The 2013 NBA Draft is exactly three weeks from today, so let's look ahead at how the first round might unfold.
This year's class has a lot of decent depth, but no superstars; it reminds of classes like 2000, when Kenyon Martin came off the board first and was followed by a lot of role players and projects.
There was a lot of hot garbage in that draft. Stromile Swift, Darius Miles and Marcus Fizer were the three players that immediately followed Martin off the board. However, there were a few diamonds-in-the-rough in that 2000 class as well.
- Jamal Crawford was selected by the Cavs (and immediately traded to the Bulls for Chris Mihm) with the eighth overall pick.
- Hedo Turkoglu was selected by the Kings with the 16th overall pick.
- Morris Peterson was selected by the Raptors with the 21st overall pick.
- Michael Redd was selected by the Bucks with the 43rd overall pick.
Will there be another Redd this year? And who will be this year's Fizer? Let's take a look.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
The Cavs have a solid, young back backcourt with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, and also have a couple nice young bigs in Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller... which is why they might trade out of this pick. But staying here and taking a defensive difference maker at center makes sense.
2. Orlando Magic - Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
As one might expect from the team selecting second overall, the Magic need a lot of help. They'll look for someone to rejuvenate their brand and make them more competitive this summer, and McLemore is the most likely candidate to do both after Noel is off the board.
3. Washington Wizards - Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Like Cleveland, Washington has a really good, young backcourt with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Porter isn't the sexiest pick in this draft, but he's a solid player with good size and a strong all-around game. He would fit very well with Wall and Beal.
4. Charlotte Bobcats - Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Where Zeller comes off the board is a mystery heading into the draft. At this time last year, when he announced he was going back to Bloomington, many thought he was a lock for the top overall pick and Player of the Year honors. But a "disappointing" season (if 16.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg in the Big Ten is "disappointing") pulled his stock down. Many analysts think Maryland center Alex Len will be the second center off the board, but his injury issues and Zeller's workouts push him up to Charlotte.
5. Phoenix Suns - Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Goran Dragic would figure to have the point guard position locked up for the next few years in Phoenix, but they need someone to run with him and also play lock-down defense. Oladipo's stock is elevating after a stellar final season with the Hoosiers and really good workouts. This would be a good - and safe - pick for the Suns.
6. New Orleans Pelicans - Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The Pelicans made Anthony Davis the
unibrow face of their franchise last year with the number one overall pick, and now desperately need a point guard to compliment both Davis and Austin Rivers. Burke showed that he's a big-time player at Michigan last year, and has the right swagger to lead the... Pelicans(?) into the future.
7. Sacramento Kings - Alex Len, C, Maryland
Len, who had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle, has a big body and decent offensive game. The Kings have an uber-talented big man in DeMarcus Cousins already on their roster, but he's been underwhelming at times and emotionally volatile over the last couple years. Len might be the second center off the board, but the Kings would love to have him if he's available here.
8. Detroit Pistons - CJ McCollum, G, Lehigh
The Pistons have a lot of issues to address, and there could be a number of players the consider with this pick. Probably the most talented guard on the board is UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, but there's a lot of baggage piling up with him that is impacting his stock. That's why McCollum, who averaged 23.9 ppg and shot over 51 percent from three-point range last year makes sense. He can play either guard position and can shoot from anywhere in the gym.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves - Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Timberwolves have Ricky Rubio running the point right now, but his health has been an issue in the past. Adding Carter-Williams, who's a physically bigger guard but who also has great vision, to their backcourt would help the T'Wolves get more our of Derrick Williams, and (hopefully) keep Kevin Love around longer.
10. Portland Trail Blazers - Rudy Gobert, C, Greece
Gobert has a 7-9 wingspan and could provide exceptional front-court depth for the Blazers with LaMarcus Aldridge to compliment last year's superstar rookie, Damian Lillard. Gobert's a great shot blocker who runs the floor well and plays a very athletic game.
11. Philadelphia 76ers - Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
The Sixers disappointed a lot of people with their performance this season, and will look to bounce back with a new coach and a few new faces on the roster next year. Bennett has the game to be a top-five pick, and there's a strong likelihood he isn't on the board at 11. He averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game last year and is a legit power forward prospect. However, recent surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder might impact his stock.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Toronto) - Tim Hardaway, Jr, SG, Michigan
OKC has two picks in the first round this year, with this pick coming from the Raptors. The Thunder aren't far away from being a championship contender, so having the ability to add two first round players (or trade up for one) gives them a lot of flexibility. Hardaway might be a reach at 12, but his stock is climbing and he would fill the role James Harden vacated as a free agent last summer.
13. Dallas Mavericks - Shabazz Muhammad, SG, UCLA
Mark Cuban has never been shy, and taking the supremely-talented Muhammad would be a case of the Mavs taking the best available player. Muhammad is a bigger player than OJ Mayo (6-4, 205), who was slotted as the starting two-guard for Dallas, and would give the Mavs another offensive weapon. They might consider going big here, but would have a hard time passing on a player with Muhammad's ability.
14. Utah Jazz - Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Utah has this pick and the 21st overall, and has a number of areas to address. This is probably too high to go after a point guard with Burke, McCollum and Carter-Williams off the board, but the Jazz are also in need of depth up front. Adams is more of a defensive center, who could replace Al Jefferson and/or Paul Millsap (both free agents) and compliment Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
15. Milwaukee Bucks - Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Milwaukee has a small backcourt, with two undersized shoot-first point guards in Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, and could use some length. Saric is a long player who can stretch the floor, and would present match-up headaches for opponents with Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova.
UPDATE: Reports indicated Saric may withdraw from the 2013 Draft. He has until June 17 to make a final decision.
16. Boston Celtics - Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
The Celtics will now look to move on from the Garnett-Pierce Era, and need to add a lot to get there. Jeff Green will be a nice building block moving forward with his ability to play a couple positions, but the Celtics desperately need to get bigger. Plumlee is an athletic center who would fit nicely with Green and, when he returns, Rajon Rondo.
17. Atlanta Hawks - Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
The first of two consecutive selections for the Hawks, Mitchell is a fascinating player to watch heading into this draft. His game reminds me of Gerald Wallace; he runs the floor well and is a fantastic shot blocker and rebounder, but might not have the size to be a traditional power forward at the next level. If/When Josh Smith leaves, Mitchell would be a solid replacement.
18. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston) - Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego St
Franklin is a fantastic athlete who averaged 17.4 and 17.0 points per game the last two years, respectively. Atlanta has a lot of work to do this summer as they try to break away from their underachieving last few years. Adding Mitchell and Franklin would be great steps in the right direction.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (from LA Lakers) - Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
This is the second pick of the round for Cleveland, and we have them taking another big man in Olynyk. He is athletic and runs the floor well, but what's most important is that he's healthy; with both Noel and Anderson Varejao coming back from injury, adding depth at the center position would be wise. The Cavs might look at a player that has a couple years left in Europe here as well, but it would be hard for them to pass on a player the caliber of Olynyk here.
20. Chicago Bulls - Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
With Jimmy Butler showing that he's capable of playing big minutes at the shooting guard or small forward positions next year, the Bulls need to look big. Dieng, who will turn 24 in January, is a big-time defender in the paint; he averaged 9.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in his third and final season at Louisville. Chicago desperately missed Omer Asik this season, and Dieng would fill that void well.
21. Utah Jazz (from Golden St) - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
With Utah's second selection of the first round, they'll look to add some offense. Scouts are high on Caldwell-Pope, a talented scorer with great length who averaged 18.5 ppg and 7.1 rpg at Georgia. Putting his shooting ability on the floor outside with Gordon Hayward would open up the floor for their collection of bigs to work inside.
22. Brooklyn Nets - Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Crabbe is a lights-out shooter with good length and a lot of athletic ability who average 18.1 ppg last year at Cal. The knock on Crabbe was that, for stretches of time, he disappeared... which makes him perfect for the Nets. Brooklyn could prepare him to replace Joe Johnson.
23. Indiana Pacers - Shane Larkin, PG, Indiana
Size isn't a problem for the Pacers, but handling the ball and making good decisions has been. Bringing in a point guard with a lot of swagger and the willingness to pass first like Larkin makes perfect sense for the Pacers, who took Miami to seven games in the conference finals.
24. New York Knicks - Glen Rice Jr, SG, NBDL
The Knicks will likely lose JR Smith this summer, and will need to replace him somehow. After getting kicked out of Georgia Tech last season, Rice ended up with the Rio Grande Vipers in the NBDL. There, Rice led the Vipers to the D-league championship, averaging 25 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in the postseason.
25. LA Clippers - Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
The Clippers might need to move up to land a point guard here if Chris Paul bails, but adding size in the Western Conference has never been a bad idea. At this point in the draft, Withey is a decent value play and would bring defensive stability to their frontcourt depth. He isn't going to become a 20 ppg guy in the NBA, but that isn't what the Clippers need.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis) - DeShaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State
This would be the second pick of the first round for the T'Wolves, an organization that doesn't feel that far away from the postseason. Thomas led the Big Ten in scoring and has the size to contribute in the NBA quickly. The combination of size and proven scoring ability against top-tier opponents would make Thomas a smart pick here.
27. Denver Nuggets - Reggie Bullock, SG, North Carolina
The Nuggets have no problem scoring the basketball, but could use better size on their bench. Bullock, 22, is an older players with good size and a great stroke from outside (44 percent from downtown at UNC last year). He's also a good rebounder and plays solid defense, making him a lock for the bottom-third of the first round and a smart play for the Nuggets.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder - Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
The second pick of the first round for the Thunder affords them the luxury of taking a player that might be a bit of a project, but has a ton of raw ability. Only 18, Adetokunbo has a 7-4 wingspan, enormous hands, and explosive athleticism.
29. San Antonio Spurs - Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Yes, the Spurs have Tony Parker dominating the postseason. And yes, there are other areas of need on their roster. But developing the next generation has been the San Antonio way. Parker, from France, could help develop the 19-year-old Schroeder. And with a 6-8 wingspan, Schroeder may develop into another Rajon Rondo-type point guard when he finishes puberty.
30. Phoenix Suns (from Miami) - Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
With their second pick in the first round, Phoenix will again look to add depth and quality. Karasev has already appeared in the Olympics with the Russian national team and leading the the PBL, Russia's top league, in scoring. He is the most productive young prospect in all of European basketball, and had a good showing at the Nike Hoops Summit earlier this year.