottom out and nab a top draft pick next year, but not anywhere near making another championship run.
That sort of position lends itself well to a gamble; so don’t be surprised to see Mark Cuban grab arguably the most talented international prospect on the board in Saric.
This kid is a great passer, promising scorer and has an intrinsic knowledge of the game.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Jazz have to find a way to get their young and promising big men the ball in a position to score, which is something they struggled with all season long.
That could change with the addition of Carter-Williams, a 6’6” point guard with elite passing skills and a great defensive presence. His jumper and handling need some work, but this pick fills too many other needs for Utah to pass up the Orangeman.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
The Bucks, much like the Mavs, are currently mired in the NBA’s version of no-man’s land.
Perhaps the “Greek Freak” will help them make the leap to a contender, as this 6’9” international man of mystery has point guard skills in a tall swingman’s body. He’s a freakish athlete and could wind up going in the lottery due to the weak 2013 class and his upside.
16. Boston Celtics: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
The C’s have to add size, as their playoff rotation only included two traditional big men—Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass.
While Jared Sullinger should be healthy next season, they simply can’t afford to not have another insurance policy in place. Dieng is a proven winner with a huge performance in the national championship game under his belt.
He’s a bit raw offensively, but he can protect the rim and injects much-needed athleticism to the Boston frontcourt.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
Plumlee is going to bring his hard hat, hammer and nails, blue-collar shirt and lunch pail to the court for the Hawks.
The guy simply works relentlessly for extra possessions, bangs for boards and does all the little things that help good teams become great. He may not ever be a star, but this Blue Devils senior should see solid minutes on a nightly basis.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Adams is extremely raw offensively, but at only 19 years old, this kid has upside.
He’s a big body that can already defend his position, so a year or two of development in the D-League or on the bench in Atlanta would do him wonders. If he pans out, the Hawks could return Al Horford to his natural PF position and slot in Adams at the pivot.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Lakers): Glen Rice Jr., SF, D-League
Rice is an interesting swingman that could play either shooting guard or small forward, depending on the situation and team.
For Cleveland, this D-League superstar could come off the bench and provide more depth at both positions—backing up Dion Waiters and Otto Porter, who was selected earlier in the mock.
20. Chicago Bulls: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
The three-and-D off-guard is becoming a rarity in the NBA. While the Bulls have a player like that in Jimmy Butler, they could add another to pair with Derrick Rose in an overhauled backcourt next season.
Caldwell-Pope is an immense athlete that Tom Thibodeau could easily coach up to par defensively, while also possessing range from anywhere in the gym. Considering the amount of looks he will get from D-Rose, it’s hard to see this Georgia product failing to pan out.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Karasev is simply a sniper that extends the floor and opens things up for an offense. With the Jazz nabbing Carter-Williams earlier, they need to offset his inability to shoot with a three-point specialist.
The best available here is Karasev, who should be able to knock down shots in his rookie year for a Jazz team that has been averse to the long ball for too long.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
The Nets have a solid center in Brook Lopez, but they could get tougher and add better rim protection by selecting Withey.
This Jayhawks product hardly has any semblance of an offensive game, but he can D up his position, block shots and pull down boards. That should get him an easy 20 minutes off the bench a night in Brooklyn.
23. Indiana Pacers: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
The Pacers’ second unit could use a spark, which is exactly what it would be getting in Abrines.
The Spaniard could come off the bench and start firing away, but he may need a few years to develop the rest of his game overseas. Considering the Pacers’ depth, it’s not such a bad idea.
24. New York Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
With J.R. Smith hitting free agency this summer, the Knicks may need to replace their Sixth Man of the Year award-winner.
The best player available that is capable of doing that is Hardaway Jr., who despite knocks for his questionable shot selection, takes better, more consistent looks at the basket compared to J.R.
The Michigan man’s range will stretch the floor and open things up for Carmelo Anthony, but he has to work on his handle to become more than a catch-and-shoot type player.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis): Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Minnesota will add some insurance to its backcourt and a player that could platoon with McCollum—who was selected earlier.
Franklin’s rebounding skills and size make up for his lack of a consistent jump shot, which just happens to complement McCollum’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly.
26. Los Angeles Clippers: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
The Clips may be losing Chris Paul this summer to unrestricted free agency, while Eric Bledsoe has been the topic of many trade talks over the past year.
To offset these potential issues, the Clips could add a high-upside international point guard in Schroeder, who lit up the Nike Hoops Summit with his slashing ability and willingness to facilitate.
27. Denver Nuggets: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
Goodwin is a decent pick for a team that likely won’t be able to give many minutes to its draft pick.
The Nuggets will let the Wildcats product develop his jumper and learn to play more in control while on the bench or in the D-League.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
The Spurs could always use another shooter to space the floor and knock down the corner three.
Crabbe is a bit streaky, but could help win some games when his shot is falling.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
With Russell Westbrook nursing his season-ending meniscus injury, the Thunder will have to think about taking out an insurance policy in the form of a point guard in this draft.
Derek Fisher is simply too old to keep around for another season, so Kabongo—who has a pass-first, athletic game like Rajon Rondo—would be the best pick at No. 29.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami): Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
The Suns could get a bona fide superstar here at No. 30, if his scoring ability ever comes close to its ceiling.
Regardless, Mitchell can defend both forward spots and is extremely athletic, making him a great, high-upside pick for this rebuilding squad.