I’m a big fan of drafts, I love the NFL draft, I love doing movie drafts on our podcast, but most of all I love the NBA draft. This is the first mock draft I have ever done so bear with me. This particular mock was created exceedingly early in the process, draft order has yet to be determined, for now we are taking the inverse of the current standings to determine the draft order, this will be corrected after the draft lottery. This mock draft contains only the lottery teams, look for the second half of the first round tomorrow. So without further ado, here is the first of what will be many mock drafts.
1. Charlotte: Nerlens Noel PF/C University of Kentucky
To me Noel is the player with the most potential in the entire draft. Despite his knee injury he is the most likely to come into the league and be a force immediately (provided he has recovered from his knee injury). With recent draft picks in Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist the Bobcats have shown to place a high value on defense. Adding Noel to their young core will give Charlotte a stout defense to build around.
2. Orlando: Marcus Smart PG Oklahoma State
In a little over a year’s time the Magic went from a team with Dwight Howard and a bunch of scrubs (his words not mine) to one with good young talent at every position. Every position, that is except point guard. Smart is a big combo guard with the ability to play both back court positions and the tools to be an elite defender at either spot. Sure his shot selection and inconsistent play hurt his stock, but in the end his upside will be too hard to pass on at a position of need.
3. Cleveland: Otto Porter SF Georgetown
Despite Cleveland’s superlative point guard (Kyrie Irving) they are a team that struggles to score in an efficient manner (28th in field goal percentage). The palindrome is as polished a scorer as there is in college basketball. He will be able to come in right away and give the Cavs a stabilizing presence in the half court. McLemore might have a higher upside, but Porter is more ready to contribute right away. With all the young pieces on this team adding another project like McLemore is not ideal.
4. Phoenix: Ben McLemore SG Kansas
The Suns would be ecstatic if McLemore fell to them at the fourth spot in the draft. B Mac has as high an upside as any player in the draft and could become Phoenix’s new franchise player. The problem with his high ceiling is, it isn’t always evident game in and game out. During Kansas’ season he went from looking like the best player in the country to someone you didn’t realize was on the court. If he can become more consistent with age he will be the steal of the draft at four.
5. Detroit: Victor Oladipo SG Indiana
All season Detroit has had one glaring hole, wing play. Oladipo would instantly improve the Pistons perimeter defense as well as add energy to a Pistons team that looked listless at times during the season. Combining him with Andre Drummond would give the Pistons two good defenders and fast break finishers to build around.
6. New Orleans: Alex Len C Maryland
Len is the type of big skilled center that rarely comes around. With a solid array of post moves he is able to score in a variety of ways, or at least he would be able to if he had the strength to get deep post position. For all his skill, Len did not live up to his potential in college, getting consistently pushed out of the paint by smaller stronger players. However, after some time in an NBA weight room Len could combine with Anthony Davis to give the Pelicans their front court of the next 10 years.
7. Sacramento: Trey Burke PG Michigan
Whether they end up being the Kings of Sacramento or the Supersonics of Seattle, they are a team that lacks cohesion. Although Isaiah Thomas has played well this year his lack of size has hurt Sacto defensively. Trey Burke will be able to come in and immediately regulate Sacramento’s offense (to the point that it no longer looks like an AAU team launching the first shot that presents itself) while giving up little on the defensive end.
8. Oklahoma State (via Toronto): Anthony Bennett PF UNLV
An embarrassment of riches would be the best way to describe the fact that OKC will have a top 10 pick in the draft this year. Anthony Bennett can do it all, score from inside and out, rebound, block shots and run the floor. With his natural talent Bennett’s most glaring weakness is his propensity to float through some of his games. He is only 6’7 which is not ideal for a power forward, but his wing span and girth allow him to be effective at the four. Being drafted by an established team will provide him with good habits and allow OKC to produce another elite player.
9. Minnesota: Shabazz Muhamad SG UCLA
Last offseason, the T-Wolves identified their biggest need as wing production, signing Adrei Kirilenko and trading their first round pick for Chase Budinger. AK47 could opt out of the last year of his contract in favor of signing a longer extension somewhere else, leaving Minny with the same hole they filled last offseason. Shabazz Muhammad will provide Minnesota with the wing scoring they need to fill this hole.
10. Washington: Cody Zeller C Indiana
Before the season started Zeller was expected to vie for the top pick in the 2013 NBA draft. What happened? In his sophomore year struggled to score over some of the longer college centers, and more importantly he didn’t become more assertive . His freshman year, Zeller showed flashes of being a dominant big man, this year he has shown the same flashes but not any more regularly than the previous year. This inability to dominate showed that he is probably more of a solid starter than a franchise player to build around.
11. Philadelphia: Steven Adams C Pittsburgh
Steven Adams is a big strong athletic center. With so few true centers in the league these days teams will bite on the potential of any seven footer that can run down the court without falling over. Adams has the athleticism and size to be an elite center but is incredibly raw. With Andrew Bynum‘s future up in the air the Sixers might be willing to gamble on Adams boundless potential
12. Portland: Isaiah Austin PF/C Baylor
Austin is ultra athletic, seven feet tall with soft touch all the way out to the three point line. He has everything you would want in a prospect except girth. At 220 Austin is far too slight to play center in the NBA. Although he still needs some refinement on his defensive rotations and shot selection, I expect him to correct these flaws, put on weight, and be a main stay in Portland for years to come.
13. Dallas: Michael Carter-Williams PG Syracuse
The Mavs have started ancient journeyman Mike James for most of their post all star break games, this more than anything should tell you that they need a point guard. MCW might not last this long, but if he does Dallas will be extremely excited. Carter-Williams was the best player on Syracuse’s final four team and should be an excellent pro.
14. LA Lakers: Rudy Gobert C France
You simply can not teach length and at 7’2 with a 7’6 wing span Gobert has length in spades. His game film indicates an elite talent, until you realize he is playing against poor competition that he literally dwarfs. With Dwight Howard being a free agent after the year the Lakers would love to grab a big man with elite potential.
Look for the second half of the first round tomorrow.