2013 NBA Mock Draft: Latest Projections for First-Round Picks
At this point in the process, prospects are finding themselves eating dinner in a different city every night of the week.
They move from one workout to another, hoping to catch the eye of the general manager overseeing the drills. The ones who make a statement typically receive a second interview for a workout later in the month.
NBA draft departments are now working their boards, putting together rankings and plans for every possible scenario.
And for most, it's likely still a mess at the top.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, 6'11'', C
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This could be one of those rare drafts where we won't know the first pick for sure until it's announced by David Stern.
The Cavaliers will explore every option here, including a number of prospects and potential trades, but any outcome that doesn’t end with Nerlens Noel to Cleveland has to be considered a long shot.
The concern over his weight has subsided, while his challengers haven't made any threats. At this point, you just can't make a case for anyone other than Noel unless it involves trading down.
Noel will stay at No. 1 until late in the process when and if Orlando shows its cards.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, Indiana, 6'5'', SG
Consider Victor Oldadipo this year's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Despite lacking the upside of a Dion Waiters, Harrison Barnes or Andre Drummond, the Bobcats went with a bet they knew they couldn't lose in 2012.
In 2013, the Magic could take Oladipo at No. 2 the way Charlotte took Kidd-Gilchrist, with the idea that there's nothing to fear or question regarding his transition to the pros.
Picture this: Orlando grabbing Oladipo at No. 2, then making a deal for Eric Bledsoe. You could argue that a Bledsoe-Oladipo backcourt would be one of the more athletic tandems in the league.
I just don't like the fit with Ben McLemore here, and though I do like Trey Burke, I'm not sure Orlando feels the same.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, Georgetown, 6'8'', SF
Otto Porter remains the favorite to land in Washington, with Anthony Bennett unable to work out and prove himself to teams.
At No. 3 overall, I'm not sure Washington is in position to take a risk here. Porter is the safest option on the board and fills a need at the wing.
The only way I see Bennett going No. 3 is if Washington isn't thrilled with Porter's lack of upside.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, Kansas, 6'5'', SG
If Charlotte holds still at No. 4, they'll just be happy to take the best available player that falls to them. Ben McLemore makes sense as the top long-term prospect on the board, though I wouldn't put up a fight if you told me it's Anthony Bennett or Alex Len.
Charlotte isn't in position to take a risk, and with Len and Bennett both out for workouts and summer leagues, they're already behind the ball.
McLemore is the safer choice, and he would give Charlotte a legitimate building block at the off-guard position.
5. Phoenix Suns: Alex Len, Maryland, 7'1'', C
Alex Len is your typical upside pick, with hopes that he'll eventually reach a ceiling that's higher than anybody else's.
The Washington Post's Alex Prewitt has been documenting Alex Len's rehab from a fractured foot, and all reports have been positive.
Phoenix needs to grab the top prospect regardless of position or short-term outlook. At 7'1'' with a fairly advanced offensive game, Len has a chance at being the starting center of the future, something that's not so easy to find.
Anthony Bennett could get a look here as well.
6. New Orleans Hornets: Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10'', SF/PF
There has been loads of rumored interest in Dario Saric, with ESPN's Chad Ford naming Dallas and Portland as potential suitors in his recent mock drafts. And if you've learned anything over the past few years, it's that intrigue is contagious and interest tends to spread.
The latest team rumored to have been infected is the New Orleans Pelicans.
Pelicans GM Dell Demps was at today's Cibona game in Croatia. From what I could gather in Vegas, Pelicans very high on Saric.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 4, 2013
The game Demps attended was the league championship. Saric went for 19 points and 12 rebounds in the win after going for 19 and 10 the previous game.
Saric is quickly becoming that international gem that nobody wants to miss out on. And with an epic draft class projected in 2014, it may not be the biggest deal if he spent another year overseas.
With Anthony Bennett unable to work out and questions surrounding Trey Burke, Dario Saric might have become the Pelicans' newest draft target.
That is, of course, if he doesn't withdraw, which is still a possibility.
7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, Michigan, 6'1'', PG
Like quarterbacks in the NFL draft, point guards are vulnerable to draft-day slides. If Orlando passes at No. 2, chances are Trey Burke slips past Washington, Charlotte and Phoenix. And with Dario Saric's stock on the rise and Trey Burke's on the decline, it's possible that he falls right into the lap of the Sacramento Kings.
This isn't a guy the Kings should pass on. He'd bring a sense of leadership to the point guard position, something Sacramento lacks on the floor and in the locker room.
Burke gives the Kings great value at No. 7, plus he fills a need at the point. He makes sense here for too many reasons.
8. Detroit Pistons: Anthony Bennett, UNLV, 6'7'', SF/PF
When it's all said and done, Anthony Bennett's shoulder surgery might actually have had an impact on his stock.
While he sits on the shelf, others are impressing during workouts or international play.
This would be good news for the Pistons, who could end up with an explosive, versatile forward to add up front. Bennett has some of the highest upside in the draft, though questions remain over his natural position. But at No. 8, the risk is worth the reward.
Andre Drummond slipped right into Detroit's lap last year, and it's possible another big name does the same in 2013.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, 6'6'', SG
I've had Kentavious Caldwell-Pope here for the past two weeks now considering Flip Saunders' desire to target a shooter. And until I hear they prefer Shabazz Muhammad, I'm going to stick with Caldwell-Pope.
He just makes sense in terms of fit. Minnesota needs an athletic shooter who can lock down opposing scorers, which is exactly what it says on Caldwell-Pope's label. He'd be the ideal complement to guys like Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea—drive-and-dishers in need of targets to dish to.
Muhammad and C.J. McCollum are likely to both get hard looks here, but Caldwell-Pope's two-way potential might tip the scale.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, 6'3'', PG/SG
If the Blazers sit tight at No. 10 and C.J. McCollum is on the board, it would be hard to imagine them passing knowing how shallow their bench is. When Meyers Leonard is your top reserve scorer at 5.5 points per game, your team needs another offensive weapon.
McCollum is both the top prospect on the board and a fit in the rotation as a sixth-man scorer or backup point guard.
He averaged at least 19 points per game in all four of his seasons at Lehigh. Portland's decision to take a mid-major guard paid off in 2012. McCollum has the chance to be the Damian Lillard of 2013.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, Indiana, 7'0'', PF
There are a ton of big men and a demand for guards and wings. Unless Cody Zeller leapfrogs Alex Len on draft boards, it's possible he slips to Philadelphia outside the top 10.
It would be a good fit for both parties. In terms of value, Zeller's size and talent are probably top-five worthy. Plus, Philly could use a post scorer, and Zeller could use the early minutes that should be available.
If teams start drafting based on ranking over positional needs, then Zeller may not be here at No. 11. Philadelphia should happily scoop him up if he is.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto): Steven Adams, Pittsburgh, 7'0'', C
Steven Adams recently worked out for Oklahoma City, which makes sense considering the Thunder's need for a future starting center.
It appears that teams are infatuated with Adams' long-term potential, and not so much with Mason Plumlee's. Maybe that's because Adams is almost four years younger.
You just have to assume the Thunder will go after a seven-footer if they feel he's worth a lottery pick. An above-the-rim presence up front is really the team's only immediate need.
With Adams, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones, Oklahoma City would have three young assets they could use to flip later for established NBA talent.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, 6'6'', PG
If Dallas keeps its pick and is unable to find a draft-and-stash candidate, then Michael Carter-Williams would be a great get at No. 13.
The Mavericks are looking to move in another direction at the point guard position, and instead of paying to retain Darren Collison, they could save that cash and draft the top facilitator on the board.
Even if Dallas trades down, it's possible the team looking to trade up grabs Carter-Williams at No. 13, knowing that Utah and Milwaukee are next and both in need of a point guard.
14. Utah Jazz: Shane Larkin, Miami, 5'11'', PG
Though I'm just speculating, you get the feeling that Shane Larkin isn't getting past both the Jazz and the Bucks in the mid-first round.
Larkin's value has skyrocketed over the past few months, especially after he tore up the combine and tested as the top athlete in the field.
Now all of a sudden, his leadership and point guard skills are being illuminated, while his size limitations are being voluntarily overlooked.
Though Utah picks again at No. 21, I wouldn't bet on them waiting for Larkin there. He's become a hot commodity that the Jazz should look to secure.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Dennis Schroeder, Germany, 6'2'', PG
Based on Milwaukee's recent head coaching hire, it doesn't appear Brandon Jennings is in Milwaukee's long-term plans.
Brandon Jennings publicly goes to bat for Kelvin Sampson and Bucks instead hire Larry Drew. What does that say about Jennings' clout, or ...— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) May 31, 2013
Dennis Schroeder is the top point guard on the board with a game built for NBA play. He's got the upside worthy of a pick at No. 15, and has the skill set that translates to a starting gig.
If I'm the Bucks, I'm taking whomever is left between Schroeder or Larkin. And I'd feel good about either.
16. Boston Celtics: Tony Mitchell, North Texas, 6'9'', PF
Tony Mitchell is being tabbed as the best pound-for-pound athlete in this draft. At 6'9'' with an 86.5-inch wingspan and 38-inch vertical, he's an above-the-power forward with potent explosiveness.
His stock has been slowly rising since the combine. Teams love the fact that he's got all of the tools you can't teach with room to grow in areas you can.
For a team like Boston looking for a frontcourt athlete and high-upside prospect, Mitchell makes sense with Steven Adams off the board.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, 6'6'', SF
If Shabazz Muhammad doesn't go in the top 10, a slip to No. 17 is a strong possibility. The red flags keep piling up for poor Muhammad, whose father was just arrested for federal bank fraud, first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The risk is worth it at some point. He'd fill a need for Atlanta as a scorer on the wing, and playing time should be available.
Muhammad reportedly has been working out hard, but he just might be that guy teams would rather not deal with.
Atlanta would be a fit for both parties at No. 17.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston): Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, 7'0'', C
The Hawks are likely to go with whichever seven-footer falls to them. In this case, it's Kelly Olynyk, one of the more advanced offensive big men this draft class has to offer.
Since the combine, Olynyk has been impressing teams with his ability to put the ball on the floor and shoot it from outside.
He tore up the West Coast for 17.8 points per game on nearly 63 percent shooting, numbers difficult to ignore regardless of what conference he played in.
With the ability to play away from the rim as a 4, he could offer Atlanta some frontcourt flexibility alongside Al Horford.
19: Cleveland Cavaliers: Sergey Karasev, Russia, 6'7'', SF
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski dropped big news when he reported that Sergey Karasev would be headed back to Russia, which raises the possibility that a promise has been given.
When going down the list, Minnesota makes sense at No. 26, though that seems a little high to give Karasev's camp the confidence to retreat overseas. Brooklyn is a possibility at No. 22 given owner Mikhail Prokhorov's Russian ties to Karasev.
But I'm going with Cleveland, a team in need of high-IQ players and shot-makers to surround it's creators.
Karasev is viewed as an NBA-ready prospect. He's the type of guy you picture contributing in a supporting role to a playoff team. Karasev's stock is quickly heating up, and whether a promise has been made or not, chances are Karasev has solidified his status as a first-round lock.
20. Chicago Bulls: Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, 6'11'', C
It's believed that the Bulls are looking to build with defensive-oriented players. Jimmy Butler emerged as a must-play guard, and it's likely he'll be used alongside Luol Deng on the wing. This diminishes the Bulls' urgency in finding an off-guard in the first round.
Instead, Chicago could go big and get some backup help and insurance for Joakim Noah.
Gorgui Dieng is an effective rim protector and a better-than-advertised scorer. He'd fit right in with Chicago's frontcourt and identity.
He'll improve over the years with the ball in his hands, but in the meantime, his impact defensively and on the boards is what the Bulls will covet.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Rudy Gobert, France, 7'2'', C
If Utah can grab a point guard at No. 14, a big man should be next on the priority list. Chances are Utah is going to lose one or both of its starting frontcourt members, and Rudy Gobert could be a steal this late.
When you measure 7'2'' vertically and have a 92.5-inch wingspan, the skills can wait. Gobert's ability to finish with ease and protect the rim is what a team like the Jazz should covet. If he's able to add some low post moves over the first few years of his career, Gobert could turn into an extremely effective NBA center.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee, Duke, 7'0''
Despite Mason Plumlee's breakout senior season, his age and lack of upside seem to be weighing down his stock.
He's not generating the type of buzz that some of the newer, fresher faces are generating. Teams are pretty much aware of who and what Plumlee is at this point, which might ultimately work against him.
For a team looking for immediate production, like the Brooklyn Nets, Plumlee could be a steal. The Nets have a number of frontcourt needs, but getting more athletic should be a priority. Plumlee would immediately become the most athletic big man on the roster and would give the lineup an extra rebounder and above-the-rim finisher.
23. Indiana Pacers: Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan, 6'6'', SG
Indiana isn't going to find a new starting point guard at No. 23 in the draft, and there's no need to reach.
Tim Hardaway Jr. could help the Pacers out tomorrow. We saw during Game 7 against Miami how badly this team needed another scoring option. And while Lance Stephenson has been relentless on defense and on the glass, Hardaway would be an offensive upgrade.
Teams have publicly praised Hardaway for his interviews at the combine after he finished first amongst the field in the three-point shooting drill.
Hardaway makes sense from a need, talent and character standpoint for the Pacers.
24. New York Knicks: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, 6'0'', PG
The buzz surrounding Isaiah Canaan is starting to pick up, and with Jason Kidd no longer in the picture, the Knicks should be listening.
Canaan worked out for New York on Wednesday, and according to ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling, it might not be his last visit.
I profiled Isaiah Canaan last week and explained why I believe he's this year's biggest sleeper and most undervalued prospect.
Canaan is the top-shooting point guard in the field and has the leadership qualities, confidence and talent to get regular minutes for a good team. He'd be a great fit for the current team and city.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, 6'5'', SG
Jamaal Franklin's sprained ankle has prevented him from working out, which could allow others to make an impression and leapfrog him on boards.
The Clippers should love this idea, as Franklin's athleticism and offensive versatility would be a fit on the wing. He could offer more than Matt Barnes offensively while providing a similar defensive skill set.
I wouldn't be surprised if Franklin were high up on the Clippers' draft board. He seems like an ideal late pick for a playoff team looking for a cheap boost.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis): Allen Crabbe, California, 6'6'', SG
Whether they get shooting with its first pick or not, Minnesota could still use another scoring guard for insurance.
You could argue that Allen Crabbe is the top prospect on the board here anyway. At 6'6'' with a 6'11'' wingspan, Crabbe should be able to play either wing position. He's one of the top shooters in the draft, which Kevin Love and Minnesota's playmakers should love.
Crabbe's stock has been rising since March Madness ended, and he'll be battling Tim Hardaway Jr. for first-round position.
At No. 26 overall, the Wolves could get value and a team need with Allen Crabbe.
27. Denver Nuggets: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece, 6'9'', PG/SF
Giannis Antetokounmpo is what I like to call your classic international coin flip. If it lands on heads, you've got yourself a winner. Tails, and it's possible you've wasted a first-round pick.
But at No. 27 overall, the risk is worth the reward with Antetokounmpo, who's got one of the highest ceilings of anyone in the field. At 6'9'', he's shown a legitimate point guard handle and bounce off the dribble.
Comparisons from Scottie Pippen to Nicolas Batum have floated in since his emergence overseas.
I'm not sure there's anyone at this point in the draft who could help the Nuggets next year. Antetokounmpo might be able to help them in 2016.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Tony Snell, New Mexico, 6'7'', SG/SF
Tony Snell has been a name to watch for after stirring up conversation amongst scouts at the combine.
At 6'7'' with an incredible wingspan, Snell has the measurements, athleticism and stroke typically required to play the wing. After shooting nearly 39 percent from downtown in back-to-back years, you could say his skill set is similar to Stephen Jackson's, whom Gregg Popovich booted off the team just before the playoffs.
Snell is in the process of growing as a player and could give the Spurs a long-term prospect for the next era.
29. Oklahoma City: Lucas Nogueira, Brazil, 6'11'', C
Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira starts Adidas Eurocamp June 8, an event that should allow him to generate first-round interest if he plays up to his potential.
With its second pick in the first round, Oklahoma City could be in the market for a draft-and-stash candidate without the likelihood they find anyone capable of contributing tomorrow.
Nogueira is an incredibly athletic big man who protects the rim and finishes above it. Depending on how Adidas Eurocamp goes, Nogueira may not even be here at this point.
30. Phoenix Suns: Ricardo Ledo, Providence, 6'6'', SG/SF
Ricky Ledo has been on a workout tour, showing teams what he wasn't able to show as an ineligible freshman at Providence.
In high school, Ledo was considered one of the top scorers in the country. He's a 2-guard with a handle and the ability to create his own shot. When he's on, Ledo is also one of the most lethal shooters around.
He's got huge upside for a pick this late, though without seeing him in live-game action, some teams might be hesitant. Consider Ledo a high-risk, high-reward draft-day option.