With the focus of the sports world firmly on the NBA draft in the coming weeks, there's no better time than the present to give you an updated look at a few 2013 projections for the entire first round.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won the first overall pick for the second time in the last three seasons following the NBA draft lottery, but mum has been the word so far on whether or not there is a clear-cut option for the Cavs to take with the No. 1 pick.
Orlando, Washington, Charlotte and Phoenix round out the Top Five, and there's plenty of talent to go around in those first few picks no matter who is the first player selected when the Cavs give NBA commissioner David Stern their selection on June 26.
With an eye toward the ever-changing scope that is the NBA draft, here's a look at a few updated projections and predictions for all 30 picks in the 2013 draft. Look closely—there's certain to be change among the ranks when the actual selections are in.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
A defensive-minded center who will miss the first part of the season after tearing his ACL, the Cavaliers would bolster both their short and long-term plans at center by taking Noel with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Noel averaged 4.4 blocks per game last season and would be an immediate candidate to backup Anderson Varejao while being groomed to form a dynamic tandem with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
2. Orlando Magic: SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
McLemore shot 42 percent from the three-point line this season at Kansas, showing he could stretch the floor from the shooting guard spot and use his athleticism to outplay defenders in college.
Orlando has to be hoping that Noel falls down to them at No. 2, but if he doesn't, there's not many consolation prizes better than a guard who many feel could be a perennial All-Star in a few years after his development moves along.
3. Washington Wizards: SF Otto Porter Jr., Washington
Washington and Porter are a match made in heaven—the local talent from Georgetown fills a long-term need at small forward and allows the Wizards to boast three players who are starters and also were drafted by the franchise.
That's the model for success in the NBA these days, and Washington can't afford to miss with this pick by reaching for Anthony Bennett or worrying about Bennett's limited ceiling. A good defender who won't need isolation sets to thrive alongside John Wall, Porter is a nice fit and helps the Wizards continue rebuilding the right way.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: SG/SF Victor Oladipo, Indiana
The Bobcats can go any number of directions with this pick, including moving either up or down the board depending upon which players they truly value.
When it comes to value, though, no one makes more sense from a wing standpoint than Victor Oladipo, a "late bloomer" of sorts who really came on during his final two seasons at Indiana.
Leading the Hoosiers to the NCAA tournament in those two seasons alongside Cody Zeller, Oladipo showed poise, the ability to hit the big shot on offense and a tenacity on defense that is truly unmatched in this class.
His winning persona and high character would be welcomed additions to the Charlotte (soon-to-be-Hornets) locker room.
5. Phoenix Suns: SF/PF Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Bennett is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft for a number of reasons.
A three-four tweener in my book, Bennett put up huge numbers (16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds per game) in his lone season at UNLV, showing an ability to both bang down low in the post against small defenders and stretch the floor from deep against slower ones.
Although the Suns have no shortage of 3/4 options (the Morris twins, Michael Beasley), Bennett is a special talent in the mold of guys like Josh Smith and Larry Johnson. While I do feel that this scenario would prompt Phoenix to call New Orleans, Sacramento and Detroit for a trade, the Suns could do a lot worse with this regionally located prospect who has a bright future on offense.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: PG Trey Burke, Michigan
New Orleans is another candidate to try and either move up or down depending on their board, but I have a feeling passing on Trey Burke at No. 6 is a no-go for a franchise that struggled through poor guard play behind Greivis Vasquez.
Although this pick would certainly irk some fans who think Vasquez is the long-term answer at point guard, Burke is the best PG prospect in the draft and has done nothing to lose that title over the course of the pre-draft process.
As ESPN the Magazine on Twitter points out, the prospects of Burke being an above-average player in the NBA are very high:
With the ability to be a backup right away and a starter down the road as the Hornets build around Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon, Burke is a good fit and too good of a player to let slip out of your clutches at No. 6.
7. Sacramento Kings: C/PF Cody Zeller, Indiana
I've been an advocate of Zeller to the Kings for quite some time. I feel his presence down low will continue to develop, and that his role as a "hybrid" center/power forward will allow DeMarcus Cousins to improve right away on both ends.
Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee perpetuated the idea that the Kings might draft this Indiana big man with this news on Twitter:
Indiana's Cody Zeller will have an individual predraft workout with the Kings on Thursday— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) June 12, 2013
Considered the best college player in the nation at this time last year, Zeller's stock has dipped after a slow finish to the 2013 NCAA season. He still has the stats and the skills to back up a top-10 pick designation, and landing with the Kings would give him a chance to contribute right away.
8. Detroit Pistons: SG/SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
The Pistons are just a move or two away from having all five of their starters plucked personally from the plume of the NBA draft, and Shabazz Muhammad could be the fifth and final puzzle piece in that equation.
Although not considered a polished teammate or even person after some negative press at UCLA, there's little doubt that Muhammad's size (6'6') and scoring ability place him in a class of his own when it comes to dominant shooting guard/small forward prospects this year.
If the Pistons want to take a gamble at No. 8, they take Muhammad. The safe route would be a guard like Michael Carter-Williams or C.J. McCollum, and I still think the Pistons make a move for one of the top-two small forwards above before this pick is sent in.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C Alex Len, Maryland
Alex Len has loads of talent and room to improve after two years with the Terps. He's also a candidate to play heavy minutes for a team right away, depending upon which version of this ACC standout shows up on a nightly basis.
In Minnesota, where the franchise is desperate for a guard, a logical choice would be to find a legitimate wing player and put him in the starting lineup. But for the sake of not making a Wesley Johnson mistake here, the T'Wolves can have insurance for Nikola Pekovic and a plan for the future with a really good prospect at No. 9.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C/PF Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
Sean Meagher of OregonLive.com pondered if the Trail Blazers should draft Olynyk with the No. 10 overall pick, and if the board looks like this, I say why not.
The Gonzaga standout averaged over 17 points a game in his final season with the Zags, who were the nation's No. 1 team in the AP poll prior to the start of the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Providing some necessary insurance behind All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and an option to play either post position with the current bigs on the roster, Olynyk's low ceiling and NBA-ready talents would fit nicely in Portland.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: PG/SG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
The 76ers have to like the two picks that went off the board in the last two scenarios, but guard is a position the team needs to address with Jason Richardson and Nick Young underperforming last season.
C.J. McCollum is one of the better scorers we saw in college over the last two seasons, and it's a shame a foot injury cost him the majority of his senior campaign. If his 20 point-per-game numbers and smooth stroke translate to the NBA, the 76ers have an automatic sixth man candidate and one that can double as a combo guard for the team for years to come.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via TOR): C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
There's something about Dieng that you can't find in his stats or projections that just jumps out on film. The guy obviously loves the game, is a student of Rick Pitino and improved each season he was at Louisville and in college.
Needing a center that won't require touches to be effective, Oklahoma City can afford to maybe over-draft a little bit here by getting a guy with the kind of winning mentality and toughness it's going to take to make that next step in OKC.
With two picks in the first round, Oklahoma City can afford to draft for need, not overall talent.
13. Dallas Mavericks: PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany
Speaking of talent, German PG Dennis Schroeder is a name you'll be hearing a lot over the next few weeks. The lightning-quick guard has a fellow countryman on the team in Dirk Nowitzki, and fills a need at the position.
Utah Jazz Nation had this nugget to share on the young guard:
Although Dallas is looking to clear cap space for a run at big free agents, we don't know what's going to happen when the dotted line can be signed. Dallas will have a first-hand look at Schroeder and his talent before draft night, and his German ties make this connection hard to ignore for the Mavs.
14. Utah Jazz: PG Shane Larkin, Miami
The Utah Jazz are another team with a need at point guard, and might have their pick of the second-tier ones by the time No. 14—the last lottery selection—rolls around.
In Shane Larkin, the Jazz would get a guard who can flat-out fill it up from time to time, and also has the chops to dish out an assist or two every so often (4.6 per game in 2012-13).
Although he's not the traditional point guard we would be used to seeing in Utah, Larkin's intensity on both ends and his ability to just be a flat-out playmaker would do wonders for a roster that needs that next-level spark.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: PG/SG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
The "free fall" for MCW stops at No. 15, where the Milwaukee Bucks will gladly take the young Syracuse star and supplant him in the rotation amid all kinds of questions regarding the front court.
Although I have a good feeling that a guard of some sorts would be the pick here, don't sleep on a wing character like New Mexico's Tony Snell, Georgia's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin to generate some buzz in this spot.
As it is, MCW is a tenacious defender who shouldn't have much trouble moving away from the 2-3 zone—he showed plenty of on-ball skills in extending it during Cuse's Final Four run. The shooting is a concern, but the athleticism and intelligence are not.
16. Boston Celtics: C/PF Mason Plumlee, Duke
The Celtics are known for adding rugged, hard-nosed players to the mix to help supply the toughness that the City of Boston exudes, and Mason Plumlee is a player at No. 16 who can do that right away.
The guard selection also looks thin here, so the best available collegiate big man wouldn't be a bad choice.
Plumlee won't do much with the ball in his hands or posting up with his back to the basket, but he will provide energy, defense, and a Coach K mentality that all Duke players can carry with them to the pros. Boston can get some insurance for Kevin Garnett and the rest of the young players on the roster with this pick.
17. Atlanta Hawks: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
KCP averaged over 15 points a game over his two seasons at Georgia, and his fit as a 2-guard who can both stretch the floor (33.9 percent from deep) and attack the rim with the best of them in this draft.
Regionally located, Caldwell-Pope would join a depleted roster where John Jenkins is the only other player on the roster who is under contract and can contribute at the position. With two-straight picks, KCP is a no-brainer.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via HOU): C Rudy Gobert, France
Anticipating Al Horford's permanent move to power forward, the Hawks nab Rudy Gobert with the No. 18 pick. Gobert, who is a center with a combine-record 7'9" wingspan, already has shot-blocking and screening as his two biggest weapons heading to the NBA.
If he can learn to polish his game around the rim and add a few more pounds to his lanky frame, the sky appears to be the limit. One of Europe's most impressive prospects so far, Gobert is an intriguing name to be thrown out in lottery discussions.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via LAL): SF Sergey Karasev, Russia
After nabbing Noel with pick No. 1, the Cavs can address a glaring need for shooting and depth on the wing with Sergey Karasev from Russia.
The young, smooth-shooting lefty played for the Russian team at the 2012 Olympics, and his pedigree as a basketball player precedes him into the NBA. With a few years to develop to the speed and the pace of the game, Karasev could be a nice find for the Cavs.
20. Chicago Bulls: SG Allen Crabbe, California
Chicago found its shooting guard of the future in Jimmy Butler, a player who has Paul George 2.0 written all over him after a strong season in Tom Thibodeau's rotation.
However, the Bulls are very thin behind him, and as injuries to key players in Chicago have told us over the last two years, you can never have enough depth when it comes to the NBA.
Crabbe averaged over 18 points per game, led his team to an NCAA tournament win and is a great fit for the Bulls at No. 20. With many shooting guards to pick from, it comes down to personal preference, but Crabbe seems like a high-IQ kid who fills a scoring void off the bench.
21. Utah Jazz (via GS): C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
With point guard squared away, the Jazz move to the post, where Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are both free agents this offseason.
Adams is another center who is very raw (you'll hear that a lot in this draft), but he showed promise under Jamie Dixon at Pitt and should be an interesting player to follow over the next few years. At the very least, he's a replacement for one of those two free agent-to-be's.
22. Brooklyn Nets: SF Dario Saric, Croatia
The buzz around Saric is not good right now—he might be out of the draft mix entirely.
According to a source close to Sports Illustrated, the Croatian teen is leaning toward pulling his name out of contention for the 2013 draft, a move that would make the small forward picture even murkier than it already is.
If he does stay in the mix, the Nets are known for drafting foreign players and stashing them away for a couple of seasons. Brooklyn could get his rights, let him mature for two years and then bring him over, but I'm not sure that would fly with management when you look at this roster.
If the Nets can convince him to play, I would call this a no-brainer, but as it is, we'll have to see what happens in the process over the next few days.
23. Indiana Pacers: SG Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
I love Tim Hardaway Jr.'s game, as he had a standout NCAA tournament for the runner-up Michigan Wolverines. When you look at the board, there might not be a better fit for this young man than No. 23 and the Indiana Pacers—a franchise his father retired with in 2003.
The Pacers fell victim to poor shooting against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, and Hardaway Jr.'s 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 34.7 percent shooting per game would look really good off the bench for Frank Vogel next season.
No matter what happens with Danny Granger, the Pacers need an option at the two who can shoot the ball from deep and stretch the floor in the current lineup. Hardaway Jr. does just that, and this would be a great pick for Indiana moving forward.
24. New York Knicks: C Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
Lucas Nogueira won't get the Madison Square Garden crowd off its feet, but he will provide depth at a position that was razor-thin because of injuries during the 2012-13 season.
With Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire both missing time, the Knicks have to recognize that Carmelo Anthony can't do it on both ends by himself. Part of that is a better offensive scheme and part of it is on defense, where New York really faltered against Indiana in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Although very raw (again), Nogueira is a shot-blocking machine and looks to be a lot like Noel in terms of body size and defensive strategy.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: SG/SF Tony Snell, New Mexico
Tony Snell is my sleeper pick of the first round, a guy like Kawhi Leonard who I have a feeling teams will target in the middle of the first round as a potential stop-gap on the wing.
Lucky for him, the Clippers need that kind of player off the bench next season, as Matt Barnes is a free agent and Caron Butler is in the last year of his contract with the team.
If the Clippers re-sign Chris Paul, finding cheap players is going to be huge for this franchise. One such way to find that kind of talent is in the draft, where Snell's athleticism and three-point shooting (38 percent over three years) at New Mexico makes him a nice pick here.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via MEM): SG Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
As mentioned earlier, the Timberwolves can afford to take a leap of faith with Len and still get a talented wing player later in the first round.
That player here happens to be Jamaal Franklin, a standout in the WAC who has the explosiveness to the basket that Minnesota really lacks alongside its current collection of jump shooters (Alexey Shved, J.J. Barea, Derrick Williams and Luke Ridnour) and big bodies down low.
As a starter or even a nice bench addition, Franklin should see early time with the T'Wolves.
27. Denver Nuggets: SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece
Antetokounmpo is likely going somewhere in the first round, and with the recent rash of international players we've seen Denver select or trade for (Evan Fournier, Rudy Fernandez, Timofey Mozgov, Danilo Gallinari) Denver makes as much sense as any city.
One of the most intriguing talents in the draft, it's more worthwhile to watch his highlights than try to describe them with words. There's no one quite like him in the draft, and this Grecian star is truly a boom-or-bust candidate in this draft.
28. San Antonio Spurs: C Jeff Withey, Kansas
I think Karasev would be a nice fit in San Antonio, but the Spurs won't have to rush anything when it comes to finding starters in the draft these days.
That being said, there's a good chance DeJuan Blair heads elsewhere in free agency and Tim Duncan starts to take that decline we've been predicting for five years here in the next three seasons.
In Withey, the Spurs would get a rim protector, and not much else. The Spurs do more with less, though, and there's no telling who this franchise has its eye on coming up to the draft.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: PG Pierre Jackson, Baylor
Pierre Jackson strikes me as a J.J. Barea-type player, one who might need a few years to adjust to the size and speed of the game but will put up ridiculous numbers in the D-League if you leave him there for too long.
OKC isn't exactly thirsting for a PG, but after getting a center with pick No. 1, what are they thirsting for? All positions (and bench positions) are mostly filled except for small forward, and you wouldn't want a player taking Kevin Durant's minutes.
Former teammate Perry Jones III is in the franchise and so is Jeremy Lamb—a trio who might be the future of this franchise in the next five seasons.
30. Phoenix Suns (via MIA): SG/SF Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Bullock strikes me as the kind of rugged player who can help the Suns right away, and with Bennett already in the fold and other options at key positions filled up nicely, his three-point shooting and toughness would be welcome additions to the Suns' roster.
New head coach Jeff Hornacek has a number of core values to instill in his teams to match the kind of unity and toughness his 1990s Jazz teams had, and Bullock is a player who brings both coming in from UNC
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.