The 2013 NBA draft is certainly an intriguing one despite its perceived lack of top-flight talent. Perhaps the next Michael Jordan, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant won't be found, but there is plenty of depth in this class, particularly at the center and power forward positions.
Guards are generally viewed more favorably than bigs by fans, but every team needs a quality big or two in order to succeed. There are plenty of post players out there, but skilled ones are at a premium. Luckily for the teams in need of one this year, the 2013 class is particularly stacked at center.
In addition to a full, first-round mock draft, here is some further analysis on teams that must come away with at least one big who can contribute significantly in the near future.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
While it certainly won't come as a surprise if the Cavaliers select a center No. 1, considering the fact that they already have a strong backcourt consisting of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, they certainly could surprise some people when it comes to which center they take. Kentucky center Nerlens Noel has presumably been the No. 1 guy throughout that process, but that may no longer be the case.
Maryland center Alex Len has slowly but surely moved up the charts and may now be in the mix for the Cavs at No. 1. Cleveland has yet to tip its hand, so the Cavs could go with Len, Noel or any number of different prospects. According to Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, however, Len is Cleveland's likely target.
While Len hasn't been hyped quite as much as Noel, it's easy to see why the Cavs might like him. He is a physical specimen at 7'1" and he made big strides from his freshman year to his sophomore season. He seemed to be on a leash at Maryland as the coaching staff didn't want to overexert him, but it's possible that he simply wasn't able to play a bigger role. The Cavs could really use a center at any rate and Len has a ton of upside.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
With a decent amount of depth and youth at every position, the Magic are in a pretty enviable position heading into this draft. They have a myriad of options to choose from, but Oladipo makes a lot of sense as he is a shooting guard capable of taking over games.
3. Washington Wizards: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
If the Cavs go with Len as has been rumored, the Wizards may very well have a crack at Noel. While the big man may not be back until Christmas at the earliest due to an ACL injury, his long-term ceiling is extremely high. The Wizards would love to get better right away, but if taking Noel means that they will thrive down the line, then that would be a smart selection.
The Wizards are a lot like the Cavaliers in that they have a great, young duo in the backcourt in the form of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Washington doesn't have much down low, though, on either end of the court. Despite the fact that Noel was a freshman last year and Len was in his second season at Maryland, Noel actually outperformed Len in most statistical categories:
Len was a slightly better scorer as he averaged just under 12 points per game to Noel's 10.5, but the difference was negligible. Noel was a better rebounder and shot blocker right off the bat, so he'll at least make an impact defensively as soon as he is ready. The offense will come as he develops, so he simply seems like a safer pick than Len even with the injury concerns involved.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV
It's amazing that the Bobcats haven't shown any improvement over the past few years with the amount of high picks they have accrued, but they have a chance to find an impact player this year and Bennett should be their man.
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
It isn't inconceivable to think that McLemore could be taken No. 1 overall, so if he manages to fall to the Suns at No. 5, Phoenix shouldn't hesitate to take him even with work ethic concerns currently surrounding him.
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