Most fans love to discuss the NBA draft in the context of what prospect would be a perfect fit with their favorite organization. Some clubs certainly draft that way as well, hoping to score a gifted youngster that fills a major void on the roster.
Others like to go with the best available, ignoring the current composition of the team and solely selecting based off the grade on their big board.
The best drafting franchises tend to utilize a combination of these strategies, picking the top-rated talent when it makes sense and reaching for a prospect when there is a major void to fill.
Let’s take a look at the latest mock with an eye towards making the best pick on the board for each and every first-round team.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
The Cavs are getting the best prospect here in terms of upside and ceiling. Before going down with a torn ACL, Noel was developing into a fearsome shot-blocker that could completely alter an opponent’s game plan.
If he makes a full recovery, there’s nothing to suggest he won’t return to that level and quickly grow into one of the more destructive rim protectors in the league.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
If the Magic can pull off a trade to land a young point guard already in the league, they will likely avoid Trey Burke—the consensus prospect often mocked here—with the No. 2 selection.
Due to GM Rob Hennigan’s brilliant track record, it’s hard to bet against him swinging for the fences with a blockbuster deal this summer, opening the door for this club to select Oladipo.
The Hoosiers product would be the perfect piece for this rebuilding organization, as he’s a hard-working, high-motor player that inspires teammates with his defensive intensity and willingness to impact a game without the ball in his hands.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
The Wizards may have been the biggest winners of the draft lottery, shooting up to No. 3 from a projected spot of No. 8.
This unexpected ascension affords the club the luxury of choosing between two great prospects, Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett. Both would fill major voids on the current roster and should be heavily considered over the next few weeks.
In this scenario, Porter gets the nod and will immediately improve the level of play in Washington, as the hometown Hoyas hero is a great defender and extremely versatile. He may not be a great scorer, but John Wall and Bradley Beal have that aspect of the game covered from the backcourt.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
McLemore has the highest upside of any perimeter player in this class, with a pretty three-point stroke and the skills to drive to the basket and finish.
The Bobcats direly need someone with that sort of range and ceiling as a franchise-carrying scorer to compliment Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist—the only two pieces on their roster worth building around.
5. Phoenix Suns: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
The Suns have needs all over the court, making McCollum a smart selection with the No. 5 pick.
He may be a bit undersized for the 2, but the Mountain Hawks superstar should also be able to log some time at point guard.
Regardless of where he lines up, expect McCollum to make an impact on the game due to his incredible shooting skills from anywhere on the court—including deep three-point range.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, C, Maryland
If the Pelicans plan to develop Anthony Davis as a power forward, the availability of Len here is too tantalizing for them to pass up.
The 7’1” center may not be the most athletic frontcourt player, but he’d compliment the ‘Brow with his polished and rapidly blossoming low-post, back-to-the-basket scoring skills.
Len must get more aggressive, as his demeanor and timid nature could be the only thing holding him back from superstardom.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
With Sacramento installing a new owner, coach and general manager this offseason, this tepid club is at the start of what should be a major roster overhaul.
Bennett’s versatility and ability to man both forward positions will make him a valuable asset going forward, as he can be plugged into practically any lineup and contribute at a high level.
8. Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
This Michigan man won’t be going far if the Pistons draft him, as he’s an ideal fit on their roster if Brandon Knight slides to the 2.
While not the most athletic or tall point guard prospect in this class, Burke is a proven winner whose intangibles, scoring skills and facilitating ability will help him succeed at the next level.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
The Wolves need to find a serviceable shooting guard with deep range to compliment Ricky Rubio in the backcourt.
KCP can knock down shots from anywhere in the gym, create his own shot, defend the 2 and 3, get to the rim and even pass at an above-average level. He has to improve his handle, but he won’t be running the offense often enough for this to make a huge difference.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
At the combine, Adams proved that he’s an athletic and nimble big man that could eventually become a starting-caliber center in this league.
With Portland likely to overhaul the pivot position this summer, Adams could be a serviceable, defensive-oriented backup coming off the bench while he develops the offensive skills required to start.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
Zeller is another big man that did himself a big favor at the combine, proving that he’s much more athletic than previously thought.
The Sixers need to land a big man that can contribute right away in this draft as they look to get back into playoff contention with the Andrew Bynum saga behind them.
Because the Hoosiers star can run the court like a gazelle and finish at the rim with great skill, he’s the best prospect on the board for Philly in this mock and should make an instant impression.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Rudy Gobert, C, France
The Thunder don’t have many needs as a team one year removed from an NBA Finals appearance, but they could look for a long-term replacement to Kendrick Perkins with this pick.
At first glance, Gobert appears to be a bust and only has a long-arm, 7’2” frame going for him, but he could eventually get into shape and develop the raw skills required to play in the NBA.
With such a weak class, GM Sam Presti could take a gamble on this high-risk, high-reward Frenchman and hope that he eventually develops into something serviceable, otherwise his rights could be used as a trading chip.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Saric is much more promising international prospect in comparison to Gobert, as the lanky swingman is one of the better facilitators and smarter basketball players in this class.
He has to improve his scoring skills and add some bulk, but we could be watching him star in the NBA sooner than later, especially on a Mavs team with a history of turning unknowns from overseas into stars.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Carter-Williams is the most gifted passer in the 2013 class, which makes him an ideal selection for a Utah team that needs someone to feed its burgeoning big men and set up the shooters.
The 6’6” point guard has to improve his handle and hone his jumper into something respectable before he can become a star, but this Orange product should have no problem getting minutes early in his career.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
The Bucks frontcourt has an extremely tough time generating points, putting a huge burden on the guards to pick up the slack despite constant double-teams and defenders cheating their way.
Olynyk could change that, as he has range out to the three-point line and would stretch opposing defenses, taking some pressure off these guards and opening things up in Milwaukee.
16. Boston Celtics: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Paul Pierce’s is on the decline and won’t be able to shoulder the scoring load in Boston forever, which is why Boston should rush to the podium if Muhammad is available at No. 16.
The UCLA product may have limited upside in all other areas of the game besides scoring, but that’s all the C’s will need this left-handed swingman to do in order to help them win games.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Franklin can jump out of the gym, rebounds better than most shooting guards in the league and has a motor that won’t quit, but his jumper is absolutely dreadful.
If the Hawks can help him mold that “J” into something halfway decent, Franklin will be one of the steals of this draft.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Al Horford has been playing nearly his entire career out of position at the 5, which is why Atlanta must bend over backwards to find a serviceable center this summer.
Dieng may not have the ceiling of some of these other prospects, but he’s NBA-ready and could play big minutes at the pivot for the Hawks. He’s a great rim protector due to his size, shot-blocking and athleticism, plus the national title winner is one of the more underrated low-post passers to enter the draft in some time.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
The Cavs are likely going to trade this pick, as they simply have too many young players on the roster and do not need to utilize all four of their picks this year to bring in more prospects.
If they do decide to stay put, Mitchell is a high-upside player that could line up and guard either forward spot and rebound extremely well for his size. If he reaches his ceiling as a scorer, watch out.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
Hardaway Jr. is the long-distance shooter and athlete that the Bulls need to install at the off-guard position to compliment Derrick Rose.
His shot selection and handle need work, but that won’t be much of an issue since he’s just going to be taking open, spot-up treys off D-Rose assists.
As for defense, he’d easily be taught to use his 6’6” frame to lock down his man and disrupt the passing lanes by coach Tom Thibodeau.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Withey is a solid backup center that could give a good 15-to-20 minutes a night by locking down the paint, protecting the rim and sending back any shots that go up in his vicinity.
With Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap heading out this summer, the Jazz would be wise to nab the Jayhawks star to bolster their depth.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
Plumlee is the kind of high-energy backup the Nets need to compliment their frontcourt rotation.
He may not have the upside of a star, but he will make an impact by bringing a workman-like attitude to the court.
23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
Larkin is a freakish athlete that would add another gear to the abysmal Pacers second unit.
This team needs all the help it can get off the bench, which is why Larkin would be a nice fit as a lightning-quick point guard that can lead the break, penetrate into the lane and improve the weak entry passing in Indy.
24. New York Knicks: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
J.R. Smith opted out of his contract, freeing up a ton of minutes and shots in the Big Apple.
Crabbe is a streaky sniper that could easily replace Smith’s long-range capabilities, although he has to improve as a ball-handler and penetrator.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
The Clips are getting an absolute steal here with Schroeder, who could continue developing overseas or immediately come over and contribute in the event that Chris Paul takes his talents elsewhere in free agency or Eric Bledsoe finally gets traded.
This German point guard is adept at getting into the lane and finishing, although he has to improve his passing in order to take his game to the next level.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Karasev is a three-point sniper that has already proved he can handle the pressure in the Russian leagues.
The Timberwolves already employ two of his countrymen on their roster—Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko—which should make his transition to the NBA even easier.
27. Denver Nuggets: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece
Antetokounmpo is known as the “Greek Freak” for his absurd upside and ceiling as a 6’9” point forward that could take the league by storm.
Of course, we haven’t seen him play against top-flight competition and he has a ton of development to do both physically and in all aspects of his game.
Regardless, the Nuggets—who are loaded and without shrewd GM Masai Ujiri— could fall in love with his potential and hope to develop him overseas until he is ready to contribute.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League
The Spurs would be getting a solid prospect that can play both the 2 and 3 here in Rice Jr.
He’s an adequate shooter with decent range, above-average passing ability and willingness to work hard on the glass.
Coach Gregg Popovich should be able to mold him into a typical San Antonio wing that can defend at a high level and knock down corner treys with ease.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Nogueira is an athletic specimen that is oozing upside, although he hasn’t yet figured out how to put it all together on the court.
OKC would be a great landing spot for the Brazilian, as he could join the contender if he ever winds up harnessing his natural talents.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Tony Snell, G/F, New Mexico
Snell is a freakish athlete that can knock down shots from anywhere in the arena.
Due to his showing at the combine, the Suns will be getting a steal here at No. 30 and he could be the starting swingman of the future.
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