2013 NBA mock drafts are becoming clearer as the postseason nears its conclusion.
The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are the only franchises not focused on the draft right now. Soon enough, they’ll join the 28 other teams attempting to identify the league’s future all-stars.
Here is a full first-round mock highlighting tomorrow's faces of the NBA.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
The Cavs’ greatest need isn’t at center, but a star big to pair with Kyrie Irving would take them to another level. No one in the draft possesses more star potential than Noel.
ESPN’s Chad Ford reported that Noel is ahead of schedule on his recovery from ACL surgery, according to his surgeon and trainer. Noel will need time to return to full health, but Cleveland’s core of the 21-year-old Irving, 21-year-old Dion Waiters, 22-year-old Tristan Thompson and 23-year-old Tyler Zeller aren’t ready to contend for an Eastern Conference title anyway.
At 7’0”, 206 pounds, Noel needs to find a weight room, but his freakish athleticism for a player of his length outweighs his lack of a thick frame. According to ESPN, he averaged a player efficiency rating (PER) of 27.09 as a freshman with the Wildcats (15.0 is average). LeBron James and Kevin Durant were the only NBA players who finished the regular season with a higher PER.
2. Orlando Magic: SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana
So many holes flood Orlando’s depth chart that selecting the best available player is its best option. That would be Oladipo.
The 6’4”, 213-pound Hoosier averaged 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season. His stat line isn’t nearly as impressive as Ben McLemore's and Trey Burke’s, but Oladipio’s greatest attributes don’t show up on the stat sheet.
He’s similar to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who the Charlotte Bobcats selected second overall in 2012. Like Kidd-Gilchrist, Oladipo’s motor is relentless. He’s an elite athlete, defender and, most importantly, leader, and that’s exactly what the rebuilding Magic need.
3. Washington Wizards: SF Otto Porter, Georgetown
Martell Webster is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and while Michael Lee of the Washington Post reported that Trevor Ariza won’t opt out of his contract, he underperformed since being acquired from the then-New Orleans Hornets. Ariza average just 9.5 points per game this season.
The 6’9”, 198-pound Porter is a lockdown defender. He’s also more than capable on the offensive end, averaging 16.2 points while shooting 42.2 percent from three-point range as a sophomore with the Hoyas, but he doesn’t need the ball. A selfless glue guy is ideal alongside the more scoring-focused Wall and Bradley Beal.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
ESPN ranked McLemore as just the 49th-best prospect in the 2011 recruiting class. Today, he’s a tad higher in the rankings.
The redshirt freshman phenom led the Jayhawks to the Sweet 16, averaging 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game along the way while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 42.0 percent from downtown. The 6’5”, 189-pound McLemore has it all. He possesses a rare combination of elite shooting ability, athleticism and incredible efficiency.
His shooting would be especially welcomed by the Bobcats, who only rotated one guard, Ben Gordon, who shot over 35.0 percent from long distance last year. Gordon only averaged 11.2 points per game and finished the 2012-13 campaign with just a 12.74 PER.
5. Phoenix Suns: PF Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Luis Scola finished second on the Suns in scoring last season, but he’s 33 years old and his points per game declined each of the past two years. He’s not a part of Phoenix’s future, so it shouldn’t hesitate to select Bennett—the best available player—as his replacement.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: C Alex Len, Maryland
Ford reported that, according to sources, the Pelicans still believe in Austin Rivers as their point guard of the future, for now. Combine that with the emergence of Greivis Vasquez, and center is their greatest need. The 7’1”, 225-pound Len alongside Anthony Davis would solidify New Orleans’ paint for years.
7. Sacramento Kings: PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Sacramento isn’t thin on players who can put the ball in the basket. It finished with a top-10 scoring attack this past season but surrendered the most points in the league. The 6’6”, 184-pound Carter-Williams is a better defender and more of a pure point guard than Burke.
8. Detroit Pistons: PG Trey Burke, Michigan
A longer floor general to pair with the 6’3”, 189-pound Brandon Knight in the backcourt would be ideal, but with Carter-Williams off the board, Burke will work. He’s only 6’1”, but no perimeter player on the Pistons averaged more than 13.3 points per game this year. Burke averaged 18.6 for the Wolverines.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
Minnesota is even more in need of perimeter scoring than Detroit. Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic were the only Timberwolves to average at least 12.5 points per game this season. Caldwell-Pope averaged 18.5 points per game as a sophomore with the Bulldogs while shooting 37.3 percent from downtown.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: PF Cody Zeller, Indiana
J.J. Hickson is an unrestricted free agent and Meyers Leonard failed to make an impact this season. The 7’0”, 230-pound Zeller averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in his last year with the Hoosiers. He could be the long-term solution next to LaMarcus Aldridge down low.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: SF Dario Saric, Croatia
Ford reported that Saric will likely withdraw from the draft. If he doesn’t, the 6’10”, 223-pound wing would provide the 76ers with a much-needed high-ceiling player.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
Kendrick Perkins finished the season with a pitiful 8.2 PER. Adams isn’t pro ready, but he could be Perkins’ replacement if the 28-year-old designated post defender doesn’t rebound.
13. Dallas Mavericks: PG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
With as many as seven unrestricted free agents this summer, Dallas’ depth chart is filled with holes. McCollum is the best player available. ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported O.J. Mayo will opt out of his contract. McCollum, who averaged 23.9 points per game last season, would help take the scoring load off Dirk Nowitzki, especially if Mayo departs.
14. Utah Jazz: PG Shane Larkin, Miami
Neither the 30-year-old Mo Williams nor 29-year-old Randy Foye is the future floor general for the Jazz. Larkin is undersized at 5’11”, 171 pounds, but with his combination of freakish athleticism, lights-out shooting ability, ankle-breaking ball-handling ability and aggressive defense, he may be the most complete point guard in the draft.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany
ESPN’s Mark Stein reported that the Bucks are rumored to prefer re-signing Monta Ellis over Brandon Jennings. Jennings' departure would create a need at point guard, which the lightning-fast Schroeder could quickly fill.
16. Boston Celtics: SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Boston can’t be afraid to roll the dice if it wants to stay competitive with its aging roster. Muhammad is one dimensional, but he’s one of the best pure scorers in the draft. He could eventually replace Paul Pierce, who turns 36 years old in October and becomes an unrestricted free agent the summer of 2014.
17. Atlanta Hawks: SG Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
Kyle Korver is an unrestricted free agent, DeShawn Stevenson is 32 years old and finished last season with an 8.1 PER, and John Jenkins showed no signs of becoming the Hawks’ future starting shooting guard. Franklin is a top-flight athlete whose ceiling is through the roof and could ultimately fill the void left by Joe Johnson at the position.
18. Atlanta Hawks: C Mason Plumlee, Duke
Jeff Schultz and Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported that Josh Smith will test free agency this summer. The 7’0”, 238-pound Plumlee would prepare the Hawks for Smith’s potential departure.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: SF Tony Mitchell, North Texas
Assuming the Cavs select Noel, small forward would be the only position left unaddressed in their future starting five. The 6’8”, 220-pound Mitchell is an athletic defender who would look great running alongside Irving on the break.
20. Chicago Bulls: C Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
When the Bulls fought their way to the Eastern Conference Finals, an unrivaled four-man rotation of bigs—along with Derrick Rose’s MVP effort—fueled their success. Omer Asik’s departure last summer left them thin in the frontcourt, but Olynyk would solidify their depth once again.
21. Utah Jazz: PF Rudy Gobert, France
Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are unrestricted free agents this summer. The 7’2” Gobert would give the Jazz a solid three-man rotation of bigs for the future with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, should Jefferson and Millsap both sign elsewhere.
22. Brooklyn Nets: C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
Brook Lopez emerged as a top-notch scoring center this year, but he’s still a mediocre rebounder (averaging 6.9 per game) and defender (allowing opposing centers to average a PER of 17.3 against him, according to 82games.com). The 6’11”, 230-pound Dieng would provide the Nets with a much-needed defensive presence in the paint.
23. Indiana Pacers: SG Sergey Karasev, Russia
Lance Stephenson is a top-notch on-ball defender, but he only averaged 8.8 points per game this year and shot 33 percent from downtown. Indiana should complement him with a reserve who’s a proficient scorer, like Karasev.
24. New York Knicks: SG Glen Rice Jr., Georgia Tech
ESPN’s Jared Zwerling reported that J.R. Smith will opt out of his contract, creating a huge need for a shooting guard and scorer if he leaves for greener pastures. Rice is one of the most pro-ready players in the draft after averaging 25.0 points per game in the 2013 D-League playoffs (Georgia Tech kicked him off the team).
25. Los Angeles Clippers: SG Allen Crabbe, California
Willie Green and Chauncey Billups, who’s an unrestricted free agent, failed to impress next to Chris Paul in the starting lineup this season. Los Angeles is in need of a shooting guard, and Crabbe, who averaged 18.4 points per game last year, fits the bill.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: C Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
Pekovic is a restricted free agent. Should the Timberwolves lose him, they’ll be in desperate need for length alongside Love. The 6’11”, 218-pound Nogueira would provide just that.
27. Denver Nuggets: PG Pierre Jackson, Baylor
Denver doesn’t need much, if anything. It's free to look to the future and find an eventual replacement for the 37-year-old Andre Miller as Ty Lawson’s backup.
28. San Antonio Spurs: C Jeff Withey, Kansas
Tim Duncan is 37 years old. Boris Diaw is 31 and mediocre. DeJuan Blair can never secure a spot in the rotation.
San Antonio needs the 7’0”, 222-pound Withey’s size.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece
No one the Thunder select here would receive significant playing time next season. They’d be free to stash the 18-year-old Antetokounmpo overseas until he develops.
30. Phoenix Suns: SF Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Phoenix is a mess. No Suns wing averaged more than 10.9 points per game last season, so that’s one of the many places they need help.
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.