In a week from today, we will know the order of the 2013 NBA Draft. Ping pong balls will determine the fate of fourteen struggling teams, left on the outside of the postseason looking in.
The NBA Draft Combine begins tomorrow in Chicago. With 60 of the biggest names in college and international basketball in attendance, it is a foregone conclusion that many will improve their draft stock, many will hurt their draft stock, and some will fall off of team’s big boards completely.
That type of pressure is why all of the NBA’s biggest scouts, executives, and coaches are spectators at the five-day event that begins on Wednesday. Some of the stories entering the combine are big men Nerlens Noel and Anthony Bennett being unable to work out due to injury. With that said, other big men may have an opportunity to move up in the draft, and possibly even jump Bennett. Noel is undoubtedly going to be the first big off the board come June 27th, barring any major setbacks in his rehab of his torn ACL, but guys like Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller, Alex Len, and Gorgui Dieng have a chance to creep their way up the draft board.
1. Orlando Magic – Trey Burke, Point Guard, Michigan
Burke was the best player in college basketball a season ago. With Jameer Nelson aging, it’s time for the Magic to get younger at the point guard position. Orlando has a young core of Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, and Andrew Nicholson. Point guard is the only position of dire need.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – Nerlens Noel, Center, Kentucky
Byron Mullens had the best season of his career in 2013 but can’t be counted on for consistency. The platoon of big men in Charlotte this year didn’t work as well as Michael Jordan had hoped for. Noel is coming off a torn ACL but has proven himself as an elite shot blocker and athlete. In an appearance on ESPN earlier this week, Noel said himself he plans to return to playing by Christmas and is swiftly moving through the rehab process without any setbacks.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Otto Porter, Small Forward, Georgetown
Cleveland has a back court built for the future so need-wise, McLemore or Oladipo don’t make much sense here. Porter is an all-around player that can do a little bit of everything. His high basketball IQ should make the transition to the NBA easier for him than some others. Cleveland will continue to build around star point guard Kyrie Irving while hoping to land LeBron James in free agency in 2014.
4. Phoenix Suns – Ben McLemore, Shooting Guard, Kansas
Phoenix could go just about anywhere with this pick; they have problems at just about every position. Nobody’s spot is promise and there is speculation that the Suns may have interest in New Orleans’ Eric Gordon. If the Suns stay put at the shooting guard position, McLemore is the no-brainer with the fourth pick if he is still on the board. However, their are rumors that Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic, and Michael Beasley may not be back in the desert a year from now.
5. New Orleans Pelicans – Victor Oladipo, Shooting Guard, Indiana
Trade rumors are surrounding New Orleans’ current shooting guard Eric Gordon, and if he gets dealt before the draft or on draft day, Oladipo may be the guy the Pelicans decide to go with. After a disappointing season from last year’s tenth overall pick Austin Rivers, the two would likely battle for playing time. Oladipo’s work ethic may pay dividends there, where Rivers is more of a streaky scorer.
6. Sacramento Kings – C.J. McCollum, Guard, Lehigh
With rumors swirling around everyone and everything involved with the Kings’ franchise other than star center Demarcus Cousins, C.J. McCollum could be the type of player that they have circled on their draft board. McCollum has a chance to be a contributor right away with his uncanny ability to score. With Tyreke Evans rumored to be on his way out of Sacramento, the former Lehigh guard could be the guy to replace him. McCollum can play both guard positions and he can shoot. He shot above 50% from beyond the arc in his senior season.
7. Detroit Pistons – Michael Carter-Williams, Point Guard, Syracuse
What the Pistons decides to do with their lottery pick has a lot to do with what their intentions for Jose Calderon are. If they plan to bring him back, Detroit will likely pass on another point guard of the same type. If Calderon is not back in Detroit, Carter-Williams makes a lot of sense. Both are a pass-first type of point guard that use their above-average height for the position to get open looks for their teammates consistently.
8. Washington Wizards – Anthony Bennett, Power Forward, UNLV
Washington looked like a playoff-contending team once former first overall pick John Wall got healthy. Wall looked like the all-star he was expected to be, despite his lack of ability to shoot the basketball. With Wall running the show, Anthony Bennett would make sense in Washington. The future of the back court is promising; Bradley Beal proved himself to be worth the third overall pick a year ago. However, the Wizards could use another scoring option, and Bennett fits that bill. Bennett can fill it up from anywhere on the court, inside and out. He will have time to polish his post skills before the team is truly ready to contend.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Shabazz Muhammad, Small Forward, UCLA
With Nikola Pekovic proving to be an above-average starting center in the association, the Timberwolves don’t have many major needs. With Ricky Rubio running the point, Pekovic controlling the paint, and Kevin Love returning from injury, Minnesota could use an explosive wing scorer. Muhammad is a world-class athlete with an incredibly quick first step. His size, length, and ability to get to the basket make him tough to guard. If Muhammad can improve his three-point stroke, he has the potential to become virtually unguardable. Regardless, the potential is there to be a lock-down perimeter defender.
10. Portland Trailblazers – Alex Len, Center, Maryland
J.J. Hickson is an unrestricted free agent as of July 1. If Hickson decides to part ways with the Blazers, that will leave Meyers Leonard as the only true center and LaMarcus Aldridge the only proven threat in the post on the roster. Alex Len has a huge frame that will ease his transition to the next level. At 7’1″, 255 pounds, the development of Len will be based purely on skill and IQ. Len will be able to contribute right away on the glass and can compliment Meyers Leonard, Portland’s first-round selection a year ago.
11. Philadelphia 76ers – Cody Zeller, Center, Indiana
It is no secret that the Sixers lack a low post scorer. After Andrew Bynum failed to suit up for a single game this season, it became even more evident with the departure of Elton Brand. Spencer Hawes is a suitable backup but by no means is he a starting center in the NBA. If Philly wants a big man with potential, they should look no further than Cody Zeller. After his freshman year at Indiana, he was likely to be the first overall pick in this draft after he decided to return for his sophomore season. Zeller struggled to finish through contact and had problems when bigger players were physical with him in the post, but the potential is unquestionable. Zeller could pan out to be the steal of the draft if he falls to the bottom of the lottery.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Kelly Olynyk, Center, Gonzaga
Oklahoma City likes to get out in transition; everyone knows that. Serge Ibaka has developed a formidable offensive game and has become capable of finishing in traffic and in transition. Kendrick Perkins on the other hand, while a key piece of their defense, does not run the floor particularly well or offer anything offensively. Olynyk was the best low post scorer in college basketball a year ago. In addition to the ability to score with his back to the basket, Olynyk has the athleticism and shooting touch to be a dynamic threat in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop scenarios.
13. Dallas Mavericks – Gorgui Dieng, Center, Louisville
Since the Maverick won the NBA Title a few years back, it has become obvious that Mark Cuban and company miss the defensive presence of Tyson Chandler. Chandler protected the rim better than anyone in route to his first championship. His knowledge and understanding of defense is not comparable to any incoming rookies, but Dieng is a world-class athlete for a 6’11”, 245 pound center and has shown promise as a shot blocker at the next level.
14. Utah Jazz – Rudy Gobert, Power Forward/Center, France
With the possibility of both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap being elsewhere next season, the Jazz have to plan accordingly. Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors have proven to be capable replacements for the two veterans, but regardless, Utah will need to add depth to their front court. Gobert has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in this draft class. With freakish athleticism and ability to run the floor coupled with his size, the big man from France could prove to be a dynamic threat on both ends of the floor.
With the lottery out of the way, it is now time to debate who the playoff teams will select. Teams that make the playoffs tend to pick more according to scheme and how they fit with their current roster. Teams that miss the playoffs normally select who they feel is the best player on the board. There are exceptions of course, but here is how the second round may go. Don’t jump to conclusions, this will change about a million times before June 27.
|15||Milwaukee Bucks||Mason Plumlee||PF||Duke|
|16||Boston Celtics||Tony Mitchell||PF||North Texas|
|17||Atlanta Hawks||Jamaal Franklin||SG||San Diego St.|
|18||Chicago Bulls||Archie Goodwin||SG||Kentucky|
|19||Cleveland Cavs (from Heat)||Jeff Withey||C||Kansas|
|20||Atlanta Hawks (from Rockets)||Dennis Schroeder||PG||Germany|
|21||Utah Jazz (from Warriors)||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope||SG||Georgia|
|22||Brooklyn Nets||Dario Saric||SF||Croatia|
|23||Indiana Pacers||Shane Larkin||PG||Miami|
|24||New York Knicks||Reggie Bullock||SF||UNC|
|25||Minnesota Timberwolves (from Grizzlies)||Sergey Karasev||SF||Russia|
|26||Los Angeles Clippers||Steven Adams||C||Pittsburgh|
|27||Denver Nuggets||Lucas Nogueira||C||Brazil|
|28||San Antonio Spurs||Erick Green||SG||Virginia Tech|
|29||OKC Thunder||Giannis Adetokunbo||SF||Greece|
|30||Phoenix Suns (from Lakers)||B.J. Young||SG||Arkansas|
With the Draft Combine set to get under way in Chicago, this is bound to change dramatically within the last five days. For all the latest updates and news, stay tuned at FanSided.com. This mock draft is updated weekly and is according to team needs, so make sure to stop by for all your draft needs and coverage.
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