We’re less than a week away from this year’s NBA draft, the first of many big days and nights of the offseason that usually kicks off the waiting game until next year’s tip-off in style. With no sure-fire No. 1 pick as the anchor of this rookie class, speculation as to the identity of these picks will remain rampant right up until the moment many teams make their selections. There are also many more trade possibilities heating up the rumor mill, as several GMs are jockeying for salary cap flexibility to (hopefully) hit the ground running come July 1st and the start of free agency.
So, without further ado, let’s try and make sense of it all in this year’s LWOS NBA Mock Draft for 2013.
Pick #1, Cleveland Cavaliers
Nerlens Noel (PF, Kentucky; 6-11, 220 lbs)
The skinny on Noel is that his recovery from a serious knee surgery, as determined by team doctors, will be a major factor in deciding this pick. If red flags begin to fly, don’t be surprised if Cleveland pick Maryland center Alex Len instead.
Pick #2, Orlando Magic
Ben McLemore (SG, Kansas; 6-4, 195 lbs)
With no strong point guard available with this pick, the Magic’s likely course of action is to package either the pick or McLemore and use it as trade bait to fill their need at point guard. I highly expect this pick/prospect to move on draft night.
Pick #3, Washington Wizards
Otto Porter (SF, Georgetown; 6-8, 200 lbs)
Local DC kid fills a major need for the Wizards, who had widely inconsistent play from the swingman spot last year. While he lacks star power, Porter is a solid, all-around player who is built like a rock and will do well during the long, grinding NBA season.
Pick #4, Charlotte Bobcats
Anthony Bennett (PF, UNLV; 6-7, 240 lbs)
With the league-wide trend of “small ball” catching on in a big way, the Bobcats selection of Bennett won’t scorned as it might have five or so years ago. Undersized at the four but probably not defensively polished enough to guard the three at the NBA level, he is nonetheless a diverse scorer with tremendous upside.
Pick #5, Phoenix Suns
Victor Oladipo (SG, Indiana; 6-5, 210 lbs)
In a draft that will be kind to teams looking to replenish the two-guard spot, Oladipo could potentially be the steal of the first round at No. 5. After increasing his range and developing a knock-down shooting stroke to go along with his abilities as a lockdown defender, the Suns may have finally found a perfect complement to Goran Dragic in the backcourt.
Pick #6, New Orleans Pelicans
Alex Len (C, Alex Len; 7-1, 255 lbs)
The Pelicans (I can’t believe I’m actually calling them by that name now) will select Len for two reasons: he’ll be the best prospect available on board, and the idea of pairing him and Anthony Davis as a 1-2 punch under the basket is too tantalizing to pass up. Detroit took that same gamble last year with Andre Drummond, and I’d say it worked out well for them.
Pick #7, Sacramento Kings
Michael Carter-Williams (PG, Syracuse; 6-5, 175 lbs)
Would you look at that – a point guard in Sacramento who shares the ball instead of taking bad three-point shots all the time? Who knew…
Pick #8, Detroit Pistons
Trey Burke (PG, Michigan; 6-1, 175 lbs)
The reigning college Player of the Year is undersized by NBA standards and not particularly athletic in order to compensate for this fact, but scouts really like his tenacity and ability to rise to the challenge in big games. I’d expect Detroit to also explore the possibility of moving Rodney Stuckey come draft night to continue the roster rebuild.
Pick #9, Minnesota Timberwolves
C.J. McCollum (PG-SG, Lehigh; 6-3, 190 lbs)
The most recent scoring phenom to come out of Damian Lillard’s alma mater, Minnesota will look to bolster their poor shooting from last season with a player who averaged nearly 25 points per game last season in college, albeit against weaker competition. If they can, the Timberwolves would also like to shed some of their depth at the position, with Ridnour or Barea likely on the chopping block.
Pick #10, Portland Trailblazers
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, Georgia; 6-5, 205 lbs)
This is one of the picks with the most uncertainty, since the players that are likely to be available aren’t the ideal fit for the Blazers’ needs. If they don’t end up flipping this pick for experienced role players, look for Caldwell-Pope to upgrade their bench production in a big way.
Pick #11, Philadelphia 76ers
Steven Adams (C, Pittsburgh; 6-11, 235 lbs)
A bit of a “project” pick for the 76ers, who will probably look to go big given the dark cloud hanging over Andrew Bynum’s return, Adams is a beast of middle man, with a wingspan measuring 7’4”. Tremendous raw upside that could pay off eventually.
Pick #12, Oklahoma City Thunder
Cody Zeller (PF-C, Indiana; 7-0, 240 lbs)
The Thunder are without any glaring holes to fill on their roster and will continue their trend of the last few years and continue to stockpile high-end prospects. Zeller was initially projected to go in the Top 5 of this draft, so he would be a great get a No. 12. That being said, you might see this pick on the move in an attempt to replace James Harden’s production off the bench.
Pick #13, Dallas Mavericks
Giannnis Adetokoubo (SF, Greece; 6-9, 215 lbs)
The first of several internationals likely to be drafted in mid-to-late stages of the first round, scouts and execs are raving of Adetokoubo’s skill set while at the Adidas Eurocamp. The Mavericks can also afford to let him play another year or two overseas for extra seasoning.
Pick #14, Utah Jazz
Dennis Schroeder (PG, Germany; 6-1, 180 lbs)
His all-world performance at the Nike Hoop Summit in April saw his draft stock rise considerably over the past two months. The Jazz will be very happy to have him fall into their lap and take over the floor general duties in Utah. Think of a faster version of George Hill.
Pick #15, Milwaukee Bucks
Shabazz Muhammad (SG, UCLA; 6-6, 225 lbs)
With the potential departures of both Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings on the horizon, the Bucks will look to add some instant offence, which Muhammad is certainly capable of.
Pick #16, Boston Celtics
Sergey Karasev (SF, Russia; 6-7, 205 lbs)
It’s still unclear what Boston’s team will look like next year – yet another go-around for Garnett, Pierce and company, or perhaps a completely new outfit after Danny Ainge (finally) presses the reset button. Either way, Boston will probably opt for the skilled 19-year-old who has played big minutes at a high level in Russia’s pro league.
Pick #17, Atlanta Hawks
Mason Plumlee (PF, Duke; 6-11, 245 lbs)
Speaking of a team hitting the reset button, the Hawks are going into full-on makeover mode this offseason. The order on draft day will be for size and lots of it, and it starts with the athletic Plumlee who has a good, developing offensive game.
Pick #18, Atlanta Hawks
Rudy Gobert (PF–C, France; 7-1, 235 lbs)
His draft stock has fallen off since midseason, but not enough to scare the Hawks away from the mammoth French prospect. With a 7’9” wingspan, scouts see solid defensive potential with such size. He’ll need to get in better shape before camp however.
Pick #19, Cleveland Cavaliers
Tony Mitchell (SF-PF, North Texas; 6-8, 235 lbs)
Despite a glut of big men available in the lower half of the first round, I see Cleveland going for an athletic wingman, and Mitchell certainly fits that bill. There have been rumblings about attitude problems after his disappointing sophomore year in college, but a second pick in the first round could be used on a player who needs a lot of work.
Pick #20, Chicago Bulls
Gorgui Dieng (C, Louisville; 6-11, 245 lbs)
An NBA-ready big man with the size and speed to be a playmaker on defense right away, Dieng seems like a perfect fit a team like Chicago that is built to win immediately, assuming Derrick Rose is back and healthy. His mobility and maturity make him a sought-after prospect.
Pick #21, Utah Jazz
Kelly Olynyk (PF-C, Gonzaga; 7-0, 235 lbs)
A stretch five in the mold of a Mehmet Okur (a former Jazz standout), the Jazz will be highly interested on drafting Olynyk to maintain their height advantage in the frontcourt. Plus, having a 7-footer who can come off the bench and create his own shot is a rare commodity these days.
Pick #22, Brooklyn Nets
Lucas Nogueira (PF-C, Brazil; 7-0, 220 lbs)
An older prospect who has made a name for himself overseas, the Nets could either let him develop abroad for another season to further build up his skill set (with their luxury tax issues, this might be the ideal scenario), or he could learn the tricks of the NBA trade behind an All-Star in Brook Lopez; either way, a good pick for Brooklyn.
Pick #23, Indiana Pacers
Allen Crabbe (SG, California; 6-6, 205 lbs)
One reason Indiana wasn’t able to overcome the Heat and push their playoff run even further was their struggles shooting the ball off the bench. Crabbe is a bigger two-guard who has good accuracy from three who could be a solid role player behind Paul George.
Pick #24, New York Knicks
Shane Larkin (PG, Miami; 6-0, 170 lbs)
The Knicks would be wise to draft Larkin (son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin), who is very athletic and excels in a pick-and-roll type of offense. The lack of size might hurt him initially as a role player in the NBA, but he’s a nice long-term replacement for the departed Jason Kidd.
Pick #25, Los Angeles Clippers
Jamaal Franklin (SG, San Diego St.; 6-5, 205 lbs)
An explosive offensive talent, Franklin should mesh well with the up-tempo style of play in Lob City. He’ll have to adapt to the new position, having been an undersized small forward in college, but if the Clippers felt comfortable starting Willie Green last year, they should have no qualms about drafting this young man.
Pick #26, Minnesota Timberwolves
Ricky Ledo (SG, Providence; 6-6, 195 lbs)
A risky maneuver because of questions surrounding his off-court maturity, Minnesota will still make the leap of faith hoping that Ledo can become a dependable scorer from the outside. Indiana worked wonders with former bad-apple-turned-playoff-starter Lance Stephenson, so it’s not an unprecedented storyline either.
Pick #27, Denver Nuggets
Glen Rice Jr. (SG, NBA D-League; 6-6, 210 lbs)
After shooting the lights out in the D-League playoffs this past year, it seems like the son of the former NBA All-Star is ready to keep his NBA aspirations on track after a tumultuous foray and abrupt exit from the college ranks. He’ll be right at home in the run-and-gun Denver offense.
Pick #28, San Antonio Spurs
Isaiah Canaan (PF-C, Gonzaga; 7-0, 235 lbs)
The almost-champs will happy with Canaan, who some are calling the most NBA-ready point guard in the draft. With the deft touch of the San Antonio organization, odds are that a career as a dependable backup point is definitely in this prospect’s future.
Pick #29, Oklahoma City Thunder
Archie Goodwin (SG, Kentucky; 6-5, 190 lbs)
Like Muhammad, he was a one-and-done college player plagued with inconsistency. In spite of that, he’s still only 18 years old, with the physical tools and potential to be yet another great get for OKC late in the first round. A D-League stash that will eventually see time in the NBA.
Pick #30, Phoenix Suns
Tim Hardaway Jr. (SF-SG, Michigan; 6-6, 200 lbs)
A competitive player that can score in bunches, Hardaway Jr. will bring a much-needed scoring boost to Phoenix’s arid reserve troupe. His ability as a passer is an underrated part of his game that will help him transition well to the pros.
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