23. Indiana Pacers – Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (5’11, 14.5 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.8 rpg)
Watching the Eastern Conference finals, it became obvious that the Pacers need to upgrade their bench. The starters were able to hold their own, but the bench production was lackluster and undependable.
On top of that, a lack of a ballhandler outside of George Hill also hurt the Pacers. Sources indicate that Indiana is focused on point guards. If Larkin is available here, it would be a major coup for the Pacers.
Larkin’s ability to run the pick-and-roll and handle the ball would be an upgrade over D.J. Augustin, who was an inconsistent, inefficient backup to Hill. Throughout the pre-draft process Larkin has shown he is an excellent athlete, and the game tape shows a winner who carried his team deep into the postseason.
24. New York Knicks - Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State (6’5, 17.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.3 apg)
According to sources, the Knicks are another team that will be focused on a point guard with their first-round pick with the news that Jason Kidd has retired. But they may address another need if Larkin is off the board.
One player who could really help is Franklin, one of the most productive players in the country this past season. Some around him compare him to J.R. Smith and would provide insurance should Smith leave the Knicks via free agency. Even if Smith stays, Franklin’s defensive ability provides Mike Woodson the versatility to put his best wing players on the floor.
Should the Knicks decide on a point guard, Myck Kabongo of Texas could be a name to watch. He is working his way up draft boards with great workouts and will be in New York next week.
25. Los Angeles Clippers - Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (7’0, 13.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.9 bpg)
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were among the best big duos in the league this season, but the Clippers played them heavy minutes due to a lack of options off the bench. Also, they still need a coach.
Withey would provide the Clippers with a valuable reserve big who could pick up right where Jordan left off; blocking shots, rebounding and getting easy buckets underneath. He may not be an athlete, but the way he contested shots in college illustrates how he can help Los Angeles.
As a team that aspires to be contending for titles, Los Angeles wants players who can contribute. Withey will do that.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (From Memphis) - Lucas Noegueira, C, Estudiantes (6’11, 5.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.1 bpg)
With many decisions looming for the Wolves, this will be a very useful pick for them to address some holes that will be left after free agency. Nikola Pekovic is set to be a free agent and will command an eight-figure annual salary.
Noegueira is a pesky defender and rebounder who will be able to play minutes in any rotation right away. He still needs to develop but is ready to come over after flirting with the draft a few years ago.
Drafting Noegueira as insurance would be smart. Another name to watch here could be Glen Rice Jr.
27. Denver Nuggets - Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville (6’11, 9.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.5 bpg)
With the recent departure of GM, Masai Ujiri, the Nuggets could go in a few directions. With so many pieces along the perimeter, it would make more sense to grab another big and add length to a frontcourt that features Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee.
Dieng showed all season he is a very strong rebounder and shot-blocker but it wasn’t until the NCAA Tournament that he began to showcase his mid-range jumper.
Denver is trying to win now, and selecting Dieng makes a lot of sense.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Allen Crabbe, SG, California (6’6, 18.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.6 apg)
Despite having Jeremy Lamb on the roster, GM Sam Presti would be wise to go with Crabbe with this pick. Crabbe represents very good value at No. 28 and would provide the Thunder with some additional depth on the wing, something they lacked at times this season.
A big-time shooter, Crabbe’s length would also appeal to the Thunder, who like long perimeter defenders. The Thunder are sorely lacking a creator off the bench to fill James Harden’s void and could look to someone such as Archie Goodwin or even Alex Abrines.
29. San Antonio Spurs - Reggie Bullock, SG, North Carolina (6’7, 13.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.9 apg)
Bullock has been compared to Danny Green but is more athletic and has more upside, so it would make sense that San Antonio would be interested.
Drafting Bullock helps the Spurs on the court but also gives San Antonio flexibility and insurance with Manu Ginobli and Gary Neal set to become free agents.
30. Phoenix Suns (From Miami) – Mike Muscala, C, Bucknell (6’11, 18.7 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.4 bpg)
While the frontcourt is crowded right now, none of Phoenix’s bigs is overwhelming, and veteran Jermaine O’Neal is a free agent. Adding a big like Muscala, who could come right in and contribute, would be a great move.
Muscala may not be a sexy pick but was extremely productive throughout his college career and caught the eye of scouts this season with his improved skill set and size.
MORE FROM JOE KOTOCH:
Mock Draft 3.0.1
Top International Early Entry Candidates
Early Entry Candidates: Who Is Missing?
Mock Draft 2.0.1
Risers and Fallers from 2013 NCAA Tournament
Mock Draft 1.0.1
Top Scorers in the NCAA; A Closer Look
Top 20 Picks: Pre-March Madness
Top 2013 Draft Prospects: Centers
Top 2013 Draft Prospects: Power Forwards
Top 2013 Draft Prospects: Small Forwards
Top 2013 Draft Prospects: Point Guards
Top 2013 Draft Prospects: Shooting Guards
Joe Kotoch is the Editor-in-chief of Pro Basketball Draft, a leading scouting service in the world of professional basketball. Before Joe created PBD he served as an NBPA & FIBA certified agent and scouted players all across the world. Born and raised in Cleveland, Joe also contributes to Fox Sports Ohio and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. You can follow Joe on Twitter @Probballdraft.