Teams in need of point guards are in luck this year. The 2013 NBA draft class has a good number of lead guards who can help teams.
Not all of them are starting-caliber players, but the vast majority could at the very least be plugged into a coach's rotation. Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams is one of those players.
There are prospects at each position who can help teams from day one, but the point guards are the strongest group.
For rookies to help a team, they must have definite skill sets that correspond with their teams' areas of need. This mock draft will cover each pick, but it will spotlight players whose primary skills matches up perfectly with their potential suitors' needs.
Each spotlighted pick will feature an image and a video that breaks down the player's pro comparison or how he could help an NBA team. These selections will also appear in italics.
(All height, weight, age and wingspan references are per Draft Express.)
(NBA stats per Basketball Reference)
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel (C, Kentucky)
The Cavs could go in several directions with the top pick, but taking Nerlens Noel is probably the safest. As a rim protector and athletic defensive presence, Noel could help to improve the Cavs' 25th-ranked defense.
The team will have to wait for his surgically repaired knee to completely heel, but once he's right, he will be an asset.
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore (SG, Kansas)
The Magic were 25th in the NBA in scoring, 29th in three-point shooting and close to the bottom in overall excitement. Selecting Ben McLemore could improve the Magic in all of those areas.
McLemore made 42 percent of his three-point shots, and his beautiful shooting form makes his transition to NBA sharpshooter almost a given. He also has great athleticism that could make him a fixture on nightly highlight shows.
While McLemore will definitely be one of the best rookies of the upcoming NBA season, he won't turn the Magic into a playoff team.
That's another plus, as the team won't want to miss out on a chance to select one of the top players from the 2014 draft class. Next year's crop of rookies figures to be packed with potential franchise players.
Orlando will have to remain in the lottery to have a shot at the cream of next year's crop.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter (SF, Georgetown)
Every team needs a glue guy. A young team like the Wizards need a player like Otto Porter even more than most. Porter does almost everything well, but he's not spectacular at any one thing.
His versatility as a passer and defender could take pressure off of John Wall and Bradley Beal. His ability to make shots from distance (42-percent three-point shooter in 2012-13) would aid the Wizards in their quest to return to the playoffs.
His presence on the court would help to spread the floor for Wall. With Beal and Porter, Wall would have two wing players who could make defenders pay for leaving their assignments.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Bennett (SF/PF, UNLV)
The Bobcats weren't very good at anything during the 2012-13 season. They were 27th in scoring and rebounding and 29th in points allowed.
It is pretty hard to win when that is the case. With so much room for improvement, the team has to take the player it believes will make the biggest impact overall.
That would probably be UNLV's Bennett. He is a little undersized for power forward, at 6'7", but his ability to score and rebound should help to improve some of the team's weak areas.
5. Phoenix Suns: C.J. McCollum (PG/SG, Lehigh)
Phoenix needs a dynamic scorer, and McCollum can be just that. The Suns were 21st in the NBA in scoring last season. Goran Dragic had a good season for a very bad team. He led the team in scoring with an average of 14.7 points per game, but the Suns have to reach higher.
McCollum has the potential to be a very good scoring point guard whose playmaking skills will only get better. Before his injury in his senior season, he was averaging 23.9 points per game. He never averaged fewer than 19 points in his college career.
He hails from Lehigh, so he has something to prove to critics who may doubt his level of competition at a small school.
That sounds a lot like Golden State's Stephen Curry and Portland's Damien Lillard. With the Suns seeing those players shine, they would be smart to take a chance on McCollum.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke (G, Michigan)
Greivis Vasquez was third in the NBA in assists per game, but no one should look at him as more than a stellar backup point guard.
He doesn't have the "it" factor that the lead guard of a good team should have. He's not going to break his man down off the dribble, and he's not a dual-threat offensive player.
Trey Burke has the ability to set his teammates up, but he can also get in the lane, draw fouls and make opponents pay from three-point range.
If the Pelicans want to take things to the next level, they need an upgrade at point guard. If Burke is available, he's the right pick for the Pelicans.
7. Sacramento Kings: Victor Oladipo (G, Indiana)
The Kings must think as much about their chemistry moving forward as they do their talent. The roster is sprinkled with talented players such as DeMarcus Cousins and restricted free agent Tyreke Evans, but things haven't come together for them.
The next step—especially with the team under new ownership—is to draft players who improve chemistry and the talent base.
Oladipo's world-class athleticism and background from Indiana could make him the type of player who can help turn the organization around.
8. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad (G-F, UCLA)
Detroit is in need of an offensive identity. Being known as the team with 400 combo guards that is ranked 22nd in the NBA in scoring hasn't been fruitful.
The team already has two young, talented and athletic bigs in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Now the Pistons need a wing player who will take and make shots.
Muhammad's qualities have been downplayed and his weaknesses magnified during the pre-draft process. He isn't a great ball-handler or a player who excels at breaking his man down off the dribble.
However, he has the frame and work ethic to be a solid post-up option against 2-guards and some small forwards. He gets to the free throw line (5.6 attempts per game), and he is a solid spot-up shooter from three-point range.
That is the makeup of a player who can help improve the Pistons offense.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Alex Len (C, Maryland)
The Wolves may lose Nikola Pekovic to free agency, so targeting a center in the draft would make sense. Still, Len is the one player seemingly locked into the lottery that makes me the most nervous.
He has great length, above-average athleticism for a big man and the potential to extend his shooting range out to about 17 feet. But he also showed the tendency to disappear in games during the season at Maryland, and he's coming off an ankle injury.
Young big men with lower-body injuries are risky propositions.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, Georgia)
Put the Blazers at the top of the list of teams desperately in need of an inside presence on defense. As good as LaMarcus Aldridge is offensively, the Blazers' rankings in defensive rebounds, points per game allowed and blocked shots prove he isn't having much of an impact on defense. Portland ranks 14th, 21st and 23rd, respectively, in those categories.
Players like Gorgui Dieng or Jeff Withey would probably make the biggest impact, but each would be a stretch at No. 10. Trading down would be their best bet, but ff the Blazers keep the pick, they would be better off targeting another need. The team was also ranked 26th in the NBA in three-point shooting.
Adding a three-and-D (three-point specialist and solid defender) player like Caldwell-Pope would address a secondary need,
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller (F/C, Indiana)
The 76ers are at their best in transition. I'm sure the team would like to get better in the half court, but there aren't any players available at this stage of the first round who could significantly improve the team in that area.
Zeller, however, is one of the most athletic bigs in the draft. He would be a good fit with the 76ers' current roster.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Kelly Olynyk (C/PF, Gonzaga)
Even when Russell Westbrook returns, the Thunder could use a big who can really make teams pay in the pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop scenario.
Olynyk has the big body and skill set to be effective in that role. He'd be a solid addition and role player on a team that already has its two stars in place.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Steven Adams (C Pittsburgh)
Tim MacMahon and Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported the Mavs are likely to deal this pick to clear space for Dwight Howard. So it seems like a prime spot for a team to trade up and grab a player it thinks highly of.
Adams' size (6'11"), athleticism and desire to improve make him worth the gamble. I doubt strongly the Mavs would look to keep him, but there are a few teams that will be interested in bringing him in.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams (G, Syracuse)
With just one point guard on the roster, the Jazz have to make the position a top priority. MCW's size (6'5") athleticism (41" vertical) and playmaking ability (7.3 assists per game) are rarities for point guards.
Even though he has struggled mightily with his outside shot (29 percent from three in 2012-13), he has tremendous upside. The jump shot is the easiest skill to develop for a player.
If MCW can become as consistent as Jason Kidd did with his once porous outside shot (27 percent as a rookie to 42 percent in 2009-10), he could become an All-Star.
He can be as good as he wants to be.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Dennis Schroeder (PG, Germany)
Schroeder's combination of speed and length have some comparing him to Rajon Rondo, but he has more potential to score. Schroeder himself even admitted he models his game after Boston's star.
The Bucks backcourt could look entirely different next season, and it wouldn't shock me if Schroeder is the future in Milwaukee. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are both free agents and could bolt.
If that happens, Schroeder could be given the keys in Milwaukee from day one.
16. Boston Celtics: Shane Larkin (PG, Miami)
Finally trading Rajon Rondo is an option for the Celtics, but even if they don't, taking a player like Larkin as his backup has some value.
Avery Bradley is a scrappy defender, but he doesn't offer the scoring potential or playmaking ability that Larkin does. Bringing in a young and athletic point guard would either supply major depth at the lead guard position or make it even easier to move Rondo.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin (SG/SF, San Diego State)
Franklin's motor and athleticism are exceptional. He pulled down 9.5 rebounds per game as a wing player with San Diego State. He's also a better-than-average defender and ball-handler.
The Hawks need an infusion of players who play with a sense of urgency. Franklin plays every game like he's vying for the final spot on his high-school basketball team.
Atlanta needs that type of energy.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets) Giannis Antetokounmpo (SF, Greece)
With back-to-back picks in the first round, the Hawks are the type of team that can afford to take a chance on a high-risk, high-reward player like Antetokounmpo.
The 6'9" 19-year-old with the massive hands, huge wingspan and impressive ball-handling skills could be a boom or bust. But with two first-round picks, he's worth a gamble for Atlanta.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Reggie Bullock (SF/SG, North Carolina)
The Cavs need shooters to spread the floor for Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters' penetration. Bullock is one of the best three-point shooters in the draft.
At 6'7", Bullock made 43 percent of his threes with North Carolina in 2012-13 season. He's also proven himself to be a solid finisher in transition and a tough on-ball defender.
Taking Bullock here would make the first round very beneficial for the Cavs.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG, Michigan)
The 2013-14 season could be huge for the Chicago Bulls. The core that was the most successful nucleus in the regular season from 2010-2012 should be back at full force. The Miami Heat seem to be weakening because of Dwyane Wade's declining health.
The Bulls could make a serious run at an NBA championship during the 2013-14 season.
Any rookie that joins this mix will have to be confident and professional. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a player with an obvious NBA pedigree from his dad, who happens to be a native Chicagoan.
Hardaway Jr. is also a solid three-point shooter (35.8 percent), which is something the Bulls desperately need. This could be a slight reach, but it is a solid fit.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Mason Plumlee (F/C, Duke)
Because both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are free agents, the Jazz need to add depth in the frontcourt. They already have Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter to build around, so adding Plumlee would give the team a solid rotation of young, athletic big men.
Utah could quickly become one of the more athletic teams in the league.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Tony Snell (SF, New Mexico)
Brooklyn needs to add shooters to bring balance to their attack. Teams are able to pack the middle—as the Chicago Bulls did in the first round of the NBA playoffs—to take away Brook Lopez and Deron Williams' room to operate.
Joe Johnson is still a capable perimeter scorer, but a dependable spot-up shooter at the small-forward position would be a help to the team.
Snell has an NBA body at 6'7" and 220 pounds, and he can shoot it from deep. He made 39 percent of his threes last season for New Mexico.
23. Indiana Pacers: Sergey Karasev (SF, Russia)
Indiana isn't a great three-point-shooting team; they were 22nd in the NBA in three-point percentage. More outside shooters would make their bruising inside attack more formidable.
As spot-up shooters in this year's NBA draft class go, Karasev is one of the best. In 11 Eurocup games, the 19-year-old lefty made 49 percent of his threes.
He could be an invalubale weapon off the bench for the Pacers, possibly even a starter if the team parts ways with Danny Granger.
24. New York Knicks: Gorgui Dieng (C, Louisville)
The average age of the Knicks' big men in 2012-13 was 36.6. Adding youth to the pivot positions is important for next season and beyond.
Dieng was the figurehead and backbone of the Louisville Cardinals defense. His rim protection and defensive rebounding were key to the team's championship run.
The Knicks probably wouldn't need him to start, but Dieng would offer the team quality play in the middle off the bench.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Jeff Withey (C, Kansas)
The Clippers also need depth in the middle, but they could stand to add some toughness as well. Withey has legit center size and great timing as a shot-blocker.
He understands how to play vertical on defense without fouling. This is something DeAndre Jordan hasn't quite figured out just yet. Withey's experience at Kansas and solid basketball IQ could be assets to the Clippers as a rookie.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: Allen Crabbe (G, California)
Crabbe has tremendous range (35-percent three-point shooter), and he's very active off the ball. He can be a tough cover because he runs off screens to find his shot so well.
If he were given the opportunity to play with Ricky Rubio, he could really blossom into a three-point bomber. The Wolves were the league's worst-shooting team from three-point range during the 2012-13 season.
Adding a player like Crabbe could directly address this weakness.
27. Denver Nuggets: Ricky Ledo (SG, Providence)
The talent and upside is there for Ledo, but he needs time to hone his skills. He spent his freshman season enrolled at Villanova, but he never played a single second for the school. The Nuggets are a deep team, with scores of guys who can put up points, but they could lose Andre Iguodala via free agency.
Although Ledo wouldn't be ready to pick up Iggy's slack as a rookie, the Nuggets could still add him as insurance down the road.
This late in the first round is when teams are advised to take chances on players like this.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Nogueira (C/PF, Brazil)
Joining countryman Tiago Splitter and learning from Tim Duncan for at least a year would be ideal for Nogueira.
He's long, athletic and terribly thin, but with a little bulk, he could help to give the Spurs a very solid Brazilian connection in the frontcourt down the road. Adding youth, size and athleticism could help to cushion the Spurs' inevitable decline.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Rudy Gobert (C, France)
At some point between now and the summer of 2015, it seems probable that the Thunder will part ways with Kendrick Perkins. When that happens, the team could have a huge hole in the middle.
Sege Ibaka is a natural power forward, and Hasheem Thabeet is well...Hasheem Thabeet. While Gobert may not turn out to be much better than Thabeet, his 7'2" height and 7'9" wingspan are tough to ignore.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Tony Mitchell (SF/PF, North Texas)
Mitchell could be a steal for the team that drafts him. He had a tough junior season at North Texas, but before the season began, he was thought to be a potential lottery selection.
His strength and athleticism make him an explosive finisher, potentially elite defender and terrific rebounder.
The Suns should be looking for the best player available here. In this scenario, it would definitely be Mitchell.
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