The 2013 NBA draft is just over a week away, but the big boards around the league continue to see consistent change—even at the very top of the class.
With new reports out that the Cleveland Cavaliers are considering Alex Len over Nerlens Noel and with lottery-lock Dario Saric electing to withdraw his name from consideration, this latest look at the first round looks much different than most.
Let’s take a peak at my latest mock with an eye towards teams that are desperate for a star and are willing to roll the dice in order to get one.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
According to a tweet from ESPN's Andy Katz, the Cavs are hosting Len and Noel this weekend , and it seems that their draft decision will come down to this visit.
Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune tweeted that the organization is leaning towards pulling the trigger on Len at No. 1 overall, which would completely shock the world.
GM Chris Grant has a track record of taking players earlier than expected and hitting home runs, as he has with Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. Len could be yet another one of these hidden gems due to his 7’1” frame and solid scoring touch.
While his ceiling may be lower than Noel’s in terms of shot-blocking and raw athleticism, he may develop into the best low-post scorer in this draft and possibly the entire league in short time.
It’s an interesting and certainly debatable call, but Len may just be a great fit in Cleveland.
2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The Magic need a point guard, so why not take the best available one in this draft—even if he’s not the best “value” selection at No. 2.
Burke is a gifted player that is not only a great scorer and top-notch facilitator but also a proven winner that carried his young Michigan team to the national title game this year with clutch shots and highlight plays.
He may not have the prototypical height or athleticism that scouts are looking for in a modern point guard, but he could be a floor general for this up-and-coming Orlando unit that just has to replace Jameer Nelson for a new-look starting-five and finally put the Dwight Howard-era in the past.
Don’t be surprised if the Magic end up making this decision on draft day, as the Wolverines star is clearly the player that they are missing.
3. Washington Wizards: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
The Wizards would be the true winners of the draft lottery if they can score Noel here, as they not only moved up five spots from where they were projected but also get someone who was once an almost-consensus top pick.
Otto Porter should also be in consideration here, but it would be downright impossible for this club to pass up on such an intriguing young big man that has arguably the highest upside in this class.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
The Bobcats have needs all over the court, but Oladipo’s work ethic and defensive-mindset should be what separates him from the rest of the pack.
This Hoosiers product has a motor that doesn’t quit ,and he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to make an impact. He would be the perfect for a team that is in dire need of an attitude adjustment.
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
McLemore is an absolute steal for the Suns here, as this group needs a dynamic perimeter option that could one day shoulder the scoring load.
There’s plenty of potential within the Jayhawks star, although he has to become more consistent and must stay motivated in order to realize it.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
The Pelicans are not only getting the swingman they desire here at No. 6, but they are also nabbing him at a bargain price.
Porter could have gone as high as No. 3, but instead, he falls to a team that would love to install him between to Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon at the 3.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF/SF, UNLV
Speaking of value, the Kings are getting a tremendous one in Bennett at No. 7.
The versatile forward has the strength and raw power to play in the paint as a 4, and he is also quick and athletic enough to play out on the perimeter as a 3.
Given the sweeping changes to this roster that are expected in the near future, the Rebels product should always find a way to get on the court.
8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
If Carter-Williams is available here, the Pistons have to consider him. Brandon Knight projects better as an off-guard than a lead ball-handler, which is a big reason why the franchise should make this selection.
MCW may be lacking a jumper, but his facilitating is second-to-none and should have this Motor City offense humming.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
The T-Wolves biggest need in this draft is at the 2, which is why they would be foolish not to select KCP at No. 9.
In just a few years, the Georgia star could be one of the best players at his position in the league. He’s able to bomb away from beyond the arc, create his own shot anywhere else on the court, defend his position, pass well and much more.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh
Damian Lillard has locked up the point guard role in Portland for the foreseeable future, which would make McCollum an interesting selection here at No. 10.
While the Lehigh star may be a bit undersized for the 2, he has infinite range and has had no problem scoring on anyone during his collegiate career. If the Blazers don’t go in this direction, they will likely look to trade this pick and bring in a more established veteran.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana
The Sixers need to bolster their frontcourt if they are going to get back to the playoffs next season, which is why an NBA-ready talent like Zeller makes the most sense.
He can run the floor and finish at the rim, which should see him logging major minutes right off the bat.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
The Thunder have the luxury of developing a prospect and being able to take a risk on a high-upside project.
With that in mind, they should give serious consideration to Adams, a gigantic pivot that needs to put in a lot of work on the offensive end but one who has the size and upside to become a starting center in the NBA.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece
The Mavs looked like favorites to nab Saric before he withdrew his name from the draft, so they’ll now go for another foreign prospect that they can stash away overseas.
Antetokounmpo is the international man of mystery in this class, showing incredible promise and having an absurdly high ceiling due to his immense length, huge hands, great vision, decent ball handling and more.
Another reason why the “Greek Freak” makes sense for Dallas is that the franchise is in the hunt for a marquee free agent this summer. Owner Mark Cuban will need all the cap room he can get in order to insure he has the space to dole out a big contract.
If both the Mavs and Antetokounmpo inform the league that he will not be joining the team in 2013-14, his contract will not impact the club’s salary. That allows him to further develop and eventually come over to American soil when he’s ready to become a bona fide star, and it ensures that the Mavs will have a few more bucks to spend this offseason.
14. Utah Jazz: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
It’s no secret that the Jazz need a point guard to get their young bigs the ball in scoring position, which is why they’ll take Larkin in this scenario.
He’s an incredible athlete with immense speed and the ability to ignite the break, and he could bring some much-needed excitement to Salt Lake City.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Olynyk can stretch the defense with his jumper and open things up for the prolific guards in Milwaukee.
He’s not much of an athlete or defender, but his range alone makes him a huge asset for the Bucks.
16. Boston Celtics: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Paul Pierce isn’t going to play forever and it seems that a rebuilding phase is set to begin in Boston, opening the door for a young star like Muhammad to come in shoulder the scoring load.
The UCLA product may not have huge upside in other departments, but the lefty can simply put the ball through the bottom of the net and make an impact on the scoreboard.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke
Plumlee will provide a blue-collar mentality to a team that is in between rebuilding and contending.
Whichever direction Atlanta ends up going, he will be able to provide his club with rebounding, defense, athleticism and hustle.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
The Hawks need to land a high-upside prospect that can eventually become a star.
Franklin has all the markings of one, with the notable exception of a jump shot. If he can develop one, he could far exceed expectations for his draft position.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Karasev is a sniper that can easily make threes and stretch the D.
Don’t be shocked when the Cavs trade out of this selection, as they have far too many young prospects and picks in this draft.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway, Jr., SG, Michigan
With Derrick Rose returning, the Bulls should put a lengthy three-point shooter next to him at the off-guard.
Hardaway, Jr. is NBA-ready with incredible distance on his jumper and a 6’6” frame that he can use to guard the top guards in the league.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Withey will make a good backup big man in the likely event that Al Jefferson and/or Paul Millsap depart in free agency.
While he’s offensively inept, the seven-footer can block shots, protect the rim and defend his position—something that should enable him to earn an easy 15-to-20 minutes per game.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Dieng would be a solid option behind Brook Lopez, as he can spell the starter while still providing stout interior defense, rebounding and the ability to swat away shots in the paint.
The Cardinals product is an underrated passer as well, which is an asset that could make him quite valuable to a Nets’ second-unit that sometimes struggles to move the ball.
23. Indiana Pacers: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Mitchell will bolster the frontcourt in Indy, helping to take some pressure off of Roy Hibbert and David West to play huge minutes in every contest.
He has the athleticism and skill required to guard any 3 or 4 in the league and could eventually develop into a potent offensive weapon due to his high ceiling.
24. New York Knicks: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Now that Jason Kidd is no longer with this club and is instead coaching in Brooklyn, there is a hole on the Knicks roster at the point guard position.
Schroeder isn’t quite the facilitator or leader that J-Kidd was, but he’s much more of an athlete and a better finisher at the rim.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Nate Wolters, PG/SG, South Dakota State
The Clips seem ready to jettison Eric Bledsoe for a veteran piece, opening the door for a new guard to come in and soak up some minutes.
Wolters is a versatile talent that can play both the 1 and 2, although he’s going to be looking to score during every moment he’s on the court.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Rudy Gobert, C, France
Gobert presents solid value for the T-Wolves here, who could use him as either injury insurance for Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love, or they could stash him overseas until he’s able to contribute.
Either way, it will be might tough for Flip Saunders to pass on a lottery-worthy project at No. 26.
27. Denver Nuggets: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
Abrines may end up being one of the better off-guards in this class, as the young Spaniard can shoot the ball extremely well and is quite athletic.
He’s not ready to play in the NBA yet, but in a few years, watch out for him.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
Ledo is blowing teams away with his workouts, even though he never had an opportunity to play collegiate ball.
The shooting guard is an absolute sniper that can create his own shot and more, making him a suitable risk for a veteran squad that will have to replace Manu Ginobili coming off the bench in the near future.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
The Thunder will take yet another crack at finding a potential replacement for Kendrick Perkins here at No. 29. This time it will be Nogueira, a Brazilian big man.
He’s extremely raw and still doesn’t see the game well, but he could become a superstar if he puts it all together.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League
Rice Jr.’s character issues seem to be in the past, opening the door for him to become the first D-Leaguer picked in the first round of the draft.
He’s a solid shooter, above-average rebounder and decent passer, which should help him get immediate minutes with this downtrodden Phoenix squad.