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Scott Howard-Cooper

With a week until Draft day, muddled top still sparks rumors


Posted Jun 20, 2013 1:28 PM

One week until the Draft. That's not a statement, but a warning.

Speculation would be rampant anyway, but that's especially the case in this Draft, which lacks an anchor as the No. 1 pick.

There are indications that the Cavaliers will use the first selection on Maryland center Alex Len. Really? The paranoid Cavs won't even confirm who comes for a workout, compared to a lot of teams that send e-mails in advance and post video of interviews on their website afterward. But they're going to send signals who the actual pick will be?

As our mock draft expands to two rounds, the important actual news to note is that many front offices continue to say Kentucky's Nerlens Noel and Kansas' Ben McLemore are the best prospects.

First Round

1. Cavaliers, Nerlens Noel, Kentucky, PF, 6-11, 220

The medical reports are the great unknown. If team doctors say the recovery from knee surgery in March is going according to schedule -- for Noel to debut around Christmas -- that's one thing. If there are red flags in the comeback, that's definitely another.

2. Magic, Ben McLemore, Kansas, SG, 6-4, 195

Trey Burke as the No. 2 pick for need at point guard? Some teams rate Burke as the No. 2 player at his position. The Magic have Arron Afflalo at shooting guard, but McLemore is regarded as the second-best prospect on the board. Take him, gather assets, make a trade later.

3. Wizards, Otto Porter, Georgetown, SF, 6-8, 200

Porter is a position need and coming off a season as the Big East Player of the Year that moved the versatile small forward into the top five, and it doesn't hurt that he is a local product. Teams don't see star, but Porter does a lot of things well.

4. Bobcats, Alex Len, Maryland, C, 7-1 255

The ankle problem has hardly hurt his stock. If anything, the injury that sidelined Len for team auditions and will also cost him summer league has been beneficial in avoiding additional scrutiny. There is also the other key for his climbing stock since the end of the regular season: He is the best true center available by a significant margin.

5. Suns, Anthony Bennett, UNLV, PF, 6-7, 240

An undersized power forward who can play some small forward (though while likely struggling there on defense), Bennett is a positive step in the Suns' attempts to return to respectability. Some teams rate him as the third-best prospect.

6. Pelicans, Victor Oladipo, Indiana, SG, 6-5, 210

With his defensive abilities previously established, Oladipo shot up Draft boards by expanding his offense and becoming a dependable shooter. Imagine pairing one of the best two-way players available alongside young defender Anthony Davis.

7. Kings, Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, PG, 6-5, 175

He has stayed in contention for the top 10 despite shooting 39.3 percent, thanks to the lure of being a point guard with size and vision who can handle. Hoping to address the obvious problem, Carter-Williams has been working on his perimeter game since the end of the season.

8. Pistons, Trey Burke, Michigan, PG, 6-1, 175

Teams love the intangibles -- leadership, toughness, the experience in big games -- of the college Player of the Year. But questions remain about small guards who lack the special level of athleticism usually needed to compensate for small stature.

9. Timberwolves, C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, PG-SG, 6-3, 190

Minnesota wants to add scoring and shooting, and McCollum can do both. But it's an especially tough call because Minnesota wants to shed, not add, point guards. McCollum can become a combo guard if he can play alongside a big point.

10. Trail Blazers, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, SG, 6-5, 205

Several teams are convinced this is the Portland call in the attempt to add depth as one of the final steps to a playoff push. Caldwell-Pope is an offensive threat who has spent two seasons in a system that created a lot of shooting opportunities for him.

11. 76ers, Cody Zeller, Indiana, PF-C, 7-0, 240

The call may come down to how much the Sixers trust in Andrew Bynum's recovery, not to mention the commitment to the recovery process. If they decide to go big, there will be no shortage of options: Zeller, Kelly Olynyk, Mason Plumlee and Stephen Adams are all projected in this range.

12. Thunder, Steven Adams, Pittsburgh, C, 6-11, 235

Adams continues to use team and group workouts to show more of an offensive game than most saw in the one season at Pitt. He is relatively inexperienced against top competition after growing up in New Zealand, but the aggressive, high-energy style of play coupled with the upward trajectory in his game is very appealing.

13. Mavericks, Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, SG, 6-6, 225

O.J. Mayo could be gone soon and Vince Carter isn't far behind, so Dallas needs to add wing scoring. Muhammad has been the focus of harsh criticism from teams most of the season, especially since late in his freshman campaign, but he remains a possibility for the top 10.

14. Jazz, Dennis Schroeder, Germany, PG, 6-1, 180

A breakout performance for the international team playing against the top U.S. college-bound stars at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland in April moved the jet-like point guard from the second round to legitimate lottery possibility.

15. Bucks, Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, C, 7-0, 240

The Bucks could have pressing issues in the backcourt once free agency begins, but there are few choices among guards at this point. Olynyk's advanced offensive game will be a nice complement to the defensive presence of Larry Sanders and John Henson.

16. Celtics, Sergey Karasev, Russia, SF, 6-7, 205

While Mason Plumlee would be more NBA-ready, the Celtics have Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass at power forward. Meanwhile, they also have Paul Pierce a year away from free agency, if he's not gone sooner, at small forward. Karasev has shown potential while playing big minutes in a good league in Russia as a 19-year-old.

17. Hawks, Mason Plumlee, Duke, PF, 6-11, 245

How much longer can Atlanta go nowhere fast with Josh Smith? Plumlee has the combination of a developing offensive game and already-there elite athleticism for a big man. He could go as high as late-lottery, in that Philadelphia-Oklahoma City range.

18. Hawks, Lucas Nogueira, Brazil, PF-C, 7-0, 220

The NBA has been waiting for years for the athletic 7-footer to add toughness. That it hasn't happened is a bad sign. That teams are still very interested is a good sign. He could spend another year overseas in the continued development as a shot blocker or come now as part of the big-man rotation with Al Horford.

19. Cavaliers, Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece, SF, 6-9, 215

He has a long way to go -- like Athens-to-Cleveland long -- but Adetokunbo has unique qualities that make him a worthwhile investment in the late-teens or 20s. In time, he can be a point-forward distributor and nice complementary piece to a team that also has a position need.

20. Bulls, Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, C, 6-11, 245

Dieng's size and mobility translate into a future as a shot blocker, with signs of a respectable offense. Being 23 gives him fewer years to develop and play. But it should also make him more mature and able to better fit with a team in win-now mode.

21. Jazz, Jeff Withey, Kansas, C, 7-0 235

The Jazz have hard decisions to make on free agents Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Withey would be a move to address that, could back up Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors and is an interior defender with four years experience at a major program.

22. Nets, Rudy Gobert, France, PF-C, 7-1, 235

Gobert had an underwhelming 2012-13 in France, but front offices see real defensive potential with his size and wingspan. They were also impressed he participated in the Chicago pre-Draft combine when a lot of others with a chance for mid-first usually bail. But not being in great shape for the early individual workouts could hurt.

23. Pacers, Glen Rice Jr., D-League, SG, 6-6, 210

The long road back for the son of the former All-Star small forward includes playing for the Rio Grande Vipers after being kicked off the team at Georgia Tech. But he's a shooter and the Pacers need people who can make baskets, especially from the perimeter.

24. Knicks, Shane Larkin, Miami, PG, 6-0, 170

The son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin would be a nice dose of athleticism at point guard, even as the backup. The size is an obvious concern, but it's not hard to find players with long careers despite going to the pros with the same doubts.

25. Clippers, Jamaal Franklin, San Diego St, SG, 6-5, 205

The Clippers started Willie Green and Chauncey Billups this season, so Franklin will have the chance to make an immediate impact with explosiveness that will fit in Lob City. The key will be how fast the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year handles the transition from college small forward to the NBA backcourt.

26. Timberwolves, Tony Mitchell, North Texas, PF, 6-8, 235

Mitchell had a disappointing sophomore season and admits he did not play hard all the time, with a lot of NBA people also willing to say it for him. But it's easy to see teams falling back in like with his athleticism and toughness, and Minnesota is open to using its second first-rounder on a player who needs developing.

27. Nuggets, Allen Crabbe, California, SG, 6-6, 205

Denver needs help from behind the arc. Though he needs to get stronger, Crabbe has the size, accuracy and decent 3-point range to fit the shooting-guard mold and be an ideal role player for a team that already knows how to run.

28. Spurs, Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, PG, 6-0, 188

He is one of the most NBA-ready players of the Draft, after four years in college and particular praise from Chris Paul. A lot of teams are looking at Canaan late in the first round and early in the second as a dependable backup point guard.

29. Thunder, Alex Abrines, Spain, SG, 6-5, 190

Oklahoma City is in win-now mode, had two rookies this season and will be adding another player in this lottery, barring a trade. The last thing it needs is another first-year player. Abrines can develop overseas for at least one more season.

30. Suns, Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan, SF-SG, 6-6, 200

No killer crossover like his father, but the next generation can score, pass and is a competitor. He needs to get stronger, but will have a chance to stick as a long-term solution in Phoenix.

Second Round

31. Cavaliers, Nate Wolters, South Dakota St., PG, 6-4, 190

A smart ball handler and sharp passer with great instincts and size who has the chance to become Kyrie Irving's backup.

32. Thunder, Archie Goodwin, Kentucky, SG, 6-5, 190

He went from being one of the top recruits in the country to a very inconsistent one-and-done college career, but the physical tools and potential will keep a lot of teams interested in a player with first-round potential.

33. Cavaliers, Ricky Ledo, Providence, SG, 6-6, 197

A risk pick because of questions about his maturity off the court, but Cleveland can afford the gamble as its fourth choice and the possible return of a good shooter.

34. Rockets, Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State, SF-PF, 6-7, 225

Thomas is a versatile scorer with good experience after three years with the Buckeyes. The question is whether he is a tweener without a position or a stretch four.

35. 76ers, Reggie Bullock, North Carolina, SG-SF, 6-7, 200

Bullock is a 3-point threat with good size in the backcourt who can also rebound and defend.

36. Kings, Tony Snell, New Mexico, SG, 6-7, 200

He becomes the latest attempt by Sacramento find someone who can hit a shot, with range to the 3-point line and the bonus of an improving, versatile defender.

37. Pistons, Mike Muscala, Bucknell, PF-C, 6-11, 230

The versatile offensive threat -- low-post skills, pick-and-pop with range -- can add to Detroit's already promising big-man arsenal of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

38. Wizards, Myck Kabongo, Texas, PG, 6-3, 180

Kabongo's stock has plummeted in the last two years, but he remains one of the best true playmakers in the Draft, while needing to improve his shot.

39. Trail Blazers, James Ennis, Long Beach St, SG-SF, 6-7, 200

Ennis is a talented scorer who can rebound from the backcourt and finished in the top 10 in the Big West Conference in eight categories.

40. Trail Blazers, Nemanja Nedovic, Serbia, PG-SG, 6-3, 190

Nedovic is aggressive and athletic, can get to the rim and defend, and also an ideal stash player as Portland's third pick who can use another season or two in Europe to work on his shot and handle.

41. Grizzlies, Pierre Jackson, Baylor, PG, 5-10 ½, 175

Memphis has three choices, but all in the final 20 picks, so odds of finding real help in the Draft are not good. Jackson provides the chance for open-court speed and depth at point guard.

42. 76ers, Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota, PF, 6-8, 235

His history of knee problems and age (24) are drawbacks, but Mbakwe has a chance to stick as a rebounding specialist and a shot blocker with a wide wingspan.

43. Bucks, Erick Green, Virginia Tech, PG, 6-3, 185

Green led the nation in scoring as a senior while helping his Draft stock with improvements as a distributor to show he can be more than an undersized shooting guard.

44. Mavericks, Lorenzo Brown, North Carolina St, PG, 6-5, 190

Brown was one of the best transition point guards in the country, and his size combined with vision makes him an intriguing second-rounder.

45. Trail Blazers, Richard Howell, North Carolina St, PF, 6-7 ½, 250

Howell uses toughness and strength inside to control the boards, especially on the offensive glass, despite being slightly undersized.

46. Jazz, Livio Jean-Charles, France, SF-PF, 6-9, 220

An athletic combo forward who excels in the open court and had a very good showing at the Nike Hoop Summit, he lacks strength and a consistent shot.

47. Hawks, C.J. Leslie, North Carolina St, PF, 6-9, 210

Leslie used his athleticism well in college to finish in the top eight in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding and scoring, but 210-pound power forwards are generally appetizer plates in the NBA.

48. Lakers, Andre Roberson, Colorado, SF 6-7, 205

Not merely the Pacific 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Roberson was one of the best defenders in the country with NBA-level athleticism and rebounding.

49. Bulls, Marko Todorovic, Montenegro, C, 6-11, 240

He is clearly not ready for the NBA, after being unable to stay in the rotation with his Barcelona club in 2012-13, but a mix of size and agility, with some decent skills, makes Todorovic an intriguing prospect.

50. Hawks, Phil Pressey, Missouri, PG, 5-11 ½, 177

While size is an obvious drawback, Pressey is an excellent passer with vision and instincts.

51. Magic, B.J. Young, Arkansas, SG, 6-3 ½, 180

Young is an attacking guard who can score when he gets to the rim but has an inconsistent jumper.

52. Timberwolves, Bojan Dubljevic, Montenegro, PF, 6-9, 240

Playing below the rim with limited athleticism means he could have a difficult transition to the NBA, but range as a shooter at that size and ability to play pick-and-roll also means he is worth a long look.

53. Pacers, Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary's, PG, 6-4, 190

Being a pick-and-roll specialist made the Australian a candidate for the NBA and good showings at group workouts boosted his chances for the second round.

54.Wizards, Solomon Hill, Arizona, SF, 6-7, 225

Hill helped himself by going from a tough player who could score inside to adding a jump shot and becoming more versatile in addition to smart and hard-working.

55. Grizzlies, Colton Iverson, Colorado St, C, 7-0, 262

Iverson is a true center, unlike a lot of the other bigs on the board, who will make a team if his rebounding production translates from college to the pros.

56. Pistons, Ray McCallum, Detroit, PG, 6-2, 191

It's not just a local pick. McCallum makes good decisions with the ball and can get to the basket.

57. Suns, Ryan Kelly, Duke, PF, 7-0, 228

Kelly can play tough inside as a shot blocker and also step out to the 3-point line to hit shots. Two foot surgeries in a little more than a year are a concern.

58. Spurs, Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State, PF, 6-9, 241

Carmichael is a blue-collar hopeful -- rebounding, shot blocking, work ethic -- trying to make a big jump from Illinois State.

59. Timberwolves, Seth Curry, Duke, SG, 6-3, 180

The brother of Stephen and son of Dell is, naturally, a shooter. That fits with Minnesota's desire to get better on the perimeter.

60. Grizzlies, Kenny Kadji, Miami, PF, 6-10, 241

Being 25 years old means there isn't much room to develop, but getting anything from a player picked late in the second round is a bonus and Kadji is a fit as a stretch four with the ability to hit all the way out to the arc.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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