The 2013 NBA draft is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable in recent memory.
There is no clear-cut choice for the Cleveland Cavaliers' top overall selection, "virtually every team in the lottery is open to moving their pick this year," according to ESPN's Chad Ford, and with just a few weeks remaining until the draft, no one seems to have a confident grasp on how the picks might play out.
Simply put, there is going to be a slew of shocking moments on June 27.
Still, though, we have a general idea of the direction each team wants to go, and we have an even better idea of what each burgeoning prospect brings to the table. Simply putting two and two together works for many of the picks.
So, even with much uncertainty surrounding the draft, let's take a gander at how the first round might unravel.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky
As we get closer to the draft, everyone seems to become less and less confident as to what direction the Cavs are headed.
Otto Porter, who would fill a need at small forward, and Alex Len, who is being compared to Zydrunas Ilgauskas and would give them a much-needed offensive presence down low, are both seemingly becoming legitimate options.
Nevertheless, I'm sticking with Nerlens Noel.
His impact won't be felt right away. He is recovering from ACL surgery, and even when healthy, he is seen as a project on the offensive end who needs to add bulk to be effective in the NBA.
But few players have the blend of size, athleticism and all-around defensive ability and instincts that Noel possesses.
He represents a slight risk, sure, but not many players in this thin draft don't. Even if he doesn't develop into a truly dangerous offensive threat in the post, he has the look of a future First-Team All Defense mainstay who can thrive in an up-tempo game.
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
If I'm making this pick and I'm intent on taking a shooting guard, I'm taking Victor Oladipo.
But that has more to do with my affection for the Indiana guard—which you'll see in a little bit—rather than there being anything wrong with McLemore.
The former Kansas superstar freshman has the effortless athletic ability of a future dunk-contest champion and the silky-smooth stroke of a future three-point champion.
There are worries about his lack of an alpha dog trait, but his upside as a dominant scorer makes him arguably the most tantalizing prospect in this draft.
For Orlando, which just traded for Arron Afflalo last summer, this is about taking talent over team need, an acceptable strategy when you're rebuilding.
3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV
I think this is going to be the first slight surprise of the draft.
Most are expecting Otto Porter, who has the all-around talent and versatility to deservedly be selected No. 1, but adding someone with Bennett's skill set may be too enticing for Ernie Grunfeld to pass up.
Bennett (6'7", 239 lbs) is a bit of a tweener, but that's not really a bad thing in the NBA anymore. Offensively, he can step outside and knock down the three, put the ball on the deck and finish at the rim with unbelievable power or back down smaller defenders in the post.
The Wizards are already a tremendous defensive team, but Bennett paired with John Wall on the pick-and-pop and in transition will be difficult for teams to stop.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
The Bobcats won't concern themselves with how it happened. They will just make the pick and consider themselves very lucky.
New head coach Steve Clifford will try to instill a defensive mindset into this team, and Otto Porter is just the guy to help make that happen.
The first-team All-American is long (7'2" wingspan) and athletic and has a high basketball-IQ. He's not the type of player who will be a team's go-to option, but he does everything well and will instantly make his new team better.
5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Just like with Charlotte, I think the Suns will be rejoicing that Victor Oladipo fell into their laps.
The former Indiana superstar has everything you look for in a prospect to build your franchise around.
On the court, he has the size, strength, athleticism and endless defensive motor that make an impact on both sides of the game.
Off it, he is a tireless worker with the mentality and positive attitude to only keep getting better.
Simply put, he has a high floor with what I believe is a higher ceiling than most are giving him credit for.
The Suns, a team that needs an injection of energy and excitement into the franchise, would be extremely fortunate to land the ever-entertaining and charismatic Oladipo.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Greivis Vasquez had a breakout year, but he's still inconsistent defensively and recovering from right ankle surgery.
The Pelicans don't necessarily need to take a point guard here, but if Trey Burke, a winner with limitless range and unbelievable playmaking ability, is available, they will find it hard to go with anyone else.
7. Sacramento Kings: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The Kings need a guy like Shabazz Muhammad.
Yes, he has his concerns. He hasn't exactly exhibited the ability to create offense for himself or get others involved, and the "age scandal" raised questions about character.
But he is a warrior with a hard-working attitude and fearless mentality to help change the culture in Sacramento.
8. Detroit Pistons: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh
With Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond forming one of the league's most impressive young frontcourts, the Pistons will assuredly look to the backcourt here.
If they intend on moving Brandon Knight permanently to the 2, Michael Carter-Williams will be on their radar, but C.J. McCollum shouldn't fall past No. 8.
The Lehigh star missed most of the 2012-13 season, but with the ability to beat defenders off the dribble or pull up from deep, he's one of the draft's most dangerous, versatile scorers.
Moreover, being able to play the 1 or 2 should only make him more attractive for the Pistons, although I see him as a 2 in the future.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Alex Len is a bit of a project, but he has some impressive offensive talent and is even getting talk as the No. 1 pick.
As such, this is a value pick for the T-Wolves, who can take the time to develop him off the bench if restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic re-signs as expected.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who fills a bigger need for Minnesota, will also be in consideration.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana
With a mostly set starting lineup, the Blazers could choose to go a number of different ways here. If I were to speculate, I would say this is one of the most likely lottery picks to be traded.
If Neil Olshey, who crushed his first draft as GM last summer, does in fact keep the pick, look for him to go after the best player available.
That's Cody Zeller, who, even though he disappointed in the NCAA tourney, is a tantalizing prospect with a unique, versatile skill set for a big man.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Steven Adams' stock has been skyrocketing ever since an impressive combine.
He is still a bit of a project after averaging just 23.4 minutes per game in his first year at Pittsburgh, but Oklahoma City can afford to use this pick on the future, especially if it's getting an eventual replacement for Kendrick Perkins.
This pick works for both parties involved.
12. Philadelphia 76ers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
If Kentavious Caldwell-Pope falls to No. 12, it won't take the 76ers long to make this selection.
The Sixers are in desperate need of an injection of offense, and Caldwell-Pope, a big, athletic guard with a pretty jump shot, is just the player to give it to them.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Kelly Olynyk may not have the athleticism or explosion of some other big men in this draft, but his speed, ball-handling, agility, shooting, low-post game and versatility make him one of the best offensive frontcourt players in the class.
While the Mavericks could go a number of different ways, Olynyk's unique, efficient game will be difficult to pass on.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Although Michael Carter-Williams' inconsistent shooting and head-scratching decisions tend to make him a polarizing prospect, he has the size and playmaking ability to be a lottery pick.
With Mo Williams hitting free agency, the Jazz will need a point guard.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
With Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and JJ Redick all potentially hitting free agency this summer, the Bucks will have to address their backcourt.
Point guard is the most likely option, and Shane Larkin will get serious consideration here, but Dennis Schroeder has an incredible combination of quickness, length and playmaking ability. There are few players with his kind of ceiling.
16. Boston Celtics: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Gorgui Dieng is an elite rim protector with a constantly improving offensive game, and as such, he will be able to find a role right away at the next level.
The Celtics would do well to grab him here.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
The Hawks will likely need to stockpile frontcourt players with pretty much their entire team hitting free agency in July, and Mason Plumlee is someone who can step in and contribute immediately.
The former Duke star is a spectacular leaper. He won't score much, but he's an experienced player who will bring toughness, crash the glass and do a lot of the little things for his team.
At No. 17, this is a solid, safe pick.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece
And after making that safe pick, the Hawks can afford to get a little more risky with this one.
Drafting Antetokounmpo is basically like drafting a super-skilled high school player. He is playing against a low level of competition in Greece right now, but his skill set—6'9" forward with a 7'3" wingspan who can handle the ball, pass and play defense—is incredibly tantalizing.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
If the Cavaliers take Noel with the No. 1 overall pick, expect them to use this one to address a position of need.
That's small forward.
Sergey Karasev is an intelligent player with a smooth jump shot (just like seemingly every left-handed shooter) and nice ability to make plays off the dribble.
His stock has been rising, and the Cavs will jump at the opportunity to snatch him up.
20. Chicago Bulls: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, the Bulls are in the market for a shooter.
Although Jamaal Franklin probably isn't the best one available, he has been working immensely on his outside game (he hit 28 straight shots in a workout with the New York Knicks, per Ford) and has the defensive ability Tom Thibodeau would welcome.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Rudy Gobert, C, France
Per Ford, Rudy Gobert's stock has been falling. But he's still a 7'2" center with an amazing wingspan and impressive mobility for a player his size. In a league that covets athletic big men more and more, there is little chance Gobert falls much farther than this.
Moreover, the Jazz could be in need of frontcourt depth with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap hitting free agency.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Reggie Bullock, SF, UNC
Note: I originally had Dario Saric here, but it sounds as though he will be withdrawing from the draft.
Reggie Bullock has size, length, a textbook jump shot and a decent ability to get to the hoop. He won't be a starter right away, but he can serve a role as a dynamic scorer off the bench.
For the Nets, who won't have much room on the books to make many additions, that's exactly the type of player they need.
23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
The Pacers could see backup point guard D.J. Augustin leave via free agency this summer. Who other to back him up than an incredibly similar player?
Larkin is undersized (5'11", 171 lbs), but he has confidence, competitiveness, leadership, quickness and athletic ability, and to top it all off, he is a menace on the defensive end.
He is an ideal fit for a hard-nosed Pacers team.
24. New York Knicks: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
It was painful to watch Tony Mitchell at times last season, but his combination of size, athletic gifts and raw talent is enticing.
If he gets the right coaching, he has the talent, at the very least, to be a starter in this league.
He's a major risk, but at No. 24, he's worth it for the Knicks.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Glen Rice Jr., SG/SF, Rio Grande Valley (NBA D League)
There are some concerns surrounding Rice, but this is a big, athletic guard who has deep range, is adept at attacking the hoop and rebounds well for his position.
Moreover, he spent the last season playing better competition than most collegiate players, and in the playoffs, he took his game to an entirely new level.
Rice is one of my favorite players in this draft, and he's a solid fit with the Clippers.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
If the Timberwolves take a frontcourt player with their first pick, they will almost assuredly use this one on a shooting guard.
Tim Hardaway Jr. showed quite a bit of inconsistency at Michigan, but his talent makes him a near lock for a first-round pick.
27. Denver Nuggets: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
It's pretty clear that the Nuggets need a shooter, and they should consider themselves very fortunate if Allen Crabbe drops to them at No. 27.
After shooting 40 percent from deep in his first two years at Cal, Crabbe shot just 35 percent in 2012-13, but rest assured he has one of the best shots in this class.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Lucas Nogueira is a bit of a project, but he is an impressive specimen with the upside to move his way into the first round.
Moreover, it would make sense for the Spurs, an organization notorious for finding international talent, to be the ones to select him.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Erick Green, PG/SG, Virginia Tech
If the Thunder don't re-sign Kevin Martin, they could look to the draft to find an instant-offense type player for their bench.
Erick Green may not be the most rounded player, but he can score from all over the court and get to the line at a high frequency, a la Martin.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Los Angeles Lakers): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Jeff Withey isn't a prospect with an amazing upside or spectacular athleticism, but he's one of the best rim protectors in the draft and he's capable of contributing right away.
You know exactly what you're getting with the former Kansas star, and at the end of the first round, this is great value.
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