NBA Mock Draft 2013: Pinpointing All-Star Players in the First Round
The top priority for teams in the NBA draft is to find players who can develop into productive members for their respective organization. Nothing validates a player's value to their team like being a major part of a championship run, but individually, All-Star selections carry some weight.
Being chosen to play in the mid-season showcase is validation that, for at least one season, the selected player was among the best in the NBA.
There are a handful of players in the 2013 NBA draft who have a good chance at being selected for at least one All-Star game during their career, and there are at least one who could become perennial All-Stars.
This mock draft will focus on players with All-Star potential. Those selections will appear in italics and they will feature an image and a video.
(All height, weight, age and wingspan references per Draft Express)
(NBA stats per Basketball Reference)
(Salary references per Spotrac)
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel (C, Kentucky)
Noel's potential impact as a shot-blocker, rebounder and pure athlete gives him the potential to become an All-Star in the future. He's raw offensively, but he may have the most upside of any big man in the draft.
I still have him penciled in at No. 1, despite recent word that the Cleveland Cavaliers could be considering Maryland center Alex Len with the draft's top selection. Sheridan Hoops' Joe Kotoch even has Len to the Cavs in his latest mock draft.
At this point, it could be posturing to force another team that covets Len to make a deal with Cleveland. For now, I will keep Noel here, but if this talk persists, a change may be in order.
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore (SG, Kansas)
Of all the players in the draft, McLemore has the most potential to be a perennial All-Star. His smooth shooting ability and explosive athleticism makes him one of the draft's most exciting prospects.
As a rookie, I expect McLemore to average around 16 points per game, with the occasional 25-30-point performance mixed in. Depending on how many highlight-reel slams he throws down as a rookie, he could even garner a decent chunk of the All-Star fan vote in his first year.
That said, it will be hard for him to beat out players like Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, Chicago's Derrick Rose, Miami's Dwyane Wade and even Washington's John Wall for a spot on the Eastern Conference squad as a rookie.
Once he's more established, though, his popularity should rise and his game should improve. The biggest key to McLemore reaching his lofty potential is by improving his ball-handling. If he can do that, he could be a career 18-20 point-per-game scorer.
The Magic could look at Len here, but McLemore would make a bigger splash. His game has more appeal, and for a team in need of help at almost every position, that could be the deciding factor.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter (SF, Georgetown)
Porter's do-it-all game is very reminiscent of Memphis Grizzlies forward Tayshaun Prince. He's a better shooter from distance than Prince is, but he could easily be the type of glue-guy that Prince was for years in Detroit.
Yet as valuable as Prince was to the Pistons during his prime, he never made an All-Star game. That said, Porter's versatility is just what the young Wizards need.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len (C, Maryland)
Len is a bit overrated in my opinion, but there is certainly a lot of buzz surrounding him. He has great length at 7'1" and a decent shooting touch, but his penchant to disappear in games at the college level combined with an ankle injury this early in his career is a concern.
Those two issues make Len the player with the highest bust potential in the first round.
Still, Charlotte could use an inside presence on both ends of the floor, and Len's offense could make Bismack Biyombo's deficiency in this area less worrisome.
5. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett (PF/SF, UNLV)
The Suns desperately need a star and a No. 1 option on offense, as point guard Goran Dragic led the team in scoring last season with 14.7 points per game. Bennett's inside-outside game would fit in nicely in Phoenix.
He has the ability to put the ball on the floor, post up and shoot from distance. With that versatility, he has the potential to be a potent scorer in the NBA.
If Bennett lands in Phoenix, he will have a great opportunity to shine early in his career. He could be one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year and may have an outside shot at an All-Star selection.
If he isn't selected as an All-Star as a rookie, he should get the nod at some point in his career.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke (PG, Michigan)
Burke can shoot the ball from deep and create for his teammates. He shot 38 percent from three-point range, averaged 18.6 points and dished out 6.7 assists per game as sophomore last season while leading Michigan to the national title game.
Offensively he can do just about anything a team would ask of him. If Burke does land in the Western Conference, he may have a hard time getting the All-Star nod over L.A. Clippers guard Chris Paul (assuming he stays with the Clippers and within the Western Conference), Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Portland Trailblazers' Damian Lillard, but it is hard to imagine Burke never making an All-Star team in his career.
The Pelicans need a player like Burke running the show for them. His strong offensive game will only augment Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon's effectiveness.
7. Sacramento Kings: Victor Oladipo (G, Indiana)
Oladipo is perhaps the best two-way player in the draft. He has the potential to be a lockdown defender, and if he adds more range to his jump shot, he'll have the perfect complement to his explosive first step on offense.
That said, I still don't see him as the type of player who will become an All-Star. He'll certainly be a valuable starter or rotation player, but making All-Star teams has a lot to do with stats and I'm not sure Oladipo will ever light up the box scores.
He is, however, a great fit for the Kings, a team that desperately needs whose work ethic matches his talent.
8. Detroit Pistons: Shabazz Muhammad (G-F, UCLA)
The Pistons could look at a point guard like C.J. McCollum of Lehigh or Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse here, but Muhammad is the player whose wing-scoring ability would help this team the most.
Detroit already has one of the most talented young frontcourts in the NBA with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. A player like Muhammad, who can simply get buckets, would help to carve the team an identity on offense.
Muhammad has his critics, but the guy can flat-out score. If his ball-handling improves, he could become a 20-plus points per game scorer—but that is a big "if" for him.
As it is, he has great offensive instincts, a nice shooting touch from deep and he gets to the free throw line (5.6 attempts per game at UCLA).
Because of those skills, he has the potential to become an All-Star in the NBA.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, Georgia)
The Timberwolves need athleticism, a defensive presence and outside shooting from the wing positions. KCP projects as a player who can give them a little of each.
He made 37 percent of his threes, nabbed two steals per game and threw down nasty slams like this one at Georgia over another 2013 draft hopeful, Glen Rice, Jr.:
He may not be a future All-Star, but he would be an asset to have in the Wolves' quest to return to the NBA playoffs.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Steven Adams (C, Pittsburgh)
The Blazers really need a defensive-minded center to help improve their defense. LaMarcus Aldridge is a solid offensive force, but the Blazers were 26th in the NBA in blocked shots, 18th in defensive rebounding and 21st in points allowed per game.
Adams has the size at 7'0" and the athleticism to be a factor as a shot-blocker and rebounder. He could help give the Blazers a solid young frontcourt.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller (PF/C, Indiana)
As athletic bigs go, Zeller is perhaps the most gifted one in the 2013 NBA draft. He is a legit seven-footer with good leaping ability and solid foot speed.
The 76ers don't have the type of weapons to succeed consistently in the halfcourt set. They need bigs who can outrun opposing bigs to obtain easy transition buckets. Zeller is that type of player.
If he can develop a consistent 15-foot jump shot, he could maximize his potential as a long, athletic, scoring big man in the mold of Golden State's David Lee.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): C.J. McCollum (PG/SG, Lehigh)
Though he'd never get the opportunity to reach his potential from a numbers standpoint with the Thunder, McCollum definitely has All-Star potential. In college, he never averaged less than 19 points per game in four years.
As a senior he shot 51 percent from three-point range, and his ability to play either guard spot is huge. McCollum is worthy of being selected within the top-five, but with the way things have progressed, it is feasible that he could slip to the Thunder at No. 12.
If that happens, McCollum would offer the Thunder a bit of the ball-handling that Reggie Jackson gives them with the scoring punch they received from Kevin Martin and James Harden.
He could make a serious run at Sixth Man of the Year if he is taken by OKC.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams (PG, Syracuse)
Tim MacMahon and Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported that the Mavs would like to deal this pick to clear cap space for Dwight Howard. If they decide to keep it, selecting Carter-Williams makes the most sense.
MCW's rare size (6'5") and athleticism could be a great asset at the point guard position. He averaged 7.3 assists per game in 2012-13 for Syracuse. The missing link in his game is a dependable outside shot.
If he can improve his 29-percent three-point shooting, he could turn into one of the premier point guards in the NBA in five years.
Dallas has to think about the future, and if they can't acquire D-12 this summer, MCW would be a good player to help start the rebuilding process.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder (PG, Germany)
The Jazz have to take a point guard because they only have Alec Burks under contract at the position for next season.
Schroeder's speed and length reminds some of Rajon Rondo, but the former may actually have more scoring potential.
If Utah does select him here, he should have a great opportunity to play early on, as Burks has yet to prove that he is capable of carrying the load.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Shane Larkin (PG, Miami)
This could be seen as a bit of a reach for Larkin at this point, but the Bucks could be looking at a scenario that sees them lose both Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings in free agency this summer. That would leave the cupboard nearly bare for the team at lead guard.
Larkin proved that he could run a team last season at Miami. He led the Hurricanes to the ACC title while pacing the team in scoring (14.5 points) and assists (4.6). The athleticism he showed at the NBA combine (44" vertical) only augmented his case as a first-round selection.
He may not be the answer for the Bucks, but he would at least keep the team from falling apart at a crucial position.
16. Boston Celtics: Kelly Olynyk (PF/C, Gonzaga)
So much uncertainty is hovering over the Celtics right now. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and head coach Doc Rivers have all been rumored to leave Beantown during the last few weeks, and ESPN's Marc Stein tweeted this on June 15:
There's a rising belief around the NBA that Doc, KG & Pierce all want to carry on as a trio in Clipperland if they can't roll on in Boston— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 15, 2013
While that deal has reportedly been called "dead" by Danny Ainge, per Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe, it still leaves a ton of questions. If the three current faces of the franchise would like to leave, what direction should the Celtics go in the draft?
No matter who leaves or stays, the C's have to take the best player available. In this scenario, that would be Olynyk. His ability to hit the 17-foot jump shot, play with his back to the basket and pass from the high post makes him valuable. He'd also be a good pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop option with Rajon Rondo.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin (SG/SF, San Diego State)
If Franklin had a better jump shot in college, he'd be a lottery pick. Because he's a wing who struggled to make shots from distance (27 percent three-point shooter), some scouts may be unsure of how he will develop.
He is one of the most exciting and hard-working players in the draft, though. He handles the ball well for a swingman and rebounds like a power forward (9.5 rebounds per game last season). If he can develop a better outside shot, he could be the biggest sleeper in this draft class.
As a stat-sheet stuffer with budding offensive potential, he could progress and become an All-Star caliber player. The Hawks may be facing a complete rebuilding process and Franklin would be a solid piece for the team moving forward.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Giannis Antetokounmpo (SF, Greece)
With back-to-back picks in the first round, the Hawks can afford to take a chance on a high-risk, high-reward player like Antetokounmpo.
At 6'9", the 19-year-old from Greece has massive hands, a huge wingspan and impressive ball-handling skills. Because he's still a bit raw, he could be a boom or bust pick. But with two first-round picks, he's worth a gamble for Atlanta.
If they strike gold, he'll be the most talked about player from this draft. If he never pans out, he'll soon be forgotten.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Reggie Bullock (SF/SG, North Carolina)
Bullock's combination of size (6'7"), defensive prowess and three-point marksmanship (43 percent) makes him an ideal "Three-and-D" player.
The Cavs need a player who can spread the floor so that Irving and Dion Waiters can penetrate and dish. Bullock could easily be a weapon on both ends of the floor for the Cavs.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway, Jr. (SG, Michigan)
Chicago is need of shooters in a major way. With Derrick Rose returning to the lineup next season, the Bulls will have their best opportunity at an NBA championship since Michael Jordan retired—the second time.
Hardaway, Jr. is the type of player who could make a living as a spot-up shooter alongside Rose. He's also shown the competitiveness and grit on defense that will endear him to Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Mason Plumlee (PF/C, Duke)
With their point guard needs presumably being addressed with the 14th pick, the Jazz could bolster the depth on their frontcourt with this pick. The team already has Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, but they need more bodies with Al Jefferson and/or Paul Millsap likely leaving via free agency this summer.
Plumlee's length (7'0") and athleticism would be a great fit in an already young and dynamic frontcourt.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Sergey Karasev (SF, Russia)
Brooklyn was ranked just 17th in the NBA in three-point shooting (35 percent) during the regular season. In the playoffs, that number dipped to just 30 percent.
The Bulls packed the paint in the first-round matchup between the two teams this postseason, and the Nets couldn't make them pay from the outside.
If there is one thing Karasev can do, it's shoot the three. In 11 games at Eurocup 2013, the 19-year-old left-hander made 49 percent of his threes. He could instantly improve the spacing and explosive scoring ability of the Nets.
23. Indiana Pacers: Isaiah Canaan (PG, Murray State)
This pick could also be considered a reach, but the Pacers need to find a dependable backup for George Hill. D.J. Augustin is a free agent, and the team could do better than him for much less.
Canaan has good scoring ability and poise. He spent four years at Murray State, and his hard-nosed persona is solid fit for the Pacers' current culture.
24. New York Knicks: Gorgui Dieng (C, Louisville)
The Knicks big men are ancient. They have to address the frontcourt with a player who can at least be a rim protector and rebounder early in his career. The team is still in win-now mode, and the player they select will need to be able to make some impact as a rookie.
Dieng is coming off a national championship with Louisville, where he anchored the defense with the very skills the Knicks should covet.
He could ultimately take over the center role from Tyson Chandler in a few years.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Jeff Withey (C, Kansas)
The Clippers are desperately trying to improve their team to entice Chris Paul to re-sign. Even if Paul decides to jump ship, the Clippers would still have Eric Bledsoe to run the show. He's not Paul, but he'd keep the team from completely falling to pieces at the position.
The one spot the team must address—whether Paul stays or leaves—is center.
DeAndre Jordan is the only legitimate center on the roster. Withey could not only give Jordan a solid backup, but he could even push him for the starting role because of his more disciplined play.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: Allen Crabbe (SG, California)
Crabbe has good range (35 percent three-point shooter), and he's active off the ball like Richard Hamilton in his prime. He can be a tough cover because he runs off screens to find his shot so well.
It remains to be seen if Crabbe will find his niche in the NBA in the way Rip did, but playing with a point guard like Ricky Rubio could help. Crabbe could really blossom into a three-point bomber/slasher with the 'Wolves.
Even though the team has already selected KCP with their first pick in this mock, the 'Wolves were the league's worst-shooting team from three-point range during the 2012-13 season and they could use all the help they can get.
27. Denver Nuggets: Ricky Ledo (SG, Providence)
As expected, Andre Iguodala has decided to opt out of his contract and become a free agent, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. If the Nuggets can't re-sign him, they will have a void at the shooting guard/small forward role Iggy that played for them this season.
Ledo is a rather unknown commodity because he didn't play a single minute at Providence, but video of his workouts would suggest that he handles the ball well and shoots from distance with accuracy.
The Nuggets' offense struggled mightily once Danilo Galinari was injured. If Iggy doesn't return, Ledo could wind up playing a significant role for the team.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Nogueira (C/PF, Brazil)
Tim Duncan is going to walk away at some point. When he does, the Spurs would like to have a solid rotation of bigs who can step in and give the team solid minutes.
Nogueira could join countrymen Tiago Splitter to form an All-Brazilian frontcourt down the road. Nogueira's length and athleticism are his biggest assets, but if he gets the opportunity to work with Duncan for a few years, he could develop a little more of an offensive game.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Rudy Gobert (C, France)
Gobert's length is extraordinary, as he's 7'2" with an otherworldly 7'9" wingspan. He could be a decent rim protector from Day 1, but if he can develop just one dependable offensive move or weapon, he could become a solid starting center.
He's just 20 years old, so he has time to develop. Ultimately, he could make Kendrick Perkins expendable and give the Thunder another stellar shot-blocker along with Serge Ibaka.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Tony Mitchell (SF/PF, North Texas)
Mitchell is perhaps the most athletic player in the draft, and he is 6'9" with 235 pounds of muscle. He has the ability to be a top-notch defender and rebounder, and he has enough of a stroke to make himself a solid spot-up mid-range shooter.
If you factor in his ability to rise and finish, he has value as a wing in transition. If Mitchell works hard, he can be a steal at the end of the first round.
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