General managers are going to earn their money in the 2013 NBA Draft.
With so few standout players, scouts and GMs will really have to do their homework in order to ensure their team is not grabbing some player who's going to flame out in a few years.
Drafts can make or break a GM's career. Weak draft class or not, owners aren't going to be very forgiving if a team doesn't make the most of its draft pick and is left behind by its conference rivals.
Here's a mock draft of the first round, offering some help to NBA front offices by italicizing the players that aren't going to be worth taking because of their bust potential.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Nerlens Noel
It seems that the Cleveland Cavaliers taking Alex Len is becoming more and more of a reality. Alex Kennedy of"HOOPSWORLD" is reporting that there are a lot of people making the case for Len.
Maybe it’s more wishful thinking, but Noel just has to be the pick here. The only other player Cleveland should consider is Otto Porter, but only because he fills the biggest need.
If it becomes a showdown between Noel and Len, Noel has to get the edge. Although the ACL injury he suffered will keep him out for a bit, Noel should be able to get back on the court at some point in the 2013-14 season.
The Cavs don’t need a big man to produce right now. They need somebody who can be a force in the paint down the road. Noel will become that kind of player
2. Orlando Magic: SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
Ben McLemore has all the talent to become a perennial All-Star, but for whatever reason, he doesn’t seem to want to display it. ESPN’s Chad Ford brought it up in his Mock Draft 5.0. McLemore’s pre-draft workouts have left a lot to be desired.
You also have to look at his lone season at Kansas. He averaged 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds a game for the Jayhawks. Those are good numbers. You just can’t help but wonder, though, if McLemore could have done a little more, especially in the NCAA tournament.
He almost looks like a star player that doesn’t want to be a star. The Orlando Magic will be blinded by his high potential. While McLemore should turn into a very good player, he’s not going to live up to the hype. The Magic would be better off passing.
3. Washington Wizards: SF Otto Porter, Georgetown
Otto Porter doesn’t look to have a ton of upside, at least compared to Anthony Bennett. Regardless, he should be a very good player in the NBA. Porter is a tremendous perimeter defender. While his offense isn’t quite as advance, Porter should have no trouble making an impact. Plus, the Washington Wizards aren’t exactly a terrible basketball team. They should have enough to qualify for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Getting a player who can help more right now is a much better fit.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: SF/PF, Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Anthony Bennett has a ton of talent, but you just wonder if he’ll be a good fit in the league. He’s undersized for a power forward, and doesn’t have the kind of explosiveness to play the 3. If Bennett works out at the 4, he’ll be a huge help for the Charlotte Bobcats.
5. Phoenix Suns: SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Victor Oladipo is a major talent. For a Phoenix Suns team that needs help in a lot of places, Oladipo is a good start. He’s a very good perimeter defender and is constantly running everywhere on the court on the defensive end. Far from being just one-dimensional, Oladipo is also a good shooter. He’s the total package and could turn into the best player to come out of this draft.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: C Alex Len, Maryland
Anthony Davis should become a great defensive big man. His offense may never match up, though. That’s where Alex Len would come in. He’s a skilled center, especially on the offensive end. Len has enough athleticism to get up and down the court and enough moves on offense to present a great foil for Davis.
7. Sacramento Kings: SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Shabazz Muhammad wasn’t able to work out with the Sacramento Kings, but Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee is reporting he’ll have a meal with the team’s new GM.
Perhaps Muhammad always had his eyes on the NBA during his only season at UCLA. The former Bruin had a poor freshman year that overshadowed what is his true talent. Once he’s in the league, Muhammad should follow through on his promise.
8. Detroit Pistons: PG Trey Burke, Michigan
Trey Burke is a bit undersized for an NBA point guard, but that shouldn’t limit him too much. Burke might not be able to get to the hole as well as he could in college, but he’s a good enough shooter to score from out on the perimeter. Plus, he should fit in nicely with Brandon Knight, who looks to be more of a scorer than a distributor.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: PG/SG C.J. McCollum
Ricky Rubio is ready to take over as the starting point guard. As a result, Minnesota can go into this draft looking for a scorer rather than a point guard. The Timberwolves would be smart to get another guard, so that’s where C.J. McCollum makes sense. He’s more of a scorer than Rubio and could play the 2, which is more conducive to his game.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
There’s no doubting the Portland Trail Blazers could use a skilled big man. Steven Adams’ stock has been rapidly rising in recent months, but you have to wonder if he’d be worth a lottery pick.
Every year, there are multiple players who wow scouts during workouts, only to flame out when they hit the NBA. Adams had a good season at Pittsburgh; however, it was far from transcendent, and it was his only year in college.
When Adams hits the league, he’ll need a lot of time and work to ensure that his skills all come together to form a productive player. It’s a lot of risk for Portland and not worth taking him with the 10th overall pick.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: PF/C Cody Zeller, Indiana
Cody Zeller didn’t make the kind of jump you would have hoped last season. He’s got the moves necessary to succeed, but he’s still not strong enough. This season was probably as good a time as any to enter the draft, considering the talent pool and the fact that Zeller probably wouldn’t improve that much with one more season in college. The Philadelphia 76ers need somebody like Zeller, especially with the flop that Andrew Bynum has become since that trade.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
Oklahoma City could go for a center here to replace Kendrick Perkins. With the top players off the board, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a solid secondary option. The Thunder could let him develop on the bench, and eventually take over at the 2 for Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Martin.
13. Dallas Mavericks: PG Shane Larkin, Miami
There’s no way the Dallas Mavericks can win with Darren Collison as their starting point guard. They need to find a replacement, and the draft is a good place to look. Shane Larkin is a very good distributor who can knock down shots when he needs to.
14. Utah Jazz: PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany
Dennis Schroeder will need to work on his offensive game. Although his shooting has improved, he still has a little way to go. At 19 years old, the Utah Jazz would have plenty of time to refine Schroeder. He fills the biggest need for Utah and is the best point guard on the board.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
There have been plenty of point guards who have succeeded without much of a jump shot, so there’s definitely precedent to label Michael Carter-Williams a top point guard. He’s a good passer and even better defender.
Unfortunately, MCW is not going to reach the level of a Rajon Rondo. His offense has to be a concern for any prospective team. It’s going to be hard to rely on a point guard who has such a gaping hole in his game.
16. Boston Celtics: C Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
The Boston Celtics really need a center. Kevin Garnett can't play the 5 forever, and the time for him to step down may come sooner rather than later. Kelly Olynyk was a very efficient scorer and solid rebounder at Gonzaga. Although his ceiling is probably limited, he would be a great fit for Boston.
17. Atlanta Hawks: SG/SF Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
You have to envy the Atlanta Hawks. With back-to-back picks, they can target two players. Jamaal Franklin isn’t a great shooter. That’s the only thing really missing from his game. He’s a fantastic athlete who will be able to get to the basket. On defense, Franklin will be a constant hassle on the perimeter.
18. Atlanta Hawks: C Rudy Gobert, France
There’s a very good chance Rudy Gobert will go much earlier than 18. At 7’2”, he’s the kind of player who doesn’t come along very often. With his 7’9” wingspan, Gobert can almost dunk it without even getting off the ground. He’s still very raw at this point. If the Hawks can get him here, some of that risk would be offset.
You can't coach size. When you see Gobert, it's easy to see what all of the hype is about. He still has a long way to go with his game, though. His game has mostly revolved around simply being taller than his opposition. Gobert will need to refine his post game and develop some moves to be more than just a really tall guy. Plus, there's the threat that he won't add enough strength that will allow him to body up with opposing centers.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: SF Sergey Karasev, Russia
If the Cavs don’t go for Otto Porter with their first pick, they’ll address the 3 with their other first-rounder. Sergey Karasev is exactly the kind of player the Cavs need. For right now, they could stick with Alonzo Gee until Karasev is more ready to make the leap to the NBA.
20. Chicago Bulls: SF/PF Tony Mitchell, North Texas
The Chicago Bulls don’t need to fill a ton of voids this offseason. They can afford to take the best player available. Tony Mitchell is a very good defender and would fit in very well with a Tom Thibodeau-coached team.
21. Utah Jazz: C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
Gorgui Dieng is unlikely to give you much offensively. Occasionally he’ll go for 15 or so points, but he’s never going to be a high-skilled post player. He makes up for that on the defensive end. Dieng is a good rim protector and should develop into a very good rebounder in the NBA. What’s even better is that he’s not going to need a ton of work when he does hit the league.
22. Brooklyn Nets: SF Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece
There’s a lot of risk with Giannis Adetokunbo. He’s a great athlete who’s got good skills for his size. While no player is a guarantee, with Adetokunbo, the chance is significant that he’s just a freak who’s gifts will translate to the NBA. At 22, the Brooklyn Nets can’t afford to pass up his potential. He could be a massive upgrade for the Nets at the 3.
23. Indiana Pacers: SG Allen Crabbe, California
Allen Crabbe is the kind of scorer the Indiana Pacers need. Over the past couple of seasons, Crabbe has made some nice strides in his offensive game. He is also an intelligent player on the court. Crabbe knows how and where to move to grab the defense’s attention and take some pressure off his teammates.
24. New York Knicks: PG Lorenzo Brown, NC State
When Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni are your best point guards, it’s probably smart to look for some upgrades. Lorenzo Brown doesn’t have the kind of hype of many points in this draft, and his stock took a bit of a hit after NC State’s underwhelming season. Still, Brown is a a solid floor general and would be a nice addition to an experienced New York Knicks team.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: SG Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
While Jamal Crawford had a very good season, the Los Angeles Clippers could use another perimeter shooter. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a good addition for a team that wants to win now. He’s a very polished shooter who could contribute to the Clippers right away.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: SF Glen Rice Jr., Rio Grande Valey Vipers
The wing is an area of concern for the Minnesota Timberwolves. If they can add a guard like C.J. McCollum with their first pick, that would leave a few good options for them at 26. Glen Rice Jr. did well in the D-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He is a good shooter and definitely ready for the NBA, although his potential is a bit limited.
27. Denver Nuggets: C Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
Lucas Nogueira has been rising on many experts’ draft boards, so he could go much earlier than the 27th pick. If he falls to the Denver Nuggets, it would be a good situation for both parties Denver could afford to keep him abroad for another season or two.
28. San Antonio Spurs: C Jeff Withey, Kansas
With Jeff Withey, you know exactly what you're getting. He's not going to dazzle you with a lot of skills. Withey is a solid rebounder and shot-blocker. As a backup center, he should have a long, productive career in the league.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mike Muscala, Bucknell
Mike Muscala is the kind of center the Oklahoma City Thunder could use. He’s good on the offensive end and can hit the boards. Muscala, however, didn’t help himself in the NCAA tournament. It’s a bit unfair, though, to knock him so much for such a small sample size. Plus, he would be miles better than Kendrick Perkins.
30. Phoenix Suns: SG Ricky Ledo, Providence
It’s a bit of a misnomer to list Ricky Ledo as coming out of Providence considering he never played a game there. You have to worry about a player’s demeanor after he misses an entire year of college because of academics. With Ledo, though, the talent outweighs some of those concerns. Taking him this late in the first round also takes out some of the risk.