The NBA Finals just came to a close and already NBA draft talk has started to heat up. As struggling teams look to improve their position and strong teams look to build for the future, NBA teams across the board can start to focus on what players have the potential to change their franchise for years to come.
As teams prepare their draft boards, some of them will be looking for highlight reel athletes who can slash and cut and tear up the hardwood.
Note: The best athletes will be in italics.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Nerlens has to be as close to a no-brainer that this year's draft offers. While he is dealing with injury issues, he still has a chance to be one of the most dominant players from this draft class. He's a freak athlete who can board, block and score.
While the ACL injury is a concern, it's extremely unlikely that the Cavs are going to be in the hunt next season anyway. If Noel is ready to make his return by Christmas, like he hopes he'll be, the Cavs would be lucky to have him.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Oladipo is another astonishing athlete in this year's class. The former Hoosier might not be the best fit in the Magic rotation, but you don't see a 2-guard like Victor very often. Oladipo is a great defender, can move without the ball and has the uncanny ability to get to the rim and help his team, which is exactly what a young, rebuilding program needs.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Porter would be the perfect choice for the Wizards at the third pick. The Wizards have started to construct a great, young backcourt throughout the last few seasons, picking up John Wall and Bradley Beal. Now they'll have the opportunity to add an exceptional player at the 3.
Porter plays solid defense, can rebound when needed and can knock down an open shot, all things that the Wizards need help with.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Len was stellar for Maryland throughout his Terrapin career. The Bobcats are pretty rough on all levels, especially at the big-man position. Bringing Len into the mix would be a great move by MJ, and his team who could definitely benefit by the addition of a defensive stopper.
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
McLemore is one of the best shooters in the draft. He has a huge upside and would be a great fit next to Goran Dragic in the Suns backcourt. The Suns need a lot of help, especially on offense. McLemore would not only help offensively, but he could end up being the best player in the class.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Trey went out with a bang at Michigan, leading the Wolverines to a great season that ended in the NCAA Championship game. Burke is a great facilitator and could give Austin Rivers a chance to move over to the 2-spot and focus on shooting instead of having him try to do too much. Not only would Burke help the new-look Pelicans, but he could help Rivers get more comfortable in the NBA.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Bennett is one of the best athletes in this year's draft class. He's incredibly explosive and is a huge matchup issue for opponents. He has solid range and plays good defense and has the strength to compete down low with NBA power forwards.
Bennett is going to be a player to watch in the coming years and could be a major part of Sacramento's success in the future. That is, if they don't pass him up.
8. Detroit Pistons: CJ McCollum, PG, Lehigh
The Pistons are still trying to rebuild after losing all of their "Big Five" players from their championship season and have added some extremely talented youngsters in recent history. Adding CJ McCollum would continue that trend.
McCollum can facilitate and knock down shots and would allow Brandon Knight to move over to shooting guard, where he would be a better fit.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
KCP is another one of the best athletes in the draft. He can knock shots down from deep, defend well, cut to the basket, finish at the rim and is a decorated passer. Adding another serious offensive threat might be just what the Timberwolves need to convince their main scorer, Kevin Love, to stay in town.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Cody Zeller is one of the best centers coming out. He's got great footwork down low and would be a great addition for Portland to play opposite of Lamarcus Aldridge. Zeller is very strong around the rim and can run the floor and take a little attention away from Aldridge and Damian Lillard.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Adams and Zeller are the next best centers after Nerlens Noel. Adams' game isn't as refined as Zeller's, but he has a huge upside. He's a big guy and can bang down low. He isn't the same caliber as Andrew Bynum, but he could certainly make the sting of Bynum's absence a little bit less.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto): Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The Thunder have lost James Harden and it looks like they might lose Kevin Martin this offseason. The Thunder need to add some scorers to run with the Durantula and Westbrook. Shabazz, besides having an awesome name, would be a great fit for the Thunder in OKC.
Muhammad is a straight scorer. He can drive and finish at the bucket, which is something the Thunder need a little help with. If he can drive in and draw defenders, then Kevin Durant and the other Thunder shooters will be able to get more open looks.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Michael Carter-Williams is absolutely perfect for the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs most likely have a very busy summer ahead in free agency, but adding MCW at No. 13 would be a great way to start rebuilding. He can facilitate and is extremely strong defensively. The Mavs need a point guard and MCW is one of the best in the class.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Schroeder is insanely quick and is an exceptional passer. He has the potential to be dominant on both sides of the ball and would be a huge upgrade over the Jazz's current backcourt situation.
Oh yeah, and he's only 19.
Talk about an upside.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Olynyk had his coming-out party this season, especially during the NCAA tournament. He showed his exceptional footwork and great offensive prowess to the masses and probably increased his draft stock in a big way.
He can shoot the three and would be a great addition to a Bucks squad that could lose a lot of its playmakers this offseason.
16. Boston Celtics: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Franklin has flown below the mainstream radar throughout his career, but he's easily one of the most talented athletes in this year's class. His skill set encompasses everything. He can pass, shoot, play defense and rebound. Franklin would be an outstanding addition to an aging Celtics team and could become a great role player between Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
While Mason Plumlee might not have the flashiness of Nerlens Noel, he's one of the best big-man prospects in the draft. He's stellar down low, he can rebound and block and he can even run the floor. Plumlee is a true center and will be great for a Hawks team that is in the midst of rebuilding.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston): Reggie Bullock, SF, UNC
The Hawks have the rare opportunity of having back-to-back picks in the top 20. If they go with Plumlee for their first pick to shore up their down-low play, they should snag someone who can play the 2 or 3 and play it well.
That someone is Reggie Bullock. While Bullock and Plumlee, rivals at Duke and UNC, might not like getting picked to the same squad, they'd be a great match. Bullock is strong on both offense and defense and could be a great contributor off the bench until he works his way into the starting role.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Lakers): Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Tony Mitchell has been compared to Kenneth Faried. Need I say more about his athletic prowess? Mitchell can guard both forwards and can rebound against seven-footers with ease. If the Cavs made this pick, they would set their 4 and 5 as Mitchell and Nerlens Noel, respectively, which would be one of the best defensive combos in the league.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway Jr, SG, Michigan
Tim Hardaway, Jr. is an excellent lights-out shooter from range. The Bulls struggled without Derrick Rose and haven't had a solid three-point shooter for some time. Adding Hardaway, Jr. would be the best move for the Bulls at the No. 20 slot.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Utah has a very strong frontcourt, but it can't hurt to add another talented big man, especially if Withey is on the board and if Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap leave Utah this offseason. Withey is great at defending around the rim and can rebound with the best of them. Withey might not be the offensive threat that Jefferson and Millsap are, but his defense certainly makes up for it.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
The Nets don't have much in the frontcourt after Brook Lopez. Gorgui Dieng would be a great addition to the Nets, adding a huge defensive stopper who was the Big East defensive player of the year.
The Nets need some help on the defensive side of the ball and Dieng would be the best option if he falls all the way to No. 22.
23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
The former Hurricane is quite possibly the most athletic point guard in the draft and would be a perfect match for the Pacers. The Pacers struggled in the playoffs with George Hill off the floor. Larkin has the raw talent and ability to fill in for Hill until he gets comfortable enough in the NBA.
24. New York Knicks: Rudy Gobert, C, France
Gobert is a huge risk in this year's draft, but he has a ton of upside. He's got a ridiculous wingspan over seven feet and would definitely be a project for the Knicks to work on. Having him come in and learn with some of the Knicks' veteran bigs would be the perfect place for Gobert to hone his skills and develop into an NBA big man.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
The Clippers can't go wrong picking up an amazing shooter like Crabbe. Crabbe is a pin-point shooter from deep and would be a great addition solely as another weapon for Chris Paul to kick out to. That is, if Chris Paul is still on the team when the season starts.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (Via Memphis): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Karasev has shot the lights out in his native country for years and is one of the best international players who is considering making the jump to the NBA. He would be a great addition for the Wolves as someone who could open up the floor and take a little attention off their other scorers.
27. Denver Nuggets: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
If you need a definition of amazing raw athletic talent, look up Giannis Adetokunbo. This 6'9'' small forward from Greece has been dominating the Greek scene. His highlight tapes look like Kevin Durant (minus the jumper) and are extremely impressive.
He'd be an exceptionally risky pick in the first round, but the Nuggets lost their head coach and are going through a lot of changes. Adding an incredible international talent that they can groom could either make or break his success in the NBA.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Nogueira, C, Spain
The Spurs are no strangers to international superstars. We've seen them make stars of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, and with an aging Tim Duncan, they need to shore up their frontcourt of the future. Adding a great defensive talent like Nogueira would be a great move for the Spurs and Greg Popovich.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League
With injuries to Westbrook and an early exit in the playoffs, the Thunder and Kevin Durant could use any offensive help they can get. While Glen Rice Jr. has had some off-court issues, he's a very talented scorer. He can also pass and rebound well enough to be a solid role player who can score 20 on random nights.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami): Tony Snell, SF, New Mexico
Tony Snell might be the last pick in the first round in this mock, but he's way better than No. 30 talent. Snell is a sharpshooter and has decent athletic talent, and while he won't exactly be a starter any time soon, he could be an exceptional role player for the Suns for years to come.
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