Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA.
Wheels' 2013 NBA Mock Draft
By Brian Wheeler
I’ve done a lot of these mock drafts over the years and sometimes I really have a good feel as to how accurate I’m going to end up being when all is said and done. Not sure I’ve ever been as uncertain about a mock draft as the one I’m presenting here. If I get most of these right, then I suppose I was a little more clued in than I thought. But if I swing wildly and miss on more than a few, well, that wouldn’t surprise me that much either.
So after laying out all that confidence in these selections upfront, here are the picks I think the lottery teams will be making on draft day, barring any trades of course, which there figure to be. But for our purposes, we’ll just assume every club is going to stay where they’re at. If so, the picks could look like this…
1. CLEVELAND—Nerlens Noel C/PF—Kentucky
If Noel were completely healthy, there’d be no doubt the Cavs would select him. Since he isn’t and may not be for a while, it has raised some speculation they could go in a different direction here. But when the time comes to make a decision, I just feel they’ll go with the guy who has the potential for the greatest upside. Now he could also turn out to be a top overall pick bust like Pervis Ellison once was, but that’s a chance I believe the Cavs will be willing to take.
2. ORLANDO—Ben McLemore SG—Kansas
The Magic do already have Arron Afflalo at shooting guard, but if we’re subscribing to taking the “best athlete available” that teams always talk about, then McLemore should be the pick here. Should also mention if the Cavs get cold feet on Noel and take McLemore #1, which isn’t out of the question, I think the Magic would be more than content to take Noel here and pair him with Nikola Vucevic. But in the end, I think McLemore will go in this spot.
3. WASHINGTON—Otto Porter SF—Georgetown
The Wizards get to fill a need here and at the same time welcome a local product to their mix. Porter was the Big East POY. Like Harrison Barnes for Golden St. last year, I don’t think he’ll be an immediate star, but he will be an immediate contributor who figures to only get better as he gets more accustomed to the NBA style of play.
Alex Len of Maryland.
4. CHARLOTTE—Alex Len C—Maryland
What do you get the team that needs everything? The best true center in the draft. He hasn’t worked out for anyone due to an ankle injury and he apparently won’t play in summer league either. But he showed plenty of promise in college and that’ll be enough to get the Bobcats/Hornets to select him here.
5. PHOENIX—Victor Oladipo SG—Indiana
Another club that needs a whole lot, especially since they’ve made it clear they’re in rebuild mode. And with a new head coach and a new general manager, they’ll be looking for promise and potential. When this draft is evaluated in a few years, this guy could be the best of the bunch in the first round. Solid defender and showing signs of becoming a more reliable shooter too. The Suns will be happy to get him here.
6. NEW ORLEANS—Anthony Bennett PF—UNLV
He’ll make a nice tandem with another Anthony… Davis, who the Pelicans love. And they’ll be fond of this guy pretty quickly too. He was an inside presence for the Rebels in college, but some feel he can play some small forward on the NBA level too, which would only add to the versatility of Monty Williams’ club.
Cody Zeller of Indiana
7. SACRAMENTO—Cody Zeller PF—Indiana
This is a real crapshoot trying to figure out which way the Kings will go with this selection. New ownership, new general manager, new head coach, and they have quite a few needs. I could see them going Trey Burke here, especially with the uncertain future of Tyreke Evans. But word is their new majority owner loves Zeller so I’m going to take a hunch that he’ll get his way and that’s where they go with this pick. And despite a subpar NCAA Tournament, I think Zeller will turn out to be a terrific pro.
8. DETROIT—C.J. McCollum PG/SG—Lehigh
If they didn’t already have Brandon Knight, I could see Burke going here. But with Rodney Stuckey having a down season last year, there’s room for a talented combo guard and McCollum has the ability to play alongside Knight or step in and run the team when he sits, which is something that new head coach Maurice Cheeks will find appealing.
9. MINNESOTA—Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG—Georgia
There are some good point guards available, but the Wolves have plenty of those. There’s a decent center prospect or two on the board, but I think the Wolves will match any offers to restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic. So they could use some size in the backcourt and some scoring from the perimeter as they were a dismal 3-point shooting club last season. Enter Caldwell-Pope, whose stock seems to be rising as the draft approaches.
Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA.
10. PORTLAND—Shabazz Muhammad SG—UCLA
If the draft really plays out as I’ve predicted to this point, the Blazers would have some serious thinking to do here. If they truly want the “best athlete available”, it could be argued that would be Burke or even Dennis Schroeder, a jet-like point guard from Germany. Steven Adams would be another possibility. But with Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard already in the fold, I’ll say the Blazers address a need for another wing player that can score. Muhammad has good size and a lot of potential. Some scouts hate his game… others think he could be a star. He could be a gamble the Blazers decide to take here.
11. PHILADELPHIA—Steven Adams C—Pittsburgh
Since the Sixers still don’t know if they can depend on the health of Andrew Bynum, they probably need to hedge their bets a little bit, so the promise of Adams will be too much to pass up here. He has shown more offensive ability in pre-draft workouts than some thought he had and he’s high energy and clearly willing to learn in order to improve. In other words, he has all the work ethic that Bynum lacks.
12. OKLAHOMA CITY—Rudy Gobert PF/C—France
The Thunder don’t really have any serious immediate needs, but it was clear they weren’t that thrilled with the performance of Kendrick Perkins in the playoffs. And let’s face it, Hasheem Thabeet isn’t going to break out to be a star anytime soon. So this will be a gamble worth taking on a center prospect that OKC can afford to wait on. He didn’t have a great season in France last year and some teams haven’t felt he’s been in great shape at pre-draft workouts so far, but there’s no denying his size and wingspan. And he should only get better as time goes on.
13. DALLAS—Trey Burke PG—Michigan
The Mavs made a big offseason trade a year ago to get their point guard of the future in Darren Collison. He started off the season well, but by the end, well-traveled Mike James was starting a the point. So the Mavs will be thrilled that Burke is still on the board here. National College POY with all the intangibles you’d want in a point guard… leadership, toughness, and the ability to deliver in big games. Now he’ll just have to prove that his size won’t be an issue on the NBA level, but he’s been pretty much having to deal with that question his entire life so something tells me he’ll be ready for the challenge.
14. UTAH—Dennis Schroeder PG—Germany
The Jazz will be tempted to take Shane Larkin or Michael Carter-Williams here, but ever since the NIKE Hoop Summit in Portland, the stock of Schroeder has been rising. Before that weekend, he was pegged to be a 2nd round pick. Now most scouts not only have him moving up to the 1st round, but creeping into the lottery as well. And we’ll agree and slot him in the final lottery spot to the Jazz here.
So there you have it. Again, I wouldn’t put my house on these picks, but hey, at least it’ll get some talk going around the water cooler at work. That makes me wonder though…does anyone really have water coolers at work anymore? Oh, well, that’s a discussion for another time I guess. See you on draft day on the 27th. Until then, talk amongst yourselves!