The 2013 NBA draft class has been almost universally panned for its lack of elite talent and clear superstar at the top.
However, this crop of prospects looks deeper than most analysts want to admit and there’s a fair share of players that may end up making a huge impact on the league.
Outside of the obvious college stars like Trey Burke, Nerlens Noel and Otto Porter, there are hidden gems just waiting to be unearthed in the late lottery and latter portion of the first round.
Let’s take a look at these and more in our latest first-round mock draft.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
If the Cavs don’t trade out of this selection, Noel is their man.
He’s a lengthy shot-blocker that can add another dimension to this team’s up-and-coming frontcourt due to his unique athleticism. If he ever develops as a scorer, watch out.
2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The Magic may try to shake up their selection by acquiring a more proven point guard in Eric Bledsoe, as per ESPN’s Chad Ford.
If they can pull off a trade with the Clippers, expect them to go with McLeMore or Oladipo here instead of Burke.
Should Orlando fail to reach an agreement prior to the draft, Burke and his scoring, facilitating and winning intangibles make perfect sense.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
The Wizards are the big lottery winners, vaulting up from a projected draft position of No. 7 all the way up to No. 3.
Expect them to field offers for this selection in order to acquire a veteran forward, but they cannot lose if they stay put and nab Porter.
The Hoyas star is a local hero that does everything well except create his own shot—something John Wall and Bradley Beal have covered.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
McLemore has the highest upside of any perimeter player in this class, but he has to work on being more consistent.
If he can find a way to remain dialed in at all times, the Bobcats will finally have the franchise scorer they need to finally climb out of the league’s basement.
5. Phoenix Suns: Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
Despite his above-average athleticism, this young man doesn’t project to be more than a big body that can run the floor and finish well around the rim.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The Pelicans need to add a second scorer to compliment Eric Gordon. There is no other prospect on the big board that grades out better in that department than Muhammad.
The UCLA swingman may not project well in any other area, but he can put the ball through the basket and will be quite valuable in the Big Easy.
7. Sacramento Kings: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
This downtrodden franchise will have a chance to change its culture if Oladipo is still on the boards.
The Kings are chock-full of ball-hogging players that give lax defensive effort, so hopefully the Hoosiers off-guard would inspire his teammates by example with his non-stop hustle and unselfish play.
8. Detroit Pistons: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Bennett would bolster an already impressive frontcourt in the Motor City.
He’s athletic enough to play the 3 and can hang out on the perimeter do to his three-point shot, but the UNLV star is strong enough to slide down to the 4 when the Pistons desire to go small.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may be one of the top shooting guards in the league in just a few years.
The 2-guard is one of the weakest spots in the modern NBA, with only a handful of young players having proved themselves there over the past few years. Most clubs use a platoon to achieve all the required results from the position, but KCP can provide them all.
The Georgia product is a lights-out shooter from distance, can create his own shot off the bounce, isn’t afraid to take it to the rack, has solid passing instincts and defends well with his 6’6” frame.
Considering the T-Wolves have been searching for a solid backcourt mate for Ricky Rubio for years now, this pick makes perfect sense.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
The Blazers are likely going to have a gaping hole at center when they elect to allow J.J. Hickson to walk in free agency.
Len may not be ready to start—especially coming off an injury—but he could provide depth and eventually assume those duties due to his incredible low-post game and immense 7’1” frame.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Adams is another big man that impressed at the combine, proving to doubters that he’s more coordinated and athletic than expected.
He’s a long way from contributing on offense, but as a defender he could log minutes in his rookie season and help the Sixers get back in playoff contention.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Rudy Gobert, C, France
Gobert is a huge center that severely lacks in basketball skills and athleticism. If he ever develops a post game and gets in shape, he could take the NBA by storm.
Expect a team that can afford to whiff on a draft pick—such as OKC—to take a big gamble on this massive Frenchman.
13. Dallas Mavericks: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
McCollum is a steal for the Mavs at No. 13, as he may be remembered as the top scorer to come out of this class when all is said and done.
He can light it up from distance or drive to the basket, but it remains to be seen if he has the facilitating chops to play point guard at the next level. Regardless, he should find a way to make an impact on a nightly basis with his great scoring touch.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Jazz have a number of big men that are in a critical phase of their development but need someone to feed them the rock.
Despite Carter-Williams’ readily apparent flaws—no handle, awful jumper—he’s the best passer in this class and will also be a major asset on defense with his 6’6” frame.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Olynyk will bring some much-needed firepower to the Bucks frontcourt.
The seven-footer leaves much to be desired in terms of athleticism and defensive capabilities, but he possesses range out to the three-point line and a solid face-up game.
16. Boston Celtics: Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Saric is the top international player on the big board, but he’s nothing more than a project right now.
If the Croatian’s scoring ability comes along and he bulks up to compliment his gifted passing ability and high basketball IQ, the Celtics will have a possible star on their hands.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
Plumlee isn’t oozing upside, but he’s a hard-worker that can change the direction a game is going in.
Whether he’s banging for boards on both ends of the court, chasing down loose balls or hounding his man on defense, the Blue Devils senior does enough little things to make a positive impact and will find minutes because of this.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League
Rice Jr. seems to have gotten his act together during a stint with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He’s not only cleared up character issues, but also proved to be a great scorer, capable rebounder and above-average passer.
The swingman would be an ideal backup at both the 2 and 3 in Atlanta.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Nogueira is a hard-working big man that has a ridiculously high ceiling but has yet to realize the full potential of his athletic gifts.
If he can find a way to bring his skills to the next level, he may become a top-flight NBA center. Until then, he’s a big project.
20. Chicago Bulls: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Crabbe’s long-range shooting would be a great compliment to Derrick Rose in the Chicago backcourt.
He’s a bit streaky and prone to some questionable shot selection, but this Golden Bear should find open space quite often and have no issues knocking down plenty of jumpers from deep.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Tony Snell, G/F, New Mexico
Snell is a freakish athlete and sniper from beyond the arc, two qualities the Jazz are currently lacking on their roster.
With Carter-Williams coming off the board to this club earlier, the New Mexico product would be a nice compliment defensively and could offset the Syracuse star’s inability to stretch the defense.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Withey’s ceiling may not be high, but he’s going to be able to carve out a long career by coming off the bench for up to 20 minutes per night as a defensive specialist.
In this situation, the seven-footer would be able to block shots and protect the rim while Brook Lopez earns some much-needed rest.
23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
Larkin vaulted up the big board with his incredible display of athleticism at the combine.
Despite being a tad undersized, the Pacers could use him as a change-of-pace option coming off the pine.
The Eastern Conference heavyweight definitely needs someone that can jet up and down the floor and possibly improve their entry passes, which is exactly what Larkin would provide.
24. New York Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
Hardaway Jr. is a deadeye marksman that can easily replace J.R. Smith this summer on the New York roster.
If the Sixth Man of the Year elects to opt out of his contract and join another organization, the Knickerbockers would be wise to pull the trigger on this Michigan Man.
They would be drafting a volume shooter with the same range that Smith provided, although he does need to work on his handle to become more than a spot-up threat.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Schroeder is a lanky point guard that uses his blistering quickness and athleticism to get to the rack repeatedly.
Although he’s much more of a finisher right now, he’s an unselfish player that should eventually develop into a better drive-and-dish player than expected.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Karasev is a proven shooter that has been shining overseas and is now primed to take his talents to American soil.
He’d be joining fellow Russian countrymen Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko on an up-and-coming T-Wolves squad that could definitely use his sniping skills.
27. Denver Nuggets: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece
The “Greek Freak” is an intriguing prospect that could either become one of the most innovative point forwards in the league or a bust that never makes it to the Association.
Expect a squad with plenty of assets and little to lose—such as the Nuggets—to pull the trigger on this high-risk, high-reward player.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Franklin is lengthy swingman with insane hops and a non-stop motor.
The only knock on his game is his inability to shoot the ball with any consistency, but Spurs assistant Chip Engelland could drastically improve that if this team gets a crack at the Aztecs star.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Dieng has national championship-winning experience and actually has a chance to crack the rotation in OKC during his rookie season.
The Thunder could use another big to compliment Kendrick Perkins, and this massive center can protect the rim, block shots and is vastly underrated as a passer.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Mitchell is a steal for the Suns here at No. 30, as the forward is capable of defending both the 3 and 4, possesses a relentless motor and rebounds extremely well due to his athleticism.
If he ever reaches his ceiling as a scorer, the Suns will have found a legit superstar at No. 30.