We are just weeks away from the 2013 NBA draft. It is June and now the pre-draft workouts go into full swing.
Within the lottery, the big news is that Orlando has pushed Victor Oladipo ahead of Ben McLemore on its draft board. McLemore has yet to formally hire an agent and has been questioned about his ties to Rodney Blackstock.
Orlando also has had conversations with the Los Angeles Clippers about acquiring point guard Eric Bledsoe, who, combined with Oladipo, could give the Magic the most athletic young backcourt in the NBA.
The back end of the lottery remains in flux as Minnesota, Portland, and Dallas all would love to move their picks. The Thunder are content to stay at 12 and grab a center unless C.J. McCollum – whom I am told they love – is available.
A few rapid risers into the first round and just outside of it who bear watching are Tim Hardaway Jr., Myck Kabongo, and Glen Rice Jr. It would not be surprising to see all three selected in the first round.
With that comes draft speculation and misinformation. Sorting through all the buzz and rumors and deciphering what is true and what isn’t makes for a full-time job.
Without further ado, here is a Mock Draft 4.0:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky (6’10, 10.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 4.4 bpg)
With Mike Brown returning to Cleveland, there will be a renewed emphasis on defense. Brown would love an elite defender in the middle to improve Cleveland, which was woeful on defense last season.
The Cavs will have Noel in for a visit June 20 that should give them the necessary information they need to go forward, assuming his medical information checks out. There is a still lot of time between now and then, but Noel remains atop their board.
Otto Porter and Alex Len will get consideration here, but Noel’s upside, athleticism and elite defensive ability sets him apart. When healthy, Noel is still the best player in this draft and a game-changer on the defensive end. He should pair with Kyrie Irving to give Cleveland a dynamic duo.
As mentiond at the top of Mock 3.0.1, Cleveland would like to trade this pick for an established player, but the market hasn’t materialized so far. Watch the Cavs closely as they have the ammunition to pull off a large deal or acquire an additional lottery pick. If a deal happens, it will take place closer to draft night. But history shows that it’s very rare for the top pick to change hands.
2. Orlando Magic – Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (6’5, 13.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.1 apg)
Sources say Orlando is very interested in Eric Bledsoe and is prepared to deal Arron Afflalo to get him. GM Rob Hennigan has been aggressive in acquiring assets and has assembled a good core of young players.
With a potential hole at shooting guard to fill, the Magic have their choice of Ben McLemore and Oladipo. Both guards represent better value and have higher ceilings than Trey Burke. The current preference is Oladipo, who projects as a better defender and is a better athlete than McLemore.
Although McLemore has been as high as No. 1 in our mocks, Oladipo looks to be making a push. Considering Hennigan came from Oklahoma City, going with a player that has a high upside, high character and is very long and athletic makes the most sense. While Oladipo has continually risen up NBA draft boards, McLemore has started to slip a bit, and that could see him fall more than initially anticipated.
3. Washington Wizards – Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (6’8, 16.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.7 apg)
The Wizards might be the biggest winners from the lottery by vaulting into the top three. Washington has built a strong backcourt with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Now it must find a big man or small forward to complement them.
Just up the road at Georgetown, Porter enjoyed a breakout season and could give the Wizards a dynamic and lethal scoring trio. If there was a clear-cut big man to take here, Washington would.
Playing for the Wizards will allow Porter to utilize his skill set on both ends and not have to put the team on his back like at Georgetown. Porter excels in multiple areas and would fit in well with a team that has two primary ball-handlers because of his ability to play off the ball and effect the game in other areas.
His ceiling may not be as high as UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, but Porter projects as a much safer pick.
4. Charlotte Bobcats – Alex Len, C, Maryland (7’1, 11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg)
With Rich Cho in charge of the Bobcats, the decision will likely be to address Charlotte’s putrid offense. The Bobcats were 26th in scoring and 27th in 3-point shooting, two areas where Oladipo could help right away. With Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Bobcats would like to slide someone between them and complement their skill sets.
With Alex Len, Anthony Bennett and Ben McLemore, the Bobcats would have a conundrum on which way to go with the pick. Bennett would give them the inside-outside threat they’re looking for up front. But if they’re committed to Bismack Biyombo, it would form a very undersized duo inside.
McLemore’s shooting would be a welcome addition, but growing concerns around McLemore could push him down Charlotte’s list of top targets. That would leave Len, who had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle, as the preference at this point.
Len would give the Bobcats the inside presence they have lacked and would fit in well next to Biyombo, allowing him to roam the paint defensively. Len’s offensive game would give the Bobcats some immediate help, and he still has room to develop.
This would be a pick with the future in mind, as Len will take patience and time to reach his full potential. Len has drawn comparisons to Zydrunas Ilgauskas with his skills and length and is already a very good rebounder and shot-blocker.
5. Phoenix Suns – Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (6’5, 15.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 42% 3pt)
Checking around the league, McLemore is slipping due to his unclear agent situation. Most teams don’t seem concerned by the Rodney Blackstock reports. Whatever the concerns are shouldn’t cause McLemore to fall too far. When a player with his combination of talent, athleticism and shooting is available, they go high.
McLemore does have his flaws, but this would be a great start for the new front office. While Anthony Bennett would be tempting here, finding a running mate and shooter to pair with Goran Dragic could be the main focus. Pairing McLemore and Dragic in the backcourt could be just what the Suns need to boost their offensive production.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (6’0, 18.6 ppg, 6.7 apg, 3.2 rpg)
No chance New Orleans passes on Burke. Austin Rivers showed he is not a point guard, and if given the chance to take Burke – who had an outside shot at the top pick – the Pelicans will rush the stage on draft night. With Rivers and Eric Gordon, the Pelicans are deep at shooting guard and can even entertain trade offers for Gordon, who is signed to a massive extension.
The Pelicans took their centerpiece last year in Anthony Davis. Now New Orleans must surround him with talent. Burke is one of the quickest guards in the draft and can get by most defenders. With as much success as rookie point men have had the last few seasons, the Pelicans look to get theirs.
7. Sacramento Kings – Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (6’8, 16.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg)
The Kings moved fast with their coaching search, making a wise hire in Golden State assistant Mike Malone. Whoever gets the GM job, one thing seems to be clear already from new owner Vivek Ranadive: DeMarcus Cousins isn’t being traded. There have been reports of his availability, but it looks like the Kings want to rebuild with Cousins instead of without him.
The Kings have gone through several power forwards (Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes, Jason Thompson, Thomas Robinson) in trying to find one to pair with Cousins. In selecting Bennett, that trend would likely stop. Cousins and Bennett would form one of the better young offensive duos in the league. Bennett is a talented offensive prospect with the ability to score inside or out and is a quality rebounder as well.
With that in mind, Sacramento still need a lot of pieces. The Kings are in an easy position here where they can sit back and take one of the top seven prospects. There is a drop-off in talent after that.