We're just two weeks away from the big day, and the top of most 2013 NBA draft boards are still a mess.
With rumors flying left and right, it's hard to tell the difference between truth and smoke screens. However, I am operating under the belief that the previous favorite to go No. 1 is no longer locked into that position.
I've made a significant change to the top of my board, and though it's questionable to hold, we now have a new No. 1.
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has been pretty adamant about his team making a playoff push this year, according to Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld, and that's unlikely to happen without getting a player who can contribute.
Based on the buzz surrounding the draft, the Cavs just don't seem sold on drafting Nerlens Noel No. 1. There was even speculation that they would be looking to trade the pick mere moments after learning they had it.
Though Cleveland drafted Dion Waiters last season to fill a need at shooting guard, that may not stop the team from taking the most talented offensive player on the board, regardless of his position. We've seen how many teams have gotten burned in the past for passing on a player because his position was already occupied.
Cavaliers insider Sam Amico wrote a column for Fox Sports Ohio this week detailing Cleveland's potential interest in Ben McLemore:
"According to FOX Sports Ohio sources, abundant discussions are taking place in the Cavs’ front office about the possibility of drafting McLemore, and how things might unfold if he indeed became the pick."
I'm not so sure it's the Cavaliers' love for McLemore as it is their hesitance with Noel. Gilbert surely doesn't want to risk wasting a No. 1 overall pick.
If the Cavaliers do trade their pick, my money is on it going to a team that's targeting McLemore. Minnesota, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN, has been rumored to be interested in moving up, as it's a team in need of an athletic 2-guard. Amico also wrote about the Cavs looking to target Danny Granger of the Pacers, a team that could use McLemore if it decided to move into the top spot.
The Orlando Sentinel's Brian K. Schmitz was told by sources that the Magic are actively shopping the No. 2 pick to several suitors.
If that's the case, that probably means the Magic aren't very interested in Ben McLemore, or they're trying to move down in an attempt to get Trey Burke or Victor Oladipo.
It would be hard to imagine a team trading up to No. 2 to get Burke. From ESPN1500.com contributor Darren Wolfson, we've heard rumors of Minnesota looking to target Oladipo, and given the buzz that's been surrounding him, it'd probably have to swap with Orlando to guarantee itself a shot.
I think Oladipo has the best shot at going No. 2 right now based on the number of teams interested in him. ESPN insider Chad Ford reported (subscription required) the Magic will be considering Oladipo at No. 2, but there might be just as good a chance that a team trades up to get him.
The Wizards have scheduled a workout with Otto Porter, who remains an obvious target and strong candidate at No. 3.
Assuming Washington plans on filling one of its gaping holes at the forward positions, Porter and Anthony Bennett will be the team's top options.
If the Wizards want to play it safe, they'll go with Porter. If they're looking for a higher-risk, higher-reward prospect, they'll go with Bennett.
But without Bennett able to work out (shoulder surgery), I'm giving Porter the edge right now.
If Cleveland and Orlando both pass on Noel, my guess is that the Wizards would follow suit.
There is a lot of negative buzz surrounding Nerlens Noel right now.
Rumors continue to fly, via Andy Katz of ESPN.com, about Cleveland getting calls for the pick, but for some reason, I get the feeling it's not for Noel.
After originally only scheduling meetings with Cleveland and Orlando, Noel will now make the trip to Washington and possibly Charlotte. Per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, it looks like Noel might have to accept the possibility that he won't go No. 1.
Washington appears to be in the market for a wing or a forward with Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett the top targets.
I'm not sure Charlotte passes if Noel slips to it at No. 4. This could all change on the fly, but right now, the feeling is Noel will not be locked in at the top spot after all.
Alex Len appears to be gaining steam without even stepping on the floor. He's unable to work out after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured left ankle, but he's allowing his long-term upside to do some of the talking for him.
It also helps that nobody has stepped up to the plate in Len's absence. No other prospects have really established themselves as can't-miss, which has kept the top five available for Len based on process of elimination.
You can't really go wrong with a 7'1'' athlete, and if his 23-point, 12-rebound game against Nerlens Noel showed us anything, it's that Len can score when he has the motivation.
He'll get looks from everyone on the board based on his size and ceiling.
It's looking more and more like Trey Burke will be available for the Pelicans at No. 6, and I don't think they can afford to pass. Simply put, Burke has the floor-general qualities to lead a young group into a new era.
Though Greivis Vasquez currently mans the point guard spot for New Orleans, he has the skill set to slide alongside Burke at the 2, allowing the team to finally ship out Eric Gordon.
With the Magic weary of Burke's upside, this would be an excellent value selection for New Orleans, getting a guaranteed contributor and potential long-term starting point guard.
Anthony Bennett will have to hope that his highlights and game film will be enough, as his shoulder injury is preventing him from working out for teams.
If Bennett does find a position, he has the chance at being an offensive riddle for defenses to solve. He enters the draft as one of the few prospects with potential star power based on his versatile skill set and explosiveness.
He should get strong looks from everyone on the board early, starting with Washington at No. 3, but will likely slip a few spots. Given Alex Len's position and potential at the next level, I'm going to say Bennett will fall to No. 7.
An Anthony Bennett-DeMarcus Cousins frontcourt would be very interesting to say the least.
At No. 8 overall, Michael Carter-Williams might not only be the best prospect left, but he would also give the Pistons a true point guard they don't have on the roster.
Brandon Knight has been more effective playing off the ball as a 2-guard. With Knight as a scorer and Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe inside, Carter-Williams could provide the lineup with better overall balance.
C.J. McCollum will also be an option here, but I don't love the idea of adding another combo guard to the rotation.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had his workout with Minnesota and seems like a perfect fit for what the Timberwolves are looking to add.
He is a dynamic athlete who can light it up from distance, and doesn't need the dribble to stay effective, which would complement Ricky Rubio as a drive-and-dish target.
Caldwell-Pope is one of the better two-way prospects in the field and should carve out a career as a successful shooter, slasher and defender.
C.J. McCollum worked out individually in Portland on Monday with owner Paul Allen and the entire front office watching, according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.
The Blazers will be looking at McCollum as a sixth man, which is a big need considering Meyers Leonard led their bench in scoring at 5.5 points per game last year. He's the type of guy who can come in and put points on the board and backup Damian Lillard as a secondary ball-handler.
If he's there at No. 10, I can't see Portland passing.
Based on needs and interests, I've had Cody Zeller to Philadelphia since the lottery played out.
If Zeller does fall to No. 11, he could end up being the value pick of Round 1. With extra space at the pro level, Zeller should be even more effective with the ball in his hands.
True 7-footers with elite athleticism and advanced skill sets just don't come along very often. He might not be a double-digit rebounder, but he's an ideal pick for a team looking for an offensive upgrade up front.
Steven Adams would be a great fit for Oklahoma City, a team in need of a frontcourt upgrade.
The Thunder are unlikely to find a prospect capable of contributing to a 2014 title run, but they have the luxury of developing a guy like Adams, who is still years away from getting minutes as a regular rotation player.
He's a top-flight athlete with a monstrous 7'4.5'' wingspan and possesses all the tools needed to be a starting NBA center. Adams is more likely to produce results by his second contract in the league, which would be right in the prime of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook's careers.
Lucas Nogueira did what he had to do at this year's Adidas Eurocamp. He showed up for one day, dominated and then shut it down.
He's an exceptional athlete for a center, with the ability to protect the rim and finish above it. The Nerlens Noel comparisons are inevitable based on their similar physical tools.
He's been on NBA radars for the past two years, even entering the draft in 2011 before withdrawing.
The Mavericks have made it known that they're uninterested in taking on salary in an attempt to increase their flexibility on the free-agent market.
With Dario Saric looking like he will be withdrawing from this year's draft, Nogueira could take his spot as Dallas' draft-and-stash prospect.
According to Mike Sorensen of Deseret News, Shane Larkin turned heads at a workout in Utah last week, making him a strong candidate for Utah at No. 14 overall.
The Jazz desperately need a new point guard, particularly one with some life in his legs. Larkin tested as the top athlete at the combine and has been one of the beneficiaries of the whole pre-draft process.
Though undersized, Larkin ran the pick-and-roll as well as any college point guard and demonstrated leadership qualities coaches gravitate toward.
A few weeks ago, Larkin seemed like a target for Utah at No. 21, but I don't think the Jazz will take the chance of waiting anymore.
Though Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn't at this year's Adidas Eurocamp, he played with the Under-20 Greek national team not too far from the site in Treviso.
Dozens of NBA scouts and coaches made the drive over to see Antetokounmpo, who played a couple of games against competition much tougher than Greece's second division, which is what he's used to.
It's pretty clear that Antetokounmpo's ceiling is unique, given that he's a 6'9'' ball-handler with incredibly long arms. A team looking to make a splash could take a chance on his long-term upside and gamble on him in the first round.
I'd imagine the Celtics were looking for Steven Adams here, but chances are his stock has risen too high.
Shabazz Muhammad makes sense at No. 16 in terms of need and fit with Boston. At this point in the draft, the potential reward is worth the risk. There's no question the guy knows how to score. Despite hearing criticism all year, he still put up 18 points per game as a freshman.
The question is whether he can get those points within the flow of an NBA offense. Considering Paul Pierce's future in Boston is bleak, Muhammad could be a guy the C's look to develop early with rookie minutes.
According to ESPN insider Chad Ford (subscription required), Dennis Schroeder has been struggling in workouts. I'm not sure that means anything, but it might if those struggles occurred in Milwaukee or Utah.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo's big weekend in Italy, he might have leapfrogged Schroeder on a number of draft boards.
Atlanta only has one point guard on the books for next season in Jeff Teague (club option). Whether the Hawks are looking for a backup or possibly the best player available, Schroeder might be the answer to both.
He's an NBA-caliber player with the quickness, athleticism and talent to run an offense.
With a variety of centers to choose from in this draft, you'd like to think Atlanta will go big with at least one of its two first-round picks.
Kelly Olynyk has been making his workout rounds, showing off his impressive skill set for a legit 7-footer. He doesn't project as a future All-Star, but Olynyk is a talented offensive player who can score in a number of ways.
If the Hawks are looking for a guaranteed contributor to add to their frontcourt, Olynyk is a safe bet in the mid-first round.
Sergey Karasev returned to Russia last week, which inevitably fueled speculation that a promise has been made that he will be a first-round pick. Whether it has or hasn't been, moves like this usually drive up interest and attention toward a prospect.
Karasev has been a hot name over the past few months after an incredible year overseas and a strong week at the Nike Hoop Summit.
He's a high-IQ, mistake-free type of wing with an accurate three-ball and good passing skills.
For Cleveland, he would complement Kyrie Irving nicely as a reliable shot-maker.
Though the immediate need is at shooting guard, Chicago seems unlikely to target a scorer over a defensive-minded big man.
Gorgui Dieng is a guy who can come in right away for the Bulls and provide depth and toughness up front. Joakim Noah has taken a beating over the past few years, and Nazr Mohammed isn't an Eastern Conference Finals-worthy backup.
Dieng's strengths as a rim-protector and rebounder play to the identity of the Bulls.
Rudy Gobert got food poisoning and missed out on a chance to boost his stock at Adidas Eurocamp.
His draft status remains fairly steady from a week-to-week basis. Teams are intrigued with his upside but worry the wait for his development won't be worth the hassle.
It's hard to ignore his 7'2'' size and 7'8.5'' wingspan if you're looking for some added rim protection. His physical tools alone could be useful, whether he develops as a ballplayer or not.
For a team in jeopardy of losing its top-two frontcourt players, Gobert makes sense at No. 21.
The Nets will have a ton of possibilities, and at No. 22, there's bound to be one prospect available that they didn't anticipate being there.
My guess right now is Mason Plumlee, who's stuck in a tier with a bunch of other centers that seem to be generating a little more attention. That might have to do with the fact that we've seen Plumlee for four years now and already know what he is.
Still, Plumlee would add something to Brooklyn's rotation that it doesn't currently have. After Cody Zeller, Plumlee is the most athletic, coordinated center in the field. He can get you easy buckets all day by catching lobs above the rim.
The Nets lack depth up front and could use Plumlee's physical tools in both the half court and in transition.
Tim Hardaway Jr. makes a lot of sense for Indiana here, a team that could use another scorer and shot-maker in the lineup.
As a 2-guard, his lethal touch on the perimeter would complement Lance Stephenson's defense and tenacity on the glass. Hardaway recorded the top score at the combine during three-point drills and will look to fill a hole in a rotation that lacks offensive weapons.
With his ability to play off the ball, Hardaway could end up filling Danny Granger's shoes without disrupting the offensive flow.
The Knicks recently worked out Tony Mitchell, arguably the most dynamic pound-for-pound athlete this draft has to offer.
At 6'9'', he has a 38-inch max vertical to go with an incredible 7'2.5'' wingspan. He'll immediately enter the NBA as one of the league's most explosive frontcourt players, and considering New York's only true power forward on the roster is Amar'e Stoudemire, Mitchell fills a need.
Though the Knicks will likely be looking for some backcourt help, there will be plenty of options in Round 2 if they choose to purchase a pick.
Mitchell still has some kinks to work out offensively, but he's a big-time shot-blocker, rebounder and above-the-rim presence.
Considering he was projected as a top-10 pick to start the year, Mitchell offers value at No. 24 overall.
Allen Crabbe hurt his foot in a workout earlier in the week with Brooklyn, and his future workout schedule is up in the air.
However, his name has been hot over the past month after turning heads at the NBA combine, and his stock has already elevated.
As far as shooting guards go, Crabbe is tough to pass on given his size and scoring ability. He would be a nice half-court option for the Clippers to work into their offensive sets, as he is a phenomenal catch-and-shoot weapon, and makes good cuts off the ball as well.
Jamaal Franklin is back working out after being limited by an ankle injury just before the combine.
He's one of the more versatile prospects in the pool, as the only player in college to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
I wouldn't bank on Franklin being here this late, but the Timberwolves won't let him slide past them at No. 26.
Reggie Bullock has been auditioning for teams as a three-point specialist with defensive tools.
He shot it over 43 percent from downtown as a junior, demonstrating one of the quicker catch-and-releases you'll find. His role at the next level will be to spread the floor, knock down open shots and defend opposing scorers.
With Danilo Gallinari expected to miss a good chunk of next year, Bullock could help replace his long-range stroke in the lineup. And if the 2013 NBA playoffs have taught us anything, it's the value of a reliable three-point stroke.
Tony Snell's stock has been up since the combine, and two NBA executives told Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears that he will be selected in the first round.
I've had Snell in the first round for the past few weeks now, so this shouldn't be that much of a shock. Snell's massive wingspan, athleticism and promising three-point stroke have captivated scouts and coaches who missed out during the year.
Kawhi Leonard could use a backup, and Snell fits the bill as a two-way wing.
Of the point guards remaining, the only one I'd feel comfortable handing a guaranteed contract to would be Isaiah Canaan. He oozes confidence and maturity the way Damian Lillard did out of Weber State.
Oklahoma City might be more comfortable using Reggie Jackson as a scoring combo guard than a backup point guard, and Canaan's lights-out three-point stroke and on-court discipline would be a welcomed addition to a playoff team's bench.
Canaan's stock has been on the rise after a strong combine and some praiseworthy workouts.
Ricardo Ledo has been working out like a mad man—and for good reason. He was ruled ineligible as a freshman, so teams really haven't gotten the chance to see him in live action.
Per Kevin McNamara of The Providence Journal, Ledo recently worked out for Phoenix, a team in desperate need of an offensive weapon. As a high school standout, Ledo was considered one of the top scorers in the country, and at 6'6'' with NBA-level athleticism, there's no reason his skills can't translate.
He's a high-risk, high-reward option, but at No. 30, the gamble is worth it.