The 2013 NBA draft is Thursday night, making this my last first-round mock draft of the year.
Instead of narrowing the focus down to a select few players in this piece, I’m going to take a look at every team and which prospect would be the best fit for the franchise at this juncture.
Of course, you may not agree with every pick, so drop a line in the comments and let me know what you think is going to happen on Thursday night and what you would change.
Now, let’s get to it.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
The Cavs have numerous options here at No. 1, but would be best served just taking the player that many felt would be the top overall selection for much of the collegiate season.
While the injury concerns are real, Noel proved that he’s a world-class shot-blocker, athletic specimen and high-motor big man during his short tenure with the Wildcats.
His offense may need some work, but he fits in with the rebuilding efforts of this young team and should eventually develop into a lethal two-way center that makes an impact on a nightly basis.
2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Burke may not be the most athletic or tallest point guard in this class, but he’s a proven winner that represents a huge upgrade over Jameer Nelson in Orlando.
He led his young Wolverines squad all the way to the national title game, hitting a number of clutch shots and making big buckets throughout the season and into March Madness.
Don’t sleep on this kid becoming one of the best players out of this class, even if scouts are cooling on him due to his unimpressive measurements.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Porter is a slam-dunk selection for the Wizards here, as the swingman fills a huge need and should be ready to contribute right away.
Washington has to thank the basketball gods for this selection, as it became the true winner of the lottery by moving up to No. 3—from a projected draft position of No. 8—and nabbing this local standout.
The Hoyas star projects to mesh perfectly with the young backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, giving the team a three-point shooter, defender, rebounder and hustle player on the wing.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Oladipo is one of the highest-rated players on the board and arguably the safest pick in the draft, making him someone the Bobcats can’t afford to pass up on.
After taking too many chances and ending up with busts, Charlotte can select a player that will make an impact—even when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands.
The Hoosiers star is a lockdown defender that brings boundless energy every minute of every game, inspiring his teammates to do the same. He’s also a great shooter and is prone to only taking highly efficient looks to help his squad win.
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
McLemore has the upside of a franchise scorer, which he’s shown flashes of during his time with the Jayhawks.
This kid has the best shooting stroke of any perimeter prospect in the class and can fill it up when he’s engaged, but that’s just the problem.
Against inferior competition at Kansas, McLemore was prone to disappearing for long stretches and wasn’t able to make an impact on the game when his shot wasn’t dropping. If he can’t improve his work ethic and motor, these factors will lower the young man’s ceiling.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Len is in the discussion for the No. 1 overall pick and could end up going to Cleveland on Thursday night, but this is his absolute floor.
The Terps star is a legit 7’1” behemoth with the upside of becoming a defensive stalwart and pick-and-roll machine for an offense.
If Len is paired with sophomore power forward Anthony Davis, the Pelicans backcourt will be set for years to come and be one of the most fearsome combinations of raw athleticism, size and skill in the league.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF/SF, UNLV
Bennett is a versatile forward that represents a major value for the rebuilding Kings here.
With major upheaval expected in Sacramento over the next season or so, the Rebels star will be able to find a place in the lineup at all times with his ability to play both the 3 and 4 with equal effectiveness.
8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Pistons would love to keep the ball moving and acquire a guard that can set up the blossoming frontcourt tandem of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
Carter-Williams is one of the best passers in the class and will allow Brandon Knight to slide to the 2 on offense.
However, the 6’6” Syracuse product is capable of guarding multiple positions and could end up being assigned off-guards on defense, making the Pistons backcourt both unpredictable and dangerous on both ends.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
KCP could become one of the top-five shooting guards by the end of his rookie campaign.
Given that his only weakness is ball-handling—easily minimized by Ricky Rubio’s presence in this scenario—the Georgia product will find success via his ability to do it all.
Don’t be surprised when this young man takes the league by storm with his ability to bomb away from long-range, create his own shot, get to the basket at will, pass at a high level and defend his position.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh
McCollum would be utilized as a shooting guard in this scenario, given that Damian Lillard’s Rookie of the Year campaign solidified his status as the starting point guard in Portland.
The Lehigh product may end up being regarded as the best shooter out of this draft class in a few years, as he’s capable of hitting his mark from incredible distances at a consistent rate. Although a bit undersized, McCollum will find a way to make an impact for Rip City.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana
Zeller is ready to contribute at the NBA level due to his ability to run the floor and finish at the rim.
The Sixers need a big man to help push past the failed Andrew Bynum era and get back into postseason contention. It seems this is a match made in heaven.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Adams is a developmental prospect that could ride the pine for a few years in Oklahoma City, improving his offense and fundamentals while waiting in the wings to replace Kendrick Perkins.
It could take a while, but OKC has the luxury of gambling on this high-risk, high-reward New Zealand native with its lottery pick in the 2013 draft.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
If the Mavs hold on to their selection, expect them to look for a long-term development project that they can stash overseas for a few years.
Don’t be surprised if that prospect is the “Greek Freak”, as he has the highest upside in this class and could eventually become one of the most interesting players the league has ever seen.
Of course, he’s quite raw and has years of development to put in, but the raw skills and high ceiling are certainly there.
14. Utah Jazz: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
Larkin is one of the smaller point guard prospects to enter the draft in some time, but his pure athleticism and ability to ignite the break make him an intriguing selection for the Jazz.
This team could add a bit of excitement and pick up the pace next year if it pulls the trigger on this Hurricanes star.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Olynyk isn’t going to be drafted for his athleticism or defensive skills, but the seven-footer has a good bit of range on his jumper and can help the Bucks improve their spacing and extend the defense.
One of the main problems for the skilled guards in Milwaukee has been running into rim protectors every time they penetrate, which is something that Olynyk’s presence as a big man on the perimeter could help prevent.
16. Boston Celtics: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Muhammad is the perfect pick for Boston here, as he could become the heir to Paul Pierce as the next great scorer for the historic franchise.
While he’s not projected to be an all-around star like The Truth, this UCLA product can put the ball in the basket and help the rebuilding club win some games next year.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke
If the Hawks are truly serious about making more than a token playoff appearance, they need to bring in a hustle and energy player to come off the bench.
Plumlee fits the bill as a a hard-working, blue-collar big man that will find a way to get minutes and make the most of them in the NBA.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Franklin is a jump shot away from becoming a legitimate star in the Association.
This Aztecs product can leap out of the gym, rebound as well as humanly possibly for his position and plays with a motor that never quits.
Those are all qualities that top players possess and the Hawks could definitely use another potential impact player here at No. 18.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Karasev is a lights-out shooter that has been honing his craft in the Russian professional leagues for some time now.
While the Cavs are likely to either stash him overseas or trade this pick altogether due to the sheer abundance of young players on the roster, it would not be a shock to see this sniper making his mark on the league in the near future.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway, Jr., SG, Michigan
Hardaway Jr. could become the perfect sidekick for Derrick Rose in the Chicago backcourt.
He’s a long athlete with great range on his jumper and should be able to knock down the plethora of open looks he will receive off D-Rose passes. If he improves his handle, he could become a legit star.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
The Jazz are expected to overhaul the frontcourt this summer, a process that could see both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap move on via free agency.
If that happens, Withey would make the ideal backup big man, as the seven-footer can block shots, defend his position and do everything else required from the center position but score.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Dieng is an NBA-ready prospect that can protect the rim, pass extremely well from the low post and much more.
With news breaking that Brook Lopez has another issue with his troublesome right foot, the Nets need to bring in a player that is ready to log big minutes at a moment's notice, making this Cardinals star the right call.
23. Indiana Pacers: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
It was a disaster every time D.J. Augustin stepped on the court during the playoffs and he is not fit to lead the second unit of a team that was one win away from the NBA Finals.
Schroeder could help up the tempo and improve the athleticism of the Pacers bench, as the German point guard is lightning-quick and a great penetrator and finisher. He has to improve his passing, but that will come with time and better teammates.
24. New York Knicks: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Mitchell is an uber-athletic forward that can guard both the 3 and 4. He can jump over most big men with his springy hops and snare rebounds out of the air before anyone else can touch them.
With a dearth of young talent in the Knicks frontcourt, they would be wise to take a chance on this Mean Green product.
While he’s not much of a scorer yet, Mitchell still has a high ceiling in that department and could be the sleeper star lurking in the 2013 class.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Nate Wolters, PG/SG, South Dakota State
The Clippers seem poised to eventually trade Eric Bledsoe before he becomes a free agent and commands big money next season, opening the door for a player from this draft class to take his place.
Wolters is a big guard that can score the ball at will and isn’t bad at rebounding or facilitating either. The Clips could certainly do much worse with the No. 25 pick.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Rudy Gobert, C, France
At this stage in the draft, Gobert is a steal.
He was initially discussed as a lottery pick, but a poor showing at the combine revealed that he’s not athletic or skilled enough to play in the NBA for quite some time.
Regardless, he’s a 7’2” giant that could eventually come to American shores, soak some minutes off the bench and change the game while he’s on the court.
27. Denver Nuggets: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
Abrines is a sleeper pick here that will take a few seasons to develop overseas.
Fortunately the Nuggets have the luxury of too many talented players on their roster, opening the door for this Spaniard to comfortably reach his ceiling in Europe and eventually make his way to Denver down the line.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
Ledo may not have played college ball, but the Providence recruit is still one of the better scorers in the class and may end up being a real impact player at the next level.
The Spurs have a strong locker room and could keep this young man’s character issues at bay, giving them a prospect that could possibly replace Manu Ginobili’s production off the bench in a year or two.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Thunder GM Sam Presti would be pulling off a heist getting Nogueira here, as the Brazilian pivot has the physical tools to be an NBA star.
He’s super raw and needs to put it all together mentally, but it would be foolish not to bet on that happening with the No. 29 pick.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League
Rice Jr. has had some issues in the past, but those seem to be behind him and he could become the first D-Leaguer selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
The Suns need a swingman that can shoot, rebound and pass—all assets that this young man brings to the table.
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