While the NBA lottery helped add a little certainty to mock drafts, this is still a tough year to predict how things will play out.
This draft doesn't feature a list of can't-miss names, but there are plenty of difference-makers in this deep class. Given this, there isn't a lot separating the players slotted to go in the first round, and this means the draft can go in numerous ways.
So, in this mock, I'm going to nail down the common-sense selections for each team. This almost assures my mock will be way off, since common sense often does not reign supreme on draft day.
I'll pay special attention to a few of the more interesting picks and mark them in italics.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
The fact remains that Noel's natural ability to be an elite shot-blocker and strong defensive presence would be a great fit in Cleveland, which means this pick is worth the risk.
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Trey Burke is becoming a popular pick in mocks here, and I wouldn't fault the Magic for taking him. However, I think they will end up going with McLemore. He has the highest ceiling in this draft, and the Magic need a perimeter threat to go with their young frontcourt.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Otto Porter is not a sexy pick. No one expects him to come in and be a guy battling for scoring titles while offenses are built around him.
That fact makes this tweet by the Washington Post's Michael Lee a little hard to believe.
Michael Lee @MrMichaelLee
Is #wizards leap to 3rd pick high enough to get Otto Porter Jr.? Source confirms CLE will consider OP at No. 1: http://t.co/u0ZdBktU9c5/23/2013, 10:51:47 PM
It's not that I doubt Lee's information, but that the Cavs would actually pull the trigger on Porter at No. 1 overall.
I see him falling to No. 3, and the Wizards won't be complaining.
Porter will add defensive toughness on the perimeter and an all-around offensive game at a position where the Wizards are badly in need of an upgrade.
With Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster handling the majority of the minutes at small forward, the Wizards need to find a more complete and younger solution.
Porter will not only bring his skills, but he also plays all-out on offense and defense, and he will help the Wizards continue to change the losing culture in Washington.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Adding Victor Oladipo to the Bobcats will give them an athletic player to pair with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. This combination will lack a bit for outside shooting, but nothing else.
It will be a fierce defensive tandem, and lights-out in transition.
5. Phoenix Suns: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The Suns have a lot of holes to fill, but the first priority needs to be adding some offensive firepower. They won't do any better for offensive acumen at No. 5 than Shabazz Muhammad.
Muhammad will have to make the switch to shooting guard in the pros, but his ability to shoot and take it to the rim will benefit him no matter where he is on the court.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Trey Burke's draft slot will fall victim to need. He has the talent to go higher than No. 6, but after the Magic's selection, there isn't a team that will be eager to add a point guard.
Even the Pelicans, with Greivis Vasquez, are not desperate for help at the point. However, Burke would be an upgrade—especially in the long-term, and he is a good value at No. 6.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Anthony Bennett is still recovering from a shoulder injury, but it's nothing that should hamper his future game.
The Kings already have a dynamic post presence with DeMarcus Cousins, and with Bennett's athleticism, he will be a great fit alongside the massive center.
8. Detroit Pistons: C.J. McCollum, PG, Lehigh
The Pistons will be upset when Trey Burke goes off the board just two picks before their selection. They could use a true point guard.
While McCollum would be yet another combo guard for the Pistons, he has the tools to be developed into a starting point guard, and his outside shooting will be of use no matter what.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
The Timberwolves have nice depth at center, and with Nikola Pekovic sitting as a restricted free agent, he will likely be back to assume the starting duties.
Cody Zeller wouldn't be brought in to replace Pekovic, but to add a different dimension. Pekovic is bruiser. Zeller is an athletic big man who will help the Timberwolves play at a faster pace.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Alex Len has good size, and while his offensive game needs a ton of work, he has shown the potential for a low-post game.
He also is adept at blocking shots and grabbing boards.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
Despite making a big move for center Andrew Bynum last offseason, the 76ers are still in need of help at the position.
Mason Plumlee isn't going to be a dominant big man, as he lacks a low-post game, but he is athletic and a solid shot-blocker and rebounder.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Toronto Raptors): Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
The Thunder are far too reliant on scoring from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Kelly Olynyk is never going to be dominant in the interior, but he has a nice shot and moves well.
He would help the Thunder open up the middle for their slashers to attack the rim, while also providing his own scoring.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
I like this pick for the Mavericks. They need some athleticism, and they need to find some youth with the potential to be a franchise player.
Michael Carter-Williams has that potential...if he can figure out how to shoot. If not, his size and athleticism still offer great rotation flexibility.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Dennis Schroeder's draft journey is starting to remind me of Ricky Rubio's. He has burst on the scene with an electric mix of talent, but he doesn't have the tape against elite competition to offer scouts the ultimate assessment tool.
Rubio ended up being drafted fifth overall in 2009, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Schroeder go in the top 10 this year. With the Pistons sitting at No. 8 and needing a point guard, I wouldn't be shocked to see Schroeder wind up being their guy.
In the end, I see him falling to the tail end of the lottery. After all, there is not a lot to go on other than his performance at the Nike Hoop Summit, where he was good for 18 points and six assists while leading his team to victory over Team U.S.A.
There's no denying his potential. With his size, long arms and big hands, he will draw comparisons to Rajon Rondo. He has a much smoother shot than Rondo, which only drums up even more visions of dominance.
The best indication of his draft range comes to us from NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper:
Scott Howard-Cooper @SHowardCooper
Dennis Schroeder said he has a workout with the Rockets in addition to Jazz and Bucks. Houston is 18. At this rate, he isn't around at 18.5/17/2013, 7:40:19 PM
This 19-year-old needs bulk and experience, but the sky is the limit, and the risk is easily justifiable at No. 14.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
If you didn't just notice the trend, you likely would have before it was over. The first 13 picks of this draft were all players competing in the NCAA last year, and now we have shifted to the European portion of the draft.
With the top players off the board, teams will turn to the most enticing of the European picks, and hope to pick Dirk Nowitzki instead of Darko Milicic.
Dario Saric definitely has the potential to be an NBA star. He moves like a small forward and he's 6'10". He's also 19 and just 225 pounds.
Jonathan Givony of Draft Express offers up his take on Saric:
Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress
No question Dario Saric is a prospect. His feel is off the charts. Problem is he shoots 50% from the free throw line and can't guard anyone.4/14/2013, 8:22:29 PM
His free-throw percentage is shocking. He has a solid shot and nice touch. So at least there is hope he will make improvements there.
Saric is also a quality passer, but until he gets stronger, defense is going to be a huge problem for him.
16. Boston Celtics: Giannis Antetokoumpo, SF, Greece
The Celtics have been scouting Antetokoumpo for months, and for good reason. He is oozing with potential, but doesn't have a lot of quality tape for the scouts.
Standing at 6'9", he weighs just 215 pounds, and he'll have to be a perimeter player—which he will be able to do with his solid hands and passing.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Rudy Gobert, PF, France
You can make a case for the Hawks taking any position. They face a lot of question marks this offseason, and they also have back-to-back picks.
If I'm in their position, I take one project pick and one instant-impact type.
This 7-footer needs polish, but he can move and has tremendous potential. The Hawks can draft him and let him patiently develop.
18. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston Rockets): Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Onto a player who will be able to play a larger role as a rookie.
Jamaal Franklin has to learn to shoot. If he could just be a decent jump-shooter, he would have a long career as a starter. As it is now, he will be a valuable piece off the bench, as he brings athleticism, defense and energy.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles Lakers): Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Allen Crabbe is 6'6" and can shoot the lights out. He isn't the greatest athlete, and he'll struggle on defense. However, there is always a need for a shooter with the height to get his shot off.
20. Chicago Bulls: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
This pick makes so much sense, I'm convinced it won't happen.
Gorgui Dieng is a Tom Thibodeau player. He has length, runs well and he loves to play defense. Dieng is 23, and he has no post moves or shot, but he will be a fantastic and valued role player right off the bat in Chicago.
21. Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors): Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has nice size at 6'6" and a good jump shot. However, he is not the greatest athlete, and he will need to learn how to take defenders to the rack.
Still, the Jazz need backcourt help, and this is a good value here.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Jeff Withey has an NBA-ready body. He will be able to hold his own down low. However, he lacks quickness and explosiveness.
Still, he will be good on the boards and blocking shots, and the Nets can use an increased interior presence.
23. Indiana Pacers: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas
Tony Mitchell is a great athlete, but he hasn't been overly productive. This is especially troublesome given the less-than-elite competition he faced at North Texas. Mitchell averaged 13 points per game last season.
However, his length and potential make him a worthy pick.
24. New York Knicks: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
It is easy to see Steven Adams being the steal of this draft. He already has an NBA-ready body at 7' and 250 pounds, and he actually has room to add bulk to his frame. He also moves well for his size and has solid hands.
However, he doesn't display much touch and he is extremely raw in all phases of the game.
The Knicks will love his potential, and they need to bring youth to their frontcourt.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Sergey Karasev, SG, Russia
Sergey Karasev doesn't present the same problems of other European players taken ahead of him. He can shoot. There is no denying that. There's also no denying he will struggle mightily on defense. It doesn't take a wealth of tape to figure these things out.
The Clippers need shooting, though, and at No. 25 this is a solid pick.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis Grizzlies): Glen Rice Jr., SF, Rio Grande Valley
Glen Rice Jr. has questions looming after getting kicked off Georgia Tech. However, he also impressed while in the NBA D-League.
Rice Jr. has to gain consistency, but he is a nice pick here for the Timberwolves, who need to beef up at small forward.
27. Denver Nuggets: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
The Nuggets will not be outdone in second-generation picks!
Tim Hardaway Jr.'s game is vastly different than his father's, and he lacks the killer crossover. However, this is a poised player who can shoot the lights out.
The Nuggets have a lot of strengths, but shooting is not one of them.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
I wish Archie Goodwin would have stayed in school. He has all the talent in the world, but he needs to refine his skills. However, since he is coming out, this is a great place for him to go.
His athleticism is needed in San Antonio, and Goodwin will be surrounded by people who he can learn from while not being pressured to produce right away.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
I'm not sure the Thunder should be counting on Derek Fisher to handle any more minutes for them. OK, I'm absolutely sure.
Shane Larkin is a skilled facilitator of offense, and he will be a nice option off the bench while battling to be Westbrook's main backup with Reggie Jackson.
30. Phoenix Suns (from Miami Heat): Deshaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State
Between this pick and Muhammad, the Suns should have one rookie every game who can pour in points from the perimeter. Deshaun Thomas lacks consistency, but when he is on, he can put up points on anyone.
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