The NBA Draft is about a month away, and the prospects are making their cases as to why they should be drafted in June. For NBA general managers, they will have to make sure they bring in the right players.
Here is an NBA mock draft with the best player each team should target. The best player is based off of overall potential, upside and how he fits with the team.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
The ACL tear makes Noel a risky pick, but there’s really no one else coming out that is a better overall player.
According to a report from ESPN.com, Noel’s rehab is going ahead of schedule. Before the injury, Noel was having a fantastic season at Kentucky.
A big man underneath the basket to complement Kyrie Irving could make this a very interesting team to watch next year.
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, G, Kansas
The next best thing to Noel is McLemore, and there are plenty of reasons why.
One of the truly elite scorers coming out of this class, McLemore can score inside the paint and outside with a solid jumper. He’s an impressive athlete with loads of potential.
The Magic are likely still hurting from not getting the No. 1 overall pick, but McLemore isn’t a very bad consolation prize.
3. Washington Wizards: Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana
One of the most exciting players in the NCAA last year, Oladipo can really do it all.
While being an excellent slasher, Oladipo was also an impressive shooter. His long arms made him an exciting player on both sides of the court, making big play after big play on defense during the year.
Putting Oladipo in the backcourt with John Wall could do wonders for this team. Having two big impact guards on this team can finally bring it into relevancy in the Wall era.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV
This is an incredibly young team with plenty of talent in guys like Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but it’s time that this team drafted a big man.
As far as power forwards and centers go, Bennett is the best available. He can stretch the floor and score from a variety of places. Defense is still a question mark, but a solid coaching staff can develop him into a well-rounded player.
With so many young players, the Bobcats are bound to start winning. With a big presence at power forward, maybe they can start making some big steps toward a better team.
5. Phoenix Suns: Otto Porter, F, Georgetown
There are some talented players on the Suns, but they are nowhere near where they used to be during the days of Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire.
One way to start turning things around is to bring in a guy with superstar potential. Porter was an impressive player at Georgetown, and may actually be the most NBA-ready player in the draft class.
Other teams may take Porter early, but the Suns would have no problem taking him without hesitation. They need a go-to scorer, and Porter can be that guy.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse
This is a tough one between Trey Burke and Carter-Williams, but the Pelicans could use a lengthier point guard to complement Anthony Davis.
At 6’6’’, Carter-Williams has impressive length for a point guard. He also did an excellent job running the offense for the Orange, averaging 7.3 assists per game last season.
Burke is the better scorer, but a floor general is a player that can help this team quickly start winning games.
7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette simply aren’t the long-term answer at point guard for the Kings, but Burke certainly could be.
Burke is a scoring point guard that can also effectively run an offense. His size will be questioned since he’s listed at only 6’0’’, but his clutch gene certainly won’t be questioned.
The Kings are another team with some young talent and are a few pieces away from being a good team. Burke can get that ball rolling.
8. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, F, UCLA
A one-year player in college, Muhammad was a big name coming into UCLA. The Pistons need big names, so this match makes a lot of sense.
Muhammad was an impressive scorer despite only being a freshman last year, averaging 17.9 points per game. He has good size to play as a small forward and make plays.
There is no star player on the Pistons right now, but Muhammad has All-Star potential.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
The emergence of Nikola Pekovic to go along with Kevin Love gives the Timberwolves a solid frontcourt. Now, they need someone in the backcourt to go with Ricky Rubio.
McCollum has shot up draft boards despite being from a smaller program. He was a sensational scorer his entire career, finishing his career averaging over 20 points per game.
If healthy, the Timberwolves will be a great team. McCollum will be yet another threat on this team.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Damian Lillard took the NBA by storm this season, but now the Trail Blazers need more depth down low.
Alex Len is a risky pick, but he definitely has a lot of upside. According to Andy Katz, Len recently had surgery for a stress fracture.
Andy Katz @ESPNAndyKatz
News release comes from Sports International Group that Maryland's Alex Len (likely lottery) had surgery for a stress fracture in left ankle5/3/2013, 7:08:05 PM
The surgery likely pushes Len down a bit, but the Trail Blazers will be happy to have him. Another big guy that can score down low will help this team a lot.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Georgia
An athletic wing player is just what the 76ers need to play with Jrue Holliday.
Caldwell-Pope is a solid shooter and can defend well behind the arc. He is an impressive guy athletically and can add some scoring to this team.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
The Thunder don’t have many huge needs, but a defensive-minded big man would be a welcome addition.
There might not have been a better defensive player in college last year than Dieng. According to Sports-Reference.com, he was fifth in the NCAA with a defensive rating of 81.7. He was a dominant defender and could score down low, so there’s a lot to like about this pick.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
The Mavericks don’t have a dominant big man. Zeller can fix that.
Zeller struggled against bigger guys, but he can play as either a power forward or center in the NBA. He can play well in the post and has a solid jump shot that he rarely used in college. Learning under Dirk Nowitzki will help him significantly.
14. Utah Jazz: Shane Larkin, G, Miami
The Jazz need an athlete at the guard position, and Larkin is probably the best athlete in the draft class.
The combine helped out Larkin quite a bit. A tweet by ESPN Stats & Info reported that Larkin’s 44-inch vertical was quite a rare feat.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Shane Larkin's 44-inch max vertical is the highest at the NBA Draft Combine in 12 years5/17/2013, 8:59:24 PM
Larkin still is a raw player, but his athleticism makes him a top-15 pick.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Jamaal Franklin, F, San Diego State
There’s not much excitement coming out of the Bucks franchise, with the exception of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings.
An exciting playmaker the Bucks could take is Franklin. He can get to the rim with some impressive moves and has some nice moves to create space with his jumper. He has some long arms as well to help him on defense.
16. Boston Celtics: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
Plumlee has been a dominating player in college for some time, and now it’s time for him to make a name for himself in the NBA.
The Celtics would be wise to bring in Plumlee. He can score, play defense and overall make a big impact on a team. His free throws could use some work, but there’s not really another big weakness in his game.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Despite playing at a small program, Olynyk and company were able to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Olynyk is an NBA-ready prospect. He has a solid jumper but can also play in the post. His impressive play in college translates well to the NBA, and not all prospects can say that. The Hawks need depth down low, and Olynyk does just that.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston): Allen Crabbe, G, California
With two picks in a row, the Hawks have plenty of options. One pick can help out the backcourt a bit.
Crabbe is a deep threat to score, but he struggles to make his own shots and play solid defense. Going to the Hawks helps him out since other players like Josh Smith are the go-to scorers and can help get Crabbe open.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Suns from Heat): Tony Snell, G, New Mexico
The combine helped out Snell dramatically, and now he’s becoming a hot pick to move into the first round.
An athletic player, Snell can make plays on both defense and offense thanks to his size and length. He makes a good fit with the Cavaliers to add more depth to this team.
20. Chicago Bulls: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
If Derrick Rose is back next year, there aren’t many big holes on this team. Although the team still has Joakim Noah, Adams makes sense.
Despite being a big man, Adams has a nice shooting touch and athleticism to make him a change-of-pace center when Noah is off of the floor. Having two unique centers on this team would provide some mismatches for the Bulls.
21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Tim Hardaway Jr., G, Michigan
Even if the Jazz pick Larkin earlier, they could still use even more scoring in that backcourt.
Hardaway looked good at Michigan, but the combine helped him out even more. At 6’6’’, he provides excellent size as a shooting guard. He can definitely add some scoring to this Jazz team.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Sergey Karasev, F, Russia
Even if you can’t pronounce his name, Karasev is certainly a good option for the Nets to look at in the first round.
As a small forward, Karasev has an excellent three-point shot and understands when and when not to shoot the ball. It takes a smart player to know when to shoot, and that can help the Nets a lot next season.
23. Indiana Pacers: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Another overseas player, Schroeder is a good fit to play behind George Hill at the point guard position.
Schroeder is an excellent ball-handler and can break ankles with his dribbling skills. He can make plays scoring or distributing, making him an exciting potential prospect at point guard.
24. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
This draft class seems to be filled with big men, and Withey is yet another impressive one.
A terrific defender and solid scorer in the post, Withey would do well learning under a guy like Tyson Chandler. He wouldn’t start with the Knicks, but the team could use another guy under the basket.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Archie Goodwin, G, Kentucky
Lob City has plenty of star power, but it needs some bigger scorers off of the bench.
Goodwin averaged 14.1 points per game in his only season at Kentucky. He was a good scorer, but wasn’t very impressive from behind the arc. He was an inconsistent player in college, but he has the upside to become a great player in the NBA with time.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Giannis Antetokoumpo , F, Greece
There’s no way I’m going to even try to pronounce that.
As a power forward, the prospect out of Greece has some very impressive ball-handling skills, which can help him get to the basket. He’s a different breed of power forwards, which can add some versatility to this team that already has plenty of international prospects.
27. Denver Nuggets: Ricky Ledo, G, Providence
Ledo didn’t play last year for Providence due to being academically ineligible, but he was a big name recruit out of high school.
Another gifted athlete, Ledo is extremely raw, but his upside is just ridiculous. The Nuggets don’t have an immediate need in the backcourt, so developing a player like Ledo could be a great decision in the long term.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Glen Rice, G, NBA D-League
An interesting pick, Rice was kicked off of Georgia Tech for violations, but he impressed many with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Rice can be an impressive scorer, but he still likely needs time to develop into a more mature player. The Spurs are a great franchise with a solid coaching staff that can do just that for Rice.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
The Thunder have another pick in the draft, and they can continue to add depth off of their bench.
Mitchell can be an athletic backup to Kevin Durant while developing into a better overall player. He’s a guy that loves to make exciting dunks, but is also working on becoming better in other areas. The Thunder have that kind of patience based off of their current roster and can wait for Mitchell to develop.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Cavs from Lakers): Reggie Bullock, F, North Carolina
The final pick in the first round, the Suns could be getting quite the player in Bullock.
Bullock developed into a well-rounded player during his time with the Tar Heels. After being a heavy three-point shooter his first two seasons, he developed into an all-around scorer in his junior season.
The Suns need all of the scoring they can get and, with time, Bullock can be another efficient scorer that can quickly put up points.
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