The future for some NBA teams will be changed forever on June 27.
The NBA draft has rapidly become the best way to rebuild a franchise. You're awful for a couple of years and reap the benefits by picking early in the draft.
Even though this draft class lacks the top-end talent of some past years, there are still more than enough impact players who can be cornerstones for their respective franchises.
Here's a mock for the first round of the 2013 NBA draft, with the players who will be those cornerstones italicized.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Even with young post players like Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller, it’s hard to see the Cleveland Cavaliers taking anybody but Nerlens Noel. Taking Otto Porter here is a reach, and the Cavs don’t need somebody like Ben McLemore, Trey Burke or Victor Oladipo.
Granted, Cleveland is probably open to trading the pick. With the lack of a star player and given Noel’s injury history, teams are going to be wary to meet the Cavs’ asking price.
As such, Noel is the best pick here. It’s not as if the team can’t improve upon the combo of Zeller and Anderson Varejao. Without the pressing need to start him immediately, Cleveland can wait on Noel until he’s fully healed and then bring him back. This is the best move for both parties.
2. Orlando Magic: SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
The Orlando Magic have a lot of flexibility here. You could see them selecting any of the quartet of Anthony Bennett, Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore. McLemore might not be the best player of that group, but he fills a big need.
There should be some questioning as to what McLemore's ceiling is, though. ESPN's Chad Ford noted in his mock draft that the shooting guard has failed to impress teams in his workouts. It follows up what was a disappointing season at Kansas. This guy has the talent, but maybe he's not wired to be a big star in the league. It's that talent that's going to blind the Magic.
3. Washington Wizards: SF Otto Porter, Georgetown
Otto Porter is a good fit for the Cavs, so there’s no surprise Cleveland is looking at him for the No. 1 pick. Washington is also looking heavily at Porter, per CBS Sports' Eye on Basketball.
His offense could be limited, but there’s no questioning what his potential is on the defensive end. Porter is very long and athletic. He will be able to wreak havoc on opposing scorers at the perimeter. Even if Porter becomes a bit one-dimensional, look at the impact Kawhi Leonard had in the NBA Finals against LeBron James.
Porter is one of the most polished players in this draft. Although his potential isn't through the roof, he's the kind of player who will be a reliable starter for years.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: PF, Anthony Bennett, UNLV
The Charlotte Bobcats don’t really have a reliable player at the 4. You can’t have guys like Byron Mullens and Josh McRoberts as your best options and expect to compete. Anthony Bennett would be a major upgrade. Although he’s only 6’8”, Bennett has good length. He should be able to match up with opposing power forwards on the defensive end, should his defense improve.
5. Phoenix Suns: SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana
There are so many things the Phoenix Suns need to address this offseason. They’re just a mess right now. Selecting Victor Oladipo would be a nice start to help turn the franchise around. There’s very little not to like about Oladipo at this point. He's a very good defender and seems to have a never-ending motor. Oladipo flies everywhere around the court.
The only real worry about Oladipo is that his offensive game won't evolve. He's not a great shooter, nor is he adept at getting to the basket. Both of those should improve the longer Oladipo is in the league. He's going to work his butt off in order to become a better shooter, and his instincts on the court are superb, so Oladipo will learn how to adapt and get into the paint.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: C Alex Len, Maryland
With Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez already calling New Orleans home, the Pelicans have some flexibility with this pick. Considering his skill set, Alex Len would be a sound addition.
Davis is a very good defender. In terms of offense, the jury is still out. He’s not inept, but he doesn’t have the ability to change a game with his scoring like he can his defense and rebounding.
Drafting Len would allow the Pelicans to move Davis to the 4, which will probably be his best position. Len would then become the fixture at the 5. He is a very skilled big man and can score in a variety of ways. The chances of him busting are high, though. Len would still be a very good pick at No. 6.
7. Sacramento Kings: SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
The Sacramento Kings really need a small forward. Shabazz Muhammad was a disappointment at UCLA. He came in with a lot of hype and failed to deliver for the Bruins. Muhammad is far from the finished product and will have to work on a lot when he hits the NBA. Still, he’s a good scorer and should get time to improve, as the Kings don’t look like contenders anytime soon.
8. Detroit Pistons: PG Trey Burke, Michigan
Pity poor Brandon Knight. First he gets crossed over by Kyrie Irving at the Rising Stars Challenge. Then there was “that” dunk by DeAndre Jordan. It’s just been a bad year for him. Knight should be a good backup point guard in the league, but the jury is still out whether he can be a reliable starter. That’s where Trey Burke comes in. He's much more of a pure point guard than Knight. Burke can be the floor general, which allows Knight to be more of a scorer, which suits him much more.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: PG/SG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
Ricky Rubio looks ready to ascend to the starting point for the Minnesota Timberwolves. That leaves the team in need of a 2. C.J. McCollum is the best of both worlds because he can play either point guard or shooting guard. He's a very good player offensive and could play off Rubio well. If McCollum needs to step in at the point, he'll be able to do that for short periods of time.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
Steven Adams is definitely a risk in the lottery. He’s not a great player in the post, which is his biggest negative. Aside from that, Adams is very athletic for a seven-footer. He’s got good footwork and shouldn’t have any problem getting up and down the floor. The Portland Trail Blazers don’t have a skilled big man like Adams right now.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: PF/C Cody Zeller, Indiana
Despite him never playing a game for the team, it’s time to call an end to Andrew Bynum’s time in Philadelphia. The 76ers need to spend their time and money on a younger player who is going to help the team more in the long run. Although his stock has taken a major hit, Cody Zeller is a very skilled big man. He needs to bulk up a bit, which should come as he gets on an NBA strength regimen.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
Oklahoma City should be looking for a big man to replace Kendrick Perkins. With the top options off the board, the Thunder can look to a 2-guard like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. There’s a lot to like about Caldwell-Pope. He’s a good athlete who can defend. His offensive game could use some work. Putting him in OKC is good because he won’t have to be a major contributor immediately.
13. Dallas Mavericks: SF Sergey Karasev, Russia
If the Dallas Mavericks stick with this pick, Sergey Karasev will be their guy. He's a very good offensive player and pretty athletic. The best part of Karasev's game is his shooting. He'll go a long way in the league because of his ability to hit a variety of shots. The only thing Karasev needs to do is add some weight in order to play the 3.
14. Utah Jazz: PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany
Mo Williams has done a good enough job for the Utah Jazz in the present, but it’s time for the organization to start looking for a long-term replacement. Dennis Schroeder has been rising over the last month or so. He’s got the kind of game you look for in a point guard and should have a nice transition when he hits the NBA.
At 19 years old, Schroeder is only headed for bigger and better things. He's pretty advanced for his age, so when you think where he could be, you're looking at a perennial All-Star. The Jazz are a fringe team, so they'll have enough patience with Schroeder early on when he's struggling to adapt to the NBA.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
ESPN’s Mark Stein reported back in May that the Milwaukee Bucks might choose Monta Ellis over Brandon Jennings this offseason:
If that happens, they’ll need to add a point guard. Michael Carter-Williams has seen his stock rise a lot after the NCAA tournament. Teams are going to see his offensive limits, though, as we get closer to the draft. This would be a good fit as MCW could facilitate the other scorers on the floor.
16. Boston Celtics: C Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
The Boston Celtics really need a big man. Kevin Garnett can only play the 5 for so long. Kelly Olynyk was a very efficient scorer and solid rebounder at Gonzaga. Although his ceiling is probably limited, he would be a great fit for Boston.
17. Atlanta Hawks: SG/SF Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
The Atlanta Hawks are in a nice position with back-to-back picks. It’s always nice to have that kind of flexibility that you essentially target two different players. Jamaal Franklin isn’t a great shooter. That’s the only thing really missing from his game. He’s a fantastic athlete who will be able to get to the basket. On defense, Franklin will be a nuisance on the perimeter.
18. Atlanta Hawks: C Rudy Gobert, France
Rudy Gobert is a major work in progress. His game is extremely raw, and he’s yet to develop many offensive moves. Still, the length and height are irresistible. He’s 7’2” and can pretty much dunk without getting off his feet. He'll be a good fit for an Atlanta Hawks team that is in need of a true big man.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: SF Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
If the Cavs don't go with Otto Porter with their first pick, or trade up and take Karasev, Reggie Bullock is a good option at 19. He's a pretty good shooter for a 3 and has good versatility. While not the optimal pick, Bullock would be a good consolation prize.
20. Chicago Bulls: SF Tony Mitchell, North Texas
Tony Mitchell doesn’t fill a huge void for the Chicago Bulls. They’re a pretty good team right now with few real holes. If Mitchell’s on the board, he’d be great value at No. 20. He’s a great athlete who does very little badly. His athleticism will be great on the defensive end when he needs to get out on the perimeter.
21. Utah Jazz: C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
Gorgui Dieng’s offensive game improved a bit last season, but it’s doubtful he’ll become a regular contributor in the NBA, where he will excel is in the paint on defense. Dieng has great length for a big man and knows how to disrupt shots. He should have a very productive career sitting in the paint and protecting the rim.
22. Brooklyn Nets: SF Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece
Gorgui Dieng would be the ideal option here to compliment Brook Lopez. There’s no guarantee he’ll be there. Giannis Adetokunbo is a tremendous athlete. He’s still very raw at this point in his career, but the tools are there. Considering the Brooklyn Nets have been relying on Gerald Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse, Adetokunbo would be a welcome addition.
23. Indiana Pacers: SG Allen Crabbe, California
This pick looks to be between Tim Hardaway Jr. and Allen Crabbe. Hardaway has the pedigree and shooting, but Crabbe has the overall scoring ability. He has been able to evolve his offensive game over the past few years to go just beyond being a good shooter. Crabbe has learned to use his dribble much better, and the Indiana Pacers will have taken notice.
24. New York Knicks: PG Shane Larkin, Miami
The New York Knicks desperately need some youth at point guard. Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni are past their bests, and Jason Kidd is retired. Shane Larkin is a very good floor general. He's able to find his teammates on the floor. Although in New York, Larkin will just need to know where Carmelo Anthony is.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: SG Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
Tim Hardaway Jr. is not just a one-dimensional shooter, but that is definitely his biggest asset. He knows exactly how and where to move in order to create an open shot for himself. Hardaway is the perfect offensive fit for the Los Angeles Clippers, as he can sit on the perimeter and wait until the defense collapses on Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: SF Glen Rice Jr., Georgia Tech
Getting kicked out of Georgia Tech didn’t look like a great career move for Glen Rice Jr. Instead, he’s made it into a possible turning point, moving on to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-League, where’s averaged 13.0 points a game. He would be another nice option on the wing for the Timberwolves.
27. Denver Nuggets: C Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
The Denver Nuggets aren’t in dire need of a big man, so taking Lucas Nogueira makes some sense here. Nogueira is still pretty raw, so the Nuggets can let him play abroad until his game is more adapted to the NBA.
28. San Antonio Spurs: C Jeff Withey, Kansas
Tim Duncan can’t go forever. If Jeff Withey’s there, the San Antonio Spurs should take him. They’re deep enough at other positions that they can start to plan for a future without Duncan. Withey doesn’t have a high ceiling, but you know exactly what you’re getting with him. There’s something to be said for a player who looks to be such a safe pick.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: C Mike Muscala, Bucknell
Mike Muscala's draft stock took a major hit after the NCAA tournament. It's a little unfair to judge him on so little, though. He's not going to become an All-Star, but he's a big man the Thunder could really use right now. Muscala is skilled offensively and a good rebounder; he could easily replace Kendrick Perkins.
30. Phoenix Suns: SG Ricky Ledo, Providence
Ricky Ledo has some off-court concerns after not playing a single game for Providence. He was a highly-regarded player coming out of high school and was a very good scorer. The Suns have some flexibility here as they need to address multiple issues this offseason. Ledo would be a good risk-reward pick here.