The 2013 NBA Playoffs are raging on, free agency is looming and college basketball is preparing to welcome in one of the most decorated classes in recent history.
Even still, the NBA can't seem to shake another crop of players preparing for arrival—the prospects that will become rookies at the 2013 NBA draft.
On draft night, teams will inevitably become torn between the intriguing nature of players with upside, and addressing specific needs. Regardless of where they pick, both of those factors will be weighed as we move down the draft board.
The question is, where will teams go to address their draft needs?
1. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas Jayhawks
The Orlando Magic's No. 1 need can be found at point guard, where Jameer Nelson is effective but 31 years old. With that being said, there is reason to debate whether or not Trey Burke is worth using the top pick on.
You need not worry any more, Magic fans, as the Magic reportedly "covet" shooting guard Ben McLemore.
According to Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops, Orlando is targeting McLemore, regardless of where they pick. This comes as no surprise, as Arron Afflalo is in his prime and is a well-rounded player, but not an elite scorer.
McLemore has that upside, and Orlando clearly views him as the cream of this year's crop.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky Wildcatas
The Charlotte Bobcats finished the 2012-13 NBA regular season with rankings of 27th in rebounding and 29th in scoring defense. They were also 25th in opponent offensive rebounds, thus proving their dire need for an interior presence.
Enter Nerlens Noel.
Noel is a dominant rim protector that capitalizes on explosive athleticism and a 7'4" wingspan to alter shots. He's also a strong rebounder and is more than capable of stepping out to the perimeter in pinch situations.
In other words, he's everything the Bobcats need and more.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown Hoyas
The Cleveland Cavaliers have drafted well since LeBron James' departure, landing the likes of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. Even still, the Cavaliers have one glaring weakness along their rotation.
They lack any form of reliability at small forward.
Fortunately for Cleveland, Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter is available to be drafted at this stage of the selection process. Porter, one of the most well-rounded prospects in recent memory, has All-Star upside.
This is a no-brainer.
4. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana Hoosiers
The Phoenix Suns appeared to be a dark horse team entering the 2012-13 NBA regular season. With the likes of Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and Marcin Gortat leading the charge, there was reason for confidence.
Unfortunately, Phoenix collapsed and saw their 26th ranked scoring defense lead to a record 32 games below .500.
In order to make strides towards a turnaround, the Suns will target shooting guard Victor Oladipo. Not only is he a dominant defensive presence, but Oladipo attacks the basket well and shoots at a high clip.
Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley are serviceable, but Oladipo has star potential.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan Wolverines
The New Orleans Pelicans luck out here, as they land a franchise point in Trey Burke out of Michigan. The Naismith Award winner is a dynamic playmaker, both as a scorer and facilitator, and displays the ever-important ability to step up in the clutch.
Sans an elite defensive presence, Burke is eerily similar to former Pelicans point guard Chris Paul.
He may not have one specific ability that sets him apart, but Burke is a flat out prime time performer. He commands the respect of his teammates, rarely turns the ball over and always seems to make the right play.
You can teach skills, but the intangibles are rare—and Burke possesses them.
6. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV Rebels
The Sacramento Kings could go point guard here, but Anthony Bennett is one of the most intriguing prospects in recent memory. His motor has come into question, but Bennett stands at 6'8" and 240 pounds with a 7'1" wingspan and electrifying athleticism.
When you already have DeMarcus Cousins down low, why would you pass up on the opportunity to create such a dynamic frontcourt duo?
Even if Sacramento is to land a point guard, they remain a franchise in flux. They can't seem to define positions for their key players, and their head coach likes to change the rotation every game they play.
Michael Carter-Williams should go here, but Bennett's upside is too intriguing.
7. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse Orange
During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, the Detroit Pistons ranked 22nd in assists and 22nd in turnovers forced per game. Even with the acquisition of sharpshooting facilitator Jose Calderon, the Pistons lack a point guard for the future.
Michael Carter-Williams can be both the pace-setter and the defensive leader for years to come.
Carter-Williams stands at 6'5" with a matching wingspan. With blazing quickness, elite facilitating abilities and active hands, Carter-Williams has the potential to be a double-double threat.
After ranking third in the nation in assists and sixth in steals, it's safe to say that Carter-Williams has the size and raw ability to make a powerful impact at the next level.
8. Washington Wizards: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA Bruins
The Washington Wizards could go with Alex Len here, but if anyone is familiar with his inconsistencies, it'd have to be a team so close to the Maryland Terrapins. Instead, Washington completes the trinity by rounding out their perimeter with yet another scoring powerhouse.
John Wall and Bradley Beal are now joined by the electrifying scoring ability of Shabazz Muhammad.
Muhammad could work his way back into the top five at the scouting combine, as a lackluster season by his team severely damaged his draft stock. The truth of the matter is, Muhammad came in and scored at a high level in a surprisingly competitive Pac-12.
Muhammad is still one of the top talents in this draft, and has All-Star potential as a scorer and rebounder with an unquestioned motor.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh Mountain Hawks
The Minnesota Timberwolves ranked 30th in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage at 30.5 percent. For perspective, the 29th-ranked Orlando Magic came in at 32.9 percent—a full 2.4 higher than Minnesota.
No matter how hard you try to convince yourself that Kevin Love will save them, his efforts are meaningless if Minnesota doesn't find some shooters.
C.J. McCollum is instant offense with a side bowl of efficiency. He's stronger than his height and weight suggest, and has range well-beyond the three-point line.
Most importantly, McCollum can create his own shot.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia Bulldogs
The Portland Trail Blazers boast one of the better starting lineups in the NBA, but lack any form of depth. That's clear in the fact that they ranked dead last in second unit scoring.
In order to avoid a second consecutive late season collapse due to fatigue, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the perfect selection here.
Portland needs a player that can stroke it from the perimeter and create their own shot. Caldwell-Pope can do just that, as he has limitless three-point range and a strong handle that he translates into poised finishes in the paint.
Caldwell-Pope is a safe pick that could be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate somewhere down the line.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Alex Len, C, Maryland Terrapins
The Philadelphia 76ers have the opportunity to re-sign one of the best centers in the NBA. They also have the chance to risk their franchise on that center, Andrew Bynum, after he missed the entirety of the 2012-13 season due to injury.
It's time to find an insurance policy.
Alex Len has the upside to be an All-Star caliber center, as his skill set and size permit elite play. The issue here, however, is that Len's motor and passive nature has led to questions about whether or not he can put those abilities to use.
Due to the factors of upside and Bynum's history of injuries, however, Len is the clear pick here.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Cody Zeller, C, Indiana Hoosiers
The Oklahoma City Thunder are an elite team that appears to be a low-post presence away from being able to overtake the Miami Heat. Without that player, however, the Thunder will continue to rely upon their jump shooting, and will lack a half court presence.
Cody Zeller can change that.
Zeller needs to bulk up, but he's established a quality face-up game and has improved his back-to-the-basket attack. These skills are exactly what OKC needs out of a big man, as they need an offensive center to complement Kendrick Perkins.
Gorgui Dieng is an option here, but OKC is unlikely to pass over Zeller.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville Cardinals
The Dallas Mavericks may need a point guard, but their No. 1 need is that of a rim protector. For evidence, note that the Mavericks have gone from the 2011 NBA champions to a non-playoff team in 2013 since Tyson Chandler departed.
Gorgui Dieng of the Louisville Cardinals is the ideal selection here.
Dieng is a powerful presence in the paint, protecting the rim with his 7'4" wingspan and mature anticipation skills. Dieng is also a high-quality passer with a significantly improved mid-range jump shot.
The fact that Dieng is a double-double threat makes this pick even easier to make.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
The Utah Jazz have numerous areas of weaknesses, but the world appears to have forgotten about their lack of a point guard. Mo Williams is a quality player, but he's also 30 years old.
Fortunately, Dennis Schroeder out of Germany is available.
Schroeder is a cross between Ty Lawson and Kyrie Irving in terms of style of play. He has a paralyzing hesitation move, lethal ball handling abilities and read-and-react style creativity when scoring in the paint.
To complement those skills, Schroeder has Rajon Rondo's build at 6'2" with a 6'7" wingspan.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Jamaal Franklin, SG/SF, San Diego State Aztecs
The Milwaukee Bucks have lacked a reliable option at small forward for quite some time, with sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy serving as the most viable option. At this stage of the draft, however, Milwaukee has two valid option.
Dario Saric and Jamaal Franklin—a simple selection.
Saric may be intriguing, but Franklin is a far superior athlete with a similar skill set. Even if Saric does have size on his side, Franklin is a better rebounder and plays in a more physically dominant manner.
Franklin led the San Diego State Aztecs in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals during the 2012-13 season—evidence enough?
16. Boston Celtics: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas Jayhawks
The Boston Celtics has made their name as an elite defensive team since the inception of their organization. Unfortunately, Kevin Garnett's legs have grown old, and Boston lacks any form of depth at center.
Fortunately, Jeff Withey is ready to step in from the opening tip.
Withey is arguably the best interior defender that you'll find in this year's draft class. Others have a higher upside, but Withey can step in and alter shots from day one, and he possesses the fundamentals to make a lengthy career out of those skills.
For a Celtics team that thrives on defense, Withey is the perfect player for Doc Rivers to utilize.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Atlanta Hawks have done a masterful job of managing contracts, setting themselves up with just three players guaranteed entering this offseason. This enables general manager Danny Ferry to mold this team via the draft.
Kelly Olynyk isn't a bad player to start with.
Olynyk is one of the most efficient players in the nation, mixing a non-stop motor with a knack for making the right decision. He's also one of the most improved players, which results in the belief that his upside is untapped.
Olynyk seems to improve at every turn, and Atlanta is the perfect place for him to do so alongside Al Horford.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
The Atlanta Hawks may lose Josh Smith into free agency, which creates a need for a dynamic playmaker at center. Fortunately for Danny Ferry, an intriguing international prospect is available in Dario Saric.
Saric may not be the defensive weapon that Smith has proven to be, but offensively, they're quite similar.
Saric stands at 6'10" and handles the ball well, creates for his teammates and can rise above interior players to finish in the paint. When his feet are set, Saric is also a dangerous three-point shooter.
Saric has upside here and that's all Atlanta can ask for to begin their rebuilding process.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Suns, from Heat): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh Panthers
The Cleveland Cavaliers struggle to protect the rim and have a center position flooded by rebounders and offensive-minded players. This may sound promising, but the lack of an interior defender will destroy Cleveland's title dreams in every season they attempt to prosper.
Not even Kyrie Irving can change that.
In order to continue building their already solid core, the Cavaliers must land Steven Adams at this stage of the draft. Not only is Adams an aggressive rebounder with an NBA body, but he's an intimidating presence down low.
Adams has elite upside due to his physical gifts and rapid progression, and that's too enticing to pass over here.
20. Chicago Bulls: Allen Crabbe, SG, California Golden Bears
The Chicago Bulls are reasonably delighted by Jimmy Butler's emergence, and must be encouraged by Marco Belinelli's progression. With that being said, the team is missing Kyle Korver in a bad way, as they lack a go-to sharpshooter.
Allen Crabbe may not be of Korver's caliber, but he's a sound three-point shooter with good size at 6'6" and a strong defensive presence.
If that sounds like the type of player that Tom Thibodeau would have a field day with, that's because it is. Not only is Crabbe a physical defender, but he applies himself on that end to no extent and rarely allows that to impact his offensive scoring output.
When you're picking No. 20, value often takes precedence over all else—fortunately for Chicago, value and need match up.
21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke Blue Devils
The Utah Jazz would likely prefer to land a perimeter player here, but Mason Plumlee is of too much value to pass over. Not only is he a mobile big man, but he's an intriguing athlete that can finish in the half court.
For a Jazz team that is preparing to lose Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to free agency, it doesn't get much better than this.
Plumlee is an experienced player, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he does have upside. His low-post game improves with every passing season, and it shouldn't stop once he arrives in the NBA.
Plumlee is a safe pick at almost any stage of the draft but here, he's a gift.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
The Brooklyn Nets can afford to select any player they believe has the best value at this stage of the draft. In this instance, it's game-changing point forward Giannis Adetokunbo.
Being a 6'9" facilitator that can thrive as a defender makes for quite the intriguing pick.
Gerald Wallace is invaluable as an elite defender, but that doesn't eliminate the need for a future replacement. Adetokunbo is young enough to be a project player, which opens the door for Brooklyn to breed him as their future 3.
Keep in mind, Brooklyn has a strong international following and would not hesitate to add to it.
23. Indiana Pacers: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas Longhorns
The Indiana Pacers have a strong roster with high-quality veterans and young players just beginning to come into their own. Although George Hill has become an asset at point guard, depth is the key at the NBA's most vital position.
Myck Kabongo out of Texas is the pick for that very reason.
Hill is of a high quality, but the Pacers lack a facilitator, and that often results in their tendency to fall into isolation basketball. Fortunately, Kabongo is a pure point guard that distributes well, both in transition and the half court.
His jump shot is a work in progress, but Kabongo's suspension in 2012-13 shouldn't change the fact that he's viewed in a positive light.
24. New York Knicks: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami Hurricanes
The New York Knicks are a team that has made the leap to elite by way of their abundance of point guards. With that being said, two of those players are older than 35.
It's time to find a point guard of the future.
Landing a big man is important, but the Knicks cannot ignore their need to replace Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni at some point in the near future. Fortunately, Shane Larkin is available, and fits the bill to perfection.
Larkin can shoot, distribute and defend—everything New York needs.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky Wildcats
The Los Angeles Clippers boast a deep roster with high-quality defenders all around the floor. They also have a franchise player in Blake Griffin and, assuming he re-signs, an All-NBA point guard in Chris Paul.
Even with Jamal Crawford, however, the Clippers are thin on something important—players that can create their own shot in the half court.
L.A. is an explosive squad that is more than capable of getting out in transition and finishing in a variety of manners. When a game is slowed down, however, the postseason exposed how weak the Clippers can be.
Archie Goodwin would help in that regard.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Sergey Karasev, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio present the Minnesota Timberwolves with a potentially elite offensive duo. Andrei Kirilenko, meanwhile, would have been an All-Defensive Team selection if his teammates had remembered to show up on that end.
Unfortunately, Minnesota lacks the necessary depth to make an impact.
Sergey Karasev could be the dynamic playmaker Minnesota needs, as he can create for others and find space for his own shot. This may sound familiar to Timberwolves fans, but there's one key difference.
Unlike David Kahn's abundance of point guards, Karasev is 6'7'.
27. Denver Nuggets: Erick Green, PG, Virginia Tech Hokies
The Denver Nuggets have an elite offensive team and would certainly benefit from the addition of perimeter defenders. With that being said, Andre Miller is 37 and Denver simply cannot shoot the three-ball.
Erick Green can help in both regards.
Green led NCAA Division I in scoring at 25.0 points per game on a slash line of .475/.389/.816. Green can score with efficiency at the NBA level as well, as he can take it off of the bounce or step outside for a jump shot.
Most importantly, Green can facilitate for those around him.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
The San Antonio Spurs are approaching the end of the Manu Ginobili era, as the Argentinian star has reached the age of 35. Even if he does stay with the franchise for years to come, the Spurs must search for a long-term replacement.
Alex Abrines of Spain can be that player.
Abrines handles the ball well and comes off of screens in an adequate enough manner to attack the basket. He can also step outside for a three-point jump shot, which suggests that he can play a similar style to Ginobili.
With intriguing athleticism, Abrines could become a weapon in San Antonio.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Bullock, SF, North Carolina Tar Heels
The North Carolina Tar Heels may have put forth a lackluster effort collectively, but that doesn't take away from Reggie Bullock's value. Not only can he shoot the lights out, but he possesses the height and frame necessary to compete at the next level.
For an Oklahoma City Thunder team that lacks three-point shooters, Bullock is a perfect fit.
Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin and Russell Westbrook can create their own offense. Reggie Jackson is budding as a shot creator, but he's more of a slasher than a jump shooter.
Bullock is what OKC's bench needs to help carry the load with Durant on the bench.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Cavs, from Lakers): Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas Mean Green
Tony Mitchell is an intriguing prospect with the opportunity to work his way into the lottery at the scouting combine. Before that happens, however, we must evaluate Mitchell as the prospect that he is.
One stuck on the bubble of the first round.
Mitchell's production has underwhelmed, but he stands at 6'8" with a 7'3" wingspan and tantalizing athleticism. He rebounds at a dominant rate for his position and is a dynamic playmaker defensively, both as a shot blocker and ball hawk.
With a respected motor, Mitchell could be one of the stars of this class—he could also come up short if the physical gifts are unmet by basketball abilities.
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