This is the first edition of my 2013 NBA Mock Draft. Updates will occur on a weekly basis. My complete mock first round will be available when the draft order is set following the draft lottery.
1. Orlando Magic
Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky, Fr.
NBA Comparison – Marcus Camby
The irony of rebuilding in the post-Dwight Howard era is that the Magic can grab another elite level shot-blocker at the top of the draft nine years after selecting Howard with the first overall in 2004. Nikola Vucevic was a huge surprise from the Howard trade, and Noel’s defensive potential would compliment him and Glen Davis nicely.
2. Charlotte Bobcats
Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas, Fr.
NBA Comparison – Ray Allen
Jordan and Co., a year after selecting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, need to continue to stockpile talent to their depleted roster. McLemore gets the nod for several reasons. First, Gerald Henderson’s future with the team is uncertain and second, McLemore’s solid two-way game would be an ideal fit between Kemba Walker and MKG.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown, So.
NBA Comparison – Tayshaun Prince
Alonzo Gee is a solid reserve at best. Porter would be the heady, do-it-all type of small forward that would help to bring together the talented but inexperienced core that the Cavaliers have assembled in Irving, Waiters, Varejao, and Thompson. If rumors of Mike Brown returning to Cleveland are true, then Porter’s defensive intensity would be a great fit.
4. Phoenix Suns
Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF, UCLA, Fr.
NBA Comparison – Michael Redd
The Suns are an absolute mess. They have talented individual pieces in Beasley, Gortat, the Morris twins, and Dragic, but nothing that resembles a winning basketball team. The draft is wide open from here on out. Muhammad struggled to live up to expectations but his stock could rise as the draft process continues. His scoring potential and intensity will be attractive to a team like the Suns who need to figure out the style of basketball they want to play.
5. New Orleans Pelicans
Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana, So.
NBA Comparison – Brook Lopez
Robin Lopez is a solid rotation player, but adding a center prospect with soft touch, a polished mid-range game, and potential to be a go-to offensive option to develop next to Anthony Davis would be a logical step in the rebuilding project. Zeller’s stock has fallen but there’s no doubt that he has a rare offensive repertoire for a sophomore center.
6. Sacramento Kings
Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV, Fr.
NBA Comparison – Larry Johnson
The Kings are a team in transition. The ownership is in flux and the team doesn’t know how to maximize the talents of Cousins, Evans, and Fredette. Anthony Bennett could be the power forward of the future that the Kings were thinking they had when they spent a top-five pick on Thomas Robinson last year. He has the shooting touch and offensive repertoire that Robinson never developed.
7. Detroit Pistons
Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana, Jr.
NBA Comparison – Tony Allen
The Pistons are another team that has some nice pieces but has no idea how they fit together. They might have gotten the steal of the lottery last year in Andre Drummond, but the management needs to decide how he and Greg Monroe fit together. Oladipo is similar to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in demeanor and intangibles, so don’t be surprised if a struggling franchise in this weak draft class views him as the ultimate role player type that helped MKG’s stock last year.
8. Washington Wizards
Alex Len, C, Maryland, So.
NBA Comparison – Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Rumor has it that Nene is considering retirement. Meanwhile, Jan Vesely has been a huge bust as the sixth pick in the 2011 Draft. Len is an intriguing center prospect of the future with Emeka Okafor and Kevin Seraphin in the mix for next season. Len has very soft touch around the basket and enough talent to become a solid two-way center.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves
Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga, Jr.
NBA Comparison – Vlade Divac
The Timberwolves were devastated by injuries this year, so they are banking on a full recovery from Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio to propel the team back into the Western Conference playoff race. The team will have to make a decision regarding Nikola Pekovic within the next year, so grabbing a skilled center prospect as insurance won’t hurt considering the best wings, from which the team would prefer to choose from, are off the board.
10. Portland Trailblazers
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia, So.
NBA Comparison – MarShon Brooks
Portland has put together a talented young core in Lillard, Aldridge, and Batum that will continue to grow together over the next few seasons. That being said, the Blazers could use more of a backcourt scoring punch off of the bench. Due to the dearth of explosive scorers in this draft, KCP, who has the ability to catch fire from the perimeter like MarShon Brooks, J.R. Smith, and Jamal Crawford, could move up into the late lottery.
11. Philadelphia 76ers
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse, So.
NBA Comparison – Kendall Marshall
A healthy 76ers team on paper looks like a force in the East, but will Andrew Bynum’s health ever allow this team to realize its potential? Carter-Williams, a talented distributor, would be a solid back-up to Jrue Holiday.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (From Toronto)
Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke, Sr.
NBA Comparison – Tiago Splitter
The rich just keep getting richer. Oklahoma City gets the luxury of choosing the best player available and adding him to their stashed collection of raw talent that includes Perry Jones III, Jeremy Lamb, and Reggie Jackson. Plumlee would give the Thunder another big man with toughness and Duke pedigree off the bench to contrast Ibaka and Perkins.
13. Dallas Mavericks
Trey Burke, PG, Michigan, So.
NBA Comparison – Kemba Walker
Burke is the perfect point guard for an enigmatic owner like Mark Cuban. Burke’s intangibles are off the charts and his pedigree will help to reinvigorate a franchise that missed a step this season with lots of inconsistency at the point guard position.
14. Utah Jazz
Gorgui Dieng, PF/C, Louisville, Jr.
NBA Comparison – Saer Sene
The Jazz will see both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap enter free agency this summer, but they seem content with allowing Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter take over for them. That being said, the Jazz could use a solid post defender like Dieng, who should be able to contribute immediately and replenish the team’s frontcourt depth. (67)