NBA Mock Draft 2013: Riskiest Pick Every Team Could Make

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2013

Mar 20, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; UNLV Rebels forward Anthony Bennett (15) during practice the day before the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the 2013 NBA draft, some teams will take a walk on the wild side. 

Sure, taking the most polished, pro-ready prospect when it's your turn on the clock may be the right thing to do, but what's the fun in that?

Against a team's better judgment, the temptation to take the player with the highest ceiling and massive bust potential just wins out.

In the mock draft that follows I'll be looking at whom each team would select if it were looking to make the riskiest selection possible. Of course, I'll be staying within reason, so as risky as it would be for the Cavs to go with an international prospect No. 1, we're going to stick with actual possibilities. 

Here's a look at how the draft would look like if every team went with the most risky pick possible. 


1. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky

The Cavaliers appear to have this selection narrowed down to two choices according to Chad Ford of ESPN—Nerlens Noel and Maryland center Alex Len. 

Noel has been touted as the No. 1 choice for much longer than Len has, but it's actually Noel that would be the more risky selection. According to Ford's report, Cleveland's medical staff has no concerns about Noel's knee after his ACL tear. 

However, there's still considerable risk in taking Noel. Injury concerns aside, he's still a 206-pound center with little to no offensive game. 

Len may not wind up being the better pro, but his sturdy build and more developed offensive game actually make him a safer pick.


2. Orlando Magic: SG Ben McLemore, Kansas

This pick should come down to two options for the Magic. Either Ben McLemore—an explosive scorer with just one season of experience out of Kansas—or Indiana's Victor Oladipo. 

Oladipo is probably the "safer" option of the two. He's had two years of experience at Indiana for scouts to break down and is the best on-ball defender in the class. He's a strong candidate for rookie of the year wherever he goes because he should get minutes. 

However, McLemore's potential is exciting enough to compete with Oladipo for the No. 1 shooting guard position. Here, the Magic go with the upside. 


3. Washington Wizards: PF/SF Anthony Bennett, UNLV

The safe pick here? Otto Porter.

He's arguably the safest pick in the draft because of his defensive presence and versatility. 

But if the Wizards want to go the exciting route, Bennett is the man. He's an explosive athlete that can run the floor. The problem is he's only 6'7" so logging minutes at power forward consistently could be an issue. He'll need to figure out what position he's best suited to play. 

Many an exciting prospect has fizzled out because he didn't have a real position. The Wizards need a forward to go with John Wall and Bradley Beal; he could form an exciting trio with them if he finds his role. 


4. Charlotte Bobcats: C Alex Len, Maryland

Big men taken in the top 10 tend to be boom-or-bust selections. Len is no different. 

A lack of assertiveness limited Len to just 11.9 points per game last season despite some promising moves in the post and a developing mid-range jumper. 

On the bright side, he blocked shots at a decent clip (2.1 blocks per game) and can't be much worse than Byron Mullens. 


5. Phoenix Suns: SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana

OK, this pick really isn't that risky. But not every GM can be a daredevil. 

Here the Suns fill a need—a playmaker to team up with Goran Dragic in the backcourt. Oladipo is an efficient scorer who shot nearly 60 percent from the field in his final season as a Hoosier. 

Oladipo's effect on the Suns would be felt right away as his defense makes him a great candidate to crack the starting lineup early. 


6. New Orleans Pelicans: PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse

This pick is risky for a few reasons.

First, it acknowledges that the Pelicans are still going to put their eggs in the Eric Gordon basket. The young shooting guard missed half the season last year with injuries and his ability to ever live up to his promise is questionable. 

Second, Carter-Williams is not nearly as safe a pick as his fellow point guard Trey Burke would be. Burke's combination of quickness, shooting and tenacity makes him a near-guarantee to produce at the next level. 

Carter-Williams, on the other hand, is an excellent facilitator but has a jump shot that needs serious work and struggled with turnovers. At 6'6", he has great size for a point guard.  


7. Sacramento Kings: SF Otto Porter, Georgetown

When is one of the safest picks in the draft a risky one?

When it means that you're going to be relying on Tyreke Evans or Isaiah Thomas to play point guard next season. Both players are good options, but Evans is better suited to play off the ball and Thomas appears to be a better option off the bench. 

But in this case it's hard to make a case against the Kings taking Porter. He's a Swiss Army knife that can defend, rebound and score. It doesn't address the Kings biggest need, but he can definitely contribute. 


8. Detroit Pistons: SG/SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

Clearly the safe pick here would be Burke, but if the Pistons are looking to really make people raise their brow, then Muhammad is the choice to make. 

At one point it looked like Muhammad was a surefire lottery pick. Now it appears as though he could fall into the late teens. However, he could go as early as No. 8. 

The hyped prospect scored 18 points per game for the Bruins last season, but wasn't efficient. He shot 44 percent from the floor. 

Efficiency aside, Muhammad is still a legitimate scoring option that would provide the Pistons some punch on the wing. That's something the current roster lacks. 


9. Minnesota Timberwolves: SG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh

This is a risky pick that actually makes plenty of sense for the Timberwolves. McCollum is a bit risky because it isn't clear if he's a point guard or a shooting guard. He also comes from a small school so the level of his competition could be brought into question. 

Fortunately Damian Lillard's success puts to ease some of the concerns over taking a small school prospect this high. The success of Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack in the same backcourt for Golden State should ease worries that McCollum and Ricky Rubio could play together.  


10. Portland Trail Blazers: C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh 

When it comes to risky picks, taking a seven-footer with one disappointing year of college production is as good as it gets. 

The 19-year-old put up just 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but is an exceptional athlete with plenty of time to develop physically and mentally. The Trail Blazers could go with a much safer option here, but the opportunity to add a seven-foot teenager that could anchor the team in the paint for years to come may be too much to pass up. 

Even if there's a great chance he never puts up better numbers than he did at Pittsburgh. 


11. Philadelphia 76ers: PF Cody Zeller, Indiana

This is another pick that isn't really risky. There's a lot to love about Zeller. 

He's uber-athletic; he was the fastest power forward or center in the three-quarters court sprint at the combine. He also has two years of production at Indiana that says he's not a one-year wonder. 

If Zeller is on the board at this point, the Sixers can't pass up on him. Even if there are risky picks that may tempt them to do so. 


12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto): C Lucas Nogueira, Brazil

There's some element of risk involved with drafting any international prospect. Because they don't play against the same competition that college players do, it's difficult to gauge just how talented they are and teams can't be certain when they'll come to the league. 

The Thunder need a big man, unless they really think that Kendrick Perkins is a long-term solution down low. Nogueira could develop into an elite shot-blocker thanks to his long frame and athleticism. 


13. Dallas Mavericks: F Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece

If the Mavericks are serious about being a big player in free agency, they'll have to trade this pick. But if they are forced to keep it, they'll have to take an international prospect. 

Why not swing for the fences?

Adetokunbo is either a point forward with All-Star potential or the worst player to ever be considered a first-round pick in the history of the draft depending on whom you ask. 

The 18-year-old is the epitome of risky, and Mark Cuban loves to roll the dice. 


14. Utah Jazz: PG Trey Burke, Michigan

If Trey Burke is somehow still available at the No. 14 spot, there are about 14 general managers that need to be fired as swiftly as possible. 

Burke is potentially a top-five talent with a very high floor. His ability to get in the lane and finish at the basket at the very least guarantees he's a valuable change of pace guard. 

At his ceiling, he's comparable to Chris Paul. There's no risk here, but the madness would have to stop at some point. 


15. Milwaukee Bucks: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia

This is another pick that isn't all that risky. As the fall of Trey Burke in this draft showed, teams taking big risks early on means that quality prospects fall to teams in the middle. 

KCP averaged over 18 points per game for the Bulldogs last season and at the very least will be a long-range marksman at the NBA level. 


16. Boston Celtics: C Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga

With great touch around the basket, a polished post game and a college resume that includes 17 points per game last season, Olynyk is the most skilled big in the draft. 

So why is he still a risk?

His sub-par athleticism could mean his game doesn't translate to the pro game. The Celtics need a big man and Olynyk makes some sense, but pairing him with Jared Sullinger may create the least athletic frontcourt in the league. 


17. Atlanta Hawks: PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany

The Hawks are really in a position to go with any position here. Other than Al Horford, they really don't have any players on the roster that are guaranteed to be around for the long term. 

Here, the Hawks go the always risky route of taking an international prospect and take Schroeder. 

The Germany native is a superb athlete, but is still extremely raw offensively. He likely won't be playing in the NBA next year. 


18. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston via Brooklyn): PF Tony Mitchell, North Texas

Josh Smith is set to become a free agent on July 1, which means that the Hawks have a big need for an athletic forward all of a sudden. 

Mitchell is another high-risk, high-reward prospect. His numbers took a huge hit his sophomore season in North Texas as he struggled to adapt to a new coach. However, his athleticism still makes him an intriguing prospect. 


19. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles): SF Sergey Karasev, Russia

Noticing a trend?

If we're talking about teams taking risks, that means international prospects are going to go a bit higher. In this case, the value probably matches the pick. Karasev is exactly what the Cavaliers need—a deadly three-point shooter on the wing. 

Of course the risk is that he never comes to the NBA or struggles to adapt to the American game. 


20. Chicago Bulls: C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville

Dieng is another prospect that is just difficult to call risky at this slot. He's almost guaranteed to be a serviceable role player for a contender at some point in his career. He's not likely to ever develop much of an offensive game, but he'll knock down a few open jumpers. 

His real role will be as a shot-blocking specialist. 


21. Utah Jazz (from Golden State via Brooklyn): SG Ricardo Ledo, Providence

If you aren't familiar with Ricardo (a.k.a. "Ricky) Ledo it's because he didn't play basketball last year. Academic issues forced him to be ineligible at Providence. 

Rather than keeping with the whole school thing and improving his game, Ledo decided to take his talents to the NBA. Fortunately for him, those talents are vast offensively. He showed an impressive arsenal of moves in high school. 

The team taking Ledo will really be taking a shot in the dark when it takes him. 


22. Brooklyn Nets: PF/C Mason Plumlee, Duke

Alright, so Plumlee doesn't exactly scream "risk." 

But the Nets would be taking a small gamble by taking him. Plumlee is a good athlete that figures to be a high-energy player (think a slightly less-tattooed Chris Andersen), but he doesn't have much of a post game and isn't all that polished. 

With a ton of veterans and very little cap maneuverability, the Nets need a player that can step up and play right away here. Depending on Plumlee's athleticism to translate to success right away is a fairly big risk.


23. Indiana Pacers: PG Shane Larkin, Miami

Here's another player that is really hard to classify as a risk. Larkin will never set the league on fire, but his floor doesn't come close to the label of bust. 

The Pacers could benefit from having a point guard not named D.J. Augustin. Larkin can be that guy within the first two years of his career.  


24. New York Knicks: C Rudy Gobert, France

Marcus Camby and Tyson Chandler were the two centers on the New York Knicks roster last season. 

Camby is old enough to be coaching the Brooklyn Nets and Chandler can't keep logging all the minutes at center if the Knicks want him to continue to be effective. That means the Knicks need a long-term solution at center. 

They might be tempted to think that's Gobert, whose freakish wingspan and athleticism make him a high-ceiling player. He could also never step foot on an NBA court.

That's the risk the Knicks may be willing to take. 


25. Los Angeles Clippers: SG Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State

This isn't a risk—it's a gift. 

Franklin may be the most underrated pick in the draft and could wind up getting some general managers fired if he really does slip this far. He's incredibly athletic and plays with a ton of energy.

He averaged 9.5 rebounds for the Aztecs last season. That would be impressive if he were the team's center. It's almost unheard of for a guard.  


26. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis via Houston): SF Glen Rice Jr. 

Rice Jr. has a lot of the same concerns that Ricky Ledo has. He was dismissed from Georgia Tech after some off-court issues and it doesn't seem like defense is one of his favorite things in the world. 

To be fair, Rice Jr. showed some maturity by using the NBA developmental league to boost his stock, but at 22 he's a few years older than other projects the Timberwolves could take.  


27. Denver Nuggets: SG Erick Green, Virginia Tech

Andre Iguodala is set to be a free agent on July 1 which means that this team will need some scoring. Green figures to provide that; he led the NCAA in scoring last season at 25 points per game, but it comes with risk. 

At 6'3", 178 pounds, Green doesn't possess the size of a shooting guard or the handles of a point guard. He's a man without a position, which means he could be lost in the shuffle. 


28. San Antonio Spurs: PF/C Livio Jean-Charles, France

Tony Parker and Boris Diaw already give the Spurs a distinct French flavor and Jean-Charles could soon join them. Of course, he wouldn't physically be joining them. At just 217 pounds and known to be a bit passive, he'll need to put on some strength and get more aggressive before crossing the pond. 

Those are two hurdles that he isn't guaranteed to ever overcome. 


29. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG Alex Abrines, Spain

Once again going overseas, the Thunder could double up on their draft-and-stash gambles by adding Spanish guard Alex Abrines. He's still a bit raw, but he can put the ball on the floor and drive as well as any international prospect in the draft. 


30. Phoenix Suns (from Miami via L.A. and Cleveland): SF Tony Snell, New Mexico

Snell rounds out the all-risky mock draft as a prospect that never quite figured the college game out. In three season with the Lobos, he never put up good numbers. His 12.5 points per game last season was a career high. 

However, he has shown a smooth jumper with range and, at 6'7", 200 pounds, the frame to be a capable NBA small forward. 


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