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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

2013 NBA Mock Draft: 6-25-2013


Those who follow this blog know that I did a ton of NFL mock drafts during football season. Well, with the NBA Draft just two days away, I figured I’d take a stab at that one.

1) Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky

In what is a true indication of how weak this draft class is, I would absolutely be OK with Cleveland trading down to the 4-6 range and taking whatever top prospect falls to them. However, since I can’t forecast trades, I’ll give them Noel. Anderson Varejao is very talented, but he has not played a full season since 2009-10, and this gives the Cavs rebounding depth behind Varejao and Tristan Thompson, which they sorely need (no other Cav averaged six rebounds a game last year).

2) Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

The Magic are in need of a three-point shooter. In addition to great range, Oladipo also brings fantastic defense and great athleticism. I considered Trey Burke here as well, given that Jameer Nelson is 31 and only has two more years left on his contract, but given that the Magic shot under 33% from deep last year, this pick fills a much bigger need.

3) Washington Wizards: Alex Len, PF/C, Maryland

Only one player on the Wizards (Emeka Okafor) averaged more than 6.7 rebounds per game. The Wizards have a backcourt that’s high in potential, but very few frontcourt pieces. Len is raw, but is the consensus #2 big in the draft behind Noel.

4) Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV

Charlotte’s top-scoring forward, Byron Mullens, shot just over 38% from the floor a season ago. It’s safe to say the recently-renamed Hornets need a spark in their frontcourt, and that’s what Bennett can provide. There are some question marks here, but he definitely fills a need.

5) Phoenix Suns: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

Phoenix desperately needs depth on the wing. The situation at small forward was a mess last year, with a ton of different, mediocre players failing to take advantage of the situation there. Porter is a low-risk pick with great intangibles. He won’t wow anyone, but he might be the smartest player in the draft, and should be a solid, dependable player in the years to come.

6) New Orleans Pelicans: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

The Pelicans can take whatever top prospect falls to them. In this case, it’s McLemore, who can provide instant offense and sky-high potential. Eric Gordon has had injury issues, Xavier Henry is probably a bust, and Austin Rivers didn’t have a great rookie season, so backcourt depth is definitely a need.

7) Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

The Kings need a passer. Their top assist man from a year ago, Isaiah Thomas, averaged just four assists a game. Burke is considered one of the safer picks in this draft. He helped lead Michigan to a spot in the NCAA title game, and he has a knack for making big plays in crunch time.

8) Detroit Pistons: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami

It would not shock me at all if the Pistons tried to move up or down. Their frontcourt is set for years to come, but there isn’t much in the way of wing talent here, and unfortunately, most of the viable wings have already gone off the board in this situation. Jose Calderon’s contract is expiring, however, and Larkin’s stock is soaring after an excellent showing at the NBA Combine.

9) Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

Minnesota has plenty of pieces to be a decent team provided they all stay healthy, but the one thing the T-Wolves are lacking is a shooting guard. Caldwell-Pope has a great outside shot, and at 6’5”, he’s got an NBA-ready build.

10) Portland Trail Blazers: Shabazz Muhammad, G/F, UCLA

Red flags have abounded with Muhammad, who was thought of as a possible top pick at times during the NCAA season. However, the Trail Blazers need depth in the worst way, especially at the 2 and 3 spots. Muhammad is versatile and can really attack the rim offensively.

11) Philadelphia 76ers: Gorgui Dieng, PF/C, Louisville

The Sixers are another team I could see trading down, as the pickings are pretty slim in the late-lottery portion of this draft. The team has plenty of directions it can go, with the lone exception of point guard given Jrue Holliday’s play. I’ll give them Dieng for a few reasons. He projects to improve greatly in the next few years, he’s already a very good low-post defender, and he gives a team that didn’t have a single player pull down eight rebounds per game a year ago someone who can attack the glass.

12) Oklahoma City Thunder: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh

Kevin Martin likely won’t re-sign with Oklahoma City, and that makes the shooting guard position a priority. The Thunder do have Thabo Sefalosha, but they’ve needed a third playmaker since they gave up James Harden. McCollum is coming off an injury, but if he’s healthy, he could be a steal outside the top 10.

13) Dallas Mavericks: Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil

Dallas doesn’t want to saddle itself with more salary given its likely pursuit of Chris Paul and/or Dwight Howard, so a foreign prospect (or trading the pick) makes a ton of sense. Nogueira is raw, but already has strong defensive skills and could easily mold himself into a starting-caliber center.

14) Utah Jazz: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana

Zeller was exposed in the NCAA Tournament for not being tough enough around the rim. However, his intangibles are high, you can’t teach size, and he has a great basketball IQ. Plus, Utah has big needs in the frontcourt with both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap testing the market.

15) Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

MCW slid a bit in this mock, and there are reasons for that. Defensively, he’s an unknown given Syracuse’s zone, and there may be some character concerns here as well. However, at #15, and with Milwaukee needing to retool its entire backcourt due to free agency losses, he’s a very sensible pick.

16) Boston Celtics: Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia

Boston may have a need at small forward in the next few years given Paul Pierce’s age. Karasev is considered a dead-eye three-point shooter, and if the Celtics think he needs to develop, he can stay overseas for a year or two until the team needs him to play big minutes.

17) Atlanta Hawks: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

A 7-footer who sees the floor very well for a big man, Adams is undoubtedly raw. However, the Hawks have a need for depth in the frontcourt, especially if their efforts to sign Dwight Howard are unsuccessful.

18) Atlanta Hawks: Reggie Bullock, G/F, North Carolina

Bullock is a versatile player who shoots the three well and has great size (6’7”) for a wing. Kyle Korver may leave in free agency, and this would provide a fairly cheap replacement for him and a pretty similar type of player to boot.

19) Cleveland Cavaliers: Tony Snell, SF, New Mexico

Otto Porter was in play at #1 overall for a reason. The Cavs are struggling in terms of wing depth, and they can address that here by taking Snell, a good defender whose stock has been riding leading up to the draft.

20) Chicago Bulls: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas

Tom Thibodeau is considered a defensive-minded coach, and while this is a little bit of a reach, it also makes a ton of sense. Withey is probably the best shot-blocker in the draft, and if his offensive game comes around even a little bit, he could turn into a consistent double-double guy.

21) Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroder, PG, Germany

The Jazz do not have a point guard under contract for next year, and it wouldn’t shock me much if they moved up into the top 10 to take a run at Trey Burke. However, Schroder isn’t a bad consolation prize. His performance at a pre-draft camp earned rave reviews, and if he doesn’t get taken in the first round, it would be a shock.

22) Brooklyn Nets: Giannis Antetokoumpo, SF, Greece

Brooklyn needs a small forward, only none are readily available at this point. Antetokoumpo is probably the most raw international prospect in the draft, but a guy that could be a great fit for the Nets in a few years. He sees the floor well, and while he needs to fill out his 6’9” frame, there’s lots to like here.

23) Indiana Pacers: Tim Hardaway, Jr., G/F, Michigan

Indiana may wind up trading Danny Granger, and if they do, some firepower on the wing couldn’t hurt. Hardaway has enough size for a 2-guard to play small forward in a pinch, and while he isn’t fantastic at any one thing, he’s a solid all-around player with an NBA pedigree who presents very little risk.

24) New York Knicks: Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Gonzaga

Knicks fans will likely boo this pick, but while there are some question marks here from a defensive standpoint, Olynyk also brings a solid offensive skillset to the table. He can shoot or use his low-post game, and at 7 feet tall, he helps fill a need inside.

25) L.A. Clippers: Glen Rice, Jr., G/F, Georgia Tech/D-League

Rice left Georgia Tech amidst questionable circumstances, but shined in the D-League playoffs, where he averaged 25 points and nine rebounds per game. The Clippers could use a dynamite sixth man, and while Rice is a risk, that’s what he has the potential to be.

26) Minnesota Timberwolves: Rudy Gobert, C, France

Nikola Vucevic may sign elsewhere, and this gives Minnesota a little bit of insurance. Gobert’s offensive game is very much a work in progress, but he’s very long and has a great motor on the defensive end.

27) Denver Nuggets: Allen Crabbe, SG, Cal

Denver may have a long-term need at shooting guard if Andre Iguodala opts out of his contract. Crabbe is a streaky shooter, but when he catches fire, he’s as dangerous as any guard in this draft class.

28) San Antonio Spurs: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas

Tiago Splitter may leave in free agency, and Tim Duncan isn’t getting younger. Mitchell is a developmental prospect, but his athleticism is off the charts, and he was very highly-recruited out of high school before being declared ineligible at Missouri.

29) Oklahoma City Thunder: Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke

Oklahoma City doesn’t have much in the way of rebounding depth behind Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins have tons of mileage on their odometers. The way the Thunder are structured, Plumlee won’t play much, and his primary role will be to attack the glass, something he excelled at when playing for Duke.

30) Phoenix Suns: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State

Franklin is probably the best player available at this point, and he helps Phoenix on the wing, which has already been mentioned as a major weakness. Franklin does a lot of little things well. He rebounds very well for his position and plays with an edge.


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