The 2013 NBA draft is just a few days away (Thursday, June 27), and the excitement about how the entire first round will shake out has the basketball world in a frenzy.
As draft day approaches, the speculation about where the top prospects will land and which direction each team picking in the first round will go is through the roof.
It’s time to break it all done with this mock draft.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, C
The Cleveland Cavaliers know all about the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, and while Kentucky center Nerlens Noel is coming off serious knee surgery, the long-term upside with this talented prospect far outweighs the risk associated with him.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, Indiana, SG
While the biggest criticism of Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo is that he is a bit undersized for the position in the NBA— 6’4” and 213 pounds—his ability to defend as well as almost anyone at his position and get the ball to the rim in the offensive zone makes him a perfect addition to the Orlando Magic.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, Georgetown, SF
The Washington Wizards have plenty of talent on the roster but lack the kind of glue player that can bring it all together. A utility player like small forward Otto Porter from Georgetown—one of the best defenders in the draft and a bona fide scoring machine—would help change the culture in Washington.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, Kansas, SG
The Charlotte Bobcats should be selecting the best player available on draft day, and when Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore is still on the board at No. 4, this should be an easy pick for a franchise looking to add quality talent throughout the depth chart.
5. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett, UNLV, PF
The Phoenix Suns have lacked a dominant force in the low post since Amar’e Stoudemire landed in New York, but with a talented power forward like UNLV’s Anthony Bennett likely still on the board at No. 5, the Suns would have the all-around star the franchise has been missing.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, Maryland, C
At 7’1” and 225 pounds, the hype around Maryland center Alex Len is through the roof coming into the 2013 draft. While there are questions about his toughness, his unquestionable athleticism makes him a unique prospect that a team like the New Orleans Pelicans can’t pass on.
7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, Michigan, PG
The Sacramento Kings have lacked an elite passing point guard that is able to run a proper offense. With so much raw talent on the Kings roster, the hope is that selecting a player like Michigan’s Trey Burke will give the team the on-court leader it needs.
8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, PG
The Detroit Pistons need as much help as the team can get, and with a versatile player like Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams—will be able to play either the point or the 2 in the NBA—the franchise’s selection at No. 8 should be a no-brainer.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, SG
With a star like Ricky Rubio at point guard, the Minnesota Timberwolves must be searching for a shooting guard that can hit open shots and defend his position well. Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is lights out with his shooting and has the work ethic at both ends of the floor to fit right in with the team.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, PG
The Portland Trail Blazers are a team predicated on smart, fundamental basketball and hard work. While Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum isn’t great at anything, he is really good at almost everything and will be a great weapon at 2-guard for Portland.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, SG
The Philadelphia 76ers lack an elite shooting guard that can make offense for himself if there is none to be had, and while taking San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin at No. 11 is a bit of a reach, the fit is too ideal to pass on for a rebuilding team.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Cody Zeller, Indiana, C
After being exposed during the postseason for the lack of depth and skill in the low post, the Oklahoma City Thunder must address its need via the draft. With a talented big man like Indiana’s Cody Zeller on the board at No. 12, the long-term possibilities outweigh the star’s bust potential.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Steven Adams, Pittsburgh, C
The overall age of the Dallas Mavericks should have owner Mark Cuban terrified for the future of his organization, but with a talented center prospect like Steven Adams likely falling to No. 13 overall, the franchise may find its long-term answer in the low post.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, Germany, PG
While there is no questioning how raw German point guard Dennis Schroeder is on the basketball court, the immense talent and skill he has exhibited already will make this prospect a perfect fit for the Utah Jazz's plans moving forward.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Shane Larkin, Miami, PG
The reports that shooting guard Monta Ellis will opt out of his deal and the news that point guard Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent have put a damper on the Milwaukee Bucks' offseason, but adding a bona fide star like Shane Larkin from Miami is the smart move for the team’s depth at the guard positions.
16. Boston Celtics: Ricardo Ledo, Providence, SG
The Boston Celtics must add depth and talent at the guard positions this offseason via the draft and/or via free agency. While Providence shooting guard Ricardo Ledo is far from a lock as a serious star in the NBA, the raw talent of the prospect is well worth the risk for a veteran-laden franchise.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, SF
There are many scouts that are down on UCLA small forward Shabazz Muhammad because of his porous freshman season and lack of elite size for his position, but the Atlanta Hawks will grab an incredibly talented player with serious potential in the middle of the first round.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Rudy Gobert, France, PF
The Atlanta Hawks have two picks back-to-back in the first round this year, and with the possibility that forward Josh Smith could be leaving in free agency, the need for a replacement like French prospect Rudy Gobert will be at the top of the franchise’s wish list.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Phoenix Suns from Miami Heat): Sergey Karasev, Russia, SG
While Russian shooting guard Sergey Karasev doesn’t have the flash of many of the other players in this draft, he is as sound fundamentally as anyone in the 2013 class. With a high basketball IQ and great court vision, Karasev will be a great role player for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
20. Chicago Bulls: Mason Plumlee, Duke, PF
There is no doubt that Duke forward/center Mason Plumlee is a rough prospect that needs plenty of work to be a force in the NBA, but with the focus solely on Derrick Rose in Chicago, the pressure would be off the big man as he learns his role with the Bulls.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, C
With the likely departure of free agent center Al Jefferson, the Utah Jazz will be looking to add size and some offensive touch in the low post. While he still needs to grow into his body, Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk will be a perfect fit at No. 21.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, Kansas, C
The run on big men in the latter third of the draft will continue as the Brooklyn Nets look to reinforce their frontcourt by drafting Kansas center Jeff Withey. While Withey is very raw and will take several years to develop into a viable threat in the NBA, the potential is there.
23. Indiana Pacers: Reggie Bullock, North Carolina, SF
The Indiana Pacers proved this year that the team can be successful without small forward Danny Granger in the lineup, and if the team decides to part ways with the versatile star, drafting a prospect with as much upside as North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock is a no-brainer.
24. New York Knicks: Tony Mitchell, North Texas, SF
The New York Knicks need to add grit and toughness in the low post, as well as a player that will not be bullied on the boards, and the franchise will find the perfect fit when North Texas power forward Tony Mitchell falls to the team at No. 24.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Glen Rice Jr., NBA D-League, SG
There is some serious baggage associated with Glen Rice Jr.—kicked off the Georgia Tech basketball team—but it was his performance in the NBA D-League last year that proved his talent is undeniable. The reward will be worth the risk for the Los Angeles Clippers.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, C
The need for bench depth on the Minnesota Timberwolves is obvious, and while Louisville center Gorgui Dieng is raw, his innate skills around the basket—stellar rebounder and solid defender—make him smart addition to the franchise.
27. Denver Nuggets: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, PG
There is nothing sexy about the way Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan plays the game of basketball, but with an intense work ethic and the kind of basketball IQ that the Denver Nuggets need, this is the perfect pick at No. 27.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Nogueira, Brazil, C
The San Antonio Spurs are one of the best teams in the league in terms of finding value in their draft picks, and when Brazilian center prospect Lucas Nogueira falls all the way to the latter stages of the first round, the perennial contenders will add another great piece to the puzzle.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan, SG
The Oklahoma City Thunder will address the team’s need for help in the low post earlier in the first round, and with a need for depth behind Kevin Martin at shooting guard, Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is a perfect selection for the franchise.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland Cavaliers from L.A. Lakers): Allen Crabbe, California, SG
The Phoenix Suns have lacked an elite scorer that could develop his own shots and make people look silly on the attack since Steve Nash left. With as much raw talent as almost anyone in the second half of the draft, California guard Allen Crabbe will be the offensive cog the team has lacked.