The 2013 NBA draft is exactly one month away, meaning it’s time to take another look at how the first round could play out on June 27.
With the scouting combine and lottery out of the way, the big picture is finally starting to become a bit clearer, but much will change in the next 30 days as teams talk trades and privately work out various prospects.
Regardless, here’s our latest attempt to identify which direction each club with a first-round pick will go come draft day. Take a look, as some of the results may surprise you.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
What should Cleveland do at No. 1?
The Cavs and Noel are a perfect fit, assuming the team elects to keep the pick and not trade out for some immediate assistance.
With Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters making serious strides in the backcourt, this club could pick up its center of the future here at No. 1. With his athleticism, shot-blocking and upside as an interior presence on both ends of the court, there’s no better prospect on the board than this Wildcat.
Otherwise, Cleveland should explore options to exchange the selection for a veteran that will help this young and upcoming team make a playoff run in 2014. It’s a win-win situation for the lucky lottery winners.
2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Orlando may have had the best chance to land the No. 1 pick, but it should be just fine grabbing Burke at No. 2—a player the franchise had to be heavily considering assuming it was awarded the top pick anyway.
He’s the top point guard in this class and has a great combination of scoring, facilitating and intangibles that represent a major upgrade over Jameer Nelson in the backcourt.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Porter played his college ball in D.C. and meshes perfectly with the young-and-upcoming Wizards.
Washington is one versatile swingman shy of a respectable starting lineup, which is exactly what this Hoyas star projects to be in the Association. Porter may not be the best scorer, but he can knock down open treys, defend well, clean the glass and more.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
The Bobcats took a huge tumble during the lottery, but they’ll still come away winners if they can score McLemore at No. 4.
Considering Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are the only two respectable pieces on this roster, adding a high-volume shooter that has the three-point stroke, driving ability and upside of a franchise scorer into the fold just makes sense.
5. Phoenix Suns: Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
The Hoosiers star’s stock should be through the roof right now and there’s a chance he vaults all the way up to No. 5 to Phoenix come draft day. The Suns have needs everywhere, making a versatile big man that can run the floor and finish at the rim a smart selection.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The Pelicans are in the market for a scoring swingman that can complement the oft-injured Eric Gordon, making Muhammad the ideal selection here at No. 6.
While the UCLA product’s stock took a hit when his true age was revealed, there’s no denying that the lefty can simply get buckets. Don’t be surprised when the team formerly known as the Hornets pulls him off the board at No. 6.
7. Sacramento Kings: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
On paper, the Kings drafting another swingman looks downright foolish, but Oladipo is no ordinary wing player.
He’s one of the best defenders coming out of college in quite some time and works relentlessly at all times to come up with loose balls, create turnovers and generate extra possessions for his team. He doesn’t need the rock to make an impact, and it will be rare to see the Indiana University star take a bad shot.
That sort of attitude can be infectious and his energy would help spark a much-needed culture change within this downtrodden Kings squad riddled with chemistry issues and relentless gunners.
8. Detroit Pistons: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
The Pistons are getting a steal here, as Bennett is one of the more versatile players in this class and can play either forward position with equal effectiveness.
He’s strong enough to bang in the low-post as a mildly undersized 4, but quick enough to guard small forwards and has the range to shoot the three.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
The T-Wolves need some production from the off-guard spot, making this a home-run selection for the organization.
McCollum is arguably the best shooter in the class and can light up the scoreboard in a hurry. It remains to be seen if he can run the point while Ricky Rubio is on the bench, but he’ll find a way to get minutes regardless due to his scoring prowess.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
The Blazers may wind up flipping this pick to bring in a veteran to help a potential playoff run, but they need to go big if they can’t find a suitor.
Len would bolster the depth at the pivot position significantly; especially considering Portland’s bench was one of the worst units in the league last year. He’s a high-upside scorer with huge height and a variety of low-post moves.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Adams proved that he belongs in the lottery at the combine, showing scouts and GMs that he could compete with the top prospects on more than just a size level.
The New Zealand native is a great athlete that could eventually become a complete center capable of starting in the NBA.
Due an immense frame that will allow him to guard big men one-on-one, plus an emerging back-to-the-basket game, don’t be shocked when the 76ers use him to replace Andrew Bynum after a disastrous 2012-13 campaign.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Rudy Gobert, C, France
Gobert is an interesting pick for OKC, as he could eventually make his way onto the roster as a regular member of the rotation. The club has a clear need for a two-way big, and there isn’t a larger prospect in this class than Gobert.
Unfortunately, he just seems like a Hasheem Thabeet-style bust—another player who is barely getting minutes at the end of the Thunder’s bench. Because he still needs to develop some rudimentary basketball moves, don’t expect to see Gobert stateside anytime soon.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dario Saric, F, Croatia
The Mavs are too proud and talented to bottom out for a top pick, but they aren’t nearly skilled enough to make another playoff run with the current roster.
While free agency may be the best way to rebuild, the team could also gamble on what looks to be the best international prospect in the class.
Saric is a lengthy swingman with elite passing instincts and a blossoming offensive game. If all goes to plan, this Croatian sensation could eventually pan out as another Dirk Nowitzki-type international success story for this franchise.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Utah must find a player that can facilitate this summer. If the organization elects to accomplish this goal via the draft, Michael Carter-Williams is clearly the best available prospect on the board.
The Orange star can pass at a higher level than any other player in this class, but he has to work on his handle and jumper before becoming a bona fide starter in the league.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
KCP would be an ideal replacement for Monta Ellis in the Bucks’ backcourt.
He has prototypical size, three-point shooting talent and defensive capabilities for an off-guard in today’s NBA.
16. Boston Celtics: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
The C’s must add some length in the upcoming draft, as Kevin Garnett is at the end of his Hall of Fame career and their other frontcourt players are undersized, injury-prone or still projects.
Dieng doesn’t have the upside as some of these younger bigs, but he’s a proven winner with great low-post passing skills and the ability to protect the rim. If his offense ever comes along, he’s a steal at No. 16.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
Plumlee is an energy guy that will give the Hawks’ second unit a much-needed jolt.
He may never become a star in the Association, but this Blue Devils product will give his all in every game His rebounding, defense and hustle will help swing some games in Atlanta’s favor if it makes this pick.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League
Rice Jr. is another pick for the Hawks that isn’t exactly oozing upside, but should be a solid contributor right off the bat.
He’s had some character issues in the past, but seems to have resolved them and revived his career as a member of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. As a prospect, Rice Jr. is an above-average scorer, rebounder and passer that could log minutes at both the 2 and 3.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Even if the Cavs hold on to the top pick and select Noel, they could add another piece of the puzzle and bring some more depth to their frontcourt in Nogueira.
The Brazilian big man has a ways to go before he can make a big impact, but he’s showing tons of promise as a low-post defender and scorer around the basket.
20. Chicago Bulls: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Chicago doesn’t need much from its off-guard with Derrick Rose in the backcourt, but can’t seem to find a player that defends well, has proper size and can simply knock down open treys.
That will change if they add Crabbe, a lights-out shooter from Cal that coach Tom Thibodeau will be able to teach to defend with his 6’6” frame and athleticism.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Tony Snell, G/F, New Mexico
The Jazz aren’t exactly known for their three-point bombing, but Snell could help this team get up to speed and spread the floor.
He’s one of the finest shooters in the class and—at the scouting combine in Chicago—proved that he’s one of the better athletes this draft has to offer.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
The Nets aren’t going to be looking for a starter here, but they could get one of the better backups at the center position by nabbing Withey.
The Jayhawks star is a legit seven-footer that can protect the rim, grab rebounds and defend his position while Brook Lopez is on the bench.
23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (Fla.)
Larkin vaulted up the big boards after his eye-popping workouts at the combine, which is why we have him falling to the Pacers at No. 23.
While this loaded team seems to have everything, the Hurricanes product could add a spark to Indy’s bench unit.
24. New York Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
Should J.R. Smith opt out of his contract this summer, the Knicks could look to replace his high-volume shooting with a less volatile prospect in the draft.
Hardaway Jr. would be the perfect piece at this juncture of the draft, as the Michigan man can take—and make—shots from anywhere on the court.
He has to work on his shot selection—which should still be better than Smith’s on a nightly basis—and handle, but his upside and the Knicks’ potential need make this a great pairing.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Schroeder could shoot all the way up to the lottery this June, but for now we have him going to the Clips in the latter portion of the first round.
The German is a drive-and-dish type player that can easily penetrate into the lane and finishes well when he’s there.
However, he’s a willing passer and adequate defender, which is why he’d make an awesome insurance policy in case Chris Paul leaves in free agency or Eric Bledsoe ends up being traded.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
This Russian sniper is one of the best shooters left on the board and will augment McCollum—the T-Wolves’ pick earlier in this mock—in stretching the floor for Minnesota.
It’s also the ideal place for this gunner to make the transition from his homeland to the States, as both Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko—two Russian nationals—are currently employed by the organization.
27. Denver Nuggets: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece
The “Greek Freak” is currently one of the more unknown prospects in the class, but some general manager is going to fall in love with his upside on draft day.
Whether that happens in the lottery or later in the first, expect this international man of mystery to spend a ton of time bulking up and working on his game overseas before he can even consider making the leap to the pros.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Franklin could be a diamond in the rough for the Spurs here at No. 28. He’s an athletic machine that rebounds extremely well for his position, but he has an awful jumper that no defenses will respect while he’s on the court.
San Antonio shooting specialist Chip Engelland has proven time and time again that he can get young prospects to hone their shot into something respectable, which he most recently accomplished with Aztecs alumni Kawhi Leonard.
If he pulls that off with Franklin, the Spurs are getting a steal.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Olynyk started falling down the big board after the ‘Zags were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tournament and plummeted further when the combine revealed he has extremely short arms and athleticism that underwhelmed those with already low expectations.
The Thunder would be wise to stop his fall, as the big man has proven that he’s a crafty scorer and hard worker. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he finds a way to contribute on this deep, playoff-bound team due to his post-up and face-up scoring skills.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Mitchell never developed into the scorer that many expected this sinewy forward to become, but he’s found a niche as a defensive-minded rebounder that can match up at either the 3 or 4 with ease.
If he ever puts his talent together on the offensive end, the Suns will have unearthed the biggest steal in the draft at No. 30.