There are plenty of reasons writers and fans alike believe a player should be drafted by a particular team, but at times it’s different than what the team is likely to do.
Sure, plenty of people think the Cavaliers should take Ben McLemore over Nerlens Noel, but what are the Cavs more likely to do?
With the NBA draft a month away, we take a look at which player these teams will most likely take in the NBA mock draft, based off of the mentality of the teams and the overall talent available.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
McLemore is the better scorer, but the fit with Noel down low would be a good match, particularly if Anderson Varejao leaves in the near future. Even Chad Ford of ESPN has Noel going to the Cavs.
Overall, Noel is a player with huge upside and is an established shot-blocker down low. It will be interesting to see how he develops after tearing his ACL, but there is plenty to like about Noel, and he will likely go No. 1 in the draft.
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
The Magic will probably be looking for the best player available with the No. 2 overall pick. They could really use upgrades everywhere on their roster, and McLemore is the most talented guy on the board after Noel.
McLemore is a great scorer with a nice jump shot stroke and can be deadly in transition. In order for him to become a more complete player, he will need to work on his ball handling as well as his defense.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Victor Oladipo might be the better all-around player at this point in the draft, but the Wizards likely trust Bradley Beal. Porter makes more sense as the likely Wizards pick to help with the strong backcourt of Beal and John Wall.
Porter isn’t an insane athlete or a silky-smooth jump shooter, but he is a producer who can play tough defense. He wouldn’t be asked to carry the load scoring-wise for the Wizards, but he could put up points when necessary.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Other than point guard, the Bobcats will likely be looking for anyone else that can make a big impact on this team. With the remaining talent left, Oladipo qualifies to be selected with the No. 4 pick.
It’s quite possible that Oladipo is the best player in the draft class at playing on both sides of the ball. His lengthy arms help him out tremendously when making steals and driving to the basket. His athleticism is top-notch, and he should make for an electric player in the NBA.
5. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
At this point in time, there is no face of the franchise for the Phoenix Suns. They need an offensive-minded player who can put up points at any position, and Bennett can do that as a small forward or power forward.
Bennett is an explosive leaper with solid scoring ability from the inside and outside. He is long enough to defend the perimeter, but he needs to prove he can be more consistent on defense.
The Suns really need a guy that can put up points, so picking Bennett would be a pretty smart move.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The Pelicans are likely going to draft a point guard since the future of Eric Gordon is uncertain. The only question is whether they will draft Burke or Michael Carter-Williams at the position.
Burke is certainly the sexier pick. His size is an issue at only 6’0’’, but all of his other skills easily make him a top-10 pick. He can score the ball, and he certainly proved in college that he can make clutch shots.
7. Sacramento Kings: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Isaiah Thomas is a good player, but the team needs a true floor general to lead this team and change the mentality.
As far as true point guards go, Carter-Williams is probably the best prospect. He isn’t a terrific shooter, but he is an excellent distributor of the ball and can play stifling defense. His 6’6’’ frame gives him plenty of length to defend on the perimeter.
8. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The Pistons simply need a scorer. No one on the team is a go-to guy on offense, so drafting a guy who likes to score makes a lot of sense.
Shabazz Muhammad loves to shoot the basketball, and he does it effectively. He averaged 17.9 points per game in his only year with the Bruins, shooting 44.3 percent from the field.
While some may call Muhammad a selfish player, he could fit with the Pistons, who are going to need to seriously put up some points in 2013.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
The big needs for the Timberwolves entering this draft are shooting and defense. With their first pick in the draft, they could certainly get some scoring.
McCollum has shot up draft boards due to his impressive scoring ability. He averaged over 20 points per game during his career at Lehigh and could be very well suited to play as a shooting guard or sixth man for Minnesota.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
All eyes were on Damian Lillard last season, but the frontcourt needs some depth alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.
Len might be a risky pick, considering he had surgery for a stress fracture (h/t Andy Katz).
Regardless, Len has good size to make an impact defensively and is beginning to develop on offense down low in the post.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Georgia
The big question surrounding the 76ers is whether or not they will re-sign Andrew Bynum, who is now a free agent. Despite all the drama, the 76ers won’t likely be looking to replace Bynum at center through the draft.
Caldwell-Pope is an athletic player on the wing who can make big plays. He has a nice shooting touch and can defend behind the arc.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Rudy Gobert, C, France
The Thunder have a stacked roster with Russell Westbrook healthy. With so much talent, they can take a chance on a high-risk/high-reward pick.
Gobert is a raw prospect and needs time to develop, but he has the physical tools to become a big-time player in the NBA. The Thunder could take time to let him work on his game before asking him to get major minutes in the league.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana
The Mavericks really need youth on their roster just about anywhere.
Zeller was a little soft in college, but he has worked on adding strength the past couple years. According to Chad Ford at ESPN, Zeller really impressed at the NBA combine with his impressive athleticism.
Along with a solid game down low, Zeller has a good jumper that he rarely used in school and can play solid defense.
14. Utah Jazz: Shane Larkin, G, Miami
The Jazz need more help in the backcourt, and they need to add some speed as well.
As you can see, Larkin can provide the athleticism the Jazz need.
Larkin may be a raw player, but his speed and vertical jump make him an exciting prospect that can develop into an exciting player.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
With Monta Ellis possibly gone in Milwaukee, the Bucks need a scorer to replace him.
While Crabbe struggles to create his own shots, he is a deadly threat to score when open. With Brandon Jennings running the floor, he could find ways to get Crabbe open and put up points.
16. Boston Celtics: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Center is a clear need for the Celtics. Youth at other positions wouldn’t hurt, but there are so many big names at center on the board that they will likely take a guy under center.
Dieng was a magnificent defensive player in college. Not only that, he had an established post game and even a decent jumper. The Celtics need a presence down low, and Dieng can do just that.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
The Hawks have back-to-back picks in the first round, so they can address two needs quickly. One that they need to address right now is at center.
Despite playing only one year at Pittsburgh, Adams proved he is ready for the next step. Bringing in another presence down low will help this team, and Adams is the best option available.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Jamaal Franklin, F, San Diego State
Along with depth down low, this team could also use another player on the wing. Josh Smith may not be back next season, so they need to do something at small forward.
Franklin isn’t anywhere near the scorer Smith is, but he has a very high motor and can make plenty of plays on defense. His athleticism helps his cause, as he could develop into a better scorer with time.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Suns from Heat): Tony Snell, G, New Mexico
An impressive combine helped Snell with his draft stock, and now he has shot into the first round and is looking to move up further.
Snell is an athletic playmaker on both defense and offense. He has good size and length that teams look for in the NBA, and he can add some more depth for the Cavs.
20. Chicago Bulls: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Derrick Rose’s likely return makes this a solid team all-around. One place they could use a backup is at center.
Olynyk is NBA-ready and could provide a nice change of pace from Joakim Noah. His skills from college translate to the pros nicely, and not too many prospects can say that.
21. Utah Jazz: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
Stacking the backcourt is probably the best thing the Jazz can do, and Hardaway will help them out.
At Michigan, Hardaway was a solid player, and an impressive combine helped him quite a bit. He’s a lengthy guard at 6’6’’, which helps him out even more at the shooting guard position. He will be able to provide more scoring for the Jazz.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
As a backup to Lopez, the former Jayhawk would be an excellent option off of the bench for the Nets. He’s an excellent shot-blocker and was probably the best defensive player in the NCAA last season.
Offense isn’t the strongest part of his game, but the Nets have plenty of other options who can score.
23. Indiana Pacers: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
The Pacers already have an established starter at point guard in George Hill, but they could use another one to play behind him.
Schroeder is a ridiculous ball-handler who makes big plays while dribbling. He can drive and score or penetrate and dish it to an open player in the corner. As far as overseas prospects go, he’s one of the more exciting ones.
24. New York Knicks: Mason Plumlee, PF/C Duke
After plenty of playing time at Duke, Plumlee has developed into a pretty dominant player down low, and the Knicks could use another impact player down low with all of the issues surrounding Amar’e Stoudemire.
Plumlee is a tough player who makes plays on both sides of the ball. He can become an instant presence on offense and defense.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Archie Goodwin, G, Kentucky
Despite the disappointing season for the Wildcats, Goodwin is still an interesting pro prospect. Lob City has a number of impressive stars, but they need more depth on bench,
Goodwin was a solid scorer in school, averaging 14.1 points per game. The long-range game wasn’t too impressive and inconsistency was an issue, but overall he has tremendous upside.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Giannis Antetokoumpo, PF, Greece
Although he has an impossible name to pronounce, this guy is an intriguing pro prospect.
Despite being a power forward, this guy has some great ball-handling skills. He’s a unique type of power forward that can add some versatility to the Timberwolves, who already have a number of international players.
27. Denver Nuggets: Ricky Ledo, G, Providence
Even though Ledo was unable to play at Providence due to academic ineligibility, he was an extremely impressive high school recruit.
Ledo is an impressive athlete, but he needs some time to learn and develop. The Nuggets don’t urgently need another guard, so they could bring in Ledo to develop him and return huge dividends over time.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
The Spurs absolutely love to shoot the three, and they would be ecstatic to bring in another deep threat.
The biggest strength for Karasev is that he is a marksman. He still has a lot that he needs to work on, but he could come off of the bench for the Spurs for the next couple of seasons.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
Somehow, the Thunder have two picks and a stacked roster, so they can bring in another player to breed and get ready for the future.
As a backup to Kevin Durant, Mitchell can be an impressive athlete off of the bench while working on the rest of his game. He can make big slam dunks and exciting plays to draw in the crowd, but he can become a better player in the future.
30. Phoenix Suns: Reggie Bullock, F, North Carolina
As the Suns are looking to continue to rebuild, they could be getting a fun player to watch with Bullock.
Although Bullock was a heavy three-point shooter early in his college career, he became a well-rounded scorer with the Tar Heels. The Suns need as much scoring as possible, so picking up Bullock is a good idea.