2013 NBA Mock Draft: Teams That Must Fix Major Flaws in First Round

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2013 NBA Mock Draft: Teams That Must Fix Major Flaws in First Round
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As difficult as this may be to believe, the 2013 NBA draft is less than one week away. While this often leaves us with a sense of certainty about what's soon to transpire, not a single pick appears to be set in stone.

The question is, which teams need to fix their major flaws in the first round and how can they achieve such?

Certain teams will fill their voids by targeting the best player available or opting to side with the player who possesses the grandest upside. Others will stray on the side of caution, taking the player who best fits their organization as they push for the postseason.

Regardless of how they do it, 30 first-round picks will be dedicated to the stars of tomorrow—so who will they be?

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alex Len, Maryland Terrapins

Position: Center

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'1", 225 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.04 PER, 26.4 MPG, 11.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.1 BPG

 

Words can't express how against this pick I am as an unbiased basketball analyst. While Alex Len has as much upside as any player in this draft class, his motor and passive nature are the top concerns, and I'd rather draft a player who needs to develop skills than a different mentality.

With that being said, all reports point towards Cleveland selecting Len with the first overall draft choice.

Smith isn't alone in reporting that news.

Chad Ford of ESPN Insider and Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops both confirmed that Cleveland has cut their search down to Len and Nerlens Noel. While Noel projects to be the better player—and the prospect I'd take over Len—the key here is owner Dan Gilbert.

According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.com, it's postseason or bust for Cleveland.

While Noel may be the better investment, Len is the player more suited to contribute right now. That gives him the edge, whether right or wrong.

The unpredictability ensues.

 

2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, Indiana Hoosiers

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'4", 213 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

29.09 PER, 28.4 MPG, 13.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.2 SPG

 

For months, I've had the Orlando Magic flip-flopping between point guard Trey Burke and shooting guard Ben McLemore. While both offer intriguing options, it appears as if a new prospect has emerged as the top option.

Indiana Hoosiers shooting guard Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo and McLemore are in competition to be named the draft's top shooting guard, and the comparisons will likely last throughout the course of their respective careers. Unfortunately for McLemore, Oladipo appears to have earned the edge.

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the Magic were none too impressed with McLemore and are more inclined to go with his unspoken rival.

While McLemore might have more pure upside, I continue to hear that Oladipo has the upper hand. McLemore was in Orlando last week, but according to multiple accounts, his workout wasn't terrific.

Ford and Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops also confirm that the Magic are looking to trade for Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers to address their point guard situation.

Due to his ability to shoot the basketball, McLemore makes more sense for the Magic. With that being said, Oladipo has been storming up draft boards and appears to own the advantage over McLemore to go No. 2 overall.

Oladipo has been No. 1 on my draft board for months, but I would side with McLemore if I were Orlando—that just doesn't appear to be the direction they're headed.

 

3. Washington Wizards: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Wildcats

Position: Power Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'0", 206 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.09 PER, 10.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 4.4 BPG, 2.1 SPG

 

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the Washington Wizards are deciding between Anthony Bennett and Otto Porter for the third overall draft choice. With Nerlens Noel falling to No. 3, he's also in the running for the selection.

When it comes right down to it, the Wizards cannot confuse their top 10 scoring defense with preparedness.

Bennett makes sense, as the Wizards are in desperate need of an improvement along their offensive interior. With that being said, the Wizards are a defensive-minded team that is led by a 30-year-old Emeka Okafor and a 30-year-old Nene Hilario.

Knee surgery or not, you're not guaranteed to find a player with defensive upside as high as Noel in 2014.

Noel is an elite defensive prospect who pairs length and explosive athleticism with a powerful motor and underrated fundamentals. Not only can he leap, but he blitzes the pick-and-roll as well as any and handles himself well in the post.

There may be risk, but the certainty isn't much greater with Bennett—this is a difficult pick, but one that must be made.

 

4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, Kansas Jayhawks

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'5", 189 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.24 PER, 15.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 42.0% 3PT

 

The Charlotte Bobcats luck out here, as their top two options are on the board with Anthony Bennett and Ben McLemore. The decision process will not be as rewarding, however, as they must choose between the shooter they so desperately need and the overwhelming absence of an interior scorer.

For that reason, it all comes down to upside—something that makes McLemore the selection.

Bennett could be a true star in this league, but McLemore has the upside of a premier scorer. Not only is he an elite jump-shooter, but the former Kansas star can put it on the floor and has developed into a menace in transition.

For a Bobcats team that already has a franchise point guard and a defensive nightmare at small forward in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, McLemore would help round out one of the most promising perimeters in the league.

According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, the Bobcats have hired a new assistant coach in legendary shooter Mark Price. This displays their commitment to improving their rankings of 27th in both three-point field goals made and three-point field goal percentage.

McLemore is the missing piece from a player perspective.

 

5. Phoenix Suns: Otto Porter, Georgetown Hoyas

Position: Small Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'9", 198 pounds, 7'2" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.88 PER, 16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 42.2% 3PT

 

The Phoenix Suns are under a new general manager in former Boston Celtics executive Ryan McDonough. For that reason, it's unwise to label any player currently on the roster as the answer at their position.

Fortunately for everyone not named Michael Beasley, the Suns wouldn't dare let Otto Porter drop any further than this.

The Suns made a long-term investment in Beasley, acknowledging the value of the small forward position in today's NBA. With the former Kansas State star failing to work out as planned, Phoenix would be wise to to find an immediate replacement.

More specifically, the Suns can find a franchise cornerstone with Porter.

Porter is an elite on-ball defender who handles the ball, facilitates and shoots the three at NBA caliber clips. While some claim his ceiling is limited, there's little basis to that belief, as Porter has made tremendous strides from his freshman to sophomore seasons.

There's no reason to believe he'll slow up now.

 

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Orange

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Position: Point Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'6", 184 pounds, 6'7" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

21.25 PER, 11.9 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.9 RPG, 2.8 SPG

 

The New Orleans Pelicans do not need a power forward, which puts the value pick of Anthony Bennett out of the question. For that reason, New Orleans targets the point guard position, where they must decide between Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams.

Burke may be the better prospect, but there's nothing more important than finding a point guard who fits your system.

Carter-Williams is the better fit, standing at 6'6" with a 6'7" wingspan and possessing elite defensive upside. In fact, Carter-Williams is a virtual carbon copy of current point guard Greivis Vasquez, who ranked third in the NBA in assists per game.

The difference is that Carter-Williams is the best defensive point guard in this draft class and Vasquez is a virtual non-factor on that end of the floor.

Carter-Williams should be able to step in and carry the facilitator's role from the opening tip, which is intriguing enough. With elite size and the ball hawking skill of an All-Defensive Team selection, this pick leans more and more in the Syracuse lead guard's favor.

Again, Burke is the better prospect—with the point guard position, however, it's all about finding the right fit.

 

7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, Michigan Wolverines

Position: Point Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'1", 187 pounds, 6'6" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

29.76 PER, 18.6 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 38.4% 3PT

 

The Sacramento Kings are under new guidance from top to bottom, with replacements at owner, general manager and, most importantly, head coach. With this new direction established, there's only one position for the Kings to target.

Point guard.

It just so happens that Trey Burke has dropped all the way to No. 7, which is too intriguing an opportunity for Sacramento to pass over. Even as Anthony Bennett offers the potential for an elite interior, the Kings have lacked direction for years.

The only way to find it is to have a point guard run the show.

Burke is the premier point guard in this draft class, pairing a gorgeous jump shot with NBA caliber facilitating skills. Off of the bounce, Burke can take his man to the hole by playing the angles and anticipating footwork.

If that's not intriguing enough, just imagine Burke running the pick-and-roll with DeMarcus Cousins.

 

8. Philadelphia 76ers (via Pistons): Anthony Bennett, UNLV Rebels

76ers Receive: No. 8 Pick

Pistons Receive: No. 11 Pick & No. 42 Pick

Position: Power Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'8", 240 pounds, 7'1" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

28.24 PER, 27.1 MPG, 16.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.2 BPG

 

Without a viable option at point guard or small forward, the Detroit Pistons will open up their phone lines and see who wants Anthony Bennett the most. With their drop in draft order slight and the Philadelphia 76ers willing to add in a second rounder, they pull the trigger.

As for the Sixers, they add the interior scorer that they've desperately needed in recent seasons.

The Sixers finished the 2012-13 regular season with a ranking of ninth in scoring defense, despite playing without Andrew Bynum. Unfortunately, Philly also ranked dead last in scoring offense.

Finding a low-post bruiser that can play the role of a diver off of the pick-and-roll is the only way for them to get over the hump.

Bennett possesses the low post upside, standing in at 6'8" and 240 pounds with a 7'1" wingspan and soft touch around the rim. He's also capable of serving as a pick-and-pop power forward, stepping out for jump shots.

With All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday running the show, Bennett could be the player that pushes the Sixers back into the postseason.

 

9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia Bulldogs

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'6", 204 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.62 PER, 18.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.0 SPG, 37.3% 3PT

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a glaring void at shooting guard, as they currently employ an abundance of point guards to play out of position. Not only is there a void at the position, but the Timberwolves were the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA.

That combination of reasoning leads Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to being the only rational selection.

Caldwell-Pope has a lethal three-point stroke, both coming off of screens and creating off of the bounce. Those two traits alone make him an intriguing option for the T-Wolves, who need his abilities in their rotation.

The fact that Caldwell-Pope has defensive potential only adds fuel to this growing fire.

Caldwell-Pope is one of the best rebounders at his position, using his 6'6" height and 6'8" wingspan to crash the boards. Beyond his size is the fundamentals as he boxes his man out and seamlessly transitions into the open court.

Paired with his ability to be a ball hawk and also lock his man down, Caldwell-Pope could be something special.

 

10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollumLehigh Mountain Hawks

Position: Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'3", 197 pounds, 6'6" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

33.95 PER, 23.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, 51.6% 3PT

 

I've had C.J. McCollum going to the Portland Trail Blazers for virtually a month, and at this stage, it's not going to change. Not only is McCollum unlikely to go any higher than No. 10, but he's not going to slip any further.

This is your quintessential perfect pick.

The Trail Blazers have one of the top starting lineups in the NBA, as evidenced as their competing for a playoff spot in 2012-13. Unfortunately, the starters fell victim to fatigue and lost their final 13 games of the season.

The fact that Portland ranked dead last in second unit scoring is the reason why.

With no one to shoulder the scoring load on the bench, three of Portland's starters averaged at least 37.7 minutes per game. Wesley Matthews checked in at 34.8 minutes, while J.J. Hickson saw 29.0 and only one reserve tallied more than 20 minutes a night—Eric Maynor, who played just 27 games.

The only way to fix those woes is to find a player who can score the basketball and thus lessen the burden on Portland's starters to produce—McCollum just so happens to be an NBA-ready scorer with deep three-point range and a strong handle.

 

11. Detroit Pistons (via 76ers): Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Bruins

76ers Receive: No. 8 Pick

Pistons Receive: No. 11 Pick & No. 42 Pick

Position: Guard/Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'6", 220 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

21.99 PER, 17.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 37.7% 3PT

 

The Detroit Pistons had three options at No. 8, and those were Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Shabazz Muhammad and trading back. They took the latter route, and as fate would have it, one of their top options remains on the board.

The inexplainable slide ends for Muhammad.

The former UCLA star has come under fire for a multitude of reasons, which the only rational complaint coming about his lack of versatility. With that being said, the Pistons need a score-first off guard that has the size to defend his position.

If Muhammad can make the transition to play small forward, the rich get richer.

The Pistons have their building blocks in place with power forward Greg Monroe and center Andre Drummond. What they lack, however, is the playmaker that can attack the basket and create his own shot.

Muhammad certainly has the upside to be one of the top scorers in this draft class.

 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors): Cody Zeller, Indiana Hoosiers

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Position: Power Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 7'0", 230 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

30.93 PER, 16.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.0 SPG

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder need an improvement at the center position. While Kendrick Perkins may provide a powerful defensive presence, the Thunder have been exposed for their lack of a low-post presence.

Cody Zeller may project as more of a power forward, but his offensive prowess is too intriguing for OKC to pass over.

Zeller is arguably the most skilled big man in this year's draft class, pairing a strong back-to-the-basket attack with an excellent jump shot and the ability to put the ball on the floor. For what it's worth, Zeller was Indiana's go-to scorer in the clutch.

Paired with shot blocker Serge Ibaka, Zeller could provide the interior scoring presence that OKC so desperately need.

There are concerns that Zeller has a low ceiling, but that criticism is baseless, at best. Not only is Zeller a skilled player, but he's the most explosive big man in this draft class.

More times than not, that's what you call top pick material.

 

13. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Schroeder, Germany

Position: Point Guard

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'2", 165 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

There is absolutely no question that the Dallas Mavericks want to trade down here to open up some cap space. With no transcendent talent available at No. 13, it will be awfully difficult for the Mavericks to make a move.

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the only way the Mavericks will remain at No. 13 is if there is a draft-and-stash international prospect available to open cap space.

One of the fastest rising players in this year's draft class is Dennis Schroeder, who has become arguably the most prized international prospect since Dario Saric withdrew from the draft. Not only can Schroeder attack off of the bounce, but he displays upside as a facilitator.

At 19, the Mavericks can feel comfortable stashing him overseas and thus saving a significant amount of cap space.

If Schroeder does opt to play right away, the Mavericks would add a valuable piece to their most significant position of weakness. Not only does he display the upside of an every day point guard, but he possesses elite physical gifts with a 6'8" wingspan.

For what it's worth—and that may be nothing—the Mavericks have experienced success with German players in the past.

 

14. Utah Jazz: Shane Larkin, Miami Hurricanes

Position: Point Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'0", 171 pounds, 5'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

22.40 PER, 14.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.8 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 40.6% 3PT

 

The Utah Jazz have quite a few options here. While some have speculated that the Jazz may target a big man, there truly is no sense in adding a front court player with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter under contract.

I'm glad that's finally clear.

Shane Larkin may not be a lottery pick lock, but Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News reports that he impressed the Jazz at a recent workout. With no player truly commanding attention at this stage of the draft, that puts Larkin at the front of the pack.

The fact that he's a traditional point guard with explosive athleticism, strong pick-and-roll ability and two-way upside is just icing on the cake.

Larkin is one of the best perimeter defenders in this year's draft class, mixing athletic range with strong footwork. Offensively, he runs the pick-and-roll at a high level and has a gorgeous jump shot with deep three-point range.

No pick is perfect, but this is beyond ideal.

 

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Sergey Karasev, Russia

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'7", 197 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Milwaukee Bucks are preparing to see their top three guards enter free agency in Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick. With this being known, the Bucks are likely to target their guard positions with the selection they make.

In this case, it comes down to San Diego State off guard Jamaal Franklin and Russian shooter Sergey Karasev.

Both are intriguing, but the clinching factor here is the positional versatility that Karasev displays. Not only is he capable of working as an off guard, but depending on how his body fills out, Karasev could play the 3.

If that's not enough, he handles the ball as well as most point guards in this draft class and is a skilled enough passer to handle the duties of a lead ball handler.

Karasev shoots the ball well enough to be considered a threat from beyond the arc, which offers further intrigue. At 19, the upside is certainly there for him to turn that solid stroke into one of elite measures.

NBA scouts are starting to believe he can.

 

16. Boston Celtics: Steven Adams, Pittsburgh Panthers

Position: Center

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'0", 255 pounds, 7'5" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

22.59 PER, 23.4 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG

 

The Boston Celtics have made a commitment to getting younger and more athletic in the front court by pursuing a trade of Kevin Garnett for DeAndre Jordan. While they may not have acquired Jordan, it's clear that their focus is adding an explosive interior player.

Steven Adams can be that player.

Adams has an NBA body at 7'0" and 255 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan, which is a stronger pairing of size, length and strength than his comparisons of Byron Mullens and Cole Aldrich. Adams has also displayed excellent touch around the basket and a respected motor.

For a Celtics team that lives by their defense, adding a project player with upside isn't so much of a bad idea.

If Garnett is to remain under contract, he's the perfect mentor for a player that has displayed the raw ability to be a force offensively. Not only does he have the body to back his man down in the post, but Adams has the makings of a reliable hook shot.

With KG having mastered the art of the mid-range jump shot, Adams could add that to his repertoire and end up as Boston's starter in roughly 2-to-3 years.

 

17. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State Aztecs

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'5", 191 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

23.87 PER, 17.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG

 

If there's one thing that's worth noting about the Atlanta Hawks entering the 2013 NBA draft, it's that they're a model of the San Antonio Spurs. General manager Danny Ferry and head coach Mike Budenholzer are both products of the Spurs, which suggests that the approach to the draft will remain the same.

With back-to-back picks, that means one player who can contribute now and another of international roots.

With the 17th overall draft choice, the Hawks go with Jamaal Franklin out of San Diego State. Not only is Franklin worthy of this pick, but he comes from a school that Budenholzer is familiar with, having drafted Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio.

After watching Leonard break out during the NBA Finals, the similarities between he and Franklin are too grand to ignore.

Franklin projects to be a shooting guard, but he's a versatile defender that rebounds at an elite rate. In fact, there really isn't much that Franklin does at less than a strong level.

He led San Diego State in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals per game en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance.

 

18. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Lucas Nogueira, Brazil

Position: Center

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'11", 218 pounds, 7'6" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

With their second consecutive draft choice, the Atlanta Hawks will capitalize on the luxury of making a long-term investment. This will likely lead them to an international player, as they target the upside-ridden and rapidly rising Lucas Nogueira.

A player that truly isn't much different from Nerlens Noel.

Nogueira is an electric athlete who stands at 6'11" with a 7'6" wingspan and possesses a respected motor. Not only is he an aggressive rebounder and shot blocker, but the 20-year-old Brazilian crashes the boards at a high rate.

Most importantly, Nogueira has what Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn't—experience against an elite brand of European players.

Nogueira plays in Liga ACB, arguably the most decorated league in all of European basketball. While he's yet to become one of the top players in Spain, he possesses the physical attributes to compete in the NBA.

For a Hawks team that needs a long-term answer alongside Al Horford, Nogueira would be a risk worth taking.

 

19. Cleveland Cavaliers: Reggie Bullock, North Carolina Tar Heels

Position: Guard/Forward

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 6'7", 200 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

24.13 PER, 13.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 43.6% 3PT

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers added a player who they believe can be a franchise player in center Alex Len. With their second pick, it's imperative that the Cavaliers address their perimeter needs, specifically at small forward and their absence of a shooter.

That brings them to Reggie Bullock out of North Carolina and Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece.

The Cavaliers are known as a franchise that values upside, which is a primary reason they selected Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson in recent seasons. With that being said, Antetokounmpo is incredibly raw and Cleveland wants to make the playoffs now.

The level of his competition in Greece can be likened to your average Division III college basketball squad.

Bullock, meanwhile, is the draft's most precise three-point shooter. For a Cavaliers team that is desperate to add a shooter after ranking 23rd in three-point field goal percentage, that's music to their ears.

It doesn't hurt that Bullock is a strong rebounder, handles the ball well, displays defensive upside and can play Cleveland's weakest position at small forward.

 

20. Chicago Bulls: Gorgui Dieng, Louisville Cardinals

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Position: Center

Age: 23

Height & Weight: 6'11", 230 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

23.60 PER, 9.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.5 BPG, 1.3 SPG

 

The Chicago Bulls have no greater need than along the interior, where Joakim Noah is currently backed up by 35-year-old Nazr Mohammed. Taj Gibson services as a high-quality reserve, but he appears to be more suited for the 4.

There's no question where Gorgui Dieng should be.

Dieng may be falling down draft boards, but the Bulls would be out of their minds to let him fall any further than this. There are better all-around big men, but Chicago's most glaring absence is at center, where they need a rim protector to back Noah up.

It just so happens that Noah and Dieng have quite the similar skill sets.

Dieng is not quite as flexible—is there really another word for Noah's one-of-a-kind style of play?—but he is quite effective. Not only does he block shots at an elite rate, but he rebounds well and pairs a solid mid-range jumper with above-average passing skills.

Chicago is looking to win right now, and few players can step in as quickly as Dieng.

 

21. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece

Position: Point Forward

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'9" & 215 pounds

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Utah Jazz made a commitment to the point guard position at No. 14, landing Shane Larkin out of Miami. With the No. 21 overall selection, the Jazz maximize the value of their selection by taking the biggest gamble of the draft.

Greek point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo out of Greece.

Antetokounmpo truly has no business being drafted in the first round, as the upside is met by tremendous risk. With that being said, Chad Ford of ESPN Insider reports that the Greek prodigy has all but solidified his status as a top 20 pick.

With the Jazz needing a small forward and selecting at No. 21, the reports suggest they will make this selection.

Utah can afford to take that risk, as they have their front court of the future and locked up and now pair Larkin with a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Gordon Hayward. While there may be a player who can provide more of an instant impact, selecting at No. 21 is all about value.

Antetokounmpo is going to be gambled on at some point, so why not here?

 

22. Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee, Duke Blue Devils

Position: Power Forward/Center

Age: 23

Height & Weight: 7'0", 238 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

26.48 PER, 17.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.0 SPG

 

The Brooklyn Nets truly don't have many holes in their lineup, as they played without a shred of chemistry and still won 49 games. If there is one position where uncertainty is present, however, it's power forward.

Reggie Evans topped the league in rebounds per 48 minutes, but as an inefficient offensive player, the Nets need an alternative.

Mason Plumlee may not be the most attractive selection in the draft, but he's a borderline lottery pick. Not only does he possess excellent size at 7'0", but he's a walking alley-oop that can run in transition and finish around the basket.

With explosive leaping ability and strong rebounding ability, he's the balance Brooklyn needs to complement the flat-footed, albeit elite play of Brook Lopez.

In the half court, Plumlee has a strong enough face-up game to keep a defender honest, with the ability to back his man down and finish with either hand. Defensively, he's a fundamentally sound rebounder that blocks shots at a high clip.

He may be 23, but Plumlee has mountains of room to grow.

 

23. Indiana Pacers: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga Bulldogs

Position: Power Forward/Center

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 7'0", 234 pounds, 6'10" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

36.57 PER, 26.4 MPG, 17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.1 BPG

 

The Indiana Pacers are in the market for a point guard, but they're far more likely to pursue such a player via free agency. With their draft choice, the Pacers will likely be looking to improve their jump shooting and interior offense.

Kelly Olynyk gets the job done in both regards.

Olynyk has as much upside as any player in this draft class, pairing a marvelous motor with top tier offensive skills for a big man. Not only does he have the jump shot of a stretch 4, but Olynyk rebounds and passes at a strong level.

Paired with the energy to make an impact defensively, Olynyk is what Indiana wanted Tyler Hansbrough to be.

Olynyk deserves to go significantly earlier than this, but the draft is shaping up to be a strange one.

 

24. New York Knicks: Ricardo Ledo, Providence Friars

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'6", 197 pounds, 6'7" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The more I evaluate the New York Knicks' current situation, the harder it is for me to believe that they'd let Ricardo Ledo pass. While there may be other options at No. 24, the Knicks' most glaring void can be found in their back court, where Jason Kidd's retirement leaves a glaring void.

Ledo may have missed his entire freshman season due to academic ineligibility, but this young man is the scoring guard that New York so desperately needs.

Even if the Knicks are to re-sign reigning Sixth Man of the Year award winner J.R. Smith, they need more scorers. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, reigning scoring champion Carmelo Anthony believes just that, as he wants the Knicks to add another scorer.

Seeing as the Knicks are low on cap space, Ledo makes the most sense.

Ledo has the size to play in the NBA at 6'6" with a 6'7" wingspan, which suggests that New York can play him alongside Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert. In terms of his abilities, Ledo is one of the best scorers available, pairing a strong first step with a lethal jump shot.

Consistency could be an issue early in his career, but for a Knicks team that fell apart when Smith disappeared during the postseason, adding a player who can create their own shot is imperative. Ledo can.

 

25. Los Angeles Clippers: Allen Crabbe, California Golden Bears

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'6", 197 pounds, 6'11" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

23.07 PER, 18.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 SPG

 

The Los Angeles Clippers' top priority is surrounding point guard Chris Paul with the talent necessary to win a title. While there may not be a transcendent talent at No. 25 overall, the Clippers have very specific needs.

Perhaps the most notable of all is the absence of a go-to shooter.

Crabbe is one of the best jump shooters in this draft class, specifically off of the catch. For a Clippers team that struggles to put up points in the half court, adding a player who can hit the three-ball is critical.

Crabbe certainly can.

Furthermore, Crabbe possesses the ideal size for the off guard position at 6'6" with a 6'11" wingspan. Paired with above-average rebounding ability and the ball handling skills necessary to fit into L.A.'s guard-oriented approach, Crabbe appears to be the perfect fit.

Few players will contribute from the opening tip when you're picking this late, but Crabbe has the potential to do just that.

 

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Grizzlies): Rudy Gobert, France

Position: Power Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 7'2", 238 pounds, 7'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves picked perfectly at No. 9, landing the shooting guard they've long needed in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. At No. 26, the T-Wolves must now choose between adding a rim protector and continuing to improve their three-point shooting.

While both are viable options, there simply isn't a shooter who matches Rudy Gobert's value at No. 26.

Gobert may be dropping down draft boards, but he's a 7'2" prospect with a 7'9" wingspan with the potential to be a defensive anchor. As a player that Minnesota can stash overseas, Gobert truly is of great value.

With Kevin Love's offensive mentality, adding a weak side shot blocker is imperative for future success.

Beyond his ability to block shots is a questionable skill set, but the physical gifts are too much to ignore. Few players have ever possessed Gobert's length and it'd behoove the T-Wolves to capitalize on that truth.

There are other options, but even with the risk, this is a risk at No. 26.

 

27. Denver Nuggets: Glen Rice Jr., NBA D-League

Position: Guard/Forward

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 6'6", 211 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

N/A

 

The Denver Nuggets won't find it easy to replace defensive specialist Andre Iguodala. While he may not have put forth his best offensive season in Denver, Iguodala continues to play at an All-Star level from a defensive perspective.

It's not an even match, but drafting Glen Rice Jr. is certainly a step in the right direction.

Rice Jr. could go as high as No. 17 to the Atlanta Hawks, but the unpredictability of this year's draft has him dropping to No. 27. Fortunately for the former Georgia Tech star, there's no need to complain about where he's draft.

Rice Jr. spent time in the NBA D-League last year and is as NBA-ready as any player in this year's draft class.

On the surface, Rice Jr. is an elite athlete with the ideal body to play at the next level at 6'6" and 211 pounds with a 6'9" wingspan. Upon deeper evaluation, Rice Jr. proves to be one of the best defensive prospects in this year's draft class.

Paired with the ability to shoot the three-ball—another skill the Nuggets lack—Rice Jr. is the perfect fit for Denver.

 

28. San Antonio Spurs: Jeff Withey, Kansas Jayhawks

Position: Center

Age: 23

Height & Weight: 7'0", 222 pounds, 7'2" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

27.23 PER, 13.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.9 BPG

 

The San Antonio Spurs are known for their international draft choices and long-term investments during the draft. They tend to side with players who thrive in an all-around capacity and approach the selection process with a focus on shooters and play makers.

With that being said, there is no rational reason to pass over Jeff Withey at this stage of the draft.

The Spurs remain a title contender, as they took the Miami Heat to Game 7 of the NBA Finals with a hobbled Tony Parker. If there's one thing that we learned from that series, however, it's that the Spurs are without a rim protector when Tim Duncan is on the bench.

Withey can cure those woes.

Tiago Splitter is a solid player and Boris Diaw's versatility was extremely valuable, but the Spurs lack a true rim protector outside of their 37-year-old star. This may not be the flashy pick, but Withey blocks shots and keeps his man off of the offensive glass.

Those fundamental skills are invaluable to a title contender.

 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tony Snell, New Mexico Lobos

Position: Small Forward

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'7", 198 pounds, 7'0" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

17.16 PER, 12.5 PPG, 2.9 APG, 2.6 RPG, 39.0% 3PT

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder made an intelligent move early on, drafting offensive-minded big man Cody Zeller at No. 12. With their second pick, the Thunder must ignore public perception and go for what truly plagues them.

They're a jump shooting team with a lack of three-point marksmen.

Kevin Durant can shoot the lights out and, should he re-sign, the same can be said about Kevin Martin. Throw in Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka's mid-range prowess and you have a strong core.

With the three-ball at a premium in today's NBA, the Thunder need to add scoring depth—enter Tony Snell.

The Thunder have Jeremy Lamb under contract, which suggests that they need not make another investment at shooting guard just yet. What they do need, however, is a sharpshooting small forward who can play as a reserve for Kevin Durant.

With Snell possessing a smooth stroke, NBA length and intriguing athleticism, the upside is too intriguing to deny.

 

30. Phoenix Suns (via Cavs, from Lakers): Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan Wolverines

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'6", 199 pounds, 6'7" wingspan

2012-13 Season Averages

18.05 PER, 14.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 37.4% 3PT

 

The Phoenix Suns picked well at No. 5, drafting Otto Porter and landing a legitimate franchise cornerstone. With their second selection, the Suns must address their below-average three-point shooting and shaky shooting guard play.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is far from a guarantee, but he could become a consistent rotational option.

Hardaway Jr. is viewed by some as a player who should be going in the early 20s, if not earlier in the draft. While his name value and reputation may suggest such, Hardaway Jr. is not quite one of the draft's elite prospects.

His shooting has been inconsistent throughout his career, which pushes him down to No. 30, but Hardaway Jr. appears to have found even ground.

Not only can the former Michigan star shoot the ball, but he thrives in putting it on the floor and creating for others. Potentially serving as a sixth man, Hardaway Jr. could make a strong two-way impact.

Phoenix will take this educated gamble.

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