2013 NBA Mock Draft: How Each Team Should Attack First-Round Pick

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2013 NBA Mock Draft: How Each Team Should Attack First-Round Pick
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When writing a mock draft, it's important to put biases aside and thus project what most likely will happen. From time to time, however, fans and analysts get caught up in the hype of what they believe a team should do.

The question is, if we were in control of these franchise, what would be the right way for the eligible teams to attack the first round?

Certain squads are in need of players that can come in and contribute sooner rather than later, while others will be looking for project players that could help shape their future. Regardless of what they're looking for, every team must decide between the polarizing aspects of risk and safety.

The question is, where should the first-round teams look?

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, Georgetown Hoyas

Position: Small Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'9", 198 pounds, 7'2" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.88 PER, 16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 42.2% 3PT

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers truly only have two options with this pick, as only small forward Otto Porter and center Nerlens Noel make sense. While both offer intrigue, only one can be selected.

When it comes to what Cleveland should do, the answer is simple—solidify their core as a potentially elite unit.

Nerlens Noel has upside, but Otto Porter is the safe pick that can help bring it all together. While Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are a strong enough tandem to lead a postseason push in future seasons, they will only go as far as their depth carries them.

Porter is a versatile contributor who can serve numerous purposes in Cleveland's budding schematics.

The Georgetown star is a dynamic offensive force that can handle the ball, facilitate and shoot the three-ball. Defensively, he's a strong rebounder that uses his length to lock his man down, play the passing lanes and protect the rim.

Nothing is certain, but the Cavaliers need to build a strong, rugged team to compete in the Central Division—Porter is the type of small forward they need to do just that.

 

2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, Michigan Wolverines

Position: Point Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'1", 187 pounds, 6'6" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

29.76 PER, 18.6 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 38.4% 3PT

 

The Orlando Magic have three options here, and each would be an intriguing addition to their current squad. Those players are point guard Trey Burke, shooting guard Ben McLemore and power forward Anthony Bennett.

When it comes right down to it, the Magic are a team with a strong core of young players and an aging point guard—it's time they address that void.

McLemore may be the sexier selection, but Burke is far ahead of the other point guards in this draft class. Not only is he a dynamic scorer that should be in the running for Rookie of the Year, but he's an accurate facilitator and an opportunistic defender.

When it comes down to it, this is a point-guard-driven league and Jameer Nelson is 31 and plagued by injuries—they need to find a replacement at some point, so why not now?

Burke has come under fire for his lack of elite lateral quickness, but that truly isn't an issue. He's an excellent ball-handler that thrives in creating his own shot and runs an efficient offense.

McLemore may pan out as the better player, but Orlando needs a point guard and Burke can be the player to lead them.

 

3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, UNLV Rebels

Position: Power Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'8", 240 pounds, 7'1" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

28.24 PER, 27.1 MPG, 16.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.2 BPG

 

The Washington Wizards need to look to improve their front court, as they're strong but aging. More specifically, the Wizards need to complement their eighth-ranked scoring defense by improving their offense.

After ranking 28th in scoring offense, however, it's clear that the Wizards need go with Anthony Bennett over Nerlens Noel.

Noel has powerful upside, but the Bennett is one of the most dynamic offensive players in this draft class. He's strong enough to back his man down, also displaying the range to shoot the three-ball and the athleticism to take his man to the basket.

Seeing as John Wall wants the Wizards to draft a pick-and-pop power forward, Bennett certainly fits the bill.

Noel is an option, as the Wizards need to find a long-term replacement for Emeka Okafor. The more urgent matter, however, is finding a player to step in and replace Nene Hilario.

Bennett can be that player and thus transform Washington from an elite defense to a two-way force that reaches the postseason.

 

4. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Wildcats

Position: Power Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'0", 206 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.09 PER, 10.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 4.4 BPG, 2.1 SPG

 

The Charlotte Bobcats would love to cap off their perimeter with a shooting guard, but there's no way they pass over Nerlens Noel. They have a franchise point guard in Kemba Walker and a star defensive presence in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but their interior is simply too weak to ignore.

Noel may have his doubters, but he's exactly the player that the Bobcats need.

Noel is an elite interior defender and an explosive athlete with one of the most impressive motors in the nation. Not only is he an extraordinary shot blocker, but Noel thrives in defending the pick-and-roll and plays some of the best transition defense of any big man in recent memory.

Not even a knee injury and questions about his weight can change those facts.

Weighing in at 206 pounds is concerning for a center, but Noel played much closer to 225 pounds during the regular season. More importantly, he stands at 7'0" with a 7'4" wingspan.

Plain and simple, Noel has All-Star upside and is a safe bet to become a standout defensive player.

 

5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, Kansas Jayhawks

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'5", 189 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.24 PER, 15.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 42.0% 3PT

 

The Phoenix Suns are under new management and will thus be thrust into a position in which they look to rebuild their franchise. While the point guard position appears to be set, there really aren't any other areas of certainty.

It's time to bring in a character player with a high motor to push them in the right direction.

The Suns currently have athletic dynamo Shannon Brown and a fundamentally sound Jared Dudley. It just so happens that Ben McLemore is a combination of both of those traits, as he's explosive in transition and the top scorer in this draft when it comes to the half court.

With a lethal jump shot from beyond the arc, McLemore is prepared to make an instant impact.

For a Suns team that currently lacks a go-to scorer, the addition of a player of McLemore's caliber is the key to their future. Landing a big man is a possibility, as is Victor Oladipo, but the key for Phoenix is to add a player that can shoulder the scoring load.

McLemore can be that player.

 

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, Maryland Terrapins

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Position: Center

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'1", 225 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.04 PER, 26.4 MPG, 11.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.1 BPG

 

According to Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune, the New Orleans Pelicans have no intention of trading shooting guard Eric Gordon. For that reason, it's quite unlikely that they do what they should and select Victor Oladipo.

With this in mind, we must go with what's possible.

The Pelicans' most glaring void is at the center position where Robin Lopez is a solid, but not spectacular option. For that reason, the Pelicans must find a long-term replacement that can serve as a strong offensive player with defensive upside.

Alex Len could be that player.

Len is a risky selection, but he stands at 7'1" with a 7'4" wingspan and possesses a diverse offensive skill set. He finishes well around the basket, has a strong face-up game and passes out of the high post at a high level.

If New Orleans wants to continue moving forward with their defensive mentality, solidifying their interior by finding Anthony Davis a partner in crime is the route to take.

 

7. Sacramento Kings: Victor Oladipo, Indiana Hoosiers

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'4", 213 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

29.09 PER, 28.4 MPG, 13.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.2 SPG

 

Ideally, the Sacramento Kings would take a point guard here and put an end to their lack of direction. With that being said, the fact that Victor Oladipo is available at this stage is too grand of an opportunity to pass over.

Oladipo can be the character player that transforms this organization into a postseason team.

Physical and basketball abilities aside, Oladipo has an extraordinary motor and unquestioned leadership abilities. For a young Kings team that lacks direction, Oladipo could be a guiding force to a brighter tomorrow.

It doesn't hurt that he's the top perimeter defender in this draft class.

In the offensive half court, Oladipo is an underrated ball-handler that can take his man off the bounce and finish in traffic. That's a major reason that the former Indiana star is drawing comparisons to Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.

That's the type of upside Sacramento would be wise to pursue.


8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Orange

Position: Point Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'6", 184 pounds, 6'7" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

21.25 PER, 11.9 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.9 RPG, 2.8 SPG

 

This is a dream scenario for the Detroit Pistons, as they're currently without a franchise point guard. Instead, they have a compilation of combo guards that have proven to be more inclined to score the basketball than pass it.

Enter Michael Carter-Williams.

Carter-Williams has received criticism for the absence of a consistent jump shot, but that's hardly the full story. The former Syracuse lead guard is the top facilitator in this draft class, displaying extraordinary floor vision and accurate passing ability.

Carter-Williams is also the top defender at his position, using his 6'6" frame and 6'7" wingspan to make an impact in the passing lanes.

As an on-ball defender, Carter-Williams can be overpowered, but bulking up will put an end to those concerns. With the proper development, MCW can lock his man down and use his length to contest every shot he faces.

One way or another, Carter-Williams will make a two-way impact.

 

9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia Bulldogs

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'6", 204 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.62 PER, 18.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.0 SPG, 37.3% 3PT

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves have just two legitimate options at this stage, as their needs lie at the guard spots. C.J. McCollum is a popular choice, as he's one of the best pure scorers in this draft, but the last thing Minnesota needs is another undersized scoring guard.

SEC Player of the Year and Georgia Bulldogs shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the perfect selection.

The T-Wolves need shooters as they come off of a season in which they were 30th in three-point field goal percentage. Caldwell-Pope certainly presents the opportunity to upgrade, as he pairs a smooth release with limitless three-point range.

Most importantly, he stands at 6'6" with a 6'8" wingspan—just like that, Minnesota would have an actual shooting guard.

Caldwell-Pope is often praised for his shooting ability, but he's also a strong ball-handler that can take his man off of the bounce. Defensively, he plays the passing lanes well and rebounds at an elite clip for his position.

Minnesota needs a true shooting guard, and Caldwell-Pope has every skill necessary to be a starter at the next level.

 

10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh Mountain Hawks 

Position: Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'3", 197 pounds, 6'6" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

33.95 PER, 23.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, 51.6% 3PT

 

The Portland Trail Blazers have a postseason-caliber starting lineup with Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and, potentially, JJ Hickson. In that same breath, the Blazers have the worst second unit in the NBA.

It's time to address that truth at the core, bringing in a scorer to serve as a sixth man.

C.J. McCollum is widely believed to be one of this draft's elite scorers, as he pairs a gorgeous jump shot with the ball handling skills necessary to attack off the bounce. Whether in the half court or transition, McCollum uses his strength and physicality to create space and get off clean looks.

As for those projecting him to be a point guard, they're likely enamored with his game and simply want to see him succeed as a 6'3" guard.

McCollum makes up for his less-than-ideal size for the 2 by playing with range and a 6'6" wingspan. He may be best suited as a reserve, but McCollum's ability to score could be intriguing enough for Portland to pair he and Lillard in the backcourt.

Regardless of where he ends up, McCollum has the look of a player that will have a strong career.

 

11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, Indiana Hoosiers

Position: Power Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 7'0", 230 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

33.95 PER, 16.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.0 SPG

 

The Philadelphia 76ers were ninth in the NBA in scoring defense during the 2012-13 regular season. They were also dead last in scoring offense, which displays just how one-dimensional their attack was.

How better to improve their offense than to land today's hottest trend—the stretch 4?

Cody Zeller has been working out as a power forward, putting his smooth mid-range game on full display. That range has been expanded in recent displays, as he's attempted to show how proficient he can be from beyond the arc.

It doesn't hurt that Zeller has a strong back-to-the-basket game and can take his man off of the bounce.

The Sixers certainly need to improve their offense and adding a pick-and-pop forward is a great start. For All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, finding weapons is the key to Philly turning their team around.

Zeller may receive some unfair flack, but he's the real deal and should have a quality NBA career.

 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Bruins

Position: Guard/Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'6", 220 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

21.99 PER, 17.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 37.7% 3PT

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a team led by two superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and complemented by blocks leader Serge Ibaka. For that reason, it's easy to see why some believe OKC has minimal voids to fill.

The truth of the matter is, center isn't the only position of need—OKC needs to add a player that can create their own shot.

When Westbrook went down during the playoffs, Durant was the only player creating his own looks. That type of heavy reliance on just two players is dangerous and potentially detrimental to the Thunder's postseason success.

Enter Shabazz Muhammad.

Muhammad may be coming under fire for his shooting and character issues, but he's more than capable of attacking off the bounce. He's a powerful player that has an NBA player's build and a strong motor on the court.

Keep in mind, the Thunder are still reeling from the loss of southpaw James Harden—why not bring in another lefty with upside?

 

13. Dallas Mavericks: Shane Larkin, Miami Hurricanes

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Point Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'0", 171 pounds, 5'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

22.40 PER, 14.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.8 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 40.6% 3PT

 

There's no question that this is a reach, as Shane Larkin is more of a borderline lottery pick than a lock. With that being said, the Dallas Mavericks are far more likely to land a high-quality center via free agency than they are in the draft.

The same can't be said for the point guard position, where the stars are either restricted free agents or generally out of Dallas' reach.

Shane Larkin has the makings of a franchise point guard as he's a two-way player with explosive athleticism. Most importantly, he possesses the clutch gene and is the son of a professional athlete, which displays his work ethic to get to this point.

It certainly doesn't hurt that Larkin is directly behind Michael Carter-Williams as the top defensive point guard available.

Offensively, Larkin is a dynamic player that can create off the bounce, spot-up from beyond the arc and make passes on the run. He's also a pick-and-roll specialist that can hit diving finishers or drop passes to Dirk Nowitzki off of the pop.

At the end of the day, is there really a "must have prospect" that Dallas would be passing over?

 

14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, Germany

Position: Point Guard

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'2", 165 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

With Shane Larkin coming off of the board at No. 13, the Utah Jazz must act fast and avoid finishing this draft without a potential franchise point guard. Fortunately, Dennis Schroeder is a player that fits Utah's needs at the position.

If they're wise, they'll pull the trigger on this pick.

Schroeder has drawn comparisons to Rajon Rondo due to his size of 6'2" with a 6'8" wingspan. Those comparisons are warranted due to their similarities when attacking the basket, as both possess paralyzing hesitation steps and the uncanny ability to finish in traffic.

Even if Schroeder does take time to develop into an NBA player, the Jazz have the luxury of Mo Williams remaining under contract.

Williams, 30, remains one of the better three-point shooters in the NBA and facilitates at a quality rate. While his long-term future in Utah is uncertain, he would be the ideal mentor to help Schroeder develop his jumper.

The future is bright in Utah, but they'll only go as far as their floor general takes them.

 

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State Aztecs

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'5", 191 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Milwaukee Bucks have an intriguing front court tandem with John Henson and Larry Sanders. They also have a franchise point guard in Brandon Jennings, but he's set to become a restricted free agent.

At this point, it's all about landing the best available perimeter player.

As other players fluctuate up-and-down draft boards, Franklin remains steady in this position. Not only is he one of the most explosive athletes of this draft class, but he's a well-rounded player with a respected motor.

Leading your team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals displays those traits.

With the Bucks, Franklin would fit in and serve as the Bucks' first true shooting guard since Michael Redd. With or without Brandon Jennings, Franklin would also have the opportunity to work with the ball in his hands early in his career.

There aren't too many ways to go wrong with the No. 15 pick, but this selection would certainly get it right.

 

16. Boston Celtics: Gorgui Dieng, Louisville Cardinals

Position: Center

Age: 23

Height & Weight: 6'11", 230 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

23.60 PER, 9.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.5 BPG, 1.3 SPG

 

The Boston Celtics are in a state of flux right now, as no one seems to know what will come of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce or Doc Rivers. With that being said, the Celtics currently have a strong core of players to build around in Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger.

All they need to finish off their starting lineup of the future is a center.

Steven Adams is an intriguing option here, but the Celtics took a project player at center in 2012 with Fab Melo. While Adams may have a higher upside than Melo, the Celtics need a player that is NBA-ready.

Gorgui Dieng can be that player.

At worst, Dieng is a strong defensive presence that blocks shots and plays the pick-and-roll with solid anticipation and blitzing skills. At best, Dieng continues to develop his mid-range jump shot and passing ability to develop into a two-way threat.

Either way, he's the type of player Boston needs.

 

17. Atlanta Hawks: Steven Adams, Pittsburgh Panthers

Position: Center

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'0", 255 pounds, 7'5" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

22.59 PER, 23.4 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG

 

It's difficult to define what the Atlanta Hawks are entering, as their rebuilding phase is somewhat overstated by the fact that they're flush with cap space. Either way, the Hawks are under a new head coach, and the only starter that remains under contract is power forward Al Horford.

Is there a better time for a project player than now?

Steven Adams is a 19-year-old center that stands at 7'0" and 255 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan. While he's not the most heralded prospect in this draft class, he has All-Star upside due to his combination of physical gifts and an aggressive style of play.

With his newly found touch around the basket, Adams could be something special.

If he fails to pan out offensively, Adams remains an intriguing option on defense. Not only is he a high-quality rebounder, but he blocks shots at a high rate, and can eliminate his tendency to bite on head fakes with the proper teaching.

The Hawks don't have much of anything right now, so value is key.

 

18. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Glen Rice Jr., NBA D-League

Position: Guard/Forward

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 6'6", 211 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

With their first of their back-to-back selections, the Atlanta Hawks landed the player that could be their center of the future. As they target a second first-year player, it's imperative that the Hawks go for the best value possible.

It just so happens that a local product presents the best value of all.

Glen Rice Jr. was once an intriguing athlete at Georgia Tech, flooded with potential but overcome by character issues. After being kicked off of the team, Rice Jr. decided to take his talents to the NBA D-League, where he competed with and against former NBA players.

Since then, Rice Jr.'s motor and work ethic have improved significantly and his overall quality of play has followed.

Physically, Rice Jr. certainly has what it takes to compete at the next level, standing in at 6'6" and 211 pounds with a 6'9" wingspan. In terms of his skill set, he's developed a much more consistent jump shot and displays elite defensive upside.

This would have been a risky pick just a few months ago, but Rice Jr. has taken the D-League by storm and is worth this pick for the Hawks.

 

19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Suns, from Heat): Rudy Gobert, France 

Position: Power Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 7'2", 238 pounds, 7'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers passed on a big man with extreme upside with the first overall draft choice when they chose Otto Porter over Nerlens Noel. With their second selection, the Cavaliers make amends with any concerned with that decision by selecting yet another shot-blocker.

Frenchman Rudy Gobert.

Gobert is not the same caliber player as Noel, but he stands at 7'2" and 238 pounds with an unbelievable 7'9" wingspan. That combination of height and length is exactly what Cleveland needs down low, as they have quality pieces but minimal resistance at the rim.

Gobert can change that.

There's a strong possibility that he never pans out as an NBA player, as his size and length is complemented by little substance. With that being said, the upside is present and Gobert is a strong enough shot blocker to see some form of playing time.

This pick may not work out, but at No. 19, you won't find a better risk than Gobert.

 

20. Chicago Bulls: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga Bulldogs

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Position: Power Forward/Center

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 7'0", 234 pounds, 6'10" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

36.57 PER, 26.4 MPG, 17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.1 BPG

 

The Chicago Bulls have an undeniable need for a backup center, as Joakim Noah simply cannot be tasked with playing 40-plus minutes a night. While some favor the shot blocking ability of Jeff Withey, the rational option here is Kelly Olynyk.

It's all about versatility with this pick.

Olynyk is one of the most skilled players in this draft, playing more like a 7'0" guard than a center. With his smooth jump shot, strong ball handling and dual-hand low-post attack, the former Gonzaga star truly does have it all.

Most importantly, Olynyk is one of the few players that can rival Victor Oladipo's motor.

The Bulls missed Omer Asik in 2012-13, as his rebounding prowess and energy played a major role in their past success. Olynyk isn't quite the rebounder that Asik has proven to be, but he's a significantly better offensive prospect with a similar work ethic.

With the way he's playing in workouts, Olynyk may be the long-term option at power forward for Chicago, but a start at center would be welcome.

 

21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Sergey Karasev, Russia 

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'7", 197 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Utah Jazz started this draft off with a point guard, addressing their most glaring void. With their second selection, the Jazz address another void, as their perimeter has question marks at both the 2 and 3.

While the idea of Karasev playing small forward is premature at his current weight, he has all of the skills necessary to be an offensive force at shooting guard.

For a team that plays in a style that permits the use of multiple ball-handlers, Karasev would fit in well. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will man the interior and thus enable the playmakers to run the pick-and-roll or drop it down low.

It then comes down to who can move off of the ball, and Karasev thrives in that department.

While his shooting prowess has been overstated, Karasev can light it up from beyond the arc when given space. The Russian off guard is also capable of taking it off of the bounce, attacking the basket and finishing in traffic.

A star label may be a reach, but Karasev projects to be a very strong NBA player.

 

22. Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee, Duke Blue Devils

Position: Power Forward/Center

Age: 23

Height & Weight: 7'0", 238 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

26.48 PER, 17.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.0 SPG

 

The Brooklyn Nets have found their center of the future with Brook Lopez. They also have a rebounding machine at power forward in Reggie Evans, but currently lack an offensive alternative down low.

Mason Plumlee can change that and, potentially, become Brooklyn's starting power forward.

Plumlee has great size at 7'0" and 238 pounds with a 6'11" wingspan. He's also a walking alley-oop, running the floor as well as most guards and finishing in transition with proficiency.

Paired with a significantly improved back-to-the-basket attack, Plumlee has the upside of a very effective offensive player.

Defensively, Plumlee is an excellent rebounder that blocks shots at a respectable clip. While he's not the greatest defender, his athleticism permits a strong pick-and-roll presence as he blitzes the ball-handler or recovers to stop the dive man.

The Nets would like to add NBA-ready players, and Plumlee certainly fits the bill.

 

23. Indiana Pacers: Pierre Jackson, Baylor Bears

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Point Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 5'11", 176 pounds, 5'10" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.67 PER, 19.8 PPG, 7.1 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.5 SPG

 

The Indiana Pacers have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, no matter what name value may tell you. Those who wish to debate that statement can have a good time explaining how Indiana came within one game of the NBA Finals with virtually no second unit.

I'll wait.

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, Baylor Bears' point guard Pierre Jackson has all but solidified his first-round status. While there is reasonable doubt as to whether or not he'll come off the board that early, scouts and general managers are falling in love with the explosive scoring guard.

It's time the Indiana Pacers do the same.

Jackson was the only player on the Big Board Top 30 to show up and play 5-on-5 at the Brooklyn workout. The move paid off...His range right now is 21-35. 

Virtually every GM I spoke with thought he was the best player in attendance.

Who better than the team that needs a point guard the most?

Jackson may stand only 5'10", but he's one of the most explosive athletes in the draft and plays a physical brand of basketball. He's a pesky defender, a lethal three-point shooter and one of the top facilitators in this draft.

While I personally suggest the Pacers make a run at Nate Robinson, landing Jackson would be an excellent alternative.

 

24. New York Knicks: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State Racers

Position: Point Guard

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 6'0", 188 pounds, 6'5" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.28 PER, 21.8 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 37.0% 3PT

 

There are more than a select few on the bandwagon for the New York Knicks to draft an athletic big man. While the Knicks do need to become younger and more athletic, their focus shouldn't be down low.

The departure of Jason Kidd makes their perimeter more vulnerable than usual, and that must be addressed.

For the Knicks, no prospect is quite as fitting as Isaiah Canaan out of Murray State. Not only is the point guard a strong facilitator, but Canaan is one of the most aggressive and efficient scorers in the nation.

With deep three-point range and the ability to take it off the bounce, Canaan seems to be the perfect fit for New York's multi-guard sets.

Defensively, Canaan uses his 6'5" wingspan to disrupt the passing lanes and create transition scoring opportunities. He's also one of the stronger lead guards available, which enables him to press up with more conviction.

It may be a risk, but there aren't many standout players in this draft, and the Knicks have specific needs—they'd be addressing one major void with this selection.

 

25. Los Angeles Clippers: Allen Crabbe, California Golden Bears

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'6", 197 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

23.07 PER, 18.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 SPG

 

If the Los Angeles Clippers are going to make the leap to title legitimacy, they'll need to improve their half-court offense. While they may be a powerful force in the open court, the Clippers struggle to generate offense when the game slows down.

A major reason for that truth is the absence of a true go-to three-point shooter.

Local product Allen Crabbe can serve that purpose for the Clippers, as he has quick and consistent stroke from beyond the arc. While his shooting percentages may have dipped in 2012-13, that's mainly a product of his ball-handling duties.

Crabbe was one of California's lead facilitators—a role he filled quite well.

With his size and length, Crabbe also possesses defensive upside. It's certainly true that he's a better rebounder than the average off guard, which suggests that he could see early playing time due to his versatile skills.

Seeing as the Clippers need shooters, Crabbe could be a potential starter if he pans out.

 

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Jeff Withey, Kansas

Position: Center

Age: 23

Height & Weight: 7'0", 222 pounds, 7'2" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.23 PER, 13.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.9 BPG

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in an ideal situation, as they've landed their starting shooting guard and can now address other areas of need. Their top issue has been the absence of a rim-protecting big man.

Greg Stiemsma is solid, but Jeff Withey projects to be the better all-around player—why even hesitate?

There are players with higher upside at this point, but the Timberwolves need to acquire building blocks. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are strong, and Minnesota's cast of guards are effective, but the Timberwolves need an interior force to steady the ship.

Withey may not dominate the game offensively, but on defense, you can bet it all that he can take over with his shot-blocking ability.

Withey is proficient enough on defense to overcome his lack of lateral quickness. Not only can he protect the rim and defend the post, but Withey does an excellent job of stepping out on the pick-and-roll.

Minnesota may look elsewhere, but this is a team that has been broken down by players failing to pan out—going safe at No. 26 is the rational option.

 

27. Denver Nuggets: Reggie Bullock, North Carolina Tar Heels

Position: Guard/Forward

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 6'7", 200 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.13 PER, 13.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 43.6% 3PT

 

The Denver Nuggets have one of the most high-powered offenses in the NBA, breaking out into transition and using ball movement to create easy looks. Unfortunately, they're also 25th in three-point field goal percentage.

Until they add shooters, the Nuggets will not be able to get over the hump.

Reggie Bullock certainly fits into Denver's system, as he's an athletic swingman with a gorgeous stroke from beyond the arc. He handles the ball well, passes at an underrated level and stands at 6'7" with a 6'9" wingspan.

The latter piece of information suggests that Bullock has defensive upside—something Denver needs.

With Danilo Gallinari recovering from a torn ACL, the door could be opened for Bullock to see early playing time. Not only do the Nuggets need his shooting, but adding another ball-handler should be a top priority for a Nuggets team with a 37-year-old backup point guard.

Bullock could go higher, but if he drops this far, it'd be a steal for Denver.

 

28. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Nogueira, Brazil

Position: Center

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'11", 218 pounds, 7'6" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The San Antonio Spurs are in an odd transition period, as they must begin building for the future while their soon-to-retire stars are still active. For that reason, the Spurs would be best to land a project player that could step in when the likes of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili retire.

Lucas Nogueira of Brazil fits the bill.

Nogueira is a powerful leaper that stands at 6'11" and 218 pounds with a 7'6" wingspan. With a very strong motor and youth on his side, Nogueira has the potential to bulk up and become a powerful defensive presence.

Already a strong rebounder and imposing shot blocker, Nogueira simply needs to get the fundamentals down right.

If that's the case, there's no better player to help guide Nogueira through his NBA career than Duncan. After all, Duncan's nickname is "The Big Fundamental."

At No. 28, it's all about value, and Nogueira provides just that.

 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mike Muscala, Bucknell Bison

Position: Center

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'11", 230 pounds, 7'1" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

36.34 PER, 18.7 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.4 BPG

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder went for value early in the draft, selecting southpaw slasher Shabazz Muhammad. Once you get over the alliteration of that previous sentence, note that the Thunder still need a center.

Fortunately, Mike Muscala is the best fit possible from this draft.

Muscala is one of the top offensive centers in this class, as he possesses a jump shot with three-point range and a legitimate low-post attack. While bulking up will be key to his progression, he has the raw ability to step in and provide easy baskets for OKC.

As a strong passer, Muscala's defensive presence becomes an added bonus.

Muscala is a very good rebounder, boxing his man out and using his length to control the glass. While protecting the rim, he's also a quality shot blocker that can meet players at the rim or step out to shut down the pick-and-roll.

If he had played for a major school, Muscala likely would have gone off of the board at No. 12, when Oklahoma City picked first.

 

30. Phoenix Suns (via Cavs, from Lakers): C.J. Leslie, North Carolina State Wolfpack

Position: Small Forward

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'9", 209 pounds, 7'2" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

20.00 PER, 15.1 PPG, 7.4 PG, 1.5 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.0 SPG

 

The Phoenix Suns can go any number of directions here, as they will likely look for value above all else. For that reason, the Suns go with one of the most polarizing players in this draft class:

Small forward C.J. Leslie.

Due to the fact that he was inconsistent in college, Leslie has struggled to maintain a first-round image. With that being said, Leslie is making the jump as a small forward and has thus put his elite athleticism on full display.

Even if he's unable to pan out, there is a reasonable risk for Phoenix to gamble on a standout athlete.

The Suns have forwards on the roster, but they're now under a new general manager and will likely look to rebuild. With nothing set in stone at small forward, it doesn't hurt to take a chance on a player with upside.

There are other options, but Leslie fits as well as you could ask.

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