The NBA Draft is upon us. For me, that means being glued to twitter and basketball rumors websites to track all the potential storylines on draft night and seeking out as many mock drafts as possible. Yes, I’m a bit of a nerd.
Looking into all of this stuff obviously makes me want to formulate a mock draft of my own. I have no “inside information” or anything along those lines, so this is just a mock draft that is one sports freak’s attempt to differentiate the smokescreens and rumors from what’s actually true.
With that in mind, here is my 2013 NBA Mock Draft.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Three months ago, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Nerlens Noel was going first overall. However, it seems the closer we get to draft day, the list of who Dan Gilbert and the Cavs are considering with the top pick increases. Aren’t you supposed to narrow things down as you get closer?
I don’t think the Cavs’ unwillingness to commit to Noel is just a ploy to throw off other teams. I think there’s some real concern here considering Noel probably won’t be 100 percent until next season. Noel is also not as polished offensively as Len is, and offensive polish in the post is what Cleveland needs more than anything.
2. Orlando Magic: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Most insiders have said they believe Noel will go to Orlando if he gets passed over by Cleveland, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise. While Victor Oladipo could go here as well (especially if the rumored Aaron Afflalo/Eric Bledsoe swap happens), Noel seems like a good fit in Orlando. With Nikola Vucevic and Glen Davis already firmly entrenched as the starting frontcourt, the Magic can take the guy with the highest upside in the draft and let him ease back from ACL surgery.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Unless Noel somehow slips to Washington, Porter seems like a sure-fire pick in this spot. The Wizards need an answer at the small forward position, and Porter can be that second scoring option next to point guard John Wall. It would also allow Bradley Beal to play more of a spot-up shooter role that he’s probably better suited for.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Charlotte would probably be thrilled if the draft shook out this way and Oladipo fell to them. With and offensive-minded guys like Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson on the perimeter, a defensive-minded and low-risk pick like Oladipo is exactly what the Bobcats need. Having hard-working, energy guys like Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Oladipo as the faces of your franchise moving forward wouldn’t be such a bad thing for Michael Jordan to have.
5. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
While C.J. McCollum has been mentioned here, I really believe Phoenix will be choosing between Bennett and Ben McLemore considering the Suns already have a point guard they’ve invested heavily in with Goran Dragic. Since the reports of McLemore’s unimpressive workouts have been so widespread, I have a hard time dismissing them. Bennett is as talented as anyone in this draft, and really, the Suns can use help everywhere.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas:
Even though the Pelicans appear dead-set on dealing Greivis Vasquez, I do believe they aren’t ready to give up on Austin Rivers at point guard. New Orleans is also trying to rid themselves of Eric Gordon, and while I don’t think he gets dealt with that contract until he proves he can stay healthy for an extended period of time, McLemore gives them a young wing prospect who can replace Gordon whenever he leaves.
7. Sacramento Kings: C.J. McCollum, PG, Lehigh
It sounds like Tyreke Evans has one foot out in Sacramento, and the Kings can’t really be sold on Isaiah Thomas as the long-term answer at point guard. While McCollum probably isn’t this year’s Damian Lillard, he’s still the best point guard in this class, and the Kings really need another option there.
8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Joe Dumars may take some heat from the fans by passing on Michigan product Trey Burke here, but I think Carter-Williams makes more sense for the Pistons. It’s way too soon to give up on Brandon Knight, and given Carter-Williams’ height and defensive ability, he’s a much better compliment to Knight than Burke would be. This is a team that needs perimeter defense more than anything.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
A true two-guard is Minnesota’s biggest need, and Caldwell-Pope has a chance to be a good one. He and Ricky Rubio have a chance to be an exciting backcourt for years to come, and he’s a nice third piece to compliment Rubio and Kevin Love. I really like this pick here.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
Almost every mock draft has Zeller going to Philadelphia at No. 11. So, we can probably assume something else is going to happen. If the Blazers really do want to deal LaMarcus Aldridge (and if he really does want out, I think they will try to), a project pick like Steven Adams wouldn’t make much sense. Plus, they drafted a project center in Meyers Leonard last season. Zeller can slide right into the starting lineup at power forward if Aldridge gets dealt.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
While a project pick probably is not what the Sixers want, they need a post player badly. The group of big men really drop off after Adams, and that, combined with his potential probably makes No. 11 Adams’ floor.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Sergey Karasev, SG, Russia
With two first-round picks, the Thunder are likely to use one of those on an international player they can stash overseas for now. Since all the real intriguing international prospects figure to be gone by the time the 29th pick rolls around, Karasev makes sense here. Plus, if Dallas doesn’t trade the 13th pick, Oklahoma City probably wouldn’t mind throwing a wrench into the plans of a conference rivals.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Mark Cuban may be a bit disappointed that Karasev is gone here, but Burke is a good consolation prize considering he’s expected to be off the board by this point. Dallas obviously needs an upgrade at the point guard position after Mike James was the starter for a large part of last season, and Burke would immediately be the team’s best option. This all could be a moot point though, as there’s a good chance Dallas trades this pick.
14. Utah Jazz: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
It sounds as if the Jazz don’t like any of the point guards after Burke. While I can see them taking Shane Larkin here, it makes sense for Utah to choose a big man here even if Nogueira doesn’t help them for a few years. The Jazz can choose a point guard later, and the breakup of the Paul Millsap-Al Jefferson tandem is imminent.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
A lot of mocks have Dennis Schroeder going here. I’m not buying that. The Bucks appear ready to move on from both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis now, which means they will need a guy to play point guard now instead of in two or three years. Larkin makes the most sense.
16. Boston Celtics: Shabazz Muhammad, SG, UCLA
Muhammad has probably fallen further in this draft than anyone over the past year, which would make this pick similar to the Jared Sullinger selection for Boston last year. The team seems dead-set on trading Paul Pierce and initiating a rebuild, so scoring from the wing will be needed. Muhammad gives them a guy who can provide that.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Greece
With back-to-back picks, the Hawks are expected to use one on an international prospect. Antetokounmpo is the most intriguing one left at this point, and would give the Hawks a matchup nightmare for small forwards around the NBA when he arrives.
18. Atlanta Hawks: Kelly Olynyk, PF, Gonzaga
The Hawks can go in many different directions here, so I expect them to take the best available player at No. 18. While Jamaal Franklin would work here too, Atlanta is very thin in the post with the likely departure of Josh Smith. Olynyk isn’t a bad complement to Al Horford with his ability to stretch the floor.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Cleveland needs a small forward, but the consensus seems to be that they’d rather fill that position with a veteran rather than a draftee. Franklin’s potential and intangibles are hard to pass up here, and he’s a different type of player than last year’s first-rounder Dion Waiters. They would be a nice two-guard tandem for Cleveland moving forward.
20. Chicago Bulls: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
While the Bulls could choose Franklin if he falls one more spot, Plumlee just seems like such a Bulls draft choice. He’s a guy that comes from a great program who was well-coached in college, has been a winner all his life, and is a defensive-minded player. Looking at the Bulls draft history, they love taking guys like Plumlee.
21. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Jazz fans might be infuriated with the idea of choosing two international players, but let’s be honest, the Jazz aren’t close to competing. Schroeder has a higher ceiling than a lot of players in this draft, and Utah needs a point guard for the future. The Jazz can find a cheap one in free agency to fill-in until Schroeder is ready.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Reggie Bullock, SG, North Carolina
The shooting guard tandem for the Nets off the bench last season was a combination of Keith Bogans and Jerry Stackhouse. Yeah, that’s pretty bad. They can certainly use a shooter and a pure shooting guard who can play alongside Deron Williams for 15 minutes a night. Bullock would be a great fit in Brooklyn, and I’m sure the Nets would be elated if he falls to No. 22.
23. Indiana Pacers: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
We will use the same logic with Mitchell that we used with Cody Zeller. Almost every mock has him going to the Knicks, so that probably won’t happen. While Mitchell is a project pick and Pacers are in a position to win now, David West and Tyler Hansbrough are both free agents. The Pacers will do everything in their power to bring back West, but even if he does return, he’s 32 years old.
Indiana should be looking at who can play power forward two or three years down the road. Mitchell has the potential to be that guy, and there’s no reason to believe Frank Vogel and his staff can’t get that out of him. Also, we can use the same logic Oklahoma City used with the Karasev pick: Indiana taking Mitchell throws a wrench into the plans of an Eastern Conference rival.
24. New York Knicks: Rudy Gobert, C, France
The Knicks will likely be stunned that Mitchell did not make it to No. 24. They really need some help down low, and even if Gobert doesn’t come over this season, he’s the best potential pick here. Knicks fans probably wouldn’t be thrilled with Gobert, but he makes more sense that Gorgui Dieng since Tyson Chandler already fills the rim-protector role.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Isaiah Canaan, PG, Murray State
Doc Rivers coming to the Clippers probably means Chris Paul stays in town, but the team will need a backup to Paul if Eric Bledsoe is dealt. I fully expect that to happen, and Canaan would be a perfect fit here at No. 25.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
While I anticipate Minnesota matches any offer made to Nikola Pekovic in restricted free agency, the T-Wolves can still use some help in the frontcourt. Dieng would fit well as a backup center, and his defensive prowess would ease the burden on Kevin Love, who isn’t a strong one-on-one post defender.
27. Denver Nuggets: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
With Andre Iguodala hitting free agency, Denver will likely look to draft a wing player. Ricky Ledo and Tony Snell are also options here, but I think the front office would rather give first-year head coach Brian Shaw more of a sure-thing than a project player. I see them choosing between Crabbe or Tim Hardaway Jr.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
Ledo’s off-the-court issues are well documented, but so is his potential. As we saw in the NBA Finals, Manu Ginobili’s best days are behind him. The Spurs also have Danny Green and Gary Neal on the perimeter, but both are much better served as spot-up shooters. Ledo has the potential to be a starting shooting guard, and if Gregg Popovich can’t bring that out of him, who can?
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
The Thunder can go in a few different directions here. One of those could be shooting guard, as there’s a good chance Kevin Martin doesn’t return next year. However, part of the reason the Thunder made the James Harden deal with the Rockets was because they really liked Jeremy Lamb, so I don’t see them taking another shooting guard. Kendrick Perkins certainly isn’t getting any better, and while Jeff Withey is very similar to Hasheem Thabeet, the Thunder can use another big body.
30. Phoenix Suns: Glen Rice Jr., SF, NBDL
After choosing Anthony Bennett earlier, the Suns will certainly use the 30th pick on the best shooter possible. Rice shot 49 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range in the D-League last season while averaging 13 points per game. He could help immediately, but Tim Hardaway Jr. is also an option here.