Now that we're inching closer to the upcoming 2013 NBA draft that's set to air June 27, general managers are starting to feel the heat due to what should be an unpredictable first round loaded with many trades, shocking picks and surprises.
The big question at the top revolves around the Cleveland Cavaliers, who boast their third No. 1 overall pick since the 2003 draft. They can only hope they breed close to as much talent as their last two, which were LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
While there's no player who promises the capabilities of either James or Irving in this class, the Cavs still have plenty to pick from with a plethora of game-changers and two-way stars available at the top of the draft.
Let's dive into a fresh first-round mock for the 2013 draft.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel C, Kentucky
The uncertainties surrounding this pick are well documented, but Noel's top-pick stock has remained concrete despite the many question marks surrounding the Kentucky star.
Will he return from his ACL injury in a timely fashion, and with the same step? Does he have enough potential offensively to avoid becoming a role player? Will he put on enough weight to survive on the blocks in the NBA?
All of these are good questions and worth looking into, which Cleveland is obviously doing with such a crucial pick and other worthy candidates available. But the closer we get to June 27, the more it looks like Noel's ability to protect the rim will win out.
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Orlando has made as many smart moves as you can in a year after losing Dwight Howard, but there's no hiding from the fact that they're still in the early stages of a rebuild.
That makes Kansas freshman guard Ben McLemore a great fit. He's so raw that you'd struggle to find any scout who thinks he's polished offensively, but it'd be a lie to say his potential isn't through the roof.
As the Magic continue to put the parts together of a decent NBA team, McLemore will be a perfect option in the backcourt to grow with the team and learn how to become efficient in the big league.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Otto Porter inches out Victor Oladipo as the safest pick in this draft, and the Wizards will be the fortunate recipients of his services. A terrific two-way player, the Georgetown product has been baptized by fire with two years of Big East play and is ready to take his talents to the Association.
Washington boasts one of the best young backcourts in the league with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Scoring isn't an issue for this backcourt, but it could desperately use Porter's defensive toughness, which will have a far-reaching impact on this developing roster.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
The Bobcats have been stockpiling top-five draft picks recently, and it wouldn't hurt to throw Anthony Bennett into the fire with their current parts.
Kemba Walker has made huge strides offensively, averaging nearly 18 points per contest in 2012-13. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist struggled at times in his rookie season (9.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG), but he's only 19 and has already proven able to make his presence felt defensively.
Charlotte should put faith in Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist, but if they don't, Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke might be attractive options for owner Michael Jordan as well.
5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
The Suns can do no wrong here by picking Oladipo, who is covered with NBA-caliber skills and looks to be a decade-long starter in the league.
Oladipo improved incredibly last season, showing he's much more than a defensive stopper. His jump shot will be lethal after a few years in the NBA, and his defensive skills will only improve.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Burke could very well come off the board before the Pelicans can snatch him, but don't expect the squad formerly known as the New Orleans Hornets to pass on him if he's available.
He led his Michigan Wolverines to the 2013 national championship game, proving he can will a team to victory, and that's just what the Pelicans need with a talented young core.
7. Sacramento Kings: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Tyreke Evans has struggled to man the backcourt since his arrival at Sacramento, and the Kings desperately need a worthy guard to man the point and give Evans more space.
Carter-Williams can come in and primarily focus relying on defense and facilitating the offense so his lack of scoring won't be a glaring issue. It's a great fit when you put the pieces together, and one that will help to add chemistry between some very different parts.
8. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
It's hard to believe, but the Pistons might get the most talented pure scoring prospect in the 2013 class with their No. 8 overall pick.
Shabazz Muhammad's time at UCLA was cut short by an odd NCAA investigation (via ESPN Los Angeles), and he never truly fit with the Bruins roster. But that didn't stop him from proving his NBA-ready game and scoring ability.
Muhammad struggled at times in his freshman year, but much of the criticism is unwarranted when you look at his skill set and how he matches up with life in the NBA.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
The T-Wolves will certainly be keeping their eyes on a chance to move up in the draft and take a perimeter scorer like McLemore, but if they stay at No. 9, McCollum is by no means a reach.
Minnesota desperately needs scoring talent in the backcourt, and despite some solid big men available, they'll address their needs above all else.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Saric possesses everything you look for when scouting an overseas player, and he has all of the tools to become a big-time player in the NBA.
I had the Blazers picking Alex Len last week due to Len's massive potential and the way he shapes up for the league, but it'd be a disservice to Meyers Leonard, who is showing glimpses of a future starter after one year.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
If this mock comes true, expect the 76ers front office to be ecstatic.
Alex Len has all of the potential to be a top-five pick, but it doesn't seem like he'll fall to a team that needs him. That is until the No. 11 overall pick, when Philadelphia shows up.
The Sixers are heading for the post-Andrew Bynum era, which is odd considering the center never laced up for the team. But he'll leave a huge hole, which Len will do a great job of filling when he develops into a pro.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
The Thunder have a couple of positions they're thin in, but no more than at center. The Kendrick Perkins project has been a failure, and the long-time issue forces Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison to play out of their comfort zones.
There are questions on how well Olynyk's game matches up with the NBA, but his size and strength should allow him to develop into a solid center. And if he can make his way into the rotation at the 5 position, OKC will become a much more complete team.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
All in for the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, the Mavs, according to ESPN, sound like they're ready to shop their 13th overall pick, and that's why Karasev should be an easy pick.
NBA teams have been drooling over Karasev for some time, and the rights to him would be a hot commodity for any GM. Just another solid bit of trade bait for Dallas.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
With two of the first 21 picks in this draft, the Jazz will undoubtedly be looking at a point guard with one of them. They can't go wrong with the Germany product.
Schroeder already has NBA size, and he's polished enough for Utah to feel comfortable giving him the keys to its offense in the foreseeable future.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
Shane Larkin is undersized and might be a project, but he's proven to be a quick learner at Miami. With Brandon Jennings hitting free agency, the Bucks will likely be trying to land their future point guard.
Larkin has the ability to take over games with a lethal three-point shot and incredible athleticism, both of which are huge tools for any up-and-coming NBA point guard.
16. Boston Celtics: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
One year closer to Kevin Garnett's retirement, the Celtics' first priority should be finding big men who are ready to contribute on a regular basis.
Zeller is arguably the most gifted big man in this class, and he'll give the C's a much-needed boost offensively while protecting the rim and working with young big men Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke
Other than Al Horford and Josh Smith, the latter of which may be gone before next year, the Hawks boast an awful frontcourt and need all the help they can get.
They'll go with the most talented big man left at this point, which is Duke's Mason Plumlee. He's not elite offensively, but he has a sound game and is a solid rim-protector.
18. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston): Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Atlanta will be looking to make a big one-two punch with their 17th and 18th picks, and adding Franklin will be a big statement. He's one of the most athletic players in this draft and has the potential to become a game-changer.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles Lakers): Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Critics will be quick to point out that the Cavs went with two big men on two first-round picks, but take a look.
Anderson Varejao is rarely healthy. Tristan Thompson is a liability due to his defensive struggles.Tyler Zeller is showing a very limited game that may or may not warrant bench minutes.
Adding Noel would help, but immediacy is a concern with his ACL injury.
That's where Dieng comes in. He's learned to become a menace offensively for the Cardinals while at the same time proving to be an impact player on the boards and by altering shots.
Nobody attacking the rim will be safe when Dieng and Noel are protecting it.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Once expected to be a lottery pick, Mitchell regressed last season with North Texas, but much of that was due to his supporting cast.
Mitchell's 6'8" frame is NBA ready, and the Bulls are in desperate need of his scoring touch.
21. Utah Jazz (from Golden State): Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
Already shoring up their point guard troubles with the 14th pick, the Jazz will have a great chance to make a new-age backcourt with the selection of Hardaway.
His three-point shooting is as good as you can find in this class, and he's shown the ability to dominate through offensive stretches.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Tony Snell, SG/SF, New Mexico
With Joe Johnson and Deron Williams already on the roster long term, the Nets will need an efficient wing man to go along with their two stars.
Snell isn't polished yet, but the Nets have enough pieces to allow him to settle in and learn the ropes.
23. Indiana Pacers: Lorenzo Brown, PG, N.C. State
The Indiana Pacers proved they're in the class of the NBA with a thrilling run to the Eastern Conference Finals, and the only feasible weakness I could find was their lack of a dangerous backup point guard.
D.J. Augustin isn't an impact player, and the Pacers will look to a player with ACC experience to fill that void and compete with Augustin for a roster spot.
24. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
The Knicks claim their identity is a defensive-minded team, but it's a pick like Withey that proves they're for real.
Tyson Chandler can't protect the rim by himself. Withey won't have to play big minutes, but the minutes he does play will be huge for New York.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
The Clippers are getting a lot of veteran help in their backcourt, which is the biggest sign of a positional need. Caldwell-Pope is the reigning SEC Player of the Year and is one of the most lethal scorers in the class.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis): Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Minnesota may look to bolster its frontcourt with the No. 9 overall pick, but given the T-Wolves selection of McCollum, they'll do that here. Noguiera has high upside and could sneak into the first round.
27. Denver Nuggets: Glen Rice Jr., SF, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Glen Rice Jr. has been tearing it up in the D-league, and that has gotten him all over NBA teams' radars.
He's been a trendy name who could come off the board much earlier, but don't expect the Nuggets to pass on him if he's there. Rice will be a quick replacement for Danilo Gallinari, who will be out much of the season with a torn ACL.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Rudy Gobert, C, France
As much as it may hurt to think about, the Spurs must start focusing on the post-Tim Duncan era and filling that void. In doing so, they'll find themselves available to pick Gobert, who could be long gone by No. 28.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
The Thunder are rich with young talent, and this will only solidify that statement. Archie Goodwin didn't have a freshman season to remember at Kentucky, but his hype is warranted as he offers a unique skill set that will fit with the Association.
30. Phoenix Suns (from Miami): C.J. Leslie, G, N.C. State
The Suns' first focus in the draft will be getting stronger defensively. While Oladipo will be the driving force in that department, Leslie has experience as a defensive-minded player for a big-time program and will only help.