The 2013 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday June 27, starting at 7:30 PM ET on ESPN. Many questions about who will go #1, what team will trade what pick, and other questions remain to be answered. What I will do is list what my prediction for today's draft without factoring in any of those possibilities, and strictly go by what I think will happen based on who is presently designated to pick at each slot. Also, this mock draft only covers the 1st Round:
#1. Cleveland Cavaliers---Maryland C Alex Len: Alex Len has emerged very late as the projected #1 pick across many people's draft boards. The reason I have the Cavaliers going with Alex Len is because they could use a good center right now, and reports say that they are scared to take Kentucky C Nerlens Noel due to his recently torn ACL and his smaller body frame. They already have a solid young back court mate in Dion Waiters to accompany their star point guard Kyrie Irving, and they drafted power forward Tristan Thompson the same year as Irving, and he still looks promising. Len would be a great fit with that young core because he wouldn't take anybody's minutes away and he could develop along side them. Plus, he has a great body, standing at 7'1 and weighing 255 lbs, which means he's the size of a traditional NBA center. Many people feel like he has the most upside of anybody in this draft and could become a franchise player at the center position. Alex Len just might be the missing ingredient to a playoff caliber Cavaliers team. The only real concern the Cavaliers should have is he is coming off of ankle surgery due to a stress fracture in his ankle, but that sure beats an ACL as far as I'm concerned.
#2. Orlando Magic---Kentucky C Nerlens Noel: A recent report from Chad Ford of ESPN said that the Orlando Magic will almost certainly take Nerlens Noel provided the Cavaliers don't take him. I'm going to stick with Chad Ford's report and say the Magic select him. The reason why this makes sense is the Magic need a guy to fill the void left by Dwight Howard, and they could also use a good rim protector to clog the middle. That's exactly what Nerlens Noel is going to be, and if it weren't for the ACL, many would have him as the #1 overall pick. The Magic might get lucky and get the best player in the draft by selecting Noel, and in the process get themselves a guy who will control the paint on the defensive end. The only concern with Noel is despite being 6'11 with a 7'4 wingspan, he only weighs 216 lbs. He needs to bulk up and show he can hold his own down low in the paint in the NBA. Plus, he is offensively raw and needs to become a more polished offensive player. But it sounds like the Magic like his upside enough to take the risk on him and his recently torn ACL. I'd be very surprised if Noel was available after the #2 pick.
#3. Washington Wizards---Georgetown SF Otto Porter, Jr.: Many people think Otto Porter, Jr. is the best player in this year's draft because of his athleticism, size and length, and his overall potential to become a star swingman in the NBA. Unlike Len and Noel, Porter has no injury concerns of any kind and seems to be more ready for the NBA right now. The reason he makes sense for the Wizards is because they could really use a small forward. Trevor Ariza isn't the most ideal starter for a playoff caliber team at this position, Martell Webster obviously isn't getting it done, and Jan Vesely isn't exactly looking like a sure thing at that position either. With John Wall and Bradley Beal in the back court, and Nene at the center position, a guy that can play the small forward position is exactly what this team needs, and there is none better option in this draft than Otto Porter, Jr. to fill that need for the Wizards.
#4. Charlotte Bobcats---Kansas SG Ben McLemore: If Ben McLemore is available, not even Michael Jordan would be able to mess this up. McLemore clearly would be a perfect fit for the Bobcats because their point guard Kemba Walker clearly needs help in the backcourt and Ben McLemore is the best possible backcourt mate for Kemba Walker in this draft. He can shoot and score (15.9 ppg) , he's athletic, good at rebounding (5.7 reb) and seems to have a flair for stardom. Throw him in with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the small forward position, and all of a sudden a Walker, McLemore, Kidd-Gilchrist trio just might spell a mini-big three in Charlotte. The Bobcats got a long ways to go, but adding Ben McLemore would be a step in the right direction for sure as they look to put together a team that is capable of making the playoffs.
#5.Phoenix Suns---Michigan PG Trey Burke: It's hard to figure where the Suns will go in the draft as they are a team that is an utter and complete disaster right now. They could use a whole number of different types of players, but I see them going with Michigan point guard Trey Burke. The Steve Nash era is over, and while Goran Dragic is a solid young point guard, he clearly isn't a guy that can get it done as your starting franchise point guard. Look for the Suns to draft Burke and possibly move Dragic, or use Dragic as a tutor to Burke. The other two point guards on their roster, Shannon Brown and Kendall Marshall don't appear to be remotely capable of being the team's starting point guard of the future. This league is a point guard driven league, which is why I think the Suns will take Burke. He'd be a good foundational piece for them to build around for the future as they continue to gut their team of useless players such as Kendall Marshall.
#6. New Orleans Pelicans---Indiana SG/SF Victor Oladipo: The Pelicans are reportedly shopping their current shooting guard Eric Gordon, and perhaps it is because they want Victor Oladipo to replace him. Oladipo, unlike Gordon, is a good defender and a high energy type player. The Pelicans are looking for a fresh new start as they abandon their Hornets nickname, and getting Oladipo to replace Gordon wouldn't be a bad way to get that fresh start underway. They don't seem to be confident in Gordon's commitment level to the franchise nor his ability to stay healthy. Oladipo brings things to the table that Gordon does not, and might bring in a change of culture for the better due to his defense and motor. If he's available, fully expect the Pelicans to take him.
#7. Sacramento Kings---Russian SF Sergey Karasev: My mock draft is likely the only mock draft you will read that has the Kings taking Sergey Karasev this high, but I have good reason to think they will. They are crowded in the backcourt with Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, and Tyreke Evans. They clearly don't need another point guard or shooting guard, and they also don't need a big guy as they have Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson up front. What they need is a versatile swingman that can play off their overloaded back court and their beefy front court. That is exactly what Sergey Karasev can do for them at the small forward position. Behind Otto Porter, Jr. he is the second best small forward in this draft and is also considered by many to be one of the most NBA ready players in this draft. He has 3 years of pro experience in Russia and is only 19 years of age, which means that while being young, he's used to being a professional player, and he has no issues with immaturity. As for his game, he attacks the rim well, makes shots, and is said to be a very smart and intelligent player. Plus, he has good NBA size standing at 6'7 and weighing 205 lbs. His style of play perfectly fits what the Kings need, and his status as an international player is perfect for the Kings, who are in a smaller market. International players tend to have higher odds of staying in places like Sacramento, which is another good reason for the Kings to draft him. Remember the days of Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic? Those were the days when the Kings had more international representation than the United Nations, and as a result had their best seasons in franchise history.
#8. Detroit Pistons---Georgia SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: I think Caldwell-Pope is a very possible choice given that they could use an upgrade at the shooting guard position, especially one who can hit some threes, since they are ranked in the bottom half of the league in 3-point percentage. One of Caldwell-Pope's strengths is his perimeter scoring, and that is something that they desperately need. Plus, there isn't much else at this point that the Pistons would be better off taking. They have enough point guards to worry about with Brandon Knight and Jose Calderon, and plenty of Bigs with Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, and Viacheslav Kravtsov, which is why a shooting guard could make sense here. In addition, Caldwell-Pope stands at 6'6 and weighs 205 lbs, and is rather athletic. Perhaps if he gets bigger and learns to attack the basket better, he could become a small forward, which is their more pressing need. Caldwell-Pope could end up filling their needs for both a shooting guard and a small forward, which actually makes him a pretty attractive option for them.
#9. Minnesota Timberwolves---Indiana C Cody Zeller: The Timberwolves recently turned down a trade from the Cavaliers for their power forward Kevin Love that would have given them Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and the #1 overall pick. The Timberwolves made the right decision to turn down that trade given that Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love haven't had enough time to see what they can do together when both healthy. However, should Love decide to bail on the team in free agency, having a promising young big guy like Cody Zeller could make that departure not so bad for the team. Plus, keep in mind that Nikola Pekovic may not be back with the team next season, so Zeller could be used as insurance for Pekovic, too. Zeller is also a nice fit for the Timberwolves due to his offensive versatility. He moves really well for his size and could prove to be a nice pick and roll mate for Ricky Rubio. Standing at 6'11 and weighing 240 lbs, Zeller is already decently sized, and doesn't need to add that much more weight. In addition, he was a good citizen and student while at Indiana. He's the kind of guy you want in your organization off the court in addition to on the court.
#10. Portland Trail Blazers---UNLV PF Anthony Bennett: Many draft boards have Anthony Bennett going way higher than this, but if every team drafts according to what they need, there is a good chance Bennett slips down to #10 since Detroit, Sacramento, and New Orleans all don't really need big guys right now. The Trail Blazers are rumored to be interested in big men Tiago Splitter of the Spurs and Nikola Pekovic of the Timberwolves. If Anthony Bennett falls to them, expect them to snatch him right up and see if they can get him to play in the front court right along side LaMarcus Aldridge. Bennett is a really good rebounder, which is definitely an area the Trail Blazers could use some help with since they were 24th in rebounding last season.
#11. Philadelphia 76ers---Pittsburgh C Steven Adams: The Andrew Bynum experiment didn't work out and the 76ers know it. They definitely could use another big guy with Bynum gone, and they also aren't a team that is expected to contend for a while. Adams has the tools and the size to become a real dominant force in the NBA on the glass and on the defensive end, standing at 6'11 and weighing 255 lbs. The problem with him, is he really not very good offensively at the moment, and is one of these long-term project kind of players. But given that the 76ers are young and they are looking to rebuild with Bynum and Andre Iguodala gone, drafting a promising young center like Adams is actually not that bad of an idea for them.
#12.Oklahoma City Thunder---Lehigh PG/SG C.J. McCollum: The Thunder didn't exactly like Kevin Martin all that much and Russell Westbrook just might be better off with another guy in the backcourt. Especially a guy who could potentially run the point and let him play his more natural shooting guard position. The Thunder clearly miss the presence of a dynamic scorer and playmaker in the backcourt with James Harden now on the Rockets, which is why C.J. McCollum might be just what the doctor ordered for the Thunder. He averaged 23.9 points per game last season, so he definitely knows how to put the ball in the hole, and maybe like Harden could be more of that playmaker type as well, which more readily allows Russell Westbrook to do his thing, which is to attack the rim with reckless abandon. Also, I think McCollum would enjoy playing in their up and down tempo style of basketball.
#13. Dallas Mavericks---Brazil PF/C Lucas Nogueira: The Mavericks really don't want to have this draft pick, but if they have to use it, they will likely use it on somebody that they won't need to see for a couple of years. Well, that would be Lucas Nogueira, a 6'11 215 lb guy with a lot of work to do before he actually comes over to play in the NBA. His main upside is he has good physical tools, rebounds well, and protects the rim like a mother bear protects her cubs. His weakness is that he is really lousy offensively at the moment, isn't that strong, and is one of these long-term project guys given his raw ability and youth (21 years old). The Mavericks however want to free up cap-space to get Dwight Howard or another big name, and not having to pay this guy for a few seasons is definitely an upside for the Mavericks. Plus, there might come a time when they need a big guy like this who can actually assist them with rebounding and post-defense. Otherwise, they could always trade him.
#14. Utah Jazz--- Gonzaga C Kelly Olynyk: The Jazz are likely to part ways with either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap this summer and possibly both. Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors clearly are the future front court of this team, but they will need a backup. Olynyk could be the perfect guy to back up Kanter and Favors, and maybe even challenge them for a starting job in a few seasons. He has great mobility for his 7'0, 238 lb frame and has good touch around the rim, which is something that Kanter and Favors could both work on. On the flip side, his weakness is playing defense, which seems to be where Kanter and Favors excel. In other words, they could compliment him and he could compliment them. Seems to be a good fit.
#15. Milwaukee Bucks---Michigan SG Tim Hardaway, Jr.: With Monta Ellis saying goodbye, the Bucks need another shooting guard, and a guy who is a different kind of shooting guard. Monta Ellis and their current point guard Brandon Jennings were too similar last season. Both are score first guards who are undersized. With Hardaway at his side, Jennings could focus more on his point guard duties, knowing he has a true shooting guard by his side who is 6'6 and has a nice perimeter shooting game. Plus, Hardaway is a standout guy, who is used to playing in the Midwest. He's the kind of guy that could be there for the long haul.
#16. Boston Celtics---Syracuse PG Michael Carter-Williams: This pick makes sense for two reasons: (1) They are likely to depart with Rajon Rondo and they are in need of a point guard. (2) Carter-Williams is from Massachusetts, so he'd feel right at home playing in a Celtics uniform. Carter-Williams has tremendous upside due to his length and size for the point guard position (He stands at 6'5) as well as his skills. He would make a fantastic replacement for Rajon Rondo and would give them good reason to trade Rondo and get good pieces back for him since he fills a need at the point guard position, allowing them to make such a trade.
#17. Atlanta Hawks--Germany PG Dennis Schroeder: Schroeder is one of the more interesting international prospects in this draft: A 6'2, 168 lb point guard with great passing ability and tremendous speed and quickness. However, he isn't the most polished point guard given his weak handles, which makes him turnover prone. That being said, the Hawks could use another point guard as Jeff Teague and Devin Harris can't possibly be taken seriously to be their long-term point guards. Teague doesn't have the skills and as for Devin Harris, look no further than what happened in Utah. I could easily see the Hawks draft Schroeder and then trade Devin Harris or Jeff Teague to a team that needs a point guard. This is similar to the Rajon Rondo situation in Boston.
#18. Atlanta Hawks---UCLA SF Shabazz Muhammad: The Hawks are likely to part ways with Josh Smith and they might be looking for another small forward. If Shabazz Muhammad is available, fully expect the Hawks to take him. Muhammad has the physical abilities to be a really good small forward as he is 6'6, 223 lbs and is really athletic. Plus, he can score the ball. He would definitely be a good pickup for the Hawks should he be available.
#19. Cleveland Cavaliers---Greece SF Giannis Adetokunbo: This kid is an interesting player given he is so young (18 years old). He's 6'9 and weighs a slender 196 lbs. He needs to get bulkier and stronger, and definitely is a kid that won't come in and make an immediate impact. However, he has the physical tools to be really good and he shows flashes of offensive versatility. He has tremendous upside and potential and could be a really good fit in a few years with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Alex Len. That could be a solid starting five for the Cavs.
#20. Chicago Bulls---California SG/SF Allen Crabbe: Being a UC Berkeley student, I had the chance to watch Crabbe play a little bit and what I liked about him was he seemed to have a good capability to score from the wing. However, he also lacked aggression and assertiveness. He didn't seem confident taking the big shots for the Golden Bears or taking over the game all the time. However, he does have tremendous offensive potential given that he can score the ball well (averaged 18.4 points per game for Cal last season). Expect Derrick Rose to be the aggressive player in the backcourt for the Bulls, which should help Allen Crabbe, as it will take time for him to develop a killer instinct in the NBA. The Bulls do need somebody to assist Derrick Rose in the backcourt in terms of scoring, and that is something Crabbe should definitely be capable of doing.
#21. Utah Jazz--South Dakota State PG Nate Wolters: In case you were reading this mock draft and were thinking "I thought the Jazz wanted a point guard", you were correct, and I think they really should take Nate Wolters out of South Dakota State. The reason is because he has good size for a point guard (6'4, 190 lbs), shoots well from the outside, and is a very polished point guard in terms of his handles and passing skills. The only real knock on him is that he isn't the most athletic point guard out there and he played in the Summit League, which is a mid-major conference. But aside from that, he seems really promising. But there is one more reason I think that the Jazz should take Nate Wolters, which is that he is the kind of kid who would stick around in Utah for the long-term. After what happened with the Deron Williams situation, the Jazz should want a guy who is going to want to stick in Utah for the long haul. Guys who come from big schools like Michael Carter-Williams typically don't like to stay in tiny little Utah, where there is a lack of urban and big city life. A talented young kid from South Dakota State who works really hard and comes from more humble circumstances is much more likely to stay in Utah. This kid potentially has John Stockton written all over him. He comes from a small school, impressed people at the combine, and has a good work ethic. The reason John Stockton and Karl Malone both liked Utah and stayed there was because they weren't looking to play in big markets due to their humble beginnings. Stockton in Gonzaga and Malone in Louisiana. I understand that Michael Carter-Williams and Dennis Schroeder might on paper be more appealing to the Jazz, but Wolters is the kind of guy that is more likely to stay in Utah for the long hault due to his background. Plus, none of these point guards are expected to be franchise changing point guards in terms of becoming the next Chris Paul, so I really don't see much of a difference between taking Wolters instead of those other two guys. The Jazz can be 95%-100% sure that Wolters will still be here at 21, which is why they should have the confidence to draft Olynk at 14.
#22. Brooklyn Nets---Louisville C Gorgui Dieng: The Nets are kind of a weak team inside given that Brook Lopez isn't much of a banger. That's why Gorgui Dieng would be such a nice pick up for the Nets in the draft. He is 6'11, 245 lbs, and can become a really good defensive player in the NBA. The only downside of him is his ceiling is limited in that most scouts are fairly certain he is destined to be a rotational big guy who clogs the middle and grabs you some boards. But since the Nets could use a guy just like that, I see Dieng being drafted by the Nets.
#23. Indiana Pacers---Miami PG Shane Larkin: The Pacers need help at the point guard position, and Shane Larkin could be a really good fit for them. In the short term, he could back up George Hill and maybe do a better job than D.J. Augustine. Long-term, he could become their starter. Larkin's only downside is he is 5'11 171 lbs and isn't at all long. However, his speed and quickness just might make up for that as well as his ability to pass the ball and run an offense. I see a lot of teams being hesitant to take him due to his size and I see him falling, but not past the Pacers if they can get him. In terms of why Wolters goes before him, Wolters' 6'4 190 lb frame is less worrisome than a 5'11 171 lb frame.
#24. New York Knicks---Duke C Mason Plumlee: The Knicks could use some size and somebody who could score in the paint. That's what Mason Plumlee ( 6'11 240 lbs) could do for them as well as play some post defense. His ceiling might be low, but this is the late first round. I think a guy who can play good defense in the middle and score in the paint could be of great use to the Knicks.
#25. Los Angeles Clippers---North Texas PF Tony Mitchell: Tony Mitchell is a guy who can block some shots, rebound on the offensive glass, and finish around the rim. The Clippers could use a guy like that to fill in for Blake Griffin for 15-20 minutes a game. He is raw offensively, but with a 6'9, 236 lb body, Mitchell should be able to get his way in the paint and provide valuable minutes as a post player off the bench for the Clippers.
#26. Minnesota Timberwolves---Rio Grande Valley Vipers SG/SF Glen Rice, Jr:
The Timberwolves need a shooting guard and Glen Rice, Jr. could be a really nice fit. He has experience playing pro ball in the D-League and more importantly he is a good scorer, which is what the Timberwolves need to go alongside Ricky Rubio in the backcourt.
#27. Denver Nuggets---New Mexico SF Tony Snell: The Nuggets won't be getting their desired superstar with this pick, but they could get a guy who can score the ball and contribute to their up and down athletic style of play. Tony Snell definitely could help them in that way.
#28. San Antonio Spurs---France C Rudy Gobert: The Spurs could use a center, and Rudy Gobert would be a nice pick up for them given his 7'2, 238 body frame that could easily be filled out a lot more. We found out that Tiago Splitter can't control the paint in the NBA Finals and that Tim Duncan needs help in that department. Spurs PF Aron Baynes didn't do anything at all for the Spurs in terms of controlling the paint, so he might not be back with the team next season. The real kicker for me is that Gobert is French, which means he and Tony Parker just might become buddies on the team. Parker could get the most out of Gobert and inspire him to play better. In addition, Parker could benefit from having another Frenchman on the team for morale purposes.
#29. Oklahoma City Thunder---Kansas C Jeff Withey: Standing at 6'11, 230 lbs, Withey needs to get stronger, but he does show promise to be a good post-defender. Perhaps he and Serge Ibaka someday become the great wall of OKC or something in the paint. They have been rumored to be shopping Kendrick Perkins or at the very least have been encouraged to by fans, and so adding a guy like Withey with the potential to play good defense in the paint could make that decision to trade Perkins a lot easier for them.
#30. Phoenix Suns---San Diego State SG Jamaal Franklin: Like I said, the Suns could use a lot of things. Franklin is an athletic shooting guard at 6'5 205 lbs, which is another piece they could use. Franklin is incredibly athletic, hard working, and loves to attack the basket. This sounds like the exact opposite of Michael Beasley, who was a lazy bum last season. The Suns need a guy to give them life and energy and this guy will certainly do that for them.
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