The 2013 NBA draft is mere days away, making this a great chance to get familiar with how the first round could shake out and which prospects you need to keep an eye on leading up to the big event on Thursday.
Much of the attention—and rightfully so—will be on the college stars, as it seems everyone wants to know where these big-name players will wind up.
Worry not, as I have you covered in my latest mock draft. This one focuses on where the best and brightest players from the collegiate ranks will come off the board, so read on and find out.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
The Cavs rebuilding effort is nearly complete and the team can get there by selecting a high-upside big man on June 27.
It’s going to be a tough choice for general manager Chris Grant, as he’ll have to decide between Len and Nerlens Noel, the two premier centers in this class.
In this scenario, we have Len coming off the board at No. 1, as his deliberate back-to-the-basket game, skill in the pick-and-roll style and legit 7’1” size separate him from the rest of the pack.
2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
As if there was any doubt after his sophomore season with the Wolverines, Burke is a special talent that possesses rare intangibles to compliment his elite-level scoring and facilitating ability.
He’s an ideal fit with Orlando, as this team has to replace Jameer Nelson and complete the youth movement in the Magic Kingdom.
While Burke may not be the tallest or most athletic point guard in the draft, he’s a proven winner, great teammate and overall excellent prospect that will find success at the next level.
3. Washington Wizards: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
The Wizards will be the real winners of the draft lottery if they can select Noel here at No. 3.
Not only would this team have moved up from a projected draft position of No. 8, but also landed a prospect many believe is worth the No. 1 selection.
This club already possesses two solid young guards in Bradley Beal and John Wall, and now just needs a promising pivot to form a nucleus to contend in the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Oladipo is an absolute steal for Charlotte here, as the Indiana guard can help change the fortunes of this downtrodden franchise.
Not only is Oladipo an effective and efficient scorer, he’s also prone to making an impact when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands. This Hoosiers star is a lockdown defender that inspires teammates to bring the same level of intensity and effort.
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
McLemore is a special talent that can squeeze off a shot at will from the perimeter, utilizing a lightning-quick release and elite form to knock down three-pointers at a regular clip.
However, McLemore is prone to stretches of disengagement and wasn’t anything close to the most consistent star during his lone season with the Jayhawks.
The Suns will have to gamble that he can stay focused if they take him at No. 5, a draft position that represents great value for his services.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Porter is a perfect fit in NOLA, as the new-look Pelicans finally get the swingman they need to compliment Eric Gordon at the 2 and Anthony Davis at the 4.
While the Hoyas star isn’t exactly a creator off the bounce and can’t carry the scoring load, he’s a solid player that can defend, rebound, knock down open looks and more.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF/SF, UNLV
Bennett is a steal for the Kings here, as the Rebels star can play both forward positions with equal effectiveness.
Whether he’s banging underneath and using his strength to outmuscle taller opponents or sitting out on the perimeter hitting treys, there will always be a way for this rebuilding Sacramento squad to get Bennett in the lineup.
8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Pistons need a facilitator that can set up teammates in position to score, especially the blossoming big-man tandem of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
If Detroit goes with a point guard here, it would allow burgeoning star Brandon Knight to move to his more natural position of off-guard.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Caldwell-Pope may be remembered as the best shooting guard to come from this class when all is said and done.
The Georgia star can create his own shot, bomb away from deep, defend his position, pass well and more. The only weakness in his game is ball-handling, which could be easily disguised while playing in a backcourt featuring Ricky Rubio.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh
The Blazers would draft McCollum as a 2, considering Rookie of the Year winner Damian Lillard has locked up the 1 for the next few years at the very least.
Albeit a bit undersized, the Lehigh product may have the deepest range on his jumper in this draft and is crafty enough to get past bigger defenders and quick enough to beat the faster ones to the rim.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana
Zeller is an NBA-ready prospect that can finish at the cup and run the floor like a deer.
The Sixers need some immediate help in their frontcourt, making this a slam-dunk selection for both parties.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
The Thunder have the luxury of taking a risk on a high-reward prospect here, of which there are plenty available.
Adams may be the best on the board and fills a potential need, as this big man could become a starter down the line and eventually replace Kendrick Perkins.
Although he’s ready to contribute now due to his size and defensive ability, the young New Zealand native has to put in a lot more gym time to polish his offense into something resembling respectable.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece
The “Greek Freak” is a great pick for the Mavs, as they can allow him to develop overseas and free up some cap space for a run at a marquee free agent this summer.
Antetokounmpo has superstar potential, but it’s going to take years for him to physically and mentally prepare for the rigors of an NBA season.
Don’t be surprised if owner Mark Cuban bites the bullet and takes a chance here, as he could hit one out of the park if this kid reaches his ceiling.
14. Utah Jazz: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
The Jazz are in desperate need for a new ball distributor, as they struggled mightily in that area in 2012-13.
With a number of young bigs expected to step up into larger roles next season, Larkin could find them in position to score and speed up the tempo when he’s on the court.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Olynyk, PF, Gonzaga
Olynyk isn’t much of a defender or athlete, but he can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting.
Considering the Bucks frontcourt struggles to generate points and has issues opening things up for the penetrating guards, this ‘Zags star could be a revelation in Milwaukee.
16. Boston Celtics: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The C’s will be getting a ton of value if Muhammad is still on the board, as this UCLA product can simply score the basketball.
With Paul Pierce set to ride off into the sunset in the near future, this left-handed swingman could take over as the franchise’s top option in the offense.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke
Plumlee may not have the same upside as some of these other big men, but the Blue Devils star will find a way to get minutes on a nightly basis.
Whether he’s needed for his hustle, defense, rebounding or general energy, the Hawks will want to have Plumlee out on the floor at least 15-20 minutes per game.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
The Hawks could nab a player that will far exceed expectations at this draft position if he’s able to develop a jump shot early on in his career.
Franklin is a high-upside, uber-athletic guard with a motor that will not quit. His inconsistent jay is the only thing stopping him from becoming a star at this juncture.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Karasev can either be stashed in Europe or brought over immediately, depending on whether or not the Cavs want another developmental piece.
While his three-point shooting will make him an immediate asset, he has to bulk up and work on putting the ball on the floor.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway, Jr., SG, Michigan
Hardaway Jr. has infinite range on his jumper and the mentality of a winner, but he has to improve his shot selection and handle.
If he’s able to line up across from Derrick Rose in the Bulls backcourt, he will become a formidable 2 that is more than capable of hitting open treys and using his 6’6” frame to lock up other guards.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
If Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap depart via free agency this summer, the Jazz will have a major need for more depth in the frontcourt.
Enter Withey, a seven-footer with shot-blocking skills and the willingness to protect the rim whenever he’s on the floor. His lack of offense may keep him from becoming a star, but this Jayhawks product will have a long future coming off the bench in Utah.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Dieng is a great shot-blocker that can also pass extremely well for a big man out of the low post.
While the national championship winner has limited upside at the age of 23, he could be a great rim protector behind Brook Lopez for the Nets.
23. Indiana Pacers: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Mitchell can play both forward positions and adds a lot of athleticism to the Pacers’ downtrodden second unit.
While Indy clearly needs a backup point guard more than anything, expect them to try to address that via free agency this summer.
24. New York Knicks: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Schroeder may become the point guard of the future in New York, as the German-born athlete is a perfect fit on the roster now that Jason Kidd is retired and coaching the Nets.
While he’s more of a penetrator and finisher at this point in his career, the international star is an unselfish player that will likely improve his passing tremendously in the near future.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Nate Wolters, PG/SG, South Dakota State
Wolters is a big guard that is used to scoring almost every time he touches the rock.
While he’s going to have to defer and play off the ball more in the NBA, he could soak minutes behind Chris Paul in L.A., especially if Eric Bledsoe is finally traded.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Rudy Gobert, C, France
Gobert is an absolute steal for the T-Wolves here, as they can bolster their front line and add a high-upside prospect that many felt would go in the lottery.
It may take a few years for the Frenchman to develop the basic basketball skills and athleticism required to compete in the NBA, but there’s little risk in taking a chance on Gobert at No. 26 in a weak draft.
27. Denver Nuggets: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
Abrines is a high-upside Eurostash player that the Nuggets can eventually bring over or use his rights as a trading chip.
Either way, the team is simply too loaded with depth to bring in a player to compete for a roster spot in 2013-14.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
Ledo may not have played a minute of college ball, but he still has elite scoring ability and tons of upside.
The Spurs should take a chance on this high-risk, high-reward prospect and hope that he could eventually replace Manu Ginobili’s production coming off the bench.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Nogueira is oozing athleticism and upside, but has yet to figure out how to play the game at a high level and isn’t quite comfortable in his big body just yet.
If he ever gets there, the Thunder may have another quality big man to add to the rotation.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League
Rice Jr. has had some character issues in the past, but those seem largely behind him now.
The Suns will be drafting a great D-League swingman that can shoot, rebound and pass at a high level here.
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