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Nerlens Noel is Still a Top 5 Draft Pick: a 2013 NBA Mock Draft at the NBA All-Star Break

Here’s an idea of how the 2013 NBA draft order would look if all the ping-pong balls fell in a way to help the worst teams the most (that never happens, of course). A lot could change, obviously. For instance, if the Lakers miss the playoffs, Phoenix gets their pick, giving the Suns two lottery picks (similar to what Portland had in 2012). The Thunder, who could reach the Finals again, may end up with a lottery pick via Houston and Toronto. Strangely, the Raptors 2013 pick is Top 3 protected, and 15-30 protected. I’d say there’s a 78% chance the Thunder get that pick. As for the college players … check out how much things have changed since the 2013 NBA Mock draft I did right after the 2012 draft.

1. CharlotteBen McLemore, G, Kansas. Dreadful offensive team adds clutch, 6-foot-5 scorer who is in the Ray Allen/Mitch Richmond mold. Better dancer, though.
2. OrlandoMarcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State. Too high? Budding freshman star built like a tank (6-4, 225) attacks the rim with the best of them. Reminds me of James Harden, just needs to improve his 3-point shooting.
3. Washington – Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV. When your three leading scorers are all guards (who shoot 42 percent or lower), an inside presence is necessary. Enter Bennett, who is equal parts Larry Johnson and Kevin Willis.
4. Cleveland –
Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky. Don’t care about the ACL injury. He’ll be back in January or February of 2014 and immediately help the worst defense in the NBA (opponents shooting 47.6 percent).

5. Phoenix – Alex Len, C, Maryland
. Suns have needs all over the place, and Gortat is on the books for two more years. Len turns 20 in June. Wait until he plays with a real PG. Love the athletic 7-footer.
6. Sacramento – Otto Porter, F, Georgetown. Kings have Cousins inside, then a bunch of guard who chuck. They play no defense. Porter, a great all-around player, should start immediately at SF.
7. New Orleans – Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
. Eric Gordon’s a combo guard; Austin Rivers looks like one, too. Yes, Grevis Vasquez is having a terrific year (3rd in the NBA in assists!) but he can’t shoot and at 26, have we seen his ceiling? Carter-Williams could be the second coming of Penny Hardaway.
8. Minnesota – Shabazz Muhammad, G, UCLA. Wolves lack consistent scoring on the wing. Muhammad, along with a healthy Love and Rubio, should make the playoffs in 2014.

9. Detroit – Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana. Building around Drummond/Monroe/Knight appears to be the best option. Biggest needs: SG, SF. Expect a lot of new faces in 2013. Oladpio could be an offensively-minded Thabo in the NBA.
10. Oklahoma City (from Toronto) – Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana. Could have gone Top 5 last year, but slides – which may not be a bad thing. Thunder have no Bigs with low-post moves. I see him as a solid 13-7 contributor on a playoff team.
11. Philadelphia – Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke. What’s going on with Andrew Bynum? Will Young or Wright be brought back? How about a Bynum/Plumlee frontline, with Turner/Holiday/J-Rich on the perimeter?
12. Dallas – Trey Burke, PG, Michigan. Aging, rebuilding team could use just about anybody. No better way to start a post-Dirk foundation than with a talented point guard.

13. Phoenix (from LA Lakers)CJ McCollum, G, LeHigh. Bummer that he’s been injured for much of the year. The Suns will lose this pick if the Lakers rally to make the playoffs.
14. Charlotte (from Portland) – Isaiah Austin, F/C, Baylor. Intriuging prospect in that he’s 7-feet tall, makes Shawn Bradley look portly, and likes to shoot from deep. Austin could replace Mullens when he departs in two years.
15. Milwaukee – Archie Goodwin, PG, Kentucky. They’re likely losing Dalembert (maybe at the trade deadline) and Dunleavy and Udrih. So a SF or backup PG (especially with Jennings seemingly wanting out) would be primary needs.
16. Boston – Alex Poythress, F, Kentucky. Going best on board since nobody has any idea about Pierce or Garnett. On talent, Poythress is a Top 10 pick. Drifts a lot, though, settles for jumpers. Perhaps he’ll carry the Cats’ with Noel out and get back in the lottery.

17. Atlanta (from Houston) – Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga. Two first round picks and likely a ton of cap room. Danny Ferry makes a run at Dwight Howard, right? Olynyk has to be one of college basketball’s most improved players, ranking 1st in PER (36.5), and if they whiff on Howard, at least he can step in and play immediately.
18. Utah – James McAdoo, F, UNC. Big offseason looms for the Jazz. What will happen with Jefferson, Mo Williams, Millsap, and Foye? I’ll go best-on-board in McAdoo, who is a better player than we’ve seen this year. Hampered by poor guard play.
19. Atlanta – Glenn Robinson, F, Michigan. If they lose Smith – which seems like a lock – they’ll need a wing player, and Robinson is one who can actually shoot. I’m not as high on Robinson as others, who talk about him as if he’s a borderline Top 10 pick.
20. Chicago – Isaiah Canaan, G, Murray State. Still need a shooter, and even though a Canaan/Rose backcourt would be too small, why not try it? The only other guy I gave serious thought to here was …

21. Utah (from Golden State) – Michael Snaer, SG, Florida State. Reach? Probably. The Jazz can’t seem to find a shooter (Burks?), and I’m curious what Snaer can do with talent around him.
22. Brooklyn – Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky. If the Nets are trying to dump Humphries, how about having Lopez alongside Cauley-Stein? Willie’s a sleeper – but maybe not for long if he does well with Noel out.
23. Indiana – CJ Leslie, F, NC State. David West is likely to walk, leaving a gaping hole at PF. Could Leslie battle Hansbrough for that spot? What about Miles Plumlee, whom they drafted last year? Leslie has the most offense of that trio.
24. Denver – Jamaal Franklin, F, San Diego St. Feels like a Euro stash-pick spot, given the nature of the loaded Nuggets. But they’ll lose Corey Brewer to free agency, and Franklin is a very nice athlete.

25. Minnesota (from Memphis) – DeSean Thomas, SF, Ohio State. Love his game, but he’s looked less impressive this year sans Sullinger inside. Could be a sleeper this late in the first round.
26. New York – Jeff Withey, C, Kansas. Oldest team in the NBA could use a shot-blocker inside to spell Tyson Chandler.
27. LA Clippers – BJ Young, G, Arkansas. Coming off a big freshman year, was supposed to tear it up but has struggled and now has been coming off the bench. Guess he bought into his own hype. If the Clips lose Bledsoe (nobody thinks they can afford him), they’ll need a replacement, and Young’s got talent.
28. Cleveland (from Miami) – Le’Bryan Nash, F, Oklahoma State. I won’t be the only one to say this, but if the Cavs are healthy next year, and Noel returns at 100% in January, I’m not sure how they don’t make the playoffs. Irving-Waiters-Nash-Varejao-Noel is a young, exciting starting five. Just need pop off the bench.
29. Oklahoma City – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh. Not having a terrific year for Pitt, but he’s a raw 7-footer, so perhaps they draft him with the idea of playing him in 2-3 years. Then again, they did that with Cole Aldrich and he can’t get any burn.
30. San Antonio – Rudy Gobert, F, France. You’ll notice I haven’t included any Euros in this mock. That’s because I haven’t seen any of them yet. But the Spurs have success going that route, and in a cursory look at his tape, Gobert looks like a young stud, so here you go.

 

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