Brace yourselves—the 2013 NBA draft is finally upon us.
In terms of entertainment value, it should be a good one. Usually at this point, the day of the draft, there's a good sense of who will be taken where. However, that's not so in 2013.
The lack of a perceived superstar and risks involved with some of the top talent promises to make this one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory.
Here's one last look at what direction each team will go with their selection.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Alex Len, Maryland
What the Cleveland Cavaliers do with their draft is going to be a huge storyline to follow. Not only do they possess the first pick, but they have the 19th, 31st and 33rd selections as well.
With a ton of cap space and a desire to make a splash, there's no doubt they're going to be an active team.
However all of that starts with this selection. According to Chad Ford of ESPN, there is little consensus around the NBA as to who the selection will be. But Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reports that decision will come down to Alex Len or Nerlens Noel.
What the decision could come down to is who is able to contribute immediately. With Kyrie Irving and the other young players on the roster, the Cavs could make a run at a playoff berth, but Noel isn't going to be available or ready to contribute for much of his rookie season.
That gives Len the edge.
2. Orlando Magic: C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
If Nerlens Noel does get passed over as the top selection in the draft, he won't have to wait long to hear his name called.
According to Chad Ford, the Magic aren't likely to let Noel slip past them at No. 2—even if Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore might be better choices for the team.
Noel won't be able to contribute right away as he heals from an ACL tear that he suffered last season, but he does have the highest upside of anyone in the draft and could develop into a Kevin Garnett-type post player.
Most importantly he would give the Magic the shot-blocking presence they lost when Dwight Howard left.
3. Washington Wizards: SF Otto Porter, Georgetown
The Washington Wizards have a clear need with the No. 3 pick—an athletic forward to complete a dynamic trio on the perimeter with John Wall and Bradley Beal. That means this pick likely comes down to Otto Porter or Anthony Bennett.
Bennett probably has a little more upside because he can play either forward spot and can do more things offensively, but Porter is the safer pick. His defensive ability will allow him to contribute right away and he could develop a very Rudy Gay-like repertoire.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: SF/PF Anthony Bennett, UNLV
If Charlotte stays put, a power forward is the big need at this spot. Anthony Bennett can play the 4, although his range and skill set makes him a bit of a tweener. The Bobcats might shock everyone and go with Cody Zeller here, but Bennett is the likely choice because of his versatility.
5. Phoenix Suns: SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana
The Phoenix Suns will be jumping for joy if Oladipo falls this far. He could go as high as No. 2 to the Magic if Noel is off the board and plenty of teams would love to have the athletic shooting guard.
His on-ball defense makes him a near lock to contribute right away at the NBA level.
His efficiency at Indiana has to be a great sign for NBA GMs. He shot nearly 60 percent from the floor for the Hoosiers. Oladipo and Porter are probably the most sure picks in the draft.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: PG Trey Burke, Michigan
The New Orleans Pelicans franchise has struggled ever since Chris Paul left town. Why not draft a Chris Paul clone with their first-round selection here?
Burke was one of college basketball's true stars last season. He averaged over 18 points per game and led his team to the NCAA Tournament championship game. Much like Paul, he's a point guard that can facilitate and distribute with the best of them, but can take over as a scorer when necessary.
Greivis Vasquez was serviceable last season, but Burke could wind up being the star of this class.
7. Sacramento Kings: SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
It's tough to envision Ben McLemore falling any farther than right here at the No. 7 pick. The Kansas guard is an exciting offensive prospect with a smooth jumper that projects well to the NBA game.
The Kings don't have a true shooting guard and severely lacked a three-point threat outside of Jimmer Fredette, who only averaged 14 minutes per game. Sacramento would have a new shooter that could develop into a more complete scorer with a few years of pro coaching.
8. Detroit Pistons: PG/SG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
The Pistons already have one of the most exciting young front courts in the league in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, now they need to go out and get a scorer to bolster the offense.
When it comes to scoring in this class, it doesn't get much better than McCollum. He shot over 50 percent from three-point range in his final season at Lehigh and can make shots from anywhere on the floor. With Monroe and Drummond to make up for any defensive deficiencies, he might just be in the perfect situation with the Pistons.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
the Timberwolves have all of the pieces in place to field an exciting team next season—except for a true gunner to serve as a running mate for Ricky Rubio.
That would change with the Timberwolves' selection of Caldwell-Pope. He's explosive with the basketball and can create his own shot, but he's also effective as a spot-up shooter. He averaged 18.5 points for Georgia last season.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: PF/C Cody Zeller, Indiana
J.J. Hickson is set be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and wasn't particularly effective last season anyway. The Blazers obviously have LaMarcus Aldridge, but he's set to hit free agency in two years.
The Blazers picked up Meyers Leonard last season but don't have options in the post after that. Zeller is an athletic big that can run in the open floor and play defense. That fits perfectly with what Damian Lillard can do and makes Zeller the ideal big man of the future in Portland.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
The Sixers are taking a huge risk here. The need for a big man is apparent, but Adams is a 19-year-old who didn't do much in his lone season with Pittsburgh.
The seven-footer averaged just 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season, but his potential keeps his draft stock high. This is the franchise that took a shot on Andrew Bynum last season, so it's clear they aren't afraid to take risks if it means nabbing a franchise center.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto): C Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
The Thunder started Kendrick Perkins at center in 78 games last season. He averaged 4.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game on his way to a PER of just 8.2 on the season. It doesn't get much worse than that in terms of starting centers.
In Olynyk the Thunder get a skilled big that could offer something the team has rarely had: a scoring threat in the post.
13. Dallas Mavericks: SG/SF Sergey Karasev, Russia
Assuming the Mavericks keep this selection (they probably won't), they'll want to go with the top European prospect available so they can have the option of keeping him overseas to conserve cap space.
That's Karasev. He has an NBA-caliber jumper already and plenty of time to develop at just 19 years old.
14. Utah Jazz: PG Michael Carter-WIlliams, Syracuse
This would be a pretty sizable fall for the Syracuse point guard. His impressive NCAA tournament run boosted his stock to as high as No. 6 thanks to his abilities as a facilitator and defender.
However, there's still a small chance he slips this far and the Jazz would be happy to take him. His upside projects much higher than current point guards Mo Williams and Randy Foye.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: PG Shane Larkin, Miami
Monta Ellis is set to hit free agency. Brandon Jennings could be following him. By taking Shane Larkin, the Bucks start the task of replacing at least one of them.
Larkin was one of college basketball's breakout stars last season. He showed great leadership in taking the Miami Hurricanes program to new heights and displayed the quickness and athleticism to make his presence felt as an NBA playmaker.
16. Boston Celtics: SG/SF Shabazz Muhammad
The Celtics are primed for a rebuild after trading Doc Rivers to Los Angeles. Kevin Garnett is 37 years old and, more importantly, Paul Pierce is 35. Muhammad has received a lot of flak throughout the draft process for his poor shot selection (44 percent from the floor) and lack of leadership at UCLA, but the fact remains he was once thought of as a top 10 talent.
If he lives up to his potential, he could be an important piece in the Celtics' rebuilding efforts.
17. Atlanta Hawks: SF Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece
The Hawks have back-to-back selections here, so they can afford to roll the dice with at least one of them and hope for a big return. It doesn't get much dicier than Adetokunbo. He's a 6'9" 196-pound 18-year-old who will need a few more years of seasoning before coming to the NBA.
That being said, he already shows off great shooting touch and handles. He could either develop into an offensive force or a complete flop, owning two picks in a row allows the Hawks to find out which one it's going to be.
18. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston via Brooklyn): PF/C Mason Plumlee, Duke
After swinging for the fences with Adetokunbo, the Hawks lay down a sacrifice bunt for Plumlee. He doesn't have a very high ceiling, but he's a high motor player that's going to give them energy off the bench. Expect him to be hitting the boards for the Hawks sooner rather than later, guaranteeing Atlanta gets at least some short-term return on the draft.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles): SF Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Bullock isn't a great athlete, nor is he a great ball handler; that's all right for the Cavaliers. With Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving on the roster, the Cavs don't need another swingman that needs the ball in his hands to succeed. What matters is that Bullock can shoot. He hit 43.8 percent of his threes in his final year at North Carolina.
He'll have plenty of opportunities to hit open shots playing alongside Irving, who is one of the best drive-and-kick players in the game.
20. Chicago Bulls: C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
The fit here is just too perfect not to happen. The Bulls are one of the most blue-collar, physical teams in the league and Dieng is one of the most blue-collar and physical prospects in the class. He's a great shot-blocker and a tireless rebounder who is nearly guaranteed not to be a bust.
Dieng will add depth to the frontcourt rotation in Chicago immediately.
21. Utah Jazz (from Golden State via Brooklyn): SG Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
If the draft really does fall this way for the Jazz, game over. They'll be the biggest winners of the night. Michael Carter-WIlliams is a steal at No. 14, but Franklin may be the draft's most underrated prospect.
At 6'5" and with the explosive athleticism needed to get to the rim, Franklin only needs to work on his decision making to become an offensive force. His 9.5 rebounds per game last season is a testament to his motor, athleticism and length.
Carter-Williams and Franklin would offer a great backcourt for years to come.
22. Brooklyn Nets: PF Tony Mitchell, North Texas
The Nets need another capable power forward on the roster if they are going to reach their potential next season. Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries aren't going to get the job done.
Mitchell may not be able to take their spots right away, but his athleticism and high ceiling make him a much better option going forward while making them dispensable in the short term.
23. Indiana Pacers: PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany
The Pacers really need immediate help—depth was a huge reason that they were ultimately ousted by the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. The problem is they also need long-term help at point guard and Schroeder is the top player left on the board.
There aren't many players available here that could help anyway, so Schroeder's long-term ability as a super quick point guard should win out.
24. New York Knicks: C Rudy Gobert, France
When Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby are the only two centers on your roster in 2013, you have to get younger at the position. At 7'2" and 238 pounds, Gobert has the long frame that scouts covet. He won't help the Knicks get any better right away, but he could prove to be an important investment for the team's future.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: SG Allen Crabbe, California
The Clippers appear to be set on building the roster around Chris Paul, provided he re-signs with the team. Paul is the kind of point guard that thrives when he's surrounded by spot-up shooters.
The sweet-shooting Crabbe averaged 18.4 points per game for the California Golden Bears last season. That's more than Shabazz Muhammad in the same conference.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis via Houston): C Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
Why would the Timberwolves draft a center with Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love already on the roster?
Because Pekovic only has one more season left on his contract and Love can opt out in two more. Coincidentally it's going to take Nogueira, an athletic, albeit raw center, a few years to develop before coming to the NBA.
Even if the Timberwolves manage to keep both Pekovic and Love in the long term, neither is a great-shot blocker—that's Nogueira's specialty.
27. Denver Nuggets: SF Tony Snell, New Mexico
If the Denver Nuggets lose Andre Iguodala in free agency, they will have a serious need for more perimeter shooting. Snell isn't the best at getting his own shot, but he's a quality spot-up shooter that hit 39 percent of his three-point shots last season.
There are other shooters available, but Snell's potential to develop into a defensive stopper with his athleticism and length gives him more upside.
28. San Antonio Spurs: PF/C Mike Muscala, Bucknell
Unless Tim Duncan has found the fountain of youth, which can't be ruled out at this point, he can't have many seasons left in him. Thiago Splitter is good, but he's not good enough to carry the frontcourt alone.
Muscala was an accomplished college big man, averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds in his final season at Bucknell. He isn't a terribly explosive athlete, but his touch around the basket and versatility makes him a good candidate to be an underrated selection.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG Glen Rice Jr.
Glen Rice Jr. may have limited his stock when he was forced to leave Georgia Tech, but he's done his best to rise up draft boards in the NBA's d-league last season. He was incredible in the playoffs, averaging 25 points and 9.5 rebounds.
As the Thunder's early exit in the playoffs showed, scoring from someone other than Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is a need. Rice Jr. should be able to help.
30. Phoenix Suns (from Miami via L.A. and Cleveland): C Jeff Withey, Kansas
The Suns relied on 34-year-old Jermaine O'Neal to log plenty of minutes last season as Marcin Gortat's backup at center. With the Suns adding Oladipo earlier in the round, the Suns can afford to spend a pick on the frontcourt.
Withey is a gritty rebounder and gifted defender. He averaged nearly four blocks per game last season.
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