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Bulletin Mock NBA Draft: Cleveland should draft Noel

Thursday, June 27, 2013

By MARK THOMPSON AND DOUG POWELL - Bulletin Sports Writers

It’s draft day in the NBA. Dreams are about to be made and rosters will be bolstered.

And while that is exciting, especially for NBA fans of lottery teams, the only thing we can appreciate at this point is some Tylenol.

That’s right. This NBA mock draft gave us quite the headache.

Not only is there no clear No. 1 pick in this draft for us to at least boast one correct choice in our mock draft, but frankly, there is nothing clear about this draft.

The Cavaliers could take Nerlens Noel or Alex Len. Or they could go with Ben McLemore or even possibly Otto Porter. Whatever the Cavs choose to do, their pick will shape this draft and has the potential to send shockwaves through the lottery and send every team into a panic.

This was a tough draft to predict, but we think we’ve got a pretty solid group of picks. We didn’t do an entire first-round mock draft. Instead, we focused on the lottery — the first 14 picks. These are the teams most desperate for some added talent (with the exception of the Oklahoma City Thunder).

One thing worth noting: Sports writer Doug Powell would like it known that he wants nothing to do with Shabazz Muhammad.

Here, pick by pick with an explanation, are our picks for our 2013 NBA mock draft.

No. 1 — Cleveland Cavaliers

Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky

The Cavaliers are drafting No. 1 overall for the second time in three years, and if we know anything about Dan Gilbert’s Cavaliers, it’s that they want to win. After all, Gilbert was the man who guaranteed a championship in Cleveland before LeBron James won one in Miami. No really, he did that. So if the Cavaliers want to compete and compete for championships, Noel is the best piece to fit in with Kyrie Irving and staff. The Kentucky forward actually measured better than predecessor Anthony Davis at the combine. His wingspan is two inches shorter, but Noel is an inch taller and has a standing reach that is two inches taller than Davis’. There have been other names thrown around this pick, but Noel makes the most sense and clearly has the most potential.

No. 2 — Orlando Magic

Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

Oladipo has been rising up draft boards since becoming a budding star with the Indiana Hoosiers this past college basketball season. Oladipo gradually improved his scoring output from the field and long distance each year he attended Indiana. The general consensus is that this pick would be a guard and the Magic will likely take the best player available in Oladipo. Some scouts have compared Oladipo to the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, given his ability to attack the rim and play solid defense. His defense is already at a high level and if he can raise his offensive game to the level of his defense, watch out.

No. 3 — Washington Wizards

Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

Pairing Otto Porter with young playmakers John Wall and Bradley Beal is a dream-come-true scenario for Wizards fans. Taking Porter crowds the small forward position for the Wizards, but it is an immediate upgrade and arguably one of the safest picks in the year’s draft. Porter was a standout right down the road at Georgetown this season where he averaged 16.2 points per game and shot 42 percent from three. Drafting Porter will take a lot of pressure off of Wall and Beal.

No. 4 — Charlotte Bobcats

Alex Len, C, Maryland

The Bobcats have made a history of poor drafting and it doesn’t seem like that will change this year. According to multiple reports leading up to the draft, Charlotte was trying to shop Michael Kidd Gilchrist in hopes that it would land Otto Porter at pick No. 4. We don’t see that happening. Charlotte’s best play here would be to draft Anthony Bennett, the strong forward from UNLV. Instead, Charlotte takes Alex Len, a 7-foot-1 center from Maryland who showed flashes of brilliance this season amid flashes of incompetence. Len averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds a game at Maryland, but that 7-foot-1 size is tough to pass on, especially if Len can utilize it. He was even being considered as a candidate for the Cavaliers’ first pick, so he has clearly impressed a few scouts.

No. 5 — Phoenix Suns

Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

Let’s be honest. The Suns have a number of players many fans of the game have never heard of and a starting lineup that desperately needs a superstar and a No. 1 scoring option. Ben McLemore could easily be that guy for them. Before the combine, McLemore was thought to be a sure-fire top-2 pick, but slid down some draft boards because of mediocre workouts and interviews. During stretches of the regular season, McLemore was a consistent knockdown shooter and Kansas repeatedly ran him off screens for open looks. He may be the best shooter in this year’s draft and he has compared himself in an interview to the Miami Heat’s Ray Allen.

No. 6 — New Orleans Pelicans

Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

The New Orleans Pelicans could be a sneaky good team next year. They have Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Gordon and Greivis Vasquez. Of all those players, Vasquez may be the most likely to lose his starting position, despite having a great season last year. And if the Pelicans are looking to win, Burke wouldn’t be a bad place to start. The Michigan point guard hit some pretty amazing shots in the NCAA Tournament and really separated himself as a leader and a winner. Burke is a good shooter and he averaged 18.6 points a game and 6.7 assists a game at Michigan. Anthony Bennett would be a great option here for the Pelicans, as well. Bennett could play small forward or power forward, providing some great depth in the Pelicans’ frontcourt behind Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Al-Farouq Aminu.

No. 7 — Sacramento Kings Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

With Anthony Bennett sliding down the draft board, the Kings had to select him at pick seven, given the potential he possesses. The Kings can play him at either small forward ahead of John Salmons or pair him in the front court with DeMarcus Cousins at power forward. Either way, Bennett can make it work because of the offensive skill he brings to the court every game. Bennett averaged 16.1 points for the Rebels in his only season at UNLV and is an excellent rebounder (8.1 rebounds per game) for his size (6-foot-8). Bennett underwent shoulder surgery in May for an injury he suffered late in the season, but is expected to recover by late September according to doctors.

No. 8 — Detroit Pistons

C.J. McCollum, PG, Lehigh

With Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, the Pistons have two, young big men they can build around for the future. The Pistons need help in the frontcourt and on the wings, and taking McCollum gives them a big-time scorer who can player either the one or the two. McLemore was mentioned earlier as one of the draft’s best shooters, but this kid will give him a run for this money. McCollum averaged unprecedented numbers at Lehigh in his senior season averaging 23.9 points per game, 49 percent field goal percentage and an unheard of 51 percent from three. Of course these numbers were put up in the subpar Patriot league, but there is no doubt that McCollum can score — he’ll just have to prove he can do it against better competition.

No. 9 — Minnesota Timberwolves

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

The Timberwolves have some nice frontcourt pieces to build around in Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Love, Derrick Williams and Chase Buddinger. But guards? The T-Wolves are lacking a bit more there (outside Ricky Rubio). By all accounts, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope should be a good addition to a team but not an all-star. He’s a solid shooter and has shown an ability to make tough shots. He averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds a game at Georgia. And he has decent size at 6-feet, 5-inches, but may struggle against bigger, heavier guards. The Timberwolves’ best pick here would be UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad wasn’t the No. 1 overall prospect in his high school class for nothing. His game may have slipped some in the hands-check-all-you-want, always-call-a-charge game we call college basketball. For a slasher like Muhammad, the NBA game may be exactly what he needs to shine once again.

No. 10 — Portland Trailblazers

Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana

The Trailblazers have fallen quite a bit in the last few years. That’s what will happen when you draft a player who hardly ever plays (Greg Oden) and your star player’s knees explode (Brandon Roy). The Blazers need a hit with this pick, and Cody Zeller will give them that. Zeller didn’t measure well with his short arms at the NBA combine but he can run the floor better than most guards, and that should fit in really well with Rookie of the Year point guard Damian Lillard. Zeller was at one point considered the best prospect in the draft, but his inconsistency at Indiana last season dropped him on many big boards. The Blazers went center last draft as well, taking Meyers Leonard with one of its first-round picks. But Leonard struggled some his rookie season. More depth couldn’t hurt.

No. 11 — Philadelphia 76ers

Steven Adams, C, Pitt

The 76ers made a trade last season with the Los Angeles Lakers and landed center Andrew Bynum in hopes that he would solidify there frontcourt for many seasons. However, Bynum didn’t play in a single game this past season as he recovered from a knee injury. Bynum may or may not be back with the 76ers. That is yet to be seen, so the team could easily go with another big man in Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams. Adams is an intriguing prospect after playing just one season with the Panther’s while averaging 7.2 points per game and 6.8 rebounds. Adams has the making of being either a “boom” or “bust” type pick, but being 7-feet tall and able to hold your own ground is enough to get you selected in this year’s lottery.

No. 12 — Oklahoma City Thunder

Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF, UCLA

Shabazz Muhammad may be the most interesting player to watch on draft night. He could realistically be selected anywhere from the eighth pick to the 20th pick. Muhammad was once the best player in his high school class. A great athlete, Muhammad is an above-average rebounder and can score the basketball (he averaged 17.9 points a game as a freshman at UCLA). He’s also a lefty, which anyone who plays an occasional pickup game knows is a big advantage. And if any team can afford to grab Muhammad it’s the Thunder. The potential he could provide that team is worth it to a team that’s probably a favorite to make the NBA finals if healthy. Muhammad’s stock dropped amid character concerns after it was revealed he lied about his age, among other things. If Muhammad isn’t the guy, than Gonzaga big man Kelly Olynyk could provide the team with great depth and versatility in the frontcourt.

No. 13 — Dallas Mavericks

Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

Dallas has made its summer plans very clear – for the summer 2014. All-star Dirk Nowitzki plans to take a huge paycut in order to lure big-name free agents to Dallas – and to free up the money for it. This summer is all about preparing for that and building the most attractive team for that purpose. With Darren Collison running the show at point guard and the amebic development of Rodrique Beabuois, the Mavericks may look for a point guard here. Michael Carter-Williams would fill that and could be a nice asset for Mark Cuban’s squad. Carter-Williams has great size for a point guard at 6-feet, 6-inches tall, and he has special court vision. He’s still a little turnover prone and may not possess the speed necessary to really thrive in the NBA and guard the league’s best point guards. Carter-Williams is likely a 1-to-2 year project, but one worth taking for Dallas.

No. 14 — Utah Jazz

Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany

This pick came down to unknown commodity and a fan-favorite. Schroeder, the unknown commodity, was the selection, but Miami’s Shane Larkin was also highly debated. Larkin sprung onto the scene this past season, leading the Miami Hurricanes to an ACC title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. But the ceiling for Schroeder, according to most NBA scouts, seem higher then Larkin’s. And at 6 feet, Larkin could be a liability on defense. Schroeder is 6-foot-2 and is considered an explosive playmaker and athlete for his position. Although raw, Schroeder could develop into a player the Jazz have been missing since Deron Williams was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in the 2010-11 season.


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