As we approach the 2013 NBA draft, the chatter throughout the Association naturally picks up.
Will the Cleveland Cavaliers go with Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel or Georgetown small forward Otto Porter? Will Croatian forward Dario Saric withdraw from the draft?
So many questions, so many answers (30 to be exact).
Here's my latest 2013 NBA mock draft, complete with analysis for each pick in the first round.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky
The Cavaliers would fill a clear need at small forward with Georgetown's Otto Porter here, but I don't think you can pass up Nerlens Noel's shot-blocking and rebounding ability. Whether he plays at center or power forward, he's an Anthony-Davis type player. That kind of skill set makes teams salivate.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
I've been high on Victor Oladipo for a while now. Kansas' Ben McLemore may have more potential on offense, but Oladipo's toughness, defense, work ethic and leadership qualities are hard to ignore. Oladipo is just the kind of tough-minded player to help the Magic rebuild.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
This should be a no-brainer for the Wizards. They already have a promising backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, but they need a small forward on the wing. Otto Porter is arguably the best prospect at small forward this year. He has an all-around game that should serve the Wizards well.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
The Bobcats could go with Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore here, but I actually like Anthony Bennett better. He comes with some injury concerns, but I like his make-up better than McLemore's. Bennett has a dangerous inside-outside game, strong rebounding ability and the length and athleticism to translate nicely to the NBA. The Bobcats need a frontcourt presence.
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
At this point, you can't pass up a young talent like McLemore. He may be inconsistent and raw right now, but, remember, he's only 20 years old. With some work, he could turn into that big-time scorer at shooting guard the Suns so desperately need.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Len is coming off ankle surgery, but based on his potential, he's the No. 2 center in this class. At only 19 years of age, Len has a wealth of potential, given his inside-outside game, rebounding ability, passing skills and shot-blocking. Adding him alongside Anthony Davis would be a smart move.
7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
If Trey Burke falls to the Kings, I fully expect Kevin Johnson to do a little dance. Or something of that nature. Burke is just the kind of all-around point guard the Kings need. Not only will he score for them, he's strong at the point, opening up things for Sacramento's wealth of backcourt scoring options
8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Word on the street is that the Pistons see potential in Brandon Knight at shooting guard, per Chad Ford of ESPN.com (subscription required). If that's the case, it's a no-brainer to grab Michael Carter-Williams, a pure point guard if you've ever seen one.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
It's no secret that the Timberwolves need a sharpshooter alongside point guard Ricky Rubio. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one of the best shooters in the draft. Not only did Caldwell-Pope shoot 37 percent from beyond the arc last season at Georgia, he also possesses great athleticism, evidenced by his 7.1 rebounds per game.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
The Trail Blazers need shooters off the bench. C.J. McCollum shot 52 percent from beyond the arc last season at Lehigh. He's also shown he can rise to the occasion, as he did against Duke in the 2012 NCAA tournament. This pick makes too much sense for Portland.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana
There are questions about Cody Zeller's toughness and he needs to add strength, but he has a wide range of skills, including inside scoring, ball-handling and passing. He has too much potential down the road for the 76ers to pass him up here.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
The biggest concern with Mason Plumlee is that he won't improve much more, ending up being a solid pro but nothing more. On the other hand, it all seemed to come together for him last season at Duke, pointing to the possibility of him just getting started. There isn't much not to like about this kid. He can run the floor, he's athletic and explosive, he's a solid shot-blocker and rebounder and he has a nice mid-range game. Sounds like a good option for the Thunder's next starting center.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Shabazz Muhammad needs to work on his jumper, but he possesses the athleticism, explosiveness and motor to be a handful driving to the rim down the road. He's a work in progress at this stage, but he has a lot of potential and he fits a need for Dallas.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Dennis Schroeder needs to work on his jump shot, but he has the athleticism and quickness at the point guard position to be a high-impact player at the next level. The Jazz need a true floor general, and Schroeder could end up being a good one.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
As the Bucks watch several wing players hit free agency (include Monta Ellis), they would be wise to draft a wing player who can potentially become a starter soon. Jamaal Franklin's upside is through the roof. At this point, he basically does everything well except shoot the ball from the perimeter, but he has even improved in that regard. He would be an excellent candidate to replace Ellis, and he adds more size, too.
16. Boston Celtics: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Steven Adams still needs to get a feel for his offensive game, but he has NBA size, a great motor and he's a very physical, tough rebounder. Sounds like someone Doc Rivers would enjoy having on the roster.
17. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Rudy Gobert, PF, France
22. Brooklyn Nets: Reggie Bullock, SF, North Carolina
The Nets need outside shooting and Reggie Bullock can certainly provide that for them. He can also play shooting guard and small forward. With Dario Saric leaning toward withdrawing from the draft, this would be a nice "Plan B" for Brooklyn.
23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (FL)
Shane Larkin is one of the most underrated players in the draft, in my opinion. His height is a concern (5'11"), but he does pretty much everything well. He can drop jumpers from downtown, get into the lane and find his open teammates and he's a born leader. He'd be a great backup for George Hill in Indiana.
24. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Given the Knicks' aging frontcourt, Jeff Withey would be a logical selection here. The big man is a tough rebounder and top-level shot-blocker. He could succeed Tyson Chandler in New York.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Pierre Jackson, PG, Baylor
With Eric Bledsoe potentially on his way out, Pierre Jackson could develop into a nice backup to Chris Paul for the Clippers. Like Larkin, he's undersized, but he's been compared to Nate Robinson in terms of his sheer explosiveness and quickness.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng, C, Lousville
With Nikola Pekovic and backup Greg Stiemsma headed for free agency, the Timberwolves need to add to the frontcourt. Gorgui Dieng could be a bit underrated. He's already an impressive rebounder and shot-blocker, but he also improved his jump shot in his last season at Louisville during the program's run to the title.
27. Denver Nuggets: Ricardo Ledo, G, Providence
The Nuggets would ideally like to land a shooter here, but, with the top options off the board, they would do well to add some scoring punch off the bench. Ledo was considered one of the top scorers in high school before being ruled academically ineligible in 2012-13. Ledo's a combo guard who has the athleticism to translate nicely to the NBA in due time.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Noguiera, C, Brazil
C'mon, this makes too much sense. Lucas Noguiera is being called the Brazilian Nerlens Noel, he has a fellow countryman in Tiago Splitter to help him out and the Spurs have been known to develop high-quality international talent. Noguiera is raw, but he has plenty of potential.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Tony Mitchell needs to work on his jump shot and he underperformed at North Texas, but there's no question he has the explosiveness and athl