NBA Mock Draft 2013: Calculated Risks for Every First-Round Team

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NBA Mock Draft 2013: Calculated Risks for Every First-Round Team
USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NBA draft is roughly three weeks away, which has 30 NBA franchises approaching their future with haste. As they attempt to decide between prospect, however, it's become perfectly clear that the future is uncertain. 

While some general managers will play it safe and others will make outlandish decisions, we can't help but wonder what would transpire if this truly was a year of calculated risks.

There's clearly a precaution to be taken with every pick, as the transition to the NBA is unpredictable from the college ranks or the international landscape. With that being said, certain picks are viewed as safer than others.

In this scenario, teams will put their fate into the hands of chance.

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Wildcats

Position: Power Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'0", 206 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.09 PER, 10.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 4.4 BPG, 2.1 SPG

 

If there is a calculated risk to be made at No. 1, then it can be found with Nerlens Noel. As intriguing as his upside may be, the Cleveland Cavaliers are set at power forward with Tristan Thompson displaying drastic improvements from just last year.

That means Cleveland is buying into the notion that Noel can play center.

Noel has come under fire for his weight of 206 pounds at the scouting combine, but players are often advised to lose weight while recovering from leg injuries. During the regular season, Noel was closer to 225 pounds.

Suddenly, bulking up to 240 doesn't seem so daunting.

As for what he may become, Noel is drawing rational comparisons to Serge Ibaka, as they are both explosive shot blockers. With that being said, Noel's offensive game displays more potential, as he already handles the ball better than he's given credit for.

Otto Porter is the safe and rational selection, but if there's a calculated risk to be made, it's drafting Noel.


2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, Kansas Jayhawks

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'5", 189 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.24 PER, 15.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 42.0% 3PT

 

The Orlando Magic have multiple options here, including Anthony Bennett, Trey Burke, Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo. While all offer intrigue for their own reasons, Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops reports that Orlando covets McLemore.

When it comes right down to it, that's a risk worth taking.

Burke is quite deserving of this selection, but the Magic currently lack a scorer that can both put it on the floor and shoot lights out. As for why they don't have that player, it's mainly due to the fact that they are so scarce to begin with.

More times than not, those are the scorers that we call stars.

McLemore has that upside, as his shooting stroke is unquestioned and his athleticism explosive. In transition, McLemore handles the ball well and finishes at a high clip while around the basket.

The question of whether or not he can create his own shot in the half court is warranted, but creating a core of McLemore, Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic is too intriguing to pass over.

 

3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, UNLV Rebels

Position: Power Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'8", 240 pounds, 7'1" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

28.24 PER, 27.1 MPG, 16.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 37.5% 3PT

 

According to Eric Detweiler of The Washington Post, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall wants the team to draft a pick-and-pop power forward. At this point of the draft, the only rational option in that regard is Anthony Bennett.

As for why they should drop everything and listen to Wall, they were 5-28 when he was injured and 24-25 when he was healthy—when a player brings you from horrendous to postseason caliber, you placate him.

Bennett certainly fits well in Washington, where Nene Hilario battles injuries and Trevor Booker serves as a strong rebounder, but lacks defined offensive skills. Bennett, meanwhile, is an aggressive rebounder with supreme athleticism and a powerful build.

Paired with the ability to shoot the three at a high clip, there's legitimate upside here.

Bennett stands at 6'8" and 240 pounds with a 7'1" wingspan, thus proving that he has the body to play in the NBA. He also makes a better impact defensively than he's given credit for, but his effort is reasonably questioned on that end.

For a Wizards team that was eighth in scoring defense, motivating Bennett shouldn't be too much of an issue.

 

4. Charlotte Bobcats: Victor Oladipo, Indiana Hoosiers

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'4", 213 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

29.09 PER, 13.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.2 SPG, 44.1% 3PT

 

With Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett off the board, the Charlotte Bobcats must turn their focus to another option. While their holes are predominantly in the front court, the Bobcats would be remiss to ignore the upside of, arguably, the best player in this draft.

Indiana Hoosiers shooting guard Victor Oladipo.

If there's one thing that we know about Oladipo, it's that he has one of the most extraordinary motors we've seen from a prospect. For a Bobcats team that already has Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the perimeter, selecting Oladipo breeds the opportunity for the best collective motor in basketball.

That's a chance Charlotte should take.

The Bobcats need shooters, and Oladipo is more of a catch-and-release type of player, but the upside is key here. Not only would the collective motor of this team improve, but Oladipo and Kidd-Gilchrist could be the top perimeter defensive duo in the NBA if they pan out as projected.

Playmakers are needed in Charlotte, but they aren't going to be competing for the playoffs in 2013-14—Oladipo makes the most sense as a building block.

 

5. Phoenix Suns: Otto Porter, Georgetown Hoyas

Position: Small Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'9", 198 pounds, 7'2" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.88 PER, 16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 42.2% 3PT

 

Otto Porter could go as high as No. 1 or as low as No. 6, and in this scenario, he dips. While he deserves to be off of the board significantly higher than this, the chips could fall in this manner and lead to the Georgetown star's decline.

For a Phoenix Suns team that needs stability at small forward, Porter is a no-brainer.

The Suns invested a lot of money into free agency during the 2012-13 offseason, but they ultimately finished with the worst record in the Western Conference. That's a primary reason that they hired a new general manager in Boston Celtics alum Ryan McDonough.

After watching Paul Pierce and Jeff Green develop in their own respective times, why would he pass over a player that could be of a similar caliber?

Porter is often viewed as a player with limited upside due to his lack of elite athleticism, but he's also the most complete player in this draft. As for why that is far from a sign that his ceiling is low, try the fact that he's gone from upside to legitimacy in just two seasons at Georgetown.

There isn't much that Porter can't do, but that doesn't mean he won't hone his skills and become one of the top players in the NBA—he most certainly can.


6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, Maryland Terrapins

Position: Center

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'1", 225 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.04 PER, 26.4 MPG, 11.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.1 BPG

 

Hate this pick all you'd like, but the New Orleans Pelicans have a glaring need at center. Even if my personal pick would be Trey Burke, there are signs pointing towards Alex Len.

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the Pelicans have not yet given up on the dream of Austin Rivers becoming their franchise point guard.

The Pelicans will take a long, hard look at both Burke and Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams. But I'm not sure they'll bite. This team drafted Austin Rivers last year to be its point guard of the future and sources say that the team hasn't given up on Rivers, despite a miserable rookie season.

By dream, of course, we mean to say pipe dream.

While I disagree with this selection with every fiber of my being, the Pelicans must look elsewhere if not point guard. All signs point towards center, where Len is the only player at the position that is truly deserving of this pick.

Burke and Michael Carter-Williams make more sense, but the reports point elsewhere.

 

7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, Michigan Wolverines

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Point Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'1", 187 pounds, 6'6" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

29.76 PER, 18.6 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 38.4% 3PT

 

The Sacramento Kings have long needed a point guard, and there isn't a better fit for their squad than Trey Burke. After all, Burke is a respected leader that always seems to have his teammates focused on the task at hand.

As everyone keeps looking for this year's Damian Lillard, they're overlooking the fact that Trey Burke could carve out his own legacy.

Burke may not possess top tier lateral quickness, but he's a pure basketball player that makes plays when they're needed. We can talk about physical gifts and explosiveness all we'd like, but here's what matters most.

If your athlete isn't making plays on the floor, he's just another Top 10 play on SportsCenter with no substance to show—Burke has a whole lot of substance to him.

Not only is he lethal with the ball in his hands, but Burke plays well off of the ball. With deep three-point range and precise passing ability, that makes him dangerous in any offense.

For a Kings team that lacks an identity, and in turn a direction while on the floor, Burke could be the piece to the puzzle that helps DeMarcus Cousins lead this team to relevance.


8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Orange

Position: Point Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'6", 184 pounds, 6'7" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

21.25 PER, 11.9 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.9 RPG, 2.8 SPG

 

The Detroit Pistons may appear to have options at No. 8, but as long as Michael Carter-Williams is on the board, they don't. The Pistons should have Carter-Williams' name highlighted on their big board.

There just isn't another choice that makes any shred of sense with him available.

Carter-Williams is a 6'6" point guard with the best floor vision and passing skills in this draft class. He's also the top defender at his position, utilizing his size and length to disrupt passing lanes and create points off of turnovers.

Yet we're all focused on the coachable trait of his poor jump shooting.

For a Pistons team that has drafted tweeners far too often in the past, finding a true point guard is the key here. Due to Carter-Williams' combination of size and facilitating ability, the Syracuse star is the perfect player to help Brandon Knight transition to the 2.

A task that Detroit should focus on as they attempt to make the most of Knight's upside.


9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia Bulldogs

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'6", 204 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.62 PER, 18.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.0 SPG, 37.3% 3PT

 

There's good reason to believe that the Minnesota Timberwolves will take C.J. McCollum here, as he's a lights out shooter garnering mountains of hype from those who covers his game. With that being said, Minnesota doesn't need another undersized guard.

They need a true shooting guard with the size to hold down the position.

McCollum may be the better player, and there's certainly a case to make for that being true, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the better fit. Not only does he stand at 6'6" and 204 pounds with a 6'8" wingspan, but he may be the most well-rounded off guard available.

From his limitless range to his strong rebounding abilities and defensive upside, Caldwell-Pope doesn't have many holes in his game.

If allowed to work off of the ball, the SEC Player of the Year could shoot at a clip close to or above 40.0 percent from beyond the arc. With Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, Luke Ridnour and Alexey Shved all available—I told you they didn't need another undersized scoring guard—that shouldn't be an issue.

Caldwell-Pope should make a seamless transition if drafted by Minnesota.


10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'3", 197 pounds, 6'6" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

33.95 PER, 23.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, 51.6% 3PT

 

The Portland Trail Blazers should be crossing their fingers and praying that C.J. McCollum drops to No. 10. Not only is he a lights out shooter, but McCollum can run point in a pinch and create looks for both himself and others.

For a Portland team that lacks certainty at both guard spots along their second unit, it doesn't get any better than this.

McCollum stands at 6'3", but his 6'6" wingspan creates a significantly larger style of play. More importantly, he's a pure scorer that will attack at every turn and put points on the board in a hurry for a Blazers team that certainly needs it.

Portland ranked dead last in bench scoring during the 2012-13 regular season, thus leading to fatigue for their starters and a 13-game losing streak to close out the season.

Some have projected McCollum as a point guard, but those are the few caught up in the hunt for a new Damian Lillard. McCollum is a shooting guard, but if used as a sixth man, can run point while Lillard rests.

More importantly, he can play alongside Lillard and create a duel-ball handling system that would help transform the Blazers into a legitimate postseason contender.


11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, Indiana Hoosiers

Position: Power Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 7'0", 230 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

30.93 PER, 16.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.0 SPG

 

The Philadelphia 76ers could go in a number of directions here, as they have holes at virtually every position outside of point guard and small forward. With Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young in as building blocks, and Evan Turner displaying upside, the Sixers now need to answer a question.

Do they want to improve their offense or create depth at center?

There is reason to believe that Philly will go with the latter, but after ranking dead last in scoring offense in 2012-13, they need players that can put points on the board. For that reason, Cody Zeller is the pick that makes the most sense.

Not only is Zeller supremely athletic, but he's shaping up to be a stretch 4 that can back his man down—a rare combination in the NBA.

Zeller could step in rather soon for a Sixers team that needs scorers in order to compete in the Eastern Conference. Already boasting a top 10 scoring defense without Andrew Bynum, it's now time for them to improve from 30th in scoring.

All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday would certainly benefit from the addition of a pick-and-pop partner at the 4.


12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Steven Adams, Pittsburgh Panthers

Position: Center

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'0", 255 pounds, 7'5" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

22.59 PER, 23.4 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder have two options here, as they could go for value with Shabazz Muhammad or address their top need with a center. Once they settle for a 5, it then comes down to a decision between upside and instant impact.

As much as the Thunder need a low-post presence today, the upside is too intriguing for the Thunder to pass over Steven Adams.

Adams stands at 7'0" and 255 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan, which is enough to suggest that the future is bright. Paired with an aggressive style of play defensively and surprising touch around the basket, Adams is gaining steam approaching the draft.

At 19, there's certainly reason for scouts and general managers to marvel over his room to grow.

The Thunder appear committed to Kendrick Perkins in the short-term, which suggests that anyone they draft will see the bench more than they do game action. With this in mind, there's no reason to believe OKC will rush their center into play.

As glaring of a weakness as it may be, the Thunder remain one of the youngest teams in the NBA—and don't forget, there is something called free agency.


13. Brooklyn Nets (via Mavericks): Dario Saric, Croatia

Mavericks Receive: No. 22 Pick, MarShon Brooks, Tyshawn Taylor, Cash

Nets Receive: No. 13 Pick, Vince Carter

Position: Small Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'10", 223 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Dallas Mavericks are looking to become a title contender over the next two seasons, which suggests they're looking to build right now. While Vince Carter has been invaluable as a sixth man, Dallas must get younger and more athletic in order to do just that.

With their desire to clear cap space as they pursue Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, Dallas deals Carter and the No. 13 pick for MarShon Brooks, Tyshawn Taylor, the No. 22 pick and cash.

The Brooklyn Nets have one of the league's top defenders at small forward with former All-Star Gerald Wallace. What they lack, however, is a dynamic playmaker to complement Deron Williams and Brook Lopez on offense.

Until Joe Johnson gets his consistency back from the Space Jam monsters, the Nets need to consider that a present void.

Dario Saric may not be ready to contribute right away, but he's a 6'10" small forward with strong ball handling skills and excellent court vision. More importantly, he's only 19, which suggests that he can be brought along slowly.

As a player that's widely regarded as a potential star, Saric is worth the risk as Brooklyn trades up to get this done.


14. Utah Jazz: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Bruins

Position: Guard/Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'6", 222 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

21.99 PER, 17.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 37.7% 3PT

 

The Utah Jazz are in position to become a legitimate title contender over the course of the next few seasons with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter leading the charge. While that won't happen in 2013-14, the Jazz would be wise continue building around their big men and thus reaching that plateau.

Finding a perimeter player that can put it on the floor and score at a high clip is a great place to start.

Shabazz Muhammad may be seeing his stock decline, but he remains one of the most difficult defensive assignments in this draft. He's built like an NBA player at 6'6" and 222 pounds with a 6'11" wingspan, and the southpaw is excellent at taking his man off of the bounce.

Utah needs more shooters, but having a slashing scorer is invaluable for a team that is looking to pound it down low.

Muhammad may not be a great marksman, but he's more than capable in a catch-and-shoot capacity. For a team that's looking to pound it down low with Favors and Kanter, that's all one can expect him to do.

Being able to attack off of the bounce and power his way through traffic is just an added bonus for a Jazz team that needs a perimeter player to team with Gordon Hayward.

 

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State Aztecs

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'5", 191 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

 

I flirted with the idea that Sergey Karasev would be the selection here, but the key to this pick is the term "all-around." While Karasev is a very intriguing offensive player, Jamaal Franklin has everything but a jump shot.

For a Bucks team that needs a pure athlete with defensive upside, Franklin has all the makings of being the perfect fit.

For what he lacks in shooting ability, Franklin makes up with his versatility. Not only is he one of the most tantalizing athletes in this year's draft, but he boasts a 6'11" wingspan and contributes in every statistical area.

For proof, note that Franklin led the San Diego State Aztecs in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.

The star potential is debatable here, but the Bucks have attempted to bring in one-dimensional scorers for too long. Their only rational move from here on out is to find athletes that can defend and thus build around Larry Sanders and, potentially, Brandon Jennings.

This isn't a dazzling pick, but it works.

 

16. Boston Celtics: Mason Plumlee, Duke Blue Devils

Position: Center

Age: 23

Height & Weight: 7'0", 238 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

26.48 PER, 17.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.0 SPG

 

The Boston Celtics are the most difficult team to project, as they have yet to make a decision on whether or not they will enter a rebuilding process. As long as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are under contract, however, it's only rational to assume they won't be.

For that reason, Mason Plumlee is the pick here.

If there's one thing that the Celtics need, it's to get more athletic. A key position to target is center, where Kevin Garnett continues to play a quality brand of basketball, but simply doesn't have the same jump in his legs.

Plumlee, meanwhile, is a walking alley-oop that runs the floor like a guard and finishes well in traffic.

For a Celtics team that will continue to rely upon Rajon Rondo, being able to score in transition is a key. While Plumlee isn't the best defender in this draft, he rebounds well and blocks shots at a high enough clip to warrant early playing time.

As for his age, the 23-year-old big man is far from tapping his upside.


17. Atlanta Hawks: Glen Rice Jr., NBA D-League

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 6'6", 211 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Atlanta Hawks could trade this pick, as they need to maximize their value during a rebuilding process. While that will inevitably cross their minds, the Hawks also need to plug in quality players at virtually every position.

With new head coach Mike Budenholzer likely to have his hand in what transpires, look for the Hawks to target two-way players.

Glen Rice Jr. certainly fits the bill, as the NBA D-League product shoots the three-ball well and thrives defensively. Standing at 6'6" and 211 pounds with a 6'9" wingspan, Rice Jr. also has the body to play in the NBA.

For a Hawks team that will enter the offseason with uncertainty, finding a player that can contribute from the opening tip is quite the luxury.

Rice Jr. is familiar with the general area the Hawks play in having attended Georgia Tech. While character issues were an issue, all signs point towards the former Yellow Jacket eliminating them and getting his act together in the D-League.

There are other options, but there aren't many 22-year-olds with professional experience.


18. Atlanta Hawks: Rudy Gobert, France

Position: Power Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 7'2", 238 pounds, 7'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Atlanta Hawks have loads of cap room and an established star in Al Horford at power forward. They also have back-to-back selections in the first round and countless holes to fill in their roster, which presents them with the opportunity to draft freely and place value over all.

That's a luxury few playoff teams possess.

The Hawks go with Rudy Gobert here, taking a gamble on the upside of a 7'2" big man with a 7'9" wingspan. While his lack of explosiveness is a concern, we'd be remiss to ignore the fact that the ability to rise off of the floor is significantly less important when you're 7'2" with a 7'9" wingspan.

How many times should we repeat that before it comes through?

While I personally prefer teams straying away from European players this early—the difference of the NBA and FIBA makes the transition quite difficult—Atlanta is in position to risk it. They can take an established player or trade back with either of these two picks, thus leading to flexibility.

Gobert may not pan out, but that's a risk worth taking here.


19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Suns, from Heat): Allen Crabbe, California Golden Bears

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'6", 197 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

23.07 PER, 18.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 SPG

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers landed a potential star at shooting guard in 2012 with Dion Waiters. They also found a franchise point guard and power forward in 2011 with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, respectively.

What the Cavaliers lack, however, is a shooter.

There are multiple options here to serve that purpose, but Allen Crabbe simply makes too much sense for them to pass over. Not only is he a lethal shooter from beyond the arc, but Crabbe has quality size for the position and possesses defensive upside.

Perhaps most important of all, Crabbe can handle the basketball.

The Cavaliers could create a dangerous triumvirate of guards that feel comfortable with the ball in their hands by teaming Irving, Waiters and Crabbe. While Waiters thrives as a slasher, Crabbe can provide the type of shooting spark that a sixth man is expected to bring.

There aren't many wrong moves here, but selecting Crabbe would be a great way to get it all right.


20. Chicago Bulls: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga Bulldogs

Position: Center

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 7'0", 234 pounds, 6'10" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

36.57 PER, 17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.1 BPG

 

The Chicago Bulls are in need of a player that can provide energy and efficient scoring while coming off of the bench. Fortunately for the Bulls, Gonzaga star Kelly Olynyk remains on the board and has both of those traits to offer.

The only true question is whether or not Olynyk will play center.

Olynyk is a skilled player with an excellent jump shot for a man of his size and inexperience. Paired with Taj Gibson, those abilities could be enough for the Bulls to cure their long-lasting bench woes.

If not, Olynyk's energy should be a welcome addition for a Bulls team that had no answer at center when Joakim Noah was resting.

It's rare that Tom Thibodeau offers playing time to his rookies, but Olynyk may just be the exception. His energy is reminiscent of Omer Asik, whom the Bulls greatly missed during the 2012-13 season.

While Asik was a non-factor offensively, Olynyk has a strong jump shot with three-point range—in other words, he could go from a backup center to Carlos Boozer's long-term replacement at the 4.


21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Dennis Schroeder, Germany

Position: Point Guard

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'2", 165 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Utah Jazz landed a slashing scorer, which was high on their list of needs. With that being said, the Jazz cannot allow another draft to go by without the selection of a point guard.

Dennis Schroeder needs to be the pick.

Landing shooters is a priority for Utah, which suggests that this draft could be a slight fail without the acquisition of at least one specialist. With that being said, the Jazz need a point guard and Shabazz Muhammad's value was too great at No. 14.

Unless Mo Williams pulls a Benjamin Button, Schroeder is the player here.

Shane Larkin appears to be the better fit, but Schroeder is being regarded as one of the late first round prizes. Not only is he built at 6'2" with a 6'8" wingspan, but he's lightning quick off of the bounce and finishes well in traffic.

For a team that needs a pick-and-roll orchestrator, it doesn't get much better than this at their drafting points.


22. Dallas Mavericks (via Nets): Gorgui Dieng, Louisville Cardinals

Mavericks Receive: No. 22 Pick, MarShon Brooks, Tyshawn Taylor, Cash

Nets Receive: No. 13 Pick, Vince Carter

Position: Center

Age: 23

Height & Weight: 6'11", 230 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

22.40 PER, 14.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.8 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 40.6% 3PT

 

It's no secret that the Dallas Mavericks need a point guard, and at this stage, they have to be considered an outside threat to land Chris Paul. With that being said, a player they were in the running for at No. 13 has dropped to No. 22.

Gorgui Dieng is the choice here.

This may be the No. 22 overall pick, but Gorgui Dieng may end up as one of the best player of this draft. He's an explosive leaper that thrives defensively, blocking shots with his combination of length and anticipation skills.

That's exactly what Dallas has been missing since Tyson Chandler departed.

Offensively, Dieng has a budding jump shot and passes well for a player of his size and relative inexperience. Defensively, he has the upside of being a legitimate anchor for a contending franchise.

Dallas needs some form of encouragement at center, and Dieng is a perfect fit for their team.

 

23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, Miami Hurricanes

Position: Point Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'0", 171 pounds, 5'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

22.40 PER, 14.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.8 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 40.6% 3PT

 

The Indiana Pacers need to bolster their second unit with scorers that can contribute sooner rather than later. While I'm inclined to believe that the Pacers will hunt for a point guard via free agency, the value here is too strong.

Shane Larkin should not drop this far, but since he has, the pick is clear.

The Pacers have nothing short of an elite starting lineup, which is the reason for their postseason success. After ranking 22nd in three-point field goal percentage, however it's clear that they lack offensive weapons.

How better to improve your scoring than bring in a player who can create for others?

Larkin may stand at 6'0", but he's an explosive athlete that performs at a high level on both ends of the floor. From his smooth jump shot and accurate passes to his lock down defense on opposing point guards, Larkin does it all.

The Pacers seem to love having tenacity along the perimeter, and Larkin is one of the most ferocious players available.

 

24. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey, Kansas Jayhawks

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Position: Center

Age: 23

Height & Weight: 7'0", 222 pounds, 7'2" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.23 PER, 13.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.9 BPG

 

With Jason Kidd retiring, there is reason to believe that the New York Knicks will target a point guard. When it comes down to it, however, the Knicks must acknowledge the fact that Tyson Chandler is 30 and both he and Amar'e Stoudemire routinely battle injuries.

They need front court depth.

Jeff Withey may not be the most athletic player, but he's the type of defensive anchor that Mike Woodson can incorporate into his schemes. Bulking up is a major need for Withey, but in terms of instant impact, he's an experienced player that thrives in blocking shots.

That's exactly why he's being drafted at all.

Withey has quality skills working out of the low and high posts, but he'll make his money as a defender. From his ability to protect the rim to his pick-and-roll defense, Withey can make an impact from the opening tip.

The fact that he scores well out of the post is just an added bonus.


25. Los Angeles Clippers: Reggie Bullock, North Carolina Tar Heels

Position: Small Forward

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 6'7", 200 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.13 PER, 13.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 43.6% 3PT

 

The Los Angeles Clippers have more holes than the average playoff team, but that doesn't mean they can't be selective. They boast a top five scoring defense and are lethal in the open court, with their most glaring weakness coming in their half court offense.

A void that needs to be filled.

They could find a low-post presence, but the Clippers appear to trust Blake Griffin to develop in that regard. What L.A. truly needs are shooters that can step in and work off of screens to provide consistent buckets from beyond the arc.

Reggie Bullock can be that player.

At worst, Bullock is a player with excellent size for the wing at 6'7" with a 6'9" wingspan that can shoot the three at an elite clip. At best, Bullock sees his ability to put the ball on the floor translate to the NBA and thus becomes an all-around offensive threat with defensive upside.

This is the best value L.A. will find at No. 25.

 

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Mike Muscala, Bucknell Bison

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Position: Center

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'11", 230 pounds, 7'1" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

36.34 PER, 18.7 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.4 BPG

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves landed a player that could become their franchise shooting guard with their first pick in this year's draft. With their second pick of the first round, the T-Wolves address their undeniable need of a center for the future.

It just so happens that Mike Muscala is exactly what they need.

Offensively, Muscala is similar to Kevin Love in the sense that he can work out of the post or stretch the floor with his jump shooting. Muscala is also a very skilled rebounder that uses his body to gain position and length to pull down boards on both ends.

The key here is that Muscala has significantly higher defensive upside than Love or Nikola Pekovic.

For starters, Muscala is a shot blocking big man that can either park underneath the rim or step out to defend jump shots. While no one will refer to him as an elite defender, the T-Wolves have long needed a defensive presence down low.

Muscala has the ability to serve that role, but if he fails to pan out, how much of a risk is it at No. 26?


27. Denver Nuggets: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State Racers

Position: Point Guard

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 6'0", 188 pounds, 6'5" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.28 PER, 21.8 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG

 

The Denver Nuggets are one of the most explosive offensive teams in the NBA, but lack any form of consistency on defense. Surprisingly, when it comes to the draft, Denver must target an area of their offense.

The Nuggets can't shoot and their backup point guard is 37—addressing those two truths is a great way to make a legitimate leap to title contention.

By drafting Isaiah Canaan, Denver can make an impact in both regards, as the Murray State alum is a lethal jump shooter with pure point guard skills. He's also one of the more NBA-ready point guards due to his combination of skill and strength.

Despite standing at a less than elite 6'0", Canaan overpowers point guards with his powerful 188 pound frame and 6'5" wingspan.

Offensively, this enables Canaan to attack opposing defenses off of the dribble, driving with power and precision. Defensively, his build permits rangy defense in which he creates turnovers and thus sparks transition scoring opportunities.

For a team that needs to improve defensively and from beyond the arc, Canaan's combination of skills fits well.


28. San Antonio Spurs: Sergey Karasev, Russia

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'7", 197 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The San Antonio Spurs are close to a transition period in which Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili both retire. While drafting Duncan's replacement may be the easier thing to say they should do, finding Ginobili's may be the more feasible feat.

Landing Sergey Karasev is a step in the right direction.

Karasev could go significantly earlier, but with the way the draft is shaping up, he falls this far. The Spurs don't let him get any further, as they select Karasev with the hope that he can step in as their next great shooting guard.

If he can't, it's never a bad idea to add a slasher with the upside to shoot at a high clip from beyond the arc.

At 19, Karasev has the capacity to develop over the next few years and potentially become one of the better scorers from this draft class. In San Antonio, the potential for such to transpire increases significantly.

There aren't many ways to make a bad pick at No. 28, but this is your quintessential smart draft choice.

 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan Wolverines

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'6", 199 pounds, 6'7" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

18.05 PER, 14.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 37.4% 3PT

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder may have found their center of the future, but their work is far from over. They need players that can shoot the ball, most specifically those that can create their own shot and thus lessen the burden on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

At this stage of the draft, the player that best fits that description is Michigan Wolverines star Tim Hardaway Jr.

Hardaway Jr. is not the elite shooter that some have made him out to be, but he's a reliable threat in the scoring department. His true benefit here is not only his shooting, but the fact that Hardaway Jr. can put the ball on the floor and attack.

For a team that has missed James Harden in more ways than one, finding a player with a slither of his versatility must be a focus.

Hardaway Jr. has great size for the 2, standing in at 6'6" with a 6'7" wingspan. He's also a smooth athlete that can compete at the next level from a physical perspective.

Honing his jump shooting skills and focusing more on defense could take Hardaway Jr. to the level that OKC desires from the player that could be their sixth man of the future.


30. Phoenix Suns (via Cavs, from Lakers): Lucas Nogueira, Brazil

Position: Center

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'11", 218 pounds, 7'6" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Phoenix Suns landed a legitimate building block in Otto Porter, who happens to be an NBA ready contributor. With their second first round draft choice, they must now think to the future, maximizing value no matter whom they select.

It just so happens that the best player on the board is a project player that could make a powerful impact in Phoenix's future.

Lucas Nogueira will need time to develop and he may end up playing the power forward position. Standing at 6'11" with a 7'6" wingspan and explosive leaping ability, however, it's all a matter of Nogueira adding bulk and becoming strong enough to play down low.

If he can, he could be one of the better interior defenders in the NBA. If he can't, then what's the harm done in risking the No. 30 pick?

There is none, which is exactly why the Suns invest in the long-term here and trust Marcin Gortat to help bring Nogueira along.

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