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Predicting Where Top College Basketball Stars Will Land in 2013 NBA Draft

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterMay 9, 2013

Predicting Where Top College Basketball Stars Will Land in 2013 NBA Draft

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    I took 10 of the most prominent names at the college level and decided to project their draft range and eventual destination.

    Without knowing how the lottery will play out, it's difficult to get an exact read on each team's draft position. But you can pretty much predict where everyone will be selecting within a pick or two.

    And regardless of where each team's actual draft slot is, they're all going to have a big board and a list of targets to aim for.

    I matched each college basketball star with a team likely to target them in their particular draft range.

Nerlens Noel, Kentucky

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    Draft Range: No. 1 through No. 3

    Prediction: Charlotte Bobcats

    The last time the team with the worst record actually won the lottery was in 2009. Even if the Magic do get the No. 1 pick, it wouldn't be surprising to see them try and trade down to land a point guard like Trey Burke.

    The Bobcats need a centerpiece, and if all goes well in terms of rehab, Nerlens Noel has the potential to be that guy.

    Whether it's by trade or luck of the lottery, Noel to Charlotte makes more sense than Noel to Orlando. I'm predicting that somehow, that's the way it's going to play out.

Ben McLemore, Kansas

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    Draft Range: No. 1 through No. 5

    Prediction: Phoenix Suns

    In terms of fit and needs, Phoenix sounds like the most reasonable landing spot for Kansas' Ben McLemore.

    He's pretty much a top-five lock, and with the Cleveland Cavaliers unlikely to target a 2-guard, the Suns will likely be hoping McLemore slips into their hands.

    Orlando has Arron Afflalo locked up, while my gut says the Bobcats find a way to snag Noel. I actually think McLemore would look pretty sharp in one of those purple throwback Suns jerseys.

Trey Burke, Michigan

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    Draft Range: No. 1 to No. 5

    Prediction: Orlando Magic

    Trey Burke just seems like the obvious target for the Orlando Magic. Not only could you argue he's an elite prospect amongst a field of question marks, but the Magic need a point guard to help guide them into the future.

    It's possible that even if Orlando does get the first pick, it will still go with Burke, even though Noel is considered the better prospect.

    There's minimal risk with Burke, and after acquiring a number of talented wings and an emerging center in Nikola Vucevic, a safe point guard here might be the answer.

Otto Porter, Georgetown

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    Draft Range: No. 3 through No. 8

    Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Cleveland Cavaliers will be looking for frontcourt help, and unless they find a way to land Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter seems like an obvious target.

    Porter was this year's Big East Player of the Year, leaving his fingerprints on every one of Georgetown's possessions. In terms of reliability, there may not be a safer pick on the board.

    The Cavs could use his versatility on the wing, scoring touch in the mid-range and motor up front. He'd probably start right away in this lineup assuming it stays relatively the same.

Cody Zeller, Indiana

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    Draft Range: No. 4 to No. 11

    Prediction: Washington Wizards

    I don't necessarily think the Wizards will be targeting Cody Zeller, but they might have to resort to Plan C if Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett are off the board.

    Zeller has a lot of critics out there, and his no-show during the NCAA tournament didn't help his cause.

    But there's no doubting his talent, athleticism and size. At just under 7'0'', Zeller can post and toast down low and run the floor like a guard. The Wizards will need his post presence in the half court, while his mobility should go hand-in-hand with John Wall's strengths as a point guard.

    Despite loads of criticism, Zeller still managed to average 16 points and eight boards in the toughest conference in America.

    I'm not sure he's worth throwing a parade over, but if Zeller ends up with the Wizards late in the lottery, it shouldn't be considered a disaster. He's certainly no Jan Vesely.

Victor Oladipo, Indiana

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    Draft Range: No. 4 to No. 9

    Prediction: New Orleans Hornets

    Something tells me the Hornets are unhappy with Eric Gordon. Victor Oladipo is essentially the anti-Gordon—a defensive-minded, above-the-rim athlete who thrives off the ball and offers consistency.

    Gordon is a ball-dominant, injury-prone, low-percentage scorer.

    The Hornets should be looking for guys they can count on. Not only would Oladipo be a draw, but his disciplined approach to the game is exactly what New Orleans could use in their lineup.

    If Trey Burke isn't available, Oladipo seems like the guy the Hornets will target.

Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse

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    Draft Range: No. 6 through No. 14

    Prediction: Sacramento Kings

    If I'm the Kings, I'm targeting Michael Carter-Williams (behind Trey Burke) regardless of how the lottery plays out.

    The Kings currently start an undersized scorer at point guard in Isaiah Thomas. Carter-Williams is a 6'6'', pass-first facilitator.

    Sacramento's offense lacks a floor general and quarterback—someone who can put the ball in the right hands at the right time. Carter-Williams is the ultimate table-setter and has the upside worthy of a pick this high.

    There aren't any bigs around that seem like favorable complements to DeMarcus Cousins, while the wings expected to be available aren't the most appealing top-10 prospects.

    Carter-Williams makes sense here for more reasons than one.

Shane Larkin, Miami

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    Draft Range: No. 14 to No. 34

    Projection: Utah Jazz

    After Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams, it's anybody's guess who the next point guard off the board will be. It will be even harder to determine which teams will be targeting one.

    There's no doubt the Jazz could use a point guard or two. It be wouldn't terribly unreasonable to see them reach at No. 14 overall. However, their second pick in the mid-to-late first round sounds more likely.

    Unlike Mo Williams and Jamaal Tinsley, Larkin is lightning-quick with the ability to break down defenses and create off the dribble. He'd spark a lineup that desperately needs an injection of life from its backcourt.

    The Jazz are bound to use one of their two picks on a point guard. Assuming Carter-Williams is gone by No. 14, Larkin might be next up on their board.

Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga

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    Draft Range: No. 9 to No. 18

    Prediction: Dallas Mavericks

    The Mavericks don't even have a center under contract for next year. Dallas will be picking right in Kelly Olynyk's draft range and should be targeting his services as a 7-footer who can score in the half court.

    Mason Plumlee is more of a complementary piece that would be better used with scorers and playmakers around him. I'm not sure Gorgui Dieng has the offensive upside the Mavericks will be looking for. Steven Adams is too far away from contributing.

    After averaging 17 points on nearly 62 percent shooting, Olynyk makes sense as a target for Dallas at the back end of the lottery.

Mason Plumlee, Duke

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    Draft Range: No. 8 to No. 18

    Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder

    If there's one thing the Thunder are missing, it's an above-the-rim presence at the center position. Plumlee is the top athlete amongst the 7-footers and has a game predicated on making plays off the ball as a finisher. 

    Oklahoma City relies heavily on its ball-dominant scorers to make difficult shots. Plumlee would give them some easy baskets in the half court, as well as in transition.

    The Thunder should be targeting Plumlee's athleticism up front, and at No. 12 in the lottery, their pick falls right in his draft range.

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