The 2013 NBA scouting combine has officially commenced, thus resulting in the top prospects in the world coming together to put their abilities on full display. As they work out and field questions, however, the rest of the NBA community is asking one important question.
How will the NBA draft play out with trades and fluctuating draft stocks?
Some teams are in the position they'd like to be, thus avoiding the need to trade with any team unless an irresistible deal arises. Other franchises would like to move up, but may hesitate to make a deal due to the lack of elite talent.
One way or another, trades will happen—it's all a matter of when and where they'll transpire.
1. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas Jayhawks
The Orlando Magic are in position to trade down here, as they could hope to deal with a team such as the Phoenix Suns or New Orleans Pelicans. Phoenix has a top five pick and Kendall Marshall, while New Orleans pairs Eric Gordon with the No. 5 overall draft choice.
Neither deal works here.
Gordon would've been intriguing had he remained healthy this season, but it was yet another year of injuries holding him back from reaching his full potential. Paired with a lucrative and extensive contract, Orlando has no reason to risk it on Gordon.
Especially not when Ben McLemore is still on the board.
As for Phoenix, Kendall Marshall is a player that would catch Orlando's eye, but only until they acknowledge what could be in 2014. Landing Marshall and potentially drafting Victor Oladipo, as well, is a pleasant thought.
So is drafting McLemore and picking from a potentially stronger crop of point guards in 2014.
According to Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops, the Magic covet McLemore, but could consider Oladipo or Trey Burke as fall back selections. This makes the Phoenix trade a possibility, but the Suns appear to be more of a franchise in flux than one with valuable trade assets.
Fortunately, McLemore is the shooter Orlando so desperately needs. He also stands at 6'5" with a 6'8" wingspan and explosive athleticism, which suggests he could develop into a dominant defender.
Paired with Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris, the Magic would be a point guard away from having one of the brightest futures in basketball.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky Wildcats
The Charlotte Bobcats enter this draft with countless holes and just two franchise cornerstones in Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. When the New Orleans Pelicans' interest in Nerlens Noel peaks, they'll consider the opportunity to land Eric Gordon.
When it comes down to it, however, Nerlens Noel is more of a need than Gordon, and that will be the deciding factor.
For all of their shooting woes, the truth of the matter is, Charlotte's No. 1 deficiency is their inability to protect the rim. The truth is in the numbers, as the Bobcats were 25th in opponent points in the paint and 29th in scoring defense.
Gordon may be an intriguing player, but Noel is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in the making.
Noel's injury was sustained on a motor play, as he attempted a chase down block but paid the price. For that reason, such a freak accident not only offers minimal reason for concern, but it actually intrigues a general manager.
When a center is chasing down a fast break while his perimeter players are standing by watching, you know you have a safe pick.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown Hoyas
The Cleveland Cavaliers have an undeniable need for a small forward, and have since LeBron James departed in 2010. That signals that the Cavaliers must either step up and find a 3 here, or they're waiting for their chance at LeBron.
We'll go with the former.
The Cavaliers would be foolish to pass over Otto Porter at this stage of the draft, as he's one of the most well-rounded prospects in this draft. There are concerns about his lack of elite athleticism and supposed lack of a left hand, but Porter is an all-around player.
Even if he isn't scoring as a rookie, he'd instantly become Cleveland's top perimeter defender and thus emerge as the only rational option as the starting small forward.
If that's not a strong enough reason, Porter is a reliable three-point shooter that thrives working off of the ball. With Kyrie Irving running point and Dion Waiters a capable facilitator in his own right, Porter will have ample opportunities to strike.
There's no way around how easy this pick is to make.
4. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana Hoosiers
The Phoenix Suns would have loved to trade up and select Nerlens Noel here, but they simply do not have the means necessary to get the job done. With this in mind, the Suns will be looking for the best match of fit and need.
Anthony Bennett may be the best player available, but Victor Oladipo is the individual who fits that need.
Phoenix traded to create the pairing of Marcus and Markieff Morris, which suggests they're content at power forward. Where they cannot be comfortable or confident, however, is shooting guard.
Consider Oladipo to be Jared Dudley with elite athleticism.
Dudley is hardly an Olympic athlete, but his defensive fundamentals are polished and his ability to shoot the ball is unquestioned. If he were explosive, there's no question that Dudley would have All-Star upside.
With Phoenix familiar with Dudley's ceiling and strong because of his presence, why not take it a step further?
Oladipo has superstar potential and the skills in place necessary for honing to be the only step left. While most players are looking to add ability to their athleticism, Oladipo is a safe pick here that could be anywhere between Tony Allen and an MVP.
Bennett is an option, but Oladipo is the safe star selection.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan Wolverines
The New Orleans Pelicans could go a variety of directions here, but the overstated need for a point guard takes precedence here. Greivis Vasquez is beyond a serviceable point guard, but his defensive presence is lackluster.
Trey Burke is no star defensively, but as a well-rounded playmaker who was born to lead, New Orleans simply cannot pass up on this opportunity.
Burke made his name known throughout the season, but he made the leap to the front of the line by dominating the NCAA tournament. From his endless heroics during late-game situations to his uncanny ability to make the right play, Burke did it all.
There's no reason to believe he won't translate those abilities to the next level.
Burke is a safe pick here, the caliber of player ready to step in and see playing time from day one. Not only can he pace New Orleans' offense, but he can be their go-to scorer during clutch situations.
As for the comparisons to Brandon Knight, they hold no ground—Knight's skills have never been as honed as Burke's from a point guard's perspective.
6. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV Rebels
The Sacramento Kings will likely entertain the idea of selecting a point guard here, as the lack of a true facilitator is an undeniable void. With that being said, this is a draft with few stars, and Anthony Bennett certainly has that upside.
By pairing Bennett with DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings would have one of the most intriguing frontcourts in the NBA.
The league—mainly media outlets that jump the gun at every turn—fell into the belief that small ball was the new source of NBA success. The fact of the matter is this.
Since 1999, all but one NBA champion squad has been interior oriented with a true center—the exception is the 2012 Miami Heat with Chris Bosh in the middle and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the perimeter.
In 2011, All-Stars Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler teamed up for a title, while Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum led the charge in 2009 and 2010. In 2008, it was Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.
Need we continue?
By pairing Bennett and Cousins together, the Kings would create their frontcourt of the future. There are needs at other positions, but for a franchise looking to start over, the best player available is the way to go.
Bennett is the player for that.
7. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Orange
The Detroit Pistons have two options here, as they can address their void at small forward with Shabazz Muhammad or go point guard with Michael Carter-Williams. For a team that can't seem to move the basketball, however, the decision is easy to make.
Detroit needs a point guard and they're built to thrive on defense—MCW provides the opportunity to improve in both regards.
Carter-Williams finished the 2012-13 college basketball season with the third-most assists per game and a ranking of sixth in steals. For a Pistons team that ranked 22nd in assists and 25th in steals, we don't need to spell it out.
In case we do, Carter-Williams is the perfect fit.
Carter-Williams must improve his jump shooting to thrive at the next level, as opponents will cover the dive man. This will limit the efficiency of Carter-Williams' attack, but not necessarily neutralize his skills at the next level.
As a 6'6" point guard with All-Defensive team potential, there's no reason for Detroit to let Carter-Williams pass by.
8. Washington Wizards: Alex Len, C, Maryland Terrapins
The Washington Wizards could go in a variety of directions here, most notably at center with Alex Len out of Maryland. With that being said, the local product recently underwent surgery on a partial stress fracture in his left ankle (via ESPN).
Just don't think that holds them back here.
Len's upside is far too intriguing and the Wizards have the pieces necessary to bring him along in a developmental manner. With Emeka Okafor still playing defense at an elite level—Washington allows 91.9 points per 48 minutes in which he's on the floor—Len can progress over time.
Most other teams can't present Len with that same opportunity.
Not only can Len block shots and rebound at respectable rates, but he's also a dynamic playmaker on offense. Not only can he pass out of the post, but he also has a reliable face-up game and scores well with both hands.
There is a significant risk here, but Len's upside is beyond intriguing.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA Bruins
The Minnesota Timberwolves have countless holes to fill with quality names and lackluster production. This creates a situation in which virtually every position is of need here, as the T-Wolves appear to have question marks everywhere but point guard and power forward—the latter isn't too certain.
With that being said, the T-Wolves have one area of need that no one can deny—scoring the basketball.
Shabazz Muhammad is an All-Star, and his team's lackluster success is all that separates him from being a top-five draft choice. While adding a more well-rounded skill set and developing as a facilitator would do wonders, one thing is clear.
Muhammad is a powerful player with an unquestioned motor and the build and length to make his mark at the next level.
Muhammad rebounds well, defends at a high level and finishes in the paint with the focus and power necessary to dominate a game. While upside is the key here, Muhammad's skills are solid enough for him to be a starter for years to come.
For a team that lacks a scorer who can create his own shot, Muhammad is the ideal fit here.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh Mountain Hawks
The Portland Trail Blazers finished the 2012-13 NBA regular season with the worst scoring second unit in the NBA. Due to that unfortunate truth, the Blazers' strong starting lineup collapsed due to fatigue and injuries.
Entering the draft, that leads to the pressing need for instant offense.
Fortunately for Portland, Lehigh Mountain Hawks guard C.J. McCollum is the caliber of player necessary to transform their bench. Not only can he shoot it from beyond the arc, but McCollum can create his own shot.
That's exactly what Portland needs to complement Will Barton and Meyers Leonard coming off the bench.
During the 2012-13 regular season, Portland was 20th in three-point field goal percentage and sixth in three-point field goals made. Not only does that prove how reliant the Blazers are upon the three-ball, but how inefficient they are.
McCollum is the instant improvement in that regard.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia Bulldogs
The Philadelphia 76ers are in need of depth at the center position with Andrew Bynum's future up in the air. With no franchise 5 in this year's draft, however, the Sixers would be wise to pursue the player that will best fit their needs.
For a team that lacks any form of consistency at shooting guard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be a breath of fresh air.
Caldwell-Pope stands at 6'5.5" and 203.6 pounds with a 6'8" wingspan, presenting great size for the position. Paired with deep three-point range and a strong defensive base, Caldwell-Pope could be what Philly needs.
When Nick Young, Damien Wilkins and an aging Jason Richardson were your best options, one thing is clear—you need a long-term answer.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Cody Zeller, C, Indiana Hoosiers
According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, Indiana Hoosiers center Cody Zeller measured at 7'0.25" and 230 pounds at the NBA draft scouting combine. That's a full inch taller than he came into the 2012-13 college basketball season at, as well as 20 pounds heavier.
Sounds like the upside is more intriguing than we'd previously believed.
Zeller has a strong face-up game, can take his man off of the bounce and finishes around the basket with both of his hands. Furthermore, he's improving with his back to the basket and runs the floor well with solid athleticism.
For a Thunder team in dire need of an interior scoring presence, they simply cannot afford to pass up on Zeller.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville Cardinals
The Dallas Mavericks won the 2011 NBA championship with a cast of three-point shooters, a superstar power forward and a dominant defensive presence at center. Shooters are always at a premium late in the draft and during free agency, but a rim protector can be hard to find.
Fortunately for the Mavericks, Gorgui Dieng is on the board.
Dieng is a dominant interior defender, crashing the glass at a high rate and blocking shots with a mix of a 7'3.5" wingspan and marvelous anticipation skills. With strong passing abilities and an improving offensive game, Dieng has upside that few centers share.
After guiding the Louisville Cardinals to the 2013 national championship, Dieng certainly has the championship pedigree Mark Cuban is looking for.
14. Utah Jazz: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
The Utah Jazz are strong along the interior, even if Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are to leave via free agency. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter were both top five draft choices and are both younger than 21 years old.
The next step is to find the best player available along the perimeter.
In this instance, it's Croatian swingman Dario Saric, who stands at 6'10" with a 6'11" wingspan. Along with having extraordinary size, Saric is also a strong facilitator that can help Utah as their shoot-first backcourt thrives along the perimeter.
There's risk involved in this pick, but the upside is far too intriguing for a team that thrives on their size advantage against almost any opponent.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Jamaal Franklin, SG/SF, San Diego State Aztecs
Depending upon how free agency plays out, the Milwaukee Bucks have two players worth building around in Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders. They also have an athletic dynamo in John Henson at power forward, but that's just about it.
It's time to go with the best player available.
Jamaal Franklin is an explosive athlete that stands at 6'5" with a 6'11" wingspan. Not only can he attack as a slasher, but he rebounds at an elite level for his position and has defensive versatility.
For a Bucks team that may lose Monta Ellis to free agency, Franklin is the best possible replacement at this stage.
16. Boston Celtics: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke Blue Devils
The Boston Celtics need a rim-protecting center, but they also lack an offensive presence on the low block. This suggests that Jeff Withey is the player to target, but the Celtics need to get more athletic.
Enter Mason Plumlee.
Plumlee stands at 7'0.5" and possesses the quality athleticism necessary to run in transition. He's an alley-oop waiting to happen, rebounds at a high rate, finishes with both hands around the basket and has improved as a defender.
For a Celtics team that needs an interior presence on both ends of the floor, Plumlee could be anything from a long-term starter to a reserve that makes his presence known for years on hand. That's a low-risk pick for a Celtics team that needs athleticism.
Regardless of what happens with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, this is the safe pick here.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas Jayhawks
Due to the fact that the Atlanta Hawks have two first-round draft choices, there's a strong possibility that they trade up. If they don't, however, the reason will be logical, as they enter free agency with five players under guaranteed contract.
In a draft that lacks any truly definitive separation of talent outside of the top 10—and that's being generous—there's no reason to move back when you can take multiple players here.
The Hawks have holes all around, but they also have a dominantly efficient power forward in Al Horford. To complement him, they take the first step in the right direction by selecting rim-protecting center Jeff Withey.
Withey can finish around the basket, but his true strength is on defense, where he enables Horford to work his mid-range game.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Hawks, from Rockets): Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
Hawks Receive: No. 29 Draft Choice, No. 32 Draft Choice
Thunder Receive: No. 18 Draft Choice
The Atlanta Hawks need to add depth, which is exactly why they'll jump at the opportunity to add two draft choices for one. In a draft that's thin on stars and even in terms of talent from here on out, trading down is the wise decision.
For the Oklahoma City Thunder, it's a matter of acknowledging an important truth—value is what it's all about.
The Thunder land 6'9" point guard Giannis Adetokunbo from Greece. Not only does Adetokunbo possess tantalizing upside, but he's the type of long-term investment that the Thunder would love to possess.
For a team that's mastered the draft, selecting Adetokunbo is not only a pick to improve their team in a direct manner, but a way to create the potential for a valuable trade piece in the future. Keep in mind, Russell Westbrook's injury exposed one important truth.
OKC can never have enough playmakers.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Suns, from Heat): Glen Rice Jr., SG, NBA D-League
The Cleveland Cavaliers landed their small forward of the future in Otto Porter, which shifts their attention to selecting the best player available. With their need for a center overstated, the Cavaliers will look to a player that's seeing a meteoric rise up draft boards.
Glen Rice Jr.
Rice Jr. had been playing in the D-League after a tumultuous ride at Georgia Tech. In that time, he's improved his three-point shooting, addressed his character issues, begun to fill out his frame and prove that he can be a lockdown on-ball defender.
At 6'6" with a 6'9" wingspan, the size is there. Did we mention that he can shoot the three and the Cavaliers were 23rd in three-point field goal percentage?
This is a pick that many will look back on as a steal.
20. Chicago Bulls: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga Bulldogs
The draft couldn't have worked out any better for the Chicago Bulls, whose lack of interior depth was exposed during the 2013 NBA playoffs. Without Omer Asik's energy, Chicago just wasn't the same when they shifted to the aging Nazr Mohammed.
Fortunately, Kelly Olynyk enters the picture with significantly higher upside than Asik possessed.
Asik may be a dominant rebounder, but Olynyk's hands aren't made of stone. Instead, he's a proficient scorer around the basket, has a non-stop motor and always seems to come up with a big play when his team needs it most.
For a Chicago team that saw Joakim Noah play 40-plus minutes on one foot, finding a player who can help him breathe must be a priority.
21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
The Utah Jazz landed a dynamic European playmaker with their first pick, taking Dario Saric out of Croatia. It just so happens that the best fit for this team at No. 21 is another European playmaker.
This time, it's point guard Dennis Schroeder out of Germany.
Schroeder stands at 6'2" with a wingspan that comes in at just under 6'8". With a paralyzing hesitation step and blazing quickness, Schroeder has all of the tools necessary to be an effective slashing point guard in the NBA.
With a frame similar to Rajon Rondo's, how can we not be intrigued?
22. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh Panthers
Nets Receive: No. 31 Draft Choice, No. 33 Draft Choice
Cavaliers Receive: No. 22 Draft Choice
This may seem like an odd trade to make, but the Brooklyn Nets will find little benefit in selecting here. They're deep at virtually every position, and they only appear to have a need at power forward, where no suitable candidate is available.
For that reason, trading down and acquiring two draft choices is the logical move.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, trade up here to address their need for a shot blocker, as they select Steven Adams out of Pittsburgh. Some may question this move seeing as they have Tyler Zeller and Anderson Varejao, but there's logic here.
Seeing as Adams is just 19 years old, this can be a long-term investment for a Cleveland team that needs help at multiple positions and will find no value greater than Adams in the second round. More importantly, there's a key factor to acknowledge.
The Cavaliers are a very young team with no need to enter training camp with four more rookies, when what they truly need is veteran aid—passing up on a 7'0" center with a 7'4.5" wingspan just isn't an option.
23. Indiana Pacers: Allen Crabbe, SG, California Golden Bears
There's no telling what will come of Danny Granger's tenure with the Indiana Pacers, but it's clear that Paul George is at his best playing small forward. With Lance Stephenson emerging as a strong defender with a budding offensive game, Indiana may be hesitant to move him back to the bench.
With George at the 3, this suddenly creates the need for a sharpshooting off guard that can buy into Indiana's defensive mentality.
Allen Crabbe is the perfect man for the job, as he combines a strong handle with deep three-point range. Seeing as he's also a physical on-ball defender that stands at 6'6" with a 6'11" wingspan, Crabbe is the right pick here.
Indiana lands one of the steals of the draft.
24. New York Knicks: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami Hurricanes
The New York Knicks' brightest stars in 2012-13 have been scoring champion Carmelo Anthony and Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith. The fact of the matter is, the Knicks are at their best when they rely upon their trio of point guards to move the ball and find the open man.
Unfortunately, two of those point guards are older than 35.
To address this need, the Knicks select furious defender and prime-time playmaker Shane Larkin out of Miami. While size could be an issue for Larkin, he's a natural creator with the ball in his hands, whether he's making his own shot or finding his teammates.
As an ACC All-Defensive Team selection, it's also clear that Larkin can defend—a prerequisite for Mike Woodson's system.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Tony Snell, SF, New Mexico Lobos
The Los Angeles Clippers' halfcourt offense was exposed this postseason, as they simply could not generate points when Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford weren't the ones creating. Finding a shot creator would be helpful, but the key here is landing a shooter.
A major reason for L.A.'s halfcourt deficiencies was the fact that, even when a player could take it off the bounce, there was no reliable option along the perimeter.
Enter Tony Snell, who stands at 6'7" with a 7'0" wingspan. Not only is Snell supremely athletic, but he shot 38.9 percent from beyond the arc during the 2012-13 college season.
Seeing as Snell specializes in the catch-and-shoot, his combination of athleticism and marksmanship could be what allows L.A. to keep games at a frantic pace but sustain offensive production in the halfcourt.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Sergey Karasev, SG, Russia
The Minnesota Timberwolves are quite familiar with Russian players, as Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko have been quite successful with their organization. This time around, they land a 6'7" slashing off-guard in Sergey Karasev out of that very country.
Between him and Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota addresses its offensive woes by landing two players that can create their own shot.
That's a phrase that's thrown around quite often, but it comes with good reason. Ricky Rubio is a facilitating wizard and Kevin Love is a dynamic scorer, but Minnesota's offense is far too reliant upon that duo.
Bringing in slashers who can step out for a jump shot is the key here.
27. Denver Nuggets: Erick Green, PG, Virginia Tech Hokies
The Denver Nuggets have two realities to come to terms with this offseason, and both revolve around their highly touted offensive attack. Those issues are that they ranked 25th in three-point field goal percentage and have a 37-year-old backup point guard.
It's time to address those needs with one selection.
Erick Green led the nation in scoring at 25.0 points per game, doing so while posting a slash line of .475/.389/.816. Standing at 6'3" with a 6'6" wingspan, Green certainly has the size to complement his skills as a scoring guard.
For a Nuggets team that thrives in transition but struggles in the halfcourt, this dynamic playmaker could be quite the valuable addition.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky Wildcats
The San Antonio Spurs are approaching an odd time, as their Big Three is reaching the back end of their respective careers. While Tony Parker is young enough to continue on for the foreseeable future, Manu Ginobili is 35 and limited in his availability during the regular season.
For that reason, the only logical option is to find his long-term replacement.
Danny Green has played stellar defense this season, but San Antonio needs to add players that can create their own shot. With countless spot-up shooters and an abundance of scoring point guards, San Antonio is headed in the right direction.
By drafting Archie Goodwin, the Spurs would land an off guard with intriguing athleticism and a 6'10" wingspan. That combination of length and explosiveness is not only what San Antonio needs to replace Ginobili, but what they need moving into the future.
Competing in the deep Western Conference would be a lot easier if you had the legs to run with the up-tempo offenses.
29. Atlanta Hawks (via Thunder): Reggie Bullock, SF, North Carolina Tar Heels
The Atlanta Hawks traded back earlier in this draft, but still managed to land a defensive anchor in Jeff Withey. The next step for the Hawks is to address what makes every great system flourish, and that's the presence of shooters.
Seeing as general manager Danny Ferry comes out of the San Antonio Spurs' decorated system, it's doubtful that he debates that truth.
You're unlikely to find a star at No. 29, but the Hawks settle for the next best thing by landing one of the best pure shooters available in Reggie Bullock. It just so happens that Bullock measured at 6'7" with a 6'9"" wingspan at the 2013 NBA draft scouting combine.
Size, length, athleticism and three-point shooting in one player? You won't find much better of a pick than this one for Atlanta.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Cavs, from Lakers): Rudy Gobert, PF, France
The Phoenix Suns found a true franchise cornerstone in Victor Oladipo, but that doesn't change their need for improvement in other areas. For that reason, the Suns can gamble at this stage and invest in a long-term prospect.
That player is Rudy Gobert.
Gobert is developing a cult following for his size, standing at 7'2" with a wingspan of 7'8.5". With his frame getting stronger, there's a genuine possibility that he goes somewhere in the high teens.
When it comes to international prospects, however, there is no certain destination—especially when they're project players.