2013 NBA Mock Draft: Will the Cavaliers Take Nerlens Noel or Alex Len?
For the first time in years, there's a pretty solid debate over who will be the No. 1 pick. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman thinks it will be Len. ESPN's Chad Ford is going with Noel. There are even some who think they may go with Georgetown's Otto Porter.
Apparently, this is what happens when a draft class lacks bona fide superstars
The top picks in the last five drafts were Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose. There was little concern about any of them prior to the draft. The level of doubt this year might even compel Cleveland to try trading the pick.
No matter what happens, the dominoes will fall Thursday night, and this mock draft will predict which way they go.
1: Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)
2012-13: 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks
The concerns surrounding Nerlens Noel are certainly legitimate. He's coming off a torn ACL he suffered last season, and he damaged a growth plate in his left knee in high school. Portland once ignored Greg Oden's injury history, and look what happened there.
In addition to his potential frailty, Noel doesn't have much of an offensive game. He barely averaged double-figures in college, and a lot of his points came off putbacks and dunks set up by teammates.
Having said that, his prowess as a defender will make him an instant impact player for the Cavs. Defense often translates to the next level better than offense, and anyone who averages over four blocks at college's highest level will be able to affect shots in the NBA.
The injuries are a concern, but ACL procedures have come a long way in the last few years, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Noel's recovery is ahead of schedule.
As for the offense, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters can do plenty of scoring. And if Noel needs to be set up for dunks by someone else, there aren't many options better than Irving.
2: Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo (Indiana)
2012-13: 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 60 percent from the field, 44 percent from three
Victor Oladipo's stock as an NBA prospect has skyrocketed over the course of this year. Adding a three-point stroke to top-tier athleticism and an unrelenting work ethic on the floor made him one of the best players in the country.
The Magic need a point guard, but perhaps more than that, an attitude adjustment. Oladipo can get them moving toward that.
3: Washington Wizards: Otto Porter (Georgetown)
2012-13: 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 42 percent from three
Otto Porter is one of the most well-rounded players in the 2013 class. He did a little bit of everything for the Hoyas last year, and Washington will look for him to continue his solid play in DC.
The Wizards have solid starters at four of five positions (John Wall, Bradley Beal, Emeka Okafor and Nene), and Porter could easily slide into the small forward slot.
A fringe benefit of this pick is DC-area fans will love it since they've been able to see plenty of him at Georgetown. I sat next to a Wizards fan at the Verizon Center in March who couldn't stop talking about the team's chance to keep Porter in town.
4: Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len (Maryland)
2012-13: 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks
Alex Len was relatively unknown just a few short months ago. Now, he's a dark horse candidate to be the No. 1 pick.
He's not the defender or athlete Nerlens Noel is, but Len has a distinct advantage in that he actually has an offensive game. He has good touch around the rim, a mid-range jump shot and good vision and passing ability out of the post.
The void up front for the Bobcats is gaping, and Len could be a starter right away. If they draft on talent alone, they might go with Kansas' Ben McLemore.
5: Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore (Kansas)
2012-13: 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 42 percent from three
Ben McLemore might have the most pure talent of any player in this draft. He has a sweet jump-shooting stroke, a prototype NBA shooting guard frame and the kind of athleticism fans scream for and GMs drool over.
Some feel McLemore may be the next Ray Allen. Those are lofty expectations, and whatever team lands him will be happy if he accomplishes half of what Allen has in his career.
I'm sure Phoenix would be thrilled if McLemore fell to No. 5 and he could start right away for the Suns, who were a complete mess last season.
6: New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke (Michigan)
2012-13: 18.6 points, 6.6 assists
National Player of the Year Trey Burke lived up to his accolades all the way through last season's Final Four. All season, he demonstrated not only great skill, but the kind of leadership required to run a winning team.
Greivis Vasquez was fantastic for New Orleans at point last year, but has the size (6'6") to slide over to shooting guard. A backcourt of Burke and Vasquez could be one of the best distributing combos in the league. If it panned out, they could move injury-prone Eric Gordon.
7: Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett (UNLV)
2012-13: 15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds
Anthony Bennett possesses extreme athleticism, NBA strength and solid guard skills for a big man. His versatility should help him be productive earlier than many of his peers in this class.
The biggest problem for Bennett is lack of height, but his 7'1" wingspan should help make up for that.
The Kings went for a power forward in last year's draft when they selected Thomas Robinson, but they already traded him to the Rockets. They may take another shot at the position Thursday.
8: Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)
2012-13: 11.9 points, 7.3 assists, 2.8 steals
Michael Carter-Williams is perhaps the best pure point guard available. He's a pass-first player who makes his teammates better.
His great vision is due in part to a distinct advantage he has over most players at his position—height. At 6'6", Carter Williams will be a matchup nightmare for undersized defenders.
He could fit nicely into Detroit's backcourt alongside Brandon Knight, who may be more suited to play shooting guard.
9: Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia)
2012-13: 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a great shooter with very deep range. He shot seven threes a game and made 37 percent of them. But he's not just a one-trick pony, as evidenced by his rebound numbers.
Minnesota was unstable at shooting guard last year, with Brandon Roy's retirement, Alexey Shved's inexperience and J.J. Barea's lack of size. Caldwell-Pope could bring some consistency, or at least depth.
10: Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller (Indiana)
2012-13: 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds
Cody Zeller's stock has gone up and down like a yo-yo over his two seasons as a Hoosier. Following a strong showing at the NBA combine, things are looking up.
He is a legitimate seven-footer with a 38" vertical leap. He's also starting to convince people he might be able to play a stretch four by showing off some range on his jump shot in workouts.
The Trail Blazers had one of the most consistent starting lineups in the NBA last season, but the bench was woefully bad. Zeller could provide some depth behind LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson (if he's still there).
11: Philadelphia 76ers: Steven Adams (Pittsburgh)
2012-13: 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks
Like Zeller, Steven Adams has the combination of size and athleticism. He was not very productive at Pittsburgh, but his physical tools will still make him a lottery pick based on upside.
The 76ers will almost certainly be parting ways with Andrew Bynum (whom they once thought they might build a team around) and could use some depth behind Spencer Hawes.
12: Oklahoma City Thunder: Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga)
2012-13: 18.1 points, 7.3 rebounds
Kelly Olynyk is an interesting prospect. He was one of the most effective players in the country and led his team to a No. 1 seed in the national tournament. But his detractors point to the fact that he played in a mid-major conference and suggest he was exposed against better competition in March.
The Thunder are good enough to gamble with a lottery pick and need some offense inside to provide the kind of balance Kendrick Perkins cannot.
13: Dallas Mavericks: CJ McCollum (Lehigh)
2012-13: 23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 52 percent from three
C.J. McCollum can score—a lot. He may be the best pure scorer in the draft. He can get to the rim with a great first step and has deep range to provide balance to his game.
The Mavericks are just two years removed from an NBA title, but may already be on the edge of a rebuilding. Perhaps the most important position at which to start a rebuilding is point guard.
14: Utah Jazz: Shane Larkin (Miami)
2012-13: 14.5 points, 4.6 assists, 41 percent from three
Shane Larkin's performance in college alone would have made him a first-round pick, but he solidified his status as a potential lottery pick with a great showing at the NBA combine. His 44" vertical leap and solid times in the agility drills showed that Larkin is a top-tier athlete, even by NBA standards.
Utah's need at point guard has been well documented, and Larkin could be another solid piece of a young core that already includes Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.
15: Milwaukee Bucks: Dennis Schröder (Germany)
19-year-old German point guard Dennis Schröder's draft stock has been on the rise since his strong showing at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland.
With 18 points and six assists, Schröder helped lead the World Team to a 112-98 victory over a USA squad that featured Jabari Parker.
With a 6'8" wingspan, Schröder's frame is reminiscent of Mavericks guard Rodrigue Beaubois. His speed and quickness are comparable as well. One difference could be a tighter handle for Schröder, who showed deft ball-handling skills in Portland.
The Bucks could lose both Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings to free agency and might need some new blood in the backcourt.
16: Boston Celtics: Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA)
2012-13: 17.9 points, 5.2 rebounds
Doc Rivers is off to the Clippers, and Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or both could be the next ones moved elsewhere.
Shabazz Muhammad may not fall this far, but if he does, he could be a critical part of a rebuilding for perhaps the league's most celebrated franchise.
He responded pretty well to the pressure of being one of the nation's top prospects out of high school, but this would be a whole different animal.
17: Atlanta Hawks: Giannis Adetokunbo (Greece)
If they miss out on those two free agents, they'll look to start fresh and their 2013 draft picks will suddenly become pretty important.
Adetokunbo is a solid point forward with great passing and ball-handling ability for his size. The learning curve will be steep for the 18-year-old overseas prospect, but the idea of a 6'9" point guard has to be intriguing.
18: Atlanta Hawks: Reggie Bullock (North Carolina)
2012-13: 13.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 43 percent from three
Reggie Bullock is one of the best shooters in the draft, and that's one skill that almost always translates to the next level.
The Hawks could be losing Kyle Korver to free agency and Bullock could step into his position. He's not quite the shooter Korver is, but he's certainly more athletic and well-rounded.
19: Cleveland Cavaliers: Sergey Karasev (Russia)
After addressing their need at center with the No. 1 overall pick, Cleveland will look to add some shooting to space the floor for Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Nerlens Noel.
Sergey Karasev can provide that, along with great court vision and passing ability for a 6'9" wing.
20: Chicago Bulls: Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State)
2012-13: 16.6 points, 9.4 rebounds
The Bulls have had a need for a shooting guard for some time. While Jamaal Franklin doesn't really cover the "shooting" part, he can certainly provide plenty of defense, rebounding and tenacity to any backcourt.
Like fellow San Diego State Aztec Kawhi Leonard, Franklin is an elite rebounder for a wing and plays hard whenever he's on the floor. Sounds like just the kind of player Tom Thibodeau would love to pair with Derrick Rose.
21: Utah Jazz: Lucas Nogueira (Brazil)
Like a lot of big men in basketball today, Lucas Nogueira may not provide a ton of offense, but he can still impact a game. His athleticism and 7'6" wingspan will help him protect NBA rims.
The Jazz could be in need of some size if they lose both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap this summer. Nogueira could be a defensive weapon off the bench behind Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.
22: New Jersey Nets: Gorgui Dieng (Louisville)
2012-13: 9.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 blocks
New Jersey has a very solid starting five, but could use some depth inside. Gorgui Dieng could be a nice rebounding and defensive specialist behind Brook Lopez, who averaged less than six rebounds last year.
23: Indiana Pacers: Tony Snell (New Mexico)
2012-13: 12.5 points, 2.9 assists
Tony Snell can certainly improve his consistency, but his athleticism and solid outside shooting have helped solidify him as a first-round pick over the last few weeks.
The Pacers are an up and coming team, but they have a couple question marks on the wings (Danny Granger's health and Lance Stephenson's erratic play).
24: New York Knicks: Nate Wolters (South Dakota State)
2012-13: 22.6 points, 5.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds
This pick may seem pretty wild, but stick with me here. ESPN's Chad Ford has said he thinks Nate Wolters may be a sleeper here, and it makes sense.
The Knicks are losing Jason Kidd and possibly J.R. Smith. Pablo Prigioni was a 35-year-old rookie. And Raymond Felton has had trouble staying healthy the last two years.
Wolters has great size, handles and vision. He gets his teammates involved, but also has the ability to take over a game himself.
This would be a high-risk pick, but the Knicks considered rolling the dice on Jimmer Fredette a couple years ago. They may take a chance on a similar player in 2013.
25: Los Angeles Clippers: Ricky Ledo (Providence)
After missing his entire freshman year after being declared ineligible, Ledo is shrouded in mystery. But solid workouts in which he's been able to display good athleticism and great shooting and passing have solidified his status as a first-round pick, in spite of never appearing in a game for the Friars.
He would have plenty of time to adjust to the NBA game playing in a wing rotation that already includes Caron Butler and Jamal Crawford.
26: Minnesota Timberwolves: Rudy Gobert (France)
Gobert will almost certainly need to get stronger (just 238 pounds on his 7'2" frame), but his length could make him an instant defensive factor in the NBA.
The 20-year-old Frenchman has a 7'9" wingspan and averaged just under two blocks in 23 minutes a game in France last season.
He also shot a red-hot 72 percent from the field, showing he knows his limitations on offense and takes smart shots.
The Timberwolves might lose Nikola Pekovic this summer and would need players with size to replace him.
27: Denver Nuggets: Allen Crabbe (California)
2012-13: 18.4 points, 6.1 rebounds
With a new coach in Brian Shaw, and Andre Iguodala set to explore free agency, the Nuggets are in limbo right now. If they lose Iguodala, adding a wing will make sense.
Crabbe's length (6'11" wingspan) could make him a nightmare defensively, and his ability to shoot outside could provide some balance to a drive-happy team that currently has little.
28: San Antonio Spurs: Jeff Withey (Kansas)
2012-13: 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.9 blocks
Tim Duncan is getting old and Tiago Splitter was exposed in the postseason. San Antonio needs to add size and Jeff Withey seems like exactly their kind of prospect.
He loves to impact a game on defense, is a team-first guy and a four-year player at Kansas. His IQ and attitude would be welcome on a Gregg Popovich team.
29: Oklahoma City Thunder: Tim Hardaway Jr.
2012-13: 14.2 points, 4.5 rebounds
Like I said before, the Thunder don't have a ton of needs, but if they lose Kevin Martin, they might have a small one at shooting guard.
Tim Hardaway could help replace the shooting and general scoring ability Martin provided off the bench for the team last year.
30: Phoenix Suns: Glen Rice Jr.
2012-13 (D-League): 14.5 points, 6.6 rebounds
Even with Ben McLemore taken at No. 5, the Suns might look to add another sharpshooting wing here.
Glen Rice had a great season in the D-League, and having he and McLemore on opposite wings could create a lot of space around the rim.
31: Cleveland Cavaliers: Mason Plumlee (C, Duke)
It's pretty difficult to see Plumlee slipping out of the first round, but there's certainly a chance. He could be a nice backup plan for Nerlens Noel.
32: Oklahoma City Thunder: Tony Mitchell (PF, North Texas)
Mitchell is another fringe first-rounder whom the Thunder can use to bolster depth behind Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka.
33: Cleveland Cavaliers: Erick Green (PG/SG, Virginia Tech)
The Cavs already have a great young backcourt with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Green (who led the nation in scoring last year at 25.0 a game) could back both them up as a combo guard.
34: Houston Rockets: Isaiah Canaan (PG, Murray State)
Jeremy Lin is signed for a couple more years, but he's terribly inconsistent. Canaan was one of the best scorers in the nation last year.
35: Philadelphia 76ers: Pierre Jackson (PG, Baylor)
The 76ers could use a backup point guard for Jrue Holiday.
36: Sacramento Kings: Alex Abrines (SG, Spain)
The Kings might lose Tyreke Evans, making shooting guard a priority for them in the draft. Abrines is a great outside shooter who can space the floor for DeMarcus Cousins.
37: Detroit Pistons: C.J. Leslie (SF/PF, North Carolina State)
C.J. Leslie was a potential lottery pick prior to last season but didn't wow many scouts in 2012-13. He's still very talented and could be a nice addition to a front line that already includes Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
38: Washington Wizards: Mike Muscala (C, Bucknell)
The Wizards already have Emeka Okafor and Nene, but they're in the latter halves of their respective careers. Muscala was one of the most productive big men in the nation last year.
39: Portland Trail Blazers: Archie Goodwin (SG, Kentucky)
The Blazers have a bunch of picks on Thursday night and could stockpile talent or take a bunch of risks in the second round. Goodwin is actually a decent bet for a second-round player. He averaged over 14 points as a freshman for John Callipari.
40: Portland Trail Blazers: Grant Jerrett (PF, Arizona)
Jerrett was an excellent stretch four for Arizona. Half of his shots were threes, and he hit 41 percent of those attempts.
41: Memphis Grizzlies: Andre Roberson (SF, Colorado)
42: Philadelphia 76ers: Deshaun Thomas (SF/SG, Ohio State)
43: Milwaukee Bucks: Colton Iverson (C, Colorado State)
Iverson averaged nearly 14 and 10 for the Rams last year and won the Mountain West Conference's Newcomer of the Year.
44: Dallas Mavericks: Livio Jean-Charles (PF, France)
45: Portland Trail Blazers: Lorenzo Brown (PG, North Carolina State)
46: Utah Jazz: Erik Murphy (PF, Florida)
The Jazz were in the bottom third of the NBA in made threes last season and Erik Murphy could help remedy that. The 6'10" forward hit 45 percent from downtown last year.
47: Atlanta Hawks: Jackie Carmichael (PF, Illinois State)
48: Los Angeles Lakers: James Southerland (SF, Syracuse)
49: Chicago Bulls: Myck Kabongo (PG, Texas)
50: Atlanta Hawks: Ray McCallum (PG, Detroit)
51: Orlando Magic: Phil Pressey (PG, Missouri)
52: Minnesota Timberwolves: Nemanja Nedovic (SG, Serbia)
53: Indiana Pacers: Ryan Kelly (PF, Duke)
Could a Dukie replace former Tar Heel Tyler Hansbrough in Indiana's rotation? Ryan Kelly is very versatile offensively for a 6'10" player, but lacks the motor of Hansbrough.
54: Washington Wizards: Trevor Mbakwe (PF, Minnesota)
55: Memphis Grizzlies: B.J. Young (PG, Arkansas)
56: Detroit Pistons: D.J. Cooper (PG, Ohio)
57: Phoenix Suns: Arsalan Kazemi (PF, Oregon)
58: San Antonio Spurs: Seth Curry (PG/SG, Duke)
There's a good chance Curry could go the way of John Scheyer and get passed up on draft night. I still think someone will take a chance on a guy who averaged over 17 points while shooting 44 percent from three-point range.
59: Minnesota Timberwolves: James Ennis (SF, Long Beach State)
60: Memphis Grizzlies: Richard Howell (PF, North Carolina State)