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NBA Mock Draft 2013: Complete Forecast for First Round

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NBA Mock Draft 2013: Complete Forecast for First Round
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NBA draft is nearly upon us, as mere hours separate us from the annual selection process. While few know what will transpire on draft night, surveying the field provides insight as to what may be.

So how will the first round of action transpire?

Without a single pick locked in place, the 2013 NBA draft is proving to be as unpredictable as any year we've ever seen. That's not a hyperbolic statement, but one of fact, as no player has emerged as the consensus No. 1 choice.

Plain and simple, nothing is certain in 2013—but here's how it could go down.

 

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

 

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the Cleveland Cavaliers are involved in trade talks to move the first-overall draft choice. The most active suitors include the Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

If Cleveland stays at No. 1, however, it will come down to a decision between Alex Len and Nerlens Noel.

Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune and Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops report that Cleveland is favoring Len. According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.com, the Cavaliers are free to do what they want with the draft, but must make the playoffs in 2013-14.

Right now, that's where the signs are pointing.

There's reason to doubt the validity of these rumors, as the knock on Noel is that he's coming off of knee surgery. With that being said, Len received surgery on his left ankle to stabilize a partial stress fracture in early May.

Based on what the NBA community is saying, however, Len will be the pick.

 

2. Orlando Magic: 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 Orlando Magic are learning toward selecting Nerlens Noel if he falls to No. 2. That may be upsetting to some fans who prefer Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore, but it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.

Plain and simple, it's all about upside.

Sources close to the Orlando Magic told ESPN.com on Saturday that if the Cavs pass on Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, the Magic are leaning strongly toward selecting him with the No. 2 pick in the draft.

The Magic, according to sources, scouted Noel heavily during the season and have been doing exhaustive background work on him over the past few months. The team believes that, with patience, Noel should end up being the best player in the draft.

 Popular or not, there is reason to believe such a report.

Noel is an elite defensive prospect, standing at 7'0" with a 7'4" wingspan and the explosive athleticism to both protect the rim and step out to the perimeter. While some view him as a project, Noel is an NBA-ready player from a defensive perspective.

Coming off of a torn ACL and weighing in at a disturbingly low weight is a concern, but there's a case to be made that Noel has the highest upside of all in this draft.

 

3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, UNLV Rebels

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

 

The Washington Wizards are one of the top defensive teams in the NBA, ranking eighth in scoring defense and fifth in opponent field-goal percentage. Unfortunately, they're also 28th in scoring offense and 27th in field-goal percentage.

Adding an offensive force is the only rational option.

According to Eric Detweiler of The Washington Post, franchise point guard John Wall believes the best route to take is to select a pick-and-pop power forward. While that may seem like a broad statement, the list is narrowed down to just one.

UNLV Rebels forward Anthony Bennett.

Bennett stands at 6'8" and 240 pounds with a 7'1" wingspan, suggesting that he could be a powerful low-post presence. The key here, however, is that Bennett is an effective three-point shooter with the athleticism to run in transition.

With minimal star potential in this draft class, creating a trio of Wall, Bradley Beal and Bennett is just too intriguing to pass over with limitless.

 

4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, Kansas Jayhawks 

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 have made a clear commitment to shooting, hiring the legendary Mark Price to be an assistant coach. They also possess glaring voids at every position but point guard and small forward.

While their options are wide open, the two most rational options are shooting guards Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo has been the top prospect on my big board for months, but the fit is too important here. The Bobcats may have holes that require the addition of the best player available, and that would be Oladipo, but the dropoff isn't far between he and McLemore.

Charlotte needs a shooter, more specifically a pure scorer, and McLemore is the best in the draft at just that.

McLemore would help form a potentially elite perimeter trio with point guard Kemba Walker and small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. While MKG serves as a potentially elite defensive player, Walker is a dynamic playmaker that was a borderline All Star in 2013.

All that's missing is a sharpshooter that can space the floor—McLemore can be that and much more.

 

5. Phoenix Suns: 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

 

The Phoenix Suns couldn't have seen this draft pan out any better than it did, as Victor Oladipo is at the top of their wish list. While they have holes at every position—it's a new general manager and all of the current personnel that failed miserably in 2012—Oladipo can be a franchise cornerstone.

At worst, Oladipo will be one of the best defenders in the NBA—that is worth a top-five draft choice.

Oladipo is an explosive athlete that moves well laterally and plays the passing lanes as well as any in the nation. Not only does he thrive as a ball hawk, but Oladipo can lock his man down and thrives coming off of screens to swipe steals out of a ball-handler's grip.

Plain and simple, Oladipo is an elite defensive prospect.

Offensively, Oladipo is a fast-break menace that transitions seamlessly into the open court and finishes well above the rim. In the halfcourt, Oladipo can shoot the three-ball and has an underrated handle that enables him to attack the basket.

Oladipo is a defensive force with offensive upside and the potential to be a perennial All Star.

 

6. New Orleans Pelicans: 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 New Orleans Pelicans have quite a few voids to fill, but none are as glaring as the one left at small forward. While Al-Farouq Aminu displays potential, the Pelicans are a team with just one position set for the future.

Adding another defensive specialist is the only way to take a step in the right direction.

Otto Porter is a gift at No. 6, as the Pelicans can't possibly expect his availability to be a certainty. Not only is Porter the most complete player in the draft, but he's viewed by the majority as a sure thing.

There's good reason for that.

Porter displays elite defensive promise, standing at 6'9" with a 7'2" wingspan and precise footwork when locking his man down. Offensively, the former Georgetown star handles the ball well, displays the ability to facilitate and shoots the three-ball at a clip above 40 percent.

There truly isn't a better fit for New Orleans.

 

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 starting over, bringing in a new owner, general manager and head coach. They're also preparing to see franchise player and former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans enter free agency.

The only rational move here is to find a point guard that can bring some form of direction to this franchise on the upswing.

Trey Burke of the Michigan Wolverines is the top point guard in this draft, thus making him the selection. Not only can Burke serve as the facilitator that Sacramento needs to bring its squad together, but he's one of the better scorers at his position.

That ability to both run the pick-and-roll and lead a transition scoring charge could be what pushes the Kings out of their never-ending rebuilding process.

For head coach Mike Malone, Burke is the perfect player to add to the mix. Malone had spent the past few seasons with Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, which suggests that he will maximize Burke's shooting ability.

Creating a low-high attack with DeMarcus Cousins must also be on the agenda.

 

8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Orange 

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 Detroit Pistons have the rare benefit of entering the draft with two franchise players in power forward Greg Monroe and center Andre Drummond. They also have mountains of cap space, which suggests that this pick will dictate how free agents view their franchise.

While Detroit may have a strong interior, they currently lack a true point guard, which makes signing on with them less than attractive—fortunately, they can fix that issue at No. 8.

Michael Carter-Williams is the top facilitator in this draft class and the point guard with the highest defensive upside. Not only does he see the floor well, but MCW is a smooth athlete that enters transition in a seamless manner.

It certainly doesn't hurt that he stands at 6'6" and 184 pounds with a 6'7" wingspan.

The Pistons are in dire need of a pure facilitator, as both Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey have proven to be combo guards. While they can handle point guard duties in a pinch, both have proven to be of a shoot-first mentality.

Finding a player that can run the pick-and-roll and set up his shooters is the only way for Detroit to return to promise—Carter-Williams can be that player.

 

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 finished 2012-13 at 30.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc, a full 2.4 percentage points worse than the second-lowest mark in the NBA. They also parted ways with shooting guard Brandon Roy.

It's safe to say that Minnesota needs a shooting guard.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fits their needs, as he possesses the size and shooting ability that Minnesota has lacked in recent seasons. This not only permits upside, but suggests that Caldwell-Pope could be an immediate contributor for the T-Wolves, as they're without a true alternative at the 2.

The fact that he can shoot is only half of the reasoning.

Caldwell-Pope is a two-way player that is revered for his offensive prowess but equally as dangerous defensively. Not only is he one of the top rebounders at his position, but the SEC Player of the Year is a game-changing ball hawk.

We could debate Caldwell-Pope's upside, but there truly aren't many holes in his game.

 

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

 

The Portland Trail Blazers ranked dead last in second-unit scoring during the 2012-13 NBA regular season. The progression of Will Barton and Meyers Leonard should help in 2013-14, but the Blazers remain without a defined Sixth Man.

C.J. McCollum can be that player.

McCollum is an excellent jump shooter that has displayed the ability to take his man off of the bounce. Not only can he finish in the paint, but McCollum is proficient as a drive-and-dish facilitator.

It just so happens that Portland is in the market for a player that can serve as their second-unit floor general.

As a 6'3" combo guard, McCollum has been labeled as a player that could end up playing point guard. While Damian Lillard may be Portland's point guard of the future, that possibility opens the door for McCollum to take part in a dual ball-handler set.

It's an approach that more and more teams are gravitating toward.

 

11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, Indiana Hoosiers 

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Position: Power Forward/Center

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 Philadelphia 76ers were ninth in scoring defense and 30th in scoring offense during the 2012-13 NBA regular season. That paints a perfect picture of what the Sixers have to offer, as they can control the pace and grind out defensive wins, but struggle to put up points.

For that reason, adding a dynamic offensive player appears to be the only option.

Cody Zeller certainly fits the bill, as he pairs a smooth mid-range game with the ability to work out of the post. While bulking up may be a focus, Zeller does have excellent size for a power forward at 7'0" and 230 pounds.

Even with a less than stellar wingspan, Zeller tested as the most explosive big man in the history of the scouting combine.

The key here is All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, as he's in need of a pick-and-pop partner. Zeller can serve as that force, as he's dangerous on the dive and more than capable of stepping out for a jump shot with three-point range.

There could be alternatives, but it's hard to imagine Philadelphia passing over Zeller at No. 11.

 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): 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

 

According to WEEI.com, the Oklahoma City Thunder informed Michael Carter-Williams that no matter whom they draft, that player will be sent to the NBA D-League. With Steven Adams and Shabazz Muhammad serving as their top two options, that makes this choice a relatively obvious one.

The Thunder need a franchise center and Adams could develop into that type of player—open and shut.

Adams has received his fair share of flak as a raw prospect, but the upside is present. He stands at 7'0" and 255 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan—more complete measurements than Cole Aldrich—and knows how to use his body.

Most importantly, he's an aggressive player that improved as his freshman season progressed.

Adams displays intriguing touch around the basket, thus suggesting that he could develop a strong low-post game. Defensively, he's a high-quality rebounder and one of the better shot blockers in this draft class.

There's no shortage of room for improvement, but Adams is the real deal as a project player.

 

13. Dallas Mavericks: Sergey Karasev, Russia

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 19

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

2012-13 Season Averages: N/A

 

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the Dallas Mavericks are looking to trade this pick as they attempt to free up cap space to make a run at Dwight Howard. If they're unable to make a trade, however, the Mavericks will go with an international player to draft-and-stash.

Sergey Karasev certainly fits the profile.

Karasev is a Russian shooting guard that, at 19, has reason to remain in Europe until he's at an NBA-ready level. While there's reason to believe that he could make the transition in 2013-14, the Mavericks would be best suited to keep him overseas for at least one more year.

As for the rumors of Shawn Marion being dealt, the Mavericks will be lucky to find a free agent as strong as the two-way forward—they'll realize that before they can pull the trigger on an outrageous trade.

In terms of what Karasev could bring to the team, the Russian off guard is a proficient ball-handler that thrives in attacking the basket off of the bounce. While his shooting prowess has been overstated, Karasev has the potential to be deadly from beyond the arc.

There's a long way to go defensively, but as a scorer and facilitator, Karasev could be a valuable piece in Dallas.

 

14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, Germany

 

Position: Point Guard

Age: 19

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

2012-13 Season Averages: N/A

 

The Utah Jazz are in need of a point guard, and even if there are likely to be options at No. 21, it's their most pressing need. Mo Williams is a strong player, but Utah need a franchise player that can grow with their current core.

That makes Dennis Schroeder the final lottery pick.

While I personally favor Shane Larkin at No. 14, Schroeder is ranked as one of the top 12 players in the draft by NBA general managers. That distinction makes him the selection here, as there is a strong feeling that he's the top international player in the draft.

Even if we're going off of value at No. 14, Schroeder is the pick.

Schroeder brings an interesting style to the table, as he has the build of Rajon Rondo and playing style of Ty Lawson. He stands at 6'2" with a 6'8" wingspan, all the while maintaining the elite level quickness to keep his man off balance.

With the potential to run the pick-and-roll at a high efficiency, pairing Schroeder with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter could be the answer in Utah.

 

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Shane Larkin, Miami Hurricanes

Position: Point Guard

Age: 20

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

2012-13 Season Averages: N/A

 

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the Milwaukee Bucks' most favored available options are Glen Rice Jr. and Shane Larkin. Rice Jr. is scheduled for another workout, which makes for an intriguing choice, but Milwaukee is prepared to see Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis leave in free agency.

With Milwaukee reportedly favoring Larkin, that makes him the selection at No. 15.

There is a chance that the Bucks manage to re-sign Jennings, albeit with a max contract. With no signs that Milwaukee will match every offer he receives, however, the Bucks will likely target an insurance policy, of sorts.

As lackluster as that may sound, it's the right move to make.

If the Bucks are able to re-sign Jennings, they'll have the rights to a promising young point guard that can work along the second unit and build up trade value. If they fail to bring Jennings back, however, Larkin could serve as the long-term answer at the position.

If the draft pans out like this, expect the Bucks to rejoice and name Larkin as their man.

 

16. Boston Celtics: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga Bulldogs

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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

 

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the Boston Celtics have singled down their search to four players, with Kelly Olynyk serving as the only player remaining. While some may view Olynyk as a relatively underwhelming player, that's far from the case.

Chad Ford of ESPN Insider reports that NBA general managers have Olynyk ranked as the No. 15 player in the draft.

Olynyk certainly fits in Boston, as he's a skilled big man that can provide an offensive spark both in transition and the halfcourt. Not only does he have a gorgeous mid-range jump shot, but Olynyk can put it on the floor and work out of the post.

Finding a defensive-minded player may be a focus, but Olynyk's upside and offensive efficiency is supreme.

The key here is that, regardless of whether they enter a rebuilding process, Olynyk fits. He can run in transition with Rajon Rondo, work the high screen game and even contribute as a facilitator.

Shabazz Muhammad is another option, but Olynyk gets the nod.

 

17. Atlanta Hawks: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Bruins

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 Atlanta Hawks are moving in a new direction, with former San Antonio Spurs director of basketball operations Danny Ferry serving as general manager and Mike Budenholzer as head coach. With this in mind, the Hawks will likely look for the best fit before the most promising value.

With that being said, it's hard to imagine Atlanta passing over Shabazz Muhammad should he drop this far.

Muhammad has his fair share of doubters, and with good reason, but he's one of the top offensive prospects in this draft class. Not only does he crash the offensive boards at a high rate, but he plays in a powerful manner and thrives in the open court.

Paired with the ability to shoot off of the catch, Muhammad's upside is undeniable here.

Seeing what the Spurs were able to do with Kawhi Leonard is intriguing enough to draw a comparison here. While Muhammad may not be the same player, Budenholzer helped Leonard improve his jump shooting and become a more complete player.

There's no reason he can't do the same with Muhammad.

 

18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece

Position: Small Forward

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'9", 215 pounds

2012-13 Season Averages: N/A

 

With back-to-back draft choices, the Atlanta Hawks have the luxury of selecting a player based off of pure upside. More likely than not, the Hawks will go international for that very reason.

As difficult as it is for me to believe in his validity as a prospect, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the selection here.

According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the Hawks are widely expected to select Antetokounmpo with one of their two picks. With the opportunity to take a gamble, there truly aren't many calculated risks quite as powerful as this.

That is, if you remove the word calculated.

Antetokounmpo has been competing against players that can be likened to the level of Division III athletes. While they may be quality players, they aren't anywhere near the level of NBA competition.

Even still, the Greek prodigy is moving up draft boards and comes off here.

 

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

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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

 

With the Cleveland Cavaliers selecting a center at No. 1 overall, they must now decide between selecting the best player available or targeting their needs. With the absence of a small forward and the need for a shooter, however, the answer is much easier to find than one might presume.

Reggie Bullock out of North Carolina is the perfect fit.

Bullock is an elite jump shooter, converting at a clip above 40 percent and displaying the ability to create his own looks. With the ability to catch and shoot, the Cavaliers couldn't find a better fit to play the 3 alongside Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

Suddenly, Cleveland's drive-and-dish offense would have the perimeter players they've long needed.

There are other options here, including Glen Rice Jr. and Jamaal Franklin, but Bullock is a premier shooter. With Cleveland ranking 23rd in three-point percentage, they certainly need to improve.

Bullock offers the most significant upgrade.

 

20. Chicago Bulls: Gorgui Dieng, Louisville Cardinals

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 proven to be one of the most proficient defensive teams in the NBA. Even without Derrick Rose, they managed to reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals and proved to be much stronger than just one player.

If there's one area that they're weak, however, it's along the second unit.

Chicago's most specific void comes at center, where Joakim Noah is extraordinary but the depth behind him is simply lacking. Nazr Mohammed played better than expected, but the Bulls need an athlete along the interior.

Enter Gorgui Dieng.

Dieng is an explosive leaper that moves well laterally and displays proficiency both as a rim protector and pick-and-roll defender. While he'd likely receive limited minutes as a rookie, Dieng is an NBA-ready as a defender and could provide the quality rest that Noah was unable to receive during the 2013 playoffs.

There are players with higher upside, but none quite as fitting as Dieng.

 

21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): 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 Utah Jazz landed a player that could become their franchise point guard at No. 14 with Dennis Schroeder. At No. 21, they can now decide between the factors of upside and fit, thus displaying the luxury of flexibility.

When it comes down to it, Utah has a choice to make between Jamaal Franklin and Ricardo Ledo.

Franklin may be the better all-around player, but the Jazz are in need of scorers and Ledo certainly fits the bill. Not only does he possess ideal size for the position, but Ledo is always in attack mode and displays an awe-inspiring shooting touch.

How it all pans out is worth questioning, but there's no doubt that Ledo is worth the risk.

If the former prep star is able to make the leap to the NBA and put his full abilities on display, he could be the steal of this draft. Not only does he shoot the ball at an extraordinary level, but he can put it on the floor and facilitate for his teammates.

There's margin for error, but Ledo has every skill necessary to thrive.

 

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 could go international with Lucas Nogueira, but their most glaring need comes at power forward. While finding an instant fix would be ideal, Brooklyn is short on cap space and lacks any form of offense at the 4.

Mason Plumlee would offer a relatively instantaneous fix.

Plumlee works well out of the post, significantly improving his ability to use the glass and go over both shoulders. With that being said, Plumlee's true strength is his ability to run in transition and finish above the rim.

Brook Lopez is an All Star and Reggie Evans is a rebounding machine, but neither can offer that trait.

The clinching factor for Plumlee is that he's a very productive rebounder that defends the rim at a respectable level. While he won't make an All-Defensive Team, Plumlee projects to be effective enough to warrant playing time.

The value here is simply too grand for Brooklyn to even consider passing over.

 

23. Indiana Pacers: Tony Mitchell, North Texas Mean Green

Position: Forward

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'9", 236 pounds (7'3" wingspan)

2012-13 Season Averages: 20.22 PER, 13.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.7 BPG, 1.0 SPG

 

The Indiana Pacers enter this draft with voids all over their second unit. While they may put forth an elite starting lineup with a history of postseason success, the Pacers are rendered helpless when their lead five comes off of the floor.

The addition of an athlete that can finish around the basket and block shots is a great way to improve.

Adding a point guard must be a focus, but it's highly unlikely Indiana finds the value at No. 23 that they can via free agency. For that reason, the Pacers are much more likely to go with an athletic big man to create depth behind David West and Roy Hibbert.

Tony Mitchell can be that player.

Mitchell has a great build for the 4, standing at 6'9" and 236 pounds with a 7'3" wingspan. Beyond his size is explosive athleticism, high-caliber rebounding ability and the potential to be a defensive menace as he blocks shots and plays the passing lanes.

Positional versatility is a valuable thing, and Mitchell has that, making him a perfect fit for the future.

 

24. New York Knicks: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State Aztecs

Rob Carr/Getty Images

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

 

The New York Knicks could go for an upside pick here, as Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira is shooting up draft boards. With that being said, the Knicks have just one player under contract that's under 28.

The Knicks need to get more athletic—now.

Jamaal Franklin fits the Knicks' profile for what they need, pairing explosive athleticism with a massive wingspan. Not only does that enable Franklin to thrive as a defender, but he's the top rebounder at his position with an average of 9.5 boards per game.

Alongside Iman Shumpert, the Knicks could have one of the top young defensive duos in the game.

Franklin must improve his jump shooting, but the Knicks have no shortage of three-point marksmen. What they're short on, however, is all-around contributors that can pick up the slack in other areas when the shots don't fall.

Franklin led the San Diego State Aztecs in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals—it's safe to say he can be that versatile player.

 

25. Los Angeles Clippers: Lucas Nogueira, Brazil

Position: Center

Age: 20

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

2012-13 Season Averages: N/A

 

The Los Angeles Clippers are in dire need of jump shooters, but whomever they select at No. 25 is unlikely to see much playing time in 2013-14. For that reason, the Clippers can feel comfortable targeting the player they deem fit as the best available.

In this case, it's the rapidly rising Lucas Nogueira.

Nogueira is a tantalizing athlete that stands at 6'11" with an extraordinary 7'6" wingspan. With this body comes an aggressive motor, permitting Nogueira to make a serious impact both defensively and on the boards.

As for the concerns about his legitimacy, Nogueira plays against top tier competition in Liga ACB—fellow international prospects should take notes.

While Nogueira may not be able to contribute immediately, the Clippers need frontcourt depth. Adding Nogueira, who projects to be a strong defensive presence, L.A. would fill that void in a major, long-term way.

There are other options, but Nogueira won't make it much further than this.

 

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

Position: Power Forward/Center

Age: 20

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

2012-13 Season Averages: N/A

 

With their first of two first-round selections, the Minnesota Timberwolves targeted their greatest void at shooting guard. With their second, the T-Wolves will go for another lead, taking a gamble on Rudy Gobert out of France.

As they struggle to protect the rim, adding a player with unparalleled length certainly seems like a wise plan of attack.

Gobert has some improvements to make, as he's far from an NBA-ready prospect on either end of the floor. While his length permits the potential for elite shot-blocking ability and dominance on the glass, there's more to it than just putting your arms up and deflecting shots.

For a T-Wolves team that needs size and length down low, however, they can take the gamble and hope for progression.

This draft-and-stash selection fits into what Minnesota has been known to do. Even if they weren't keen on drafting international players, however, a team without shot-blockers is almost certain to go for the player that projects to be one of the best in that regard.

That's exactly what's happening here.

 

27. Denver Nuggets: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State Racers

Position: Point Guard

Age: 22

Height & Weight: 6'0", 188 pounds (6'5" wingspan)

2012-13 Season Averages: 24.28 PER, 21.8 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 37.0% 3PT

 

For a team that finished the 2012-13 NBA regular season with more than 50 wins, the Denver Nuggets certainly have holes. They can't shoot the three, struggle defensively and currently have their second unit run by a 37-year-old point guard.

Denver can address two of those weaknesses with one pick.

Isaiah Canaan stands at 6'0", but he's a strong, physical player with a 6'5" wingspan. Not only does he have the physical tools to thrive at the next level, but Canaan is an exceptional three-point shooter that can create his own shot.

Stop me when this starts to sound like something Denver needs.

Canaan is capable of running the show as a facilitator, running the pick-and-roll or breaking into the open court. With that being said, Canaan's true strength is his ability to come off of screens and convert open jump shots.

When your down year consists of shooting 37 percent from three-point range, you're doing something right.

 

28. San Antonio Spurs: 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 San Antonio Spurs are in a transitional stage, of sorts, as Manu Ginobili becomes a free agent and Tim Duncan inches closer to retirement. While both are expected to be back with the team in 2013-14, there is no time to waste in finding their long-term replacements.

Tim Hardaway Jr. can help facilitate the search.

Hardaway Jr. may not have star potential, but he's a solid two-way player that thrives as a jump shooter. For a Spurs team that lives by the pick-and-roll, adding more shooters to space out the floor is critical.

Hardaway Jr. can help in that regard.

The key here is that the former Michigan star handles the ball well and passes accurately in the halfcourt. This poses issues for the opposition, as they attempt to press up to cut off the three-point shot, but are eventually beaten off the dribble.

Hardaway Jr. has some question marks, but at No. 28, it's a safe yet rewarding selection.

 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Glen Rice, Jr., NBA D-League

Position: Guard/Forward

Age: 22

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

2012-13 Season Averages: 13.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 38.5% 3PT

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder landed their center of the future at No. 12 with Pittsburgh Panthers star Steven Adams. As previously noted, however, the Thunder will be delegating whomever they draft to the NBA D-League.

Paired with the fact that they're picking at No. 29, that makes this pick all about value.

Mike Muscala is a legitimate choice, as is Jeff Withey, but Glen Rice Jr. is too intriguing of an option to pass over. Not only is he a tantalizing athlete, but Rice Jr. has already spent time at the D-League level.

That experience could make the Thunder more inclined to bring him along in a more rapid manner.

Rice Jr. stands at 6'6" and 211 pounds with a 6'9" wingspan, giving him prototypical size for the shooting guard position. With that being said, Rice Jr. could play the 3, displaying the defensive range and possessing the combination of explosiveness and length necessary to lock his man down.

The fact that he can shoot the three-pointer only makes this pick more interesting.

 

30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Allen Crabbe, California Golden Bears

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 Phoenix Suns finished the 2012-13 NBA regular season with rankings of 28th in three-point field goal percentage and 26th in three-point field goals made per game. The addition of Victor Oladipo fills a void at the 2, but they still need shooters.

There aren't many better than Allen Crabbe.

Crabbe is one of the more proficient scorers in this year's draft class, shooting the three-pointer with limitless range and displaying the ability to put the ball on the court. Standing at 6'6" with a 6'11" wingspan, he certainly has the size to complement those abilities.

That combination makes him too intriguing for Phoenix to pass over.

The Suns have numerous options here, including small forward C.J. Leslie and center Jeff Withey. When it comes down to it, there aren't many shooters as proficient as Crabbe in this year's draft class, and Phoenix is in the process of a rebuild.

Finding players that can space the floor is a great way to start.

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