The 2013 NBA draft is less than two weeks away, marking another opportune time to take a look at the entire first round and highlight the selections that each team should make.
Whether it’s pulling a no-brainer off the board in the lottery or taking a calculated gamble on a high-risk, high-reward prospect in the latter stages of this event, there’s certainly going to be a right move and a wrong move for each club picking on June 27.
Let’s try to predict how could shake out assuming scouts and general managers have done their due diligence and make the best decision on draft day.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Noel makes too much sense for the Cavs to pass up on. While McLemore and a few other prospects certainly deserve to be in the discussion, there’s simply no better combination of value and need for this organization.
While the big man has some injury concerns and is extremely raw offensively, he’s a world-class shot-blocker with immense upside and—most importantly—a motor that just won’t quit.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
The Magic’s most pressing need is at point guard, but there’s a solid chance that this club acquires one via trade or free agency in the offseason.
If Orlando is leaning towards those methods to replace Jameer Nelson, it frees up the franchise to draft Oladipo at No. 2.
The Hoosiers star is a perfect piece to build around, as he’s capable of impacting a game without the ball in his hands and plays an infectious brand of high-energy defense.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
The Wizards were the real winners of the draft lottery, as they slid up to No. 3 from a projected position of No. 8.
This will allow them to take Porter, a local star that can do everything well except create his own shot. With John Wall and Bradley Beal assuming those responsibilities, the Hoyas product will be able to concentrate on defense, rebounding, knocking down open shots and more.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
The Bobcats may have fell down a few pegs in the lottery, but they’ll still get the franchise scorer they need here at No. 4.
McLemore has a quick release and the ability to get buckets from anywhere on the court, but he has to work on his consistency and staying engaged throughout the course of a game.
5. Phoenix Suns: C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
McCollum is a versatile guard with incredible range and a pretty stroke on his shot.
While his smaller stature may be of some concern when he lines up at the 2, the Suns would be foolish to pass on such a proven scorer when they struggled mightily to generate points in 2012-13.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Len is a plodding seven-footer with huge size and an uncanny ability to finish in the low post.
He’d make a great compliment to Anthony Davis in the Pelicans backcourt, as the Brow’s rim protection and athleticism would be a nice compliment to the center’s deliberate back-to-the-basket game.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Bennett is a strong and versatile forward that can line up at either the 3 or the 4. He has the range on his jumper and athletic abilities to play on the perimeter, while possessing the strength to bang down low.
The Kings would be getting an incredible value here at No. 7, although he may not represent the team’s biggest need.
8. Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Burke would be a smash hit in Detroit, as the Michigan man just led the Wolverines to a national title appearance and revitalized Wolverines basketball.
He could do the same for the Pistons, as he’d help form a one-two punch in the backcourt with third-year guard Brandon Knight in 2013-14.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
If the T-Wolves draft KCP here, they would be getting arguably the most complete shooting guard in this draft and someone who could be at the top of his class at the position in a few years.
The Bulldogs star can create his own shot, hit from deep, defend his position and do everything else required from the 2. He’ll be a perfect compliment to Ricky Rubio in this up-and-coming squad’s backcourt.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Adams proved his worth at the combine, showing scouts that he’s coordinated and athletic enough to play the pivot at a high level in the NBA.
While the Blazers are likely to trade this pick and need a veteran big man to help a potential playoff push, they could do much worse than tabbing and attempting to develop this New Zealand native.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
Zeller can do two things at a high level—run the floor and finish at the rim.
The Sixers need an NBA-ready big man to help wash away the pain of the failed Andrew Bynum experiment, making this IU seven-footer an easy call for the organization if he’s available at No. 11.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors): Rudy Gobert, C, France
Gobert has to work on his athleticism and basic basketball skills before he’s ready to make the jump to American soil, but the Frenchman could pay dividends for the Thunder here.
He possesses a huge 7’2” frame and ridiculous 9’7” reach, measurables that suggest he could take the league by storm if he ever learns the game and improves his footwork.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dario Saric, F, Croatia
There is plenty of talk that Saric may withdraw from the draft, but ESPN’s Chad Ford notes the Croatian sensation hasn’t made the decision official yet.
It would be a foolish decision, as a team like the Mavs could draft this blossoming point forward and keep him overseas until he’s ready to make the leap. Given the weakness of this class and his upside, this is Saric’s best chance of being selected in the lottery.
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Jazz direly need a facilitator to jump-start their offense, especially with a number of young bigs set to assume more responsibility next season.
Carter-Williams is the best passer in the class and could improve the flow and rhythm in Utah tremendously. He needs to add a jumper and improve his ball-handling, but the upside is certainly there for this 6’6” Orangeman.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Olynyk would be a revelation in Milwaukee, as the ‘Zags star would add some much-needed range to the club’s backcourt.
While he’s not known for his athleticism and may struggle defensively, he would open things up for the talented guards on this roster by spacing the floor and punishing defenders that don’t close out on him.
16. Boston Celtics: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
The Celtics know that the Paul Pierce era will be ending soon, opening the door for Muhammad to come in and assume some heavy lifting in terms of scoring duties.
This UCLA product may not have immense upside in terms of his passing or defensive capabilities, but the left-hander knows how to put the ball through the bottom of the net and would be a major asset in Beantown.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Franklin is an intriguing player that could revitalize the Hawks backcourt if he can ever develop a respectable jump shot.
The Aztecs star can rebound better than most off-guards currently in the league and plays with a fire that is impossible to teach. It bodes well for his prospects to become a successful NBA player, and Franklin’s performance could far surpass expectations for his draft position.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Dieng is an intriguing big man, although his ceiling is low and upside limited due to his 23 years of age.
However, he possesses solid size at 6’11 and has the bulk to guard most pivots in the league. He’s a great rim protector and passes well out of the low post.
Should the Hawks take a gamble on the national championship-winning center, they could potentially move Al Horford to his natural power forward spot and improve their frontcourt significantly.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Mitchell is a versatile forward that can guard both the 3 and 4, depending on the situation and matchups.
The Cavs will likely end up trading out of this pick due to the sheer volume of selections and young players they possess, but could do worse than taking a chance on a high-upside athlete like this Mean Green product at No. 19.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
The Bulls have to use this draft to bring in a well-rounded 2 that can play defense, get to the basket and hit threes.
Hardaway Jr. can do all those things well, although coach Tom Thibodeau will have to improve his shot selection if he’s going to log big minutes in the backcourt across from Derrick Rose.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap could both be gone this summer, opening the door for Utah to bring in a backup big with their second pick in this draft.
Withey may not have the offensive talents to start in this league, but the seven-footer can protect the rim, block shots and defend his position. He should be able to log 15-20 minutes per night for a long time.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
Plumlee is a hard-working forward that brings his lunch pail to the game and isn’t afraid to give 100 percent effort at all times.
This blue-collar Blue Devil product will find a way to get minutes in Brooklyn, likely coming off the bench to back up Reggie Evans.
23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
Larkin is an athletic freak that dominated at the combine with his speed and hops.
The Pacers’ roughshod second unit could use a backup point guard to lead the break and create opportunities while the starters catch a much-needed breather.
24. New York Knicks: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
With Jason Kidd’s retirement—and hiring as coach of the Nets—there is a vacancy in the Knickerbocker’s backcourt.
Schroeder may not be a great facilitator yet, but the quick German can penetrate into the backcourt with ease and finish at the rim. He’s an unselfish player, so his passing skills should rapidly improve with practice and NBA coaching.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Crabbe is a streaky shooter that can fill it up from outside, helping the Clips to stretch the court and open things up inside for their bigs.
If Chris Paul remains, expect this Cal star to quickly find a niche as a sharpshooter coming off the bench and knocking down open jumpers.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies): Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Karasev is a three-point marksman that has been plying his trade in Russia for some time.
The T-Wolves would improve their range by adding him, plus they already employ two of his national team cohorts in Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko.
Don’t be surprised if Flip Saunders pulls the trigger on this gunner, although he does need to work on putting the ball on the floor and creating for himself and others.
27. Denver Nuggets: Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
The “Greek Freak” is an intriguing prospect that may end up being the best player in the class or a bust that never makes it to American shores.
His career will likely end up somewhere in between, but it will take years before he’s ready to make a contribution. Expect a loaded team in limbo—such as the Nuggets—to take a chance on him towards the end of the draft.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Glen Rice Jr., SG, D-League
Should the Spurs draft Rice Jr. here, they would be getting a solid swingman that can play two positions, shoot the ball well, rebound at an above-average level and is underrated as a passer at No. 28.
With his pedigree and domination of the D-League, don’t be surprised if this young man ends up becoming a solid contributor in the Association.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Nogueira is oozing upside but has plenty left to work on in terms of honing his raw talent.
If the Brazilian big man can ever pull it all together, he will be an impact center in this league. A loaded squad like OKC can take a chance on him here and develop him overseas.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Tony Snell, G/F, New Mexico
Snell is an uber-athletic prospect with elite range on his jump shot.
If he ever elevates the rest of his game to match those two aspects of it, watch out. This New Mexico product could become a bona fide star.