Saturday, June 25, 2022 |
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After such an amazingly entertaining NBA Finals, you think I’d pass up an opportunity for one more NBA column before the dog days of summer officially kick in? Not bloody likely!
The 2013 NBA Draft takes place Thursday in Brooklyn. It’s an event that I used to attend as an annual tradition with some of my hoops-loving friends in New Jersey and New York. Though 5,000 miles away, I’m still as excited as I was when just a quick subway ride from the draft site. Though this is considered one of the weakest drafts, well, ever, it has more volatility than most. No fewer than five prospects are still in play for the first overall pick, owned by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Here’s a quick primer and my best guesses for how the lottery (first 14 picks) shakes out. And remember that these are called “mock drafts,” so feel free to mock and ridicule all my inevitably incorrect predictions.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers — Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
How weak is this draft? The first pick tore his ACL in February and probably won’t see the court until the calendar flips to 2014. But Noel’s defensive prowess, athleticism and upside are still tempting enough that the Cavs could go with him. The other name getting some heat here is Maryland center Alex Len, while University of Nevada Las Vegas forward Anthony Bennett is a potential sleeper.
2. Orlando Magic — Ben McLemore, SG, University of Kansas
If Noel doesn’t go first, Orlando will likely snag him, but I have McLemore here. The silky smooth shooter has had some recent knocks on his game and persona, but he’s a potential superstar — a rare commodity in this draft.
3. Washington Wizards — Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown University
Point guard John Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal appear to be a dynamic young backcourt, so frontcourt is where Washington needs help. Porter — a local, known entity — brings skill in all phases of the game to a need position for the Wizards.
4. Charlotte Bobcats — Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
The Bobcats need help everywhere and Bennett can help immediately. He’s a dynamic scorer with an above-average post game for a young player.
5. Phoenix Suns — Victor Oladipo, SG, University of Indiana
Everyone loves Oladipo and he may go as high as No. 2, so Phoenix would be thrilled to get him here. He’s a defensive stopper with great work ethic and a much-improved offensive game.
6. New Orleans Pelicans — Alex Len, C, University of Maryland
It’s odd that Len could be the first pick and also available at No. 6 in this scenario, but that’s the 2013 NBA Draft, in a nutshell. Len and Anthony Davis — last year’s first overall pick — give the, gulp, Pelicans a formidable frontcourt for the future.
7. Sacramento Kings — C.J. McCollum, PG, Lehigh University
I feel bad for whoever goes to Sacramento, especially if it’s McCollum. The Kings are just a mess. Their new GM has barely had time to evaluate this draft, they’re still in the midst of a location dispute and they have to somehow pry the ball from Tyreke Evans. Good luck.
8. Detroit Pistons — Trey Burke, PG, University of Michigan
Detroit feels Brandon Knight is better suited for shooting guard, so Burke — the National Player of the Year and Michigan hero — can slide right in and fill a need.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, University of Georgia
Despite having one of the coolest names in the country, Caldwell-Pope isn’t well-known thanks to Georgia’s down season. But ESPN analyst (and BYU-Hawaii professor) Chad Ford has had him going to Minnesota for a while, so I’ll take his counsel.
10. Portland Trail Blazers — Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
His stock fell some in the NCAA Tournament, but Zeller is still too much talent to pass on at this point for Portland, which can build around him and Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.
11. Philadelphia 76ers — Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
I can’t say I know much about Karasev, but he’ll probably go in this portion of the draft and the Sixers need a swing man.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder — Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse University
This isn’t a need for the Thunder, although a backup point guard sure would have come in handy when Russell Westbrook got hurt. The Thunder value talent more than need, so Carter-Williams would be tempting.
13. Dallas Mavericks — Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
The Mavs need everything, but point guard is high on the list and they have had success with German prospects.
14. Utah Jazz — Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga University
The Jazz should look very different next season and getting another young big man to pair next to Derrick Favors is a good start.
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